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Ukrainians fighting each other: Kiev orders the impossible — Lavrov

August 04, 2014, 16:23 UTC+3 MOSCOW

“To tell the truth, those who had wished to return to Ukraine were then accused of deserting and were court-martialed,” he says

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© AP Photo/Darko Bandic

MOSCOW, August 04. /ITAR-TASS/. The flight of 438 Ukrainian military personnel across the border into Russia overnight to Monday means Ukraine government orders to fight their own people are impossible, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told ITAR-TASS on Monday.

“We have repeatedly helped Ukrainian law enforcers asking for help, asking us to receive their wounded friends," said Russia's top diplomat.

"We have helped, offering medical assistance and given the possibility of return to all those who wanted it without impeding them, without keeping anyone forcibly,” the foreign minister said.

“To tell the truth, those who had wished to return to Ukraine were then accused of deserting and were court-martialed,” he added.

Lavrov said he expected the Ukrainian authorities "will show humanity in the long run and will realise the absolute inadmissibility of the situation when Ukrainians are waging war against each other, when they are made to fight against their own people while those who refuse are seen as traitors to their own country”.


US ambassador to Russia nomination

Moscow has no doubts the new US Ambassador to Russia will strictly follow Washington political line, Lavrov added.

John Tefft was “a professional, a carrier diplomat, which will make it easier, as a carrier diplomat obeys orders”.

“Decisions are made in Washington, and when he was the US Ambassador to Georgia and Ukraine, he did not play his own games,” Lavrov said. “He is a disciplined man who spent his entire life in the Department of State and therefore did what they said him to do.”

This was what made Tefft different from his predecessor Michael McFaul who was “a political appointee” and “took liberties”.

“This did not only prevented but first complicated understanding of whether this was his own initiative or a line pursued on Washington’s instruction,” Lavrov said. No such doubt would be possible with Tefft, the Minister added.

“It is very hard to estimate Washington’s real approach to relations with Russia,” the Minister said adding “the tunnel is open on our side”.

The two presidents had normal personal relations as well as Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry who agreed to think whether a meeting was possible “in the foreseeable future”. Signals sent in such contacts were quite positive, the Minister said.


Lavrov about Middle East conflicts

Lavrov discussed the Israeli-Palestinian crisis with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman by phone and "highlighted Russia’s commitment to humanitarian ceasefire as the first step towards lasting truce,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

US actions in the Middle East show the United States does not have any well-considered regional strategy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Asked to comment whether prospect of settling the Syrian conflict was anywhere in sight, Lavrov said it was growing nearer but only because the death toll from this terrible conflict kept rising.

“The conflict has definitely crossed the (Syrian) border because the former group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is being named the Islamic Caliphate, has already taken some districts in Syria and is seizing even more territories in Iraq,” Lavrov said, adding he had heard from media reports that a hydropower station in Mosul was already in the hands of those terrorists.

“They are the same terrorists who used to operate in Syria and at that time our western partners, especially Washington, used to regard them as a force who was fighting against a ‘bloody regime’ (in Syria) even though they admitted that the group did not quite share the high western values,” the Russian foreign minister went on to say.

“Whenever we tried to call attention to the dangers of appeasing this type of groups, our American and European partners gave us an argument that the group would overthrow President Assad jointly with other forces and then the West would get down to them,” the Russian foreign minister said.

Regrettably, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are currently settling scores in Iraq, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The Americans are worried, and that proves that the United States does not have any well-considered strategy in the (Middle East) region,” Lavrov said.

Personal attitudes towards heads of state are unacceptable in international politics, Lavrov added.

He cited Iraq as an example to note that after the removal of its leader, Saddam Hussein, the American governor-general had disbanded all structures where the Sunni had representation. “These were army, police and security structures, and the Sunnis are now trying to take revenge even though it was clear all along that problems as complex as those in Iraq could only be solved through national consensus,” Lavrov said in an exclusive interview with ITAR-TASS.

“We suggested that instead of taking such actions, which were dictated solely by one’s personal attitude towards a certain head of state, some substantive criteria should be used such as the fight against terrorism. If this criterion were selected as a consolidating factor for the activities of Russia, the United States, Europe, Persian Gulf and other Middle East countries, I believe much would become clearer. But this requires a fair choice and the rejection of cooperation with those who can become your short-lived assistant in overthrowing a statesman you personally dislike, and they you will have to decide what to do with such passing assistant who has now become a burden,” the minister said.

“If we do not decide upon clear approaches, and above all if we do not pool our efforts against terrorism, we will always be facing problems like this. The cost of such zigzags would claim hundreds and thousands of lives as we saw and still see in Libya where the state has been destroyed, and as we can see in Iraq where the state is also falling apart. We are trying to prevent this scenario there because otherwise the Kurd problem will burst out, but this would be horrible. We can see this in Syria where attempts are being made to do the same just in order to remove one single person,” Lavrov said.

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