Pavlo KLIMKIN: “We all need to tune into that fight with the Russian aggression will not end tomorrow or the day after”

Last week foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin is almost impossible to find in Kiev. New York, Washington, Munich, new York again — here is the geography of displacement of the head of the Ukrainian foreign Ministry only in the last two weeks. The list of his meetings will take up much more space.

The planet has a fever. The world with apprehension and curiosity watching the first steps of the new American administration led by the eccentric and unpredictable trump. Europe is preparing for the many elections and saying goodbye to the old, familiar and comfortable existence, hardly knowing how she did not drown in the tide of refugees; as, not really fighting and sacrificing their own interests, to temper the geopolitical bulimia Russia; how to adapt to narovliany the White house and without spending too much money, to keep the American security umbrella over the Old world. All is clearly not up to the Ukraine, but it is vital to squeeze into this kaleidoscope of problems with his grim agenda. That runs between the capitals of the Ukrainian Minister trying to convey to the world the pain-ridden aggressor on the part of the country. Using his short stop in Kiev, we did not touch upon the whole range of foreign policy and concentrated on only two key issues in Minsk and other “plans” stop Russian aggression, as well as on the establishment of relations with the new Washington team.

— Paul Medvedev, held the first personal contact — and your and the President – with the new American administration. What are your impressions?

— Building relationships — it’s like jazz: a melody, but each performs his part. We work with the American administration does not single track: contains the track of the national security Council (NSC), is — the state Department, Pentagon, and many others. Now Washington is still in the team formation, for example, only recently appointed as adviser on national security issues; only now really begins the appointment to many positions in the State Department. Today, the formation level of the people responsible for the preparation of political decisions, in fact has just started. Therefore, from the point of view of the key encounters me, of course, was inspired by the conversation of President Poroshenko with the Vice-President of the United States a Penny — inspired atmosphere, and content. It was a very good conversation with the point of view of understanding of Russia’s motives. Of course, we know that in order to understand all the details of what is happening, time is necessary. But the Vice President was aware of all the key details, asking very clear questions, showing his very deep understanding of the situation. Of course, in the interview, I can’t tell you the details, but I can say that his questions showed that he had received information, that is to say, 15 minutes before our meeting.

As for other contacts, I had a very good meeting in Washington. But, notice, it wasn’t a formal visit, it was the desire to stop by one day after the Ministerial meeting in new York in the framework of our presidency in the UN Security Council. In Washington, I met with representatives of the NSS, however, not met as planned with the Advisor for national security, as he resigned just before.

But, according to our information, are you still planning to see Tillerson, however this meeting was not. But the new head of the state Department met with Lavrov.

— I’m Tillerson missed, because he could not come before because of its new York program, and at it the next day there was a program with Netanyahu, and after he flew into Bonn. Lavrov Tillerson met in Bonn on the sidelines of the G-20.

— Why are you in Germany not crossed?

— Just one of the ideas was to meet in Bonn, as we are with the German foreign Minister Gabriel, in turn, discussed the idea that the meeting “Norman Quartet” will take place in Bonn. But then it turned out that the 17-th number, unfortunately, the logistics don’t all fit, and we moved “Normandie” in Munich. Accordingly, to arrange a meeting with Tillerson logistics were difficult. We now select the date when you would likely to meet immediately and Tillerson, and with the newly appointed national security Advisor to the McMaster, and with the new defence Minister Mattis, as there are many aspects that need to be discussed with different members of the new American administration.

— Bankova, but your trip to the US served as the President’s visit and his meeting with trump.

— This is to some extent a matter of perception. During telephone talks between presidents Poroshenko and trump was talking about the fact that you need to prepare to meet them. And then we agreed that it would be my visit. But this visit needs to be filled with meetings with the key representatives of the new administration. Arrival in Washington after new York and the UN security Council — cannot be considered such a visit. Official visit yet and possibly with key-persons will need to meet several times.

— That is today about the date of the meeting of President Poroshenko and the trump talk is premature?

