The military operation in eastern Ukraine is directed against terrorists, not protesters, says Ukraine's Ambassador to Germany, Pavlo Klimkin. He says they will not affect planned talks in Geneva.
DW: Your government has launched a long-awaited offensive against the separatists in eastern Ukraine. Can you explain the purpose of the operation?
Pavlo Klimkin: It must be said clearly that this is not an operation against separatists or protesters, but that it is an anti-terrorist operation. And indeed, against the terrorists who carry weapons, who stormed public buildings using weapons and who took hostages. The operation is aimed only at them and not the peaceful protesters. One must draw a clear distinction. The goal is to re-establish security in all regions of eastern Ukraine.
There were doubts as to whether the Ukrainian government would even be able to organize such an operation.
The government is entirely capable of organizing an operation of this kind. It's very important to prevent a further spiral of violence and to protect human life. It is important to ensure security in this region. For example, there are reports from the Donetsk region that the terrorists have seized vehicles containing baby food. That means a normal life is not possible under these conditions.
On Thursday, talks are set to begin on a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Ukraine, Russia, the US and the EU are to take part in Geneva. Russia had threatened not to participate, if force was used against the separatists in eastern Ukraine. Is Ukraine putting the meeting in Geneva at risk?
We need this meeting because we need to talk. The US and the EU need to be at the table, because there is currently an absence of trust between the sides. However, the talks are also in Russia's interest because Russia's current involvement in eastern Ukraine is a critical factor. Without its intervention, this kind of unrest would not be imaginable. For example, eastern Ukraine was very quiet during the events in Crimea. This is also evidence that all these disturbances are orchestrated and supported by the Russian side.
Somewhat indirect evidence…
We have lots of evidence. You should just take a look at the official websites of our agencies. They provide plenty of evidence that Russian special forces are currently active in Ukraine. [On Monday,14.04.2014,] we intercepted some of the phone calls between the Russian special units. And now, we also know the names of those who were speaking. This is not the only evidence. It should therefore now be clear to all what is going on.
The Russian side says that was staged by the Ukrainian intelligence service...
During the events in Crimea, the Russian side also said there were no Russian troops in Crimea. But we all saw those special units - without insignia, but they were there. And now, the Russian side is saying the same about eastern Ukraine.
The economic situation in Ukraine is very difficult. The EU has now pledged a billion euros in aid, and previously offered more than 600 million. Has any of this aid already arrived?
The money will be flowing soon. It is tied to an International Monetary Fund program. On Monday (14.04.2014), three of our ministers, including the finance and economics ministers, were in Washington to arrange everything with the IMF. There is now a clear program of reforms. The funds will be invested, and in return, Ukraine must stick to these reforms.
In the current situation is Ukraine at all able to meet these requirements?
Absolutely. We have already initiated some reforms, such as in the banking sector. In such a sensitive area as public procurement, parliament has already approved a number of laws, which have come into force and are being implemented. There have been cases in Ukraine where earlier laws were approved and we had big problems with the implementation. Now we can provide first evidence that the laws are being implemented, and then the money can flow.
One last question: Do you think that the talks in Geneva will happen, despite the military operation in eastern Ukraine?
Yes, I think we need a political solution. That's something Moscow should also understand. Moscow also needs a solution, because Russia doesn't exist in a vacuum, but in an interconnected world. And Russia needs acceptance as a partner. If this is not the case, we all need to think about how we should proceed further.
Pavlo Klimkin was born in Kursk in 1967. A trained physicist, he has been Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany since 2012.
The interview was conducted by Bernd Grässler.