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Yatsenyuk: Crimea to remain an integral part of Ukraine

March 06, 2014, 18:24 UTC+3 BRUSELS
"We are calling on Russia not to recognize the so-called government of Crimea," parliament-approved Ukrainian prime minister said
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Arseniy Yatsenyuk, center left, as he walks to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, center left, as he walks to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels

© AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

BRUSSELS, March 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Parliament-approved Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has urged Russia not to recognize the Crimean government.

“Crimea has been and will remain an integral part of Ukraine,” he said.

“We are calling on Russia not to recognize the so-called government of Crimea,” Yatsenyuk told a news conference after meeting the leaders of the 28 EU countries who had gathered for an emergency summit in Brussels on Friday.

At the same time, he spoke in favor of a political and diplomatic settlement to the Crimean crisis, having urged Russia to sit down to talks and start real negotiations with an aim to find a peaceful solution.

“We do not want the conflict to be frozen or hot,” Yatsenyuk said, adding the Ukrainian military would act in compliance with Ukraine’s Constitution in case of further escalation or military intervention.

“We are ready to defend our country,” Yatsenyuk stressed.

The majority of EU leaders spoke in favor of a political dialogue with Russia. However, they also think the European Union should discuss possible economic sanctions against Russia to demonstrate Europe’s concern and seriousness of intentions.

The European Union is calling on Moscow and Kiev to start immediate direct negotiations on the situation in Ukraine, agree on deployment of international observers and create a contact group to settle problems related to Crimea.

It’s going to be hard to implement this approach. Unlike the European Union, Russia does not consider the current interim government in Kiev to be a legitimate representative of the interests of the entire Ukrainian people.

The EU countries are ready to adopt political sanctions against Russia as the first step such as freezing a dialogue on facilitation of the visa regime and negotiations on a new Russia-EU base agreement. Commenting on the EU intentions, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s permanent representative to the European Union, noted that the above-mentioned punitive measures were unlikely to produce any impact on Russia because the negotiations on both matters had been frozen de facto for the past two years because of the European Union’s passive stance.

The EU leaders say that the community can consider ‘target economic sanctions’ if they see no signs of tensions being de-escalated and if a threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity continues to exist. In fact, the EU leading countries are preserving differences over the core of these sanctions.

UK does not support sanctions against the Russian banking sector because that will deliver a heavy blow at the London City’s finance. London also fears a repeat of an embarrassing scenario that involved several Iranian banks that won lawsuits against the European Union in courts which passed decisions relieving them from European sanctions.

France is not ready to sever its military contacts with Russia as of yet while Germany, which is Russia’s major trading partner and Russian gas importer, says that the European Union has not exhausted its diplomatic means to settle the crisis. Italy has also refused to exert tough pressure on Russia.

Apart from that, the European Union has countries that are traditionally close to Russia, including Cyprus, Greece, Finland and Bulgaria which, among other things, are afraid of losing huge Russian investments.

The EU leaders will also discuss how to give additional support to Ukraine’s interim government. On March 5, the European Commission proposed €11 billion in financial aid to Ukraine. The figure, however, looks less impressive, while the money is supposed to be handed over until 2020. Besides, the European Union linked the provision of €10 billion out of the €11 billion aid package to Ukraine’s implementation of all IMF requirements.

The EU summit will also discuss the earliest deadlines for signing an association and free trade agreement with Ukraine.

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