— We are now discussing different options. Today I can not say more, so consciously, so to speak, not to keep the intrigue.

— But at least you can assume it will be up to trump’s meeting with Putin or after? Skeptics, despite the rather hard in recent days the rhetoric of Washington against Russia, still suspect, wrote The Washington Post about foreign policy Tillerson, Russia first.

— I understand it through the lens of emotional perception. Such things are often perceived as symbols.

But diplomacy is always a lot of symbolism.

— I want to say one thing that perhaps goes beyond the diplomatic Protocol. If you see how work the new US administration, it is possible largely to look for symbolism, and this symbolism can still be interpreted. So I would in this particular symbolism was not paying attention. I say this quite seriously and deliberately, even going beyond certain limits of the Protocol. Who first found how built contacts is of course very important, but, nevertheless, we can already see that this American administration is a fundamentally different way than many others. There are external symbols, and there are internal. So, on the outside of the symbolism, I would pay much less attention. And concentrate on the content and on the statements, which were very clear and which many did not expect — that the statements in the UN security Council and the statements of Vice-President, and statements by other important representatives. As I said, it’s like jazz — they are somewhat different wording, but the content have exactly one orientation.

— Let’s clarify for the readers: talking about the statements of the Americans on Crimea and sanctions against Russia?

— Of course. And I think they are extremely clear — that said, the US representative on Tuesday during a meeting of the UN security Council, and what was expressed by the Vice President in Munich. We like to analyze the different statements and to seek for their interpretation. So, the interpretation of these statements should not look. They speak for themselves.

— Can we expect that the new us administration, criticized for being too soft previous reaction to the annexation of Crimea and events in Donbas, will be more decisive and to provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons, what is urge even the Democrats — after their President resigned?

The one who takes decisions, makes several other statements than those who follow the decisions… I think that a significant part (can’t speak about all, because not yet had the opportunity to meet) the representatives of this administration has a very clear idea of what values are and how they should be defended. Many people who came to this administration and have different experiences, different careers, have certain beliefs. It is a fundamental belief (you can even take these words of pathos) as to what freedom, democracy and the rule of law. You can analyze the statements, for example, the current adviser to the President on national security issues, which the Ukrainian media has hyped, the statements of the Secretary of defense, and other persons. I was under the impression that these people have clear convictions and a willingness to defend them. How this will be done from the point of view of the supply of us weapons and other issues — we will work on this. Military-technical cooperation will definitely continue, and that the most important thing to develop.

— Let’s dot the “I”: we need a lethal defensive weapon?

— We definitely need it. I really always say you don’t like this split — lethal and non-lethal. There is a clear concept of defensive weapons. To us it is necessary. We definitely need more high-tech weapons, we need effective cooperation with the United States and NATO, and in many areas. And since I am a significant part of their time on safety issues, so you see that this interaction is really starting to yield results. And, most importantly, the reaction of our friends and colleagues I know and they see what the results are.

— Do you believe in the possibility of a big deal — a “Grand bargain” between America and Russia, about which so much is said?

I don’t believe in opportunity, covering all. Since Russia no one believes. I do not exclude the possibility of elements of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against Islamic radicalism on other issues, but clearly this also will not work, because to fight Islamic radicalism only through military means, must be agreed by all key players in the strategy to which all must adhere.

The capabilities of several deals covering certain issues, I do not exclude. Whether these local deals medium or situational? Perhaps then, and then. Due to various reasons I am inclined to the latter. Most importantly, these deals were not at the expense of others. And the big deal is contrary, in my opinion, the whole logic of American interests.

— How much today still suffers from the irritation of the new American command caused by the statements and behavior of some Ukrainians, including those holding official positions, during the American presidential campaign? Forgive if already Kiev information leak, due to which the scandal broke around Manafort?

— I’ll start with the second question — concerning the history around Manafort. In fact in the US administration there are many people with different relationship history. I don’t have the impression that everything that happened, has something crucial for any of the key representatives of this administration. And the people with whom we communicate, too, there is no such feeling.

