Ukrainian Ambassador: Today, Nobody In Europe Feels Secure
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Olexander Motsyk is Ukraine's ambassador to the United States and joins us by phone now. Welcome to the program, Mr. Ambassador.
UKRAINE AMBASSADOR OLEXANDER MOTSYK: Thank you.
SIEGEL: I want to ask you first, there are Ukrainian troops in Crimea. Will they remain there?
MOTSYK: Yes, they will continue to remain there. You might know that Russia totally occupied Crimea and block it from mainland Ukraine. For the time being, there are almost 22,000 Russian troops in Crimea, many of them paratroopers. So they took under their control airports, roads, bridges, buildings of government and the parliament of Ukraine.
SIEGEL: Have they communicated anything to Ukrainian troops? Have they order them to lay down their arms or to withdraw from the Crimea?
MOTSYK: They continue to be loyal to Ukrainian government. They are now surrounded by Russian troops, all Ukrainian military installations. But personnel soldiers, officers are loyal to Ukraine, and they continue to resist. You might know that today, one Ukrainian soldier was killed.
MOTSYK: And the troops yesterday received order to defend by force if attacked.
SIEGEL: Does the Ukrainian government seek military help from the United States?
MOTSYK: Well, we highly appreciate the assistance, and the help and strong support, of United States of America. We now have been negotiating the economic assistance; in particular, loan guarantee, 1 billion U.S. dollars. And we have been in contact with government of the United States and with Congress.
SIEGEL: But the question is, do you want military...
MOTSYK: We also...
SIEGEL: Do you want military aid?
MOTSYK: We also need support, strong support from United States to establish direct dialogue with Russia. And we consider that all issues should be solved at the table of negotiations, not by means of military aggression.
SIEGEL: Yesterday, I asked former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul if Russia's annexation of Crimea can be reversed. And he said yes. He cited the reversal of the Soviet seizure of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 1940. That took half a century to undo, and those countries had majority populations of their nominal nationality. Do you really see the annexation of Crimea being reversed anytime soon?
MOTSYK: Well, sometime ago, Putin said that the biggest tragedy of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union. We say that the biggest tragedy of 21st century would be the restoration of the Soviet Union. And today, nobody feels secure who are in Europe.
SIEGEL: This focusing on Crimea, though - in his speech today, Vladimir Putin said this; he said: Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people. Crimea became part of Soviet Republic of Ukraine 60 years ago. Can you say that it's been an integral part of Ukraine in the hearts and minds of Ukrainians?
MOTSYK: Yes, definitely. And while - Ukraine had no less ties in the past with Crimeans in the Russian Federation.
SIEGEL: Do you have any sense that Russian designs on Ukrainian territory are limited to Crimea? Or are you equally concerned about the east and the south of Ukraine?
MOTSYK: We are really concerned about the eastern Ukraine. So the world should strengthen its efforts in order to stop this aggression, and to find a diplomatic solution of this crisis.
SIEGEL: Ambassador Motsyk, thank you very much for talking with us today.
MOTSYK: Thank you. Thank you.
SIEGEL: Olexander Motsyk spoke to us from Washington, where he is Ukraine's ambassador to the United States. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.