Deep Crisis in Ukraine Cannot Be Resolved by Winning War Against Own People – Lavrov

"Our stand is crystal clear – we want peace in Ukraine which can only be attained through broad national dialogue in which all regions and all political forces of the country must participate," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview. © RIA Novosti. Evgeny Biatov

“Our stand is crystal clear – we want peace in Ukraine which can only be attained through broad national dialogue in which all regions and all political forces of the country must participate,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview.
© RIA Novosti. Evgeny Biatov

 

RIA NOVOSTI – INTERVIEW

Kiev has been conducting a special military operation in eastern Ukraine aimed at suppressing the region’s independence supporters since mid-April.
Over 2,000 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured since the operation started, according to the UN reports. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shared his thoughts on the Ukrainian crisis in an interview.

Minister Lavrov, there has been repeated speculation, particularly in Western media, that Russian troops could be deployed in Ukraine and even that they have already crossed the border into Ukrainian territory. Is such an action possible in your view?

Sergei Lavrov: Unfortunately, mass media continue to spread rumours, distorted information and even outright lies. Recently there were claims by Ukraine that its artillery destroyed an armoured column that had allegedly crossed from Russia into Ukraine, and two British newspapers even said they witnessed the incursion. No evidence, however, was presented, and even the US State Department could not confirm the incident. We view all such stories as part of an information war.

But a real war is happening on the ground. What can Russia do to resolve this crisis?

Sergei Lavrov: Our stand is crystal clear – we want peace in Ukraine which can only be attained through broad national dialogue in which all regions and all political forces of the country must participate.

This is what Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine have agreed upon in Geneva on 17 April. At a recent meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine in Berlin no one objected to confirming the Geneva Statement. The point is for Kiev to stop war games and to abandon the illusion that the deep crisis in Ukraine can be resolved by winning the war against your own people. It is deeply saddening that the US and the EU continue to blindly support anything Kiev does.

Let’s recall another document which Kiev and the West are trying to forget. On February 21 an agreement on settling the crisis was signed by Yanukovych, Yatsenyuk, Klichko and Tyagnibok and witnessed by Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Poland. They say now that the agreement “has been superseded by events” because Yanukovych left the country. But let me remind my colleagues that the 21 February agreement listed the commitment to form a government of national unity as number one priority. Does this goal depend on the personality of Yanukovych? Isn’t national unity a universal principle for any country which wants to stay in one piece? Instead of honoring this commitment the then opposition leaders staged an armed coup and publicly declared that they created a “government of the winners”. Unfortunately, the “winner takes it all” logic remains the thrust of Kiev’s actions resulting in thousands of victims among civilians, hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons, as well as almost totally destroyed social infrastructure in many cities and towns in Eastern Ukraine.

There has been much talk of a new Cold War in relations between the West and Russia, with the United States and the European Union having imposed economic sanctions. If they pursue a further hardening of sanctions, how can Russia respond?

Sergei Lavrov: Attempts to settle any crisis by unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the UN Security Council decisions threaten international peace and stability. Such attempts are counterproductive and contradict norms and principles of the international law.

It is absolutely unacceptable to talk to Russia – and to anyone, for that matter – in the language of ultimatums and coercive measures.  Our response to unilateral steps by the United States, the EU and some other countries has been balanced and in line with the rights and obligations of Russia under international treaties, including WTO.

But sanctions continue to be threatened and implemented. Will Russia respond to new measures against it?

Sergei Lavrov: It is not at all our choice, but there should be no doubt that we will do whatever is necessary to protect our legitimate interests, including the interests of national security in all its dimensions. That was the basis of our decision to restrict import of agricultural and food products from several states which had adopted sectorial economic sanctions against Russia for the duration of one year.

But Russia does not want to proceed along the road of escalation. We hope that the US, the European Union and others heed to the voice of reason and put an end to these meaningless tit-for-tat vicious circle which they themselves started.

The crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 brought even more horror to the region. How does Russia view the investigation into what happened to the aircraft over eastern Ukraine?

Sergei Lavrov: The downing of the Malaysian plane is a shocking tragedy. Since it happened on 17 July we have been calling for an open and objective international investigation. It is impossible to explain why the Ukrainian authorities, who bear full responsibility for the safety of international flights over the territory of their country, had not closed the airspace over the area of combat.

