In the new episode of “Rada Natsbezpeky” [State Security Council] For Islnd.tv, filmed on New Year’s Eve, Tatiana Popova interviewed the press secretary of the American embassy in Ukraine Daniel Langenkamp.
The English version is exclusive to Kyiv Post. The Ukrainian video version is available here.
Popova: A few days ago, the Kremlin proposed to the White House a so-called “new world order treaty”. Moscow wants NATO and the US military to leave not only non-allied countries like Ukraine, but also Western European countries that are part of NATO. We don’t know what the US response will be, but should Ukraine prepare for the coming end of US and NATO military aid?
Langenkamp: One of the things we have always said to Ukraine is that we support it in its efforts to assert its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We support Ukraine in its efforts to combat Russian aggression. What we have always said to Russia, and what President Biden just said to Russia, is that no country has the right to say to another country, including Ukraine, what may or may not be its security alliances. No country can tell a country what its domestic policy should be. No country can tell another country what its borders should be. We have said so and will continue to stand with Ukraine on this issue.
I must also say that we are closely linked with Ukraine in all this dialogue with Russia. We try to stress that we have to defuse and we have to start a diplomatic process with Russia and with Ukraine and our NATO allies to be able to reduce tensions. And we will continue to say so. This means discussions with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council and in other forms as well.
Nord Stream 2
Popova: After the negotiations of Biden and Putin, the sanctions on North Stream 2 disappeared from the US military budget for next year. In Ukraine, the public is concerned about these actions. How will the United States support Ukraine if and when Nord Stream is launched?
Langenkamp: I think we need to first look at the joint statement that the US and Germany agreed to a few months ago. And in this deal, it says that if Russia uses Nord Stream 2 as a weapon, or if it encourages further aggression against Ukraine, there will be specific commitments from the United States and Germany. in this regard. Thus, we must also remember that Nord Stream 2 is not yet operational. This means that it is not a lever for Russia or for Vladimir Putin. It is in fact a lever for the West because if Russia wants Nord Stream 2 to work, it cannot organize a new aggression against Ukraine. In the joint statement with Germany, we committed to mitigate the impacts of Nord Stream 2 on Ukraine. And we will continue to work with Germany on this point.
I should also point out that the administration is currently in negotiations with our US Congress on a set of sanctions that would either entail or cost Russia dear if it used Nord Stream 2 as a geopolitical weapon. We have always said that Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal for Europe, a bad deal for Ukraine and a bad deal for European security. We opposed it and we will continue to do so.
Popova: Right after the negotiations, Biden called Germany, France, Great Britain and even Italian colleagues, to inform them of the talks with Putin. However, Ukrainian President Zelensky had a call with Biden several days later. Can you explain why this kind of priority?
Langenkamp: Well, the schedules of the presidents are always very difficult to arrange. But remember what happened before and after the calls with EU leaders and President Putin. Secretary Blinken spoke with President Zelensky just before the call between Biden and Putin. And then President Biden called the four, what we call the quint leaders of Germany, France, UK, and Italy to brief them on this. And then, after putting all that in place, he called President Zelensky to help explain it to him and help him participate in this discussion. So that he is fully informed. It actually makes a lot of sense. So President Zelensky was the last so he could get a full reading of everything that had happened before that.
As we have always said – and this is really important – nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. We have kept Ukraine informed and involved in these discussions from the start. We will continue to do so. We do it from the presidential level down to my level really. Basically, our communication takes place every day so that everyone, not only Ukraine and the United States, but all of our European partners, are also involved. I mean, we consider that this situation does not only involve Ukraine. This is a situation that really affects all of Europe because another country should not be able to threaten or invade another country. It affects all of our security.
Popova: There is Putin’s statement that Russia will not be able to do anything about Ukraine joining NATO. And Peskov’s statement that Ukraine is lost to Russia as a partner and ally. Have we ceased to be an area of ââRussian influence?
LangenkampQ .: I can’t comment on this, but what we’ve always said – what Secretary Blinken has said, and what President Biden has always said – is that we seek a predictable and stable relationship with Russia. So where there are issues that we can agree on or that we can negotiate on, we will. And where there are problems where there are things to discuss, there are concerns, we hope to do it through diplomatic dialogue. That is why we are trying to defuse the current crisis through diplomacy. We will continue to do so. We did this throughout the Cold War. We can do it now too if Russia behaves responsibly and sits down at the table.
What we said, what Secretary Blinken said, is that we can’t look at the formulations of the world that were there in the past, and this idea of ââa buffer zone concept is a thing of the past. We have stood in solidarity with Ukraine since it declared its intention to join Euro-Atlantic institutions like NATO and like the European Union. We have supported Ukraine in its efforts to achieve these ambitions.
These ambitions are now enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution and as a partner and friend we have supported Ukraine in its efforts to determine its own path, to determine its own path forward in the future. That is why we have given a lot of help to Ukraine – not only to defend its territory and its sovereignty – but also to become interoperable with NATO. You know it is Ukraine’s choice and we support it.
So, we provided assistance to help Ukraine reform itself, work on things like justice reform or erect its anti-corruption architecture. or to do a whole series of other things like reform of local government and land reform, which are all very important for Ukraine in its future integration in the west. So this is something that we will continue to do.
Once again, it all comes down to this question: no country can tell another country what its foreign alliances may be, cannot tell another country what its ambitions may be, no other country can tell another country what its ambitions may be. may be its borders. And we will continue to support Ukraine in its ambitions to join the West, in accordance with its own wishes. Remember that Ukraine has led two very important revolutions in the last 30 years, even since 2004, to try to realize these ambitions. So the Ukrainian people have made their ambitions very clear. And we are with them.