Ukraine's Ambassador to Japan discusses devastation, path to peace

Ukraine's ambassador to Japan has had to watch from afar as Russia's invasion devastated his country. After a trip home to see it firsthand, he describes a war-torn nation and people struggling to get basic necessities. But he also voices hope that, with proper support, his country can reclaim its occupied territories and put an end to the conflict.

To survive a severe winter

Sergiy Korsunsky visited Kyiv and the southern city of Mykolaiv in December and saw how tough daily life there is.

"Food supply is OK," says Korsunsky. "But water, electricity, and heat, that's a problem."

Korsunsky went back to his country in December 2022 and witnessed the destruction his country suffered.

After he returned from Ukraine, the ambassador and his staff sent 13 tons of disposable pocket warmers to his country, all donated by Japanese people. "You can use them to put in your boots or into your clothes to heat yourself," he said. "Many people are working at night, or they're soldiers."

People across Japan sent goods, including disposable pocket warmers, to the Ukrainian embassy in Tokyo.

An end in sight?

But the ambassador said there's something the people need more than warmth to survive. "We need weapons," he says, "to survive this war, to end this war as quickly as possible."

Korsunsky says that with proper support from Ukraine's partners, a counter-offensive can resume in the spring. "If everything could go as we planned, we believe the active military campaign could end before September, October. We're not afraid of Russia's statement that they will recruit more people."

Korsunsky was appointed Ukraine's ambassador to Japan by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 3 years ago.

Ukraine and Japan

As Japan prepares to host G7 leaders in Hiroshima this May, Korsunsky sees a valuable opportunity for discussions on the future of Ukraine. He believes that Japan, with its experience supporting other countries in the region and its own rapid post-World War Two development, can play a critical role in the reconstruction and modernization of Ukraine. He hopes Japan will leverage its expertise to help create the financial platform to drive these efforts.

Japan is already helping Ukraine clear landmines and unexploded munitions, applying de-mining experience gained in Cambodia and other countries. The State Emergency Service of Ukraine says about 30 percent of land is now contaminated with landmines.

Japanese children have been sending money boxes to the Ukrainian embassy. Korsunsky says he will ensure the funds are used for humanitarian purposes.

Korsunsky's visit home has left him with no doubt about the scale of destruction his country has experienced in 11 long months. But he is also reassured about the resilience of a country he says can stand up to Russian aggression.

"No reason ever existed to begin this war. There is no reason to continue this war," he says. "We have now huge experience in conducting military operations of big and small scale. We understand now what is happening, what they can do."