The Resolution 2166 adopted by the UN Security Council on 21 July provides for a full, thorough and independent investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.

Unfortunately, from the very beginning we have been witnessing attempts to conceal evidence and to hinder the implementation of that resolution. The demand  for a ceasefire in the area of the crash was ignored by the Ukrainian authorities for more than 10 days, and our proposal to call for full respect of Resolution 2166 was blocked in the Security Council by the US, UK and Lithuania. At the same time those very countries and some others started spreading unfounded accusations against Russia.

Let me reiterate that Russia is fully committed to the international investigation in full compliance with Resolution 2166. We would like to see the International Civil Aviation Organisaton take a more active role in the matter, and we believe that the UN and ICAO should coordinate international efforts to ensure early and convincing results of the investigation. Russia is the only country which officially presented to the international community the data related to the incident as received through our space monitoring capacity. Others are still to provide the evidence they possess.

Do you think all of the evidence related to the crash will be made available so that investigators can establish exactly what happened?

Sergei Lavrov: We formally put forward a number of questions on our part that remain unanswered. For example, where are the transcripts of exchange between the pilots of MH17 and the Ukrainian air controllers and why were they not presented to the international community? Why did the controllers instruct the flight to enter the zone of war conflict? What was a Ukrainian Air Force plane doing in the vicinity of the Malaysian Boeing right before the incident? What is happening to the wreckage at the crash site and why has it not been thoroughly examined by the appropriate international investigating authorities? To what extent can an objective and independent investigation be assured without safe and unimpeded access of experts to the crash site, where Kiev continues its war activity in violation of the UNSC Resolution 2166? And where is the documented evidence of claims by the US officials regarding the causes of the downing of the aircraft?

We hope to get answers to these and other questions both from the states which took the leading role in the international investigation and from those who made unsubstantiated public statements. The truth must be revealed. That was our strong demand at the recent meeting of the UN Security Council while some member States showed little enthusiasm in pursuing the investigation in a transparent and accountable manner.

We must not allow the investigation of MH17 crash to be manipulated into oblivion like it already happened to investigations of many Ukrainian tragedies, including a sniper assault against civilians in Kiev in February, massacres in Odesa  and Marioupol in May and others. We are determined to insist on bringing all those who bear responsibility for these crimes to justice.

The cost in human life of this conflict has already been high and tens of thousands of people have been displaced because of the fighting. How do you view the humanitarian situation in Ukraine?

Sergei Lavrov: The humanitarian situation in Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine is catastrophic and continues to deteriorate. And it is not only our view. This assessment is widely shared in the United Nations, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in the International Committee of the Red Cross and in the Council of Europe.

More than two thousand people have been killed and over five thousand wounded, many of them children. There is acute shortage of food and medicine and growing risk of outbreaks of infectious deceases. Over 200 thousand people in Luhansk are deprived of electricity, drinking water and means of communication.
A lot of people have fled the area of the conflict. Since 1 April nearly 775 thousand Ukrainian citizens entered the Russian territory, and 190 thousand Ukrainians applied for a refugee status in Russia. Temporary shelters have been put up in our country to accommodate tens of thousands of refugees.

Under these circumstances it is crucial to ensure immediate supply of humanitarian aid to the people of southeastern Ukraine. Humanitarian issues must bring together all people who act in good faith trying to alleviate the suffering of people in dire need – especially women, children and the elderly.

But Russia has been sending aid. What has happened with the humanitarian convoy?

Sergei Lavrov: Russia in cooperation with the ICRC sent a humanitarian convoy of around 300 trucks carrying 2000 tons of medical supplies, food, sleeping bags, power generators and other basic commodities. The convoy was ready to move as early as 17 August, but was delayed primarily due to procrastination tactics employed by Kiev authorities though they had recognized the cargo as humanitarian aid of the ICRC and sent Ukrainian border guards and customs officers to monitor all procedures at the Russian check point Donetsk.

We urge the Ukrainian government to deliver on its promises and to facilitate safe and unhindered passage of future humanitarian assistance. We also hope that our partners in the West and international organizations fully understand the magnitude of the disaster and contribute in practical terms to meeting the basic needs of the civilian population in southeastern Ukraine.

