Markian ChuchukUkraine’s Ambassador to Pakistan Ukraine’s Ambassador to Pakistan Markian Chuchuk has said that Pakistan is an important partner for Ukraine in military-technical, defence, trade and food security spheres. In an exclusive interview with Daily Times, Ambassador Markian Chuchuk dilated upon the full spectrum of Pakistan-Ukraine relations besides expressing his views on Ukraine-Russia conflict and other bilateral and global issues of interest. Here is the full transcript of the interview. Q: How would you assess the current state of Ukraine-Pakistan relations? What are the key areas of cooperation between Ukraine and Pakistan and what are the prospects for further strengthening Ukraine-Pakistan ties? A: Ukraine and Pakistan are united by strong, time-tested relations, based on mutual understanding and respect. Pakistan is an important partner for Ukraine in military-technical, defence, trade and food security spheres. Even in conditions of ongoing Russian aggression against my country, Ukraine and Pakistan enjoy friendly, mutually beneficial and problem-free relations. There is active engagement in different areas, especially in trade and economic domains, in bilateral and multilateral formats. On February 22, 2023, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi had a telephone call with the President of Pakistan Arif Alvi. Pakistani-Ukrainian relations, the prospects of Pakistan’s participation in Ukrainian initiatives in the field of food security and the restoration of peace in Ukraine were considered. The President of Ukraine invited the President of the Pakistan to visit Ukraine. “For Ukraine, joining NATO would not just guarantee the country’s security but would also be an effective strategy for maintaining independence.” On July 20-21, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba paid a maiden visit to Pakistan. The purpose of the visit was to identify new opportunities for the development of mutually beneficial relations between Ukraine and Pakistan to fill them with practical content. The Minister apprised high-ranking Pakistan officials of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion and the liberation of the occupied territories. Familiarized with Ukrainian international initiatives for the de-occupation of Ukraine and the establishment of a just and lasting peace in our country. He called on the Pakistani side to support the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and to join the activities of the International Crimea Platform. Dmytro Kuleba presented the opportunities of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to strengthen Pakistan’s food security. The visit testified the unwavering Pakistan’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of full-scale Russian aggression and the readiness of the leadership of Pakistan for comprehensive development of bilateral relations with Ukraine and continuation of political dialogue at all levels. “We need real peace, not appeasement. Neither Ukraine nor its partners need “peace at any price.” Ukraine will not compromise its sovereignty or territorial integrity.” Cooperation between the two countries is based on mutual values. In July 2023 Ukraine was only European country which supported the resolution of the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Council “Countering religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”, tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Ukraine voted for the resolution based on the conviction that insulting any religious feeling is unacceptable and should be condemned. Q: What are the main obstacles to increasing trade between Ukraine and Pakistan and, in your view, what steps should be taken to promote trade between the two countries? A: Ukraine and Pakistan, although geographically distant, have maintained good trade and economic relations for decades. However, trade relations between the two countries have yet to reach their full potential. Historically, both countries have enjoyed mutually beneficial trade cooperation: Ukraine, with its strong agricultural and industrial sectors, has been an exporter of agricultural products, steel, and machinery to Pakistan. In return, Pakistan has exported textiles, surgical instruments, and leather goods to Ukraine. In 2021, Pakistan ranked 27th among Ukraine’s trading partners in the world in terms of exports, and 5th in the Asia-Pacific region. The total volume of trade in goods and services between Ukraine and Pakistan amounted to 757 million USD, including Ukrainian exports 658.3 million USD, Pakistani imports 92.8 million USD. In 2022, due to the Russian military aggression against my country and blockade of the Black Sea ports, Ukrainian exports to Pakistan have reduced and reached only 126.27 million USD, which is 79.1% less than in 2021. The import of Pakistani goods to Ukraine decreased by 63.4% and amounted to 55.46 million USD. These stats prove that Russia’s war against Ukraine impacts people’s lives and livelihoods, far away from the battlefield. Russia turned food into a tool of war, similar to what Russia has already done with its energy supplies. “Pakistan and Ukraine have the potential to significantly enhance their trade relations