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Gorbachev on Kiev’s military op: 'It must be stopped immediately'

Published time: August 30, 2014 14:16
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.(AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.(AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

Ex-Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev has urged Kiev to bring their military operation in eastern regions to an end. Russia, he added, is doing the right thing by keeping away from interfering with the neighboring country, thus saving thousands of lives.

“It must be stopped immediately,” Gorbachev told RSN Radio, referring to Kiev’s “anti-terrorist” operation, launched in April this year in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Gorbachev cited UN figures on the conflict: as of August 13, over 2,000 people were killed there.

“They must do everything possible to stop murdering each other; it is one nation,” Gorbachev said. However, he warned that this should remain Ukraine’s own business.

“If [other] states get involved, the scope may widen and everyone would want a hand there – we may end up with a terrible slaughter in Europe,” he said. “We can’t afford it.”

Gorbachev also praised Russia’s policy of staying away from direct engagement, commenting on the accusations coming from the West that Moscow has started a “military intervention.”

“If our country intervenes, such a fire could break out that the whole world wouldn’t be able to put it out. And it is right that the politicians are upholding their position,” Gorbachev said.

Lavrov: No proof given for Western allegations about Russian troops in Ukraine

Gorbachev also called on the UN, EU and the parties involved in the conflict to take concrete steps to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.

“Our proposal was to open corridors, to take people away from all those mousetraps. But no, no. Some prefer staying in warm offices and commenting from there. And what is happening to the people [in Ukraine] in the meantime – to kids, women? Maternity hospitals are being shelled, and schools and hospitals are being destroyed.”

Ukrainian army servicemen repair an armoured vehicle at their position near Debaltseve, Donetsk region, August 29, 2014.(Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

Earlier this year, Gorbachev supported the results of the referendum, when Crimea decided to join Russia following a coup in Kiev that toppled President Viktor Yanukovich. “People want it, it means we have to meet their needs,” Gorbachev told Itar-Tass in March, referring to the referendum.

In January, Gorbachev, 83, also appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

“It cannot be tolerated that Ukrainians fight with Ukrainians. It is an awful absurdity,” he wrote in a letter to both presidents, where he drew upon the example of his own family – both his mother and wife were of Ukrainian origin.