Regarding Victor Pinchuk’s “Ukraine Must Make Painful Compromises for Peace With Russia” (op-ed, Dec. 30): I agree with his noble appeal for peace in Donbas (eastern Ukraine) but cannot agree with the appeal for compromises based on worries. Fear and weakness are bad advisers. They play into Russia’s appetites, invite even more aggression and greater human suffering.
That’s why Ukraine has always advocated a solution based on the national interests and the will of Ukrainians who wish their country to be independent and prosperous, and their choices free of aggressive dictate.
Let us be clear about red lines that no one in Ukraine would dare to cross—not now, nor in the future:
• No reversal in European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. This would be a surrender of independence, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It would be like a return to the Soviet past in Ukraine—something, even Mr. Pinchuk wouldn’t welcome. Renouncing European integration would be political suicide for every politician in Ukraine who would dare call for such a dramatic reversal, especially after the Revolution of Dignity and its demand for modernization and reform.
• No trade in the territory of Ukraine, be it Donbas or Crimea. These territories cannot be part of a trade-off for peace. They belong to Ukraine, and this is confirmed internationally—including by the U.N. General Assembly Resolution on Crimea last month and by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in November. Ukraine will never abandon the Ukrainians who were trapped behind the Iron Curtain of Russia’s military invasion in Crimea and Donbas.
• No elections in Donbas with Russian boots on Ukraine’s soil. Ukraine stands for local elections there, but only based on Ukraine’s law and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe standards. The Kremlin would definitely like to legalize its hybrid occupation and puppet regimes in Donbas by Ukrainian hands. No one should fall into this trap.
Compromises on Russia’s terms are the wrong policy. As one of the new U.S. administration’s heavyweights once said: “history teaches that weakness arouses evil.” This has never led to sustainable peace nor saved lives. On the contrary, it has always fueled more aggression and human suffering.
Kostyantyn Yelisieiev, The Wall Street Journal
Deputy head of the administration of the president of Ukraine, Kyiv
Related materials: Russian aggression against Ukraine