Non-response to the occupation of Crimea in 2014 opened the Pandora’s Box, and the current war did not come unannounced, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday.
He delivered a speech online to the “Atlantic – Black Sea Security Forum 2022,” an event organised at the Diplomatic Club in Bucharest by the Aspen Institute Romania together with the German Marshall Fund of the US in Bucharest, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defence and the French Embassy in Romania.
“Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine has been telling the world that Russia understands nothing but force. We have been telling the world that the non-response to the occupation of Crimea opened Pandora’s Box. The de facto Russian occupation of the Sea of Azov and its attempts to occupy the Black Sea with their military exercises that closes huge sea areas that ought to be free for navigation was a test for the free world. The Kremlin has been brutally violating the laws of free sailing. The international community did not react. The Kremlin saw that it could go further,” said Reznikov.
According to him, the current crisis “did not come unannounced; moreover, it did not begin on February 24.” “The main reason was the absence of a tough response to the Kremlin’s actions. When Moscow sees that it can act with impunity, it continues the practices that had done before,” he said.
The Ukrainian minister also spoke about the energy crisis amidst the Ukraine war and the sanctions imposed on Russia.
“Now, Nord Stream 2 is a weapon. We now see Russia brutally blackmailing EU by limiting deliveries through Nord Stream 1. It will continue for as long as it works. The Kremlin is holding a gun to the EU’s temple (…) We need to take away this gun, we need to break the energy dependence and ensure that the blackmailer never feels tempted to exert pressure or violence,” he added.
Reznikov added that Russian aggression will last until it is met by strong resistance.
“The Kremlin is ready to compromise when it recognises that the free world has the means and willingness to defeat the aggressor, the way Ukraine fights now. Now, Russia is performing acts of terror on land and at sea,” he said, adding that “terror cannot be stopped through diplomatic means alone.”
Speaking about his country’s prospects, Reznikov recalled a dialogue he had a year ago with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana. He said Geoana told him that not everyone believed in Romania’s success in joining NATO, but he was sure that one day his country’s flag would fly with the other flags of allied countries in front of the NATO headquarters. “It happened. I am sure that Ukraine will be one of the cornerstones of NATO’s security space,” the Ukrainian minister added, according to Agerpres.