But he feels there is a need to fine-tune further support under the EPF, with a focus on accelerating reimbursements so that Member States can keep arms and ammunition flowing to Ukraine. “During the first months of the war, EU Member States were sending what they had in their depots, mostly Soviet-type equipment. But now they have depleted their stocks and they have to produce in order to continue supplying Ukraine. So, if we are talking about the EPF, it is a fund that needs to be filled with actual money, rather than commitments to pay,” Ambassador Chentsov says. “Nobody expected this situation, but there is a need to adjust this instrument.”
Just as few expected a full-blown war in Europe, talk of how the conflict might end seems premature as heavy fighting continues in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk and Russia targets Ukrainian infrastructure. But Ambassador Chentsov is clear: “Any war ends with a settlement. But that settlement is not Ukraine’s surrender.” For Kyiv, its territorial integrity refers to its 1991 borders, including the peninsula of Crimea that Russia seized in 2014. The best solution, he says, is for Russian forces to withdraw from Ukraine, the Russian leadership to face justice and for Moscow to pay damages.
The broader problem, he states, is that there can be no negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin or someone in his mould. “If the nature of the regime does not change, Russia cannot change. It cannot be a prosperous, democratic country. It can only remain a threat to the world,” he says.
And with those thoughts, the ambassador’s mobile phone lights up, ringing beside him, and he is called back to his office, as his 24/7 diplomatic operation continues.