Marta: Hi, everyone. I am Marta Barandiy, and this is Unlock Ukraine with Viola von Cramon.
Viola, thank you for coming to Station Europe and for agreeing to give us this interview, or rather a video podcast. This is more to talk about who you are, what you do, and why you help Ukraine, and basically show our audience who, as a human being, helps Ukraine from Brussels. You are the vice-chair of the delegation of the EU-Ukraine parliamentary committee, but you are also a member of the delegation of the Russia-EU committee. Do you feel the difference? Do you still work on the Russian committee, or are there no more Russians? I mean, is there someone participating in that committee?
Viola: Well, I mean, from the EU side, of course, there are colleagues participating, but there is no, let’s say, active member from the Duma or any colleagues from Russia. So, the EU-Russia relation is actually dead, but not only since last year. This died already a couple of years ago, while there is no exchange possible. I don’t think that any of the colleagues from the Duma have ever been present during the last years.
Marta: Last years? You mean not only the last, not only 2022, but also…
Viola: Much longer, much longer. There was no visit, there was no…
Marta: So, you have never seen them? You have never seen your colleagues from Russia?
Viola: No, no, no.
Marta: Do you see the Russian ambassador in the European Parliament? Are they still going? Are they able to go inside?
Viola: I don’t think they would come or would be invited. I had no contacts. I mean, we see the opposition, of course. We have colleagues from the Navalny Foundation, before Kara-Murza was imprisoned and jailed and sentenced. Of course, he was here, we met online with him, Zhanna Nemtsova, and all the other, let’s say, dissidents or opposition figures, Garry Kasparov, Khodorkovsky, but none of the, let’s say, current ones.
Marta: Viola, you started working on the Russia topic a very long time ago. You did an internship in Russia. Could you tell me more about that? It was Voronezh and what other city?
Marta: And what was the idea behind that internship? Because it’s a long time ago, it’s 1993?
Viola: Thirty years ago, yeah, yeah, yeah. So actually, I studied agriculture and I always had the desire to; at that time, it was still the Soviet Union, and I always wanted to go to this indefinite place like the Soviet Union, like Russia, and so on. And, of course, I was born and raised in the west of Germany. Not that I was too much attracted, but I wanted to understand why the system is so different. How do people live there? What is the planning economy and so on? And I was always looking for opportunities to work in Russia, but not in an organised manner, not in an orchestrated manner, but rather in a self-organised manner. And so, in that respect, I found a person who worked on an agricultural level with independent NGOs, with independent people.
Marta: In 1993, independent NGOs.
Viola: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And we founded one in Germany in 1991. And with this NGO, I stayed for half a year in Russia in ’93. I took a train from Prague and ended up in Moscow. And nobody waited for me. So that was a tough time for me there.
Marta: And what do you remember of these times? Because Russia probably was still different than today. Well, it’s not clear whether it’s too much changed in terms of criminality and in terms of mentality, but still the crisis. It was just a few years after the Soviet Union broke up. What do you remember of this?
Viola: I remember a lot. I remember almost every story and every anecdote. I remember it was very tough for me as a person who was born in a cooperative society. We had very strong but very polite social norms and, let’s say, a way how to interact also with people who you do not know. And at that time, in the post-Soviet and the Russian society, I thought it’s a very hard life. With people you never met, you rather avoid. So, there was a big mistrust in the society. But with people you know, you’re extremely heartful and warm and hospital and so on. So, this contrast of relationship was rather puzzling me. So, I think if we meet even on the street, if we do not know each other, I would address you, I would speak to you. But in Russia, that was rather unusual. And also in the metro, nobody smiled at you, nobody loved you, nobody had ever the intention to talk to you spontaneously. So, it was a very hard, very, let’s say, different situation from the society I was born.
Marta: Did you travel a bit around Russia?
Viola: A lot. Actually, I traveled to Siberia, to Omsk, to Orenburg, Ural, to the south, to the north.
Marta: How did people perceive you? You were German and, you know, with all this victory over Germany.
Viola: They thought I’m a spy.
Marta: They thought, they believed you were a spy. I think nobody could imagine that somebody with 23 years, non-married, just came to work and to explore their country. They thought that it was rather a strange attitude.
Marta: So they were suspicious.
