Answer by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to the question about the situation in Ukraine, during the joint press conference summarizing the results of the third session of the Russia-CCASG strategic dialogue at ministerial level, Kuwait City, 19 February 2014
Question: In connection with the latest events in Ukraine, several western officials are openly appealing to introduce sanctions against Ukrainian leaders, accusing them of these events and affirming that they are losing legitimacy. The Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, is going to visit Ukraine on an EU mission. How would you comment on such a reaction by the West? Are there any prospects for this issue to come before the UNSC?
Sergey Lavrov: We are deeply concerned about the events in Ukraine. We have cautioned about such a development of eventsmany times. The Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have provided their principled assessments of the situation in the country today. Unfortunately, all the agreements reached when Ukraine showed good will, readiness to search for compromises and to implement part of their obligations have been disrupted by radical oppositionists, who organised a campaign against the Verkhovna Rada. When they were not allowed in for known reasons (this action was not sanctioned) they started to throw Molotov cocktails at policemen and use firearms. As you know, there are significant numbers of killed and wounded. Thefacts show that these radicals not only have light weapons, but also grenade launchers. This is very serious. Attempts to occupy administrative buildings, the prosecutor's office building, police and military units, are continuing.
We cannot describe this otherwise than as an attempt at a coup d'état and to seize power by force. Certainly, the extremists are guilty, they have been attempting to bring the situation to a force scenario for weeks and months. The opposition,by refusing compromises and setting requirements for powers outside the legal framework, are also seriously responsible for not being able to fulfil their agreements, including in the Rada.
I cannot leave aside the responsibility of the West (at least many Western countries), who attempted to interfere with these events in all possible ways, supported actions of the opposition outside the legal framework, and sometimes even made passes at militants, set ultimatums, threatened to enforce sanctions and still continue to do so, and generally, supported provocative actions. At the same time, they insistently and consistently shied away from any principled assessments of the extremists' actions, including Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic manifestations – we have drawn their attention to this many times and warned about the dangers of such a position, "of burying their heads like an ostrich".
Now they are attempting to unfairly shift the blame on us. We hear accusations from some western political actors that Russia is attempting to "re-Sovietize", the post-Soviet space is guilty of everything. These are attempts using improper means. Any observer who has at least a bit of common sense and is unprejudiced,can easily understand this.
We confirm that the situation must be settled within the framework of constitutional prerogatives by the acting powers of Ukraine and we caution against any attempts at insistent mediation. We have observed such attempts many times – it seems to me that our European partners have already had enough of mediation. In this situation, we appeal to everybody to place the interests of Ukraine and its people above personal geopolitical plans.
Representatives of European countries and the United States have been present in Ukraine,during the last three months, almost every day. What did they do in their contacts with the government and the opposition? According to mass media reports, they also had contacts with radicals. They spent all their time on Maidan. I think (and life itself has proved this) that this is harmful mediation. Obtrusiveness always leads to undesirable results. We will support any forms of external contribution to settlement of this crisis by acting Ukrainian authorities within the framework of the Constitution. However, I repeat that the power and opposition representing a certain part of the population in the Verkhovna Rada should decide. We do not want and do not advise others to be obtrusive like our far too intrusive western partners do. This only does harm.