The Ukrainian ambassador to Nicosia, Ruslan Nimchinsky, speaks bluntly to the “CITIZEN” about the Russian invasion, but also the Russian propaganda, answers about the Azov constitution, and explains the importance of relations with Cyprus and the support of Ukraine by the Cypriot Church, but also why, in the end, the international sanctions against Moscow are so important
Being Ukraine's ambassador today seems to be a privileged position, especially in most European countries, in terms of sympathy and support. How is this in Cyprus?
Is true. And not just in EU countries. The United States, the United Kingdom and many others around the world today, steadfastly and unconditionally, support Ukraine and offer us critical assistance. The people of Ukraine are deeply grateful for this and will never forget this invaluable help at this difficult time in our history. And it is very true for Cyprus, I must tell you. My personal experience has always been positive here. Our common desire to bring mutually beneficial cooperation between Ukraine and Cyprus to a new level began during my time in Kyiv, when I first met the (former) Ambassador of Cyprus, Louis Telemachus. Everywhere & # 8211; From the leadership of the government services, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the representatives of Cypriot companies and non-governmental organizations, I experienced here sympathy, enthusiasm and a sincere desire to help and assist. This is very encouraging, because I too came to your beautiful country with the sincere desire and intention to develop and strengthen the relations of friendship, trust and mutual understanding between Ukraine and Cyprus. I can not help but mention that the beginning of my term as Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Cyprus coincided with an extraordinary event & # 8211; the historic decision of the Primate of the Cypriot Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostom B & # 8217; to recognize the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Frankly, it is impossible to overestimate the historical significance and importance of this step for the people of Ukraine.
Unfortunately, the large-scale Russian attack on Ukraine has negatively affected the dynamics of bilateral Ukrainian-Cypriot cooperation in many areas. However, from the first day of the war, we felt the firm position of the leadership of the Republic of Cyprus in support of Ukraine and the strong readiness to provide assistance to our people, especially humanitarian. Once again we made sure that you see your real friend in trouble.
Ukrainians living here, and especially people who left Ukraine after the war and came as refugees or were trapped here because of the war, still face a number of problems. What are the most urgent? Is the Cypriot state helping, and what could the people do to help and assist Ukraine?
Russia's large-scale war against Ukraine has been an incredibly difficult ordeal and tragedy for millions of Ukrainians. It is difficult to imagine the fate of millions of my compatriots without the assistance that EU Member States, including the Republic of Cyprus, have provided and continue to provide. I do not tire of repeating words of deep gratitude to the President of the Republic, the Government and the Parliament for the immediate decisions taken to help Ukraine and the thousands of temporarily displaced citizens who have found protection in Cyprus.
We are fully aware of the complexity of the economic and socio-economic challenges facing the Cypriot government in implementing the temporary protection program for Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homeland. From the beginning, and on a daily basis, our embassy coordinates the efforts with all the respective ministries and services of Cyprus, as well as with the municipal authorities, in order to deal with a wide range of issues & # 8211; consular, social, housing, medical, educational and many more & # 8211; faced by the Ukrainians in Cyprus. Our approach is the immediate resolution of issues that arise by responding around the clock and simplifying bureaucratic procedures where possible. This is a continuous and demanding process. It can not be easy. The Ukrainian community of Cyprus and voluntary organizations also play an important role in this. I am sure it would not be an exaggeration to say that the conditions created for the Ukrainians in Cyprus are objectively quite good and in some cases considerably more attractive. And this is not only due to the excellent opportunities that Cyprus offers as a resort.
The priority for us is the collection and provision of targeted humanitarian aid to those in Ukraine who are in urgent and critical need of medical supplies, food, mobile homes, power generators, etc. We would greatly appreciate any possible assistance in this endeavor.
Russian misinformation is also effective in a part of society here. I imagine it must be quite frustrating to see him as ambassador to Ukraine, in a period of invasion and with his country being attacked. Why aren't these people able to see what's going on there and what is the message you want to send them?
Unfortunately, Russian propaganda has been spreading around the world for decades. A few weeks ago I published an article on this topic. The Russian propaganda machine produces endless streams of false and misleading stories. After all, it is a weapon of war. In some cases, people do not just want to check and compare the news with other sources.
Aggressive propaganda is mainly a tool of division, pressure on Russian foreign interests or changing people's perceptions. This misinformation has become widespread over the years. All independent Russian media that existed before the war have now been banned and many of these journalists have also left Russia. In fact, journalism is now banned in Russia, with no alternative. Russian propaganda is systematic, professional and surprisingly effective, especially in Western societies, which are not immune to such outright lies.
If I have only one message to convey to the public, I would definitely say that the Ukrainians are fighting today, not just for their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and their future. Ukrainians are fighting for the whole democratic world, for its democratic values and principles, for the rule of law, for the right to live and to make a free choice. And if you share the same ideas, then you should support us and help us to stop this war, to stop the attacker, to stop the enemy.
The Azov Regiment
But what about Azov and the far right in Ukraine? Are the allegations of atrocities committed by them in the past true or not?
The Azov Regiment is one of the building blocks of the 12th Operational Brigade of the Ukrainian National Guard. It should not be equated with public or political organizations and movements with similar names. The Armed Forces of Ukraine and the National Guard of Ukraine are out of politics.
