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EXCLUSIVE – After two rounds of high-level international talks in Copenhagen and Jeddah, Ukraine is gathering partners to rally for peace in Malta Oct. 28-29.
National security advisers will be discussing President Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace formula addressing everything from child abductions to environmental damage. Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Advisor took part in a similar summit in Saudi Arabia in August.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the gathering counterproductive, saying it has “absolutely no perspective.”
Ahead of the talks in Malta, Fox News Digital exclusively spoke to Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the president of Ukraine. Yermak spoke via Zoom from the presidential office in Kyiv.
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Andriy Yermak is head of the office of the president of Ukraine. (Office of Andriy Yermak)
What exactly is the Malta Summit and what do you hope to accomplish there?
YERMAK: First of all, it’s very important that the process continues after Copenhagen and Jeddah. We expect more countries to gather in Malta. As of now, more than 50 countries have confirmed participation, which exceeds the number of participants at the Jeddah summit.
Secondly, timing matters. The war in Ukraine continues, and there is another war in the Middle East. At this moment in time, it’s important that countries from different continents come together, sit at the table and talk about peace, about just peace.
President Zelenskyy’s peace formula is unique because it’s not just about how to end Russia’s full-scale invasion in Ukraine. It’s also about the crisis, which we face because of this war. And, in crisis, I mean food security. I mean energy. I mean ecology, humanitarian issues, kidnapped and illegally deported Ukrainian children. It’s important that we talk about these issues, that we show responsible countries can talk to each other, can agree to respect international law and, most importantly, that we talk about how to end the war, how to end the killings of innocent children.
I’m optimistic about this meeting.
In Ukraine, you’re fighting against Russia, you’re fighting for freedom. What does that have to do with Israel’s fight right now against Hamas?
YERMAK: The fact that the war in Ukraine has not ended and stills goes on has its implications beyond Ukraine. Every day we are attacked with Iranian drones, Russia is tightening ties with Beijing and, right before this interview, there were reports of Moscow hosting Hamas delegation. I think this says enough about the complexity of the situation.
When it comes to our war, we are not disputing anything with Russia. They came to our land. They occupied our territories. They killed our civilians. They want to destroy our nation. We are really fighting for the freedom and democracy here.
President Zelenskyy’s peace formula is a real platform to end the war, a platform to return to international law and to help Ukraine to return to our internationally recognized territories. It can also be used in other wars, other conflicts. One of the principal parts is bringing kidnapped children home. Bringing them from illegal captivity, something we are now seeing in Israel as well.
Ukrainian soldiers celebrate at a checkpoint in Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
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As long as war in Ukraine goes on, the threats will continue. Aggressors do not stop until they are stopped. Ending war and bringing just peace to Ukraine prevents other wars and conflicts from happening.
We feel the pain of the Israeli people, we know it firsthand. Every day for almost two years, our people have been under the attacks of Russian missiles and Iranian drones. We know what they are experiencing.
Can you talk a little bit more about these Iranian drones? Iran has been sending Russia hundreds and hundreds of them for over a year now.
YERMAK: We have been repeatedly saying this. Those are Iranian drones. And when Iran provides Russia with those drones, Iran knows what they are used for. They are used to kill Ukrainians.
Andriy Yermak (Office of Andriy Yermak)
Wars divide people. They also show who is on the side of light and who sides with devil. I am very happy that most people are on the right side. That’s how we started closely working with American people. They understand that we have common values. Nothing has changed, we continue to fight. It’s been two years, but every day we continue to fight for millions of Ukrainians. We fight every day, every minute.
Just as we speak, our people fight on the frontlines. Just now, cities are under attack, but our people keep fighting because we strongly believe in our victory. We strongly believe in freedom. And we believe in our friends, especially in the United States, our biggest partners. Our victory will be a joint victory just as much as Russia losing is in the strategic and political interests of the United States because the U.S. is the leader of the free world.
The U.S. House of Representatives has a new speaker. Are you concerned that U.S. support for Ukraine might wane? And are you concerned that the world might forget about Ukraine with the war going on in Israel?
YERMAK: First of all, I’d like to congratulate the American people with the new speaker and congratulate Rep. (Mike) Johnson on his election. Any elections in the states are purely American business. Every state must respect this, and we respect this.
We are very happy that we have bipartisan support of the American Congress, which, once again, we felt during President Zelenskyy’s recent trip to New York and D.C. I am sure that Americans will support Ukraine, and Americans will support our freedom and democracy.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, walks with President Biden down the colonnade to the Oval Office during a visit to the White House Sept. 21, 2023. (Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images)
I hope that we will build a very constructive, very open relationship with the new speaker, I have no doubts about that. We often hear, especially coming from the Russian propaganda, that American support to Ukraine will decrease. I do not believe in this because our unity is not only for this brief moment. The United States, the White House, Congress, State Department and ordinary American people support democracy. They clearly see how Ukraine not just survived, but continues to liberate its territories. I am positive we will have a constructive, successful relationship with the new speaker. We will do our best for this.
In the past, Rep. Johnson raised a few concerns about the accountability of weapons going to Ukraine. What do you say to his concerns on the accountability and how Ukraine distributes the weapons? How do you account for U.S. weapons?
YERMAK: President Zelenskyy has said this many times, and this is the position of our team, as well as the Ukrainian people: We do not mind accountability. We are open to it. We are open to any checks and transparency.
If I am asked to summarize President Zelenskyy’s trip to the states in one word, I’d say trust. It’s impossible to build a strong relationship without trust. On our end, we are ready to do everything to maintain this trust. Keeping this strong trust is our priority, for which we are ready for any cooperation at any level.
Now is a critical moment. We have a plan, and we see how this war can be won. We also know what we need to do it. And to win this war will be very difficult, maybe even impossible, without the help of the United States and other partners.
We showed that it is possible to defeat what once was called the “second army in the world.” We showed it’s possible. We showed it’s doable, and we proved we are capable of doing it.
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The U.S. will be represented in the Malta meetings by Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Liz Friden is a Pentagon producer based in Washington, D.C.