Mijailo Podoliak, the Ukrainian negotiator: “We demand the defeat of Russia and its withdrawal to the borders of independence in 1991” | International
is the headline of the news that the author of WTM News has collected this article. Stay tuned to WTM News to stay up to date with the latest news on this topic. We ask you to follow us on social networks.
Mijailo Podoliak sleeps in the bomb shelter of the presidential headquarters, in the center of kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. They say in his environment that it is easier to work and at the same time be protected. He lives there. Since February, the offices of the country’s president, comedian Volodímir Zelenski, about 900 meters from Independence Square, the Maidan, have been a huge bunker taken over by dozens of soldiers with rifles, gate controls and armored doors. The light is dim. It’s twelve noon on a Saturday and outside, the sun breaks against the concrete of the entrance. Inside, uniformed khakis stand guard under wall and ceiling lamps. hard to see The curtains are drawn and many windows leave only a small hole in the center around sandbags stacked in a grid.
Podoliak, Zelensky’s chief adviser and negotiator, was born 50 years ago in the city of Novovolinsk, a stone’s throw from the Polish border. An expert communicator, he has been at the forefront of several media outlets, including one in Belarus that led him to be deported for his criticism of Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime. dress sport, receives with good light in his office. It is not like in the photos, in which she always appears with an extremely serious expression. He is solicitous and even laughs what the context allows. His office is his house. There are a dozen pairs of shoes next to the desk, several shirts stretched out on a chair, camouflage vests… “War is war, it transforms life”, he says, “there are no holidays, we work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. the week, but we realize that those who are in the forefront, on the front line, have a much worse time”.
Like those two soldiers on crutches in the photo he has framed on the wall of his office. They were immortalized by Dmitro Kozatskii, the photographer who photographed the resistance at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. Asked about his family, Podoliak prefers prudence: “It’s not a matter for the press.”
Ask. He is known as the negotiator of the Government of Ukraine. Is there a negotiation with Russia?
Response. Today there are no talks on war and peace because it is impossible to find a point of consensus. For Russia it is extremely important to fix the newly occupied territories. For Ukraine it is not possible to debate in these conditions. I want my Spanish friends to understand one key thing: if the talks are held today, Russia will want to consolidate the occupied areas, the Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Lugansk regions… This will mean that Russia’s appetites will increase and we will have a continuation of the war passed some time. Russia will become much more aggressive in the European market, creating total chaos. Europe will pay dearly with the drop in its quality of life. If Europe wants the pre-war Ukraine to be restored, it is imperative that we tactically expel from its territory Russia and that it transform its political system, currently aggressive. Only then will Europe be able to return to a peaceful life.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
P. What are the conditions of the Ukrainian Government to sit down to speak?
R. The initial demands were the withdrawal of the troops to the line of February 23 [el día anterior a la invasión rusa] and the ceasefire. After the crimes committed in the kyiv region, also in the south and in the east, the conditions are different. First there is the tactical defeat of Russia, then the withdrawal beyond the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine, that is, the limits of the year 1991 [año de la declaración de independencia de la URSS]. If it remains even just a flashpoint with Russia, it will be an unfinished war. If Russia does not lose, it will continue to provoke Europe in enclaves such as Transnistria, Georgia or northern Kazakhstan.
P. Can the deal to unlock grain facilitate a ceasefire?
R. It’s totally different. The grain deal is a small part of this war, it does not solve the basic questions of Ukraine’s security, of its integrity. Russia had an interest in seeing the grain shipped to Africa and the Middle East. There was pressure from Turkey on Russia, from the countries of the Middle East, some of them neutral or even pro-Russian. To ease the pressure, Russia had to give in. But the original Russian plan was not to transport the grain, but to create hunger in those regions to create a migration crisis, which would result in a flow of immigrants to Europe, including Spain. That would force Europe to put pressure on the Ukrainian government to sign peace at all costs.
P. After the signing of this agreement, Russia attacked Odessa, from where the freighters depart, and its government stated that Moscow cannot be trusted. Do you have any interlocutor on the Russian side with whom you can talk?
R. No. In the bombing of Odessa it was not so much the damage to its infrastructure, but to the image of [presidente turco, Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, who was in charge of guaranteeing the security of the agreement. Unfortunately, in the current Russian elite there are no suitable people, with the correct intellectual and analytical capacity to understand the situation. They believe they have the right to invade and kill, they are under the influence of propaganda. Russia does not understand that there are no pro-Russian tendencies here, that Ukraine has other values. She does not understand Europe, democracy or freedom.
