Conflict With Russia: Ukraine Descends Into Open Warfare
1) Western news media coverage of Ukraine perverted: Russian
Western media coverage of Ukraine “perverted” – Lavrov
BAGHDAD: Moscow is concerned by how the West has been trying to impact on the situation in Ukraine, and also notes that the situation in this country is being misrepresented, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“We are most deeply concerned by what is going on in Ukraine, and in particular by how Western capitals have been trying to comment and influence on this situation,” he told a press conference in Baghdad.
“The Western media coverage of the situation is extremely perverted,” the minister said.
“They have been peddling simple formulas such as “The West is calling on the government to stay away from Maidan’, although they choose not to say what Maidan amounts to,” Lavrov said.
Western media outlets maintain silence over the instances of violence against governors in various Ukrainian regions, and about attempts to attack weapon storage facilities, and urge only the government to stop violence against peaceful demonstrators, he said.
“Both the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian president have more than once demonstrated their good will and proposed a compromise. In particular, they agreed to free those arrested in Maidan in exchange for the freeing of the occupied administrative buildings. The government has honored its part of the agreements, but the opposition have disrupted theirs,” the Russian minister said.
“In Western reports from the scene you will hardly find a mention of the organization such as Right Sector which openly stated that it will cooperate neither with the government, nor the opposition, and that this movement will operate in a way it sees fit. And they operate by using radical extremist methods, including regular use of force,” the Russian foreign minister said.
“The opposition is either unable or reluctant to distance itself from extremists,” he said.
The USA assumes all responsibility for Ukraine’s authorities
BAGHDAD: The West’s threat to impose sanctions on Ukraine is a blackmail and double standards, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“The opposition cannot or does not want to dissociate itself from extremists. The USA assumes all responsibility for Ukraine’s authorities. These are double standards,” Lavrov said, adding “America’s sanctions encourage rioters.”
“The EU is also trying to discuss sanctions and sending missions to Ukraine,” the Russian minister said.
“Such actions can be considered blackmail,” he said.
“As for the West’s accusations against Russia, there is a proverb saying an uneasy conscience betrays itself. We voice deep concern about the events in Ukraine. We’re worried about the Western capitals giving influencing the situation in the country,” the Russian minister said.
“The situation is interpreted wrong. Mass media circulate reports saying the West urges the government not to disperse Maidan although the West prefers to keep silent on Maidan’s essence,” he said, adding “The West makes no comment on throwing of cocktail bombs or seizing of buildings.”
Ukrainian authorities to concentrate on protecting people – Medvedev
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia’s government will fulfil the promises it has made to Ukrainian partners, if the authorities are legitimate and effective.
“Of course, we will continue cooperation with Ukrainian partners in all directions we have agreed on and will try to do our utmost to fulfil our promises,” he said.
“At the same time we need to see our partners keeping themselves in good shape and the authorities remaining legitimate and effective,” he said. “We proceed from an assumption that the authorities should focus on protection of people and law enforcement structures that defend interests of the state and people.”
Moscow says it doesn’t interfere in Ukrainian conflict
Earlier Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich commented on the United States’ intention to take unilateral measures against Ukraine’s political leadership, saying sanctions can’t be aimed at individuals and should be approved by the UN Security Council.
“The United Nations alone can adopt and implement restrictive measures towards other states. In that sense we firmly adhere to the assumed commitments,” the diplomat said. Lukashevich emphasised, that from the standpoint of international law such measures are absolutely illegitimate and many other UNSC member states think likewise.
Foreign army composed of 5,000 militants active in Kyiv – speaker of Crimean parliament
MOSCOW: A foreign army composed of 5,000 militants who are ready to fight is active in central Kyiv, Volodymyr Konstantinov, speaker of the Crimean parliament, said at a meeting with a delegation of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in the State Duma in Moscow.
“An actual foreign army composed of well-trained, armed, bold, well-paid people is active in the center of the city. We estimate the number of these people at some 5,000 people,” Konstantinov said, adding that “those 5,000 people are ready to fight.”
Konstantinov said what is now happening in Ukraine is a challenge to the entire Russian world. “Ukraine is just a stage here,” he said.
Despite the danger of the situation, the central administration can still be saved, and Ukraine needs help with that, the politician said.
