Robert Brinkley: “Ukraine should ensure that Western countries are aware which prisoners are being held by Russia”

28 December 2019, 00:50

Do you agree that results of the recent presidential elections in Ukraine could be viewed in the West as the signal to searching of compromise (even on Kremlin conditions) instead of continuing of pressure and fighting?


  • I don’t think there is one view in “the West”. But what is clear is that the people of Ukraine voted by a large majority for a new President and then for a new parliament led by his supporters. In other words most people in Ukraine want change. And that change includes an end to five years of war with Russia. So it is no surprise that we are now seeing efforts to revive the Normandy format. The recent exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia may be a first fruit of those efforts. But I am sure the President of Ukraine will wish to do this in ways that serve the interests of Ukraine and the people who elected him.


Returning of the Russian delegation to PACE and talks about possible returning to G7 – West is ready to close the eyes on the conflict in Ukraine to continue the business with Moscow?


  • Again there is not a single view in “the West”. Many member states in the Council of Europe believe that the decision to allow Russia to return to the Parliamentary Assembly at this time was wrong. Russia was excluded because of its illegal annexation of Crimea and instigation of conflict in the Donbas. Crimea is still annexed and the fighting continues in Eastern Ukraine. So the return of the Russian delegation was unjustified and premature. As for the G7, again Russia was excluded in response to its violations of international law, which have not been corrected. At the Biarritz summit a number of leaders, including the British Prime Minister, made clear that they could not accept Russia's return at present.

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Do western countries take to account that Russia is continuing to deploy new military units (near the Ukrainian border) mostly assault by nature, what could be a sign of preparation to the future attacks not only on our country, but maybe on Europe too?


  • Western countries watch carefully Russia’s military dispositions and capabilities and continue to assess Russia’s intentions. The members of NATO have taken various measures intended to ensure adequate defence and to deter any possible aggression.


Which steps could be done to prevent further militarization and de-facto occupation of Azov and Black seas by Russia?


  • Among the important steps is the exercise of freedom of navigation in international waters. Ukraine and NATO members bordering the Black Sea also need to make sure that they have adequate naval forces to defend their interests and to deter aggression.


Recently there was an exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine. Are there any effective leverages in the West to haelp Ukraine to libaerate all our political prisoners?


  • As before Ukraine should ensure that Western countries are aware which prisoners are being held by Russia, so that those countries can raise the issue and make representations during their contacts with the Russian government.



Robert Brinkley. He was a British diplomat for 34 years, had two postings in Moscow (both in Russia and in the Soviet Union), as well as positions in Bonn, Geneva and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. From 2000 to 2002 he was head of the UK’s worldwide visa operation. From 2002 to 2006 – ambassador to Ukraine, later from 2006 to 2009 – High Commissioner to Pakistan. He is a senator of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) and Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Ukraine Forum, Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. 

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