Kurt Volcker: Putin must understand that the continuation of the war is not in Russia’s interests
24.04.2020 Online Discussion. Russia’s War Against Ukraine
Former special representative of the State Department for Ukraine commented on the results of the vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution
Kurt Volcker, a former US special envoy for Ukraine and a researcher at the Center for the Study of European Politics, commented on the results of the vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution in an interview with the Voice of America Ukrainian service. He also spoke about what tasks Ukraine is solving today, and what threats NATO and the whole world are facing today as a result of the coronavirus pandemic..
On the results of voting in Russia
“Now we know that Putin will remain in power until 2036, or even longer … We hope that circumstances will change, and Putin will come to the conclusion that the continuation of the war is not in Russia’s interests … There are several other important things, the effect of which is difficult for now. understand. For example, Russia has been hit hard by the coronavirus. While this does not lie on the surface, I am sure it affects Putin and his popularity, his perception of a strong leader. Therefore, he tries to solve this problem. Voting on amendments to the Constitution can have a strong positive effect – this is one of the ways to increase its popularity. Another way is to incite nationalism in Russia “.
On strengthening sanctions against Russia
“You may be aware that Senator [Ted] Cruz has introduced a bill to [Congress] regarding [sanctions on] Nord Stream 2. Sentiments in Congress are very strong in favor of support and even possible strengthening of sanctions against Russia. Another reason [for increased sanctions] is intelligence leaks suggesting that Russia may have paid the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. This is now being investigated more deeply by both the administration and Congress. Apparently, this may turn out to be true. I think this will strengthen the voices in Congress in favor of further action or increasing pressure on Russia “.
About Ukraine’s support in the USA
“Bipartisan support for Ukraine remains incredibly strong. There is … an understanding of the difficulties that Ukraine is facing because of Russia and Russian aggression … Both parties in Congress, think tanks and administration are very supportive of Ukraine. “.
Threats to NATO
“I have ideas on what NATO should consider, what to do in the future as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. I had the opportunity to brief Secretary General Stoltenberg of my thoughts. I believe we need to consider more than just military threats. There are threats to supply chains, threats to the loss of control over strategic infrastructure. Obviously, health problems can also pose a threat. Cyberattacks are also threats “.
We should not focus on conventional military threats – they may be some of the least likely threats that NATO will face. Other threats are real and we deal with them every day. We must hold full political consultations on threats affecting our societies, even if NATO is not a tool to combat them. “.
About the Minsk agreements
“I think it would be helpful if the United States could appoint a new special envoy for negotiations on Ukraine and make sure that the world does not forget about Ukraine, does not forget about the suffering people are experiencing in Donbass, and does not forget about Russia’s aggression. I think the Special Representative will do a better job of this than the Ambassador in Kiev..
Concerning the Minsk process. I do not see now that Russia is ready to come to any agreement. Russia continues to act aggressively against Ukraine – continuing hostilities every day, stopping negotiations and denying its participation. In these circumstances, I do not see the possibility of reaching any agreement with Russia. On the other hand, if you change the situation with democracy and economy in Ukraine, if Ukraine succeeds in its integration with the EU and moves closer to NATO, then Russian intervention will become senseless and useless..
In this situation, the Russian people may start asking: why are we doing this? Why are we spending so much money on this region of Ukraine? Why are we losing our lives there, fighting the Ukrainians? Why are we killing Ukrainians? If the Russians start asking these questions, it may at some point change the train of thought of Putin and the Russian leadership, they will think, “Okay, it’s time to stop.” And if this happens, the Minsk process will become their salvation and an opportunity to come to an agreement “.
On the challenges facing Ukraine
“One thing that, in my opinion, is very important – the policy of continuing non-recognition of the Russian annexation of Crimea. We did it in 2018 and I think it was extremely important to do it. As for Ukraine itself, we saw successful democratic elections in 2019 for both the president and parliament..
We see that the Ukrainian public is demanding reforms, demanding changes. We saw a peaceful transition of power. We saw land reform. We saw banking reform. We saw a new agreement with the IMF. So there has been great progress on the Ukrainian side. There’s just a lot more to do. “.
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