of the situation as the country battles a catastrophic wave of coronavirus infections. medics in the capital delhi say people are dying on pavements outside hospitals as people search for oxygen supplies. borisjohnson suggested that "bodies could pile high" during a heated discussion in downing street last autumn, as he hoped to avoid another lockdown, sources have confirmed to the bbc. the pm denied making the remarks, adding that lockdowns had worked. nazanin zaghari—ratcliffe is being sent back to jail in tehran for 12 months, charged with spreading propaganda against iran. the british—iranian aid workerjust completed a five—year sentence spying charges in march.
now on bbc news, it's hardtalk with stephen sackur. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. a few days ago, the ukrainian government was pleading for international help to confront the threat of a russian military offensive from the east. that feared assault never came. russia declared its military exercise was over and began to redeploy its forces. my guest is ukraine's foreign minister, dmytro kuleba. what did ukraine and the outside world learn from this rattling of russian sabres?
foreign minister dmytro kuleba in kyiv, welcome to hardtalk. thank you. it's great to be with you. let's start with the situation on the ground. it's just a few days since the russians announced that they were redeploying their forces away from that border area close to eastern ukraine. can you confirm that has happened? it is happening. this redeployment is taking place. however, we have to remain vigilant because, first, we do not know whether all units which were deployed to the border of ukraine will be actually redeployed and whether some of them will not stay along the border or in the occupied crimea. and second, redeployment does not mean neither the end of the conflict nor full de—escalation. we're basically going back
to the pre—deployment phase when our soldiers still had been killed, when violations of ceasefire in donbas were numerous. so, it's too early to speak about the end of the conflict. so, is there any different order being given to your military on that front line, that fault line between your forces and the separatist forces in the donbas area of eastern ukraine? because i am reading reports that, even yesterday, your forces are reporting multiple violations of the ceasefire in donbas by the russian—backed separatists. the order that our army has is, "do not react to provocations." we were fully aware of the fact that, with the deployment of russian forces and military build—up of russia along our border, the number of provocations to engage our forces in the battle
will be growing. so, the order that our soldiers have is, "defend "your lives, but do not react to provocations. "do not give russia an additional excuse." right. so, don't react to provocations. with that in mind, i'm just wondering why your president, volodymyr zelensky, described what has happened over recent days with all of the tension and then the russian announcement that they were redeploying forces, he declared it a small victory. i'm struggling to see how it represents a victory. can you explain? well, in this case, diplomacy prevailed over weapons. we have all the reasons to believe that, despite the russian bravado in saying that they achieved all their goals in these exercises, in fact, they decided to announce redeployment because, at least partially,
they realised that this is not a good time to ignite more fire against ukraine because they saw and heard a very resolute response from ukraine's partners and friends. and that response was voiced not only in bilateral relations with ukraine or in public, but also through closed channels to the russians directly. they tested the ground. but foreign minister, let us be realistic. what we really learned over the last few days is not something new, but it was reinforced, and that is that russia can very, very quickly deploy enormous firepower and force on your border. and there is an intimidation factor there that continues. and indeed, your own president, mr zelensky, talked about the psychological pressure which remains. that mismatch of power and force is fundamentally long
lasting and there's nothing you can do about it. i have to agree with you. i mean, this is a big problem and this is what i said in the beginning, that redeployment does not mean a full escalation, because, even if what we have seen in recent weeks was just an exercise, we saw what they were exercising. they were exercising assault on ukraine. this is the fact. but when we achieve even such victories as the one we are seeing now, that they are removing theirforces, you know, we also have to be fair about that. this time, we were successful. we did all the good steps together with our partners. but it doesn't mean that the threat vanished away so that they will not try to do it again. right. so, the question is, what next? mr zelensky says he wants direct face—to—face talks with vladimir putin. you're the foreign minister.
