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MOSCOW, September 28 /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York that it would be wrong to say that southeast Ukraine is refusing to talk to the Kiev authorities.
"They are not refusing to talk. They say that they are ready to talk to the Kiev authorities to implement fully the protocol which they signed on September 5 and which contains, I think, a dozen points, including political dialogue,” Lavrov said commenting on a remark that some leaders of self-defense forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics are insisting on independence from Ukraine.
“They signed this protocol, and they confirmed that they are committed to implement it. And they started obviously by adopting a memorandum /in Minsk on September 19 - Itar-Tass/ to spell out details of the ceasefire and withdrawal of forces and inviting the observers. And the next step should also be based on this protocol and each of the items should be described in details to be implemented.
Asked about Russia’s communication leaders of the self-proclaimed republics in southeast Ukraine, Lavrov replied: “Well, we know these people. They come from time to time to Russia. They speak on Russian TV. They make their position and attitude towards the situation known because they do not have access to the Ukrainian TV obviously. We know them and they certainly listen to us, but not always,” Lavrov said.
“When they decided to hold a referendum on independence sometime early in May, I think, President Putin publicly called on them to postpone this and give a chance to political dialogue with the president who was to be elected a bit later and so on and so forth. They said that they respect Russia that they respect Putin, they respect the views and advice but they already decided that this must be done. And they held that referendum. But we said that we respect the vote and called on them to implement the outcome of this /referendum/ in the negotiations with the Kiev authorities,” Lavrov explained.
Representatives of many countries, including volunteers from Russia, have fought in the conflict in southeast Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister said.
"There are many volunteers there, many Russians. There was one American who was shown on TV yesterday. He was interviewed but he was wearing a balaclava. There are some Russians, Russian citizens fighting on the side of, not the Ukrainian army, but those battalions which (Ukrainian) oligarchs created and keep financing. There are many Poles, Lithuanians, many Europeans are fighting there on the side of those battalions. But some are fighting on the side of the rebels. At least, there were interviews with some Spanish guys, a German lady by the ways who’s fighting; and an American was shown yesterday,” the Russian foreign minister went on to say.
“So we never denied there are Russian volunteers fighting there. And there was one episode when a Russian army unit on an armoured personnel carrier got into Ukrainian territory. But there were so many cases when it was the other way round when Ukrainian armored personnel carriers got deep into the Russian territory. And in all these cases, they said they had got there by mistake and they were all released,” Lavrov said.
“You know, if you just start concentrating on manifestations of the problem: who’s fighting; what country is sending assistance to whom, we can discuss (things) forever. The main thing is to start a national dialogue,” Lavrov said in conclusion.