U.S. Ambassador to U.N. reveals more about toll of Putin's war in Donbas and hopes for Ukraine
There are very few more outspoken members of Russia's war in Ukraine within the United Nations Security Council than Samantha Power.
The U.S envoy's fiery exchanges with her Moscow counterpart have helped raise international awareness about the war in Ukraine and the Russian occupation of Crimea.
Two years after the Kremlin orchestrated the takeover of the Black Sea region, Ms. Power gives an exclusive interview to Ukraine Today.
In it, she reveals more about Russia's powerful position in the U.N, the mounting pressures on Vladimir Putin and future hopes for Ukraine to regain full control over its territory.
"Russia is a very powerful player within the U.N. system and they did everything in their power to prevent us and Ukrainians and other like-minded people from securing the preservation of the Ukrainian state…It's true symbolically that only means that the maps remain the same, Crimea remains part of Ukraine and Russia will never be able to change the maps – it will always be clear what is legal and what is true. But I also think it was an important showing well beyond the maps, to the people of Crimea that we stood with them as an international community and not just as the United States."
"I also think it is extremely important that Europe and the United States have stood together in terms of the sanctions regime, not only for the crime for trying to take Crimea away but also, of course, for all the activities in eastern Ukraine - the military intervention and the support for separatists, the displacement and killing of Ukrainian people so that coalition should not be taken for granted. I think countries tend to vote (for) their interests and even if they believe in principles, some countries, sadly, when it comes to economic interests, can put principles to one side and that hasn't happened. In a lot of European countries that are affected - whether it's in terms of natural gas flow or in terms of their trade relationship - and yet, they've stood strong to isolate Russia - so there's been a real cost imposed on Russia. The economy of Russia in 2013 was one eighth the size of that of the United States, today it is one sixteenth. Junk status given to them by Moody's and SNP - it's not a climate investors would be tempted to invest in - so although it's not happening as quickly as the Ukrainian people understandably want, particularly the people of Crimea - this is taking its toll, its affecting Putin and the elites calculus and it's a matter of time I think before Ukraine gets to be whole and feel sovereign again."
"Part of implementing (the) Minsk (ceasefire deal) means also releasing political prisoners. That is yet another commitment that has not been met by the Russian Federation. If anything, with trumped up charges and Russian citizenship imposed on people who were arrested in Ukraine and shipped to Russia, told that they are suddenly Russian tried on charges that never should of existed - the whole thing, as I said in the U.N. today, it's like The Master and Margarita, it's a Bulgakov novel in terms of its absurdity and it's right out of a playbook from 60 years ago or 50 years ago. So what we can do – we can use our voice (and) use our diplomat channels. President Obama, just when he spoke with President Putin, I believe it was last week, of course raised the Savchenko case. Secretary Kerry raises these cases with foreign minister Lavrov every time we engage and look, even though the people of Ukraine may not like it, we work with Russia in a lot of areas, we worked on the Iran nuclear deal, we worked on Syria to try and bring about a reduction in violence and a political settlement there. Those channels allow us to continue to push on this set of issues and there'll be no business as usual between our two countries until Minsk is implemented and until prisoners who are unjustly held are back with their families where they belong."