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'Pandora's Box Is Open'

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'Pandora's Box Is Open'
PAVEL KLIMKIN

It is time for the Kremlin and the world to face the truth.

The bombing of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam and the subsequent environmental disaster in an entire region of Ukraine was not just another red line that the criminal Putin regime had crossed. It is a new awareness for the world about what modern Russia is all about. The destruction of critical infrastructure is not just about an individual country. It is about the threat to the existence of humanity as such, it is a Pandora's Box.

It is noteworthy that several years before the bombing of the hydroelectric power plant, the occupying country Russia supported a UN Security Council resolution to protect critical infrastructure. Today, contrary to international humanitarian law, it does not allow international missions, in particular the Red Cross, to enter the waterlogged occupied areas on the left bank of the Dnipro River. Even China, which traditionally adheres to a neutral stance, is not prepared to "eat up" such crimes by the Putin regime. Ukraine now faces two urgent tasks: to explain to the non-Western world what global danger this terrorist attack points to, and to ensure that international bodies help people in the occupied territories.

Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine's foreign minister in 2014-2019, voiced this opinion in an exclusive interview with obozrevatel.com.

- In the context of assistance to the victims of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam explosion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: "Now we need a clear and quick world response to the events". Of course, he was referring here more to the humanitarian dimension. But why don't we observe such a clear and quick reaction in the diplomatic, political field?

- I do think the reaction exists. It's quite strong. For example, these are Scholz's words about the new dimension. It's more than a definition. It's really emotional, not just political. The things we hear in the West are also unequivocal.

An urgent challenge is to explain to non-Western countries what happens. The destruction of critical infrastructure is not just a new red line. This is exactly what Scholz said - this is a new dimension. It's something that can get to everyone in times of conflict. It is something that concerns not just the way we live, but our existence in general. And that it is a Pandora's Box.

We need to actively and closely work with the non-western world to demonstrate this new dimension.

When we had the presidency of the Security Council, we pushed through a resolution to protect critical infrastructure (the resolution was adopted in February 2017. - Ed.). Then even Russia ate it up. And now it has violated exactly what it did not mind then. Therefore, we have to tell everyone even on the UN platform: look, if we do not find ways, reliable ways to protect critical infrastructure, Pandora's Box is open. Gas pipelines, oil pipelines, transport and other communications will be destroyed. And then life will change fundamentally.

I think this is the number one challenge for us in the days and weeks to come.

The second point is exactly what Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned. It is that we need for international structures to do at least something to help people in the occupied territories. Even in Syria they had much more access. I remember the figure that the then Head of the Red Cross told me - they had access to almost 90% of the territories and only 10% were not allowed. Here the situation is completely different. This fundamentally contradicts all the principles of international humanitarian law.

I think we must explain not only to the West. We are doing just fine with that - but not to the West, that not only international law but also the basis of international humanitarian law is going to break down now.

Incidentally, the protocols to the Geneva Convention say directly that it is not possible to destroy critical infrastructure. In fact, everything exists and everything has been agreed upon.

So, there are two challenges - not the West and international organizations. The situation is still quite complicated, because sentiments are changing in the non-Western world, but not as fast as we would like them to. And the UN remains as impotent as it has always been.

- Perhaps, when speaking about the position of the non-western world, you were referring, in particular, to China's reaction to the Kakhovka dam explosion?

- By the way, the reaction of China and the fact that they responded many times, that the official position was very balanced, is quite symbolic. They specifically let their representative at the UN say this and he unequivocally condemned the destruction at Kakhovka. Admittedly, he did not blame Russia, but the very fact of condemnation and the fact that the Chinese said it shows that they are not ready to devour such things. Critical infrastructure is obviously of great importance to them.

- Do you think that the undermining of the Kakhovka HPP dam could have become a moment of truth for the entire world community? Perhaps, it has realized that it is not about the so-called provocation of Russia and Putin, but about the fact that an insane person is heading this country, who is capable of absolutely anything, in particular, of blowing up the Zaporizhzhia NPP and putting the whole world in front of another nuclear threat?

- It is not the moment of truth. I would call it a moment of truth. I speak to many non-western politicians and experts. They feel the mood change in the West, at home. They clearly see that compromise for compromise's sake is no longer an option.

They see that no one wants to go down the road of de-escalation for the sake of de-escalation and then explode again. And even the Chinese are saying clearly: we must look at what a sustainable solution should look like. This is despite the fact that the Chinese are certainly not interested in a victory for either the West or Putin. And that means there is a time of truth in the last few months, a change of attitude. It is happening in arms supply. In that sense, you are absolutely right.

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