you've presumably been involved in efforts to arrange that. is it going to happen? hopefully, we all understand that, if you want to end the war in ukraine and bring peace, you have to speak with president putin directly. our main goal is to have a normandy four full—fledged summit, because the conditions are there. ukraine implemented all the parts of the normandy summit decision from paris 2019, so we can move forward. the only party that has not implemented its commitments is russia. we have to talk with them and we want to talk in the normandy format. but if putin escapes that format, my president is ready to meet with him in person and discuss how to remove russia from ukraine, how to deoccupy our territories and bring peace. so, that's what you want. you want that face—to—face putin—zelensky meeting. putin says, "well, if you want that, first you have to agree
"to talk to the separatist leaders in donbas. "and then, when you've sorted out "some of the issues "with those local leaders, i'll be prepared to talk to you." is mr zelensky prepared to go that route? no, this is the red line we will not cross. my president is very firm on that. we all know that it was russia who attacked ukraine. we all know that the key to the resolution of this conflict is in moscow and we are not going to talk with their proxies. russia basically says that, over months, ukraine has been taking provocative actions which indicate that, far from wanting peace, you are looking to provoke new levels of tension. they cite the actions you took against tv channels which are broadly described as pro—russian within ukraine. they talk about the antagonistic attitude you've
taken to viktor medvedchuk, who is a powerful ukrainian oligarch and happens to be a friend of vladimir putin. do you regret some of these provocative actions your government has taken? i'm sorry, but russia treats any kind of move made by ukraine to protect itself from russia as provocation. if i follow that logic, you know, then we have to sit quietly with our hands down and wait until russia will end slicing us like a salami. no, we cannot allow this to happen. we will be protecting our country at all fronts, on all fronts. and, of course, russia's bestselling strategy in the world is, "do not provoke russia." we shouldn't allow them to impose that line of thinking on international community and on our societies. we will be defending ourselves. we will be protecting our democratic institutions from russian disinformation and malign influence.
but we do not pose a threat to russia. that's the fact. here's what one independent russian journalist, leonid ragozin, has said about the current tensions. he says the amassing of troops by the kremlin was their heavy—handed response to what they in russia interpret as a coordinated attempt by new us president biden and president zelensky of ukraine to upset the fragile equilibrium on the front line in east ukraine. does he have a point? well, it's a good point to start reflecting on what russia imagines as an equilibrium, occupying parts of a neighbouring country, killing almost 14,000 people. if there is an equilibrium, then it is certainly not something that we should take as a sign of stability and something that should be safeguarded for years to come. but the point is,
if i may interrupt, forgive the interruption, but this is important in the detail. if you don't believe in the equilibrium, is it therefore justifiable for you to walk away from what is called the minsk—2 peace accord? that is, for people who aren't following this closely, the agreement brokered in minsk which appeared to have you and the russians agreeing to a framework whereby you would give much greater autonomy to the donbas region, you would allow elections to take place there, and that would be sequenced with yourforces being given back complete control of your own country's eastern border. now, as i understand it, your president, mr zelensky, is walking away from the minsk—2 agreement. why is he doing that? you see, while russia accuses ukraine of attempts to walk away from minsk agreements, moscow itself does not
implement paragraph one of the minsk agreements, which is, "stop fire." so, who is walking away from the minsk agreement? those who order shooting at ukrainian soldiers in the east and posing additional threat to ukraine, or the country that is implementing decisions of normandy summits and demonstrating constructiveness in moving forward in the settlement? we are not walking away from minsk, full stop. what we want, we want russia to implement minsk and start with item, with paragraph one, stop the fire. yeah, but hang on. mr zelensky told the financial times just the other day, quote, "i am participating in a process..." he means the minsk process. "..that was designed before my time. "it's a process that should be more flexible and it should "serve the purposes of today, not of the past." to be honest with you,
those are the words of a man who really wishes the minsk deal had never been done and now doesn't want to play by its rules. well, i don't think minsk deal is a perfect thing for my country. it has many lacunas and gaps and traps for ukraine, but i agree that, since it's a signed document, we have to follow the logic of this document and implement it. what my president is saying, and i can confirm that, is that, when you see the other side only accusing us of not implementing minsk, but doing nothing to actually start implementing it themselves, we have to launch a conversation on who really cares for minsk agreements and who wants them to be a road map to the settlement. right. moscow has all the tools. but isn't the bottom line, though, that things have changed over many years and you're reluctant to acknowledge it, but the truth is, you know,
the donbas region is now full of people who have russian passports, you have agreed that full measure of autonomy should be given to those people, and that means, let's be honest, that russia is always going to have a very heavy influence in that part of your country? so, either you accept that, you accept that they will have a very special place in your country and that russia, frankly, will have a role, or you're going to end up with a country that breaks up, is fragmented and divided. do you accept that? no, that is something that we certainly cannot allow to happen. i mean, seeing my country fragmented and divided. minsk agreements, as i said, they consist of two elements — security and political. political follows security. so, we have to start with establishing security on the ground, ceasefire on the ground. we are a european democracy. we have human rights in our country, unlike in russia.