Konstantinov believes it would be very important for Ukraine if the Russian administration “represented by the president or the Foreign Ministry” issue a tough statement sending “a very clear signal to those who plan and finance this anti-constitutional coup.” He said the signal should be as follows: “If you succeed in that [in carrying out an anti-constitutional coup], all actions happening from this time on are illegitimate.” That is, Russia should make it clear to these forces that all interstate agreements are liquidated “if the lawful administration is overthrown.” This means that Ukraine is facing a complete collapse and this should be made very clear, Konstantinov said.
Konstantinov also pointed out that the administration of Crimea has more than once asked the president of Ukraine to use force to prevent dangerous developments in the situation. “However, we were not heard,” he said. Thus, he said he believes time was seriously lost.
Konstantinov also reiterated that Crimea will not recognize any illegitimate decisions made by the central administration under pressure, including statements issued by politicians, specifically, possible public statements on resignation.
Moscow lays blame for violence in Kyiv on radicals
MOSCOW: Radical gunmen are responsible for the ongoing violence in Kyiv, as the Ukrainian Interior Forces and the special task police force Berkut do not have firearms, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a news conference in Moscow on Thursday.
“I have said absolutely clearly that the radical gunmen, who have taken up arms and are calling for an armed uprising and the toppling of the government, bear primary responsibility,” Lukashevich said when asked whether the Ukrainian legitimate authorities are responsible for the violence in Kyiv.
“Our information indicates that some military servicemen and law enforcement officials were killed today,” Lukashevich said.
“You can see videos literally every minute in which the gunmen say openly that state-of-the-art firearms are coming into their possession. There have been reports that the gunmen got over 1,500 rifles, assault rifles, and other firearms today alone by plundering military depots,” he said.
Lukashevich pointed out that “members of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s Interior Forces and the Berkut special task force do not have firearms, which you have seen perfectly well in the videos.”
“Concerning the casualties’ affiliation and the specifics of the injuries caused, most of them are law enforcement members anyway,” he said.
“Some European politicians have gone as far as to say that our Russian special forces were seen on Maidan [Independence Square]. This had to be denied, including through social media,” Lukashevich said.
Russia demands Ukraine protest leaders stop bloodshed – Foreign Ministry spokesman
MOSCOW: Russia demands that the Ukrainian protest leaders put an end to the bloodshed and continue a search for peaceful ways to settle the crisis.
“We reaffirm our demand that the Maidan leaders immediately stop the bloodshed and continue looking for peaceful solutions to the crisis without threats and ultimatums,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
The situation in Kyiv can and should be settled within the framework of the incumbent Ukrainian authorities’ constitutional prerogatives, he said.
The fact that extremists have been using firearms increasingly more often indicates “an open attempt at a coup and forcible seizure of power,” he said.
“We strongly condemn the radicals’ and extremists’ actions and believe they bear primary responsibility for violence and bloody lawlessness. Serious responsibility also rests with the opposition activists who have proven to be unable to fulfill the agreements reached with the authorities,” he said.
“The situation can and should be settled within the framework of the incumbent Ukrainian authorities’ constitutional prerogatives,” Lukashevich said.
“The continued attempts of meddlesome mediation from the outside, the threats of sanctions and other methods to affect the situation are inappropriate and can’t do any good but can only worsen the confrontation,” he said.
Opposition trying to buy time with talks to arm militants – Ukrainian presidential administration
KYIV: The Ukrainian presidential administration said it was concerned about the fact that the opposition ignored attempts for peaceful settlement of the conflict in Kyiv and forceful clashes occurred again.
“The assurances of the opposition leaders on the necessity of a truce and a return to dialogue turned out to be just a maneuver to buy time, to mobilize and arm militants from Maidan,” the administration said in a statement released by the Ukrainian president’s press office.
With firearms “radical-minded protestors from Maidan started to push the law enforcement officers on February 20 at 9 a.m. [11 a.m. Moscow time] despite the truce declared,” the document said.
“Militants have ignored all the attempts of the authorities to establish dialogue and work toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict. They have started to attack. They act in organized armed groups and use firearms, including sniper rifles, with the intent to kill. While law enforcement officers are unarmed and use special equipment only,” the statement said.
According to the information of the presidential administration, dozens law enforcement officers were killed or injured and all possible means are being used to stop the bloodshed and resistance.
Ukrainian rioters use special ammo – Ukrainian Interior Ministry
KYIV: The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has ordered an expert evaluation of the physical evidence of the use by rioters of special ammunition intended for damaging special equipment.