P. You have criticized that Europe for the slowness in sending weapons, do you think that these criticisms could be turned against Ukraine?
R. Of course there was criticism because every day there were people who were killed. Russia was attacking with cruise missiles and it was a reaction of emotion to see our children killed. On the other hand, we note that there is a supply of arms, that Europe is pro-Ukraine. But we understand that there is bureaucracy, a certain conservatism that must be faced, discussions and difficulties in the production of weapons. If Europe wants to accelerate the end of the war, its mathematics must be understood, there is no parity in arms for now because Russia has accumulated multiple missile launch systems, artillery… The sooner we can expel Russia from our territory, the sooner we can talk about the war ends. Let’s leave emotions aside, let’s get carried away by logic. If we want to hasten the end of the war and the defeat of Russia, we need the weapons; if we want to minimize loss of life, we need heavy weapons. It is pure logic.
P. Is Europe late then?
R. Of course We would have wanted more aid in volume and speed in the first days of the war, this would have allowed us to save more lives. Those weapons would have allowed us to defeat more troops of the Russian army, reduce the magnitude of its aggression and propaganda. But we understand that it was difficult to become aware of such a war in Europe. We know that the average citizen was shocked because this was a war on the scale of World War II. For a time, the idea that Russia was a potential business partner, giant, but civilized, dominated. Russia invested a lot in politics, but also in culture, literature, ballet, which is typical for that country. And that did not let Europe understand that she was not a civilized nation but rather a barbaric and terrible one. Now there is no doubt that Europe, Spain included, understands that Russia is a different country where a murder is acceptable.
P. He spoke before letting go of emotions, but governments tend to attend to the emotions of citizens. Are you afraid that European public opinion will forget Ukraine?
R. Absolutely not. War is war, it does not disappear because we stop thinking about it. It is clear that in Madrid it is not perceived as in kyiv or Odessa. It will leave its traces, it will be a constant decrease in the quality of life, there will be more political conflicts. You will not be able to stop thinking about this war at any time. Europe has to understand that we will fight to the end, it is a question of the survival of our state. For Europe there has to be only one correct ending, the maximum help to Ukraine, which is fighting against the Russian empire. Russia has to lose, only then will a stable peace be achieved, a quiet life, fewer criminal demonstrations by Nazi and far-right groups financed in Europe by Russia. Moreover, other conflicts, such as the one in Syria, may be brought to an end, and support for other authoritarian regimes will decline. Whether or not there is fatigue, Europe has to understand that Russia, as it is now, has to cease to exist and has to happen here, in Ukraine.
P. Amnesty International has accused the Ukrainian government of endangering the civilian population. What is your assessment?
R. Negative. I believe that the concept of international humanitarian institutions is discredited and will have dire consequences. Amnesty International thus justifies the invasion, the barbaric way of waging war. This organization rejects that the attacked country protect its citizens, asks that it hand over its territory to an enemy that attacks infrastructures and civilian objectives. We see that Amnesty is not behaving in a professional way, but is taking advantage of the propagandist rhetoric of the Russian Federation. It is essential to investigate whether this organization takes advantage of Russia by defending its aggression in violation of the norms of international law.
P. The opposition parties have expressed unity since the beginning of the war around President Zelensky. It keeps?
R. There is unity in support of the president and Russia’s withdrawal from the occupied territories. After the war Ukraine will have a different political landscape, political parties with European models, constructive dialogue and no trace of pro-Russian tendencies.
P. So, the government has the support of politicians opposed to Zelenski in the last elections, such as Yulia Timoshenko or Petro Poroshenko.
R. Everyone understands the risks of war and internal conflict. After the war there will be other political stars.
P. He has extensive experience as a journalist. Would you accept a press critical of the management of this Government at this time?
R. Above the war there is freedom of expression, a constructive dialogue between political groups and determined criticism in the media. The question is whether it is professional criticism or fake news and hoaxes. In Ukraine, unfortunately, there has been a group of journalists who were only looking for compromising documents. Fake news was used to discredit. Now there is much less of this. After the war, in addition to a new political space, there will be a new, freer and more professional media space.
P. Finally, is Ukraine winning the war?
R. Yes, Ukraine is winning, there is no other way for Europe to continue to exist.
Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.
Subscribe to continue reading
read without limits