Lana Zerkal: “This war happened due to the fact that Putin was more than sure in his ultimate indulgence“

Lana Zerkal is a Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for European Integration. During the joint Aspen Institute Kyiv and Aspen Institute Germany Ukrainian Dialogue event Ms. Zerkal explained how Russian gas and oil blackmail led to full scale invasion.  

— Russia uses gas as a weapon. This is not only a slogan but a practical issue, which they continue to exercise with different politicians and during different conflicts. Recently we saw the consequences of this policy with Poland and Bulgaria, when Russia decided abruptly to interrupt supplies and not to continue the contracts they signed with these two countries. They have used this kind of blackmail on a continuous basis.  

Lana underlined that  the losses the world can get with the continuation of the war are much higher than any possible losses the economy can have now if sanctions can’t be introduced simultaneously in all countries. 

— We are interested in a quick break through this war and we do want to have peace as well as stability. However, price matters, but this is not just an economical price. Additionally, there are prices on human lives and our territory. To achieve this goal, we must ensure that Russia cannot be in a position to continuously finance its war machine which now has more sources of energy than others. 

Lana Zerkal is an experienced negotiator and participated in negotiations with Russia in the trilateral format. Especially in 2014, when the Russians opposed Ukraine’s agreement with the European Union and didn’t want it to be signed. Lana says that 18 rounds were conducted without any hope of success only due to the fact that a lot of European politicians thought that it would be useful to please Russians and to continue to deal with them despite the war. 

—  All these intentions to please Russians, not to disturb or irritate them, led to this war. This war happened due to the fact that Putin was more than sure in his ultimate indulgence. This was caused by European policy. It is important to understand differences in mentality. Russians don’t think the same way European society thinks because they don’t believe in rule by the majority. They don’t believe in values. They have absolutely different approaches to values. They have a totally different culture and history. 

Aspen Institute Kyiv launched the #UkrainianDialogue project in cooperation with Aspen Network international partners. Its goal is to create a platform for leadership dialogue between Ukrainians who fight for democratic values and other countries’ representatives that support Ukraine.

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