Ex Ukraine leader says country needs ‘weapons, weapons, weapons’

Petro Poroshenko tells Al Jazeera the ‘shortest way to peace’ is to provide Kyiv with weapons.

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has appealed to the international community to provide his country with more weapons and to continue to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

“The shortest way to peace is to supply weapons to Ukraine,” Poroshenko told Al Jazeera.

“From the international community, we need three things: weapons, weapons and weapons.”

The former president also called on the international community to continue to sanction Russia and put an embargo on its products and close Ukrainian airspace to protect civilians.

He added that the Western world should also “completely isolate” Russia and President Vladimir Putin as a way of putting pressure on Russia to end the war on his country.

Poroshenko, 56, who served as president from 2014 to 2019, was placed under investigation for high treason and left Ukraine in December last year.

He is being investigated for treason in a case that he says was cooked up by the allies of his successor, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Poroshenko was being investigated in connection with the financing of Russian-backed separatist fighters through illegal coal sales in 2014-15.

He faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. His party has accused Zelenskyy of a reckless attempt to silence opposition.

One of the country’s richest men, Poroshenko flew back to Kyiv in January after a month’s absence promising to help Ukraine fend off what was then a possible Russian invasion.

A Ukrainian judge rejected a prosecutor’s request to detain him and set bail at the equivalent of $35m.

Russian ‘crimes’

Poroshenko said more than 20,000 Ukrainian civilians were killed by “Russian barbarians” during the war.

He referred to incidents in Mariupol as a “genocide” and accused Russian troops of using chemical weapons in the city.

Similar claims were made earlier this week by Zelenskyy, who said in a video address that tens of thousands of Ukrainians were likely killed in Russia’s assault on Mariupol.

If confirmed, this toll would be by far the largest number of dead so far reported in one place in Ukraine, where cities, towns and villages have come under relentless bombardment and many bodies, including of civilians, have been seen in the streets.

Poroshenko also called for an investigation into the “crimes of Russia”, adding that Ukrainians will not surrender or give up until their country has been freed of Russian troops.

“We will never stop as long as Ukrainian Donbas and Crimea are occupied,” said Poroshenko.

He also requested from “leaders of the Arab world” to not send their soldiers to help Russia, adding that he was specifically addressing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad which Russia supported in its civil war, which continues for 11 years.

Before the Russian invasion, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had visited Syria for talks with al-Assad, as his government had declared its “support” for Putin’s decision to recognise two Moscow-backed separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine as independent.

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