Moscow is urging to provide for Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions to take part in the upcoming talks with Kiev, Russia, the US, and EU on the current crisis, says FM Sergey Lavrov.
The project of a new constitution should be presented well before that.
“We are ready for multilateral talks with the US, EU and Ukraine,” said Lavrov during a news conference in Moscow with his Angolan counterpart, Georges Rebelo Chicoti. Though the particular date of the talks has not been set up, Russia is ready to start negotiations within 10 days, Lavrov said.
The southeastern regions of Ukraine should also take part in the negotiations, he said. Following the coup in Kiev, Ukraine’s southeast saw a wave of anti-Maidan, and in many cases also pro-Russian, rallies. In cities such as Kharkov and Donetsk, activists went as far as attempts to proclaim independence.
The coup-imposed government in Ukraine has not made any positive steps towards these regions, Lavrov said, saying that people there now “fear that their interests are being ignored by Kiev.”
Meanwhile, the representatives from these regions should be not their governors, most of whom have been recently appointed by new authorities in Kiev, but the candidates for future presidential elections, he added.
“These candidates have been approved by the political parties, they represent the legitimate power of Ukraine. They may finally start dialogue with Kiev authorities, under observation of the US, EU and Russia,” he said.
Lavrov also responded to the US’s recent criticism of Russia’s alleged role in the Ukraine crisis.
While accusing “external forces” of provoking the protests in southeastern Ukraine, Washington is just throwing the blame onto others, Lavrov said.
“I heard the statements by Jay Carney, White House press secretary, who said that some demonstrations in southern Ukraine are paid for and that there are certain ‘external forces’ who stand behind these protests. It sounds as if he is talking about five months ago and describing the events in Kiev’s Maidan Square,” Lavrov said, referring to protests against ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
In December, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland handed out snacks to protesters on Kiev’s Independence Square. Later in the month, Senator John McCain arrived in Kiev to show his support for the opposition. Addressing protesters in Maidan, he declared that Ukraine's future was with Europe, adding that the country would “make Europe better.”
Another important issue is a draft Ukrainian constitution which is scheduled to be presented April 15 as promised by Ukraine’s acting PM, Arseny Yatsenyuk.
“The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, said it had formed a special group to work on constitutional reform,” Lavrov said. “However, Russian authorities have not received any detailed information about what concepts are in this reform.”
Neither Kiev nor Washington has shown the proposed draft Ukrainian constitution to Moscow, Lavrov said.
Lavrov expressed concern that Ukraine’s new draft constitution would be presented shortly before the summit of Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU and it would be imposed without time to study the document. He urged Washington and Kiev to take into consideration the interests of all regions in Ukraine, as was agreed during recent talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Lavrov said he demanded explanations from Ukraine’s acting FM, Andrey Deschitsa, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, but has not received clear explanations.
“We only hear from PM Yatsenyuk and [acting President Aleksandr] Turchinov that there won’t be any federalization while the regions will be given broader powers,” he said.
Lavrov also said that Moscow urged the west to fulfill all the agreements on the situation in Ukraine, including that of February 21 on settling the crisis, which was signed by Yanukovich and opposition leaders, including Yatsenyuk and Vladimir Klitschko, on ending the political crisis in the country. The agreement was witnessed by EU foreign ministers from Germany and Poland.
“After the coup d’état in Ukraine, we called on the Kiev authorities to return to the agreement of February 21, but our calls were disregarded,” Lavrov said. “Now we are told that this agreement is long in the past.”
Lavrov said this was “unfair politics.”
“We want our partners to fulfill all the agreements, including carrying out constitutional reform which respects all the regions,” he said.