MOSCOW, January 15. /TASS/. Russia will continue insisting on settlement of the Ukrainian conflict by full and persistent implementation of the Complex of Measures to implement the Minsk agreements, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference on Monday.
"We shall continue working on the Ukrainian issue, for settlement of which there is no other alternative than full and persistent implementation of the Complex of Measures, which was signed in Minsk in February 2015," he said. "Our Western colleagues from Europe and the United States, as we know this from discussions, are well aware of the current Ukrainian leadership’s tactics towards the Minsk agreements," Lavrov said. "They [Western colleagues] see very well that neighbors in Ukraine are still trying to spark a military phase of this standoff and thus distract attention from their steps to sabotage the Package of Measures."
"The Ukrainian issue is being artificially exaggerated, and is considered to be a yardstick of the standoff between Russia and the West. I believe this approach is wrong and totally politicized," he said.
Russia’s top diplomat added that the crisis would have been settled long ago if western countries had focused on carrying out the Minsk accords instead of supporting Kiev’s ill-conceived policy line. "If (western countries - TASS) abandoned this prism, through which they are trying to view the Ukrainian crisis, through the lens of a standoff between ‘authoritarian Russia’ and ‘the liberal West’ and instead focused on what the Minsk accords state - and what they bluntly state is not subject to discretionary interpretation, I think that the Ukrainian crisis would have been settled a long time ago," Lavrov stressed.
"We respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders that emerged after the referendum in Crimea and Crimea’s reunification with Russia," he said.
"International treaties are important, but that’s the lawyers’ realm of competence," he said when asked about the future of the treaty on friendship, cooperation and partnership with Ukraine. We continue to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders that emerged after the referendum in Crimea and Crimea’s reunification with Russia."
"We’ve answered more than once such legal questions, including those about the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, by which Ukraine abdicated nuclear weapons while Russia, the United States and Britain guaranteed they would not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine," Lavrov said. "Let me remind you that we have not either used or threatened to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine. There has been no violation of that memorandum. Alongside signing the memorandum Ukraine in a separate statement pledged not to encourage racist or neo-Nazi trends."
The events that followed the maidan turmoil was gross violation of those commitments, Lavrov said.
"Politically we are interested in the implementation of the Minsk Accords in full without any omissions. This agrees with our policy of full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its current borders that emerged after the referendum in Crimea, which was held in full conformity with international law," Lavrov said.
Moscow suspended returning to Kiev its armaments from Crimea in 2014 over fears that it could use them against the citizens of Donbass, he said. "When all this occurred [Crimea’s reunification with Russia], we started returning the armaments from Crimea, back in March," Lavrov said. "And when your leadership declared an anti-terrorism operation calling terrorists those who had never attacked them, we stopped handing over these armaments."
According to Lavrov, the decision to stop returning the armaments came as they could be used "against people who absolutely condemned the coup staged by those who had cursed the Russian language and called to oust Russians from Crimea."
"I’m convinced that Crimea’s citizens just did not have any other choice but to defend their identity, their multiethnic and multireligious culture from these bandits," he said.
Russia’s top diplomat also stressed that there is no doubt that Russia seeks full implementation of the Minsk peace deal.
The structure and composition of the UN peacekeeping mission to protect OSCE observers in Ukraine should be determined by Kiev jointly with self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, he went on.
"Our proposals on the UN mission to protect OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) observers are not limited by the mission’s deployment on the division line only," Lavrov said addressing his annual news conference in Moscow.
"According to their mandate, the OSCE observers move across the territories on both sides of the division line upon an agreement with all parties involved," Lavrov said. "They regularly pay visits to the territories of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics, including up to the border with Russia, which they visit up to 20 times a week."
"Our proposals stipulate the UN protection for the observers everywhere as they move patrolling in line with their mandate," the Russian foreign minister said.
"In line with our proposals and the UN general practice, the international composition (of the UN mission) should be defined by the conflicting parties," Lavrov said. "This composition should be agreed upon by Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk."