Ukrainian Ambassador: ‘We’re ready for a full-scale war with Russia’


Ukrainian Ambassador to Estonia Viktor Kryzhanivsky addresses an international relations class at Tallinn University of Technology on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Madeleine Winer

Kent State students sat front row as Ukrainian ambassador to Estonia Viktor Kryzhanivsky told students at Tallinn University of Technology that Ukraine is preparing for a full-scale war with Russia.

Students part of Kent State’s international storytelling course reporting in Estonia this week covered Kryzhanivsky’s speech to an international relations class while tensions escalated in Ukraine. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of the Crimea peninsula signed a treaty claiming the territory as part of Russia.

“They made a number of absolutely illegal steps. Each makes my country left without part of its territory,” Kryzhanivsky said about Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula. “Now countries are recognizing this fact, and we hear it from the European Union, United States and Canada and all over the world the support of the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.”

Kryzhanivsky said 60,000 Russian troops have organized 20 meters away from the Ukrainian-Russian border. Ukrainian troops have done the same. He said the international community still regards Crimea as part of Ukraine, even though Russia does not.

While he hopes the two countries can find political and diplomatic solutions to the crisis, he said Ukraine is preparing to be attacked by the Russian Federation despite its army’s small size. He hopes international aid — especially from NATO and the U.S. — will come to Ukraine’s aid should military action ensue.

Kryzhanivsky said the U.S., Canada and Estonia have been Ukraine’s greatest allies in the conflict. Kryzhanivsky cited Estonia as an active presence in talks with the European Union — of which Ukraine is not a member — to take harsher sanctions against Russia, which will be decided Thursday during the next meeting of The Summit of the European Union.

He said U.S. sanctions — which froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials including top advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin — are not being recognized by Russia.

“We have to understand that Putin … he does not pay much attention to sanctions and the NATO and U.S. are not military into the country at this time,” Kryzhanivsky said. “There are signs that Russia will take us [Ukraine] from the north and east.”

Kryzhanivsky said Russia attacked Ukraine at its weakest moment, something he believes they had been planning for more than 10 years. Uprisings in Ukraine started in its capital city of Kiev when Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych announced Ukraine would abandon a trade agreement with the EU and seek closer ties with Moscow.

“Russia looked for the best moment to attack,” Kryzhanivsky said. “Twenty-two years of independence is a smart time to prepare for an invasion. Ukraine had no political or military action prepared. Now, all of the (Ukrainian) military is equipped and has been brought to the border.”

Political turmoil in Ukraine comes in the wake of the country’s upcoming presidential elections set for May 25.

He said European countries such as France have pledged military assistance to the Ukraine if Russia were to invade. He said the European Union is planning on cutting economic and trade relations in Moscow, which would mean finding substitutes to $30 billion in gas supply.

Kryzhanivsky said Crimean Tatars — Turkic and Mongolian Muslims living in Crimea before they were persecuted under Soviet rule — could face a second ethnic cleansing as government separatists are asking them to leave. If they have Russian-backed support, about 260,000 Tatars would be in jeopardy.

With Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, Kryzhanivsky said Crimeans will “very soon feel a difference” under Russian rule. He said Ukraine — with the help of international powers — will be ready for Russia’s next moves.

Contact Madeleine Winer at [email protected].