Ambassador: Ukrainians are survivors

Facts: Ambassador Tobias Thyberg

Tobias Thyberg was born in 1975 in Stockholm.

He is a diplomat and since September 2019 Sweden’s ambassador to Ukraine. Prior to that, he was Sweden’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

His earlier diplomatic assignments embrace postings in New Delhi, Moscow, Washington and at Sweden’s EU delegation in Brussels and the EU delegation in Tbilisi.

In phrases of schooling, he has a grasp’s diploma in political science from Uppsala University and a grasp’s diploma in worldwide economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.

In addition to Swedish, he speaks English, German, Russian, French and Spanish.

Embassy employees left Kyiv on February 24 when Russia launched its main invasion. First they went to Lviv however quickly on to Poland. Now Ambassador Tobias Thyberg is again within the Ukrainian capital with a small group of diplomats. They arrived by automobile on Tuesday evening.

– It feels superb. At the skilled degree, we are able to actually solely do our job after we are in place, he says.

– Personally, it additionally feels good, nice. I really feel I’m in the appropriate place.

TT: What do you imply?

– When I’m in Kyiv, I really feel that I’m amongst individuals who have the appropriate to their facet. To have the option to contribute in some small method to Sweden’s effort to help Ukraine feels good.

Empty and quiet

Tobias Thyberg has visited each Lviv and Kyiv for the reason that evacuation to Poland, however solely just a few days at a time.

– Then there have been extra enterprise journeys. Now now we have reopened for actual.

The ambassador says that it’s noticeable “in five minutes” how Kyiv has modified from the warfare. Even although Russia has withdrawn from the metropolitan space to assemble energy in jap Ukraine, on a regular basis life is far-off.

– It could be very empty and it is extremely quiet. Imagine Stockholm in brilliant sunshine in the future in early June, however there is just not a cone on the steps to Dramaten, solely two individuals stroll on Strandvägen and Rålambshovsparken is empty, says Tobias Thyberg.

– You additionally discover that the plane alarm goes off a number of instances a day.

The often pleasant Ukrainians are even friendlier.

– It is as if there’s an unstated settlement to create the phantasm that all the pieces is nice.

Tobias Thyberg took workplace as ambassador in Kyiv in September 2019.

Three Swedes on the embassy

Right now, there are solely three deployed Swedes, safety personnel and round 5 native staff on the embassy. Normally, the employees consists of as much as twelve diplomats and about 25 native staff

The work forward will, after all, be in regards to the warfare in completely different methods. The embassy will preserve dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities and authorities on all the pieces from protection help and humanitarian assist to Ukraine’s EU utility.

– We should coordinate the humanitarian response to Ukraine very carefully to the Ukrainians, what are the expectations, how can we finest design it in order that it really works? When it comes to assist, the massive process is to see how the varied applications might be adjusted to assist Ukraine win this warfare, says Tobias Thyberg.

The embassy can be there for the Swedes who’re in Ukraine for numerous causes. About 50 individuals are registered on the so-called Swedish record, however the embassy’s tough estimate is that it is definitely about 100 Swedes.

Another vital process is to keep up a correspondence with the Swedish firms working in Ukraine. Many have modified their actions to contribute to the Ukrainian protection wrestle.

– An instance is an organization, Grain Alliance, which has invested in silos for grain storage and export in western Ukraine. It isn’t any longer doable to export by way of the Black Sea attributable to Russia.

“A traumatized people”

Tobias Thyberg describes how the warfare impacts everybody in all places.

– The Ukrainians are traumatized. I have no idea a single particular person in Ukraine who is just not instantly personally affected by the warfare. To take an instance: I had dinner the opposite day with a Ukrainian opposition politician and in the midst of a sentence it comes, “my mother died last week, she could not escape, she had a heart attack”. That’s the way in which it’s on a regular basis, he says.

– It is a traumatized nation and a traumatized individuals.

Pictures and testimonies circulation from the horrific insanity of the warfare – just like the mass graves after massacres in Butja and the entire devastation in Mariupol.

TT: Are you shocked by the warfare and the brutality of it?

– I’m most likely shocked by the scope someplace. That Russia disregards worldwide legislation, we knew that, that Russia disregards human rights, we additionally knew that. We have seen Russia disregard the legal guidelines of warfare in Chechnya, in Syria and right here in Ukraine since 2014. Everything we see in Ukraine in the present day is a repetition. That method, I’m not shocked. We have seen all the pieces earlier than, however the size and brutality and the utterly abysmal incompetence within the Russian warfare, the completely unrestrained barbarism, it’s shocking, says Tobias Thyberg.

“An existential struggle”

Regardless of the orders on which the Russian forces act, he describes the horrors as an “integral part of the Russian warfare”.

– This is just not one thing that simply occurred. This is an inherent consequence of how the Russian safety equipment works.

TT: How do you assess the resistance of the Ukrainians?

– I believe it is extremely massive. Ukrainians perceive that that is an existential wrestle. Ukrainians know that “if we give up, then it’s over with us”. The query of how lengthy they final is just not related. There isn’t any various. Russia cannot tolerate the indisputable fact that there’s an unbiased Ukraine.

Tobias Thyberg has met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj a number of instances, most lately shortly earlier than the invasion. He believes that Zelenskyj’s significance is nice for the wrestle, however not decisive.

– All assessors have underestimated the Ukrainians. But they’ve constructed up a really efficient armed forces. They have tailored their techniques and techniques based mostly on their situations over the previous eight years. It is just not because of Zelensky, though he continues, however I believe he could be very vital in instilling braveness and sustaining the morale of the Ukrainian individuals.

If Ukraine, with the assistance of the West, succeeds in successful the warfare, the ambassador sees a brilliant future for the nation.

– Not solely this warfare, however a long time and generations of adversity, has made the Ukrainians an extremely robust, robust and succesful individuals. They are survivors.

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