— Responsible then it true that the American side reportedly made it clear that a further stay of Valery Chaly led the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington is not?

Clearly not. This information is a hundred percent not true.

But this week the topic of Manafort again surfaced. Constantine kilimnik, “Kiev informant,” American political consultant, as reported by Radio “Freedom” told about the plans — whether Manufactura, whether self — regarding settlement in the Donbass, and the appointment of Yanukovych and Levochkin heads of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. And Yanukovych, meanwhile, writes letters to Trump and Putin…

— Now a lot of politicians who are trying to make some contacts in Washington, saying that they have a unique prescription for everything, including “settlement with Russia.” And the bridges they have with the administration, as it seems, and with some representatives of the establishment, which, again, as it seems, can affect something, actively using lobbyists. My experience with American authorities shows that, of course, such attempts can bring some situational contacts, etc., but the US administration is a very reasonable, balanced and complicated structure of the machine.

But lobbying is part of American political culture.

— Yes, it is, but at the same lobbying in the us administration to go it is impossible, it is absolutely not enough. Attempts to hire any company with direct contacts and to declare that, say, my plan is the best in the world and only he “will lead us to happiness,” only help us to come to power — it is only a sarcastic smile, many people in positions of this administration. Well, the lobbyists, of course, a lot of money.

— But Ukraine as a state also hired lobbies. Whether the Ukrainian state authorities continue to use the services of the American lobbyists?

Meade will not. The Ministry of foreign Affairs creates the structure of a system of public diplomacy, we want to build a systematic understanding of modern Ukraine in the world. But that is another topic. But back to your question, I repeat that there is no fundamental significance and influence on the key players in these stories are not created. And this is not my personal opinion, and those people with whom I spoke, including my friends whom I know for many years. I can say that at the stage of the election campaign someone might pay attention to individual messages from Ukraine, but if you look at who today spins this whole narrative about what we allegedly support one side, you will see that it is only the Russian Federation. So we understand who benefits and why it spins. But the us administration is very, very experienced and, of course, reasonable people to distinguish reality from someone who wants this reality to distort in their favor.

And if you like, I always proceeded from the fact that, given the mood in American society (and we very carefully studied, and on many channels), and given that politics is always an element of irrational motives (and politics is always a mix of the rational and the irrational), then the chances of candidates was about 50 to 50. Moreover, I will say that although my European friends I friendly and criticize, I have to vote for Brexit even made a bet that if you consider the mood in the United Kingdom (as I estimated), the majority still vote for leaving the EU. Although the vast majority of my friends convinced me that this will not happen.

— Given the current pilgrimage of the Ukrainian politicians in Washington, the same story with the voyage Artemenko and his (or someone else) plan of transfer of the Crimea is leased by Russia, do you agree that in Ukraine (as proposed on pages ZN.UA expert Alexander Hara) should adopt a law similar to the us “the Logan act” providing for the punishment of those without authority “directly or indirectly enters into a relationship with a foreign government to address any inconsistencies”?

— I do not exclude that it should be done. All the speculation that the Crimea “will go the way of Alaska” is absolutely a conscious surrender of the Crimea. In the United States such plans, no one seriously discussed. But if you going out any “payments”, so they have someone someone to share. This, too, should not remain silent.

In many countries, despite any internal strife, as a rule, if you don’t all speak the same language, then at least one set of messages to the outside world. And we all use external measurement as a lever for use in domestic politics. And I really don’t like. This is really sad. Because it makes some Ukrainian politicians the target of smiles from our international partners, and some despised.

— Do not you think, which in turn Ukraine is becoming a factor in the political struggle in the United States between Republicans and Democrats, who are now hyping the topic relations team trump (including the election, including the same Manafort) with Russia?

Good question, however, is actually here we are not talking about using Ukraine as a factor in inter-political struggle. Talking about how is built the policy of the United States on key strategic issues, including on Russia. It is clear that there must be a predictable logic of this policy. We all know that the support of democracy and freedom everywhere, including in Ukraine, is not only part of the support values in the United States, it is a fundamental national interest of the United States. And we also understand why this is so. If you are asking in this context, it is possible that to some extent you are right. And if we talk just about the use of Ukraine, in domestic politics, so it doesn’t work there.