But the central task in the efforts to stop the suffering of civilians in Ukraine remains, of course, in reaching a ceasefire. People are dying, and civilian infrastructure is being destroyed every day. We firmly believe that ceasefire must be unconditional and open the way for serious political dialogue and constitutional reform process with the participation of all regions and all political constituencies of Ukraine, as agreed by the EU, Russia, Ukraine and the US in Geneva Statement of 17 April 2014.

Western Sanctions Against Russia Illegal, Beyond National Jurisdiction – Russian Lawmaker

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) – Western countries are going beyond their national jurisdiction by imposing sanctions against Russia, as such measures are illegal, Russia’s lower house speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Thursday.

“Such actions are illegal and thus void, and not only because they are unilateral. Apparently, some Western leaders, especially from overseas, imagine themselves judges when arbitrarily finding someone guilty and identifying responsibility for entire countries and nations,” the speaker said.

“They [Western leaders] do not mind that this issue is completely beyond their jurisdiction,” Naryshkin added.

The time of confrontations between empires has gone, but containment policies against Russia “and geopolitical ploys aimed at weakening it are still present. These are the real reasons behind the replication of cold war methods as well as various sanctions and black lists,” the parliamentarian concluded.

On Tuesday, the United States as well as the European Union announced new rounds of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Washington introduced sanctions on three more Russian banks, namely VTB, the country’s second-largest bank, the Bank of Moscow and Russian Agricultural Bank, as well as state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation. The EU agreed on a new set of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia, which are to go into effect tomorrow, August 1.

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that it was involved with the eastern Ukrainian militia and called the “language of sanctions” counterproductive.

 

Ukrainian Air Defense Exercises Might be Behind Malaysian Aircraft Crash – Source

Malaysia Airlines Boing's crash site

Malaysia Airlines Boing’s crash site

BY RIANOVOSTI

Topic: Malaysia Airlines Boeing Crashes in Ukraine

MOSCOW, July 25 (RIA Novosti) – A system mix up during a Ukrainian air defense units’ rocket launch exercise could be the cause of the Malaysia Airlines crash in southeast Ukraine, a source from one of the Ukrainian defense departments told RIA Novosti.

“On July 17 the commanding officer of 156th Anti-Aircraft Regiment was instructed to conduct a training exercise of ground troops stationed near Donetsk, which involved deploying the troops, and carrying out a routine tracking and destroying of targets with the Buk-M1 missile,” the source said.

The source added that the actual launch of the rockets was not intended.

Two Sukhoi Su-25 combat aircraft on a reconnaissance mission participated in the exercise. It is likely at some point, the routes of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 and a Su-25 jet overlapped. Despite flying at different levels, they became a single dot on the radar of the missile system. Of the two, the system automatically chose a larger target.

The reasons for the actual missile launch taking place remain unknown and are still under investigation, as practical exercises with the Buk missiles has been prohibited since 2001, when a Russian Tu-154 passenger airplane en route from Novosibirsk to Tel Aviv was shot down by the Ukrainian military.

At the moment, an international team of 24 experts is investigating the plane crash. The B777-200 aircraft had a clean maintenance record and was last checked on July 11 at Malaysia Airlines’ hangar at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 near the city of Donetsk in Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Kiev placed the blame on the independence supporters in eastern Ukraine for shooting the plane down, but the latter insisted they did not have the means to shoot down an aircraft flying at 32,000 feet.

Flight MH17 Crash Resulted From Ukraine’s Disregard of ICAO Regulations

BY RIANOVOSTI

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crash site

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crash site

MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) – The Ukrainian government is responsible for the tragic Malaysia Airlines plane crash as Kiev is under binding international legal obligations articulated in the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and ICAO regulation DOC 9554/932.

Ukraine ratified the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation in 2003, which automatically classifies Ukraine as a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with all the associated legal obligations applicable upon signing.

