Our Brussels correspondent Rikard Jozwiak just sat down with Ukraine's ambassador to the EU, Konstantin Yelisieiev, to discuss the ongoing developments in Ukraine, the European Union's response to the crisis, and the issue of Ukrainian energy security.
RFE/RL: With the latest developments in eastern Ukraine, is it fair to state that the Geneva agreement is dead?
Yelisieiev: In our view there is still a possibility to come back to the process of implementation of the Geneva agreement because the main essence of the Geneva agreement is to try to de-escalate the situation and to create a constructive climate for political stabilization of the situation in the eastern part of Ukraine, which will be a prerequisite for the second phase. The second stage is to try to settle the problem related to the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.
RFE/RL: Is it time for phase 3 sanctions on Russia that hit the country's economy?
Yelisieiev: My message to the European Union is to be more creative and more smart. We need to surprise Russia by our actions because what the EU is currently doing, they are introducing restrictive measures which were to a certain extent well-anticipated by the Russian Federation. What we need to do now is to proceed with real surprise actions. We need to be smart and creative. Once again, in my view, one of the possible punishments is huge, generous support of Ukraine at all possible levels.
RFE/RL: What does this support on all possible levels mean apart from financial aid?
Yelisieiev: Let's talk about the energy issue: energy security. Currently, Ukraine is very much in need of organizing reversed flow of gas from the territory of some EU member states -- namely we are talking about Slovakia. Currently, we are working hard with a view to convince our Slovak partners to launch a process of physical reversed flow of gas to Ukraine in order to secure, first of all, energy security of Ukraine and, secondly, to ensure the safety and security of gas transits to the European Union during the winter period. Now we are talking about the reversed flow from the Kapusany region of Slovakia to Ukraine and we are talking about annual supply of up to 30 bcm [billion cubic meters] of gas to Ukraine. Unfortunately, as of today, the Slovak authorities are hesitant whether to launch this physical supply of gas to Ukraine or not. The problem is the influence of the [Russian state-controlled] Gazprom-affiliated company to the Slovak Eustream company and they are not so optimistic and not so happy in order to organize reversed flow.
RFE/RL Are you confident that Ukraine will sign the trade part of the Association Agreement with the EU in June?
Yelisieiev: Why not? And it is our joint aspiration. I am speaking about the European Union and Ukraine signing the remaining part of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement related mainly to the DCTA [Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area] immediately after the presidential election in Ukraine, which will take place on May 25 this year.