Viola: Absolutely. Why did you come? What do you want? So, they were not just friendly, they were also passive aggressive, interrogating me, like, why did you come? What is the reason for this?
Marta: And all the Russians, or there were different still, because Russia consists of many different nations. And you feel the difference between the nations that, how did they treat you? The same, everyone the same manner or still there were cultural difference between them?
Viola: I don’t know whether this was culture. What I experienced was rather, I mean, for them, it was not a tradition to travel to another country, to stay there, to make a living out of milking cows. I mean, for them, it was so unusual. I couldn’t imagine that this was my personal will, that I came and nobody sent me, and nobody paid me for that. And to explain so much why I did come, why I spent half a year in Russia, why I wanted to learn the language, why I wanted to meet with people, why I thought it is important to have a better and peaceful relationship with countries such as Russia. It was extremely exhausting.
Marta: Do you have friends from that time? Do you still have some connections that you made there in the 90s?
Viola: Actually, I mean, I have been to Russia in the 90s rather often, but then I started to travel to Kiev in 96. And from there on, I went to Russia, but not so frequently and not so much on, let’s say, organized, for organized purposes. And that’s why, of course, I still know a lot of people, but there’s not too much of an exchange. Many of them are afraid.
Viola: Yes. We contacted our former students whom we had in Germany for an internship and so on. And not too many were…
Marta: What are they afraid of?
Viola: Were they afraid of any kind of…
Marta: Being imprisoned, being killed, tortured?
Viola: I don’t know what exactly. I think that some had left, but those who were still in Russia, there was no will too much to speak up.
Marta: A question, because you know a bit about Russia. You traveled there, you studied, you speak Russian a little bit as well. These nations, the nations of which the Russian Federation consists, these nations actually are poor and many of them have rich natural resources. This is the way Russia colonialises the nation. So, it first colonialised its own, let’s say, republics of people and now going externally, going further. What do you think about decolonisation of the Russian Federation? I mean, of these nations becoming free and independent?
Viola: I think this topic is very sensitive and not everyone wants to speak on it, but maybe if you have… I mean, I think the core and the root of the problem is the Russian imperialism. How to break that? How to overcome this? Well, yes, it would need something like Germany had experienced after the Second World War. Is that realistic at the moment? I think it’s not unrealistic. If Ukraine can win this war, if Russia can be defeated, the military defeat would open up a lot of opportunities. And a defeat in Russia, I’m pretty sure nobody in Russia wants to be ruled by a loser. So, Putin would be out. All his cronies, all his gangsters, all his affiliated would be out. And this will open up a lot of, let’s say, new opportunity in the country. Whether this would lead into a break-off or a decentralized approach to a new approach, we don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it will be for the better.
Marta: I asked the question about Russian defeat to many different speakers and also not only in interview, but during conferences, events and just in private talks. And of course, many, especially liberal forces in Europe support just change of the regime. So, if Putin is persecuted and then prosecuted and his regime is down, then there is regime change in Russia. Would that help? I mean, if Navalny comes to power, would that help?
Viola: I don’t want to speak about certain individuals. I think what we need is a really different approach towards neighbors. And we need, as I said, with Germany, we need to strengthen institutions in Russia. The Russian society needs to understand what happened in Ukraine. So, just a regime change or change of people will be very difficult. You will not see a sustainable peace in the neighborhood. And that is the problem. If we strike for sustainable peace, we need to overcome the old imperialism.
Marta: I agree. Let’s say Navalny, I come back to this because Navalny is a symbol of the liberal opposition forces in Russia. And many people would see him as a leader after Putin. But he is the one who also doesn’t see Crimea as a part of Ukraine anymore. He said that Crimea is not a sandwich, cannot be easily given back. So, Ukrainians are not very keen of seeing Navalny as a president of Russia because he would not give Crimea back,which means he does not really respect international law in these terms. So, what you are saying then that these people who would be in power in Russia would be the ones respecting current international law?