There are no units created on the basis of the ideology between the Ukrainian National Guard, nor between the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The only possible ideology of any unit of the National Guard of Ukraine is the Disciplinary Statute. Among other rules, it mentions the obligation & # 8216; to respect human rights, honor and dignity and to refrain from expressions and actions that may violate human rights or humiliate the honor and dignity of a person & # 8217 ;.
Moreover, unlike some volunteer units set up in 2014, Azov has never been an informal formation. From the beginning, this unit operated in the structure of the Ministry of Interior.
From the beginning, the unit was targeted by Russian propaganda for spreading false and unreliable information. The myths about the “Nazis” are mainly reflected in the emblem of Azov. It is constantly spread by the Russian media and those close to the attacking state, trying to link it to Nazi symbols. But this does not describe Azov's activities at all. There were no other facts to present or confirm. Every time only attempts are made to discredit in this way one of the most capable units of the National Guard of Ukraine. One of the factors that determines the viability of the myth of Ukrainian fascism is that it is only beneficial to Russia.
There is no restriction on who could become a member of the constitution. Are there people of different ethnic backgrounds & # 8211; Russians, Jews, Crimean Tatars among others, with various religious and political views. The majority of staff have Russian as their mother tongue.
Today, the Azov constitution protects the civilians of Mariupol from extermination. His soldiers defend their land and protect people of different nationalities and religions living in our country. So, the short answer to the question about the “Nazis of Azov” is: No, Azov is not a neo-Nazi constitution. There is absolutely no basis for accusations that neo-Nazis are serving in the Azov constitution.
Many EU leaders are traveling to Kyiv in solidarity with Ukraine. Are you aware of any such intentions or have you received a request from our government and leadership for a similar visit?
You are right. Many European leaders have already visited Kyiv only recently and we expect more visits in the near future. This is a move of solidarity with Ukraine, with our people. It is also a sign of support for our European perspective. We are working with our Cypriot friends on this part and I hope we will have more details soon. On the other hand, we are constantly maintaining political contacts at various levels, addressing some important issues on our agenda.
The main issue that concerns us today is the status of Ukraine as a candidate country for EU membership and we look forward to the support of Cyprus in favor of this decision at the forthcoming EU summit in June.
We firmly believe that it will It is a historic decision for the people of Ukraine, given the price they paid on the way to our European future and in our struggle for the future of Europe.
Contact with the Russians
I was in Kyiv a month ago and saw the incredible extent of the disaster in places like Bucia, Borodyanka and other cities around the capital. It seems to me that even if the invasion somehow ends, even if the regime in Moscow is overthrown, it will take decades to establish any contact with the Russians in Ukraine. Am I right to assume that?
This war will only end with our victory. There is no doubt about & # 8217; this. And yes, rebuilding any kind of dialogue with the Russians will be an extremely difficult task for anyone in Ukraine. As our President said, & # 8216; we will never forgive the hundreds of victims, nor will we forgive them for the thousands who are still suffering. God will not forgive, neither today nor tomorrow. Never”. The Ukrainians will never forgive and will never forget the atrocities committed in Mariupol, Bucia, Borodyanka, Irpin and many other cities. How many more citizens will give their lives for the future of our nation?
What about the situation in Mariupol?
The humanitarian situation there is appalling. Our once prosperous city is almost destroyed. We certainly welcome the evacuation of 156 residents of Mariupol from the Azovstal steel plant, however many citizens remain in the factory and must urgently leave. Russia is trying to level the plant. The lives of people trapped there are in danger. Hundreds of wounded Ukrainian soldiers remain stranded at the plant. We demand the immediate evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers in accordance with international humanitarian law.
For 77 years the people have been claiming & # 8216; Never again & # 8217 ;, but today, launching a full-scale war in Ukraine, Russia has attacked the very base of the international security system created after the end of the Cold War. With the brutal offensive war and the massive war crimes in Ukraine, the Russians have lost all moral standing to present themselves as & # 8216; liberators of Europe & # 8217 ;. We call on the international community to take the May 9 celebrations from Russia as they are: propaganda shows that have nothing to do with the celebration of B & # 8217; World War II. Ukraine strongly condemns Russia's intention to hold a so-called parade in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The forced participation of Ukrainian soldiers, who were captured by the invaders, will be considered a war crime in violation of the Geneva Conventions. But if there is one thing that unites the peoples living in Ukraine today, it is the belief in our victory.
There should be no talk of lifting sanctions in Moscow while Russian troops are in place. in Ukraine and the threat of Russian aggression continues to hover over Europe. Russia says ending sanctions against it is an essential part of any agreement with Kyiv. What do you think about this term?
Sanctions have been imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. These unprecedented sanctions are crucial to undermining Russia's economic and financial capabilities to continue its aggression against our country. The European Union is currently preparing the sixth package of sanctions, announced by the President of the European Commission. Russia is already paying a high price for its aggression. The sanctions had already pushed back Russia's economy by 15 years or more, but now it is necessary to go to the maximum level of sanctions, since the worst in terms of atrocities had already happened.
These sanctions are not needed as an end in itself, but as a practical tool to motivate Russia to pursue peace and end this barbaric, inhuman war.
There should be no talk of lifting sanctions while Russian troops are in Ukraine and the threat of Russian aggression continues to hover over Europe. We must see the full territorial integrity of Ukraine restored. We must see that Russia will pay for all its atrocities in Ukraine, for all that the Russian troops did to our cities and to our citizens.