Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned China against providing military aid to Russia during a virtual appearance at a Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center event on Wednesday.
Kuleba said a Beijing move to supply Russia with weapons and ammunition to support its war against Ukraine would be a “major blow” to China’s own principle of territorial integrity.
“China is a big and important player. We have to be careful,” Kuleba said. “But we made our choice: We will fight until we prevail, whatever happens, and whoever tries to support Russia in this struggle.”
“So let’s see how it goes, but we will remain in close contact with both Chinese colleagues and American friends,” Kuleba added.
The event, hosted by the Future of Diplomacy Project and HKS’ Ukraine Caucus, was held two days before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine — a massive escalation in a war between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists that dates back to 2014. Kuleba’s remarks also came days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken ’84 said China is considering providing lethal support for Russia to use in Ukraine.
“We’ve made very clear to them that that would cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship,” said Blinken, a former Crimson editor, during a Saturday interview with CBS News.
Kuleba addressed the audience from New York where he was attending an emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly. He opened the event by outlining recent Ukrainian history, including the removal of nuclear weapons from the country after the fall of the Soviet Union, which Kuleba called part of a “chain of mistakes” that led to the current war.
“Instead of cementing Ukraine’s place in the West, our state was disarmed and abandoned in the gray zone to see what would come out of it,” Kuleba said. “The Cold War was over but Ukraine was left outside in the cold.”
Kuleba also emphasized the United States’ role in guaranteeing European security since the end of World War II.
“For years, Europe had been confident enough to say it could sort things out without America, but this war has proven the opposite, whether you like it or not,” he said. “The United States continues to bear a responsibility for maintaining European peace since 1945.”
During the event, Kuleba discussed his recent meeting at the Munich Security Conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief — the first high-level talks held between Ukraine, NATO, and the EU.
Kuleba said the meeting “went extremely well” and was “related to the production, procurement of weapons, and ammunition for Ukraine — and most importantly, deliveries.”
“This rapprochement between Ukraine and NATO and EU — it should have happened years ago,” Kuleba added. “But there was always a lack of political will, mostly on the side of both alliances or institutions, to make it happen.”
Now, Kuleba said, the will is there.
“I do not think that integration into EU and NATO remain the biggest problems of Ukrainian foreign policy because this is going to happen,” he said. “There is no way back. Wheels of history are turning.”
“It’s just a matter of time,” Kuleba added. “And the sooner it happens, the better it will be for all of us.”
—Staff writer Claire Yuan contributed reporting.