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Ukraine FM Kuleba: “Political animal” Putin aggresses when senses fear, while strength makes him retreat

Ukrainian FM Kuleba urges projecting strength to deter Putin, noting that the Russian leader becomes more aggressive when he senses fear.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during his interview on CNN on 27 April 2024. Screenshot: CNN
Ukraine FM Kuleba: “Political animal” Putin aggresses when senses fear, while strength makes him retreat

In his interview with CNN, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed relief that the latest US $61 billion aid package was finally approved by Congress after months of delay. However, he lamented that the delays cost Ukrainian lives as soldiers lacked sufficient weapons despite their bravery and willingness to sacrifice for their country.

Last fall, President Joe Biden requested $95 billion in foreign aid, including $60.8 billion for Ukraine, but Congressional Republicans stalled the proposal for six months. This delay weakened Ukraine’s defenses in the war with Russia, allowing Russia to capture territory and increase aerial attacks. The aid saga was concluded on 24 April, when US President Joe Biden finally signed an aid bill approved by Congress on the previous day.

It’s good to have America back, and it’s better when good things happen later than do not happen at all. But I do agree that this package should have been passed much, much earlier, and things would turn differently on many accounts,” Dmytro Kuleba told CNN.

The approval of the US aid package after more than six months of political debate in Congress gave a morale boost to the Ukrainian society and is an important “message from Washington that the struggle continues, the fight for freedom and democracy goes on,” according to Kuleba.

Kuleba: “Hallelujah” for US aid, but Ukraine needs more to defeat Russia

Ukraine needs artillery and air defenses

Regarding Russia’s recent gains on the front, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister noted that “everything we lost in between last autumn and now is because we didn’t have, our soldiers did not have enough weapons. They have no shortage of bravery and the will to sacrifice themselves for their country.

US Defense Secretary announces a $6 billion military aid package for Ukraine

When asked what specifically important weapons Ukraine is waiting for after the US aid has been approved, Kuleba noted that when you are at war, you need everything. however, as the most urgent needs, he highlighted air defense systems and artillery:

We need air defense to protect our cities, and we need artillery ammunition and artillery systems to protect our soldiers and to liberate our territories. These are the two key elements. What we do not see [in the Pentagon-announced] package is a battery of Patriots, but we keep working with the US administration on mobilizing more batteries from other countries in [the] short perspective,” the Foreign Minister said.

“Fixing the world if Russia wins would cost much more than supporting Ukraine now”

Dmytro Kuleba was asked to respond to congressional Republicans opposing aid to Ukraine, who argue that the math doesn’t work and that Ukraine’s needs exceed what the US can provide, to which the Foreign Minister answered that Ukraine’s victory hinges on a united front from all countries. He noted that while the US Congress debated the law, Germany and other European nations were making significant decisions and announcing vital aid packages, highlighting that the United States is not alone in its support for Ukraine.

In fact, we see that European countries are increasing their support [for] Ukraine. Ukraine itself increased its own production of weapons and will continue to ramp up its production. And the question to the members of Congress that you’re referring to is simple – if all of these countries are united around the goal of Ukraine’s victory, maybe it’s because they see that this victory is important, is also a matter of their security and prosperity,” Dmytro Kuleba said, adding that whatever the price of supporting Ukraine today is, the price of “fixing the world, if Russia wins in Ukraine, will be much, much higher.

Ukraine’s survival is at stake

Regarding conscription in Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba assured that after passing two new laws, the country’s army “will receive new soldiers and officers to fight because what is at stake here is the survival of a nation” as a sovereign country in the 21st century.

“[W]e know our history. Those who refused to fight for Ukraine with arms, with weapons in their arms [at] the beginning of the 20th century, when we lost our independence to Bolshevik Russia, became afterwards victims of Stalin’s repressions, of Stalin[‘s] genocide against [the] Ukrainian people. We all know what follows when we lose, and therefore we will keep fighting,” Kuleba said.

The US-based think tank ISW predicts more Russian tactical advances but believes Ukrainian defenses will hold with upcoming US support. Russian forces plan a significant offensive, yet are not expected to break Ukrainian lines even with numerical superiority, according to the think tank.

On 25 April, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the US has enough resources to support Ukraine until the end of the year, commenting on the $61 billion aid package recently passed by Congress and signed by President Biden.

Putin is a “political animal” becoming more aggressive when sensing fear, but retreating when he sees strength

Allowing Putin to capitalize on any projected fears or divisions would be an error, Kuleba told CNN, as it would embolden the Russian leader to intensify his aggression opportunistically. Ukraine believes portraying a fearless, unified resolve of strength is the only way to force Putin’s military to retreat.

What we do need is our partners to firmly believe that this victory is attainable, and second, to have no fear towards Putin, because Putin is a political animal who can sense fear, and when he does, he becomes more aggressive. If he sees strength, if he senses the strength as the one recently demonstrated by the Congress he will be forced to step back,” the Ukrainian Foreign minister said.

No plan B for Ukraine

CNN asked Dmytro Kuleba if he was surprised that Congress had passed the Ukrainian aid bill, after international attempts to persuade former US President Donald Trump and his allies to back the aid funding.

In response, Kuleba reiterated his previous statement that Ukraine had no Plan B if the aid bill failed to pass in Congress, relying solely on Plan A.

If you have plan B, make no mistake, you will end up with plan B. This is not what will save Ukraine. Ukraine will win only if it focuses, together with its partners, on plan A, and this is what we will be doing, irrespective of the name of the president of the US,” Dmytro Kuleba noted.

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