we have democracy and we have procedures in which all parts of the country can exercise their rights and enjoy life, so we can strike that balance if russia demonstrates goodwill to really withdraw from ukraine, rather than keep donbas as an open wound on the body of ukraine. if we have good faith, we can make a deal, and ukraine does have that good faith. all right. well, we've talked a lot about you and russia. let's talk about you now and your friends and partners in the west. you learn a lot about your friends as well as your enemies in a crisis. did you learn things about the us and, in particular, europe during this latest crisis which left you very disappointed ? you didn't get the level of support you wanted, did you? well, i did like the way the united states behaved in this crisis. they were very open to communication and to coordination.
they were very open in their contacts with moscow. i did like many statements and reactions which we heard from our european friends. the russians did not let our european friends demonstrate that their deeds can match their previous statements. so... but this is the key issue here. you need good statements. you need good reactions. this is phase one. but if situation continues to deteriorate, then you need to act swiftly and in a very resolute way. right, but that's my point. my point is that europe has imposed only very limited sanctions on russia, going back years through the course of this crisis with ukraine and on signal sort of issues like, for example,
the german commitment to continue with the major gas pipeline connecting russian gas direct to germany, the so—called nord stream 2 pipeline. angela merkel is adamant that pipeline will go ahead, and she continues to say that, despite whatever you want to see the europeans do in terms of sanctions on russia. well, yes, personal... so—called personal sanctions that have become a routine practice for the european union as a reaction to russian deeds, they are not efficient enough. it's only the sectoral sanction on the russian economy that can really make a difference. we have to be honest with that, and i raised that issue with my european colleagues. when it comes to nord stream 2, it is a bad project. it goes against one of the fundamental principles of european energy security, which is diversification.
this is obvious, but germany has a right to believe what is good for them. what i want to emphasise here is that nord stream 2 should have been already completed by now, and yet we're still talking about its eventual completion, so maybe efforts taken by all those who do not believe in this project are actually helping europe to maintain its security. well, you're obviously an optimist, mr foreign minister, but if you were more of a realist, wouldn't you and mr zelensky be honest with your people and say, "you know what, despite our best efforts, the europeans "are not going to accept our membership in nato, "and, frankly, it's not going to happen"? why don't you say that and be straight with your own people? because it's quite clear it isn't going to happen. you know, i have to be optimist, otherwise i shouldn't be doing this job. it's obvious. we have to believe...
well, yeah, there's optimism, and then there's fantasy. and the notion, given that it is so clear from moscow, from vladimir putin, that any effort by ukraine to further its application for nato membership, any nato giving of membership status or application for membership status to ukraine would be a complete red line for vladimir putin. and in that context, many nations in europe are simply not prepared to countenance it. why don't you be straight with your own people about that? first, our people believe in nato membership, even without me or without the president or without the government. they do consider nato as a source of security and stability. second, in early �*90s, central european nations, including baltic states, they all heard firm "no" to their wish to join nato and the european union —
at that time, european community. russia was saying, "this is our red line. "they are never going to join, never, do not do it." and yet it happened and the sky did not fall on earth. so, it takes time. it takes political commitment. but there is nothing that belongs to the realm of fantasy in this field. the politics of security is closely linked to the politics of good governance when it comes to ukraine's reputation in the west, and you have a problem in that good governance still isn't being delivered by the zelensky administration. you still languish at the bottom of the european league for corruption when it comes tojudgments by transparency international and other independent arbiters. and, frankly, if one looks at the way in which you failed to take on allegations of corruption against some of the most powerful people in your country, mr zelensky�*s promises
to clean up government have simply not been delivered. why is that? well, it's hard to agree with that. just in recent months, a number of decisions have been taken to bring to responsibility persons involved in a large—scale corruption, including some close affiliates of the most notorious ukrainian oligarch. so... but, you know... when you say the most notorious ukrainian oligarch, do you mean mr kolomoyskyi? yeah, but i have to, you know, to be unbiased towards ukrainian citizens, so... of course you do. so do i. but it's very interesting that you chose to allude to him because, of course, he supported mr zelensky�*s campaign for the presidency. there is an ambiguous relationship between the two of them. for a while, mr zelensky employed a former lawyer of mr kolomoyskyi as his
chief of staff. so, are you saying he's now in the crosshairs of investigators in ukraine? president... president zelensky, he cares for the country and he is absolutely convinced that it doesn't matter, that the past does not matter when it comes to the issues of reforming the country and introducing fair rules. and this has never happened before. but as i mentioned in my previous comment, some affiliates of mr kolomoyskyi have been indicted by prosecution for their involvement in the corruption schemes. this has not happened before. it was under the government of president zelensky that it actually happened. and i think this fact speaks for itself. yeah. mr kolomoyskyi, of course, denies all wrongdoing, but people, in a sense, regard his case as a test case.
