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Chizhov: EU misses chance to perceive Ukraine situation properly again

January 30, 2015, 3:06 UTC+3
In this way Chizhov commented on the decision to extend individual sanctions against Russia and eastern Ukrainian militias
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Vladimir Chizhov

Vladimir Chizhov

© ITAR-TASS/Grigory Sysoyev

BRUSSELS, January 30. /TASS/. The European Union has again missed a chance to get off the track of a simplified perception of the situation in Ukraine, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said.

In this way Chizhov commented on the decision by the top diplomats of the 28 members of the EU to extend individual sanctions against Russia and eastern Ukrainian militias adopted on Thursday.

"If we speak of the content of conclusions [of the final document], then unfortunately the European Union has once again missed a chance to leave the track of a simplified and mechanistic perception of what is going on in eastern Ukraine, the track of sanctions pressure on Russia and one-dimension perception of reality," the Russian diplomat said.

He said the final document contains no criticism of the Ukrainian authorities for what is going on.

"The episodes mentioned have been chosen selectively, which can’t but suggest the thought of a regular manifestation of double standards," the Russian envoy said.

"There are some recommendations addressed to Kiev here, some of them are rather strict, which reflects the growing concern on the part of the European Union with the economic collapse that is clearly seen in Ukraine and accordingly threatens not only the living standard of the country’s population but the future of the notorious association agreement, particularly its postponed trade and economic part," he said.

"But this is a viewpoint that I think the authors of the document will not risk sharing publicly," the diplomat continued.

Chizhov said the result of the European discussion on Ukraine was rather predictable against the background of hysteria that seized the West over the past few days.

Ukrainian crisis

Ukraine has been in deep crisis since the end of 2013, when then-President Viktor Yanukovich suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union to study the deal more thoroughly. The move triggered mass riots that eventually led to a coup in February 2014.

The coup that brought chaos to Ukraine prompted the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with a special status to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of coup-imposed authorities, hold a referendum and secede from Ukraine to reunify with Russia in mid-March 2014 after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.

After that, mass protests erupted in Ukraine’s southeast, where local residents, apparently inspired by Crimea's example, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities either, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.

Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after the February 2014 coup.

Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.

In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.

New punitive measures against Russia were imposed in September 2014.

Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.

Over 4,000 people have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), according to UN data.

A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.

A memorandum was adopted on September 19, 2014 in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.

The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

A "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9. It was seen as another attempt by both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities. Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics voiced the necessity to start withdrawal of heavy armaments, swap prisoners and demilitarize the region.

The situation in the region deteriorated when a passenger bus bound from Donetsk to Zlatoustovka was shelled on January 13. Twelve civilians were killed and 16 wounded.

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