An amendment to the Chicago Convention, the so-called Article 3bis, obliges the signatories to “refrain from resorting to the use of weapons against civil aircraft in flight,” as such behavior goes out of line with the standards and norms regulating cross-country interactions. Hence, no country can use ongoing military confrontation on its territory as a right to attack a commercial plane or other types of civil aircraft

Additionally, the ICAO clearly defines in its Manual Concerning Safety Measures Relating to Military Activities Potentially Hazardous to Civil Aircraft Operations, that “the responsibility for initiating the co-ordination process rests with the States whose military forces are engaged in the conflict,” pursuant to Paragraph 10.2 of the respective international agreement. In other words, safe passage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 through Ukrainian airspace should have been coordinated well in advance, as stipulated in the manual.

Better yet, incomplete coordination or lack thereof does not relieve the state of its safety obligations, as “the responsibility for instituting special measures to ensure the safety of international civil aircraft operations remains with the states responsible for providing air traffic services in the airspace affected by the conflict, even in cases where coordination is not initiated or completed.” This excludes any loophole that might be used by Ukraine to evade being held accountable for the tragedy.

A Malaysia Airlines plane heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed July 17 near the city of Donetsk in Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. United Nations, Russia and heads of several countries stressed an importance of a transparent international investigation to determine the circumstances and causes of the accident.

Meanwhile, Kiev accused the independence supporters in the turbulent Donetsk Region of downing the passenger plane with a surface-to-air missile. The leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic said local militia did not have the means to shoot down a target at flying at such a high altitude.

In a July 21 briefing, representatives of the Russian military released some of the data gathered as part of the probe into the July 17 crash, stating that Russian monitoring systems detected up to four Ukrainian Buk M1 air defense systems in the vicinity of the crash on the day of the accident. Compounded with increased activity of Ukrainian radars and a military aircraft approaching the passenger plane sometime before the disaster, it looks like Kiev has more questions to answer.

While the investigation into the crash is still underway, Kiev’s breach of international agreements provoking the tragedy can hardly be denied.

Russia Hands Data on MH17 Crash to EU, Awaits Reaction – Russia’s EU Envoy

Russia’s envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov

Russia’s envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov

 

 08:50 23/07/2014

BRUSSELS, July 23 (RIA Novosti) — Russia handed all of its Defense Ministry’s data on the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine to the European Union, but has seen no reaction yet, Russia’s envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said Wednesday.

“We handed it [data] on Tuesday, as soon as we got it in writing in Russian and English. We forwarded it to all the people concerned,” Chizhov told journalists in Brussels.

“There has been no reaction so far,” Chizhov added.

Russia’s Defense Ministry revealed on Sunday its information on the situation in the Donetsk Region ahead of the Boeing 777 crash last Thursday. The presented data raised questions for Kiev, as it showed an unusual activity of Ukrainian combat forces on the day of the tragedy, a Buk missile system placed near the territory held by independence supporters, and a military plane that approached the Malaysian airliner just before the crash.

The presented data has so far caused only thr US reaction with the US authorities questionning the claims Russia made.

“[The reaction] was rather predictable – they [the US] questioned the Russian data. It is their right. But if they are in doubt, they should have presented their own evidence, which they haven’t done so far. Let me add that Americans have never presented factual proof in such situations, calling their information surveillance, which can discredit sources if revealed, and so on,” Chizhov said.

The envoy recalled the scandal the United States found itself in 1988, when a US missile cruiser Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner, killing 290 civilians, as it mistook the plane for a military aircraft. At that time, then US President George Bush Sr. said, “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are.”

Chizhov said he hoped for an unbiased, independent and international investigation, in line with the UN Security Council resolution, in which the 15-member council said it “supports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.”

The Russian EU envoy warned against preliminary conclusions about the causes of the crash that could determine the course of the investigation.

“I am taken by surprise by the statements of certain European representatives. Attempts to pre-empt the result of the investigation can be seen only as pressure on the investigators. Trying to make it [the investigation] fit into the already voiced result. I hope that doesn’t happen,” Chizhov said.

The Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people on board, including 15 crew members, crashed on July 17 near the town of Torez in Ukraine’s Donetsk Region.

Ukrainian government and militia have been trading blame for the alleged downing of the airliner, with independence supporters saying they lacked the technology to shoot down a target flying at altitude of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

Russia’s Defense Ministry said that at the time of the Boeing crash, Ukraine’s military had at least 27 Buk missile launchers capable of bringing down high-flying planes stationed in the Donetsk Region.