— After a meeting with the Penny you already know, who in Washington will be to oversee the Ukrainian direction? Will it be as in the previous administration, the Vice-President or our issues will be addressed mainly in the state Department?

— Of course, I can’t speak for the American administration, but I tend to think that the Vice-President of the United States will play a special role in foreign policy, it is no wonder that he represented the United States at the Munich conference, and I think this is very important because in the American system, the Vice-President is a key figure. But I think that the other is for the NSC, state Department, Pentagon, intelligence community — will work together very effectively. We are now looking at the process of building a new administration. Even such complex and balanced in many dimensions system, like us, also depends on personalities, so the attention of the Vice President to foreign policy, of course, very important.

— By the way, about the role of individuals, including Vice presidents, including the former. It’s true that Mr. Biden visited Ukraine with his son, the famous ties with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings? If gas production in Ukraine and today in the interests of the former Vice President?

Since I’ve heard a lot of speculation on this subject, I can say that as I remember the visits of Joe Biden, with his son, he never came. I heard that his son is engaged in business, but I’ve never heard of, and I say this officially to Joe Biden ever mention this topic during meetings, including in the narrow format.

— Trump is looking at policy through the eyes of a businessman. The Ukraine may be of interest to you? Is Kiev ready to offer new American partners some serious investment projects? And with that goal now resides in the United States, Mr. Lozhkin?

— For what purpose — it is understandable, because Lozhkin Secretary of the investment Council. We, in fact, it is very necessary to brand new high-quality basis to attract American business. Because if you look at his presence, it is, very mildly, totally inadequate. For obvious reasons, American companies operating in the energy sector, have not fully implemented their plans…

— So, maybe, Mr. Tillerson now will somehow help?

— Well, it doesn’t work in this region. However, Yes, he’s known as the man who fantastic insight into the oil and gas industry. But seriously, it is now very opportune moment for the arrival of American business in Ukraine. This is due to the fact that there is scope for investments, for participation in privatization. And this applies to many fields — not only oil and gas but also agriculture, energy efficiency, and IT is where I believe we have enormous potential, we have a lot of pros today work in a global dimension. We need to identify several key areas that can really run the economic engine of the country. I believe that some Assembly plants here, of course, will come, is only part and not the whole palette of the economy. Nobody else in the “Assembly” jobs, the economic miracle did. And in order to go forward, we need to have 5-7-9% economic growth throughout the coming years. And this can happen only when very large-scale investments and use of the special advantages of Ukraine. Because in the world there are many countries competing today for the same Assembly plants. And the wave of investment won’t come until business in Ukraine will not feel secure.

— But trump won the presidency with statements that he will be encouraged to return to the States derived production and creation of jobs in America and not abroad.

One of his domestic priorities — indeed the creation of high performance workplaces in the United States, and this, incidentally, is already happening. What will be the future trade policy, we have to see, because she, too, is still in the process of strategic formation. For example, I do believe in global markets, free trade, exchange of services, capital and of course labour. And I think that the openness of Ukraine — is its fundamental advantage, and we should use it, including to attract American business. Specific projects are going to discuss, because to attract American business really is a mega-priority.

— And again about politics, tell me why in Munich and agreed not to expand the “channel format” at the expense of the United States?

— This mythology that somehow all picked up. In fact, in Munich is one of anything similar did not agree. It did not sound or the “Normandie”, or in individual meetings. Just, as I understand it, when the meetings were held at Tillerson, including Gabriel, were talking about the fact that now, at the moment, “Norman format” function as it is functioning. But the American side is ready to look for the shape of your engagement.

