Border guard officers and soldiers are seen during the construction of a border wall along the Polish-Belarus border in Tolcze, Sokolka County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, in north-eastern Poland on January 27, 2022.

WOJTEK RADWANSKI | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine and its allies in the West need to act to weaken Russia in order to deter it from launching any kind of attack on the country, the former president of Ukraine told CNBC, listing three key ways that this could be done.

“What does Ukraine need now, the most?” Petro Poroshenko told CNBC on Thursday, “Ukraine needs to weaken Russia.”

Firstly, in order to achieve this, Poroshenko told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Kyiv, the West needed “to make Russia weaker” by sanctioning its giant gas pipeline project that’s aimed at bringing Russian natural gas to Europe, bypassing Ukraine and denying it much-needed gas transit revenue in the process.

Poroshenko insisted that “Nord Stream 2 is not an economic or energy [project], this is completely a security project which has undermined Western unity and which can attack Ukraine and many many others.”

“Point number two, make Ukraine stronger,” Poroshenko said, which could be done by the West by increasing its supply of weapons to Ukraine, and by motivating economic growth.

Mainly, however, Poroshenko said the West needed to “increase the price that Russia will pay if [Russian President] Putin makes an absolutely crazy decision to continue the large-scale operation against Ukraine. So stronger Ukraine, increase the price and this is the shortest way to peace.”

Thirdly, Ukraine’s “resilience” needed to be increased, he said, by carrying out a raft of reforms within the country.

“We need … to continue the reforms that were launched by my team, reforms of the security sector, economic reform, judicial reform, and to make Ukraine more understandable and more predictable for the Western world,” he said, adding that Kyiv needed to make more of an effort to tackle endemic corruption.

‘Don’t trust Putin’

The comments from Poroshenko, who served as president of Ukraine from 2014 to 2019, come as the world watches how ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia might develop.

Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine and has stationed forces and military hardware within its ally Belarus. The Kremlin has insisted it has no plans to invade Ukraine, however, and said its forces in Belarus are there for military drills set to take place next week.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg remarked Thursday that there had been a “significant movement” of Russian troops to Belarus in recent days, estimating that these included 30,000 combat troops, special ops forces, fighter jets including Su-35s, Iskander dual-capable missiles and S-400 missile defense systems, according to Reuters.

There is widespread distrust in Russia’s motives, given its 2014 annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, a country that has a pro-Western government and aspires to join the EU and NATO.

Russia blasted the move as “destructive,” according to reports quoting Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, while Dmitri Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said the U.S. is “continuing to pump up tension in Europe.”

He added that the deployments are “the best proof that we, as Russia, have an obvious reason to be worried,” Russian state news agency TASS reported.



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