Rendi-Wagner and Lopatka invited to a joint discussion in the name of solidarity with Ukraine

Ukrainian Ambassador Khymynets and political scientist Mangott in exchange with members of the National Council

Vienna (PK) On the eve of the anniversary of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the Foreign Policy Committee and the Standing Subcommittee on European Union Affairs held a joint debate under the joint chairmanship of Pamela Rendi-Wagner (SPÖ) and Reinhold Lopatka (ÖVP) on the theme of solidarity with Ukraine instead of. The Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Khymynets and political scientist Gerhard Mangott from the University of Innsbruck were available to answer questions from the members of the National Council.

Russia strategically lost the war

The Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Khymynets thanked for holding the joint discussion as well as for the support since the beginning of the war and Austria’s commitment in taking in refugees. The humanitarian aid is getting there, but is still badly needed, he said. Khymynets spoke of Ukraine’s strong will to defend the country. The armed forces are motivated and militarily ready. The war goes on – even if it is unclear for how long – but strategically Putin has lost it, he said. Russia’s military war plans were not realized. Although fighting continues, diplomatic means are not out of the question, the ambassador said, citing the importance of international assistance.

Political scientist Gerhard Mangott presented his assessment of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Judging by Russia’s original war goals – the overthrow of the government and the demilitarization of Ukraine – Russia strategically lost the war very early on, he also said. In the meantime, no more war aims would be specified. However, Russia is not counting on quick successes either, but rather on a long-lasting war.

From the expert’s point of view, there are three variants of how the war could end: through the intervention of a third party, if one of the two parties prevails militarily, or if both armies are so exhausted that a negotiated solution can be found. However, one is far away from all three scenarios, said Mangott. The latter variant has little chance because both sides set preconditions for the start of negotiations, which the other side perceives as unacceptable. The Ukrainian ambassador added that the conditions set by Russia – territorial concessions – would be fatal for Ukraine. Therefore, on the part of Ukraine, the condition of troop withdrawal would apply.

Experts believe that accelerated EU accession procedures are illusory

After the statements, the MPs had the opportunity to ask questions. This is how Johannes Schmuckenschlager (ÖVP) informed himself about grain exports. These would still work, Ambassador Khymynets said. Cultivation is becoming more difficult, however, since many agricultural areas are mined. Helmut Brandstätter (NEOS) also had this problematized. Ukraine is dependent on support in this regard, for example by providing mine detectors, said Khymynets.

Petra Bayr (SPÖ) emphasized that it is important to bring war crimes to justice, with the Ukrainian ambassador agreeing. According to him, one way to hold Russia accountable would be to have Putin in the dock of an ad hoc tribunal of the UN Criminal Court.

The option of a breakup of Russia was also raised. While the Ukrainian ambassador said that this scenario should be thought through, the scientist assessed the probability of it as low. With regard to nuclear weapons, the USA would have no interest in such an uncontrollable process, a question was answered by SPÖ MP Bayr. The use of nuclear weapons is not likely, but possible, said Mangott, whereupon several MPs such as Harald Troch (SPÖ) and Nikolaus Scherak (NEOS) obtained his assessment of an expansion of the conflict. Putin would probably not use nuclear weapons militarily, but as a weapon of terror, he said. It remains to be seen whether Putin’s recent speech – he said Russia’s existence is at stake – was an explicit threat or a bluff. Mangott did not think Belarus’ entry into the war was very likely.

In general, when asked by Georg Bürstmayr (Greens) and Nikolaus Scherak (NEOS), Mangott analyzed the Russian propaganda that Russia aims to present excessive power to its own people. In addition to the initial narrative of perpetrator-victim reversal in relation to Ukraine, Russian communication would now speak of the “West’s war against Russia”. However, Russia is now aware that the country cannot compete with the NATO armies, according to Mangott.

Susanne Fürst (FPÖ) wanted an expert assessment of the long-term economic and geopolitical impact of the “block formation” previously mentioned by Mangott. He spoke of such a danger regarding the role of China and the US. Russia is isolated by the West, but not worldwide, said the political scientist. Several states had condemned the war but had not imposed any sanctions. African countries, Southeast Asia or the Arab world have little understanding for European concerns. FPÖ MP Fürst also addressed Ukraine’s EU accession negotiations. The ambassador emphasized the importance of the accession negotiations – even though they probably lasted longer. Mangott said that no illusions should be aroused about an accelerated procedure for Ukraine.

Michel Reimon (Greens) was informed by the expert that there is no “Western-friendly” mobilizing political figure within Russia with the prospect of a political opportunity. They are in custody. Nor is a revolt from below to be expected. (close) fan

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