RIGA - Moscow's objectives are obvious - it does not want to lose its influence over Ukraine, Ukrainian Ambassador to Latvia Olexander Mischenko said in a discussion on perspectives for Ukraine's defense cooperation with NATO and the European Union (EU).
The ambassador referred to Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky's tweet in which he indicates that defense reforms alone will not be enough to stop Russia. Mischenko underlined in the discussion that Russia's military attacks on Ukraine is reality and they are happening now.
In the ambassador's words, to understand the current events, it is necessary to look back into history. The ambassador said that Russia wants to rob Ukraine of its sovereignty and turn it into something like Belarus, an "artificial entity with symbolic statehood but unable to take independent decisions on its foreign policy direction". Mischenko stressed that Ukraine would not agree to become such a country.
The ambassador believes that the Kremlin regards Ukraine's success at introducing European norms and standards as a threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime and a democratic challenge inside Russia which might lead to the downfall of the regime.
"It's not about Ukraine but rather about a dictatorship and a democracy. Putin is trying to maintain the status quo forever, but our task is to foil his plan to send signals with military attacks on Ukraine that the West must concede to Putin because he is strong," the ambassador said. History teaches us that negotiations with an authoritarian regime are not possible, he added.
"You could just as well ask a crocodile to become a vegetarian. Even if we explained all the health benefits, the croc would never be a vegetarian. The same goes for Putin's regime," the ambassador said.
As reported, Kiev and its Western allies have accused Russia in recent weeks of massing tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine, while NATO told Moscow to end its "unjustified" build-up.
The White House said this week that the number of troops deployed along Ukraine's borders is now the highest since 2014 when the annexation of the Crimea Peninsula by Russia triggered an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine in which 13,000 people were killed and nearly three million were displaced.