BY Victoria Ojeme
Russia Ambassador to Nigeria speaks on the crisis in Ukraine
We would like to know why Russia occupies key sites on the Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine, including airports and communications hubs?
There are speculations and fictions circulating nowadays on the situation in Ukraine. The only thing that can be stated for sure is the fact that the change of power in Kiev has all signs of illegitimate actions. Concerning allegations on an occupation, we would like to underline that they are not in accord with the reality.
A limited number of Russian military people are based in the Crimea in full compliance with the basic agreements signed earlier between Russia and Ukraine and these people ensure security of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation.
In order to get a complete and unbiased understanding of the whole situation, it is necessary to note that a lot of Russian citizens and ethnic Russians live in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. For instance, the share of the Russian people living in the Crimea is 60 per cent, in addition to the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation and its personnel based in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
It is well known that during the crisis, many Ukrainian cities have been seized by armed radicals under extremist and anti-Russian slogans. We heard requests to restrict or punish the use of the Russian language, prohibit unwanted political parties, threats of acts of violence have been voiced by the extremists.
Making comments on the current situation during the meeting with Russian and international journalists on March, 4, 2014, the President of the Russian Federation, V.V.Putin declared that the defense of our military facilities was enhanced because of these constant threats. The President continued that armed radicals were moving to Crimea.
Therefore, Mr. Putin stressed that if we see such uncontrolled actions spreading to the eastern region of the country, and if the people ask us for help, while we already have official request from the legitimate President of Ukraine, Mr. V.F.Yanukovych, we retain the right to use all available means to protect those people. We believe this would be absolutely legitimate. But this is our last resort.
That‘s why I believe we won‘t have to do such things in eastern Ukraine. President Putin also said that at this particular moment, tension in Crimea linked to the possibility of using our armed forces simply died down and there was no need to use them.
Would Russia pull back it’s forces since NATO has said that it is a violation of international law?
We are not talking about any violations of the international law. It is just the efforts of the Russian Federation to protect Russian citizens living in Ukraine in full compliance with Russian legislation. All those who attempt to interpret this situation as aggression, and threaten all kinds of sanctions and boycotts, are the very same partners of ours, who consistently and insistently encouraged the political forces they favour in Ukraine, to enforce ultimatums and refusals of any dialogue, ignoring the concerns of south and east Ukraine and ultimately – the polarization of the Ukrainian community.
Would Russia release the ousted Ukrainian President who is currently taking refuge in Russia to Ukraine to face the charges against him?
Viktor Yanukovych is a free man. He came to Russia because he was receiving death threats in Ukraine after the illegitimate change of power occurred there.
Don’t you think this is a wake up call for war as Ukraine has ordered full military mobilization in response to Russia’s build-up of its forces in Crimea?
We appeal not to use the word “war”. All parties have to put aside rhetoric and geopolitical considerations. We need to ensure the implementation of the obligations laid down in the Agreement of 21 February between President V.F.Yanukovych and the opposition, including the start of the constitutional reform process with the participation and full consideration of the opinions of all the Ukrainian regions to be further approved at a nationwide referendum.
Why should Russia troops surround Ukraine army base in Perevalnoe, south of the Crimea regional capital, Simferpol, with another base in Sevastopol blockaded by a pro-Russia “ self -defence unit”.
In this case, it is not correct to talk about “Russian troops”. In response to the threats of violent action by extremists who endanger the life and legal interests of Russians and the entire Russian-speaking population, self-defence units were created by the people, who had to prevent the attempts at forced occupation of administrative buildings in Crimea and the entry of weapons and ammunition into the peninsula.
I would like to emphasize once again that Russia’s position has always been consistent and open. If Ukraine is just a territory for geopolitical games of individual western politicians, then for us it is a fraternal country, with which we have many ages of shared history.
Russia is interested in a stable and powerful Ukraine, where the legal rights and interests of the Ukrainians, our compatriots and all nationals are enforced. Our measures are adequate and absolutely legitimate in the extraordinary conditions, which were not created by us, when the life and security of the residents of Crimea and the south-eastern regions are in real danger because of the irresponsible and provocative actions of extremists.
We are for a faster return of the situation in Ukraine to normalty, on the basis of the above mentioned agreement of 21 February, including the formation of a legitimate national unity government considering the interests of all political forces and regions of the country.