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"In the case of Ukraine, the concept of neutrality loses all relevance," says Sweden's ambassador

In the case of Ukraine, the concept of neutrality loses all relevance, said Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine, Tobias Thyberg in an interview with the KYIV NOT KIEV project, which aims at debunking myths about Ukraine and combating Russian disinformation with the help of foreign diplomats.

Ambassador noted that the Russian Federation has been trying to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty in every possible way since the very beginning of Ukraine's existence. Therefore, the concept of neutrality, which Russia wants to impose on it, is not possible for Ukraine.

Quote"Ukraine has do defend its security against an aggressive neighbor. That aggressive neighbor is Russia. Russia’s determination to destroy and subjugate Ukraine has been manifest from the very day of Ukrainian independence in 1991. The Russian Federation since the very beginning of the existence of the Ukraine as an independent European state has been trying to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity in every way possible, by economic blackmail, by trying to stimulate corruption in Ukraine, by using its agents of influence to undermine state institutions in Ukraine, by energy blackmail, by using its control over gas resources to weaken Ukraine. And ultimately now since 2014 by aggressive military means," — Ambassador Thyberg thinks.

After Sweden applied to join NATO, some media called it a rejection of its more than 200 years of neutrality. However, the Swedish Ambassador to Ukraine clarifies that not being a member of military alliances does not imply neutrality. Sweden, as an EU country, has obligations to other EU countries in case there is a threat to one of them.

Quote"I don’t fully understand how it is possible for Ukraine to be neutral vis-à-vis a country whose state policy is to weaken, subjugate, and ultimately destroy the Ukrainian state?" — he concludes.

In response to the Russian narrative that Russia is fighting in Ukraine against NATO, the ambassador replies:

Quote"I think that NATO has absolutely nothing to do with the current war". However, he cites one fundamental aspect. "Russia only opposed NATO because it was an impediment to Russia’s ambitions to subjugate and destroy the independence of its neighbors".

Russia, through its authorized representatives, declares on public platforms that it has not yet started fighting in Ukraine. In particular, the Russian ambassador to Sweden stated in an interview with the Swedish publication Expressen that if Russia switched from a special military operation to a war, Ukraine would be over quickly.

The interview was recorded on November 16. The day before, Russia fired more than 90 missiles at Ukraine. Ambassador Thyberg shares his personal impression that the Russians are trying very hard in Ukraine and have all the means to change the balance of power on the battlefield. However, the Ambassador wonders, "If indeed they did have that capacity, I would be surprised why they didn’t employ it in order to keep the city of Kherson, from which they retreated?"

Quote"My impression is that the Russians are employing pretty much of their military capacity, and as far as I can judge from what’s happening on the battlefield, they are not doing it particularly successfully," — he says.

Before his appointment to Kyiv in 2019, Ambassador Tobias Thyberg headed the Swedish diplomatic mission in Kabul. Therefore, he is a person who has something to say in response to yet another Russian myth that Ukraine is like Afghanistan. The Russians appeal to this comparison to convince the Western reader or viewer that 1) there is a kind of civil war in Ukraine; 2) the Ukrainian government and army may fall, repeating the "Afghan scenario". To the first objection, the ambassador firmly answers "no. In Ukraine, there was never anything that even remotely resembled a civil war". Regarding the second, Ambassador Thyberg says the following: "I’ve lived in Ukraine for 2.5 years now. I don’t see any sign whatsoever in any way that the institutions of Ukrainian statehood, be they political, economic, social, or military are crumbling or even have any serious cracks."

Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine Tobias Thyberg in an interview with the KYIV NOT KIEV project (video)

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KYIV NOT KIEV is an English-language news blog about Ukraine, as well as a 30K+ community of Ukraine supporters worldwide. Since the full-scale Russian invasion, KYIV NOT KIEV has been exposing Russian war crimes in Ukraine and challenging Russian propaganda and disinformation. The project is known for a series of interviews with foreign ambassadors to Ukraine.

The "KYIV NOT KIEV. Ambassadorial Season" project was implemented with the support of the Goethe-Institut in Ukraine and the "Kunsht" magazine as part of the "Mediengeist" counter-disinformation accelerator, which is part of a comprehensive package of measures for which the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocates funds from the additional budget for 2022 to mitigate the consequences of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine.

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