We’ve seen evaluation in security assistance to Ukraine to match fight as it changes – Karen Donfried (Interview) (VIDEO)

US Materials 15 February 2023 15:34 (UTC +04:00)
Laman Zeynalova
Laman Zeynalova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, Feb.15. We’ve seen evaluation in security assistance to Ukraine to match fight as it changes, Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the US State Department, said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

“We’re coming up to the February 24 which will mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. I come to that anniversary with big sadness, because of the many many innocent Ukrainians who lost their lives over the past year. You’ve heard President Biden say that the US will continue to stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes. That is a view that is held by everyone in this administration. In the first instance, of course, we’re supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity. All of these principles recaptured in the UN Charter that are foundational for the world. So that is what we’re committed to here, as we near the one-year anniversary,” she said.

Donfried noted that on February 14 about 50 countries met in the framework of the Ukraine defense contact group.

“It really has been striking how many countries have stepped in to help provide Ukraine weapons to allow it to defend itself against this unprovoked Russian aggression. And what you’ve seen over the past year is an evaluation in security assistance to match the fight as it changes. So, at the beginning of the war you saw focus on Javelins and anti-tank weapons. This fall as Russia started bombarding Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, including energy infrastructure, Russia was clearly trying to plunder a country of over 40 million into cold and darkness as the winter approached, then you saw an emphasis on providing air defense to Ukraine. You saw at the end of the year the US provide a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine. More recently, as Ukrainians are bracing for the next Russian offensive, you’ve seen the focus on infantry armored vehicles and tanks. So, the weapons what we provided change over time and that results from very close cooperation between the US military and Ukrainian military. What that next evolution will be I don’t know, I am here at the State Department, but I just want to make the point that we’ve seen this evolution over time. So, it wouldn’t be surprising if we continue. But I don’t know if that’s the focus at Rammstein. We’ll have to wait and see what comes out of that. I do think there is still a very important focus on ammunition, on artillery and on air defense. Those are critical needs for Ukraine today,” she explained.

Supporting Ukraine in addressing energy security challenges

Karen Donfried pointed out that the damage caused to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure again highlights the brutality of what Russia is doing here.

“The strikes that continue against Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure are simply rough. Whether they are using Iranian drones, whether they are using Russian missiles, they are taking out the critical energy infrastructure. That means Ukrainians don’t have heat in their homes, don’t have light in their homes during winter. And I just want as all to remember how outrageous it is. The war crimes that are taking place in Ukraine are not something that we can look past. Now how do we try to help Ukraine at this moment of critical need? There are many things we’re doing. One is we’ve been deeply engaged in leading a G7 plus effort to get critical energy infrastructure into Ukraine to replace what has been destroyed. And we also together with countries like Azerbaijan have been trying to help give other energy sources to Ukraine. So, I think there are many efforts underway. But what is so impressive about this is the extent to which the world has come together to say this is wrong and we collectively are going to stand up and help Ukraine at this moment of need,” she said.

Donfried said she believes Azerbaijan is playing a very important role both in Ukraine directly in terms of energy supplies, but also in terms of Europe more broadly.

“It is so interesting because I remember last summer when we together with our European allies and partners and others were trying to think through how Europe could manage this winter given that some big countries in Europe were quite dependent on Russian oil and gas. Countries came together whether with Azerbaijan playing its role, whether with the US with LNG, whether with Norway and said can we put more on the market to try to ensure that Europe can make it through this winter? I know it was not easy, the prices for energy were very high, but I do think the reality of power coming together to meet the need at critical time made a significant difference,” said the assistant secretary of state.

Post-war reconstruction of Ukraine

Donfried noted that post-war reconstruction of Ukraine is a very important question “which we and many others are thinking about”.

“The challenge in reconstruction is that you have both the immediate need as we saw it in terms of the energy infrastructure, but we see it in other places as well. So, what do we need to do this year to make sure that Ukraine can continue to exist as a viable functioning country, and then you have the longer-term reconstruction needs that are there. This conversation is happening in the context of G7, in the context of our relationship with the EU and I think it will be a global effort. World Bank, IMF, these multilateral institutions have a critically important role to play here. We’re starting to think about it now, because we want to be poised to jump riding when the war does end,” she explained.

Ukraine’s EU path

Karen Donfried went on to add that the US very much supports Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic trajectory and that includes membership in the European Union.

“I know it was a joyous moment for Ukrainians last year when the EU offered candidate status to Ukraine. I do think Ukrainians understand that they have important work to do, as they move along on that membership path to the EU. And it is interesting, because I often hear Ukrainians talk about the fact that they want not only to win the war, but they want to win the peace. And what they mean by that is they want to have a strong democracy coming out of this war. And I think that the reforms that the EU is looking for will help Ukraine emerge with stronger democratic institutions,” she said.

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