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There should be no engagement of Russia until it withdraws troops from Ukraine, Ukraine FM says at EU Foreign Affairs Council Meeting

“No other country in the world wants peace in Ukraine more than Ukraine itself. Putin does not want any compromises right now. This is why President Zelensky clearly stressed: Russia must withdraw troops from the Ukrainian territory within internationally recognized borders. This will pave the wave for the peace process,” Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said at EU Foreign Affairs Council Meeting.

He emphasized that sanctions helped Ukraine seriously slow down the Russian war machine. “The cost of sanctions is actually minimal compared to the ability to preserve security in the EU and neutralize the Russian threat to Europe,” he said

Kuleba believes that three major issues are stronger energy sanctions on Russia, expanding the list of individual sanctions, and a total ban on Russian propaganda.

“We need a full-scale energy embargo to stop the war. Situation over the oil price cap raises concerns as well as disappointment.

Russian propaganda. I believe that in current circumstances it is truly suicidal to allow any Russian propaganda to continue operating in the EU. They are state propaganda with only one aim: to instigate war, ruin democracies and all our values.

Individual sanctions need to be expanded. In particular, we list those involved in illegal actions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukraine has already introduced such sanctions at the national level. We handed the list over to the EU,” Kuleba said.

Kuleba said that air defense systems are still a top-priority for Ukraine. Besides, EU’s macro-financial assistance is critical. “There is not a single Ukrainian power plant that has not been affected, damaged one way or another by Russian attacks. We do need urgent deliveries of energy equipment, first and foremost transformers, and I am grateful to those of you who have already taken relevant steps.”

The Black Sea Grain initiative must keep functioning too, Kuleba stressed adding that Ukraine remains fully committed to it.

Kuleba called on to recognize Holodomor as a genocide of Ukrainians:

“On November 26th, we will be commemorating 90 years since the beginning of the Holodomor. This was s Soviet genocide of the Ukrainian people. Stalin used hunger as a weapon to destroy the Ukrainian nation and killed millions of people by starvation. The world turned a blind eye on this horror 90 years ago, but we owe the victims of this genocide at least memory today. I sincerely call on all of you to make this timely political move in support of Ukraine and recognize the Holodomor as genocide of Ukrainians. A genocide and nothing else. No half-solutions, no obscure formulas. Evil must be called by its name. This is ever more timely because right now another dictator in Moscow proceeds with another genocide of the Ukrainian people, a second one in less than a century. The recognition of the Holodomor will also help us explain to public opinion in the EU why the current Russian war matters, and give it a historical perspective.”

Despite the war, Ukraine is moving forward to the EU membership first implementing the seven steps outlined by the EU Commission “at a good pace,” according to Kuleba who also said Ukraine is determined to complete the list by the end of the year. Creating a special tribunal  for Russia’s war crimes is not less important, Kuleba added.

“Let’s stay principled and not seek normalization of Russian aggression one way or another. Please, state it clearly that there will be no normalization or engagement of Russia until it withdraws troops from Ukraine. This includes not giving floor to Russia, including its Foreign Minister. He is formally our colleague, but in reality a war criminal complicit in the crime of aggression against Ukraine. A person who chose to violate all norms of international law and vigorously, fiercely defend these violations across the world. I have just come back from ASEAN summit in Cambodia where some countries tried to use the “both, Ukraine and Russia, are our friends” argument. Let me say this: supporting Ukrainians and tolerating Russian criminals are irreconcilable. My message is very simple. There should be no place for people like him in Europe and elsewhere. No considerations can justify their presence at any European forum.

There have been an awful lot of media speculations around the peace process lately. I will be crystal clear. No other country in the world wants peace in Ukraine more than Ukraine itself. We have never wanted this war in the first place. But we also know that accepting Russian ultimatums will not bring peace. Quite the opposite. Russia wants a pause to replenish its forces and launch an even more brutal attack as soon as it will be able to do so. Unfortunately, we have not heard any constructive proposals from Russia, and we will not, let’s be realists. Signals from Russia that they are open for talks is nothing else but a smoke screen for its continued aggression. Putin does not want any compromises right now. This is why President Zelensky clearly stressed: Russia must withdraw troops from the Ukrainian territory within internationally recognized borders. This will pave the wave for the peace process.

Those who think this will not happen because it can not happen and so on – remember at Kherson. It can happen. But we need to remain principled. This is a new 1938 moment for Europe and certainly not a time to seek “Peace for our time”. We need real peace this time. Otherwise, all of our names will be put down in history books as appeasers who failed to prevent a catastrophe. And none of us, I mean both you and me, are interested in this.

If we stay united and principled during these difficult times, we will also celebrate the restoration of peace and security in Europe. And the more support there will be, the more weapons we receive, the sooner it will be,” Kueba cocluded.

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