Europe's diplomatic support for Kiev is welcome, but it needs more than "nice words", says Ukrainian Ambassador to Berlin Andriy Melnik.
The confrontation between Ukraine and Russia over Eastern Ukraine has been going on for seven whole years and many are afraid of a new escalation. According to Western intelligence, Moscow has gathered 40.000 men in Crimea, but also along the border with Ukraine. their number may reach 90.000, which is equivalent to half the military forces of the whole of Ukraine. Kiev is seeking diplomatic as well as military support in the EU, while seeking immediate NATO membership.
Speaking to German Radio (DLF), Ukraine's ambassador to Berlin, Andriy Melnik, said: "This mobilization is not a mere show of strength, as many in Germany believe. We are talking about the most massive movement of military forces in Russia since World War II. This is not the usual 'gun policy' pursued by Moscow. "A new military offensive is being prepared against Ukraine, something that Berlin must take seriously."
"Statements are not enough"
NATO "warns" Moscow to stop concentrating forces in the region, and recently Commission President Ursula von der Leyen openly stated that Brussels "supports" Ukraine. But what does this mean in practice? The Ukrainian diplomat argues that "nice words" are not enough. "We do not just need the solidarity that has already been expressed," said Andriy Melnik. "Nice words are welcome, but they do not protect us from missiles and bombs. "We experienced this in 2014. We are grateful for Chancellor Angela Merkel's initiative to ask Putin to reduce the number of troops in the region, but Putin ignores the calls, insulting Germany and the EU."
Another piece in the difficult puzzle of the Russia-Ukraine confrontation, however, is that Kiev has already received Javelin-type missiles from the previous US government, something that now gives the Russians a reason to protest what they call "Ukraine's equipment with American aid." The Ukrainian diplomat has a completely opposite view: "Ukraine is in a state of self-defense. We did not invade Russia, the opposite happened. We are doing everything we can to prevent a new Russian attack tomorrow or the day after. Our only possibility is for Ukraine to finally join NATO. "I personally believe, like many of my compatriots, that if we had been a member of NATO in 2014, there would have been no invasion, no war would have broken out in eastern Ukraine."
Nuclear weapons for Ukraine?
Andriy Melnik insists that the Ukrainian army must be modernized as soon as possible in order to face a Russian threat. He acknowledged that many Europeans feared a possible reaction from Moscow if Ukraine joined NATO, and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was "playing" with Europeans' fears. Ultimately, however, he argues, Ukraine must find a way to defend itself. "We have no choice," he says. "Either we become members of NATO by contributing to the strengthening of Europe, or we equip ourselves and in this case we may reconsider the status of nuclear power. Otherwise I do not know how we will guarantee our defense… »