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Churkin: US behind Ukraine crisis after investing $5bn in 'regime change'

Published time: April 22, 2014 21:02
Edited time: April 24, 2014 12:31
Armed men wearing military fatigues gather by Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) as they stand guard outside the regional state building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 16, 2014 (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)

Armed men wearing military fatigues gather by Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) as they stand guard outside the regional state building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 16, 2014 (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)

The US is to blame for the events in Ukraine as it invested $5 billion in regime change in the country, taking a more radical stance that its EU allies, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s envoy to the UN, said.

“It seems it was the Americans, who tried to push through the most radical scenario,” Churkin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 channel. “They didn’t want any sort of compromise between [ousted President Viktor] Yanukovich and the opposition. And, I think, they came to the conclusion that it was time to cash in those $5 billion and handle the matter towards abrupt regime change, which, eventually, happened.”

This explains why the US, but not the European Union, took center stage when the coup resulted in legal vacuum in Kiev, he added.

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland told CNN on Monday that Washington has invested around $5 billion into supporting democracy in Ukraine since the fall of Soviet Union.

But Churkin has doubts about Nuland’s claims, saying that “any sane person would, at least, say that those investments didn’t pay off.”

“If those $5 billion were spent on support of democracy, but not overthrow of the existing government and regime change, then no democracy has triumphed there [in Ukraine],” he explained.

'Washington’s money, radical approach led to a completely unexpected result'

The Maidan standoff was “a head-on attack” by the US and its Western allies aimed at distancing Russia and Ukraine from each other, Russia’s envoy to the UN said.

However, it failed and “led to a completely unexpected result for them when Crimea was reunited with Russia,” he stressed.

“One has to be naïve to suggest that it all happened fast,” Churkin said of the deal on the de-escalation of the Ukraine crisis, which Kiev agreed with Russia, the US and EU on April 17.

But at the same time, he stressed that consultations between Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his American counterpart John Kerry “weren’t in vain” as the agreement “provided good basis for further growth.”

“Despite all their recurrent adventurism, they [the US] realize that peace is rather fragile and too many crises, too much unrest has been created in different parts of the world. I don’t think they’re interested in the emergence of a new serious crisis, with non-obvious consequences for them,” the envoy said.

Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin (AFP Photo / Don Emmert)

According to Churkin, one of those steps should be the confiscation of 3 million items of weapons, which are currently illegally held by the “radical nationalists” in Ukraine.

Kiev calls for the disarmament of federalization supporters in eastern Ukraine, but “how will the radicals [from Western Ukraine] lay down their arms as they are sometimes declared the National Guard and thus obtain official status?” he wondered.

The envoy has ruled out the possibility of a UN peacekeeping operation in Ukraine, calling it “unrealistic.”

“Ukraine is a very big country and from political point of view there’s no frontline there. And, thank God, it can’t be drawn,” he said.

The presence of observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) “is just enough to monitor what’s happening there,” Churkin stressed.

The envoy also said the EU has begun realizing there’s “a considerable danger” in the rise of far-right forces in Ukraine.

“It’s not a secret that Europe has radicals of its own. Giving such a boost to the nationalist radicalism in Europe… I think that serious politicians understand this,” he said.

But those concerns are only shared during personal contacts, but “nobody talks openly about it,” he added.

US Vice President Joe Biden (R) and Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk leave after a joint press conference in Kiev on April 22, 2014 (AFP Photo / Sergey Supinsky)

Ukraine has been in turmoil since democratically elected president Yanukovich was removed from power via a coup powered by far-right radicals.

The community is split into two parts as the majority of the Russian speaking population refuses to accept the new authority in Kiev.

In March, the Republic of Crimea held a referendum to part ways with Ukraine and re-join Russia, of which it was part prior to 1954.

The move inspired a push for independence in other regions of Ukraine, with activists seizing government buildings in Donetsk and other south-eastern regions.

Despite Kiev’s military operation against the protesters turning into a flop, the situation remains tense in Ukraine, with armed radicals arriving in the country’s east to cause provocations.