Former US diplomat Michael Springmann addressed the situation in Ukraine and Wednesday's online session of the UN Security Council where the foreign ministers of the two unrecognized republics of Donetsk and Lugansk got the opportunity to speak.
Mr. Springmann, how do you see the Ukrainian war 2014/15 and its results today? Washington is considered a close ally of Kiev and encouraged Ukraine in its military campaign against the east of the country.
Springmann: Ukraine was and is making a big mistake – and this mistake has made the eastern parts and Crimea leave the state. The Obama administration was very supportive towards Kiev during the Maidan protests, fueled by the US and the EU. The result: There is still corruption, still a social crisis and the country has been disintegrating.
Do you understand the steps taken by Donetsk and Lugansk to declare independence from Ukraine?
Springmann: I certainly do. The new government in Kiev took away some fundamental basic and civil rights from the Russian speaking part of the Ukrainian people – and even went on war against them. Of course they have the right to self determination. Self-determination of nations is the cornerstone on which the UN is built. Even our country, the US, exists solely thanks to this crucial right. Therefore, the existence of the Donbass Republics is a political reality which we have to face. People of Donbass, who have voted for secession from Ukraine, willed the Republics into existence. They have a right to be heard.
How would you interpret this online session on the platform of the UN Security Council, where the two foreign ministers of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic for the first time had the opportunity to speak directly to an audience of United Nations members?
Springmann: For a long time, Ukraine had a monopoly on information coverage of the conflict in presenting its vision of what is happening in the east of the country. This is an unacceptable situation – the world needs to hear the views from all sides.
The representatives of the two unrecognized republics especially accused Kiev of not respecting and implementing the Minsk agreements…
Springmann: For five years now, Kiev has been assuring the international community of its commitment to the Minsk agreements. But representatives of Donbass brought us some horrifying figures – about the numbers of dead, wounded, people who lost their homes and earnings, people whose rights and freedoms have been oppressed. More importantly, these statements are supported by facts. Obviously, Kiev is simply misinforming us, while steadily sabotaging the peacemaking process.
And as a last question: How do you consider the first international performance of the two foreign ministers of the unrecognized republics?
Springmann: I want to say firstly that it is absolutely phenomenal to have created independent and functioning state structures in such a short time. And to witness for example in the Foreign Ministry of the DPR, there are so many young people employed! Most of them started with no diplomatic education and no experience and thus performing on such a high professional level, has simply been fascinating to watch. Diplomacy is a complex topic, even for long established countries and governments. But the young diplomatic workers in Donbass learned very quickly and delivered solid and exceptionally professional work. Especially the performance of the foreign minister of DPR, Natalia Nikonorova, a young woman in her 30s, was impressive to witness. The fact that this young team managed to present their cause on the level of the UN security council, is a mayor achievement. It speaks for their abilities.
Mr. Springmann, thanks a lot for the interview
Michael Springmann served in the United States government as a diplomat with the State Department’s Foreign Service, with postings in Germany, India, and Saudi Arabia. He left federal service and currently practices law in the Washington, DC, area.
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