US State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker told Voice of America in an interview that the US has already worked out a system to respond to challenges from Russia.
Five years ago, when the “green men” captured Crimea, the West reacted too slowly, Volker admitted while speaking at an international forum in Kyiv. Today, the situation has changed, and if there is escalation, the West will not take its time.
“We now perceive Russia completely differently to five years ago. We have seen the Russian aggression in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine. And now we understand well what is going on. We have already worked out a system to respond to these challenges. We have imposed sanctions, we are backing the reforms in Ukraine, and helping you to increase your defensive capabilities. We are coordinating our efforts in this area much more closely with the EU. That is, we now have far more resources and a better understanding of the situation. Hence my optimism that today we have both the will and the ability to respond much more quickly,” Volker said.
When asked how the US would respond if the Russians once again attacked a Ukrainian ship passing through the Kerch Strait, Volker responded that the primary task is to prevent this kind of thing from happening.
“The key objective is to prevent something like that from happening again. It is not in the interests of either party for Ukrainian vessels to be captured and sailors arrested, as it happened this time. We need careful coordination, clear communication and a practical understanding of what is taking place in the Kerch Strait. We proceed from the basic principle that Crimea is Ukraine; Russia and Ukraine have the right to shared usage of the strait and Sea of Azov. This is the starting point for us, and we completely endorse it,” said the State Department special representative.
Volker stressed that the US would do everything in its power to ensure the release of the imprisoned Ukrainian sailors.