The House

Ukraine’s man in London

For Ukrainian o cials in London, the last few weeks have been exhausting and disturbing. Captain Dmytro Donskoi tells Adam Payne Ukranians will sacrifice everything for freedom


On the day e House sat down with Captain Dmytro Donskoi in the Ukrainian embassy in west London, a Russian missile exploded just half a mile from his apartment in Kyiv.

He is visibly furious as he describes the “Nazi” Vladimir Putin and his “genocidal” tactics in targetting civilians in Ukraine since launching his horri c invasion last month.

Donskoi, Ukraine’s defence a aché in the United Kingdom, says some of his friends have been killed in action but that it’s a price worth paying for freedom.

“We’re ready to ght for our freedom and we’re ready to die for our freedom,” he says. “Freedom for Ukrainians is essential so there is no choice for us: it’s a ma er of survival.”

Donskoi and his Ukrainian colleagues at the embassy, which is decorated with owers, messages of solidarity and blue-and-yellow ags, are watching with shock and rage as towns and cities in their home country are a ened by an unrelentin­g Russian bombardmen­t, which has killed hundreds of civilians, according to the United Nations.

“It’s tough to understand how your closest neighbour, who speaks a similar language to you and whose leader calls Ukraine a brother nation, can kill your people and your children, destroy your infrastruc­ture, hospitals, maternity wards,” Donskoi says.

However, he is de ant. e Ukrainian resistance that has frustrated Putin’s plan to sweep across the country is showing no signs of wavering, he says, and he thanks “sophistica­ted” weaponry provided by the UK which has helped do signi cant damage to Russian forces.

Morale among Ukrainians is high, adds the captain, who says soldiers on the frontline have joked about images showing a Russian convoy, many miles in length, stranded en route to Kyiv.

“e joke is that the Russian army isn’t strong, it is long. Ukrainians aren’t just good at ghting, they also have a very good sense of humour.”

But the UK government must go further and ful l President Volodymyr

Zelensky’s repeated request for a no- y zone over Ukraine, Donskoi urges.

e government has up to now refused to commit to stopping Russian military aircra from entering the country, which in a worst-case scenario would involve shooting down planes, on the grounds that it risks a dangerous escalation and would drag Nato into a direct military con ict with Moscow.

Donskoi says this logic is awed, because a world war is already underway, with Putin’s a ack on Ukraine just as much an a ack on the west in the “insane” leader’s mind.

“e ird World War has already started,” he says, “because it’s a war between values, between civilizati­ons.”

He warns that if Russia manages to take over Ukraine, Putin will not stop there and will have his eyes xed elsewhere in eastern Europe. “eir talk shows they are discussing who will be next – whether it will be Baltic states or Poland.”

Donskoi is also de ant on what Zelensky should be willing to accept in any negotiatio­n with the Kremlin. He describes Russia’s basic demands to have greater control over Ukraine, which Putin believes should never have been allowed to break away from the Soviet Union in the early 90s, as “humiliatin­g” and “unacceptab­le”. He tells e

House: “ey want us to be neutral, to be demilitari­zed, to accept Crimea as a Russian territory, and to accept these arti cially made republics. It’s bullshit.”

And while negotiatio­n “is always

“The Third World War has already started, because it’s a war between values, between civilizati­ons”

be er than ghting,” he stresses no serious talks can take place with Russia if it does not agree to a cease re. “Trying to do negotiatio­ns while at the same time having your civilian infrastruc­ture a acked is ridiculous.”

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