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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

17.09.2014

Interview by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with Russia Beyond the Headlines, Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s supplement to Spain’s El Pais

Question: What can Russia do to settle the Ukrainian crisis?

Sergey Lavrov: Our position is absolutely clear: we want peace in Ukraine, which can only be attained through a wide-ranging national dialogue involving all of the country’s regions and political forces. It was this that Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine agreed to in Geneva on 17 April.

Russia has been actively assisting the emergence of favourable conditions for a peaceful solution to the serious problems confronting Ukraine. During their meeting in Minsk on 26 August, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko stressed the need for an early end to the bloodshed and a transition to the political settlement of the entire set of problems in the country’s southeast.

On 3 September, Vladimir Putin proposed a seven-point action plan for stabilising the Ukrainian crisis. Based on the results of the Trilateral Contact Group’s meeting in Minsk on 5 September, President Poroshenko’s representatives and the leaders of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) signed a Protocol with regard to further joint steps aimed at, among other things, implementing the Russian President’s initiative.

This understanding is an important step in the process of crisis peaceful crisis settlement in Ukraine and designed to serve as a fulcrum point in starting an internal Ukrainian political dialogue that would seek the way toward national accord. We proceed from the assumption that all provisions of this document should be meticulously met.

We note that the ceasefire has been generally observed, although there are isolated incidents in which both sides are blaming the other. The important thing is to prevent them from escalating and leading to renewed hostilities. We are concerned about reports that the Ukrainian siloviki have been concentrating heavy weapons in an area. The Kiev authorities are assuring us that they have no plans to disrupt the ceasefire. We will follow the developments closely. We support the DPR’s and the LPR’s proposal on the urgent deployment of an OSCE observer mission in areas where the conflicting sides are in contact.

The order of priority and modality of measures contained in the Minsk Protocol will be additionally coordinated by the sides. We hope that the effort to implement the document’s provisions will be supported by our foreign partners.

Question: Is it likely that the Ukrainian crisis will be further escalated and lead to a military conflict in Europe?

Sergey Lavrov: Ukraine is facing a choice between peace and a constructive dialogue in society, on the one hand, and authoritarianism and a national radical dictatorship on the other. It is up to Kiev and Ukrainian society to decide.

For our part, we are confident that there is now a real chance to stop the fratricidal war in Ukraine. For this, it is necessary, in parallel with keeping the ceasefire, to start, as soon as possible, a meaningful, open, and inclusive internal Ukrainian dialogue involving representatives of all regions and all political forces. Within this framework, it is necessary to discuss a set of issues related to a constitutional arrangement and generally the future of the country, where all ethnic groups, minorities and regions can live in comfort and safety and where the diversity of human rights will be honoured.

To preclude any further escalation in Ukraine, it is very important for all outside parties without exception to display reserve. We regret that this cannot be said for some of our Western partners who, instead of making an in-depth analysis of the complicated internal socio-political processes in the country, prefer to groundlessly shift the blame for the current developments to Russia.

We note the destructive role of NATO throughout the entire internal Ukrainian crisis. In particular, the alliance has set a course to strengthen Ukraine’s military potential which is known to be used against peaceful civilians. NATO leaders are supporting certain member states’ intentions to expand the deliveries of specialised and military equipment to Ukraine, which could be used by the Ukrainian authorities for reprisals at home. Thus, Kiev has been prodded to resolve the conflict by force.

It is clear that the meaning and tonality of statements regarding the situation in Ukraine, made by participants in NATO’s UK summit, along with the announcement of plans to hold Ukraine-NATO military exercises in Ukraine before the end of this year, are not helping the peace process and are only deepening the rift in Ukrainian society.

Nevertheless, we are ready to cooperate with our Western partners in order to settle the crisis in Ukraine. We hope that the US and the EU will use their influence to impel the Ukrainian authorities to peace.

To be continue...




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