Viola: I don’t think you can group them. I think that, for example, Boris Nemtsov, of course, who was assassinated,had apologized to Ukrainians about the annexation of Crimea. He fully understood why this is not legal and why this annexation must be reversed. I’m not so sure about each and every one, so I would not see them all like liberals. I think that Navalny has not openly distanced himself from his statement of Crimea. But I think he focused a lot on a new, let’s say, concept of statehood. So, in his foundation and also Volkov in his book, they’re very much focused on decentralized approach. They’re very much focused on the regional approach, on the cities and mayors. So, you can see from there, I think he has developed quite a lot from his “black” and his old very racist, racial and very discriminatory approach to the southern neighbor and to others. So, I think it’s a little bit too short-sighted just to put them in one corner and say they are all the same. And since Navalny has mentioned it once, like 15 years ago, we need to condemn this. I think that’s a bit too narrow.
Marta: You grew up in Western Germany. Do you remember this reunification of Germany? When you were also a child, did you understand the difference and how did you perceive that difference?
Viola: Absolutely. We had friends in the former GDR. I went there several times and for me it was a nightmare. It was like a prison. It was grayish. It was a strange, how to say, a strange society behavior. But also things which were normal for us in the West, you could not even find in the East.
Marta: Is it similar to what you’ve seen in Russia or still?
Viola: Well, it is a bit similar for sure. But in Russia they had even a little bit of humor. So, they had this black humor. It was, I mean, there was the Soviet Union or the post-Soviet times, but they always made fun of their rulers or their leaders. I think in the GDR that was much more serious. That was much even harder behind closed doors. At least that’s what I saw or what I experienced. But for me it was clear this is not an easy step. This is not an easy development. This is not a quick fix. After the war came down and everyone was so enthusiastic, it was clear for me that the majority of the people in the East, that would take some time and also for us in the West to really grow together. But with a lot of money at that time the government tried to cover this up, the big gaps.
Marta: How long did it take to grow together?
Viola: Well, I think it went a bit almost too fast,because now you see that there are a lot of sentiments on both sides and nobody had really worked sufficiently on this. I think for the next generation or for the older generation it was sometimes hard to be identified and to be valued as Eastern Germans. It’s always easy then, let’s say, to…
Marta: Has it changed or still you have in Germany this approach?
Viola: Very much. You see this also in some of the regions where you see the voting behavior.It differs a lot from many cities in the West.
Marta: Do people in Eastern Germany vote more authoritarian?
Viola: Much more, yeah. Much more. And refugees are not so much welcomed. That’s information from Russia.
Marta: Is there a more distant approach?
Viola: Absolutely, yes. More closed societies, more saying, well, it’s enough. I mean, surely still there is a difference in terms of social standards, but not that much. So this would not justify this reluctance to take refugees and also to feel empathy for people who flee the war.
Marta: They are not capable of feeling empathy?
Viola: Sometimes it’s not capable. Sometimes it is very much victimizing their own life, their own situation. Sometimes it’s clearly also this death information coming from Moscow.
Marta: Is it because of Russian language that they are more…
Viola: No, not only. No, no. It has not always to do with this.
Marta: So they consume Russian propaganda more easy, but what’s the root of it? I mean, what’s the reason?
Viola: Well, I don’t know where they get the information from, but a lot of death information about Ukrainian refugees, they fly very easily in this context.
Marta: You mentioned that you traveled to Ukraine and in 1996, I think, you were in Ukraine, an advisor to Ukrainian government. It’s like, wow, it was just again a few years after Soviet Union broke up, but after Ukraine became independent again,it was under the government of Kuchma. What was your task?
Viola: I was the coordinator for the project. So it was an advisory project.Roman Speck at that time was the vice prime minister. And in ’94, he has asked the German government whether they could be set up like an advisory board or an advisory group. And they put together from four different research institute in Germany for agriculture, for industry policy,for fiscal policy, for central bank advisory and so on from four different institutes. They put together like advisors and they normally came, stayed for three weeks, for six weeks, and then they left again. And I was the one on the ground in Kiev, so to say, coordinated the meetings, checked the press coordinated with international other donors, but also had the contacts with civil society and people in the ministries. So that was a very exciting time.
Marta: You were employed directly by our government, by Ukrainian or by German?
Viola: No, no, no, no, no. The German government paid and one of the institutes employed me for that time.
Marta: So the agricultural sphere was one of your, you studied agriculture, but also you worked in it as well.
