Japan can play 'very important role' in easing tensions: Ukraine envoy

Sergiy Korsunsky appreciates Turkiye's offer to mediate in crisis during talk at Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

Japan can play 'very important role' in easing tensions: Ukraine envoy

Japan is uneasy about the situation in Ukraine and could get more involved in multinational efforts to ease growing military tensions with Russia, Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky said on Wednesday.

“We believe that Japan can play a very important role ... Japan is the only G-7 country in Asia,” he told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

Tensions in Ukraine have been increasing for months after Russia amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine's border, a build-up the West says is preparation for war. Both NATO and the EU have warned of severe consequences if it invades its neighbor.

Moscow has repeatedly denied planning to invade, saying its troops are there for exercises. It is awaiting a written US response this week to its list of security demands, including a NATO pledge never to admit Ukraine.

Kosunsky said Ukraine believes Japan is carefully considering the situation around Ukraine, and is ready to consider its own measures in case of another wave of Russian aggression.

The ambassador recalled Japan’s response of imposing sanctions on Russia after the latter annexed Crimea in 2014.

Regarding bilateral ties, Kosunsky said: "We understand that there is a very strong desire on the Japanese side do develop relations with Ukraine.

"We want comprehensive and deep relations in economy ... we want to start negotiations on free trade and have several infrastructure projects on the table to discuss with the Japanese government. For us, the best support from the Japanese side could come from the economic side."

Strategic partnership with Turkiye

Asked about Turkiye's offer to mediate in the crisis, the ambassador said Turkiye works very closely with both Russia and Ukraine and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's idea "is a good one" and not something which can be ignored.

He said Kyiv and Ankara "have strategic partnership and I am very proud it happened during my term in the country.” Kosunsky served in Turkiye for eight years.

He said Turkiye has an important role in the region, given its second largest army in NATO and a strong maritime presence in the Black Sea. Turkiye “is a very important hub of supplying of natural gas," he added.

Korsunsky said Ukraine will "definitely continue to work with Turkey."

"It is a very important country. The only position of Turkey on this issue is that conflict between Russia and Ukraine should be resolved in a peaceful manner,” he said.

Erdogan has said that Turkiye is ready to act as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, and any outbreak of war poses a grave threat to regional peace.