Interview with Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

On May 16th, 2017, I met Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymr Groysman at the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem. In a short interview but interesting discussionfor The Jerusalem Post he touched on topics relating to Israel-Ukraine relations, bilateral trade agreements, his Jewish identity and Russian-Ukraine issues. The latter deals with the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. The Prime Minister is very passionate discussing “Russian aggression” and use of Russian weapons against Ukraine and the harm done to civilians.

In the first article we discussed trade, relations and Russia
“Ukraine Prime Minister condemns Russian aggression.”  It notes “Every day the [separatists] fire at us from the temporarily Russian-occupied territories; every day we have 40 to 50 to 100 firings a day from Russian weapons, from Russian tanks, Russian artillery, and innocent people die as a result,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in an interview withThe Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Groysman, the first openly Jewish prime minister of Ukraine, is in Israel for a multiday visit that has included meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and various ministers and Knesset members. He stressed the close relations between Kiev and Israel and emphasized that the world should stand on the side of what he termed democratic Ukraine against Russian aggression.”

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The author interviewing the Ukrainian Prime Minister (Marc Israel Sellem)

In the second article he discusses how he “never hid my ethnic origins” of being Jewish. He says “All my ancestors I know of from 18th century [onward] lived in Ukraine,” he said in an interview with the ‘Post’ on Tuesday. Groysman speaks with pride of Ukraine as a multi-ethnic country. “Ukrainian citizens have good will and are nice people. Ukraine is my country; it’s a great honor to be a citizen and born in Ukraine.”

One response to “Interview with Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman

  1. Hi Seth,
    It seems the media has a predisposition for listening to the Ukrainian government as it coddles the underdog label, but very little attention is given to those who suffer neglect and abandonment in the disputed areas of Donbass.
    My fiancée is a native of Donetsk who left the country after the unrest began. She has regular contact with her family that still remains in the city and she provides a bleak picture of how the Ukrainian state seems more focused about regaining lost territory but not on winning the hearts and minds of those who remain under this political purgatory. Ever since the Ukrainian state lost its influence in the region it has treated the people in this area as a lost cause. For all intents and purposes, the “democratic” Ukrainian government has renounced its responsibility and accountability to the people of Donbass, regardless of whether they support the separatists or not.
    The people of Donbass are no longer able to travel freely into western Ukraine. As citizens of Ukraine, they should have this legal right but their freedom of movement is left to the whims of local militias who act with impunity while the state simply watches without interfering.
    Furthermore, seniors in these regions are denied their pensions by the state, pensions which are to be paid by banks in Kiev. But because these people happen to live in the wrong place they are no longer entitled to the money they have worked for. Senior relatives of my fiancée are no longer able to live on their pensions because they are no longer granted by the Ukrainian banks, pensions which they have worked for in a struggling post-Soviet economy, pensions which they are entitled to.
    And last but not least, the Ukrainian government promotes a policy of cultural genocide. They try to ban media outlets for Russian-speaking citizens and remove Soviet symbols which many of these people identify with. The ban has been an insult to veterans who served in the Red Army against the Nazi invaders.
    If the Ukrainian government wishes to strive for unity, it certainly is doing the opposite in contested areas. It is actively trying to cut these people off from the world, financially and legally. The result is that these regions turn eastward to Russia for financial and political security. The Prime Minister is not very convincing when he argues for Ukrainian sovereignty while denying it to his own citizens and thereby reducing Kiev’s legitimacy in the east.
    What is upsetting is how very little western media discusses this issue, choosing to overlook how the Ukrainian government actively ignores the principles of democratic responsibility in favor of the country’s pro-western allegiance. The growth of Russianophobia and active marginalization of Russian-speaking Ukrainians should be more than enough reason why western nations should re-evaluate their praise.
    The people of Donbass are either Ukrainian citizens or stateless, the government cannot simply close its eyes and wish they disappear. They look upon the map and see the territory they desire, but not the people living there. It is a violation of everything a democratic government stands for and unfortunately not the first international media ignores.

    Please understand this is not a critique against your writing, but rather an attempt to point out what seems to be an unfortunate neglect on the media’s part. Looking forward to your next writing.
    Best regards

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