Zelenskyy adviser: MH17-verdict "should create a very important precedent"

17. Nov. 2022 · Lesedauer 7 min

Igor Zhovkva, the foreign policy adviser of Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaks about the conviction after the downing of flight MH17 that killed nearly 300 people and the missiles that hit Poland.

PULS 24 anchor Thomas Mohr: Joining us via Skype from Kyiv is Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyys office and foreign policy advisor. Thank you for your time, Mr. Zhovkva.

Igor Zhovkva: Thank you for having me.

There are new developments concerning the explosion of a rocket in Poland, killing two people there. Ukrainian experts will be allowed to participate in the investigation. But even before that, President Zelenskyy already has ruled out a Ukrainian origin of the rocket. Why does he, and on what basis?

President Zelensky demanded from the first minutes or hours of this - you call it incident - to admit Ukrainian specialists to the event site. Gladly, Polish authorities today accepted our specialists, our military experts. So we will see what the findings will be. The president trusts his military and his armed forces. Our forces give the relevant information to the President, so let's not speculate. Let's not be premature in any conclusions. Let's finalize the investigation, which is currently taking place in Poland. And believe me, Ukrainian military experts who are there will be as unbiased as possible. Let's finalize this investigation and then draw general conclusions.

But nevertheless, he ruled out a Ukrainian rocket being involved. If the rocket was Ukrainian, of course, it obviously was provoked by Russian attacks, and thus legitimate. What is the purpose of claiming something against NATO partners assessment and risking of being proven wrong instead of explaining the legitimacy of self-defence in that case?

I want to direct your attention to the fact, that on that day, more than 100 missiles were flying across Ukraine, and the same is happening today, just as we speak. So you somehow don’t ask me what’s happening today in Kyiv or in Dnipro, where there are severe casualties.

So let’s stick to the facts, let's stick to the evidence. If the evidence will prove [the rocket being Russian], then there will be some conclusions. If the evidence is proving that it is not the case, then we'll also have to have this narrative.

Unfortunately, there were several air raids today and also during the night time. Please consider this in your attention and let’s concentrate on what the international community can do, let's concentrate on what additional air defence and anti-missile systems the countries can render to Ukraine, in order to protect the skies over Ukraine.

When we were talking the last time in April, Russia was forced to retreat from the northern territories around Kyiv. Since then, we have been witnessing further retreats from regions around Kharkiv and recently west of the river Dnipro including Kherson. What is your assessment of the current military situation? And what is to expect during winter?

My assessment is that the strength and the courage of the Ukrainian Armed Forces made the Russians retreat from the areas you mentioned. We took over Kherson now and this is due to the support of Western community, as well due to the modern military equipment we have now in our possession, MLRS systems, armored vehicles and tanks and it’s very important for further counter offensive operations, not only in those regions.

We will be ready to liberate each and every inch of Ukrainian territory. But definitely we are counting on support of Western community. We are really satisfied with the latest results of the Ramstein format, we should keep this momentum going because, you know, we show results on the battlefield. This should entail the further support of our Western partners and the further support of our Western partners will entail further results on the battlefield. 

When the northern territories have been liberated, evidence has been found of atrocities and killings in Bucha, Irpin or Izyum shortly after the Russians have left there. In Kherson oblast so far, dozens of corpses with signs of torture have been found. What is your state of knowledge, and will there be an independent investigation into these war crimes?

Unfortunately, yes, in the liberated Kherson we also found evidence of war crimes,

What we will do? We will further collect in a proper manner the evidence of those atrocities with the support of our partners from the ICC, from the individual members of the European Union, we will further seek mechanisms to bring those guilty to justice.

Not only we will use the ICC mechanism, but we will severely advocate for the International Criminal Tribunal ad hoc to be established in order to bring those responsible to justice for the crime of aggression. Because unfortunately current ICC instruments are not allowing us to bring those responsible to justice, so we count on the support of Austria and other partners in this regard.

Russian shellings and rocket attacks are terrorizing civilians and damaging energy supplies of millions in the whole country. What is the overall status now that winter is kicking in and what are the most severe shortages you have to deal with?

40 percent of energy infrastructure of Ukraine is now damaged. We manage to repair it day by day, night by night, after the bombings. But definitely, we're entering the winter period, today we are having snow in most parts of Ukraine. Today again they are bombing Ukrainian cities.

We will be repairing this, we will try to keep the energy system of Ukraine functioning. But we really count on the support of our partners in Europe: we need additional spare parts for the energy system, we need additional transformers, we need power generators, we need spare parts. We're now currently receiving this, but you know, my President is calling on establishing the Ramstein format to support Ukraine, because unfortunately we can only predict that Russia will be further increasing its bombings on the critical energy infrastructure of Ukraine. Remember, we still have nuclear power plants. Remember, we have hydropower stations. Remember that they are blackmailing us with nuclear weapons, so we all have to be united here in Europe to overcome this difficult winter period. When - not if - but when we will overcome this period, we will become even stronger, independent of the Russian energy supply.

A long awaited verdict was pronounced today: the Malaysian airplane of flight MH17 was shot down eight years ago with 300 people killed. Now the court in The Hague has no doubt that Russia is proven responsible for the shootdown in Ukrainian airspace in 2014 after the invasion, convicting three people today. What consequences do you anticipate?

What finally happened is an unbiased and fair decision, we are really welcoming this. We had no doubts in 2014 about who is responsible and who is to blame. I think this is a very important decision. Not only juridically in this concrete case - of course bringing those to justice for this atrocity is very important - but this should create a very important precedent for other decisions of the international juridical system and international court system. It all started in 2014, maybe not everybody understood that the war against Ukraine didn’t start in 2022, it started in 2014 with the illegal annexion of Crimea and part of the Donbas. Its important to use this very important decision as a precedent for bringing all those responsible, not only the leadership of the aggressor, but all those, each and everyone responsible for the atrocities, to justice.

Here you can find the German version of the interview:

Quelle: Redaktion / koa