Last month, I wrote what may be perceived as a pro-Russian column about Ukraine and Taiwan. A Ukrainian diplomat in Beijing, who prefers not to be named, has replied with a gentle rebuttal. He is definitely not of the “wolf warrior” school of diplomacy. I find it highly educational for myself, and I hope for some readers, too. First, my bad. I wrote “Kiev” when I should have known better. The diplomat from the Embassy of Ukraine wrote: “The name of my capital in English is Kyiv. You may meet this name worldwide, in publications … and even on all the Lester B. Pearson International Airport’s boards and screens in Toronto. “‘Kiev’ was widely mistakenly used until 2018, but now almost the whole globe uses the right spelling – Kyiv.” He didn’t disagree with everything I wrote, such as: “The ties that bind Russia and Ukraine run deep into historical times”. But he likes to elaborate further: “As you mentioned, ‘medieval Kievan Rus marked the origin of Russia and its empire’. That’s the truth! “In 882 Kyivan Rus became the first state in the territory of modern Ukraine. Its territory was huge and over time its different provinces went their separate historical paths of development. This process lasted for several centuries and finally the southern part of Kyivan Rus gave rise to Ukraine, and the northern part – to Russia. “In 1199, the Ukrainian Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia was formed on these lands. The next great stage of our history became the Cossack Hetmanate, or Pays Des Cosaques, or Vkraine, proclaimed in 1648. “Within our modern borders, the independent Ukrainian People’s Republic was finally proclaimed on 22 January 1919 by the ‘Unification Act’ or ‘Act Zluky’.” G7 scolding of China, Russia sparks Taiwan and Ukraine comparisons I drew a political analogy about the present state of affairs, claiming: “Ukraine is to Russia what Taiwan is to mainland China”. But my new friend argues that’s misconstrued, at least historically. “Historically, Kyivan Rus gave birth to the first Russian state. And I don’t think that the island of Taiwan gave birth to mainland China,” he wrote. “The Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia, its followers (heirs), Cossack Hetmanate, Ukrainian People’s Republic – all of them during hundreds of years developed their own statehood separately from Russia. Even within the Soviet Union, Ukraine has never been a part of Russia. “But according to the Consensus-1992, both sides of the Taiwan Strait believe there is only one China in the world. And both sides are inhabited by Chinese. But we can see, Ukrainians live in Ukraine and Russian live in Russia. Thus, Ukraine to Russia is absolutely not the same as Taiwan is to mainland China.” He also disputes my characterisation of Russia’s “annexation” of the Crimea. “Annexation is an internationally illegal act which is associated with a change of sovereignty (belonging) over the relevant territory,” he wrote. “Occupation is a temporary international legal regime and is not related to the transfer of sovereignty over the territory of one state to another. Russia occupied Crimea in 2014. Russia has been attempting to annex Crimea, but the international community doesn’t recognise this attempt. “The UN considers Crimea as the Ukrainian Crimea. All UN countries (except Russia and a few of its satellites) support Ukraine’s sovereignty in the Crimean Peninsula. “So, we need to use phrases: ‘Russia’s occupation of Crimea’ and ‘Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea’.” G7 scolds China and Russia over ‘threats, bullying and rights abuses’ I claim the West is interfering in the relations between mainland China and Taiwan, and between Russia and Ukraine. But my diplomat says Ukrainians welcome Western “interference”: “Since 2014 Ukraine has always been asking the entire World, including the USA, the EU, the PRC etc, to help us and to stop Russia’s aggression. “We are appealing to international organisations to influence Russia and to force it to withdraw its troops from the Donbas region and the Crimean Peninsula. “[Volodymyr] Zelensky, President of Ukraine, initiated ‘The Crimean Platform’ forum and invited world leaders to join efforts to protect our state and to restore peace over Ukrainian territory. “That’s the difference. Ukraine has been asking the World (including the West) to back it in its relations with Russia, so, we can’t call the West’s actions an ‘interference’ in the relations between Ukraine and Russia.” However, he does agree with my statement: “Many Ukrainians see Russia as in the past and the European Union as their future.” So, we do agree on something. “Ukraine aspires to become a member of the EU particularly because of the above-mentioned reason of the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” he wrote. Thanks for that. It’s been fun and educational. Now, I wonder if I will get a message from the Russian embassy.