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Ukraine FM Rules out Russian Use of Nuclear Weapons, Calls for Isolating Moscow over its Threats

Ukraine FM Rules out Russian Use of Nuclear Weapons, Calls for Isolating Moscow over its Threats

Monday, 4 July, 2022 - 10:00
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Asharq Al-Awsat

The world is laying out the worst scenarios for the Russian-Ukraine war. Predictions are morbid, whether they are about protracting the conflict, widening the global food gap, or hiking prices of supply chains and energy.

Moreover, concerns are growing around the race towards acquiring advanced weapons, including nuclear arms.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has shown relative optimism about the international community succeeding in stopping the war by implementing harsher sanctions on Russia.

According to Kuleba, stronger sanctions would affect Russia’s economy and force Moscow to opt for a political solution.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Kuleba urged Ukraine’s partners to provide his country with advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems.

He urged Ukraine partners to provide his country with advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems. “If we make our skies safe, we will save many civilian lives,” he explained.

Kuleba also estimated Ukraine’s economic and infrastructure losses at a whopping $1 trillion.

Reviewing the Ukraine-Gulf ministerial meeting held on June 1, Kuleba said that his country anticipates for Arab Gulf countries to play an effective role in resolving the current global food and energy problems.

Kuleba noted that Russia is using food and energy shortages as tools of war to pressure the international community.

The top diplomat affirmed that Ukraine has submitted a proposal to establish a special advisory council between Ukraine and the Gulf states. The platform would be used to discuss pressing issues, such as grain and energy security.

Kuleba predicted that Ukraine's GDP would fall by 30%, and inflation would reach 20% in the first quarter of 2022.

Russia’s aggression on Ukraine has wiped out 30% of the latter’s infrastructure at an estimated cost of $100 billion.

“It is difficult to give exact figures while the war is still raging, but Ukraine's GDP is expected to fall by at least 30% in 2022, and inflation could reach 20% in the first quarter of this year,” said Kuleba.

“Ukraine's GDP has already lost 16%, making up a monthly budget deficit of more than $3 billion,” he added.

When asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin's threat to strike new targets if the West continues to deliver long-range missiles to Ukraine, Kuleba said: “those are empty threats.”

“Putin is already indiscriminately hitting targets in Ukraine, and he is already engaged in a brutal war of aggression against Ukraine,” said the foreign minister.

“He (Putin) does everything that terrifies Ukraine and he continues to kill Ukrainians every day.

“The Russian army is waging a barbaric war and mostly hits civilian targets.”

“Last week, Russia struck many Ukrainian cities and towns with long-range missiles, killing dozens of innocent people,” he said.

Commenting on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s claims about the presence of hundreds of US and UK intelligence personnel operating in Ukraine, Kuleba said that it is all a part of Russian propaganda.

“The Russian foreign minister is trying one way or another to justify his country's aggressive war against Ukraine,” said Kuleba, adding that Lavrov’s excuses were laughable.

“The Russian invasion, which was supposed to achieve its goals within days, continues so far for the fifth month without major successes,” noted Kuleba.

On Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, Kuleba said: “Russians are stealing Ukrainian minerals and grain, looting private property, kidnapping, torturing and killing people.”

“The takeover (of Zaporizhzhia) is an attempt to seize Ukrainian state property, and just another heinous act in a series of Russian crimes that will surely be punished.”

“I assure that the heroic Ukrainian resistance and the support of our partners will defeat the Russian plan. Russians need to understand that they made a mistake by invading Ukraine and they should withdraw their forces from our lands,” Kuleba told Asharq Al-Awsat.

As for Ukraine’s hopes for joining NATO, Kuleba said that his country can’t wait forever, especially in the face of the existential threat posed by Russia.

“We need effective security guarantees now, not at some point in the future,” said the top diplomat.

Regarding the threat of nuclear warfare, Kuleba said that it was unlikely for Russia to use its nuclear arsenal to attack Ukraine.

“It is unlikely that Russia will use nuclear weapons, but its officials and its spokesmen on television propaganda talk about them casually. I am sure that they should be punished for the threat to use nuclear weapons,” said Kuleba.

According to the Ukrainian minister, Russia threatening to use nuclear weapons against another sovereign country warrants its isolation from the international theater.

“In the course of its aggression, Russia has already demonstrated its complete disregard for nuclear safety,” said Kuleba.

While Ukraine has demanded sanctioning Russian oil and gas, there are some countries, such as Hungary, that reject the proposal.

“Doing business as usual with Russia, and buying their oil and gas, means taking care of its war machine, and its ability to destroy Ukraine and kill the Ukrainians, and this is contrary to the principles of justice and international laws,” said Kuleba.

“But the issue of sanctions is not morally perfect, there is also a practical aspect to it. For example, reliance on Russian energy and supplies is the main blackmail chip in the Kremlin,” he explained.

“They use energy as a weapon, blackmailing states by threatening to cut supplies if they oppose Moscow’s political decisions,” he added, noting that Russia has banned Ukrainian food exports.

“We hope to work on the seventh package of sanctions at an accelerated pace, as Russia's GDP growth fell from 5.6 % in January to 3 % last April and is expected to shrink by 8% to 15% this year.”

Asked to comment on Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, Kuleba said: “Russia now does not want to negotiate.”

“Putin's spokesman said a few days ago that Ukraine can end this war the day it lays down its arms and accepts all Russian requests, which means that Russia is not ready for negotiations and is seeking military solutions.”

“Putin's path to the negotiating table is through defeats on the battlefield. Only when he realizes that his army cannot win over Ukraine will he get serious about the talks,” clarified Kuleba.

The Minister stressed that Ukraine will focus on the restoration of territorial integrity, economic recovery, punishment for war crimes, and compensation for damages in any future talks.

Moreover, Ukraine will push for a new system of security guarantees, which is currently under discussion with potential guarantor states.

Discussing prospects for a Saudi role in making Russian-Ukrainian negotiations successful, Kuleba said: “We are grateful for the proposal by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to contribute to de-escalation and mediation between Russia and Ukraine expressed in the call with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on March 3.”

“We expressed the Ukrainian side's interest in deepening engagement with Saudi Arabia and all other Arab countries, especially in the reconstruction efforts,” said Kuleba.

“We also affirmed our hope that the Gulf states will play an active role in solving the current global food and energy problem, which Russia uses as tools of war and pressure on the international community,” he added.

“It is time for decisive action and confident steps,” said the minister.

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