Viola: I worked, no, at that time I had to finish my diploma work. So I did all the exams in ’95 and I still had to finalize my diploma work. But for example, when I came to Washington last year, your lovely ambassador, Oksana, she said,”Linda, you don’t remember me?” And I said, “No, not really. You were the first person who brought me abroad.” Because after I went to Kiev, I organized a different study trip for people from ministries, from different institutions. And she was on the first trip, which I organized in ’97 to Kiel, to the north of Germany. And I remember it was a big group, like almost 20, 25 people.
Marta: Did it impact her career?
Viola: She said yes, very much.
Marta: Wow, so you actually participated in that.
Viola: Yeah, she told me. I didn’t remember that. Today she’s an ambassador because of you. Yeah, and she was actually the minister on finances and so on. So there are a couple of people who now, also when we came to Kiev last time, somebody said, “Do you remember I stayed once in your house?” And I said, “Sorry.” So there are a lot of high representatives from Ukraine. And of course, that makes me happy. And you see, okay, you can make a difference.
Marta: As a specialist in agriculture, what do you think about today’s reluctance of certain countries on Ukrainian grain? The imports of Ukraine. I mean, whom the damage is and how can this be prevented?
Viola: Well, this is absolutely illegal. What the Polish government did is absolutely illegal. This is not in accordance with EU domestic market law, competition law, and so on. And I think they got a very good financial compensation. And what we need to achieve, we all together in the European Union, is to help Ukraine with revenues. And the best and the easiest thing is, of course, when Ukraine can sell the corn, the cereal, and everything to the European, but rather to the global market. And since all the harbors are mainly closed,or now the Russians play a very bad game because they’re so much reluctant, they do not do this certification in Istanbul port. So it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of money for the ship logistics, for the vessels to be proceed at the Istanbul checking point, that it is much cheaper and much quicker to take a track or to take a train. But of course, with the border control now and with the Polish election campaign,it is extremely difficult for us to have a rational approach. After the harvest in June, in July, in August, before the grain deal actually was agreed, there was a very high grain price.And at that time, it would be the best opportunity for the Polish farmers to sell their grain. But they speculated and they left a lot in their storages, in their silos. And then after the grain deal and during the winter, because the grain deal worked, the price dropped. And still the Polish farmers didn’t sell. And with more and more incoming and imported Ukrainian cereal and Ukrainian grain, of course, the price dropped even more. And so now they are sitting on half of their, even more in some places, of their grain,and they missed the opportunity, but they cannot blame the Ukrainians for that. But of course, the fodder, the forage industry in Poland prefers now to take the cheaper Ukrainian grain than the Polish grain.
Marta: How will it be solved?
Viola: It is solved now. I think that some of the agreements is that they seal the trucks or the train, the cargo train, the shipment. And the other thing is they got so well compensated. They were thrown with money. This is absolutely illegal. We had never had a case like this. So for me, that was a bit over the top.
Marta: It was strange because Poland so much supports Ukraine. And then suddenly this decision, we were like, we were shocked to read that.
Viola: Absolutely. Me too.
Marta: Viola, you also MEP from Greens. Greens is your party. My question will go to or will be about energy. Because nuclear energy plants were closed in Germany recently and Greens, of course, for a long time, leading foreclosure of the nuclear plants. But also as a person, as a politician who supports Ukraine and who understands the danger from coming from authoritarian regimes and understands probably that the energy sources are mainly stored there. What do you think about the alternatives to the nuclear energy? And how wise is that decision in terms of security, not just energy security, but security?
Viola: Well, I think when it comes to Ukraine, we have to consider that it is rational to keep the nuclear power plants as long as you can, because you need the energy.Of course, when the reconstruction phase now starts, the self-supply of energy and even more because you can export energy so easily when the infrastructure is in place. We should also then think about in which phases, in which region, which kind of wind turbulences, solar, geothermal and so on can be placed. What does it mean for the revenue? What does it mean for the self-consumption in Ukraine? But that is, I think, part of the bigger Marshall or reconstruction plan.
Marta: What about Germany?
Viola: Oh, we, I mean, we work hard on that. We hope that the phase out of nuclear will not lead constantly into higher coal supply,because that is, of course, an absolutely catastrophe, climate catastrophe at the moment. I think we emission six to eight times more CO2 than France. That is not acceptable.