by focusing on areas of mutual interest and expertise.” On June 17, Russia announced its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The deal, made almost a year prior, has been crucial in stabilizing the global food supply and decreasing prices. With the halt of the deal, Russia is threatening millions of people worldwide with food shortages. Even in such challenging conditions our countries may explore new avenues for trade cooperation unlocking the immense potential that lies within economic partnership. Ukraine is known for its robust agricultural sector, IT industry, expertise in construction and engineering, while Pakistan is a leading exporter of textiles and apparel, major producer of various agricultural products, and enjoys growing technology industry. Both countries have manufacturing capabilities in various sectors. Exploring joint ventures, technology transfers, and machinery trade could enhance industrial cooperation. Pakistan and Ukraine have the potential to significantly enhance their trade relations by focusing on areas of mutual interest and expertise. By fostering cooperation, addressing challenges, and creating an enabling environment for trade, both countries can harness the benefits of increased economic engagement and contribute to each other’s growth and development. Q: How has Ukraine helped Pakistan in its development and what are the areas where Ukraine can further assist Pakistan in its development? A: Ukrainian-Pakistani relations had started long before the official recognition by Pakistan of Ukraine’s independence (December, 31 in 1991) and establishing diplomatic relations (March, 16 in 1992). Back in 1960-70s Ukrainian specialists contributed to development of key industries of economy of Pakistan. In particular, to construction of the Pakistan Steel Mills in Karachi, hydroelectric plants in Tarbela and Kalabagh. Agricultural machinery and trucks which were produced by Ukrainian enterprises, were imported. Ukraine possesses expertise and vast potential in energy production and infrastructure development (construction and modernization of water transportation systems, road infrastructure development, construction and modernization of industrial facilities, including conversion of thermal power plants and metallurgical enterprises built in the 60-70s of the 20th century with the direct participation of Ukrainian enterprises and specialists, electronic governance and agricultural management information systems, etc.). All this aligns well with Pakistan’s needs for energy efficiency, improved infrastructure, and can pave the way for sustainable development of the country. So, I believe partnership between Ukraine and Pakistan have the potential to grow stronger setting an example of effective collaboration in a rapidly changing world. Q: What are the chances of ending the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and what is Ukraine doing to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict? In your view, what role can Pakistan play in ending the conflict? A: We want people in Pakistan to know: there is no conflict in Ukraine. There is a war against my country. The armed aggression, illegal and unprovoked. The war, which was started by an aggressor state, the Russia, and the victim, which is actively defending itself. This fact is clearly stated in numerous United Nations General Assembly resolutions. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine lasts one and half year. The real goal of Russian invasion is the extermination of the Ukrainian nation, elimination of its ethnic identity, denying its right to existence and independent development. But as the time passes, it becomes increasingly clear that Russia has lost its aggressive war in terms of strategy. The Ukrainian army has already liberated almost half of the territory seized by invaders at the first stage of the war. Russia in its turn has not achieved any strategic goal in its war against Ukraine and is conceding new and new occupied territories. 11 settlements and more than 240 km2 were liberated since the start of counteroffensive operations in June. The initiative is on our side. Despite the calls for negotiations emanating from many world capitals, the Russia has shown no intention of stopping its all-out invasion of Ukraine, counting for protracted war of attrition, hoping to win it with the use of its still considerable resources, war fatigue, and nuclear blackmail. For our part, we work to maintain the unity and strengthen the pro-Ukrainian coalition in the world.No country desires peace more than Ukraine because Ukraine is the victim of an unprovoked full-scale military aggression waged by Russia, hostilities are taking place on our territory, Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are dying. Russia is committing genocide against the Ukrainian civilian population and destroying infrastructure. But real peace needs to be just and durable. We need real peace, not appeasement. Neither Ukraine nor its partners need “peace at any price.” Ukraine will not compromise its sovereignty or territorial integrity. Ukraine’s vision of such peace is reflected in President Zelenskyy`s Peace Formula initiative. The Peace Formula remains the