Mick Antoniw: ‘Ukraine is now winning the war but at a terrible price’
Since Russia’s attempted invasion of Ukraine started in February, Wales’ Counsel General Mick Antoniw has been a regular visitor, helping raise tens of thousands of pounds and deliver aid to the battle-scarred nation.
20 December marked the 300th day of the conflict, with the Senedd member for Pontypridd, recently returned from taking supplies to the Ukrainian army fighting on the front-line, sure that Ukraine is now winning the war “but at a terrible price”.
Mr Antoniw is of Ukrainian descent on his father’s side and speaks the language.
He told Nation.Cymru that it has now become completely clear that the war is about conquest: “It’s about the creation of a broader Russian empire, based on a very right-wing nationalistic position.
“I think it has exposed what has been growing in Russia for some time, and that is a form of Russian fascism. That is why it is a threat to international law, to human rights and to world peace.”
Some 14 million Ukrainians have been displaced, causing a refugee crisis throughout Europe, says Mr Antoniw.
“Cities are being totally destroyed and massive human rights abuse is taking place. The Russian Parliament have now given complete amnesty to Russian soldiers for any crimes they commit in the Ukrainian territory. This is something that is equivalent to what almost happened in Nazi Germany. What this is basically, is the genocide of the Ukrainian nation.”
“Ukraine is gaining territory, and Russia is unable to move forwards. Because Russia is unable to win on the ground it’s using missiles to destroy cities and infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.”
Looking forward to 2023, Mr Antoniw believes that – with better equipment, and more of it – Ukraine can win the war.
“It needs longer range missiles and rocket systems and more sophisticated tanks, aircraft … it can’t fight this war with one hand tied behind its back. There are things that need to happen in order for Ukraine to win the war, and win it quickly.
“How long this war goes on for, what form it takes, and how many lives are lost are almost dependent on the extent western governments and the international community, is prepared to give Ukraine the necessary weaponry to win.”
It is only then, when the Russian troops have left, that proper peace talks can take place, says Mr Antoniw.
“What is clear is that this has unified Ukraine in a way that it hasn’t in its history. In many ways, this may be the war for the independence of Ukraine. It is certainly the war for the survival of Ukraine, of the language, culture and identity. I have just come back from Ukraine now, and what is impressive is the extent to which there is complete stoicism.”
In October of this year, Senedd members launched a cross-party fundraising campaign for Ukraine. Mick Antoniw MS for Pontypridd has just returned from Ukraine with fellow MS Alun Davies.
They delivered winter clothing, rations and medical supplies for the front-line, as well as with members of the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian miner’s union.
The fundraiser also enabled the purchase of a specialist satellite communications system and a portable generator. Pontypridd company Pritchard’s Plant Hire provided the vehicle which was also donated for use on the front-line.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.