Marta: So how the energy alternative is solved in Germany?
Viola: At the moment, we are burning much too much coal. I mean, this is very obvious.
Marta: Would that be a good solution if Ukraine becomes an energy hub for Europe?
Viola: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, that was the reason why Robert Habeck went in ’21 in May. He came to Kiev because of this energy partnership. That was the reason. We wanted to see how far this is going, where are the locations, which regions could export and so on. What kind of infrastructure would Ukraine need? So, yes, of course, this would be a good opportunity if we can work on this.
Marta: Viola, let’s talk about war. This is the topic we haven’t touched upon yet, but this is the most important topic today. I saw your speech in the parliament about the genocide, ‘Völkermord’, you say that, you mentioned the word. So it’s genocide in English. You mentioned that Putin has to be brought to justice for this and for ordering the Wagner group, the Wagner fighter, to kill Ukrainian children.You referred to the interview that was given by the Wagner group terrorist, we would call him, to the Gulagu Net. My question is about the genocide. So you believe there is genocide in Ukraine today?
Viola: Well, it is according to the definition of the UN. I mean, if you deport children forcefully from one group to the other,that is according to the UN paragraph, I don’t know, three or four, that’s what you call genocide, yes.
Marta: We had here in our interview Georges Dallemagne, he is a member of parliament from Belgium,and he was also a Médecins sans frontières, he was director of the Doctors Without Borders, he went to Srebrenica during the genocide, he went also to Rwanda during the genocide,and he says that what’s happening in Ukraine today is in fact genocide. But not everyone in Europe agrees on the term, or agrees to call genocide a genocide, because there is responsibility to protect it. It means that the international community would need to interfere really actively. Do you think this is the reason why still genocide is not being called genocide officially?
Viola: Well, I think as a German, many of my country, fellow countrymen and countrywomen, are very much reluctant because of our history, because of our past. We know that with this, what happened in the 30s and the 40s, with our dictator, we have to have a very close look which actions and which crimes really fall under this genocide paragraph. But when it comes to the deportation, that is very clear. So I would not call maybe everything like genocide, but for the kids, this is definitely a genocide. Or genocidal act, yeah.
Marta: My question goes about, will be about Germans, and in that you say that because of your history, you are reluctant of recognizing that. But for me, what I wonder, it’s because of, thanks to the fact, well, it’s a gruesome fact, but thanks to the fact you had it in your history, you could be more or better placed than anyone else in recognizing the patterns. Because what’s happening in Russia today, it’s a fascism, what we see, and what they are doing in Ukraine. And they are even saying that there is a MP, Russian MP Wasserman, there is Medvedev, who was prime minister, who was president, who say that Ukraine should not exist. No one, like Medvedev says, Ukraine, no one needs Ukraine. And Wasserman says that the best way what Russia should do is to eliminate Ukraine completely. So it shows the intention of people in power, because this intention is the one that is the most difficult to prove in the court, or to be able to call genocide.
Viola: Well, this is the daily practice. I mean, you know this much better than I do, but they want to abolish, abandon the Ukrainian identity, and they do this in practical terms every day with all the people in the occupied territories in a very brutal way.
Viola: By filtration camps and…
Marta: By decapitating people?
Viola: Yeah, absolutely.
Marta: In front of cameras, using terroristic means?
Viola: Not only there, but everywhere. I mean, with this deportation, with killing civilians, with using Ukrainian language, Ukrainian symbols as an excuse, as a reason to kill somebody, to torture somebody, to dehumanize somebody. Yes, these are genocidal acts.
Marta: it’s often done by Wagner Group, by the terrorist group. Do you consider Wagner Group a terrorist organization? I mean, I know that it was voted in the European Parliament that Russia is a sponsor of terrorism, and Wagner Group should be put on the list of terrorist organization, but what is lacking for that? What should happen that Wagner Group really becomes listed, gets listed on the terrorist organization list of the EU?
