Photo: Embassy of Ukraine to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (c) 2015
Natalia Galibarenko gave a British Ukrainian Society speech in London
19 April 2016
The Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Her Excellency Mrs Natalia Galibarenko, gave the fourth speech in the British Ukrainian Society’s new lecture series to a full house of 140 people in the Attlee Suite at Portcullis House on 19 April. Her talk was entitled, “UK-Ukraine relations: how to deepen and strengthen further.”
Ambassador Galibarenko took up her post in December 2015 after 16 years at the Foreign Ministry, replacing the acting ambassador and Charge d’Affairs, Mr Ihor Kyzym. Mr Kyzym and four diplomats from the Ukrainian Embassy accompanied Her Excellency to the meeting.
Despite her short time in office, Her Excellency noted that a huge number of exchanges have taken place between the UK and Ukraine with visits by individuals from the state sector, the private sector and members of civil society providing insight as to what’s going on in Ukraine. She joked that perhaps she had not “chosen” the best time to be stationed in the UK with the challenges that the country faces – from the prospects of an influx of migrants to the upcoming vote on Brexit – worrying they will distract from proper attention being given to Ukraine. However, she emphasized that her experience thus far has been quite the opposite.
She cited three ways the UK has supported Ukraine during this difficult time, first and foremost by pushing for sanctions. She explained that sanctions are not a punishment but a tool to make Russia negotiate with Ukraine in order to end the armed conflict. This may take years, however “we are facing an aggression that threatens the post-war order of international relations, which should not be tolerated,” the Ambassador stated.
The UK has also provided Ukraine with expertise and training, in particular to the Ukrainian army, which was effectively non-existent before the conflict started two years ago. The armed forces that were in place were understaffed and underfinanced, and made up of volunteers. The UK has shown Ukraine how to respond to Russian aggression and provocations, and equipped them properly for those challenges. The UK has also helped with non-lethal weapons, and both countries’ foreign offices have held diplomatic trainings together.
The UK has also provided financial assistance, which has also brought about necessary reforms in terms of fiscal accountability. The Ambassador noted with concern that some European partners feel sanctions should be lifted because of a lack of reforms in Ukraine, but stressed that sanctions were put in place because of the annexation of Crimea and Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, and should only be scaled down once these two issues have been dealt with. She is grateful that the British government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office understand this point, and warned those who hope the dust will settle and that dialogue with Russia will resume hope in vain as there is no “old normal” anymore. She explained that Russian aggression in the east of Ukraine changed everything two years ago and it is not just a Ukrainian problem, but a threat to European security and as such, unites Ukraine with the UK and other western partners. “The threat has a global character, and as such the response should be global,” she said.
Her Excellency quoted some statistics to contextualise the level of disruption Russian aggression has caused: more than 10,000 people killed, 1.7m people displaced from Donetsk and Luhansk, a 20% decrease in industrial potential and the loss of control of 7% of Ukrainian territory. “Maybe this is not the ideal time for the UK to think about Ukrainians, and maybe Ukraine has not chosen the best time to be free. However, Ukraine can use the opportunity and make the case in clear terms that Ukrainian success is the best response to Russian aggression. Ukraine can be successful with international assistance, which is crucial,” she stated.
Lord Risby thanked the Ambassador for her impressive speech, and also Stephen Pound MP for sponsoring the room. “Throughout my years of involvement with Ukraine, I have not known a greater degree of connection between our two governments. Sir Gerald, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ukraine, has a Member of the Rada shadowing him next week, we have had a flow of Parliamentarians over with meetings at a very high level, and I have a young Crimean Tatar assistant working with me who studied at the LSE. So we keep up all these contacts,” he stated.
Her Excellency Mrs Natalia Galibarenko was appointed the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the President of Ukraine on 26 August 2015.
A graduate of the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, Ms Galibarenko entered the diplomatic service in 2000, working as Attaché, Third Secretary of the Cabinet of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, and Third and Second Secretary of the Mission of Ukraine to the European Union.
In 2006-2007, Ms Galibarenko was Chief Consultant of the Main Office for Foreign Policy, European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Processes of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine. She was Head of Section for Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2007-2009.
In 2009-2012, Ms Galibarenko was Head of Division, Deputy Director of the Directorate General – Head of Division for Co-operation in Political, Security and Defence Fields of the EU Directorate General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
In October 2012-March 2014, she was Deputy Head of the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, and was First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in March 2014-December 2015.
Ms Galibarenko participated in numerous bilateral and multilateral negotiations with the EU, the Council of Europe, OSCE and other international organisations. She speaks English and Spanish, is married and has a 9-year-old son.