The violent Maidan protests in Kiev were instigated by the actions of ultranationalist and neo-Nazi forces, the minister said. “The radicals attempted to terrorize the population of Crimea and establish the [Stepan] Bandera orders in Odessa and Mariupol,” Lavrov said.
The February 21 EU-brokered deal between ex-president Viktor Yanukovych and opposition was “trampled down,” he said.
“In these conditions, counteracting these plans was natural for most Crimean citizens, who freely expressed their will to reunify with Russia in line with the people’s right to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter,” Lavrov stressed.
After the tragedy in Odessa, Mariupol and the discovery of mass graves near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, now we know what fate “the Russians in Crimea were to face,” the minister said.
Lavrov also said Kiev is apparently trying to cover up all these crimes and that international control is needed to investigate the crash of Malaysian Boeing, which killed all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board in mid-July.
On March 16, Crimea, which refused to recognize the legitimacy of the government in Kiev, held a referendum during which the majority voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in August the ongoing conflict in southeastern Ukraine shows that it would have happened in Crimea had Moscow not supported the vote in favor of reunification.
The death toll as a result of the Ukrainian conflict has exceeded 3,700, while another 9,075 people have been wounded in the region, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported last week. Some 5.2 million people are currently in the areas affected by hostilities, the OCHA said.