Restoring territories in the borders of 1991, this is victory for Ukraine – Exclusive interview with Ukrainian MP Iryna Friz

Everyone was caught by surprise from the Russian aggression of Ukraine, in the dark first hours of February the 24th 2022.

But political leaders and politicians, had to quickly act and not lose a single second, deciding the approach the country was going to take against the Russian army and how the Ukrainians Forces would be deployed and hold positions.

One of the people involved in decision making was also Iryna Friz, an opposition Member of Parliament, who still today is actively involved in the many processes Kyiv has undertaken to hold Russia responsible for the many war crimes commited.

In an exclusive interviews for Albanian Post, Friz has explained the Ukrainian opposition role during this first year of war and most of all, what victory will be for the people of Ukraine.

Full interview:

Albanian Post: How do you recall the first hours of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and what has changed up until now?

At 07:30 the parliament emergently gathered.

There were made decisions on martial status and mobilization.

Then there was a work in the office, donating blood at the reception point, receiving weapons and a clear understanding – the war has come.

There were no discussions or debates about whether Putin will attack, but already full-scale war. As then, as now, there is only one desire – to defeat the enemy and liberete Ukraine.

After Bucha, Irpen, Izyum, Mariupol, Kherson, after the recording of war crimes against civilians, rapes of women and children, tortures and mass murders of civilians, children deportation and cutting them off their parents, the attitude towards all Russians has changed.

If earlier there were warnings, now there is a desire to prosecute and put all the criminals of this country on the bench of the international tribunal as it was in Nurnberg with same ones.

Finally we understood – there are no “good Russians”.

People of Russia mutually support the genocide. So they are responsible in the same way as their political elites who organized this bloodshed.

They are all responsible for the genocide of the Ukrainian people in the 21st century, for crimes against humanity, for barbaric aggression against our state.

Albanian Post: What is the evolution of politics in Ukraine after the Russian aggression? What has the Ukrainian opposition done regarding the key issues of the war?

Before aggression the authorities unfortunately did not respond to Western intelligence reports about Russia’s readiness to attack Ukraine. Not because of a matter of trust. But because it looked unbelievable and not logical.

Russia was so close for economical integration with Europe. A lot of plans for energy projects. No military threats from Ukraine that was immersed in crisis of war in Donbas since 2014.

There were weak perspectives for NATO or EU membership with uncertain future status of Crimea and occupied Donbas territories.

All this gave little logical reasons for invasion. Except conquest in Hitler’s style to restore Empire in territorial context.

Just territories, but not wellbeing of its people.

So for those who were optimistic in dealing with Russia, an aggression seemed strange and suicidal act that will ruin all that Russia has made since 1990. However a lot of people forgot a long history of oppression Ukraine by Russians.

Today Ukrainian authorities take a radically different position. Since 2014, we have had time to prepare our armed forces. Thanks to them and partners’ support we have resisted and fought back.

Today, the entire policy of Ukraine is aimed at one thing: to restore territorial integrity of Ukraine and continue to build democracy.

Albanian Post: What has the Ukrainian opposition done regarding the key issues of the war?

Each year since 2019 we demanded an increase in funding for the army, because we understood the level of threats from Russia, and we were sure that Russia itself does not want to follow Minsk agreements.

There were good chances for them to start the process. Just to cease fire.

However, Russia was interested to lock Ukraine in crisis, to make Ukrainian integration in EU and NATO impossible, to use all its financial sources for infrastructure and social projects.

The conflict gives them food for Russian people to look at Ukraine and understand that Putin’s dictatorship is better than corruption, poverty and Kremlin’s kleptocrats.

Ukrainian opposition demanded not to close programs of missile construction, etc. We emphasized the need to expand partnership with NATO countries.

Today opposition actively involved in humanitarian work in the regions especially that were liberated, but faced destructions by Russian occupants.

For example, I’m responsible in our party for Kharkiv region and we provide work of humanitarian hub that supplies locals with food and equipment. We also support our regional AFU’s territorial brigades with uniform, personal defense equipment, Starlinks.

Albanian Post: A major factor in the last months was finding evidence for the Russian war crimes in different Ukrainian cities. What has been done regarding this and which western countries were key by cooperating?

You know that there is a political decision of the European Parliament regarding the establishment of the International Tribunal.

As of today, our law enforcement agencies have recorded more than 50,000 criminal cases about war crimes committed by the Russian army.

It’s a nightmare and several cases could be compared on their brutality with crimes of Nazis in WWII and Serbian crimes during Balkans war.

We also document other Russian crimes that violate international law, including the mass deportation of Ukrainian children.

As of today, recorded more than 16,000 children who were forcefully moved to Russia. Some of them are used in hard illegal works. Some of them were given to concentration camps for re-education of those who are patriots of Ukraine.

The destiny of others is unknown. I must also remind a case of brutally murder of Ukrainian POWs from Azovstal, in Olenivka. The list of articles of international law and rules of war that Russia has violated is incredibly wide. And I believe that Russia will be responsible for them.

Albanian Post: Sanctions have been a diplomatic “weapon”, largely used during this war. Have they given in your opinion the right effect? What could have been done better?

Definitely given. But could they be wider and tighter at once? We Ukrainians believe that they not only could, but should have been much more complex immediately after 24.02.2022.

Sanctions are a kind of “straitjacket” for a “psycho country”.

In addition, the effect of their introduction does not appear on the second day, it takes time to prove their effectiveness.

The democratic world was flashbacked to the times of the League of Nations. There was ok, while threats came from small dictatorship who torture their people.

However, when a real powerful dictator emerges, who denies international laws, humanity and human rights, the world appears to be not ready counter challenges and have no instruments to stop him immediately, to isolate him from support of other authoritarian regimes.

Albanian Post: One year after, what is victory for Kyiv?

Our victory will be in the restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity in the borders of 1991. Joining NATO and making guarantees for peaceful democratic future of our country.

Last from the rubric