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Obama administration ‘contributed’ to Ukraine crisis - foreign policy analyst

March 05, 2014, 9:38 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

Dmitri K. Simes, the president of The Center for the National Interest, says the United States and the European Union have decided to side with the protesters in the Ukrainian political crisis

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WASHINGTON, March 05. /ITAR-TASS/. The Obama administration in the United States “has contributed to the crisis” in Ukraine, a foreign policy analyst said in an interview with the New Republic, a liberal American magazine.

Dmitri K. Simes, the president of The Center for the National Interest and publisher of the foreign policy journal The National Interest, said “there was a legitimate government in Kiev, led by President Viktor Yanukovych.”

Ukraine’s legitimate leader Yanukovych was ousted in a violent uprising in February. He fled Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament appointed an interim head of state, set early presidential elections and approved a new government. With all his drawbacks, Yanukovych “was legally elected,” Simes said. “He commanded a clear majority in the Ukrainian parliament. And essentially the United States and the European Union have decided to side with the protesters.”

“If they were using that kind of force and those techniques against a friendly government, we would not call them protesters, we would call them rebels,” he said. “We have sided with these protesters slash rebels. We used them to pressure Yanukovych to negotiate a deal, which the European governments fully endorsed, and which had the support of the Obama administration,” Simes said. “We have to realize, that as we were applying this pressure on the Ukrainian political process to promote those we favor, we clearly were rocking the political boat in Ukraine, a country deeply divided, a country with different religions, different histories, different ethnicities,” the analyst said. “And it was that process of rocking the boat that led to the outcome we have seen,” he said.

Simes said he was not trying to “justify what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has done” or “say that the Russians are entitled to use their troops on the territory of another state.” “But let me say this: any Russian wrongdoings should not be used as an alibi for the incompetence of the Obama administration,” he said. “European and American steps that contributed to this unfortunate outcome, and quite remarkably, nobody in this administration even seems to have been thinking about what the consequences of their previous actions could be. That’s how we got to our current predicament,” Simes said.

Simes lamented that his country’s leadership was “carrying a small stick.” “We are not really disciplining the Russians. We are issuing pathetic declarations which nobody is taking seriously,” he said.


Putin's news conference on Ukraine

Putin gave a news conference in his residence in Novo-Ogarevo on Tuesday that focused on Ukraine. He called the recent developments in the neighboring country “an anti-constitutional coup” and “an armed seizure of power.”

Putin also said he believed Yanukovych remained the only legitimate Ukrainian president as no official impeachment procedure had been carried out, and added that Ukraine's parliament was “partially” legitimate.

Putin told reporters that “so far, there is no need” to use the Russian armed forces in Ukraine. The upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, on March 1 authorized such use "until the situation normalizes" in Ukraine.

Putin dismissed claims recently voiced by a number of media that Russian armed forces could have taken part in some operations in the autonomous Ukrainian republic of Crimea, where Russians constitute the majority. “These were local self-defense forces,” he said.

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