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Sanctions against Russia would yield a “converse effect” — former ambassador

Former US Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock says that “if you really look at it dispassionately, Ukraine is better off without Crimea”
Former US Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock ITAR-TASS/Archive/Yury Mashkov
Former US Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock
© ITAR-TASS/Archive/Yury Mashkov

WASHINGTON, March 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Threats and sanctions against Russia amid the events in Ukraine will yield a “converse effect”, former US Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock said on Thursday in an interview with the independent program Democracy Now broadcast by more than 1,000 TV and radio stations in North America.

Matlock, who worked as ambassador to the Soviet Union during 1987-1991, does not see any point in the present US confrontational course against Russia amid the Ukrainian crisis. “To continue all of this rhetoric, I would ask how is it gonna end?” said the resigned diplomat.

He believes it would be most helpful to encourage the Ukrainians to form “a united government that can begin reforms”.

“I just hope everyone can calm down and look at realities and stop trying to start sort of a new Cold War over this. As compared to the issues of the Cold War, this is quite minor. It has many of the characteristics of a family dispute. And when outsiders get into a family dispute, they are usually not very helpful,” Matlock believes.

He added that “if you really look at it dispassionately, Ukraine is better off without Crimea”.

“Their big problem is internal. Fundamentally, it is going to be the Ukrainians who have to put their society back together, it is seriously broken now,” Matlock said. Furthermore, “the majority of people [in Crimea] are Russian, they clearly would prefer to be in Russia.”

During the so-called Orange Revolution in Kiev “foreigners, including Americans, were very active in organizing people and inspiring them”. “Now I have to ask Americans, how would occupy Wall Street have looked if you had foreigners out there leading them,” ex-diplomat wondered.

“I think we have to understand that when we start directly interfering, particularly our government officials, in the internal make-up of other governments, we are really asking for trouble,” Matlock added.

He also pointed to a big mistake made by those who ignore the fact that the far-right forces are now entering the political arena in Ukraine.

“We do have to understand that a significant part of the violence at the Maidan, the demonstrations in Kiev, was done by these extreme right-wing, sort of neo-fascist groups. Some of their leaders occupy prominent positions in the security forces of the new government,” warned Matlock.

He rebuked the USA for not very attentive attitude “to what it takes to have a harmonious relationship with Russia”. “It is that very prospect that the United States and its European allies were trying to surround Russia with hostile bases that has raised the emotional temperature of all these things... And that was a huge mistake,” he said.