Robin Barnett

Robin Barnett

Former Ambassador to Ireland, Dublin

Part of UK in Poland

15th March 2014 Dublin, Ireland

Ukrainians must choose their own future

Resolving the Ukraine crisis is a top priority for Britain and Poland: this matters to us because we both believe in a world where the rule of law is upheld and territorial integrity respected. We need to deter further Russian military action and de-escalate the situation.

Our Prime Ministers David Cameron and Donald Tusk have been in regular contact and helping to lead the EU and international response to the crisis. Our Foreign Secretary William Hague is in close touch with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. They met most recently in London on 10 March. After the meeting, Minister Sikorski underlined that “Poland and the UK have common views on many issues regarding the Ukrainian crisis and tensions over Crimea”. My Embassy team is also busy engaging with both government and civil society.

The UK’s stance is clear. What has happened in Ukraine is completely indefensible and the aspirations of its people to chart their own future are being frustrated. The government in Ukraine is legitimate. It is wrong for Russia to say it is not. We utterly condemn Russia’s illegal violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The situation we face today is simply unacceptable. We, along with Poland and the rest of the European Union, are considering further measures to increase the pressure on Russia if it does not de-escalate.

At the same time, we are using every diplomatic opportunity to bring Russia to the negotiating table with Ukraine. We are working with our EU partners and other allies including the US and Canada to achieve this. Talks between Russia and Ukraine are crucial to resolving the situation. But, if the Russians do not come to the table or if the talks do not start producing result, then Russia will face further consequences. At Prime Minister Cameron’s instigation the EU has begun work on such additional measures, including asset freezes and travel bans.

Meanwhile, the EU will help the Ukrainian people in their hour of need and has already committed to providing economic support and access to EU markets. The UK and Poland are actively engaged in helping Ukraine in this way.

As for the Crimean referendum on Sunday 16 March, the international community has clearly stated that any referendum in Crimea will be illegal, illegitimate and will not be recognised.

Put simply, Russia has miscalculated. Ukrainians will be more willing to join the EU, rather than less, because of this.

To end on a personal note, it was moving to see a group of Ukrainians seeking the right to choose their own future at the ceremony to mark the fifteenth anniversary of Poland’s accession to NATO in Pilsudski Square on 11 March. The UK supported Poland’s desire to join the EU and NATO after the fall of Communism. Today, we stand together with Poland in supporting Ukraine’s European aspirations.

About Robin Barnett

Robin Barnett was British Ambassador to Ireland from 2016 to 2020. Between 2011 - 2016 he held the post of British Ambassador to Poland and his career has previously concentrated…

Robin Barnett was British Ambassador to Ireland from 2016 to 2020. Between 2011 - 2016 he held the post of British Ambassador to Poland and his career has previously concentrated on Central and Eastern Europe and multi-lateral diplomacy.

Robin began his career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1980 as Desk Officer for Indonesia and the Philippines. In addition to Ireland, he has been posted to Vienna, New York and Bucharest, where he was Ambassador. He has also served as Director of UK Visas and Managing Director of the Business Group in UK Trade and Investment

Robin studied Law at Birmingham University. He has a son and a stepson and is a great admirer of Sir Alex Ferguson and a supporter of Manchester United.