An examination of the law enforcement’s special equipment damaged in the riots indicates that special ammunition were used against it, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s public relations department has reported.
“About a dozen shots were fired from various types of firearms, some of which were probably equipped with special ammunition. Investigators and operatives said the shooters aimed at people who were driving the special equipment as most of the shots hit the cabins and the windscreen,” a report posted on the Interior Ministry website says.
A group of investigators said they had found seven holes in the hull of one water canon and two holes in the hull of another water canon. “Some of the holes were made by shots that were able to break the metal hulls of special vehicles,” the police said.
Interior Ministry provided photos of the holes, saying that
an expert evaluation has been ordered.
Transdniestria suspends bus traffic to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kyiv over incident in Ukraine
TIRASPOL: Regular bus traffic from Tiraspol to Moscow and St. Petersburg and from Bendery to Kyiv has been suspended for the sake of the security of Transdniestrian residents, head of the unrecognized republic’s state transportation and road service Vladimir Trandasir told reporters on Thursday.
“Our mini-bus was stopped in the vicinity of the Mankovka village in the Cherkasy region of Ukraine last night with the use of special means, the so-called Molotov cocktail. The driver was advised at gunpoint to go back, and he followed that advice,” he said.
In the words of Trandasir, the driver works for a Moldovan transportation company operating this route.
“The traffic will be suspended until further notice,” he said.
A number of Ukrainian media outlets circulated in Transdniestria said that a mini-bus traveling from Tiraspol to St. Petersburg had been set on fire by unknown persons with Molotov cocktails on the Odesa-Kyiv road.
The Ukrainian journalists said the attack was perpetrated by local residents who set up a roadblock to hinder the transportation of the opponents of opposition forces to Kyiv.
UK foreign secretary says Ukrainian govt “should be held accountable” for violence
KYIV: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that the Ukrainian authorities “should be held accountable” for the ongoing violence in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
“Violence against peaceful protestors is unacceptable and the Ukrainian gov should be held accountable,” Hague said on his Twitter page.
Ukrainian opposition leaders meet with foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Poland
The opposition leaders Arseniy Yatseniuk (Batkivschyna), Vitali Klitschko (UDAR), and Oleh Tiahnybok (Freedom) have met with the foreign ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Laurent Fabius of France and Radoslaw Sikorski of Poland.
“A meeting between the opposition leaders and the foreign ministers of Poland, Germany, and France has just ended,” Yatseniuk’s press officer Olha Lappo told Interfax-Ukraine.
Lappo said the meeting had addressed the possible ways of stopping the bloodshed and preventing further escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.
“The only way to do that is to create a demilitarized zone and take the conflict to parliament,” Lappo quoted Yatseniuk as saying.
Klitschko, for his part, blamed the current events in central Kyiv on the authorities, reiterated that the only way to stop the bloodshed is “full resignation of the administration.”
“A truce was declared. It was violated by the Berkut police, who tried to burn down the Conservatory…That was the end of the truce,” Klitschko was quoted as saying by his press officer Oksana Zynovyeva.
Klitschko also restated that the protesters “stayed peaceful at night, but they were deceived.”
EU Ministers left Kyiv without meeting with Yanukovych – mass media
The Ministers of the European Union left Ukraine, having not met with President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych. BBC Ukraine reports this.
The meeting was canceled due to security reasons.
EU demands elections in Ukraine – French foreign minister
The Ukrainian administration should conduct elections, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in an interview with BFM TV on Thursday before the meeting between an EU delegation and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
“Our purpose is to cause the Ukrainian administration to conduct elections. There is no solution other than elections,” he said.
United States bans visa issuance to about 20 senior Ukrainian government officials
The United States has banned visa issuance to some 20 senior officials of Ukraine’s government who are considered liable for acts of violence in Ukraine, the U.S. Department of State said.
“So today [Wednesday], we moved to restrict visas, to deny – to ban visa issuance to some 20 senior members of the Ukrainian government and other individuals who we considered responsible for, complicit in, or responsible for ordering or otherwise directing human rights abuses related to political repression in Ukraine,” a senior State Department official told reporters on Wednesday.
The names of those involved haven’t been disclosed.
“In the event that things go well, these visa sanctions that we’ve put in place are reversible, but in the event that they do not go well, there are other steps that we can take in close coordination with the EU in coming days,” the official said.
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