Viola: I think we have only a few groups so far who officially have a legal framework for these terrorist groups. I’m not a legal expert enough to tell you what exactly would it need…
Marta: But politically? Politically, what is…
Viola: Politically, you can do everything every time, but it doesn’t mean anything. You need a legal ground, and we are a rule of law-based union society and member state. So just politically to say, “Let’s include them and let’s do this,” I think this is not sufficient. So I think we had ISIS, and we had, I don’t know whether it was Hamas or some of the others, and then you had certain criteria. I would say yes, of course, Wagner fulfills and meets all the criteria the same way as ISIS did, as Hamas, as maybe a handful of other criminal terrorist groups do. But as I said, I can’t tell you exactly. Is it just politically? Is it legal? And if so, what’s missing? Especially why has nobody put forward this request to us in the European Parliament or to the European Council?
Marta: Don’t you think that Europe is… I mean, European Union is a bit too slow in terms of recognizing those things, putting them in the list, helping Ukraine in the very first months of the war in terms of weapons? Was everything done fast enough or still…
Viola: Well, actually, I’m pretty proud. I think that it could have been much worse. So when you had seen and observed how the European Union acted in other crises, I think we were very much committed. We were, for the European Union standards and the decision-making process, we were rather swiftly acting. And with the sanction package, it’s not so much the question of putting more and more and more sanctions. I mean, diamonds are missing. Yes. Uranium are missing. Yes, that’s for sure. That’s obvious. But otherwise, these are rather the loopholes. So we see there are a couple of countries like Turkey, like Kazakhstan, like Georgia, Armenia, and so on, surrounding countries who help to evade, sorry, circumvent and evade the sanctions. So this is rather the problem. It’s not so much that we do not have the legal base now, but we have too many helpers for Russia. Sometimes this is intentionally, sometimes this is non-intentionally, but nevertheless, the result is the same. So Russia can still import a lot of high technology goods, white products such as microwaves and so on. So it’s not so much on the European Union didn’t enough in the first place. I think they were extremely fast, maybe not with weapons. Yes, this took much too long. And still we are looking for ammunition. Still we are looking for the crucial, let’s say jets and many other equipment. Still, I think we could have started with enlarging the capacities much faster. Absolutely. But in terms of opening the borders, I mean, Ukrainians got this exception rules. They can apply for work. They get the social transfers. They are not staying in line for all the other registration processes and so on. So there were a lot of exemptions being made for Ukrainians. I think this needs to be considered as well. And also in terms of humanitarian aid, in terms of generators, in terms of many things which are where needed to survive during winter times, EU did not bad. Yes, on weapons that was too slow and too little, no question. But I think in the long run we will prevail.
Marta: we will. But what I am trying to… I will put this in the context. In terms of organization or organizational support, while European Union still was in some questions too slow or not, well, not maybe, did not mobilize enough. At the same time, such countries, BRICS countries or authoritarian regime countries had or used this gap that European Union did not fulfill to create a multipolar world or to claim that they are, you know, now we are moving away from international law and we are now seeing ourselves in the multipolar world where authoritarian regime can say easily to its own people that it is a democracy. So now, you know what I am trying to say that European Union is losing this monopoly r not only European Union but the whole West, civilized West is using its monopoly on democracy and now everyone can call themselves democracy because the definition is so broad and they like being or supporting countries like Russia and China. They are trying to be balanced to European Union and that is how they are selling it to their own people.Aren’t we losing in these terms? I mean, like strategically?
Viola: No, that’s true. I mean, the strategic communication is very poor. And that was from the very beginning. So we left a lot of ground for Russia to disseminate their own messages in a very, very brutal and very blunt way. That was my criticism from the very beginning but also after Maidan. So we left much ground for disinformation and false information and we had the experience in many countries that it was not always a bad intention by the local people but it was mainly the very well drafted and very strategic drafted and disinformation coming from Russia. With a grain deal it’s the same thing. So using the hunger and using the malnutrition in many countries to blackmail those countries and to put pressure on those countries which heavily depend on the grain imports. But not saying it is because of the war but saying it is because of the sanctions against Russia. There are no sanctions on Russian grain. There are no sanctions on Russian pesticides, on nitrogen, fertilizer and so on. But they’re using the whole situation to victimize themselves. So in that respect we have to be much quicker. We need to communicate to certain regions much more strategically. We have to reach out to countries in Latin America and Africa and Asia. We didn’t do this enough. That is a lack of coherence here in the European Union. There I agree. But in terms of acting against Russia immediately and helping Ukraine, I think we did quite a lot.
