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Ukraine's former president says he never asked Russia to send troops to Ukraine in 2014

February 22, 10:33 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Ukraine's ex-president asks Donald Trump to assess US officials' actions during the Ukrainian crisis

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© Stanislav Grigoriev/TASS

MOSCOW, February 22. /TASS/. Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovich said in an interview with Russian and Ukrainian journalists timed to the 3rd anniversary of the state coup in Ukraine he never asked Russia to send troops to his country back in 2014.

"I never asked to send troops to Ukraine," he stressed, adding he there had been letters on that matter addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "First, it was not a letter. It was a statement. Second, we have laws. I never betrayed my people, I tried to protect my people, to do it within my competences," he said. He added his goal was to "stop illegal gangs [illegal armed groups - TASS] that obeyed no one and that began to kill people in Donbass."

"This was the goal for me. It may seem to be emotionally-driven but I tried to find a way to protect people," he said.

Letter for US president

Yanukovich asked President of the United States Donald Trump to give a legal and political assessment of the actions of US officials during the events of Euromaidan.

"I ask you to give an objective legal and political assessment of the actions of US officials during the Ukrainian crisis," Yanukovich said in a letter for the US President.

In the interview, the former Ukrainian leader mentioned the events of Euromaidan, saying how he made concessions and almost fulfilled all the demands of the opposition. However, he said, "Manipulation and techniques that were used at that time, and manipulation of public opinion was carried out at a very high professional level."

"Today we know that this was generously financed, paid for by various international funds," Yanukovich said, explaining that everything was done "under the great support of Western countries and the United States."

"The main reason for the tragic events is the desire to seize power in Ukraine by all means. The people who have committed a coup, used all the methods known through the previous color revolutions projects and the Arab Spring, but this was the Ukrainian project," he said.

According to Yanukovich, the United States continued to support the Ukrainian radicals who have committed a coup during the events in Donbass. He recalled that the decree of Alexander Turchinov (former acting President) on the military operation in Donbass "opened the civil war." In addition, former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Jeffrey Payette supported actions of the authorities that used heavy equipment against the civilian population of eastern Ukraine. "They (the authorities) wanted to show that there is no other point of view," Yanukovich said.

Dream of returning to Ukraine

Yanukovich dreams of returning to his home country to help rebuild it, he said, adding that he currently lived in Rostov-on-Don.

"I have been renting a small house there. I meet with my family members and my associates. They have been facing difficulties, too, and just like me, they dream of doing something for the good of Ukraine and its people. Of course, we all dream of returning to our Motherland and taking part in rebuilding Ukraine so that our children could live in a prosperous country," Yanukovich added.

As the same time, he said that he had "no illusions or big ambitions." "It is my duty to adopt a position of principle, I must use political methods to help stop the war in Ukraine and pave the way for the rebuilding of Donbass, my home region, where I was born and spent 50 years of my life," he noted.

According to the former president, he has been meeting with many people in Russia as collecting information concerning the events that took place in 2013-2014. "It would be impossible without meeting people, I have been holding meetings almost every day," he said. "I meet with Russian officials, representatives of the Ukrainian community in Russia coming from various parts of Ukraine, members of the militia, and those who travel to Donbass following their heart."

Yanukovish went on to say that he had visited Russia many times before. "My maternal relatives live in Russia, I have been maintaining contacts with them. But I still have friends in Donbass," he noted.

Yanukovich said with confidence that Ukraine and Russia had huge prospects for restoring normal relations because the two countries shared centuries-long common history. "Besides, this is what our peoples want, it is only logical from all points of view, particularly from the point of view of human relations. I would like Ukraine to have good relations with all its neighbors," the former president stressed.

Agreement of February 21, 2014

Yanukovich considers it necessary to force the current Ukrainian authorities to execute the Agreement on settlement of political crisis, which was signed by him and the parliamentary opposition leaders under the mediation of representatives of the European Union on February 21, 2014. This proposal is included in his address to the leaders of Germany, France, Poland, the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament, as well as the letters to the presidents of Russia and the United States. The address was made public during the interview that Yanukovich gave to a group of Russian and Ukrainian journalists in connection with the third anniversary of the coup in Ukraine.

"I am convinced that only a consistent political and law enforcement of Ukrainian authorities to execute the Agreement on the settlement of political crisis, which was aborted upon their own initiative, as well as the Minsk agreements, can lead to quality changes in the socio-political life of Ukraine," Yanukovich said in a statement.

Settlement deal

The ex-president said that the Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine was developed and signed "for the quickest end to violence and confrontation" on February 21, 2014, in Kiev, him and representatives of the Ukrainian opposition (Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleg Tyahnybok), with the participation of representatives of the European Union (Foreign Minister of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Minister of Poland Radoslaw Sikorski, Head of the Continental Europe Department of French Foreign Minister Eric Fournier)

This agreement included withdrawal of law enforcement officers and protesters from the confrontation line, refraining from the use of force, surrendering illegal weapons seized by the protesters and the liberation of administrative and public buildings. The agreement also included amending the Constitution and holding early presidential elections. In addition, a separate paragraph of the agreement focused on the need to investigate acts of violence under the monitoring of the authorities, the opposition and the Council of Europe.

"I was ready to reach a compromise on all the decisions proposed by the opposition and representatives of the European Union. Including early presidential elections. After the agreement was signed, following the agreement with the EU and the opposition, starting from 16:00 on February 21, 2014, authorities began to divert law enforcement forces to their places of permanent deployment," Yanukovich said.

"Meanwhile, the opposition leaders and protesters have did not begin to implement the terms of this agreement, but also on late February 21 the leaders of the armed groups of neo-Nazis made an appeal not to implement the agreement and to storm the residence of the central government agencies," the former leader of Ukraine said. "Thus, the opposition and protesters began further escalation of violence, continued to capture official buildings directly disrupting the implementation of the agreement’s conditions," Yanukovich said. According to him, assassination attempts on him and members of his security staff on February 21-22 obviously violated the terms of the agreement and the Ukrainian law.

"I am convinced that if all the parties to the agreement would have fulfilled their obligations, the political crisis in Ukraine would be resolved peacefully without military operations and bloodshed, deaths of innocent civilians, women and children," the former president said.

EU is partly to blame

At the same time, a part of the blame for what happened, according to Yanukovich, is on "parties that authenticated the agreement, but did nothing to make the breaching party (the opposition leaders) to carry it out."

Thus, representatives of the Western countries named the forced departure of the former president of Ukraine on February 21 the only cause of the agreement’s failure.

The actions of the opposition the evening of February 21, when the troops of Maidan’s "self-defense" have captured the central power structures were the true reason for the failure of the agreement, according to Yanukovich. "To my indignation, the country - guarantors of the agreement did not officially condemn the radical actions of the opposition leaders aimed at disrupting the agreement," Yanukovich said.

In his interview, Viktor Yanukovich said that the address was directed to the heads of states - participants in preparation and signing of the Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine on February 21, 2014: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda. He also addressed letters to Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland, President of PACE Pedro Agramunt, Chairman of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, and the presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

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