Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 16.01.2019
Ministers of European governments are making a stronger effort to connect with their eastern partner, Ukraine. Ministerial-level official visits to Ukraine are more significant now after the Russian Federation’s attack on the Ukrainian Navy on 25 November 2018.
A delegation of the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, and Latvia planned to fly to Mariupol on the Sea of Above on January 15. Winter weather changed their plans.
The Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkēvičs tweeted on January 15: “Ukrainian Air Force pilots tried to get us to Mariupol, unfortunately it was impossible due to weather conditions, good visit to Dnipro instead, military hospital, meeting with journalists and videoconference with mayor of Mariupol.”
In Dnipro, the foreign ministers met Ukrainian soldiers who were wounded in action on the battlefront in Donbas where the Russian Federation is invading Ukraine.
The current chairperson-in-office of the OSCE is Miroslav Lajčák, the Slovakian foreign minister. He went to Kyiv on January 15, where he received a briefing from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine about its observations of the battlefront in Donbas where the Russian Federation is invading Ukraine.
The foreign ministers did speak with the Mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, with an audio/video link. Mayor Boychenko told them about the challenges Mariupol is facing, especially those springing from the Russian Federation’s effective maritime blockade of the Ukrainian ports by strangling the flow of commercial freighter traffic through the Kerch Strait.
Unfortunately, Minister Lajčák use language to appease Russian aggression that is common with the OSCE. He said in a tweet that he wants to “improve the situation of people most affected by the conflict in and around Ukraine.” In fact the ‘conflict’ is a war for which the Russian Federation is wholly responsible, having invaded Ukraine and partially occupied it in Crimea and Donbas. The people who are most adversely affected by Putin’s War are Europeans who live in Ukraine.
Without saying what they are, Minister Lajčák said that “issues” concerning Crimea and the Sea of Azov remain among the priorities of the OSCE. “The issue of Ukraine is a priority,” he said.
It is significant that the OSCE chairperson-in-office made Ukraine his first stop since assuming the post.
European ministers – with the notable exception of Lithuania’s foreign minister Linas Linkevičius – are still much too shy about confronting Russian aggression. It is no good to talk about the “conflict in Ukraine” without talking about the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine that is the entire substance of that conflict.