The European Union (EU) ambassador to Argentina, Amador Sánchez Rico, affirmed that in order to achieve peace in Ukraine, the country “must prevail and win the war” against Russia, while defending the bloc’s military assistance to Kiev and He maintained that its purpose is to guarantee respect for the fundamental principles of the United Nations.
“We want peace and we will do everything possible so that it arrives as soon as possible, but it cannot be just any peace. To win this peace, you have to win the war”said Sánchez Rico in an interview with Télam at the Buenos Aires headquarters of the European delegation.
The Spanish diplomat also referred to the sanctions that the EU imposed on Moscow, which he assured “are not against the Russian people”, as well as the impact that the war is having on European pockets due to the rise in global energy prices and food.
“There is a European awareness that it is the price that must be paid and it is turning out not to be as onerous as predicted,” he said.
In this sense, he stressed that the bloc has reduced its dependence on Russian gas and oil “practically to zero” and stressed that Argentina “can play an important role” in the European energy transition, with the supply of LNG, green hydrogen or lithium .
“We are in full conversations with the Argentine authorities to delve into all these issues,” he said.
-What is your balance of this first year of war?
-A balance of much anger, frustration, tragedy and many losses of human life, on both sides, because of a totally unjustified and illegal war by a president who is motivated by imperialist or neocolonialist reasons. That is the background of this totally illegal war.
– Does the EU plan to seek a diplomatic solution to the war? Perhaps join the proposals that countries like China or Brazil want to promote?
-The EU, before the invasion of February 24, gave as much space as possible to a diplomatic and negotiated solution. We tried all the ways. There was a parade of European leaders to Moscow to try to avoid what was not achieved in the end. (Vladimir) Putin always told us that there was not going to be an invasion and he lied to us. There was an invasion and in what way. Since then, we have been trying to help Ukraine at all levels and on all fronts, but we have also tried to isolate Putin internationally. Thursday was another example of this, with the resolution of the UN General Assembly with a practically overwhelming condemnation. Only five countries support it and of course we want peace. The resolution that was approved in the United Nations is a resolution for peace, which is entitled “For a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” Obviously we want peace and we will do everything possible to ensure that it arrives as soon as possible, but it cannot be just any peace. To win this peace, you have to win the war.
-That is to say?
-We are not at war with Russia, nor are the EU sanctions against the Russian people. We are trying to make a country like Ukraine survive. We want a sovereign and democratic Ukraine to prevail, a Ukraine that expels the invader and can enjoy its borders and its sovereignty. And that is war, let Ukraine prevail. So, for there to be a peace, Ukraine has to prevail, and for that, it has to win the war and drive out the invader.
-EU members are discussing the delivery of fighter jets to kyiv. Does the bloc’s military support for Ukraine have any limits? Which and why?
-It is a legitimate debate and there are those who think that giving perennial weapons to the war. I think it would be naive to think that by stopping giving arms, the war would end. On the contrary, Ukraine must be helped to defend itself because that is also contemplated in the UN Charter. We are not at war with Russia and we do not want this to escalate. We do not want to have a belligerent attitude, but we want the fundamental principles of the United Nations, which is what is at stake, to prevail and that it is not the law of the strongest, the law of the bully, that wins. Therefore, we give arms. If we had not given weapons, the Ukraine would have disappeared and this would have lasted perhaps three days. The question is whether that would have brought peace. The answer is very clear: it is a resounding no.
-And the sending of combat planes would be a red line in military assistance?
-That is a decision that has to be taken through the EU Defense Ministers and NATO instances, in which it is not my responsibility right now to meddle at all.
-The EU approved a tenth package of sanctions against Russia, but the Kremlin assures that these measures are not affecting the country. Do you share this assessment?
-It has always been said, it is not an end in itself. They are not a panacea. Sanctions are one of the elements that we have at our disposal, of a coercive nature, to make a country change its attitude -in this case, the president- and to try to stifle the Kremlin’s war machine. They are not against the Russian people, they are not against food, they are not against fertilizers. Those are fake news. We also said that they will not have an immediate effect, that it is a gradual and sequential effect. Hence, we are already with the tenth package of sanctions and of course they are having their effects. Russia’s technology is almost 50% dependent on inputs from EU imports, which are not taking place. Also 80% of the factories in Russia, both automobiles and aeronautics, are now paralyzed. All this thanks to sanctions. The same could be said of the trade deficit that the Russian economy currently suffers.
-How did the block live its first winter without Russian gas?
-2022 was a special year because energy prices rose a lot and, at that time, the EU still did not have the capacity to become independent. In eight months, in practically record time, we have managed to get through the winter. Another thing that many predicted that we were not going to happen. We have managed to cut this dependence on Russian oil and gas in record time and there is no going back.
-What plans do you have to avoid their dependence in the future?
-There is a triple strategy. One is to bet much more clearly on energy efficiency and very ambitious measures have been taken in the EU at that level. Second, accelerating the transition to green energy, which was already a priority, is now even more so. And third, expand and diversify our sources of supply. For that we have other partners, such as Norway, the United States and countries in the Mediterranean basin, which are supplying us with the gas that had come from Russia up to now. Now we have practically cut our dependency to zero and that is where countries like Argentina can play an important role, with LNG, green hydrogen, or lithium. For this reason, we are in full conversations with the Argentine authorities to delve into all these issues.
-The war caused increases in the price of energy and food and hits Europe with an inflation that has not been registered for decades. What is the EU doing to deal with it?
-Obviously, this has a cost and it suffers in the pockets of Europeans, but it is the price that must be paid for freedom and for defending principles in which we Europeans believe, which are those of the UN Charter. I believe that there is a European awareness that this is the price that must be paid and that it is turning out to be not as onerous as many predicted. As I said, the winter has passed well and we are with inflation rates, which I would say are not historical at all, because we have not reached two digits of year-on-year inflation in the territory of the EU.