We’ve all heard a lot of different opinions on the situation in Ukraine recently. As an official representative of Ukraine in Israel, I would like to share with you the Ukrainian position. After the Anschluss of Crimea, the Kremlin went over to a second stage of the war on Ukraine by starting a covert operation in the country’s east.
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Russia is sticking to the same routine as in Crimea. First, it is deploying professional military and mercenaries on Ukrainian territory. Second, it is paying local radicals and criminals to pose as “pro-Russian forces.” Third, it is trying to make the events look like turmoil stoked by ordinary people. But it doesn’t look like that at all. Unlike the December-February Euromaidan protest movement in Kiev, this is not a domestic uprising but full-blown foreign aggression against Ukraine.
There is valid proof that special-operations groups are being deployed on the ground. These are not Ukrainians. They are professional Russian mercenaries waging a war on Ukrainian territory. Some of the faces have been recognized from Crimea. Some are familiar from the events in Georgia in 2008.
Saboteurs with Russian citizenship are being apprehended throughout Ukraine. This and other evidence, including intercepted radio traffic, confirm that these are foreigners, invaders. Finally, on April 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin himself admitted in an interview that Russian troops had been deployed in Crimea, the so-called green men.
Ukraine is fighting back. It cannot allow the Russian-equipped, Russian-paid and Russian-deployed special-ops units to spread fear among Ukrainians. The population in eastern Ukraine is scared of strangers in green uniforms coming and ruining their daily lives. Stopping them, protecting the people, is the direct obligation of Ukraine’s government.
Ukraine conducts anti-terrorist operations in Ukraine’s east to stop the lawlessness by Russian saboteurs and armed groups. Russia thinks it has found a foolproof way to conduct a war – not calling things by their right name and flatly denying the truth. But a lie is a lie and aggression is aggression. The world must see it. The evidence is everywhere.
On April 13, Russia called a UN Security Council meeting to “express concern” about the situation that, in fact, had been created by the Russians themselves. Remarkably, they didn’t call any Security Council meetings when thousands were killed in Chechnya. But this time around they claim to be “concerned.”
Well, if they are, three simple steps would solve the problem. First, stop doing what Russia has been doing in Ukraine for the past two months. Second, start a resolution process immediately. Third, return to the boundaries of international law.
We hope the multilateral agreement in Geneva on April 17 between Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union will promote the stabilization of the situation in Ukraine. We are eager to find a peaceful solution through diplomatic dialogue to ease the tension between Ukraine and Russia.
The writer is Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel.