Bulletin numéro 381 du 09/03/2014. Le face à face entre deux armées en Crimée - Un outrage à la mémoire partagée des peuples de l'ex-Union soviétique - Question de l'intervention russe au-delà de la Crimée - Perspective rendue improbable par l'arrêt des exercices militaires russes - Signes évidents de mouvements militaires - Question de l'annexion de la Crimée par la Russie - La Russie à front renversé : le défenseur de la souveraineté et de la non-ingérence abandonne ses principes - Documents
The Interpreter - le 8 mars d'importants mouvements de troupes sont observés ici en Crimée en direction du Nord, mais également en Russie vers la Crimée.
La Russie semble revenir à ses vieux démons, en rejouant des rôles démodés dans un décor désuet, à l’affiche d’un théâtre en faillite
Il y a bien sûr différentes approches de la crise ukrainienne, dont celle qui se fixe pour objet d’analyser la pratique du droit international. Aucune n’accède à la troisième dimension du réel si elle ne capte pas les regards des personnes et l’atmosphère de leurs pensées. Cette crise est humaine, profondément, et le face à face entre soldats en Crimée offre la meilleure observation. Entre eux, il n’y a pas de faux-semblants. Ils laissent aux politiciens de Moscou la théorie selon laquelle l’armée russe ne serait pas impliquée dans la situation actuelle. Ils partagent un même mépris pour les paramilitaires, ces civils qui jouent aux soldats et pourraient hélas vouloir jouer à la guerre. Ce face à face entre deux loyautés militaires n’est pas un affrontement, mais Russes et Ukrainiens appréhendent le moment de la confrontation. Ils se battront certainement entre eux s’ils y sont contraints, entre parents, alliés, amis, aussi effarés les uns que les autres par le surgissement d’un nationalisme ethnique russe qui présente la face la plus hideuse de l’impérialisme russe. Ce face à face absurde entre militaires est comme une seconde mort de l’Union soviétique, un outrage à la mémoire partagée. Le régime de Vladimir Poutine est un syncrétisme des différentes époques de la Russie, mais il les trahit toutes. En dépit de tout, l’URSS fut une association des peuples, non pas seulement décrétée comme telle, mais surtout vécue ainsi par les personnes.
La crise a fortement évolué au cours de la semaine passée. Elle a pris une direction déterminée.
1. La Russie a interrompu ses exercices militaires. La menace d’une intervention en Ukraine, en dehors de la Crimée s’estompe donc. L’Est russophone n’est pas décidé à se soulever. La proposition de la France pour une sortie de crise, avenante certes, lui montre bien qu’elle ne peut obtenir par la négociation, maintenant ou plus tard, et même en accroissant sa pression, une capacité de peser sur le destin de l’Ukraine. Elle n’empêcherait pas la tenue des élections présidentielles et donc la nouvelle orientation politique, même si un gouvernement d’union nationale était constitué pour la très courte période de transition. L’Ukraine est ainsi perdue pour la Russie et cette dernière a fait peur. Un frisson d’effroi a parcouru tous les pays qui ont connu l’impérialisme russe. Les Etats-Unis envoient d’ailleurs seize avions de chasse en Mer Baltique et un destroyer, une unité très performante à l’arsenal impressionnant, en Mer Noire. Symbolique tout de même, ces gestes montrent une détermination américaine qui tranche avec l’attitude des Etats membres de l’Union européenne.
Est-il vraiment sûr que la Russie renonce à intervenir en Ukraine à partir de la Crimée ? On rapporte le débarquement de nombreux éléments militaires ayant franchi le détroit de Kerch qui semblent se diriger vers l’Ukraine continentale et une présence russe est signalée dans la région de Kherson (elle serait destinée à bloquer la principale route d’accès à la Crimée venant de l'Ouest, source)
A ce sujet M. Michael McFaul, ancien ambassadeur qui vient de quitter son poste à Moscou exprime un scepticisme prudent :
“Is Putin planning an invasion of eastern Ukraine? I don’t know but I would be surprised. But can I put together a set of events over the next weeks or months that would lead to military intervention in eastern Ukraine? Of course. To say that it’s not possible would be irresponsible. I’m deeply worried about it, frankly. Even if the probability of it is low, the negative consequences are extremely high.”
Quoiqu’il en soit la perspective d’une guerre entre la Russie et l’Ukraine ne peut être totalement écartée et l’Ukraine, bien qu’en infériorité, a des moyens militaires qui ne sont pas négligeables. Visiblement deux armées s'y préparent.
2. L’annexion de facto de la Crimée à la Russie se profile. Le référendum d’autodétermination du 16 mars prochain décidé jeudi dernier par la collectivité autonome de Crimée devrait précipiter les événements. L’annexion ne sera pas reconnue. De vraies sanctions seront prises contre la Russie. Une crise durable s’installera entre l’Ukraine et la Russie qui affectera leurs relations économiques. La Crimée sera l’objet d’un nouveau conflit gelé comme la Transnistrie, l’Ossétie du Sud et l’Abkhazie. Les liens de la péninsule avec l’Ukraine sont interrompus. Les touristes et les investisseurs étrangers se détournent de telles contrées troublées et la Russie devra assurer seule le développement de ce territoire pauvre grand comme la Sicile malgré l’incertitude sur son statut.
Le Président Poutine peut-il renoncer et renvoyer les militaires russes dans leurs casernes ? Après l’atteinte à l’intégrité territoriale et à la souveraineté de l’Ukraine un retour au status quo ante annoncerait la perte de l’usage de la base de Sébastopol. Sur le plan militaire et stratégique la Crimée ne présente que l’intérêt de ne pas laisser à l’OTAN le bassin ouest de la Mer Noire, mais sa perte serait désastreuse sur le plan politique. Surtout le gouvernement de Moscou a allumé un incendie nationaliste en Crimée et en Russie qu’il ne peut éteindre. Après avoir mobilisé l’opinion publique dans son pays, le Président Poutine ne saurait abandonner la partie et il fera le maximum pour rapporter à Moscou la Crimée comme un trophée de guerre. Peut-il même renoncer à intervenir en Ukraine, alors que l’émancipation de cet Etat voue son projet d’Union douanière à l’échec ? En masquant l’intervention armée en Crimée, il pensait se ménager une sortie de crise. Il s’est trompé sur ce point.
Les faits dans leur matérialité ont leur importance, mais le discours juridique présente une pertinence particulière parce qu’il ramène l’analyse sur le terrain des principes. Or depuis plusieurs années le Président Poutine s’est fait le défenseur intraitable de la souveraineté des Etats, de leur intégrité territoriale, de leur indépendance contre les différentes formes de l’ingérence dans leurs affaires. Il a combattu farouchement les justifications tirées du besoin de protection des groupes de population. Finalement le chevalier blanc renverse tous ses principes ou il les détourne dans l’intérêt de l’Etat russe. En vertu de la loi du plus fort il s’octroie un droit d’ingérence dans l’étranger proche qui renoue avec la doctrine de la souveraineté limitée hors du cadre dogmatique qui l’avait inspirée. Il utilise les minorités russophones pour modifier les frontières. Il prétend refaire l’Histoire en annexant les territoires perdus. Surtout il dissimule ses actions ou ses intentions et il donne des assurances qu’il s’empresse de contredire en actes, au point même d’être comparé à Hitler. Sudètes, Tchécoslovaquie, Manchourie, les références sont plus ou moins heureuses, mais elles soulignent la gravité du comportement de la Russie et le risque considérable qu’il y aurait à laisser faire celle-ci.
Il aura beaucoup été question de la désescalade cette semaine, mais on a plutôt l’impression d’assister à la progression d’un rouleau compresseur. La Russie ne donne pas de signe encourageant et dans de nombreuses régions du monde cette crise semble être une affaire entre grandes puissances, au mieux une affaire européenne. Les contorsions diplomatiques face à la Russie tendraient à confirmer l’inégalité de traitement entre les Etats. Le Conseil de sécurité se réunit beaucoup en conciliabules –quatre fois en une semaine – mais il n’agit pas. Pour les Grands l’impératif de la loi internationale s’effacerait devant l’intérêt national. Cette exemplarité négative que donne la Russie est évidemment calamiteuse, parce qu’elle sape l’autorité du droit international.
March 4, 2014, 15:40
The President of Russia met with media representatives to answer a number of their questions, in particular with regard to the situation in Ukraine.
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues,
How shall we do this? This is what I’d like to suggest: let’s have a conversation, rather than an interview. Therefore, I would ask you to begin by stating all your questions, I will jot them down and try to answer them, and then we will have a more detailed discussion of the specifics that interest you most.
March 4, 2014, 15:40
QUESTION: Mr President, I would like to ask (you took a lengthy pause, so we have quite a few questions by now) how you assess the events in Kiev? Do you think that the Government and the Acting President, who are currently in power in Kiev, are legitimate? Are you ready to communicate with them, and on what terms? Do you yourself think it possible now to return to the agreements of February 21, which we all talk about so often?
QUESTION: Mr President, Russia has promised financial aid to Crimea and instructions were issued to the Finance Ministry yesterday. Is there a clear understanding of how much we are giving, where the money is coming from, on what terms and when? The situation there is very difficult.
QUESTION: When, on what terms and in what scope can military force be used in Ukraine? To what extent does this comply with Russia’s international agreements? Did the military exercises that have just finished have anything to do with the possible use of force?
QUESTION: We would like to know more about Crimea. Do you think that the provocations are over or that there remains a threat to the Russian citizens who are now in Crimea and to the Russian-speaking population? What are the general dynamics there – is the situation changing for the better or for the worse? We are hearing different reports from there.
QUESTION: If you do decide to use force, have you thought through all the possible risks for yourself, for the country and for the world: economic sanctions, weakened global security, a possible visa ban or greater isolation for Russia, as western politicians are demanding?
QUESTION: Yesterday the Russian stock market fell sharply in response to the Federation Council’s vote, and the ruble exchange rates hit record lows. Did you expect such a reaction? What do you think are the possible consequences for the economy? Is there a need for any special measures now, and of what kind? For instance, do you think the Central Bank’s decision to shift to a floating ruble exchange rate may have been premature? Do you think it should be revoked?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Fine, let us stop here for now. I will begin, and then we will continue. Don’t worry; I will try to answer as many questions as possible.
First of all, my assessment of what happened in Kiev and in Ukraine in general. There can only be one assessment: this was an anti-constitutional takeover, an armed seizure of power. Does anyone question this? Nobody does. There is a question here that neither I, nor my colleagues, with whom I have been discussing the situation in Ukraine a great deal over these past days, as you know – none of us can answer. The question is why was this done?
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that President Yanukovych, through the mediation of the Foreign Ministers of three European countries – Poland, Germany and France – and in the presence of my representative (this was the Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin) signed an agreement with the opposition on February 21. I would like to stress that under that agreement (I am not saying this was good or bad, just stating the fact) Mr Yanukovych actually handed over power. He agreed to all the opposition’s demands: he agreed to early parliamentary elections, to early presidential elections, and to return to the 2004 Constitution, as demanded by the opposition. He gave a positive response to our request, the request of western countries and, first of all, of the opposition not to use force. He did not issue a single illegal order to shoot at the poor demonstrators. Moreover, he issued orders to withdraw all police forces from the capital, and they complied. He went to Kharkov to attend an event, and as soon as he left, instead of releasing the occupied administrative buildings, they immediately occupied the President’s residence and the Government building – all that instead of acting on the agreement.
I ask myself, what was the purpose of all this? I want to understand why this was done. He had in fact given up his power already, and as I believe, as I told him, he had no chance of being re-elected. Everybody agrees on this, everyone I have been speaking to on the telephone these past few days. What was the purpose of all those illegal, unconstitutional actions, why did they have to create this chaos in the country? Armed and masked militants are still roaming the streets of Kiev. This is a question to which there is no answer. Did they wish to humiliate someone and show their power? I think these actions are absolutely foolish. The result is the absolute opposite of what they expected, because their actions have significantly destabilised the east and southeast of Ukraine.
Now over to how this situation came about.
In my opinion, this revolutionary situation has been brewing for a long time, since the first days of Ukraine’s independence. The ordinary Ukrainian citizen, the ordinary guy suffered during the rule of Nicholas II, during the reign of Kuchma, and Yushchenko, and Yanukovych. Nothing or almost nothing has changed for the better. Corruption has reached dimensions that are unheard of here in Russia. Accumulation of wealth and social stratification – problems that are also acute in this country – are much worse in Ukraine, radically worse. Out there, they are beyond anything we can imagine. Generally, people wanted change, but one should not support illegal change.
Only constitutional means should be used on the post-Soviet space, where political structures are still very fragile, and economies are still weak. Going beyond the constitutional field would always be a cardinal mistake in such a situation. Incidentally, I understand those people on Maidan, though I do not support this kind of turnover. I understand the people on Maidan who are calling for radical change rather than some cosmetic remodelling of power. Why are they demanding this? Because they have grown used to seeing one set of thieves being replaced by another. Moreover, the people in the regions do not even participate in forming their own regional governments. There was a period in this country when the President appointed regional leaders, but then the local legislative authorities had to approve them, while in Ukraine they are appointed directly. We have now moved on to elections, while they are nowhere near this. And they began appointing all sorts of oligarchs and billionaires to govern the eastern regions of the country. No wonder the people do not accept this, no wonder they think that as a result of dishonest privatisation (just as many people think here as well) people have become rich and now they also have been brought to power.
For example, Mr Kolomoisky was appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. This is a unique crook. He even managed to cheat our oligarch Roman Abramovich two or three years ago. Scammed him, as our intellectuals like to say. They signed some deal, Abramovich transferred several billion dollars, while this guy never delivered and pocketed the money. When I asked him [Abramovich]: “Why did you do it?” he said: “I never thought this was possible.” I do not know, by the way, if he ever got his money back and if the deal was closed. But this really did happen a couple of years ago. And now this crook is appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. No wonder the people are dissatisfied. They were dissatisfied and will remain so if those who refer to themselves as the legitimate authorities continue in the same fashion.
Most importantly, people should have the right to determine their own future, that of their families and of their region, and to have equal participation in it. I would like to stress this: wherever a person lives, whatever part of the country, he or she should have the right to equal participation in determining the future of the country.
Are the current authorities legitimate? The Parliament is partially, but all the others are not. The current Acting President is definitely not legitimate. There is only one legitimate President, from a legal standpoint. Clearly, he has no power. However, as I have already said, and will repeat: Yanukovych is the only undoubtedly legitimate President.
There are three ways of removing a President under Ukrainian law: one is his death, the other is when he personally steps down, and the third is impeachment. The latter is a well-deliberated constitutional norm. It has to involve the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Rada. This is a complicated and lengthy procedure. It was not carried out. Therefore, from a legal perspective this is an undisputed fact.
Moreover, I think this may be why they disbanded the Constitutional Court, which runs counter to all legal norms of both Ukraine and Europe. They not only disbanded the Constitutional Court in an illegitimate fashion, but they also – just think about it – instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to launch criminal proceedings against members of the Constitutional Court. What is that all about? Is this what they call free justice? How can you instruct anyone to start criminal proceedings? If a crime, a criminal offence, has been committed, the law enforcement agencies see this and react. But instructing them to file criminal charges is nonsense, it’s monkey business.
Now about financial aid to Crimea. As you may know, we have decided to organise work in the Russian regions to aid Crimea, which has turned to us for humanitarian support. We will provide it, of course. I cannot say how much, when or how – the Government is working on this, by bringing together the regions bordering on Crimea, by providing additional support to our regions so they could help the people in Crimea. We will do it, of course.
Regarding the deployment of troops, the use of armed forces. So far, there is no need for it, but the possibility remains. I would like to say here that the military exercises we recently held had nothing to do with the events in Ukraine. This was pre-planned, but we did not disclose these plans, naturally, because this was a snap inspection of the forces’ combat readiness. We planned this a long time ago, the Defence Minister reported to me and I had the order ready to begin the exercise. As you may know, the exercises are over; I gave the order for the troops to return to their regular dislocations yesterday.
What can serve as a reason to use the Armed Forces? Such a measure would certainly be the very last resort.
First, the issue of legitimacy. As you may know, we have a direct appeal from the incumbent and, as I said, legitimate President of Ukraine, Mr Yanukovych, asking us to use the Armed Forces to protect the lives, freedom and health of the citizens of Ukraine.
What is our biggest concern? We see the rampage of reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going on in certain parts of Ukraine, including Kiev. I am sure you, members of the media, saw how one of the governors was chained and handcuffed to something and they poured water over him, in the cold of winter. After that, by the way, he was locked up in a cellar and tortured. What is all this about? Is this democracy? Is this some manifestation of democracy? He was actually only recently appointed to this position, in December, I believe. Even if we accept that they are all corrupt there, he had barely had time to steal anything.
And do you know what happened when they seized the Party of Regions building? There were no party members there at all at the time. Some two-three employees came out, one was an engineer, and he said to the attackers: “Could you let us go, and let the women out, please. I’m an engineer, I have nothing to do with politics.” He was shot right there in front of the crowd. Another employee was led to a cellar and then they threw Molotov cocktails at him and burned him alive. Is this also a manifestation of democracy?
When we see this we understand what worries the citizens of Ukraine, both Russian and Ukrainian, and the Russian-speaking population in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. It is this uncontrolled crime that worries them. Therefore, if we see such uncontrolled crime spreading to the eastern regions of the country, and if the people ask us for help, while we already have the official request from the legitimate President, we retain the right to use all available means to protect those people. We believe this would be absolutely legitimate. This is our last resort.
Moreover, here is what I would like to say: we have always considered Ukraine not only a neighbour, but also a brotherly neighbouring republic, and will continue to do so. Our Armed Forces are comrades in arms, friends, many of whom know each other personally. I am certain, and I stress, I am certain that the Ukrainian military and the Russian military will not be facing each other, they will be on the same side in a fight.
Incidentally, the things I am talking about – this unity – is what is happening in Crimea. You should note that, thank God, not a single gunshot has been fired there; there are no casualties, except for that crush on the square about a week ago. What was going on there? People came, surrounded units of the armed forces and talked to them, convincing them to follow the demands and the will of the people living in that area. There was not a single armed conflict, not a single gunshot.
Thus the tension in Crimea that was linked to the possibility of using our Armed Forces simply died down and there was no need to use them. The only thing we had to do, and we did it, was to enhance the defence of our military facilities because they were constantly receiving threats and we were aware of the armed nationalists moving in. We did this, it was the right thing to do and very timely. Therefore, I proceed from the idea that we will not have to do anything of the kind in eastern Ukraine.
There is something I would like to stress, however. Obviously, what I am going to say now is not within my authority and we do not intend to interfere. However, we firmly believe that all citizens of Ukraine, I repeat, wherever they live, should be given the same equal right to participate in the life of their country and in determining its future.
If I were in the shoes of those who consider themselves the legitimate authorities, I would not waste time and go through all the necessary procedures, because they do not have a national mandate to conduct the domestic, foreign and economic policy of Ukraine, and especially to determine its future.
Now, the stock market. As you may know, the stock market was jumpy even before the situation in Ukraine deteriorated. This is primarily linked to the policy of the US Federal Reserve, whose recent decisions enhanced the attractiveness of investing in the US economy and investors began moving their funds from the developing markets to the American market. This is a general trend and it has nothing to do with Ukraine. I believe it was India that suffered most, as well as the other BRICS states. Russia was hit as well, not as hard as India, but it was. This is the fundamental reason.
As for the events in Ukraine, politics always influence the stock market in one way or another. Money likes quiet, stability and calm. However, I think this is a tactical, temporary development and a temporary influence.
Your questions, please.
QUESTION: Mr President, can you tell us if you expected such a harsh reaction to Russia’s actions from your western partners? Could you give us any details of your conversations with your western partners? All we’ve heard was a report from the press service. And what do you think about the G8 summit in Sochi – will it take place?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding the expected reaction, whether the G8 will meet and about the conversations. Our conversations are confidential, some are even held over secure lines. Therefore, I am not authorised to disclose what I discussed with my partners. I will, however, refer to some public statements made by my colleagues from the west; without giving any names, I will comment on them in a general sense.
What do we pay attention to? We are often told our actions are illegitimate, but when I ask, “Do you think everything you do is legitimate?” they say “yes”. Then, I have to recall the actions of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where they either acted without any UN sanctions or completely distorted the content of such resolutions, as was the case with Libya. There, as you may know, the resolution only spoke of closing the airspace for government aircraft, while it all ended with bomb attacks and special forces land operations.
Our partners, especially in the United Sates, always clearly formulate their own geopolitical and state interests and follow them with persistence. Then, using the principle “You’re either with us or against us” they draw the whole world in. And those who do not join in get ‘beaten’ until they do.
Our approach is different. We proceed from the conviction that we always act legitimately. I have personally always been an advocate of acting in compliance with international law. I would like to stress yet again that if we do make the decision, if I do decide to use the Armed Forces, this will be a legitimate decision in full compliance with both general norms of international law, since we have the appeal of the legitimate President, and with our commitments, which in this case coincide with our interests to protect the people with whom we have close historical, cultural and economic ties. Protecting these people is in our national interests. This is a humanitarian mission. We do not intend to subjugate anyone or to dictate to anyone. However, we cannot remain indifferent if we see that they are being persecuted, destroyed and humiliated. However, I sincerely hope it never gets to that.
QUESTION: How do you asses the reaction of the west to the events in Ukraine and their threats regarding Russia: are we facing the possibility of sanctions or withdrawal from the G8?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding sanctions. It is primarily those who intend to apply them that need to consider their consequences. I believe that in the modern world, where everything is interconnected and interdependent, it is possible to cause damage to another country, but this will be mutual damage and one should bear this in mind. This is one thing.
The second and the most important thing. I have already told you what motivates us. And what motivates our partners? They supported an unconstitutional armed take-over, declared these people legitimate and are trying to support them. By the way, despite all of this we have been patient and even ready to cooperate; we do not want to disrupt our cooperation. As you may know, a few days ago I instructed the Government to consider how we can maintain contacts even with those powers in Kiev that we do not consider legitimate in order to retain our ties in the economy and industry. We think our actions have been absolutely reasonable, while any threat against Russia is counterproductive and harmful.
As for the G8, I do not know. We will be ready to host the summit with our colleagues. If they do not want to come – so be it.
QUESTION: Can I add about contacts? The way I see it, you consider the Prime Minister of Crimea Mr Aksyonov to be a legitimate representative of government authorities. Are you ready to have any contacts with those who consider themselves the legitimate authorities in Kiev?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have just spoken about it. You must have missed it.
QUESTION: I mean, at the top level for a political solution.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not have a partner at the top level there. There is no president there, and there cannot be one until the general elections.
As for Crimea, the Parliament there was formed in 2010, in December 2010 if I remember correctly. There are 100 MPs representing six political parties. After the previous Prime Minister resigned, the Crimean Parliament, in compliance with the existing legislation and procedures elected a new Prime Minister at a session of the Crimean Supreme Council. He is definitely legitimate. They have complied with all the procedures envisaged by the law; there is not a single violation. However, when a few days ago a group of armed men tried to occupy the building of the Crimean Supreme Soviet, this caused the concern of the local residents. It seemed as though someone wanted to apply the Kiev scenario in Crimea and to launch a series of terrorist attacks and cause chaos. Naturally, this causes grave concern among the local residents. That is why they set up self-defence committees and took control over all the armed forces.
Incidentally, I was studying the brief yesterday to see what they took over – it is like a fortified zone. There are several dozen C-300 units, several dozen air-defence missile systems, 22,000 service members and a lot more. However, as I said, this is all in the hands of the people of Crimea and without a single gunshot.
QUESTION: Mr President, a clarification if I may. The people who were blocking the Ukrainian Army units in Crimea were wearing uniforms that strongly resembled the Russian Army uniform. Were those Russian soldiers, Russian military?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Why don’t you take a look at the post-Soviet states. There are many uniforms there that are similar. You can go to a store and buy any kind of uniform.
QUESTION: But were they Russian soldiers or not?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Those were local self-defence units.
QUESTION: How well trained are they? If we compare them to the self-defence units in Kiev…
VLADIMIR PUTIN: My dear colleague, look how well trained the people who operated in Kiev were. As we all know they were trained at special bases in neighbouring states: in Lithuania, Poland and in Ukraine itself too. They were trained by instructors for extended periods. They were divided into dozens and hundreds, their actions were coordinated, they had good communication systems. It was all like clockwork. Did you see them in action? They looked very professional, like special forces. Why do you think those in Crimea should be any worse?
QUESTION: In that case, can I specify: did we take part in training Crimean self-defence forces?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, we did not.
QUESTION: How do you see the future of Crimea? Do you consider the possibility of it joining Russia?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, we do not. Generally, I believe that only residents of a given country who have the freedom of will and are in complete safety can and should determine their future. If this right was granted to the Albanians in Kosovo, if this was made possible in many different parts of the world, then nobody has ruled out the right of nations to self-determination, which, as far as I know, is fixed by several UN documents. However, we will in no way provoke any such decision and will not breed such sentiments.
I would like to stress that I believe only the people living in a given territory have the right to determine their own future.
QUESTION: Two questions. You said that sending troops into Ukraine is an extreme measure, but you are nevertheless not ruling it out. Still, if Russian troops enter Ukraine, it could start a war. Doesn’t that bother you?
And a second question. You say that Yanukovych did not give the order to shoot people. But somebody shot at the protestors. And clearly, these were snipers, trained snipers.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, some people, including those who were recently among the protestors, have expressed the opinion that these were provocateurs from one of the opposition parties. Have you heard this?
REPLY: No, I have not heard this.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look at these materials – they are freely available. That is why it is very difficult to get to the bottom of the situation. But you and I saw for ourselves when the Berkut fighters stood there with their shields and were shot at – and those were not air weapons that were used against them but assault weapons that pierced their shields. That is something we saw for certain. As for who gave the orders – that I do not know. I only know what Mr Yanukovych told me. And he told me that he did not give any orders, and moreover, he gave instructions – after signing a corresponding agreement – to even withdraw all militia units from the capital.
If you want, I can tell you even more. He called me on the phone and I told him not to do it. I said, “You will have anarchy, you will have chaos in the capital. Think about the people.” But he did it anyway. And as soon as he did it, his office was seized, and that of the government, and the chaos I had warned him about and which continues to this day, erupted.
QUESTION: What about the first question? Are you concerned that a war could break out?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I am not concerned, because we do not plan and we will not fight with the Ukrainian people.
QUESTION: But there are Ukrainian troops, there is the Ukrainian army.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Listen carefully. I want you to understand me clearly: if we make that decision, it will only be to protect Ukrainian citizens. And let’s see those troops try to shoot their own people, with us behind them – not in the front, but behind. Let them just try to shoot at women and children! I would like to see those who would give that order in Ukraine.
QUESTION: Can I ask a question, Mr President? Our colleagues, my colleagues, who are currently working in Ukraine, are saying practically every day that the situation for the Berkut fighters is only getting worse (perhaps with the exception of Crimea). In particular, in Kiev, there are injured Berkut officers who are in hospitals now, where nobody is treating them and they are not even getting fed. And their families, including elderly family members, they simply cannot leave the house, because they are not being allowed; there are barricades all around, they are being humiliated. Can you comment on this? And can Russia help these families and colleagues?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, this issue is of great concern to us. After all, these are not Russia’s Interior Ministry officers, and we were not managing the situation there. But out of humanitarian considerations, it would be good if our human rights organisations got involved in this as well; we might ask Vladimir Lukin, either alone or together with his colleagues, representatives from France, Germany and Poland, with whom he participated in developing the well-known document of February 21, 2014, to go on location and see what is happening there with these Berkut officers, who have not broken any laws and acted in accordance with their orders. They are military service members, they stood there facing bullets, they were doused with fire and had Molotov cocktails thrown at them. They have been wounded and injured and are now in a hospital. It is even hard to imagine – even prisoners of war are being fed and treated. But they not only stopped treating them, they even stopped feeding them. And they have surrounded the building where these fighters’ families live and are bullying them. I think that human rights organisations must pay attention to this. And we, for our part, are ready to provide them with medical care here in Russia.
QUESTION: Mr President, getting back to the West’s reaction. Following the US Secretary of State’s harsh statement, the Federation Council suggested that we recall our ambassador to the United States. Do you support this idea?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The US Secretary of State is certainly an important person, but he is not the ultimate authority that determines the United States’ foreign policy. We hear statements from various politicians and representatives of various political forces. This would be an extreme measure. If necessary, it will be used. But I really don’t want to use it, because I think Russia is not the only one interested in cooperation with its partners on an international level and in such areas as economy, politics and foreign security; our partners are just as interested in this cooperation. It is very easy to destroy these instruments of cooperation and it would be very difficult to rebuild them.
QUESTION: Russia got involved in Yanukovych’s fate. How do you see his future role and his future destiny?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, it is very hard for me to say; I have not analysed it carefully. I think he has no political future, and I have told him so. As for “getting involved in his fate” – we did this on purely humanitarian grounds. Death is the easiest way for getting rid of a legitimate president, and I think that is what would have happened. I think they would have simply killed him. Incidentally, the question arises: what for?
After all, look at how it all began, what triggered these events. The formal reason was that he did not sign the European Union Association Agreement. Today, this seems like nonsense; it is ridiculous to even talk about. But I want to point out that he did not refuse to sign the association agreement. He said: “We have carefully analysed it, and its content does not correspond with our national interests. We cannot sharply increase energy prices for our people, because our people are already in a rather difficult position. We cannot do this, and that, and that. We cannot immediately break our economic ties with Russia, because our cooperation is very extensive.”
I have already presented these figures: out of approximately 14 billion [dollars] in export, approximately 5 billion represents second and third technological processing level products exported to Russia. In other words, just about all engineering products are exported to Russia; the West is not buying any Ukrainian products. And to take all this and break it apart, to introduce European technical standards in the Ukrainian economy, which, thankfully or unfortunately, we are not using at the moment. We will adopt those standards at some point, but currently, we do not have those standards in Russia. This means the next day, our relations and cooperation ties will be broken, enterprises will come to a standstill and unemployment will increase. And what did Yanukovych say? He said, “I cannot do this so suddenly, let’s discuss this further.” He did not refuse to sign it, he asked for a chance to discuss this document some more, and then all this craziness began.
And why? Did he do something outside the scope of his authority? He acted absolutely within the scope of his authority; he did not infringe on anything. It was simply an excuse to support the forces opposing him in a fight for power. Overall, this is nothing special. But did it really need to be taken to this level of anarchy, to an unconstitutional overthrow and armed seizure of power, subsequently plunging the nation into the chaos where it finds itself today? I think this is unacceptable. And it is not the first time our Western partners are doing this in Ukraine. I sometimes get the feeling that somewhere across that huge puddle, in America, people sit in a lab and conduct experiments, as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing. Why did they need to do this? Who can explain this? There is no explanation at all for it.
The same thing happened during the first Maidan uprising, when Yanukovych was blocked from power. Why did we need that third round of elections? In other words, it was turned into a farce – Ukraine’s political life was turned into a farce. There was no compliance with the Constitution at all. You see, we are now teaching people that if one person can violate any law, anyone else can do the same, and that’s what causes chaos. That is the danger. Instead, we need to teach our society to follow other traditions: traditions of respecting the main law of the nation, the Constitution, and all other laws. Of course, we will not always succeed, but I think acting like this – like a bull in a china shop is counterproductive and very dangerous.
QUESTION: Mr President, Turchynov is illegitimate, from your point of view.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As President, yes.
QUESTION: But the Rada is partially legitimate.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Are Yatsenyuk and the Cabinet legitimate? And if Russia is concerned about the growing strength of radical elements, they grow stronger every time they find themselves facing a hypothetical enemy, which in their view, they currently consider Russia and Russia’s position of being ready to send in troops. Question: does it make sense and is it possible to hold talks with moderate forces in the Ukrainian government, with Yatsenyuk, and is he legitimate?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Listen, it seems like you didn’t hear what I have said. I already said that three days ago, I gave instructions to the Government to renew contacts at the government level with their colleagues in the corresponding ministries and departments in Ukraine, in order not to disrupt economic ties, to support them in their attempts to reconstruct the economy. Those were my direct instructions to the Russian Government. Moreover, Mr Medvedev is in contact with [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk. And I know that Sergei Naryshkin, as speaker of the Russian parliament, is in contact with [Oleksandr] Turchynov. But, I repeat, all our trade and economic and other ties, our humanitarian ties, can be developed in full only after the situation is normalised and presidential elections are held.
QUESTION: Gazprom has already said that it is reverting to its old gas prices beginning in April.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Gazprom could not have said that; you were not listening carefully or it did not express itself clearly. Gazprom is not reverting to the old prices. It simply does not want to extend the current discounts, which it had agreed to apply or not apply on a quarterly basis. Even before all these events, even before they hit the crisis point. I know about the negotiations between Gazprom and its partners. Gazprom and the Government of the Russian Federation agreed that Gazprom would introduce a discount by reducing gas prices to $268.50 per 1,000 cubic metres. The Government of Russia provides the first tranche of the loan, which is formally not a loan but a bond purchase – a quasi-loan, $3 billion dollars in the first stage. And the Ukrainian side undertakes to fully repay its debt that arose in the second half of last year and to make regular payments for what they are consuming – for the gas. The debt has not been repaid, regular payments are not being made in full.
Moreover, if the Ukrainian partners fail to make the February payment, the debt will grow even bigger. Today it is around $1.5-1.6 billion. And if they do not fully pay for February, it will be nearly $2 billion. Naturally, in these circumstances, Gazprom says, “Listen guys, since you don’t pay us anyway, and we are only seeing an increase in your debt, let’s lock into the regular price, which is still reduced.” This is a purely commercial component of Gazprom’s activities, which plans for revenues and expenditures in its investment plans like any other major company. If they do not receive the money from their Ukrainian partners on time, then they are undercutting their own investment programmes; this is a real problem for them. And incidentally, this does not have to do with the events in Ukraine or any politics. There was an agreement: “We give you money and reduced gas rates, and you give us regular payments.” They gave them money and reduced gas rates, but the payments are not being made. So naturally, Gazprom says, “Guys, that won’t work.”
QUESTION: Mr President, [German Federal Chancellor] Merkel’s Press Service said after your telephone conversation that you had agreed to send an international fact-finding mission to Ukraine and set up a contact group.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I said that we have people who have the training and skills needed to be able to examine this issue and discuss it with our German colleagues. This is all possible. I gave the instruction accordingly to our Foreign Minister, who was to or will meet with the German Foreign Minister, Mr Steinmeier, yesterday or today to discuss this matter.
QUESTION: All eyes are on Crimea at the moment of course, but we see what is happening in other parts of Ukraine too, in the east and south. We see what is happening in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk and Odessa. People are raising the Russian flag over government buildings and appealing to Russia for aid and support. Will Russia respond to these events?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you think we have not made any response? I think we’ve just spent the last hour discussing this response. In some cases though, the developments taking place are unexpected in my view. I will not go into the specific details of what I am referring to here, but the reaction that we are seeing from people is understandable, in principle. Did our partners in the West and those who call themselves the government in Kiev now not foresee that events would take this turn? I said to them over and over: Why are you whipping the country into a frenzy like this? What are you doing? But they keep on pushing forward. Of course people in the eastern part of the country realise that they have been left out of the decision-making process.
Essentially, what is needed now is to adopt a new constitution and put it to a referendum so that all of Ukraine’s citizens can take part in the process and influence the choice of basic principles that will form the foundations of their country’s government. But this is not our affair of course. This is something for the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian authorities to decided one way or another. I think that once a legitimate government is in place and a new president and parliament are elected, which is what is planned, this will probably go ahead. If I were them, I would return to the matter of adopting a constitution and, as I said, putting it to a referendum so that everyone can have their say on it, cast their vote, and then everyone will have to respect it. If people feel they are left out of this process, they will never agree with it and will keep on fighting it. Who needs this kind of thing? But as I said, this is all not our affair.
QUESTION: Will Russia recognise the planned presidential election that will take place in Ukraine?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let’s see how it goes. If it is accompanied by the same kind of terror that we are seeing now in Kiev, we will not recognise it.
QUESTION: I want to come back to the West’s reaction. As all this tough talk continues, we have the Paralympics opening in a few days’ time in Sochi. Are these Games at risk of ending up on the brink of disruption, at least as far as international media coverage goes?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I don’t know, I think it would be the height of cynicism to put the Paralympics at risk. We all know that this is an international sports event at which people with disabilities can show their capabilities, prove to themselves and the entire world that they are not people with limitations, but on the contrary, people with unlimited possibilities, and demonstrate their achievements in sport. If there are people ready to try to disrupt this event, it would show that these are people for whom there really is nothing sacred.
QUESTION: I want to ask about the hypothetical possibility of using the military. People in the West have said that if Russia makes such a decision, it would violate the Budapest Memorandum, under which the United States and some NATO partners consecrated territorial integrity of Ukraine in exchange for its promise to give up nuclear weapons. If developments take this turn, could global players intervene in this local conflict and turn it into a global conflict? Have you taken these risks into account?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Before making public statements, and all the more so before taking practical steps, we give issues due thought and attention and try to foresee the consequences and reactions that the various potential players could have.
As for the Memorandum that you mentioned, you said you are from Reuters, is that right?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: How do the public and political circles in your country view these events that have taken place? It is clear after all that this was an armed seizure of power. That is a clear and evident fact. And it is clear too that this goes against the Constitution. That is also a clear fact, is it not?
RESPONSE: I live in Russia.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good on you! You should join the diplomatic service; you’d make a good diplomat. Diplomats’ tongues, as we know, are there to hide their thoughts. So, we say that what we are seeing is an anti-constitutional coup, and we get told, no, it isn’t. You have probably heard plenty of times now that this was not an anti-constitutional coup and not an armed seizure of power, but a revolution. Have you heard this?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, but if this is revolution, what does this mean? In such a case it is hard not to agree with some of our experts who say that a new state is now emerging in this territory. This is just like what happened when the Russian Empire collapsed after the 1917 revolution and a new state emerged. And this would be a new state with which we have signed no binding agreements.
QUESTION: I want to clarify a point. You said that if the USA imposes sanctions, this would deal a blow to both economies. Does this imply that Russia might impose counter-sanctions of its own, and if so, would they be a symmetrical response?
You spoke about gas discounts too. But there was also the agreement to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds. Ukraine received the first tranche at the end of last year. Has payment of the remaining money been suspended? If Russia provides aid, on what specific economic and political terms will this be done? And what political and economic risks are you taking into consideration in this case?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: To answer your question, we are in principle ready to look at taking the steps needed to make the other tranches available with regard to the purchase of bonds. But our Western partners have asked us not to do this. They have asked us to work together through the IMF to encourage the Ukrainian authorities to carry out the reforms needed to bring about recovery in the Ukrainian economy. We will continue working in this direction. But given that Naftogaz of Ukraine is not paying Gazprom now, the Government is considering various options.
QUESTION: Mr President, is the dynamic of events in Ukraine changing for the better or for the worse?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Overall, I think it is gradually starting to level out. We absolutely must send the signal to people in Ukraine’s southeast that they can feel safe, and know that they will be able to take part in the general political process of stabilising the country.
QUESTION: You have made several mentions now of future legitimate elections in Ukraine. Who do you see as compromise candidate? Of course you will say that this for the Ukrainian people to decide, but I ask you all the same.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: To be honest, I really don’t know.
RESPONSE: It seems that the people also don’t know, because no matter who you talk to, everyone seems to be at a loss.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I really can’t say. You know, it’s hard to make predictions after events of this kind. I have already said that I do not agree with this method of taking power and removing the incumbent authorities and president, and I strongly oppose this kind of method in Ukraine and in the post-Soviet area in general. I oppose this because this kind of method does not inculcate legal culture, respect for the law. If one person can get away with doing this, it means that everyone is allowed to try, and this only means chaos. You have to understand that this kind of chaos is the worst possible thing for countries with a shaky economy and unstable political system. In this kind of situation you never know what kind of people events will bring to the fore. Just recall, for example, the role that [Ernst] Roehm’s storm troopers played during Hitler’s rise to power. Later, these storm troopers were liquidated, but they played their part in bringing Hitler to power. Events can take all kinds of unexpected turns.
Let me say again that in situations when people call for fundamental political reform and new faces at the top, and with full justification too – and in this I agree with the Maidan – there is a risk too that you’ll suddenly get some upstart nationalist or semi-fascist lot sprout up, like the genie suddenly let out of the bottle – and we see them today, people wearing armbands with something resembling swastikas, still roaming around Kiev at this moment – or some anti-Semite or other. This danger is there too.
QUESTION: Just today, incidentally, the Ukrainian envoy to the UN said that the crimes committed by Bandera’s followers were falsified by the Soviet Union. With May 9 coming closer, we can see now who is in power there today. Should we even have any contacts with them at all?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We need to have contact with everyone except for obvious criminals, but as I said, in this kind of situation, there is always the risk that events of this kind will bring people with extreme views to the fore, and this of course has serious consequences for the country.
QUESTION: You said that we should make contact with everyone. Yulia Tymoshenko was planning it seems, to come to Moscow.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As you know, we always worked quite productively with all of the different Ukrainian governments, no matter what their political colour. We worked with Leonid Kuchma, and with [Viktor] Yushchenko. When I was Prime Minister, I worked with Tymoshenko. I visited her in Ukraine and she came here to Russia. We had to deal with all kinds of different situations in our work to manage our countries’ economies. We had our differences, but we also reached agreements. Overall it was constructive work. If she wants to come to Russia, let her come. It’s another matter that she is no longer prime minister now. In what capacity will she come? But I personally have no intention of stopping her from coming to Russia.
QUESTION: Just a brief question: who do you think is behind this coup, as you called it, in Ukraine?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As I said before, I think this was a well-prepared action. Of course there were combat detachments. They are still there, and we all saw how efficiently they worked. Their Western instructors tried hard of course. But this is not the real problem. If the Ukrainian government had been strong, confident, and had built a stable system, no nationalists would have been able to carry out those programs and achieve the results that we see now.
The real problem is that none of the previous Ukrainian governments gave proper attention to people’s needs. Here in Russia we have many problems, and many of them are similar to those in Ukraine, but they are not as serious as in Ukraine. Average per capita [monthly] income in Russia, for example, is 29,700 rubles, but in Ukraine, if we convert it into rubles, it is 11,900 rubles, I think – almost three times lower than in Russia. The average pension in Russia is 10,700 rubles, but in Ukraine it is 5,500 rubles – twice lower than in Russia. Great Patriotic War veterans in Russia receive almost as much as the average worker each month. In other words, there is a substantial difference in living standards. This was what the various governments should have been focusing on right from the start. Of course they needed to fight crime, nepotism, clans and so on, especially in the economy. People see what is going on, and this creates lack of confidence in the authorities.
This has continued as several generations of modern Ukrainian politicians have come and gone, and the ultimate result is that people are disappointed and want to see a new system and new people in power. This was the main source of fuel for the events that took place. But let me say again: a change of power, judging by the whole situation, was probably necessary in Ukraine, but it should have taken place only through legitimate means, in respect for and not in violation of the current Constitution.
QUESTION: Mr President, if Crimea holds a referendum and the people there vote to secede from Ukraine, that is, if the majority of the region’s residents vote for secession, would you support it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You can never use the conditional mood in politics. I will stick to that rule.
QUESTION: Is Yanukovych even still alive? There have been rumours that he died.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have seen him once since he arrived in Russia. That was just two days ago. He was alive and well and wishes you the same. He’ll still have a chance of catching a cold at the funeral of those who are spreading these rumours of his demise.
QUESTION: Mr President, what mistakes do you think Yanukovych made over these last months as the situation intensified in Ukraine?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would rather not answer this question, not because I do not have an opinion to express, but because I do not think it would be proper on my part. You have to understand, after all…
QUESTION: Do you sympathise with him?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, I have completely different feelings. Anyone in this office bears an enormous responsibility on their shoulders as head of state, and they have rights and also obligations. But the biggest obligation of all is to carry out the will of the people who have entrusted you with the country, acting within the law. And so we need to analyse, did he do everything that the law and the voters’ mandate empowered him to do? You can analyse this yourselves and draw your own conclusions.
QUESTION: But what feelings do you have for him? You said “not sympathy, but other feelings”. What feelings exactly?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let’s talk later.
QUESTION: You said just two questions back that we must above all send a clear signal to people in the south and southeast of Ukraine. The southeast, that’s understandable, but…
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We need to make our position clear to everyone, really.
We need to be heard by all of Ukraine’s people. We have no enemies in Ukraine. Let me say again that Ukraine is a friendly country. Do you know how many people came from Ukraine to Russia last year? 3.3 million came, and of that number almost 3 million people came to Russia for work. These people are working here – around 3 million people. Do you know how much money they send back home to Ukraine to support their families? Count up the average wage of 3 million people. This comes to billions of dollars and makes a big contribution to Ukraine’s GDP. This is no joking matter. We welcome all of them, and among the people coming here to work are also many from western Ukraine. They are all equal in our eyes, all brothers to us.
QUESTION: This is just what I wanted to ask about. We are hearing above all about the southeast of Ukraine at the moment, which is understandable, but there are ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people living in western Ukraine too, and their situation is probably even worse. They probably cannot raise their heads at all and are a downtrodden minority there. What can Russia do to help them?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Our position is that if the people who call themselves the government now hope to be considered a civilised government, they must ensure the safety of all of their citizens, no matter in which part of the country, and we of course will follow this situation closely.
March 4, 2014, 15:40Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region
Last year Russia was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council again. We thank everybody who voted for us, for their support. We view this as a recognition of the constructive approach of our country to multilateral cooperation.
Human rights issues are one of the priorities of the international agenda, in conditions when factors of instability do not weaken, and the area of risks and conflicts in different regions is extending. These processes are significantly related to the continuing formation of a new polycentric world order. Russia consistently proceeds from the fact that in this period of deep change we need to do everything possible to enforce the rights and liberties of individuals, respect for human dignity in practice.
The issue of human rights is too serious to make it a “token” in geopolitical “games”, to use them to impose one’s own will upon others and all the more so to enforce regime change operations. All the available experience is evidence that any interference under the pretext of the protection of civilians, which in fact leads to a regime change, gives directly contrary results, and multiplies the sufferings of peaceful civilians depriving them of their fundamental right – the right to live.
Any domestic crises should be overcome through a dialogue between all the political forces, ethnic and sectarian groups, according to the constitution and with respect for international obligations, including, not least, obligations under international humanitarian law, the defence of human rights and the rights of national minorities. In doing this, it is of principled importance to edge away from extremists attempting to take hold of the situation by illegal methods, by not shunning violence and open terror.
These approaches to the settlement of conflicts are applicable to Syria, Ukraine and any other country.
We all know well who created the crisis in Ukraine and how they did it. Having disputed absolutely legitimate actions by legal powers, some of our partners took the course of supporting anti-government manifestations, and stimulated their participants, who started aggressive forceful actions. There were occupations and arsons of administrative buildings, attacks on police, plundering of weapon stockpiles, outrages against official persons in the regions, gross inference inchurch affairs. The centre of Kiev and many other west Ukrainian cities were occupied by armed national radicals, who used extremist, anti-Russian and anti-Semitic slogans.
On the 21 February (after almost three months of riots and outrages) an agreement was reached between the President of Ukraine and the opposition, which was also signed by the German, Polish and French foreign ministers. The authorities refused to introduce a state of emergency, or to remove law enforcement personnel from the streets. The opposition has done nothing. They have not laid down arms, public buildings and the streets of Kiev were not freed, radicals continue to control cities. The formation of a “government of champions” was announced,rather than the promised creation of a national unity government.
The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada took decisions restricting the rights of language minorities, dismissed judges of the Constitutional Court and insisted on criminal proceedings against them. We hear requests to restrict or punish the use of Russian, prohibit unwanted political parties, organise lustration. It means that the “champions” intend to use the results of their “victory” to violate fundamental human rights and liberties.
Eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, where millions of Russians live, were outraged by this, because they do not want this scenario to be repeated in their regions. In conditions of threats of violent action on behalf of ultranationalists, who endanger the life and legal interests of Russians and the entire Russian-speaking population, self-defence units were created by the people, who had to prevent the attempts at forced occupation of administrative buildings in Crimea and the entry of weapons and ammunition into the peninsula. There is information that new provocations are being prepared, including against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the territory of Ukraine.
In these conditions, the legally elected authorities of this Autonomous Republic turned to the President of Russia asking for assistance in pacification of the situation in Crimea.
In full compliance with Russian law, in view of the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the threat to the lives of Russian nationals, our compatriots and staff of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine, the President of Russia addressed the Federation Council to allow the use of Russian Armed Forces in the territory of Ukraine until the social and political situation in the country normalises.
The Federation Council upheld such address, which (as we hope) will sober the radicals. I repeat, it is all about the protection of our nationals and compatriots, defence of the most fundamental human right – the right to live.
All those, who attempt to interpret this situation as aggression, and threaten all kinds of sanctions and boycotts, are the very same partners of ours, who consistently and insistently encouraged the political forces they favour, to enforce ultimatums and refusalsof any dialogue, ignoring the concerns of south and east Ukraine and ultimately – the polarisation of the Ukrainian community. We appeal to them to demonstrate a responsible approach, to put aside any geopolitical considerations and place the interests of the Ukrainian people above all other interests. We need to ensure the implementation of the obligations laid down in the Agreement of the 21 February, including the start of the constitutional reform process with the participation and full consideration of the opinions of all the Ukrainian regions to be further approved at a nationwide referendum.
Real progress in the area of human rights may be achieved only on the basis of equal cooperation, respectful dialogue, and reinforcement of trust between states. These guarantors of legality in their own territory bear the main responsibility for the enforcement of human rights.
For joint efforts to promote and defend human rights to be effective, they should be implemented in strict compliance with generally recognised norms and principles of international law, primarily the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, other fundamental documents adopted in the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
At the same time, no country or group of countries have exclusive authority to unilaterally create a new “code of conduct”, which is not based on a universal framework. The imposing of personal interpretations of human rights standards can only aggravate intercultural and intersectarian disagreements, risk provoking a conflict between civilisations and disrupt the efforts to create a sustainable system of global development.
Supporters of ultraliberal approaches, supporting all-permissiveness and hedonism, requesting a revision of moral values, which are shared by all the world religions, have drastically and sometimes quite aggressively been activated in some states recently. Such actions are destructive for the community, they are detrimental to the education of the growing generation. Children must be protected from such information, which is harmful to their minds and humiliates their dignity. In this regard, I would like to call to mind that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights envisages the possibility of restricting rights and liberties by law, in the interests of defending the health and morals of the population, civil security and order.
In our consistent support of consideration of the cultural and historical peculiarities of different people, we note the importance of the Human Rights Council resolution confirming that deeper understanding and respect of traditional values promotes the stimulation and protection of fundamental human rights and liberties.
We believe that it is important to ensure attention is focussed on all categories of rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural, as well as the right to develop – in the further work of the Council.
We deem it important to reinforce and develop the legal framework in the area of human rights. For this purpose, we will present a draft resolution of the Council “Integral nature of the judicial system” for review by this session and we expect it to be supported.
The drastic development of information and communication technologies requires focused attention on the consequences of almost unlimited access to information and the exchange of it. The recently disclosed facts set serious tasks, in particular the proportionality of the tasks to ensure security in the scope of involvement inprivate life and the degree of state control over mass media.
The topic of human rights on the Internet should be viewed not only in the context of the freedom of speech, but also from the point of view of observation of other rights, including the inviolability of private life and the right to intellectual property. We believe that the adoption of UN General Assembly resolution 68/167 “The right to privacy in the digital age” will give a start to the practical work aimed at coordination of a clear code of conduct in this area.
This year the international community will celebrate 75 years since the beginning of the Second World War, but next year – 70 years since our Victory over Nazism and the establishment of the Nuremberg Tribunal. These dates are a reminder of the dangerous consequences, to which a belief in personal exclusiveness, disregard of fundamental moral norms and rights,can lead.
We need to counteract the attempts to justify and glorify Nazis and their accomplices, to besmear monuments to the liberators of Europe from fascism, firmly and jointly. The support shown by the overwhelming majority of UN members for the UN General Assembly resolution 68/150 “Combating the glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, confirms the worldwide unacceptability of any misanthropic ideology.
A week ago in Sochi, the international community opposed these shameful phenomena with their commitment to the high principles of the Olympic Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sportsmen from 88 countries gave a celebration to the world, which demonstrated openness towards each other, an atmosphere of friendship, trust, tolerance, and contributed to reinforcing humanitarian ties.
The human rights concept contains a strong uniting potential. Dignity, freedom, fairness, equality, and tolerance towards others, are envisaged to reinforce mutual understanding and cooperation between countries and peoples, in the interests of ensuring the sustainable development and welfare of the entire human race.
The threats to “punish” Russia for its principled line with regard to the settlement of the crisis situation in Ukraine, which we have been hearing from Washington lately, aggrieve us, not only because of the lack of elementary knowledge of history in those who are so fond of discussing this topic. The bad thing is that the US politicians and statesmen seem to lose any sense of adequate perception of the real state of affairs in the swiftly changing multipolar world of the XXI century.
Every time they see something, which does not fit into hoary American schemes, there are those who are eager to grasp at a “sanctions club”. This has become a kind of reflex. They threaten us with “serious consequences”, announcethat they will freeze cooperation in military issues, stop the dialogue about the formation of a new framework of trade and investment ties, and cancel contacts at different levels. They promise us new measures, despite the fact that the harm will inevitably affect both sides. Emotions and vexation because of their inability to impose their will, and subdue others with their own opinions about the “right” and the “wrong” side of history, prevail over common sense and logic.
We have explained to the Americans many times (using facts and legal considerations), why their unilateral sanction measures do not fit standards of civilised interstate relations. There is no effect. So we have to respond, however, this should not definitely be a mirror effect. As we always do in such situations, which were provoked by Washington’s ill-judged and irresponsible actions, we emphasise: this has not been our choice.
4 March 2013
Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the question put by the mass media about the statement of the NATO Council on the situation in Ukraine
We categorically disagree with the statement of the NATO Council of the 2 March, in which the Russian Federation was accused of “military escalation in Crimea in violation of the principles of international law”. We believe that such a position does not contribute to the stabilisation of the situation in Ukraine and only stimulates those forces, which would like to use current events to achieve their irresponsible political goals. It is evident that the existing threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine are caused exclusively by the internal political crisis in the country. Its settlement principally requires different behaviour by our partners.
The formations of the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea do not get involved inUkrainian internal political events. All the movements of these units pursue the goal of ensuring the security of the fleet’s sites and the prevention of extremist and radical attacks on our nationals.
The distortion of facts and the escalation of tensions donot contribute to the normalisation of the situation in Ukraine and the building of trust in our relations with NATO countries.
3 March 2013
With regard to the statements of some G8 members, we note that the decision to suspend work within the framework of the programme of the Russian presidency of this international body, is not motivated by anything.
It is not just politically detrimental, but is also contrary to the principles of constructive interaction in this format, which is oriented towards the use of the joint potential of the G8 in the interests of development, global stability, as well as the fight against transborder challenges and threats. The suspension of work within the framework of the Russian presidency is detrimental not only to the G8 countries but also to the entire international community, because Russian priorities include some truly consuming aspects for the entire world.
It is even more pitiful that our partners refused to participate in the International conference to confront the radicalisation of public moods amounting to terrorism, which opened today in Moscow and was welcomed with keen interest.
As to the development of events in Ukraine and around it, Russia has provided the necessary explanations,through different channels and at all levels, many times. We recommend our colleagues from the G8 study them attentively.
We express a hope that instead of the politicised approaches prevailing in some capitals today, the readiness to be guided by common interests and continue our joint constructive work in the G8 will come to the fore. Russia is ready for that.
3 March 2014
We believe that the threats to Russia, which we have heard in public statements by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, with regard to the latest events in Ukraine and Crimea, are unacceptable. Without taking the trouble to understand the complicated processes in the Ukrainian community, and assess the situation, which keeps deteriorating after the forceful seizure of power in Kiev by radical extremists, in an objective way, the Secretary of State is operating with “cold war” methods proposing to “punish” the Russian Federation, instead of those who were the builders of this coup d’état.
At the same time, they maintain silence on the fact that the United States and their allies turned a blind eye on the atrocities of the militants in Maidan, their mistreating of political opponents and plain civilians, the violent Russophobia and anti-Semitism, the besmearing of the memory of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. Washington has also ignored that the newly-created Kiev regime trampled on the agreement of the 21 February, which was signed by the German, French and Polish foreign ministers, and formed a “government of champions”, having actually announced a war against the Russian language and everything associated with Russia. Allies of the west have now turned into being open neo-Nazis, who destroy orthodox temples and synagogues.
Russia’s position has always been and is, consistent and open. If Ukraine is just a territory for geopolitical games for individual western politicians, then for us it is a fraternal country, with which we have many ages of shared history.
Russia is interested in a stable and powerful Ukraine, where the legal rights and interests of the Ukrainians, our compatriots and all nationals are enforced. Our measures are adequate and absolutely legitimate in the extraordinary conditions, which were not created by us, when the life and security of the residents of Crimea and the south-eastern regions are in real danger because of the irresponsible and provocative actions of Banderovites and other ultranationalist elements. We are for a faster return of the situation in Ukraine to normality, on the basis of the agreement of the 21 February, including the formation of a legitimate national unity government considering the interests of all political forces and regions of the country.
Russia is extremely concerned about the latest developments in Crimea.
On the night of the 1 March, unknown armed people sent from Kiev, attempted to occupy the building of the Ministry of the Interior of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. There were victims as a result of this treacherous provocation. The attempt to occupy the building of the Ministry of the Interior was prevented by the decisive action of self-defence units. The latest event confirms the aspiration of known political circles in Kiev to destabilise the situation in the peninsula.
We appeal to all those who give such orders from Kiev to be restrained. In our opinion, it is extremely careless to further escalate the tense situation in Crimea.
With regard to the statement about the violation by Russia of fundamental agreements on the Black Sea Fleet, we announce that in the current complicated situation the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation rigorously observes the above mentioned agreements.
Individual units of armoured equipment of the Black Sea Fleet were moved in full compliance with fundamental agreements and did not require any coordination.
27 February 2014
Russia is worried about the continuing atrocities by extremists in Ukraine, who, having fully believed in their all-permissiveness and impunity, continue to impose their will and order. The spiritual area is not an exclusion. The fragile interchurch and intersectarian peace, which has preserved until recently, is another target after destabilisation of the political situation.
Currently, priests of the canonic Ukrainian Orthodox Church frequently become subjected to physical violence, their temples are destroyed. The attempt of forceful occupation not only of Orthodox sanctities of Ukraine, but also sanctities of the entire Russian world – Kiev Pechersk Lavra and Pochayiv Lavra – have been observed recently.
All this is very dangerous, there are threats of new turbulences, which will provoke even greater split in the Ukrainian community.
We appeal to all reasonable forces of Ukraine to prevent further degradation of the situation and stop country’s slippage to a religious confrontation.
26 February 2014
Churkin: We appreciate the remarks of Mr.Eliasson today when he described his understanding of the situation. We welcomed the fact that Mr.Simonovic is there in Ukraine now and hopefully will be able to meet with people and give his understanding of the situation with human rights in that country.
We continued discussion that we previously had in the Security Council. Some colleagues were talking about democracy in Ukraine and were referring to the new legitimate authorities. I brought in the transcript of a phone conversation between Foreign Minister of Estonia and Baroness Ashton on March 5. I did it for two reasons. One: the Foreign Minister of Estonia confirmed that those were authentic remarks that he made. And two: that transcript that created some stir in Russian and some European media was completely ignored by the mainstream American media. I specifically quoted two elements of the remarks of the Foreign Minister of Estonia to Baroness Ashton.
First, he mentioned the intimidation of the members of Parliament of Ukraine when some members of Parliament were observed by journalists to be beaten up in downtown Kiev. You can imagine what is happening outside of eyes of journalists. It’s hard to imagine how such a Parliament operating under such circumstances can be regarded as a legitimate parliament which can pass legitimate decisions on the future of Ukraine.
And the second quotation which I presented to the members of the Council was the one referring to the conclusion which people in Ukraine came to that it was one source of sniper fire which killed a large number of people during the final stage of the dramatic developments in Kiev and of course it’s also a fact that the new authorities somehow avoid the investigation of these shootings and what happened in Kiev in the last days of the crisis which lead to February 21 agreement. Maybe this is one of the reasons they are trying to walk away from February 21 agreement, it does provide for investigation. As to who was the source of that sniper fire, you may see the footage in the internet - there were clearly opposition snipers from the hotel in downtown in Kiev and they were the ones killing both policemen and those who were protesting in order to exploit further protest and take power by force in Ukraine. And finally going to the core of our discussion I simply referred to the statement which was made by foreign Minister Lavrov in Rome after he had completed another round of discussions with Secretary Kerry and other officials. He said, speaking about possibilities of international role in dealing with the crisis in Ukraine, that we need to understand better what our partners mean, those who suggest various mechanisms. But he also emphasized - and I encourage you to go to the original statement – that it’s very important for us what we are dealing with, we need to talk about implementing February 21 agreement, constitutional reform, presidential elections, forming a national unity government.
And also it’s crucially important to involve the regions in all the processes which may be taking place in Ukraine in order to resolve that crisis. Now I’m ready to take some questions.
Q: Ambassador, this issue of the same snipers shooting in both, do you think within the type of thing that Mr.Simonovic should be investigating and also the US sanctions today. I only speak about the UN. The US announced that they had travel ban list and the new set of sanctions. Do you think it useful for the process, taking place in Ukraine?
Churkin: Well, first of all I hope Mr.Simonovic and in fact Mr.Eliasson, too, can encourage this investigation and that would be playing their part in the implementing at least one part of February, 21 agreement. As to the sanctions, it’s a “double edged sword” and of course we cannot possibly regard it as something, which is useful in any circumstances.
Q: Ambassador, thank you. Why Russia is opposing to negotiations government in Ukraine and you are insisting on using force instead…
Churkin: No, we are not insisting on any use of force, what we are saying is that we do not recognize the current Ukrainian authorities as legitimate. We do have various working contacts, we do have nonpolitical contacts with them. As you probably know, Prime Minister Medvedev even spoke to Mr.Yatsenyuk several days ago discussing various aspects of the situation, and our government is under instructions from President Putin to continue dealing with various specific economic problems and maybe cooperation, which we have with Ukraine. However, political contacts we are refraining from, especially at the high level of foreign minister and levels like this.
Q: Ambassador, I would like to ask about your position on the referendum that has been called in Crimea on March 16, that’s only 10 days away. There are armed groups on the ground intimidating people including Mr.R.Serry. Could you possibly have a free and fair referendum in just 10 days?
Churkin: Well, this is a decision that was taken by the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. They intend to hold a referendum, and as I learned from the media there are two questions which they are going to put to the will of the people: one- joining Russia, another – staying in Ukraine with sort of a broader powers as an Autonomous Republic. So this is where things are. They made this decision and of course our authorities will make a decision on how they are going to deal with that.
Q: Ukrainian ambassador suggested that it was Russians who were involved in this situation with Mr.Serry and another thing is that number of ambassadors that have spoken hear said that they don’t understand how Russia could suggest that these military personnel in Crimea are not russian the ones that…
Churkin: I described the very complex setup which we have in the Crimea now in terms of military presence in the Security Council meeting on March 4. You have to understand that there is the Russian Black Sea Fleet and some military with the Black Sea Fleet. Then there are people that are with Ukrainian military presence there and some of them have sworn allegiance to the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and there are also various self-defense groups which sprung up I think even before or immediately after February 21 because of what they perceived as an aggravation of the situation. As to who manhandled Mr.Serry, I don’t know exactly. But I think you should look up the last paragraph of Mr.Eliasson’s conversation with you yesterday as the events were unfolding. He described the group of people who were accosting Mr.R.Serry as a ragtag group. Frankly, to me it doesn’t sound like it was a group of Russian soldiers on the basis of this description.
Thank you very much.
Yuriy Sergeyev, Ukranian Ambassador to the UN: “Russia, at that time Soviet Union, tried to press Western allies to recognize what you called banderas and others that they were killers. Why Nurnbergprocess didn’t recognize that? Because it was falsified. Because the position of the Soviet Union was not fair at that time.”
Massive documentary evidence proves that the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) collaborated with the Nazis. They took part in mass killings of civilians and punitive operations against partisans in Belarus, Ukraine and Poland.
On June 30, 1941 with the invasion of Ukraine by Nazi troops Stepan Bandera issued the “Act of Proclamation of Ukrainian Statehood” which declared that “the newly formed Ukrainian state will work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany, which under leadership of Adolf Hitler is forming a new order in Europe and the world…”
In 1941 Ukrainian Nazis collaborators provided the majority of the executioners who murdered over 150 thousand Jews in Babiy Yar in Kiev. Gypsies and Soviet POW were also executed there.
In 1942 OUN was involved in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Volhynia (Poland). Over 100 thousand women, children and unarmed men were slaughtered. Polish historians calculated that 135 different sadistic methods were used to kill innocent people.
In 1943 OUN’s campaign of mass extermination of Poles and Jews continued.
On January 28, 2010 Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed “deepest revulsion” at the decision by then president of Ukraine to honor OUN’s leader Bandera “who collaborated with the Nazis in the early stages of World War II, and whose followers were linked to the murders of thousands of Jews and others”.
On February 25, 2010, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in which it expressed deep regret for the decision “posthumously to award Bandera, a leader of the OUN which collaborated with Nazi Germany, the title of “National Hero of Ukraine”. The European Parliament called on the Ukrainian leadership to reconsider such decision and “maintain its commitment to European values”.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski stated on February 7, 2010 that OUN and UPA “were engaged in mass murders of Polish civilians in the eastern territories of the Second Republic, killing 100,000 people. Poles were being killed for being Poles”.
It is deeply disturbing that the followers of Bandera are openly marching these days in Ukraine, displaying his portraits and fascist insignia, and are wielding considerable political power in Kiev. Attempts to whitewash OUN-UPA are not only morally repulsive, they amount to encouraging nationalist ideology, extremism and intolerance.
President's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, Rossiya One television, March 7, Kyiv Post
Whether the claim that "the time is coming for amassing lands" is true.
"This is not an amassing (of lands) in terms of the Kremlin's initiative, it is a natural process of gathering compatriots around their center, around their historical homeland which is appealing, which instills confidence and can act as a serious guarantor of their safety and a prosperous future," Peskov said in a special edition of the Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov which came out on the.
"The land amassing in the style of the past centuries is not possible. Lands can be amassed not at the expense of the leading nation's initiative, lands can be amassed under the magnet principle. As soon as some nation becomes stable, as soon as it starts having development prospects that are obvious for all around it, then, naturally, everyone around are beginning to gravitate towards this nation," the president's press secretary said.
"That Crimea made the decision to join Russia as its constituent region is the initiative of the Crimeans and the Crimean parliament, and in one week's time it will be either confirmed or not confirmed as a result of the people's vote, the most democratic procedure - the plebiscite,"
Publié le 08 Mars 2014
François Hollande s’est entretenu aujourd’hui avec Barack Obama de la situation en Ukraine.
Dans les circonstances graves actuelles, ils ont souligné l’importance pour la Russie d'accepter rapidement la formation d'un groupe de contact permettant d’engager le dialogue entre l'Ukraine et la Russie, en vue de favoriser une sortie de crise pacifique et de restaurer pleinement la souveraineté et l'intégrité territoriale de l'Ukraine.
Ils ont rappelé l’absence de toute base légale au projet de référendum envisagé en Crimée le 16 mars prochain et la nécessité pour la Russie de retirer les forces envoyées en Crimée depuis la fin février et de tout faire pour permettre le déploiement d'observateurs internationaux.
Ils ont souligné que, faute de progrès en ce sens, de nouvelles mesures seraient prises qui affecteraient sensiblement les relations entre la communauté internationale et la Russie, ce qui n’est dans l’intérêt de personne.
Ils sont convenus, par ailleurs, de poursuivre leur soutien aux nouvelles autorités en Ukraine, ainsi qu’à la préparation, sous contrôle international et dans la plus grande transparence, de l’élection présidentielle du 25 mai prochain.
Ils ont marqué l’importance de poursuivre la coordination actuelle entre les positions de l’Union européenne et des Etats-Unis.
Je suis tout à fait conscient du moment grave que l’Ukraine traverse. Cette rencontre, aujourd’hui, a d’autant plus de signification.
Je remercie Bernard-Henri LEVY d’avoir organisé la manifestation de ce soir qui vous permet d’être à Paris et qui nous offre cette occasion d’un dialogue.
Hier, j’étais au Conseil européen. Le Premier ministre ukrainien en était l’invité exceptionnel. Au moment où la réunion se tenait, nous apprenions la décision du pseudo « Parlement de Crimée » de demander son rattachement à la Russie et d’organiser un référendum. Au même moment, le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Laurent FABIUS, était à Rome et avait les mêmes informations que nous.
Ce qui nous a conduits, Européens et Américains, à prendre les mêmes dispositions.
L’intégrité territoriale et la souveraineté de l’Ukraine ne peuvent pas se négocier. Certes, il y a des liens historiques et culturels que nous connaissons, une autonomie qui a déjà été reconnue à la Crimée. Mais il ne peut pas y avoir de consultation sans que l’Ukraine elle-même ait décidé de l’organiser.
Les décisions que nous avons prises sont des réponses graduées en fonction de l’évolution de la situation. D’ores et déjà, il a été décidé – ce qui n’allait pas de soi, lorsque la décision a été présentée devant le Conseil européen – de signer l’accord d’association, notamment dans ses chapitres politiques.
Ensuite, nous avons décidé de soutenir et d’aider, autant qu’il sera possible, l’Ukraine dans ce moment très particulier et très difficile, en mobilisant les fonds du Fonds Monétaire International mais aussi les aides que l’Union européenne peut apporter.
Reste la question gazière et énergétique. On a vu la décision de GAZPROM encore aujourd’hui.
Ce serait intéressant d’avoir vos propres réactions par rapport aux décisions qui ont été prises et à celles qui devraient l’être en cas d’aggravation de la tension.
Mais notre objectif, c’est aussi de laisser toujours ouverte la voix du dialogue, de manière à ce que la Russie - je parle ici du Président POUTINE - puisse saisir, autant qu’elle sera décidée à le faire, la perche qui est tendue.
Il y a toute la pression que nous devons exercer mais aussi tout le dialogue que nous pouvons proposer. Le cadre dans lequel la communauté internationale, l’Europe et la France doivent travailler, c’est l’intégrité territoriale de l’Ukraine.
Ce qui était également important, et c’est le rôle de Laurent FABIUS que de l’avoir obtenu, c’est que les Américains et les Européens prennent les mêmes dispositions et que nous puissions mobiliser toute la communauté internationale.
Parce qu’il y a beaucoup de pays qui peuvent s’inquiéter, si un précédent était ouvert sur la remise en cause des frontières et de l’intégrité territoriale. L’autodétermination n’a de sens que si le pays dans lequel la consultation est organisée accepte que ce principe puisse être établi. Et pour qu’il y ait un détachement, il faut qu’il y ait un rattachement. C’est là, que la responsabilité de la Russie est engagée.
Merci d’avoir fait ce voyage pour nous donner votre propre version de la situation.
1. Point de presse du porte-parole - Ukraine - Liban - Syrie - États du Golfe - Rwanda - Droit international public (Paris, 07/03/2014)
Au point de presse de ce jour, le porte-parole a répondu aux questions suivantes :
1 - Ukraine
Q - Le référendum en Crimée est-il légal ?
R - Il est à la fois contraire à la constitution ukrainienne et au droit international. C'est non seulement la position de la France, que le ministre des affaires étrangères a rappelée ce matin, mais également celle de tous les membres de l'Union européenne, réaffirmée hier à l'issue de la réunion des chefs d'État et de gouvernements sur l'Ukraine.
Q - Comment cela se trouve-t-il être contraire au droit international ? Il y a le droit à l'auto-détermination...
R - Ce qui se déroule aujourd'hui en Crimée est contraire au droit international. Il y a un risque d'annexion d'une partie d'un État souverain. Il y a eu une violation de la souveraineté ukrainienne et nous avons appelé la Russie à faire revenir ses troupes vers leurs bases permanentes. Cette violation a été condamnée à la fois par la France, à titre national, et par l'Union européenne.
Q - Y a-t-il aujourd'hui en Crimée des troupes russes supplémentaires à celles qui y étaient déjà stationnées ?
R - Il y a une violation par la Russie de son accord bilatéral avec l'Ukraine. La demande que nous formulons est que les troupes russes retournent dans leurs casernes. Nous sommes également préoccupés par les entraves aujourd'hui opposées aux observateurs militaires de l'OSCE en Crimée. Un libre accès doit leur être garanti.
Q - Et si la Crimée dit oui au référendum le 16 mars ?
R - Nous considérons que le référendum est contraire à la fois à la constitution ukrainienne et au droit international.
Q - Vladimir Poutine évoque le cas du Kosovo pour légitimer l'auto-détermination en Crimée.
R - Il s'agit de deux situations très différentes :
- premièrement, au Kosovo, il n'y avait pas de risque d'annexion d'une partie d'un État souverain par un autre État ;
- deuxièmement, une résolution du conseil de sécurité des Nations unies (résolution 1244 du 10 juin 1999) avait impliqué toute la communauté internationale et mis en place sur le terrain, pour de nombreuses années, une administration provisoire des Nations unies ;
- troisièmement, la cour internationale de justice avait été saisie. Elle a rendu en juillet 2010 une décision concluant à la conformité au droit international de la déclaration d'indépendance du Kosovo de 2008.
Q - S'agissant des sanctions à l'encontre de Moscou, de quoi parle-t-on exactement ? M. Laurent Fabius a parlé d' «annulation»... Quelles sont les mesures décidées ou envisagées ?
R - Une première série de mesures a été prise hier par l'Union européenne. La suspension des négociations avec la Russie sur les visas et sur l'accord global a été décidée. Cela va être mis en oeuvre tout de suite. Ensuite, s'il n'y a pas de désescalade, il y aura des mesures additionnelles, notamment des sanctions ciblées. Il peut s'agir de gel d'avoirs et de refus de visas. Nous n'en sommes pas encore là : ce que nous souhaitons, c'est une désescalade. Nous sommes ouverts au dialogue et souhaitons convaincre la Russie qu'il faut apaiser les tensions et privilégier la voie diplomatique.
Q - Quelles sont les possibilités diplomatiques dans les jours à venir pour parler directement avec les Russes ?
R - Il n'y a pas de rencontre prévue à très court terme, mais nous sommes en contact permanent avec les autorités russes. Le dialogue est constant pour trouver une issue diplomatique à cette crise.
Q - Avez-vous une réaction à l'affaire des écoutes téléphoniques du ministre des affaires étrangères estonien et de Mme Ashton ?
R - Je n'ai pas de commentaire à formuler sur des propos qui auraient été enregistrés à l'insu des intéressés.
Q - En Ukraine la situation est donc de plus en plus tendue, la Russie ne cède rien. Est-ce que Vladimir Poutine a gagné ?
R - Non, et notre attitude dans toute cette crise c'est à la fois de faire preuve de fermeté, parce qu'on ne peut pas accepter que l'intégrité d'un pays, en l'occurrence l'Ukraine, soit bafouée et, en même temps d'essayer de trouver les voies du dialogue.
Avant-hier, il y avait eu une certaine désescalade. Lors de la réunion à Paris, on avait fait se rencontrer tout le monde et il y avait une certaine piste qui était trouvée. Mais hier, cela a été l'inverse puisque le Parlement de Crimée a voté l'annexion, si l'on peut dire.
Q - C'est une annexion ce qui se passe actuellement en Crimée ?
R - Il y a de la part du Parlement de Crimée la volonté d'être rattachée à la Russie. Mais cela ne trompe personne. La démarche est évidemment faite en liaison avec les autorités russes. J'ai fait le relevé d'un certain nombre de choses qui convergent et qui ont été faites ces derniers jours. D'abord les soldats Russes en Crimée, puis une décision qui est passée un peu inaperçue - alors qu'elle est très importante - de M. Medvedev, le Premier ministre russe, disant : «on va construire un pont entre la Russie et la Crimée pour franchir le détroit de Kertch». Ensuite, l'appel du Parlement de Crimée. Puis une loi de la Douma disant : «si une région d'un pays étranger vote son rattachement, nous les Russes, on se laissera faire». Enfin, le texte du référendum qui est proposé, qui est totalement inconstitutionnel et illégal en droit international, qui dit : «soit plus d'autonomie, soit le rattachement à la Russie» avec une date qui a été avancée. Tout cela démontre qu'il y a évidemment une manoeuvre.
Q - Une manoeuvre de Vladimir Poutine ?
R - Bien sûr. Je veux être tout à fait clair. Je suis un ami de la Russie et j'ai toujours défendu le partenariat entre la Russie et la France, qui est quelque chose d'historiquement très important et souhaitable. Cela se traduit par l'effort que nous faisons pour la désescalade. Mais le partenariat ne veut pas dire faiblesse et l'amitié ce n'est pas l'aveuglement. Il faut donc être clair et je trouve qu'il est très important que l'Europe soit unie - et c'est le cas - dans cette crise, qui est, peut-être, l'une des plus graves depuis la Guerre froide. Nous travaillons, en particulier, très étroitement avec nos amis allemands - c'est une instruction du président de la République que nous suivons - et nous travaillons aussi avec les Américains.
J'étais hier à Rome pour une conférence sur la Libye, où j'ai vu Sergueï Lavrov et John Kerry et j'y étais avec mon ami Steinmeier, le ministre allemand des affaires étrangères. Il faut que les Européens soient ensemble, c'est le cas.
Q - Et vous vous sentez en phase ! Je vous repose la question très clairement, Monsieur le Ministre, est-ce que la Russie aujourd'hui a annexé la Crimée ?
R - Pas encore de fait, mais elle la contrôle. Elle est présente avec ses militaires et, si le référendum a lieu, son esprit c'est de dire que la Crimée et la Russie c'est la même chose. Il faut bien voir que, au-delà de cette question de l'Ukraine, qui est déjà une question très grave, il y a une question plus générale.
Q - Vous craignez que les Russes aillent plus loin ?
R - Non, pas seulement ça. Mais si une région dans le monde, que ce soit en Europe, en Asie, en Afrique ou ailleurs, peut - parce qu'elle est sollicitée par un pays voisin - décider de changer les frontières et de se rattacher au pays voisin, cela veut dire qu'il n'y a plus aucune stabilité internationale.
Q - C'est ce qui s'est passé en Géorgie il y a quelques années...
R - Oui, et ce n'est pas du tout un bon exemple.
Q - Les Russes contrôlent de fait aujourd'hui l'Ossétie du Sud et l'Abkhazie ?
R - Et on nous avait dit, à l'époque, que cela ne se passerait pas et cela se passe. Mais il y a une différence - je ne veux pas faire de juridisme - entre le contrôle de fait et le rattachement, c'est-à-dire la disparition d'un pays, le rattachement d'une région à un autre pays. En Géorgie il s'agit de l'Ossétie du Sud et de l'Abkhazie et, de fait, les Russes sont restés là alors qu'ils avaient dit le contraire, mais il n'y a pas eu de rattachement de ces deux provinces à un autre pays.
Q - Laurent Fabius vous protestez encore ce matin contre l'attitude de la Russie, disons les choses très simplement, est-ce que ce n'est pas trop tard ? Est-ce que le sort de la Crimée n'est pas scellé ?
R - Non.
Q - Est-ce que vous avez encore des moyens d'empêcher ce qui est en train de se passer aujourd'hui en Ukraine...
R - Oui ! Et c'est la stratégie...
Q - Et lesquels ?
R - ...que nous poursuivons. Hier vous avez vu qu'une première salve de sanctions ont été prises par les chefs d'État ou de gouvernement. Et s'il n'y a pas des résultats très rapides, il y aura alors de nouvelles mesures en direction des responsables et des entreprises russes.
Q - Y compris en visant personnellement Vladimir Poutine ?
R - Cela peut être des gels d'avoirs, cela peut être des annulations ou des refus de visa. Et, si une autre tentative est faite, alors là on entre dans tout à fait autre chose, c'est-à-dire des conséquences graves relatives aux relations entre l'Europe et la Russie.
Q - Qu'est-ce que c'est les conséquences graves ?
R - Cela veut dire que, si un pays agit d'une manière telle qu'il ne respecte pas les frontières et l'indépendance des autres pays - et nous ne sommes pas loin de l'Union européenne -, cela veut dire que l'on ne pourrait pas du tout, compte tenu de cette hypothèse que je ne souhaite absolument pas et on essaie de faire la désescalade, avoir les mêmes relations que nous avions auparavant. Et l'on reviendrait à ce qu'on connaissait il y a de longues années avec les problèmes énormes que cela va poser pour la Russie.
Q - Mais qu'est-ce que cela signifie pour ceux qui nous écoutent, c'est un retour à la Guerre froide ? C'est l'option d'une guerre ? Qu'est-ce que c'est ?
R - Je ne vais pas à la fois plaider pour la désescalade et en même temps citer des exemples apocalyptiques. Mais cela veut dire que, sur le plan économique, évidemment les relations ne pourraient pas être du tout les mêmes. Cela veut dire que ce serait un coup très dur porté à la Russie parce qu'il ne faut pas oublier que la Russie sur le plan économique est une puissance fragile. La traduction de ce qu'ils sont en train de faire c'est une chute massive du rouble et, probablement, un retrait des investissements étrangers en Russie. Hier, les États-Unis ont discuté de la perspective de pouvoir exporter du gaz pour réduire la dépendance énergétique, donc cela veut dire un changement total de nos relations.
Nous n'en sommes pas là, nous voulons à la fois être fermes - parce que ce qui se passe est inadmissible, il faut que les peuples puissent être soutenus - et, en même temps, nous voulons la désescalade.
Q - Vous ne m'avez pas répondu sur des sanctions possibles contre Vladimir Poutine lui-même ?
R - Il y a une première liste de sanctions qui a été prise par les Européens contre dix-huit personnes ukrainiennes proches de l'ex-président Yanoukovitch et les Américains, eux, ont pris une deuxième liste de sanctions qui peuvent viser soit des Russes, soit des Ukrainiens.
Q - Donc, vous n'excluez pas des sanctions contre Vladimir Poutine ?
R - S'agissant d'un dirigeant d'un État, c'est une affaire différente. En revanche, pour tout ce qu'on appelle le milieu proche, c'est tout à fait possible si les Russes ne comprennent pas qu'il faut revenir à une relation normale, internationale.
Q - Je vous pose la question parce que François Fillon par exemple vous reproche, reproche au gouvernement français, de traiter les Russes - je le cite - comme si c'était une sorte de dictature sud-américaine d'un million d'habitants... de mépriser les Russes finalement ?
R - Oui ! J'ai le souvenir, vous l'avez peut-être aussi, de M. Fillon appelant M. Poutine par son prénom et expliquant que tout cela était parfaitement pacifique. Je ne veux pas personnaliser les choses mais je crois que, dans cette affaire, il vaut mieux soutenir son propre pays que d'apporter un soutien à ceux qui sont en train de violer l'intégrité territoriale de l'Ukraine.
Q - Nous sommes vendredi, les Jeux Paralympiques commencent tout à l'heure à Sotchi, est-ce que vous nous confirmez que le gouvernement français va boycotter la cérémonie d'ouverture de Sotchi ?
R - Nous prenons une attitude qui me paraît très raisonnable. Il n'est pas question de pénaliser les athlètes, car ils ont travaillé dans des conditions très difficiles pour être présents là-bas, ils ont travaillé pendant des mois et il est normal qu'ils puissent concourir. Mais qu'il y ait en plus des ministres français là-bas cela aurait été très inopportun, donc ils ne seront pas là./.
Q - Est-ce que M. Lavrov, est-ce que les Russes, sur l'Ukraine, ont bougé ?
R - Il se trouve que nous avions ici, aujourd'hui, un peu les mêmes participants qu'hier, parce qu'il y avait, outre la France, le Royaume-Uni, l'Allemagne, à la fois nos partenaires américains et les Russes. Nous avons un peu parlé de l'Ukraine. En même temps, il y a d'autres décisions qui se prennent ailleurs, à Bruxelles, aujourd'hui, et puis les États-Unis ont fait connaître un certain nombre de positions. Les choses ont bougé. Revenons à hier soir, puisqu'il faut suivre la totalité du film. Hier soir, nous nous sommes mis d'accord avec les Russes pour essayer de mettre en place un groupe de contact qui comprendra à la fois les Russes, les Ukrainiens bien sûr, les Américains, nous-mêmes, d'autres pays et l'OSCE, et nous nous sommes mis d'accord pour essayer de faire cela. Comment ? En rédigeant des propositions, que M. Lavrov va montrer au président Poutine, et s'il y a accord sur ces propositions, le groupe de contact sera mis en place. Les Russes ne nous ont pas encore donné leur accord, mais nous avons rédigé une proposition, que nous avons d'ailleurs examinée ce matin avec John Kerry. Ça, c'est un élément nouveau. En sens différent, vous avez vu que ce matin, a été rendu publique par le Parlement de Crimée l'idée de soumettre à référendum la question suivante : ou bien une autonomie plus grande de la Crimée, ce qu'on peut admettre, ou bien un rattachement direct à la Russie, alors là on change complètement de système, puisque cela veut dire que l'intégrité territoriale de l'Ukraine ne serait pas respectée, alors que pour nous, l'intégrité territoriale du pays est fondamentale.
Q - On s'opposerait à un rattachement ?
R - J'en parlais avec mon collègue chinois récemment : si vous admettez le principe qu'une région, n'importe laquelle, dans un pays, en contradiction avec les règles constitutionnelles de ce pays, peut décider de se rattacher à un autre pays, surtout si cet autre pays l'a encouragée à le faire, cela veut dire qu'il n'y a plus de paix internationale et de frontières assurées, donc il faut être très vigilant là-dessus. Imaginez ce que cela pourrait vouloir dire en Europe. Telle région, en contradiction avec les règles constitutionnelles et ce que souhaite son gouvernement, déciderait de changer de pays ? Imaginez ce que cela pourrait vouloir dire en Afrique, au Proche et Moyen-Orient, imaginez ce que cela pourrait vouloir dire en Chine ou ailleurs, donc il faut faire très attention à cela. Et puis il y a les décisions qui sont en train d'être prises à Bruxelles, et d'autre part les États-Unis ont rendue publique une première liste de sanctions, donc ce sont des éléments différents. Mais revenons à l'essentiel : pour nous, l'essentiel, c'est, d'une part, de dire que l'intervention russe n'est pas acceptable et qu'il faut faire preuve de fermeté, parce qu'il y a un principe, l'intégrité territoriale, qu'il faut respecter, et de l'autre côté, obtenir une désescalade, et c'est le sens de ce groupe de contact dont nous souhaitons qu'il puisse être mis sur pied rapidement.
Q - A propos des sanctions, les États-Unis ont pris des sanctions, gel des avoirs, etc. Vous avez vu John Kerry, qu'est-ce que vous vous êtes dit ? Quelle est la position de la France ?
R - John Kerry m'a mis au courant de la décision américaine, qu'il avait d'ailleurs déjà laissée entendre hier. Et par ailleurs il y a en ce moment même, je pense que ce n'est pas terminé, une réunion des chefs d'État et de gouvernement à Bruxelles qui délibère précisément de la position qui va être adoptée. Je ne veux pas en préjuger, mais c'est en train d'être discuté, puisque vous m'interrogez, il est deux heures de l'après-midi.
Q - On ne va pas dans le sens d'une désescalade, si d'un côté la Crimée demande le rattachement à la Russie, et de l'autre les Occidentaux, déjà, adoptent des sanctions ?
R - Évidemment, en ce qui concerne l'Ukraine et la Crimée, il ne faut pas qu'il y ait des mesures qui soient prises qui violent l'intégrité territoriale, ça c'est clair. Donc ce qui est souhaité, c'est qu'il y ait une baisse de la pression. En ce qui nous concerne, notre attitude en tant qu'Européens, ce que nous avons décidé déjà lundi, lors de la réunion des ministres des affaires étrangères, c'est d'évoquer des sanctions, mais de les lier à l'escalade ou à la désescalade. Il est évident que par rapport aux actions qui ont été menées par les Russes et à ce qui se passe en Ukraine, on ne peut pas rester sans rien faire. Mais en même temps, il ne faut pas prendre des actions qui empêcheraient cette désescalade. Donc c'est de cela que les chefs d'État et de gouvernement sont en train de discuter en ce moment, et la réponse sera apportée dans quelques dizaines de minutes.
Q - Les Américains, ça va dans quel sens ?
R - Les Américains avaient dit qu'ils prendraient des sanctions ciblées, mais pas la totalité, par exemple, en ce qui concerne les relations économiques, les relations militaires, ou d'autres aspects encore, il n'a pas été décidé de prendre des sanctions. Là, ce sont des mesures qu'on appelle ciblées et qui visent quelques personnes. Et nous avons pris des sanctions qui sont maintenant effectives, qui concernent non pas les Russes mais les Ukrainiens, et en particulier ce que j'appellerais «l'équipe Yanoukovitch», et nous avons pris des sanctions qui sont effectives pour geler les avoirs, parce qu'il y a eu certainement des abus financiers. Nous l'avions annoncé, et nous l'avons fait. Mais cela concerne les Ukrainiens.
Q - Chaque jour, la crise monte ou descend. Aujourd'hui, c'est une journée d'escalade ou de désescalade ?
R - Hier, à Paris, c'était plutôt une journée de désescalade.
Q - Et aujourd'hui ?
R - Aujourd'hui, je dirais que cela dépendra de ce qui sera, dans quelques minutes, décidé à Bruxelles, et cela dépendra aussi de la réaction russe. Merci beaucoup./.
Madame la présidente,
Je l’avais dit en séance de consultations samedi. C’est un sentiment de consternation qui domine lorsque nous voyons ce qui se passe en Ukraine et lorsque nous entendons ce que vient de dire notre collègue russe.
C’est en effet la voix du passé que nous venons d’entendre. J’avais 15 ans en août 1968 lorsque les forces soviétiques sont entrées en Tchécoslovaquie. C’était les mêmes justifications, les mêmes documents exhibés, les mêmes allégations que nous avions entendus. Nous avions espéré qu’avec la construction européenne et l’effondrement du communisme, nous sortirions de ces cauchemars ; nous avions espéré qu’à la logique dangereuse des rapports de force, nous substituerions la coopération dans le respect de l’identité et de l’indépendance de chacun.
Nous voilà ramenés à un monde où la force prime sur le droit ; où toute crise doit avoir un vainqueur et un vaincu ; où la propagande nie la réalité.
Revenons d’abord aux faits, que nulle manipulation ne peut occulter à l’ère de la télévision et de l’internet. Ces faits sont simples. L’armée russe occupe la Crimée, territoire ukrainien, contre la volonté du gouvernement ukrainien, en violation du droit international. Les raisons invoquées sont de flagrantes contre-vérités : non, on ne tue pas aujourd’hui dans les rues de Kiev ; non, on ne menace pas les populations russophones en Crimée ou ailleurs ; oui, il ne s’agit que de prétextes que ceux qui les présentent ne doivent même pas croire tant ils sont grossiers.
En occupant la Crimée, la Russie a pris un gage territorial. L’objectif est clair : amener les autorités de Kiev à résipiscence, les intégrer dans la sphère d’influence de Moscou, et leur rappeler que leur souveraineté est limitée, comme disait autrefois M. Brejnev, après avoir envahi la Tchécoslovaquie.
En un mot, la Russie rétrograde l’Europe de quarante ans. Tout y est : la pratique comme la rhétorique soviétique, la brutalité et la propagande.
Madame la présidente,
La France ne veut pas jouer ce jeu dérisoire qui ne sert les intérêts de personne, et certainement pas des peuples ukrainien et russe. C’est pourquoi, dès le début de la crise, le ministre français des Affaires Etrangères, avec ses collègues allemand et polonais, s’est rendu sur place pour négocier un accord qu’à ce moment la Russie avait d’ailleurs refusé d’endosser, pour l’invoquer aujourd’hui. Lorsque les évènements, la fuite du président et la volte-face du parlement, en ont rendu impossible l’application, la France n’a cessé d’en défendre l’esprit, c’est-à-dire la réconciliation par le biais de la constitution d’un gouvernement d’union nationale et la tenue d’élections sous supervision internationale. C’est ce que propose aujourd’hui le Premier Ministre qui se heurte au refus du parti des régions de rejoindre le gouvernement ; c’est ce que recherche le président par intérim qui a refusé de signer la loi qui, hâtivement et malheureusement, réduisait le rôle de la langue russe.
Fidèles à cette recherche de solution raisonnable, qui respecte les intérêts et les sensibilités de chacun, dans le cadre de l’indépendance et de l’intégrité territoriale de l’Ukraine, six points devraient constituer la base d’une sortie de crise, six points simples qui devraient être acceptés par toute partie respectueuse du droit international.
Tout d’abord, le retour des forces armées russes dans leurs bases, vérifié par des observateurs internationaux.
Deuxièmement, le cantonnement immédiat, le désarmement et la dissolution des éléments paramilitaires et des autres groupes disposant d’armes illégales sous le contrôle d’observateurs internationaux.
Troisièmement, le rétablissement par le Parlement ukrainien de la loi sur les langues régionales.
Quatrièmement, la mise en place d’un haut conseil pour la protection des minorités.
Cinquièmement, la mise en œuvre de la réforme constitutionnelle. Sixièmement, enfin, l’organisation d’élections présidentielles le 25 mai sous l’égide de l’OSCE.
Ce sont des principes simples dont une médiation internationale doit pouvoir négocier la mise en œuvre entre toutes les parties concernées. A cet égard, le Secrétaire Général de notre organisation, en liaison avec l’Union européenne et l’OSCE, a un rôle central à jouer en la matière.
Mais qu’on ne s’y trompe pas, cette volonté de trouver une solution négociée qui réponde aux exigences du droit international, qui préserve les droits de tous les Ukrainiens et qui permette la stabilisation d’une Ukraine démocratique et réconciliée dans son environnement régional ne peut s’accommoder de la persistance des violations du droit international qu’a commises la Russie. La France veut coopérer avec une Russie, avec laquelle elle a une longue histoire commune, mais pas à n’importe quel prix, pas en reniant ses principes et ses valeurs.
Ce que nous avons entendu aujourd’hui de déni de la réalité, de mépris du droit international et de reniement de tout un discours du respect sourcilleux de la souveraineté nationale ne nous incline pas à l’optimisme. La Russie semble revenir à ses vieux démons, en rejouant des rôles démodés dans un décor désuet, à l’affiche d’un théâtre en faillite.
Si elle continuait à ne pas comprendre l’esprit des temps nouveaux et à faire confiance à la force plutôt qu’au dialogue, c’est avec regret mais avec détermination, qu’avec ses partenaires européens, la France ne manquerait pas d’en tirer des conséquences dans les relations avec la Russie. Ce serait un recul dont la Russie serait seule responsable. La France, comme ses partenaires, comme l’ensemble de la communauté internationale, ne demande rien d’autre que le respect du droit international et de la souveraineté ukrainienne que viole brutalement et ostensiblement la Russie.
Nous avons donc tenu une réunion du Conseil de sécurité à la demande de la Fédération de Russie. Nous avons été extrêmement déçus par cette réunion qui ne nous a rien apporté de nouveau. Nous avons vu un ambassadeur de Russie agiter un papier d’un président renversé, nous dire qu’il y avait des nazis qu’il fallait battre. D’une certaine manière, nous avons eu l’impression d’être 50 ans en arrière, vous l’avez entendu. C’est donc un moment extrêmement triste. C’est un moment que nous regrettons car nous pensons que la seule solution doit être une solution politique.
What I said was : As you know, we had a meeting of the Security Council at the request of the ambassador of the Russian Federation. We are extremely disappointed. We saw a Russian ambassador using a piece of paper signed by a deposed president saying that there is a threat of nazism and basically justifying the Russian occupation of Crimea. We were thrown 50 years back.
This meeting was unfortunately totally useless. We were hoping that the ambassador of the Russian Federation would tell us that the Russian Federation is agreeing to mediation but they did not. They said that the government of Kiev has no legitimacy. They said that Mr Yanukovych is the only president, yet nobody knows where he is –except that he is certainly not in Ukraine anymore. And they said that the Russian army is protecting a population against a threat that nobody has so far detected. Again, it is regrettable but we do hope that, eventually, all the political efforts will draw Russia to the table of negotiation and will convince Russia to withdraw their forces from Crimea back to their barracks.
Q : M. l’ambassadeur, une question en français. Vous avez à plusieurs reprises comparé ce qui se passe avec l’intervention russe à la guerre froide et vous venez de le refaire. Est-ce que, finalement, ce n’est pas une manière de reconnaître ce que beaucoup disent, c’est-à-dire que la possibilité pour l’Occident de faire quoi que ce soit est extrêmement limité. Est-ce que finalement les Ukrainiens ne vont pas se retrouver tout seuls comme les Tchécoslovaques dans les années 1960 ?
Justement, nous ne sommes pas en 1960. Il existe aujourd’hui des choses qui n’existaient pas dans les années 1960. Il existe l’internet, il existe la liberté de la presse, il existe une société civile active, qu’elle soit en Ukraine ou qu’elle soit dans la Fédération de Russie. Il y a l’opinion publique mondiale et nous espérons que la Russie comprendra que le chemin vers la prospérité passe par la coopération avec la communauté internationale. Comme mon collègue britannique l’a rappelé, la bourse de Moscou a perdu 13%, le rouble est en recul. Ceci n’est pas un complot. C’est simplement la réaction d’une communauté internationale. En 2014, on ne peut pas se comporter comme en 1968.
Q : Ambassador, why don’t you accept that the legitimacy of the deployment of the Russian forces is based on the letter from Mr Yanukovych ?
What is happening is that the Russian army simply occupied the region of Crimea. That was a decision taken in Moscow. Somebody went and met Mr. Yanukovych and got a signature. But the reality in Ukraine right now is that neither the Parliament –where Mr. Yanukovych used to have the majority- nor the population- recognizes Mr Yanukovych as the president. It was also very moving the way that the Russian Federation referred to the letter of 28 February which was negotiated by the Foreign ministers of France, Poland and Germany. Because at the time it was signed, the Russian Federation did not recognize this agreement and refused to endorse it. Suddenly, they discovered that it exists, only after it is not implementable anymore because things have changed.
What is important at the end of the day is that we have to let Ukrainians decide of their own fate. There will be a presidential election on 25 May, organized by the Ukrainian authorities. They are ready to put this election under OSCE supervision. We will see who wins the election.
Q : Are you saying that it is a false letter ?
It is not a false letter. It is a false president.
Daily Press Briefing
QUESTION: -- others might questions on, too. The White House Sent out a readout of President Obama’s call with the Prime Minister of Japan --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- noting that they agreed that Russia’s actions are a threat to international peace and security, and that they committed to work to insist that Russia abide by its obligations and commitments to Ukraine’s sovereignty. The readout from the Japanese side is rather different and does not mention Russia at all, just mentioning that President Abe supports President Obama’s efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis. How do you explain this discrepancy?
MS. PSAKI: I can’t speak to their readout, and I would point you to my colleagues in the White House, but broadly speaking this call was about engagement and broadening our engagement with a range of our close allies and partners about the situation in Ukraine. Obviously, Japan is an important global partner, and so discussing with them what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, why international unity is important, was the purpose, but I don’t know that we have concerns about that difference in the readouts.
QUESTION: How would you characterize the state of – or the state of coordination between the U.S. and Japan on this issue, specifically?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would let you – I would point you to Japan on how – on their engagement and level of engagement.
QUESTION: But from your perspective.
MS. PSAKI: But of course, they’re an important global partner, and that’s why the President called them, called the prime minister, to talk to him about what we’re doing. And that reflects our relationship, it reflects what an important player they are on the global stage.
QUESTION: Mm-hmm. You’ve said – I mean, you’ve said previously that disagreements between the U.S. and Japan happen, it’s part of being such a close partner and ally and that when you do, you express them. But would you say there are some --
MS. PSAKI: I would characterize this as a disagreement at all.
QUESTION: But would you say that there are some disagreements or some tensions regarding this issue, I mean --
MS. PSAKI: What – with whom?
QUESTION: Well, Japan has --
MS. PSAKI: I didn’t say with Japan.
QUESTION: No, with Japan on the issue of how to approach the Ukraine crisis.
MS. PSAKI: I didn’t say there was disagreement.
QUESTION: No, I know. I’m asking you --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- if you would say that there are disagreements or if there are some tensions with Japan on how you approach this issue.
MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of. I would point you them if they have concerns or disagreements, but not that I’ve seen or that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: So – okay. Just finally, are you concerned that Japan’s higher demand for fossil fuels post-Fukushima, which Russia is a very prominent supplier of, is – represents kind of an obstacle in presenting – in approaching the Ukraine crisis with Japan and with other allies who are also consumers of Russian goods?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, there are a range of countries that have greater trade and economic relationships with Russia than the United States does, and we certainly recognize that. Our preference here is not to keep hyping up sanctions; our preference here is to find an end to this conflict that’s happening through engagement, through discussion – Russia can take the off-ramp. So we recognize that, but we also think it’s important for countries to be unified given what’s happened here in Ukraine and that’s certainly what the President and Secretary are expressing to a range of our global partners.
QUESTION: Staying with that --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- in the phone call last night between the presidents – between the two presidents, there was some suggestion from President Obama about some kind of mediation --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- that the Russians and Ukrainians need to sit down together. Does he have any idea of or is there any idea within the – percolating within the Administration as to what kind of structure or who should lead the mediation?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, there’s – Secretary Kerry talked a little bit about this yesterday. But that’s part of the discussion, is what – there are a range of formats that are possible. Certainly the United States is happy and willing to be a part of that. The issue here is getting Russia and the new government in Ukraine at the same table, having a discussion, and there are a range of partners and players in the international community that can be a part of that. So that’s what’s being talked about now.
QUESTION: But I mean, would you see it more in a kind of formal setting, such as through the United Nations, or would this be something that, perhaps, like you said, maybe the United States would be willing to be a partner to that, but would Russia necessarily want the United States involved in a mediation of this nature?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. It’s a good question. It’s what’s being talked about now. It doesn't necessarily have to be through the UN. The UN has obviously been engaged what’s been – with what’s happening on the ground and they’ve been on the ground. But there are also a range of partners who have been very closely engaged in this in Ukraine as well. So that’s all what’s being talked about right now.
QUESTION: Did you see the presidential – the Russian president spokesman’s comments about the idea of Western mediation? I think Dmitry Peskov said, “This makes us smile.” He seemed – essentially seemed to find the idea risible, laughable, ridiculous. He evoked no interest in it whatsoever. Do you – is that constructive from your point of view?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that doesn’t reflect the discussions that have been happening with the Russians, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, with other officials about a range of options for a contact group and for a discussion with the new Government of Ukraine.
QUESTION: I mean, you do see the difficulty? The Russians are obviously wary of European involvement given the history of Ukraine and why the Russians stepped into all this. And then, obviously, they’d be perhaps a bit leery of any kind of U.S. involvement. So that kind of leaves you – well, who would be in this contact group and who would be leading it?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Jo, the --
MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.) Though Russia is fairly isolated here from where the international community is, so there are not a lot of options for partners or members of the contact who have not stated that the steps they’ve taken are illegal and inappropriate, there are still partners who would be willing to and happy to be a part of bringing an end to this through diplomatic channels regardless of that. So we’ll see what happens. But that’s what was – the President was referring to in the statement.
QUESTION: Can you – on Russia --
QUESTION: Ukraine’s new prime minister --
MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do one at a time.
QUESTION: Related --
MS. PSAKI: Ukraine? Okay.
QUESTION: On Russia.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: You were talking about Russia is isolated and so on. Today began the Paralympics and, in fact, 48 countries are participating in Sochi. The largest team is the American team. It has, like, 80 members, followed closely by Russia. So how is that – how does that work into this equation of isolation and so on, and sanctions?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the White House announced this, Said, I think a couple of days ago. But the United States is no longer sending a presidential delegation to the upcoming Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi. Of course, we continue to strongly support the U.S. athletes and we certainly don’t want them to be hurt by this process, but they will participate. We wish them great success, but we won’t be sending a presidential delegation which does send a strong message.
QUESTION: Okay. But in a way – I mean, no presidential delegation was sent. I mean, I understand that the President for the Winter Olympics designated a team led by, I suppose, a lower level.
MS. PSAKI: That’s true, but that was before this all happened, and that was unrelated to this.
QUESTION: Did you see, then, that the Ukrainian team decided to – not to pull out of the Paralympics because they decided they wanted to have a presence there?
MS. PSAKI: I didn’t see that, but that’s interesting and --
QUESTION: Well, they wanted to show that they – according to their statements, they wanted to show that Ukraine is in – a sovereign nation, and as a sovereign nation, should take part in the Olympics.
MS. PSAKI: Sure. And certainly, we all support the athletes, our athletes as well. So --
QUESTION: Ukraine’s prime minister said on Wednesday that Ukraine’s ridding itself of nuclear weapons in agreements with Russia in part invited this intervention, and that the international community’s failure to protect Ukraine was harming efforts, nuclear nonproliferation efforts. He specifically pointed to what Iran would be learning from this. Do you have a comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: I actually haven’t seen those comments, so I’ll check and see if we have anything to add.
QUESTION: Has Secretary Kerry spoken with Foreign Minister Lavrov since they met and since he said he was taking ideas back to Putin? And if he hasn’t, are there any calls scheduled, and --
MS. PSAKI: He did speak with him this morning, but it was right before I came down, so I didn’t have a chance to get a readout of the call. But we can get something around to all of you once that’s available.
QUESTION: And that would have been from the plane?
MS. PSAKI: Yes, from the plane, mm-hmm.
QUESTION: To Bangladesh?
MS. PSAKI: Let’s just finish – do we have any more on Ukraine?
MS. PSAKI: Ukraine, in the back.
QUESTION: What’s the current thinking on the response if the referendum in Crimea goes ahead? There’s been strong language about that proposal.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is there a different or slightly separate set of options that are being considered if it happens?
MS. PSAKI: Look, I think we’re taking this day by day and week by week. I think you heard the President, Secretary Kerry, a range of officials say yesterday that it’s – that step is not recognized by the constitution. It wouldn’t be legitimate, according to the constitution of – the Ukrainian constitution, and that our view is that the new government needs to be a part of any conversation or discussion.
There is some irony here in that the Russians are not supporting the elections in May, or they’re against the elections in May, which would be the most widespread democratic step that could be taken that reflects the views of all of the people of Ukraine. So I don’t think that should be lost on anyone. But what I would – we’re taking this day by day, and so obviously, our focus now is getting the Ukrainians and the new government of Ukraine and the Russians back at the table, and there are a range of formats and options for that. We’ll see where we are at that point.
QUESTION: But --
QUESTION: And just one more?
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Putin’s spokesperson has just said they fear ethnic cleansing in Crimea. What’s your response to that? And what is the U.S. doing to verify these repeated claims coming from Russia?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t think there is evidence of that. I know that they have been making accusations about far right ultra-nationalists and what steps they’ve been taking. Some respected organizations in the United States, including the Anti-Defamation League, have expressed their concerns about rhetoric being used, and we certainly condemn that. But again, I wouldn’t – I think we’ve seen a range of comments made that are not matched with the facts on the ground.
QUESTION: Can I ask a question?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you think that – and forgive me if this came up --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- at some point this week and I missed it, but you all but called President Putin a liar in your fact sheet the other day. You accused him of making “false claims.” You talked about comments of his that were fiction.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Why is that helpful to your effort to secure a diplomatic solution here?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad, I think the most powerful antidote to false information is the truth, and while of course we have continued to – and in every statement that’s made publicly – offer an off-ramp to the Russians, there’s also a range of information – misinformation that is out there. And so it’s important in our view to communicate what the facts are, and that needs to be a starting point or an important point in the process as we litigate this further. Again, I don’t think that anyone is really offended by a piece of paper. This really was used to convey accurate information to a range of people and a range of countries, because there’s a lot of misinformation out there.
QUESTION: I think the Russian foreign ministry was offended by the piece of paper. People can be offended by a single word. And I – the reason I asked is simply whether you think this has in any way – and it may not have – made your diplomacy harder, particularly with Putin since you called him out by name.
MS. PSAKI: Not at all. Not in a – for a moment. There are multiple paths that we need to take, and we’re doing that beyond that one document, including the announcement yesterday about sanctions and visa bans. And putting that necessary pressure on, we feel is essential while at the same time pursuing the diplomatic path.
QUESTION: But wait. You’re saying that you don’t think gratuitously insulting the president of Russia is in any way – in any way makes your job – makes the diplomatic job harder?
MS. PSAKI: I think we were putting out accurate information when there was a range of misinformation that was out there --
QUESTION: Right. Understood, but I mean --
MS. PSAKI: -- and there was a void of the actual facts.
QUESTION: Yeah, but you did go out of your way, and I think you were quite – not you, maybe not you personally, but the building itself was quite happy and pleased with itself over – with the Dostoevsky quote and this kind of thing. I mean, it was clearly something that there was some glee behind it. And I guess I’m asking, are – you say absolutely not, you don’t think it’s made the diplomatic work any more difficult, in response to Arshad’s question. I just wonder how you can say that, that you don’t believe that insulting someone like this is going to hurt.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we look at it that way. We laid out the specific facts of what’s happening, given there’s a great deal of misinformation out there, Matt. At the same time, there were discussions and negotiations that were happening on the ground in Paris and Rome. At the same time, we made a decision to put in place a visa ban and move forward with the authority for sanctions.
QUESTION: Okay. So --
MS. PSAKI: This is not a unilateral exercise here where we’re just taking one step at a time.
QUESTION: Well, I – yeah, and I understand that. But in the middle of all this very serious work that’s going on, you guys come out with a statement that takes – let’s call it what it is, it takes pot shots at the guy and insults him, which is not – which is entertaining, certainly, but not always the way, or not, certainly, in keeping with the kind of staid diplomatic striped pants kind of language and conduct of the past. So I’m just – you stand by this – you stand by – behind your statement that, no, that you don’t think that this has made things – this has made the atmosphere more difficult?
MS. PSAKI: Discussions and engagement has continued --
QUESTION: Continued despite --
MS. PSAKI: -- throughout the course of the last couple of days.
QUESTION: And do you know, in your conversations with Marie or with anyone else on the plane --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- has Lavrov mentioned this to the Secretary at all?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on that.
QUESTION: You don’t know?
QUESTION: And you probably don’t know this either --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- and you are probably too smart to comment on it, but I wondered if it came up in President Obama’s --
QUESTION: Try. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I wonder if it came up in President Obama’s hour-long conversation with President Putin.
MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, Arshad, but we’ll let you all know if there’s more to report.
QUESTION: A quick one on Russia?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have more information on past U.S. sanctions against Russia other than – was it Magnitsky List that you mentioned yesterday?
MS. PSAKI: No, there’s not – not since then. Obviously, there’s a long history, and I’m sure you can find that information, but not since then.
MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on Ukraine just before we move on? Okay, Turkey. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Okay. Just two quick questions. In Turkey, more than 500,000 people, including senior government officials, journalists, and business leaders have had their communications tapped and disseminated on social media. I was wondering if you had any comment on that, and also how the Administration would react to a similar situation, if you could, at all, say anything about that.
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me say, as we’ve previously said a number of times, but it’s worth repeating, we share the serious concerns raised by the OSCE and others that the recently amended internet law has the potential to severely restrict free expression, freedom of the press, and access to information over the internet. That’s something we remain concerned about, and obviously we’ve seen, to your point, that manifest itself in some ways.
I didn’t really understand your second question.
QUESTION: It was just if you could comment on how – I’m not sure we even got the first question, just if you had any comment on the fact that more than 500,000 people have had their communications wiretapped and disseminated on social media. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: Oh. I haven’t seen the report on that, so no, I don’t have any comment on that.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York, NY
March 6, 2014
Ambassador Power: Good afternoon, everybody. We have just received a very disturbing briefing from Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on the situation in Ukraine and the unacceptable treatment of Special Envoy Serry in Crimea.
We condemn the attack on Envoy Serry. And we have made clear over the past – as we have made clear over the past few days, getting monitors into Crimea is a critical task and one the Russians should welcome, given their stated concern for ethnic Russians in Ukraine. We are also extremely concerned about reports that the so-called Deputy Prime Minister of Crimea has called Ukrainian military units stationed in Crimea an occupying force. They are not.
As President Obama made clear earlier today, there is a way to resolve this crisis that respects the interests of the Russian Federation, as well as the Ukrainian people. Let international monitors into all of Ukraine, including Crimea, to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are being respected, including ethnic Russians. Begin consultations between the government of Russia and Ukraine, with the participation of the international community. Supporting the people of Ukraine as they move to elections in May is critical so that they can choose their leaders without outside intimidation.
That is the path of de-escalation. And Secretary Kerry is engaged in discussions with all of the relevant parties, including Russia and Ukraine, to pursue that path. But if this violation of international law continues, the resolve of the United States and our allies and the international community will remain firm.
You saw that earlier today President Obama signed an executive order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people, among other things. And today in Brussels, our allies also took steps to impose costs on Russia. I am confident that we are moving forward together, united in our determination to oppose actions that violate international law and to support the government and the people of Ukraine.
That includes standing up for the principle of state sovereignty, so I also want to say a word about the referendum that we’ve seen so much about today. The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution. The Ukrainian constitution makes clear that any measure altering the territory of Ukraine must be decided by an all-Ukrainian national referendum. We will not recognize the results of a referendum of this nature. Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.
So, again, we want to make clear what is and is not happening in Ukraine, and why it’s so important to get monitors into Crimea. And we call on Russia to allow UN and OSCE monitors to gather the facts on the ground, so that they cannot continue to be twisted as we have seen.
It is not too late, but every day – particularly with moves like that made today in Crimea – the risk of military escalation increases.
With that, I will take a few questions.
Reporter: Ambassador, you just heard your colleague, Mark Lyall Grant, say that it’s unlikely that the Security Council will produce any sort of product in the coming days. The Council appears quite clearly deadlocked on the issue. Does that bother you, and do you see any point in continuing this exercise which sort of has Cold War echoes to it?
And did you get any sense of the Russians changing their position? Is there any movement towards compromise? A few days ago there was some hope that President Putin was indicating, you know, that they were moving in a direction that was more acceptable for Europe and the United States.
Ambassador Power: Thank you for that. First, let me say that I think the word “deadlock” suggests a kind of even, 8-7, deadlock among Council members, and that’s not at all the nature of the discussions, as I think you heard in the public sessions as well, where Russia finds itself extremely isolated. Every Council member has stressed over the course of the last few days the importance of the UN Charter, the importance of territorial integrity, the importance of sovereignty, etc; and raised great concerns on the potential for escalation. So, I think there is utility in coming together in order to highlight, particularly in these public meetings, the extent of Russia’s isolation as it takes the moves that it has taken.
I would also note that, of course, part of what we’re doing is also trying to engage the UN Secretariat. And, so even without a Council product, we have succeeded, I think, as a Council, with overwhelming support within the Council, if not unanimity, we have succeeded in sending a message to the Secretary General. And he has embraced the plea, again, not just from the Security Council but I think from the broader UN membership, to get involved. And he’s of course sent not only Robert Serry, but then Jan Eliasson, the Deputy Secretary General, the highest envoy the Secretary General himself could send. And now Assistant Secretary General Simonovich, who will be there will a slightly larger team doing fact-finding on the human rights and other fronts. So, the challenge, I think, is that, you know, monitors keep encountering the same resistance in Crimea. So the practical challenge is really about, will Russia at some point stand up and call on the Crimean authorities and use their own authority that they’ve established on the ground with their military maneuvers and so forth, to ensure the safety and the access for the international communities that are sent by this institution? And Russia is very much a part of this institution. And so that’s, again, the message that we continue to send.
In terms of hope for, you know, a negotiated way out of this perilous moment, I would just say, again, that Secretary Kerry has continued to engage Foreign Minister Lavrov, European foreign ministers. We are certainly not giving up. You heard from President Obama today that while we have put an executive order down that would include sanctions for those violating territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, as well as those who steal assets, as well as those whole commit human rights abuses, our goal here is to pull Russia back from the brink, and to look out, again, for the interests and the welfare of the Ukrainian people. So our goal is what it has been from the beginning of this crisis, which is that there’s a diplomatic way out of this pathway.
Reporter: Ambassador, do you think the referendum is a negotiating point or do you think they really want to split the Ukraine and make it part of Russia? And secondly, could you kindly comment on the Central African Republic? Your position had been rumored as hesitating on building up peacekeeping forces, coming up with money. But today, people said you were all for it. So, could you explain it?
Ambassador Power: Yes – sorry, what was your first question on the referendum? My mind migrated to a different continent – negotiating, yes. I think what’s important to state about the referendum is simply that it is illegitimate, illegal under the Ukrainian constitution, as I’ve described it. I’m not going to speculate on the motives either of those who’ve announced that they’re going to hold referendum or on those members of the Security Council – the member of the Security Council – who appears to be supporting the Crimeans in this maneuver beyond to say that this would be highly destabilizing and would further polarize the situation, and gravely enhance the risk of escalation.
With regard to Central African Republic, I think there has been a lot of misinformation that have accompanied our negotiations over many, many months. As you know, I traveled to the Central African Republic in December. President Obama has made $100 million available to lift and equip and train African Union troops. And, indeed, I was present when some of those troops were brought in on American planes – the Burundians. We’ve worked very closely with the Rwandans as well to get them in there in a timely fashion. And both of those troop contributors I think have done a heroic job in next to impossible circumstances on the ground.
So we always said that it was a false choice between strengthening MISCA and the question of whether and when there would be a UN peacekeeping force. I think now that you have a European Union force deploying, alongside a French force, alongside an African Union force, alongside a UN mission, there’s no question that bringing those strands together and creating a multidimensional, comprehensive peacekeeping mission is the right next step for CAR. And that’s why we, upon reading the Secretary-General’s report, you know, are in a position today to say very plainly that we support the transition as envisaged, and now we just got to negotiate what the details of that mission are.
Merkel: Krim-Referendum ist unrechtmäßig
Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel hat in mehreren Telefonaten die Haltung der Bundesregierung zu den jüngsten Entwicklungen in der Ukraine thematisiert. Gegenüber dem russischen Präsidenten Wladimir Putin vertrat sie mit Nachdruck die deutsche Position, dass das geplante Referendum auf der Krim illegal sei.
Das Referendum verstoße gegen die ukrainische Verfassung und internationales Recht, so Merkel. Wie Regierungssprecher Steffen Seibert mitteilte, bedauerte die Bundeskanzlerin in dem Telefonat, dass bei der Aufstellung einer internationalen Kontaktgruppe keine Fortschritte erzielt worden seien. Merkel habe auf die Dringlichkeit hingewiesen, hier endlich zu einem substantiellen Ergebnis zu kommen.
Telefonat mit Erdoğan
Zuvor hatte Merkel in einem Telefonat mit dem türkischen Ministerpräsidenten Erdoğan ebenfalls über die jüngsten Entwicklungen in der Ukraine gesprochen.
In einer gemeinsamen Erklärung betonten beide Regierungschefs, dass die Souveränität, territoriale Integrität und politische Einheit der Ukraine unbedingt geschützt werden müssten. Das für den 16. März geplante Referendum bezeichneten sie als "sowohl äußerst bedenklich wie auch unrechtmäßig".
Um die aktuelle Krise zu überwinden, müssten Verpflichtungen eingehalten werden, die sich aus dem internationalen Recht und den bilateralen sowie multilateralen Abkommen ergeben. Darin sind sich Erdoğan und Merkel einig. Von großer Bedeutung seien die Bestrebungen zur Bildung einer Internationalen Kontaktgruppe und eines Ausschusses zur Untersuchung der gewalttätigen Vorfälle der vergangenen Wochen.
In der Erklärung sprachen sich beide Regierungschefs außerdem für eine zeitnahe Befassung des UN-Sicherheitsrates, des OSZE-Ministerrates und des Ministerkomitees des Europarates mit der Krise aus.