The events that followed the signing of the Minsk agreement in the beginning of February demonstrate that Russia has, in fact, issued an ultimatum to Ukraine, Ukraine’s second president, Leonid Kuchma, said in an interview with the newspaper Holos Ukrainy, the official voice of Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament), February 25.
“The president of Russia behaved as if there had been no agreements in Minsk. We were actually given an ultimatum. Either we accept his conditions and stop any resistance or we cease to exist as an independent state. He made it clear that no losses or expenses would deter him from achieving his goal, and his goal is crystal clear now. This is an ultimatum not only to us but to the entire Western world,” Kuchma said. “I pray to God that I am mistaken in my assessment.”
However, Kuchma insisted that Ukraine’s place, geographically and historically, is in a united Europe.
“Our people simply prefer European values. We like the European way of life. We’re sorry that our path to Europe is so long, torturous and painful,” he said.
Additionally, Kuchma said he is glad “that (Ukrainians) do not have an anti-Western, anti-American psychosis” and that they do not idealize or romanticize everything that is foreign.
“We do not have national delusions. We can proudly say that we are a mentally stable people. The way we conduct our lives is not guided by fairy tales or myths but by facts, reality, common sense. We do not claim to be better than others or to have some special rights or demands. Ukrainians are prudent, normal people — in other words modern Europeans. At the present time this is our main asset,” he said.
Leonid Kuchma is Ukraine’s representative at the so-called Tripartite Contact Group, which consists of representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE who are attempting to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the war in the Donbas.