Ukrainian ranking official expects Japan’s support on reconstruction of the country

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ihor Zhovkva speaks to The Yomiuri Shimbun in Kyiv.

KYIV — Japan will take over the rotating presidency of the Group of Seven from Germany in January. In an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, spoke about expectations in Ukraine regarding Japan’s G7 role amid the conflict with Russia. The following excerpts from the interview have been edited.

The Yomiuri Shimbun: What is the current situation in Ukraine?

Ihor Zhovkva: We’ve managed to liberate more than half the territories that were captured by Russia since the open aggression started on Feb. 24. We will withstand and we will go on with our counteroffensive in each and every region of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, as winter is starting, we can expect more and more blasts because they [Russia] really want to ruin and destroy our energy infrastructure, and freeze us during wintertime. They’re fighting against Ukrainian women, children, elderly. There are no safe places in Ukraine anymore.

Yomiuri: What are your expectations regarding Japan?

Zhovkva: It’s very important that Japan will be leading the G7 because obviously, the next year will be difficult for Ukraine and for the whole international community.

Having an important G7 summit in Hiroshima is very significant for you and for the whole world. I’ve heard that one of the priorities of your presidency will be nonproliferation and nuclear safety. This fully coincides with the priorities of Ukraine during this war.

We would definitely like Japan to be active in terms of sanctions, as you are now, and for you to be a role model for other partners in the G7 format because sometimes we see new sanctions being introduced in the European Union with more and more quarrels and difficulties.

We would definitely like Japan to pay attention to the very important process of reconstruction in Ukraine: not only postwar reconstruction, which is important, but also fast recovery. When we liberate areas, we immediately need to reconstruct kindergartens, schools, housing and hospitals. That’s where we need immediate support.

Aggregating the financial support needed for Ukraine is very important. The president [Volodymyr Zelenskyy] has mentioned several times that we need $3 billion to $5 billion every month, just to support our financial system, our social payment system, salaries for our soldiers and pensions for our retirees. It is a matter of the survival of Ukraine as a country.

Yomiuri: What do you think of the international response so far?

Zhovkva: Russia started its war against Ukraine in 2014. When Russia captured Crimea and then part of Donbas, the world ignored these aggressions. The world was quiet, unresponsive, trying to feed the beast, trying to be somewhere in the background — not using its full potential.

What happened? Open aggression started, and the Western community introduces sanctions and delivers weapons to us. Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late. But the delivery of weapons is definitely a crucial pillar of our future victory.

Yomiuri: Do you have anything to say about Japan’s constitutional limitations on military support?

Zhovkva: We certainly know about the limitations. We understand the degree of your possible support. You’ve given us unprecedented, nonmilitary support and nonlethal support. You’re situated far away from Ukraine geographically, but now, spiritually, you are closer to us than ever before.

Yomiuri: What is Ukraine’s peace process plan?

Zhovkva: Every war ends at the negotiation table. You have to find the conditions for coexistence when you win. But the country [Russia] is still aggressive and always will be, unfortunately. My president wants the leading countries of the world to offer security guarantees, not only for Ukraine, but for this part of the world, for Central and Eastern Europe. That’s why we’re already talking to countries about security guarantees, as Ukraine is still not a member of NATO. The best security guarantee for my country will be NATO membership.