David Cameron: We are ready to keep sanctions against Russia as long as needed

Author : Yuriy Onyshchenko

Respondent : David Cameron

Source : 112 Ukraine

I am sure that European leaders and countries, led by Theresa May, Angela Merkel, and Donald Tusk, are seriously concerned about the future of Ukraine - former Prime Minister
14:44, 31 March 2017

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March 29, United Kingdom has officially begun the process of leaving the European Union by launching a long separation mechanism with the EU.

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron, during management of whom Brexit referendum was held, paid with his job for this. Recently, he has visited Kyiv and gave a lecture to students at the invitation of Victor Pinchuk Foundation.

Cameron said that after Brexit Britain would not leave Ukraine alone to deal with the Russian threat. After Cameron agreed for a brief interview, which - according to his team - was the first for him after retirement.

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I believe this was a right decision to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, because the issue has been poisoning the country for years. Referendums were promised but not conducted. EU changed, gaining more power, but people were not asked about it. That is why I promised to conduct a referendum.

And I still believe it was a right decision.

Of course, the result was not the one that I wanted, but we have to respect it. That is why today (March 29) Theresa May is taking the next step, fulfilling the will of the people.

We have been in the EU for practical reasons, we had a trade and cooperation. But Britain has always varied and opposed the idea of a deeper and more integrated union. We never liked EU flag. We have a flag, and we like our flag.

There is a perception that Britain after the EU might reduce the volume of international financial aid, including Ukraine.

I do not think so. Apparently, the British government itself would make the choice, but outside the European Union, we have one of the largest aid budgets in the world. We are still interested in providing assistance to countries such as Ukraine, in improving governance, the judiciary, the fight against corruption. And I believe in what I have heard from Theresa May - that we maintain our global role in this area.

How Ukrainian leaders must act to avoid losing the attention of the West?

The best way is to remind the West of the importance of a sovereign nature of Ukraine as a full UN member that has the right to self-determination.

The second thing is to remind people that investing in Ukraine means investing in success. The country that develops and implements reforms could become a success story.

And third, you need examples of what has been already done - the measures taken by the changes - to give people confidence that the success story would continue.

Ukraine believes that over the past three years Europe is "tired" of conflict in Donbas. Can West "forget" about Ukraine?

Such a danger really exists, because international affairs actors sometimes tend to be tired of certain problems. But when you consider how much blood we've ever shed in Europe because of changes of borders by force, through violence, Europe should not forget what happened to you. And I am sure that European leaders and countries, led by Theresa May, Angela Merkel, and Donald Tusk, are seriously concerned about the future of Ukraine.

What is your attitude to Minsk II? Are they still a good tool for resolving the situation in Donbas?

Agreement has some flaws, but it is a guidance document and it contains the first two steps necessary for any peace process. This is the ceasefire and removal of heavy weapons. Whichever direction of travel we choose, we must start with this.

Would Britain continue to join the EU sanctions against Russia after leaving the European Union?

I hope so. I see no reasons to left the sanctions. We have been a leading voice in favor of sanctions. I hope that after Brexit we will continue to work very closely with Europe on this issue.

In your opinion, should Europe increase pressure against Russia?

I think pressure against Russia should continue, and the sanctions should be saved. There are countries that are less enthusiastic about sanctions, but it only reminds us how important such measures are.

For how long London is ready to maintain sanctions against Russia?

As much as needed. I hope that sanctions will continue as long as necessary.

You know that the only way to lift the sanctions against Russia is to fulfill Minsk agreements. We do not see progress on implementation of Minsk deal and regaining Ukraine’s control over its eastern border. The conflict is still ongoing. But I think that sanctions show that the West would not tolerate such actions. They affected the Russian economy.  

How do you assess NATO's ability to respond to the Russian hybrid threats?

It is necessary to do more to confront them. Recent cyber attacks were aimed at different spheres - political parties, business, media. I believe that Europe is very slow to respond to certain things. NATO should also do more. We are able to respond, but we need to use our opportunities.

What concrete steps should NATO take right now?

Partly it should be done through closer cooperation between countries and strategic communications. You know that the problem with the Russian fake news is very relevant, and example of this is the information on Malaysian "Boeing" or commenting events in Eastern Ukraine.

Russian lies have time to get around the whole world. We must act quickly, we need to collect information about what is happening, then use it and interact strategically to show that fake news is created in Russia.

Do you think Putin can dare to use force against the Baltic states?

No, I do not think so. NATO is increasing its forces on the eastern side. Britain has played a significant role in strengthening, led by a new battalion in Estonia. Just as the US and France do in other Baltic countries.

And Russia sees the multinational forces in these countries is very important.

I think that currently, not the physical problem of invasion is that important, but a threat of destabilization and subversion hybrid warfare, cyber attacks and so on.

How do you see relations between Britain and the new US administration?

It will be a strong alliance. Theresa May did right, quickly going to the US to meet with Donald Trump. The two countries have a special relationship, I saw it with my own eyes.

Britain would try to improve these relations. It would consider trade and other agreements with America.

I believe that we have sufficient influence to transfer information to the United States about the situation in Ukraine, the Russian ambitions in Central and Eastern Europe, and this information will be studied by American friends.

What is your opinion on the recent amendments made by the Ukrainian authorities to the law on the declarations?

I think this is a mistake. Of course, public and charitable organizations are required to explain the flow of funds, but I think this is wrong to put them on the same level as the politicians who take decisions with financial implications.

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