only realistic and comprehensive plan to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and to guarantee security and justice for the entire international community. Its points were reflected in the UN GA Resolution “UN Charter principles underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine” adopted on 23 February 2023. Implementation of the 10-point Peace Formula presented by President Zelenskyy will bring a comprehensive, just and lasting peace to Ukraine and security to the world. It covers ten areas where Russia shattered peace and provides every nation with a unique opportunity to take the lead on any items of preference without obligations under other items. Formula’s main goal is to deprive Russia of its tools to commit the crime of aggression against Ukraine, to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and to guarantee security and justice for the entire international community. The Peace Formula is gradually gaining the support of the world majority. It is universal in its nature and can be used not only to end Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, but also to end other military conflicts on the planet and resolve global problems. Any peace-loving country, can join the implementation of the Peace Formula. We look forward to participation of the Global South countries in this process. We are interested to see Pakistan engaging in implementation of the Peace Formula. It will be your country’s real contribution to global peace and security as we are convinced that when it comes to an unjust war and blatant violation of the UN Charter, neutrality cannot be an option. Q: What is Ukraine’s position on joining NATO and what are the benefits and risks of such an exercise? A: For Ukraine, joining NATO would not just guarantee the country’s security but would also be an effective strategy for maintaining independence. In September 2022 Ukraine submitted an application for accession to NATO under an accelerated procedure. The pro-Ukrainian coalition in the world remains strong and consolidated. This was confirmed at the NATO summit held on 11-12 July in Vilnius: the heads of state and government reaffirmed their unwavering solidarity with Ukraine and urged Russia to immediately end its illegal war of aggression and withdraw all its forces and assets from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders; At the Vilnius summit, the Allies agreed that the future of Ukraine is in NATO. The Allies remain steadfast in their commitment to further step up political and practical support to Ukraine. For the period prior to NATO membership, Ukraine needs to receive security guarantees, which cannot replace or substitute for Ukraine’s membership in NATO that has no alternatives. We welcome the G7 Leaders’ Declaration adopted at the NATO Vilnius Summit, which launches work on specific, bilateral, long-term security commitments and arrangements with Ukraine aligned with the multilateral framework; 15 countries (Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Latvia, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden) have already joined the G7 framework agreement, which is open for signing. We call on other states to consider joining it as well: any country taking part in it sends a clear message to the aggressor state that peace has no alternatives. Ukraine started negotiations with the US and the UK on bilateral agreements on security commitments. Only Ukraine`s accession to NATO and joining the EU will permanently deprive Russia of its dreams of occupying Ukraine, and therefore of its imperialist ambitions and revanchist aspirations. Q: What does Ukraine expect from Pakistan in the current situation and what is the message of Ukraine to the people of Pakistan? A: Since the beginning of Russian aggression Pakistan remained with Ukraine, reconfirmed its adherence to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in internationally recognized border and provided humanitarian aid to our state. Ukraine also had always been with Pakistan in time of need. It is natural for two friendly states. But for Ukraine as a country in war conditions, it is also natural to expect from their friends to be more active and supportive in practical or moral, humanitarian or political terms. I also hope that Pakistan will join the Crimean Platform, launched by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as an international consultation and coordination format aimed to ensure de-occupation of Crimea and the comeback of the peninsula to Ukraine by peaceful political means, and fill the ranks of friends of Ukraine who support not just its territorial integrity, but also the world order based on rules and principles, peaceful resolution of conflicts instead of using brute force and coercion. As Ukrainian Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, I am pleased to admit that in this very sensitive both for Ukraine and Pakistan period the two countries remain good friends and reliable partners. We wish peace, progress and prosperity to the people of Pakistan. Ukraine and Pakistan have much in common. However, our main common goal is to raise cooperation between our countries to new highs for the benefit of our respective peoples.