i'lljust come back to that question. nobody is making anyjudgments about guilt or innocence, but are you saying that mr kolomoyskyi is now in the crosshairs of investigators in your country? i cannot speak for investigators. ican... what i shared with you is the fact that has already been public, but i am not... i do not have powers to comment on current investigations. it's up to law enforcement agencies to share that. what i can say is that, you know, fighting oligarchs in ukraine is like dismantling an atomic bomb. you know, you cut the wrong wire and it blows up, but you have to dismantle it and to find a systemic solution to this problem. mm. it was president zelensky who proposed to adopt a law on oligarchs based on standard, on approaches of the us antitrust law, to bring more justice and more competition
to the market, to the markets in ukraine. this is quite a step. thing is, this does matter enormously for all sorts of political and economic reasons. the imf is still very heavily involved in your country, and you need billions and billions of dollars of assistance from the imf. they are still looking at your anti—corruption measures, yourjudicial reform measures, and suggesting that your government needs to do more. so, are you ready to deliver? as a citizen of this country, i can fully agree that we need to do more. as ministerfor foreign affairs, i will be happy to do more. but i want to make one point clear. with all my respect to imf, we are not doing it for imf. we are doing it for the people of ukraine. our own country because we are going to live here, not imf officials. dmytro kuleba, you end with a very fair and simple point. we have to leave it there, but i thank you very much indeed forjoining me on hardtalk from kyiv.
thank you. hello again. this month has been a really dry month, particularly across parts of england and wales, where we've just recorded five millimetres of rainfall so far. and that's left the ground completely dried out, desiccated and cracked in places. but there are changes on the way. on monday, we started to see low pressure move in across scotland, and that brought some thicker cloud and finally some rain. and looking at the rainfall amounts that we're expecting through the rest of this week, we'll get around 5—10 millimetres of rain. in the grand scheme of things, that's not a huge amount, but it's easily doubling
what we've seen for many so far this month. so the rain, i'm sure, is going to be pretty welcome for the farmers and growers, although you probably want even more than we're going to get. so, there's our area of low pressure moving its way in, and as we go through the next few hours, the rain will continue to push its way southwards, always quite showery in nature, across northern ireland, northern parts of england as well. but with the cloudy skies across these northern areas, it doesn't get that cold. in the south, still cold enough, though, for some pockets of frost. it's here where we'll have the clear skies to start the day, and for some it will be a nice sunrise as well. through the day, our centre of low pressure is going to start to wobble back inland and dive in a diagonal south—westwards towards wales, and that will bring outbreaks of rain across northern england, wales, into the midlands. still some showers around for northern ireland and scotland as well, but it is an area of low pressure where the amount of rain that we see from place to place is going to vary quite a lot. now, on into wednesday, our low pressure continues its journey southwards, so again we'll see some rain moving into wales, parts of the midlands, southern areas of england
this time with a few showers following. but on wednesday, we'll also start to get a really quite brisk and cold east—to—north—easterly wind blowing in off the chilly north sea, and that means around some of our eastern coasts, temperatures may well struggle to get into double figures in places. even further west, it's not going to be exactly warm for the time of year. now, looking at the weather charts as we end the week, our area of low pressure moves back out into europe, but in its place, the winds tend to become pretty light. we've got cold air back with us, so again we're likely to see some night—time frosts. there will be loads of showers around, particularly on friday. and because there's not going to be that much wind around, there'll be nothing really to blow those showers along, so some of them could end up being pretty slow—moving in nature. and it's not going to be a particularly warm end to the week, but at least there's going to be a bit of rain.
this is bbc news — i'm david eades with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. india's covid prices deepens. doctors say people are dying on the streets. the head of the who describes the situation is beyond heartbreaking. could help come from the us? president biden promises to donate millions of vaccine doses from stock files. here in the uk, borisjohnson denies saying he'd rather see body pileup than another lockdown.— body pileup than another lockdown. ., , ., ., lockdown. no, but again, i think the _ lockdown. no, but again, i think the important - think the important thing that people want us to get on and do as a government is to make sure the lockdowns work.