Over time, the number of states that support Ukraine and do not trust Russian propaganda will grow, but we need to work on this. This was stated by Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak, who participated via video call in a roundtable organized by the U.S. Brookings Institution.
About 50 scientists, public figures and opinion leaders took part in the event. The meeting was moderated by Vice President, Director of Foreign Policy program of the Brookings Institution, Suzanne Maloney.
Answering the participants' questions about the difficulties with designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, Yermak said that the Russian Federation is the country that is responsible for the terrible war in Ukraine, which bombs civilian objects, kills civilians, including children, and creates concentration camps. Therefore, it must be designated by the world as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The head of the President's Office expressed his gratitude to the UN and Secretary General António Guterres for his leadership in the implementation of the grain initiative and other projects.
"Sometimes the level of personal communication is important. Sometimes we talked two or three times a day, if it were necessary, if there was something of concern – a food crisis or the release of prisoners. Of course, we are very grateful," Yermak said.
The head of the Office of the President reminded that 143 members of the UN General Assembly backed the resolution in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
"And this is another powerful signal that the community of the free world has a great future because it has a strong position," he said.
With those countries that have not yet decided, it is necessary to work harder, because sometimes the position of the government changed depending on the mood in society.
"That is why it is so important that people all over the world know the truth about what is happening in Ukraine. We are very grateful that many journalists of free media come to Ukraine and work here, show the truth," Yermak is convinced.
He also said that many world leaders changed their minds when they visited our country and saw everything with their own eyes.
"Because it's one thing when you see something on TV, and it's completely different when you personally visit Bucha, Irpin and other cities," the head of the President's Office said.
Yermak expressed his belief that the number of countries supporting Ukraine will grow, because all decent people want to live in peace and do not want a new world war.
As for some international organizations that have not yet understood that the world has changed since the beginning of this war and that it is no longer possible to live with bureaucracy while someone is killing people, then, according to Yermak, they have no future.
The head of the President's Office said that today the leaders of the world's leading states have on their tables the recommendations regarding security guarantees for Ukraine, developed by an expert group chaired by Yermak and former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
"Leaders are very seriously considering this document and Ukraine's prospects for receiving these security guarantees. Of course, this is a lot of work. Of course, it takes time. But it is absolutely real. We are receiving very positive signals from our partners that a possible first step in this direction will be the provision of air defense systems. And the circle of guarantors will consist of countries that manufacture such instruments," Yermak said.
The head of the Office of the President also talked about the work aimed at increasing sanctions pressure on Russia. When the International Working Group on Sanctions against Russia, headed by Yermak and former US National Security Advisor, Ambassador Michael McFaul, began its activities, it became clear that despite the good name, the effect of the sanctions is quite limited in practice.
"For example, there was the issue of sanctions against representatives of the closest circle of the President of Russia, but they had almost no assets or business interests in Europe or the United States. But in a few months, sanctions were applied to their families, children, partners, and it became a more concrete action," he said.
In addition, the most recent document proposed by the Yermak-McFaul group includes recommendations for world governments to impose sanctions on members of the United Russia party, Russian propagandists, opinion leaders and show business stars who spread Kremlin propaganda.
"This is an extremely powerful argument, and we expect these sanctions to be applied as soon as possible. Because this war is criminal, and Russian citizens must feel responsible for it and stop supporting the Kremlin's policy," Yermak said.
Asked whether any of the world leaders are putting pressure on Ukraine to start negotiations with the Russian Federation to end the war as soon as possible, the head of the Office of the President recalled the words of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who once said that only his young son could press on him.
"To be honest, I don't feel any pressure. And even if someone has it in mind, they understand that there is no point in asking for it," Yermak said.
He said that before the war, the leaders of many countries of the world consumed Russian propaganda and tried to build diplomatic and economic ties with the Russian Federation on its basis.
"But during this war, Ukraine, the Ukrainian army and people destroyed many Russian narratives and showed that it is possible have no fear and not to take too seriously everything that Russian propaganda says, but instead to offer our ideas, our narratives, our policies – ideas, narratives and policies of the free world. Because we are on the side of light," Yermak said.
The head of the President's Office said that the achievement of absolutely clear goals will be a victory for Ukraine. In particular, this is the return of all occupied territories and the restoration of the territorial integrity of our state within internationally recognized borders. The second is the release of all Ukrainians who are currently being held in Russia and in the temporarily occupied territories. The third is the recovery of the country and receiving reparations and compensations for the damages caused to Ukraine by Russian aggression over eight years.
"Also, we want all people who committed this international crime to be held accountable. Then the whole world will return to normal life, and respect for international law will be restored," Yermak said.