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Russia not to blame for loss of territorial integrity by Ukraine — Foreign Ministry

March 12, 2015, 20:52 UTC+3
Russia did not undertake commitments to compel Crimea to remain within the country against the will of the local population
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© ITAR-TASS/Gennady Khamelyanin

MOSCOW, March 12. /TASS/. Russia’s reunification with Crimea did not violate the Budapest memorandum and has got nothing to do with the loss of territorial integrity by Ukraine, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.

"I would like to recommend those who are speculating on Russia’s alleged violations of the Budapest memorandum to read the text of this document at least," Lukashevich said.

"In fact, the memorandum has only one aspect related to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that concerns Russia’s commitment with regards to Ukraine not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any country-signatory to the NPT," Lukashevich said adding that Ukraine’s former defense minister must have been the only person who had called the honest implementation of that commitment into question.

"It has not occurred to anybody else. "Any attempts to link the Ukrainian events to the NPT are pre-determinedly inconsistent and dishonest," Lukashevich said when asked to comment on whether Russia had violated its commitments under the Budapest memorandum the signing of which preconditioned Ukraine’s accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"Those who allow themselves to insinuate on this subject are practically undermining the regime established by the Treaty," the Russian diplomat stressed.

In the memorandum, Russia committed itself to "refrain from threatening to use force or from using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. This provision has fully been observed," Lukashevich said.

"Not a single shot was fired /in Crimea/ neither before nor after the populations of Crimea and Sevastopol had made crucial decisions on the peninsula’s status. Crimea returned to Russia after the majority of people in Crimea and Sevastopol had realized their right to self-determination by expression of free will," the Russian diplomat said.

"As for incessant attempts to ascribe military interference in the events in southeast Ukraine to Russia, the authors of these speculations have not presented a single convincing piece of evidence as of yet," Lukashevich stressed.

He added that Russia had never undertaken any commitments, neither in the Budapest memorandum nor in any other document, to force part of Ukraine to remain an integral part of the Ukrainian state against the will of its population.

"Ukraine lost its territorial integrity due to complicated internal processes that are of no relation to Russia or its commitments on the Budapest memorandum," Lukashevich said.

Crimea's reunification with Russia

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.

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.

Crimea had joined the Russian Empire in 1783, when it was conquered by Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the USSR’s Communist Party, transferred it to Ukraine's jurisdiction as a gift.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of newly independent Ukraine and remained in that capacity until March 2014, when it reunified with Russia after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.

According to the Crimean and Ukrainian statistics bodies, as of early 2014, Crimea had a population of 1,959,000 people; Sevastopol has a population of 384,000 people.

Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems has been actively underway since Crimea acceded to the Russian Federation.

Western nations have subjected Russia to sanctions over the situation in Ukraine. Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after the referendum in mid-March 2014, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.

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