The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Ukrainian Deputy Speaker says that people are not tired of fighting the good fight

Giuseppe Attard Sunday, 19 June 2022, 08:00 Last update: about 7 days ago

The Malta Independent met with Ukrainian Deputy Speaker Oleksander Kornienko who opened up about the current situation in Ukraine, international aid, the Russian threat and the possibility of any future relations with Russia were discussed.

The current Russian narrative is that Ukrainians are fatigued from the war and they are not ready to continue fighting. What is the current situation in Ukraine?

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I can assure you that the Ukrainian people are not tired. We are full of motivation and inspiration to fight the enemy invading our land.

At the same time we cannot be oblivious to the problems we have. The economic, social and humanitarian crisis problems are a constant worrying factor for the government, not to mention the inconsistency of weapons supply to the front line.

At the end of the day we are fighting an enemy which is bigger than us and sometimes our supply of weapons to the front line is not as quick as is needed.

Regardless of all these problems we are still full of motivation and belief that we are fighting the good fight and that eventually we will win the war.

Recently the relationship between the European Union and Ukraine improved greatly with prominent figures such as President Roberta Metsola and many heads of government visiting Kyiv. Do you think that Europe is doing enough to help Ukraine in the war?

We think that the European Union is helping us a lot but unfortunately not all the members of the EU are helping.

The EU institution is our big friend in reality; it supports us in our efforts and we are eagerly waiting in the coming days for the decision of the EU with regard to Ukraine’s status as a candidate for EU membership.

I am more than convinced that all Ukrainians will do all the work necessary in order to enter the EU. At the end of the day it is the way forward for the future of Ukraine; we have to legislate anti-corruption reforms, new administrative reforms while also guiding the economy to the EU standards.

We are waiting for the EU to prove that our collaborations were not futile. Ukraine belongs in the European family.

You mentioned the economic problems of this war. What are the main priorities of the Ukrainian budget and for how long can the government support the war?

Without help from our partners we will not last long. We are currently alive thanks to the support from the EU, the Unites States of America and international financial organisations together with the financial aid of some countries.

Thanks to the grants and credits of these countries, Ukraine can stand to fight another day. We have around $5bn in aid for our budget. Unfortunately this money currently cannot be spent in the development of Ukraine but we are spending them in the social sphere of our society, schools and medical equipment together with financial aid to the people such as pensioners.

The biggest part of our spending goes to the army in order to support our soldiers as best we can with regards to weapons and so on.

We also have optimistic talks with the International Monitory Fund and we hope that it will be a good long term deal for us.

Reports have been made that Kyiv is preparing for another attack from Russia through the Belarus border, how much of a threat is Russia on the capital?

We need to understand that in the war situation Ukraine finds itself in, all cities in Ukraine are at risk of an attack by Russian forces be it a ground attack, missile or artillery.

Every day Russia launches 40 to 50 missiles to various cities in Ukraine. With regard to a land operation by Russia through Belarus, and eventually to Kyiv, we are seeing some activity on the Belarusian side of the border but it doesn't look like military activity, it looks more like communication forces.

Currently Kyiv is a relatively safe place and has become the centre of diplomacy in Ukraine. We have also just invited the Speaker of the Parliament Anglu Farrugia as well as the Prime Minister Robert Abela in Kyiv and we are waiting for them.

 

Together with Neil Camilleri, I visited places like Irpin, Bucha and also the front line of Kharkiv. In these places war crimes such as mass graves, unethical weapon use and much more occurred. What is being done in order to document these crimes and eventually hold Russia accountable for them?

Fortunately we have very strong collaboration with the international criminal court system and we also have the support of several countries such as Ireland, Germany and other countries that are sending their international crime prosecutors to document these crimes.

The international prosecutors are working in collaboration with our local prosecutors. Our local enforcement such as the Police is also fully committed to documenting these crimes.

Our problem right now is the quantity of the war crimes committed by Russians. In the last few days we are still finding new mass graves in areas near Bucha. Bucha was liberated in late March so the fact that we are still discovering mass graves two months later shows how extensive these war crimes are.

 

In one of his speeches President Zelenskyy said that Ukraine wants to take back all the lost territory, including Crimea. Is this achievable?

We hope that one day Ukraine will be united with its border as is stated in the Independence agreement of 1991.

 

Do you see the possibility of any future relations with Russia? If yes, how do you see the two countries moving forward?

I do not see that possibility and I think maybe after 50 to 100 years if Russia changes its mentality maybe some form of relationship could form between our countries.

If Russia remains with this oppressive mentality and an oblivious society, nobody will have a relationship with them. Russia will become an isolated country and it will become the new North Korea in perspective.

It is very sad that the Russian people inside the country are force-fed the dictator’s propaganda and they do not know what is really going on. I have some friends and distant family members who reside in Russia and I am saddened when they speak out of ignorance to what is going on.

With regard to propaganda, one must remember propaganda does not work on empty fields, it works on fertilised soil.

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