— Before almost every meeting, “Norman Quartet” one of its members, including you, said that hopes for success a little, breakthroughs should not be expected. So, maybe it really was time to change the format? Moreover, the moment seems appropriate: the composition of the Quartet changes again — no longer Steinmeier, will soon be replaced and the representative of France…

— If a suitable time comes and we will all know that something new will give us added value, then, of course, we on this issue to work. We are open to any logic that indeed will bring us victory. But today there is no effective replace the “channel format”, because this format is not only the people of this country in particular, Germany and France, which have invested a lot in this issue — and at the level of Chancellor and President and at the level of Ministers of foreign Affairs. I remember in our press wrote, came when Jean-Marc Ayrault, that, say, a new Minister, never dealt with foreign Affairs, perhaps, he would not be very interesting. Of course, he needed some time to get up to speed, but now it really, really helps me between appointments, and meetings. He understands the logic of events. So we went to the Donbass. And when you’re talking to there in the helicopter, then go and see all around, talk to people — it gives a certain emotional burden, and I saw how care was Steinmeier and Ero to communicate with those who were forced to leave their homes to listen to these in human history.

So I think that today is “Normandy format”, it works, but it cannot give us the desired result because of the position of Russia. However, the Germans and the French are helping us in many questions to keep Russia in some part of the logic of Minsk.

— Well, if France will win Le Pen?

— But if “if”… I say to all, believe that Le Pen need to communicate using the arguments, including the emotional. Here I met Le Mayor, agreed that talk with Fillon, has requested a meeting with Him and Amon. But I believe that all needed to talk and to give them the real facts. Of course, we all know that Russia is funding the front national, however, see how his representative will respond to what the people in Crimea pushed into a mental hospital, as in Soviet times, people go missing, UN officials and international humanitarian organizations are not allowed on the Peninsula. It is necessary to use different methods of influence.

Frau Merkel acknowledged that today there are no conditions for the implementation of the political part of Minsk agreements, Ukraine has committed itself to begin the implementation of the political part of Minsk, in spite of it. Who, when and why did you make that promise?

We promised only one thing, and from the beginning was this position: we are ready to discuss the different clauses of Minsk, we are ready to discuss them in parallel, because we are, after all, need one “road map” of implementation of Minsk. It was a fundamental position from the beginning. Regarding the political part… so I met with some new foreign Ministers and tried to be specific. First of all, I laid out a map of the occupied Donbass…

— Maybe better them there personally to carry? And not only Linkevičius.

— So I drive. For example, a Danish colleague was ready to go, but the SMM was not allowed, say dangerous. However, left out of Mariupol and heard a howitzer there for us to shoot.

So, when I talked to one of the newly appointed Ministers (and his before that Lavrov spoke about the political part of Minsk), I said, “Okay, let’s say nothing happens — neither in security nor with the release of our hostages, and let’s say, purely theoretically, while we take tomorrow the law on local self-government. That’s what will happen the day after tomorrow?” He asks: “what am I doing?” I answered him: “So everything I told you and what you have written in your thesis, it will be legalized — there will be a Russian colony, a Russian protectorate, in fact, unfrozen conflict for the whole of Europe. And he answered: “Indeed. I know exactly how you feel”.

I am often asked: but you’re under pressure from someone to start the political part of Minsk right now, in parallel with at least a partial fulfillment of the terms of security? And I explain to all what would happen if right now to begin to implement “policy.” The problem is not that we want to accomplish, the problem is that the legalization there of Russian reality, the Russian protectorate is the bomb I once compared with nuclear, in the heart of Europe. They need to understand that if in Minsk will move in this order, as Moscow wants, then prepare everything in order to destroy not only Ukrainian, but European reality. Therefore, it is necessary to fulfill the requirements of basic security simultaneously to release the hostages, and then somehow move to that in the Donbass returned to a normal life. And that’s when there will be normal reality, then we can go further.

To be honest, not all politicians in Europe understand that, but the vast majority understands. I’m still going to talk even with those who does not accept our logic. Here in Germany there are leftist, and some of them went to the Donbass. But this does not mean that we refuse them to lead a tough discussion. They need to try to push, but to push arguments, facts and emotions, and say to them: if you support murder and torture people, then you must say so in their own country. And we have to go to German, French, and other media and say, look, I support these political forces! Then they will come under public pressure. And then they position themselves in a particular segment as fighters for something. We need a fairly elaborate strategic vision of how we can beat the Russian propaganda, aimed primarily on the left flank but on the right too.

