Ukrainian companies are in talks with their Turkish counterparts over how to transfer LNG through Turkish straits to bypass Russia, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Turkey, Sergiy Korsunsky, has said answering Hurriyet reporter İpek Yezdani’s questions following a roundtable discussion organized at Kadir Has University in Istanbul.
“One will be responsible for transit and the other will be for storage. That’s exactly what the EU demanded from us so that there will be no monopolies,” he said.
Korsunsky said first of all they have to diversify the sources of gas.
“If you look at the map, the only viable way to do it is through the Black Sea. That’s why the idea to build an energy terminal in Odessa was put on the agenda. We understood at the very beginning that it is not easy; it is quite a costly project, and we will need to talk to Turkey about the Bosphorus. But formally, by the Montreux Convention, Turkey cannot stop it,” he said.
Korsunsky said private businesses in Ukraine were currently talking to private businesses in Turkey about possible routes.
“Is it that dangerous? Is it that problematic to organize this? We understand the concern because we were speaking unofficially to government officials, and we were told about serious concerns about possible accidents. We will try to continue these discussions; we will try to find common ground. Maybe we will try to find a common project to do that. But definitely this is high on the agenda of the [Ukrainian] prime minister,” he said.
“We expect Turkey will continue to support us, and we expect Turkey will continue to work with us on major projects,” Korsunsky said.
Korsunsky also claimed that they had confirmation that there were several hundred mercenaries around Donetsk from Russia who were receiving money in return for every soldier and army officer that they kill.
“They are well-paid for that. We have figures like 300-350 dollars per day. If they kill a soldier they receive 500 dollars, if they kill an officer they receive 1,000 dollars and special premium; if they are able to take down a helicopter or a tank they receive more. And they don’t hide that they are fighting for money. They are trained in Crimea and then they are shipped by cars to the Ukrainian territory, especially to Donetsk. These are the same kind of mercenaries who fought in Georgia, Chechnya and Afghanistan,” he said.
Muslims in Crimea
Korsunsky also claimed that since Russia took over Crimea after a March plebiscite, there had been human rights violations in Crimea.
“They closed Ukrainian schools, Crimean Tatars are being beaten because they speak Crimean Tatar. Now the security service of the Russian Federation is questioning Crimean Tatars about their Muslimhood – they ask them questions like ‘For how long have you preached Islam? How often do you go to mosque?’ That’s the attitude, they’re making a file on every Muslim, specifically women who cover their hair,” he said.
Korsunsky said around 10,000 Tatars had left Crimea and moved to mainland Ukraine since the annexation. “This is very sad. This is another deportation,” he added.
The envoy said they were going to take Russia to court for the annexation of Crimea. “We already have two court cases at the International Court of Human Rights. We believe that we were deprived of $100 billion of properties and land in Crimea, so we are going to put other cases in different courts.”