Marta: So it’s rather communication that is like…
Viola: It’s communication but it’s also interacting. So I think it was a success to see that 144 or 141 in the first UN resolution supported this resolution, condemned the Russian aggression, condemned all these war crimes and so on. So I think it was a huge success. Russia saw only a couple of, I don’t know, five supporters on this side. Of course many abstentions. But nevertheless the majority of the states, even if they were not democracies, even if they were maybe not clearly allies of the West, supported this resolution. And that was quite a surprise for Russia.
Marta: You are also a member of the committee, if I’m not mistaken, on defending democracy or let’s say non-interference into the affairs of the European Union states. How do we defend international law? Because democracy is like…It includes rule of law and defense of international law. I mean Russia is now chairing the Security Council of the United Nations. It’s now Russia. So now also South Africa decided or communicated that it’s going to exit their own statute to host Putin personally during their BRICS summit. So what it means for international law that it is not working, that any time we can just, you know, when we want, we sign the agreement and then we do or we walk the talk. Or when we don’t like it, we just exit and we don’t walk the talk. How do we defend international law? I am international lawyer. Really interesting. What do I do also as civil society activist?
Viola: Absolutely. That’s a very, very important question. The problem is also there with our history, with our past. Many of the countries who now defend international law are not members of the International Criminal Court, such as the US and many others. They have broken the international law themselves. They were former colonists states. And so especially for South Africa, but also for other countries on the African continent, they saw the Soviet Union as their liberator from the colonism in the ’50s and ’60s. And for them, still Russia is the Soviet Union. So, they do not really look too closely at what’s happening in Ukraine and Russia. They don’t care. They say, OK, if there are sanctions against someone, I was, for example, the chief observer in Iraq right after the war broke out and right after the war of aggression continued. And there was a sympathy for Russia because the sanctions were against Russia. They didn’t want to have contact. It was the beginning of the war, but they didn’t want to have contact. They didn’t want to have an explanation given by the Ukrainian ambassador. And so what we see is that because of the very, let’s say, individual situation of certain states, for example, the liaison between India and Russia is always very close, mainly through military cooperation, import from Russia. Now the Indians, they watch very carefully how poorly the Russian military performs. And I do not think that this cooperation will last too long. So step by step, they will probably also withdraw and diminish their import from Russia. So, things like that are crucial. With China, it’s a bit more difficult. China doesn’t want to have a regime change in Russia, but they, of course, are also not happy. They are not supportive. I mean, they are not helping Russia in a bigger amount. They help Russia as much as they need to be counted as an unlimited partnership. But China plays two sides.
Marta: You know, 19 days ago, the ambassador of China to the EU said that Crimea is Ukraine. And a few days ago, he said in France, the ambassador of China to France said that former Soviet Union republics are not sovereign. So they are playing the double game.
Viola: Yeah, they play the double game, but they need actually the global trade. They need peace. They need rather high growth rates. So for them, the situation as it is at the moment is not playing in their hands. They had very close ties also with Ukraine. And I’m actually surprised how little the support for Russia in material terms.
Marta: You expected more?
Viola: Absolutely. I mean, they’re benefiting. They get a huge discount from oil and gas and uranium. But otherwise, I mean, yes, they send a little bit of some of the older equipment, but no heavy material, not ammunition in a bigger amount. So everything Russia asks for, China has so far not delivered. In that respect, I’m still hoping that China will stay this way. If they really go all in, then it is a different picture. Then we have a problem. But so far, I think there’s a good chance that Ukraine will definitely win.
Marta: A personal question. Are you going for elections next year again? I wish, yes. I wish I can have a second mandate here. I think that is very powerful. I see you can really become active. You can make a difference. My network in Ukraine is extremely helpful now, but also in Georgia and Moldova, in the Western Balkans.
Viola: Kosovo, yes. So, I do hope that I can get a second mandate.
Marta: I wish you the success.
Viola: Thank you. It was a big pleasure being here.
Marta: Thank you. It was a pleasure for me.
Viola: Thanks a lot.
Marta: Thank you. And it was Unlock Ukraine with Viola von Cramon from Germany. Don’t forget to subscribe to have more videos from Promote Ukraine.