— Minsk is not working from the very beginning — for two years. But all his “godparents” persistently assert that no alternative to it. Maybe it’s not because nobody’s looking for? Here in Ukraine itself there is some alternative strategy, we can offer something instead of Minsk?

— I believe that the issue is neither in Minsk, nor in the “channel format”. We need to honestly tell yourself and the society: we all need to tune into that fight with the Russian aggression will continue, it will not end tomorrow or the day after. There is no magic way to achieve tomorrow a fantastic agreement, after which Russia will cease to destabilize us. As for Russia, any success of Ukraine as a democratic European state is a fundamental attack on the logic of the Russian system. To say that Ukraine, which really started the Central European civilization, actually began the Orthodoxy in Central Europe, can be an effective and democratic European center against the background of Russia’s claims that supposedly there is some kind of parallel system of values, with separate historical and public reality, the system is rooted not even in the Soviet Union, and the return to Imperial thinking, for Moscow it is impossible. Therefore, today’s Russia will not stop sequential actions to destabilize Ukraine. It is necessary to clearly tune into what this struggle will continue. And it is, as I personally believe, will make us stronger. Well there is no magic recipe, after which Russia will suddenly say, okay, go safely further, and we stopped to destabilize you!

— So it turns out that Minsk is a Fig leaf that everyone is trying to cover up their helplessness.

— Let’s separate the righteous from the sinful. In Minsk there are practical things, like how to achieve a ceasefire. Is it necessary? Need. Breeding forces necessary? Necessary. Increase the OSCE presence necessary? Yes.

— A “special status” ORDO also necessary?

— The political logic must come when Russia from the Donbass go. All logic defined in the Minsk agreement is the withdrawal of Russia from the currently occupied territories, not only in the sense of regular troops, but all its weapons. The international community is there with us should go. So there are practical things that are part of Minsk you can do. But the hope that Minsk will be the magic wand that will stop the destabilization of Russia in Ukraine, it is time to stop. We understand all this.

If Moscow wanted to fulfill the Minsk agreements, it would have been simple enough. Because the meaning of the Minsk is the first to achieve safety, when to stop shooting, then give the international community an opportunity to control the process with its gradual expansion, and then with a gradual stabilization of waves to go forward. But if the objective is to destabilize Ukraine, not only through the Donbass, the Minsk process is where it is located. This is not a problem of the Minsk process, and the problem of Russia’s position. And no one should expect tomorrow in Moscow suddenly say: well, everybody, we begin to fulfill the Minsk agreements. The only thing I’m afraid there is consistent international solidarity and its use in practical politics. For now, Russia’s role is fundamentally limited in making world decisions. It’s not just the sanctions, although they are an important element in this logic of solidarity. If Russia can’t sit like a normal partner at the table, so it can’t be a global leader. As a global leader for some reason, she be really want.

We need this strong international coalition that we held — and the Donbass, and the Crimea. In Russia, no one expected that the sanctions can be maintained for three years. They never thought that we will be able to accept the UN resolution on Crimea. They are very afraid of our claims that are already in the international courts. And only such a systematic and consistent position over time can yield results, and Ukraine will become stronger, and communications with our partners to grow stronger.

We need to attune ourselves that we are fighting on and build the Ukraine, the social system, the dream. Only this should be our mood. Here I have Americans say: in the town the first battalion of the 72nd brigade, which was trained together with our American friends — this is the real Ukrainian spirit, but the overall professionalism, and we need to extend this experience of the first battalion in the whole country. That’s the only way it will work. Because there is no magic solution that Russia at some point just stop.

Basically, I think that for us it including the chance to emerge as a strong nation and move forward. Now, because of the Russian aggression, we can’t be wasting time like spent twenty-odd years since independence. But could be too far away…