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MOSCOW, April 26/ /ITAR-TASS/. Military operations that Ukraine’s new authorities in Kiev, positioning themselves as an interim administration, have launched in a bid to suppress protest demonstrations by their own people in the southeast of the country have heated international tensions in the region to a boiling point.
Over the past week - last Sunday and Thursday - armed militants relying on support from Ukraine’s crack units twice attacked roadblocks near cities whose residents refuse to recognize Kiev’s policies and are demanding referendums on the status of their regions and the right to use the Russian language. There were civilian casualties.
In the meantime, the US naval command has dispatched its Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate The Taylor and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer the Donald Cook to the Black Sea. Providing assistance in enhancing peace and stability in the region was declared as the official purpose of their mission.
At about the same time, on April 22, a multinational force of four NATO minesweepers and one support ship left the German port of Kiel and headed for the Baltic Sea. NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, said the decision to deploy the SNMCMG1 group in the Baltic Sea had been made under a wider package of measures by NATO in response to an alleged “Russian aggression” against Ukraine. The measures envisage stronger NATO presence on the sea, on the ground and in the air.
In Moscow, Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov has said that Brussels has long pursued a policy of Russia’s containment in a “friendly neighbour’s disguise”, and that now it has jumped at the opportunity to use the events in Ukraine to implement its “far-reaching plans.”
Last March the North Atlantic Alliance within the framework of its efforts to monitor the situation in Ukraine made a decision to patrol the airspace over Romania, Poland and the Baltic countries with its AWACS (airborne warning and control system) planes. Besides, NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen declared that the air police mission in the Baltic countries would be reinforced and the alliance’s ships sent to the Baltic Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Kiev’s military operations against civilians as a “punitive operation” and a “major crime against the people.” Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday ordered a large-scale military exercise in Russia’s Western and Southern military districts. As a result the Ukrainian authorities paused the military operation in the southeast of the country.
“The April 17 agreements achieved in Geneva by the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine on the de-escalation of the situation in the country were aimed at easing tensions in the region to a point where a peace settlement would be possible. In reality we have observed just the opposite. Kiev has moved its armed forces against civilians and brought armoured vehicles to the border with Russia. The United States is sending its naval ships to the Black Sea. NATO is beginning a military exercise in the Baltic in combination with unequivocal threats against Moscow. What is it Russia can do in a situation like this? Russia has offered a mirror response, the way it has been customarily done for thousands of years,” the deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, Andrei Klimov, told Itar-Tass in an interview.
“If someone pulls the sword out of the sheath, the other party is just forced to act according to the circumstances. Russia does not wish to see the deployment of extra military forces around Ukraine, and it is against fanning tensions in the region. But we have to resist punitive operations by Kiev, which enjoys support from the West,” Klimov said.
Asked about likely ways out of the crisis Klimov said that “it would make sense for the two parties to the conflict in Ukraine - the government and the representatives of the Southeast - to come to the negotiating table to address such issues as the constitutional reform and the state structure.”
“However, none of the leaders of the movement opposed to Ukraine’s new authorities and their policies were invited to Geneva. Nor have they been asked to come to Kiev. Instead, US Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that Moscow should issue instructions to the protesters to end the acts of disobedience. But Moscow does not command the self-defence forces in the Southeast of Ukraine,” Klimov said.
Asked about proposals voiced by some experts for more talks in Geneva Klimov replied that “negotiations are resumed in two cases: either when the initial basic conditions have been met, or when further steps have to be decided on.”
“In this case the agreements have been disrupted, and not through Russia’s fault,” he said.
“Defusing the current tensions by diplomatic means will be still possible if Russia manages to convince the United States it does not control the protesters in south-eastern Ukraine, and if the United States persuades Kiev to make it stop violence against protesting civilians,” the chief of the International Security Centre under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Aleksei Arbatov, told Itar-Tass.
“The United States should put pressures on Kiev to make it disarm the Right Sector militants in accordance with the Geneva accords,” Arbatov said.
“Settling the crisis would at least require joint efforts by the parties capable of handling this intricate knot. The rules of politeness imply that an agreement is to be concluded by Kiev and the southeast of Ukraine. But the authorities in Kiev are not legitimate. The people in the industrialized regions do not believe them. And the residents of western Ukraine will refuse to recognize any agreements. The current authorities of Ukraine do not control the situation in the country or even its individual regions,” the chief researcher at the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Vasily Krivozhikha, told Itar-Tass.
“Washington has in fact acknowledged that for the past 20 years it had plotted a revolution in Ukraine and invested five billion dollars into the opposition since 1991. The revolution has swept away President Yanukovich, who was the sole compromise personality in the country. The current realities as they are, only Russia and the United States are in a position to leave ambitions aside and to discuss the situation honestly to avoid a rerun of the Caribbean crisis,” Krivozhikha said.
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