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Russia proposes creating international ‘support group’ to resolve Ukrainian crisis

Published time: March 17, 2014 17:00
Edited time: March 17, 2014 20:14
Foreign Affairs Ministry on Smolensko-Sennaya Square in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Valeriy Melnikov)

Foreign Affairs Ministry on Smolensko-Sennaya Square in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Valeriy Melnikov)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has offered the US and the EU to form an international support group for Ukraine to help the country elaborate a new constitution, conduct an all-people's referendum and then organize nationwide elections.

Ukraine’s support group must be compact and acceptable for all Ukrainian political forces, maintains the statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official website.

Earlier the Russian Foreign Minister pointed out that the western countries who were offering to set up a contact group to deal with the Ukrainian crisis proceeded from the opinion that Russia is to blame for this crisis and that the purpose of the multilateral process should be to promote a direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia.

“Russia is not to blame for this crisis. We warned everybody, our European partners in the first place, that it was impossible to present Ukraine with a false choice which was the case when Ukraine was preparing to sign an association and free trade agreement with the European Union,” the Russian Foreign Minister stressed, following the meeting with US State Secretary John Kerry last week.

Russia and Ukraine do not need any international structure to discuss Russian-Ukrainian relations, Sergey Lavrov said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed members of the government to work on settling daily issues with our partners in the current Ukrainian leadership.

The current situation in Ukraine is a result of a deep crisis which “incited polarization” within Ukrainian society and “sharply aggravated disagreements between different areas of the country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed on Monday.

To overcome these difficulties, Russia prepared proposals for US and European partners about external contributions and the steps that “should be taken by Ukrainians themselves to overcome the crisis,” the ministry said.

Proposed principles for members of Ukraine support group

- Respect for the interests of the multiethnic peoples of Ukraine;

- Support of the legitimate aspirations of all Ukrainians and all regions of the country to live safely in accordance with their customs and traditions, to speak their native language freely, to have unimpeded access to their culture and maintain extensive contacts with their compatriots and neighbors;

- Inadmissibility of the revival of neo-Nazi ideology and the necessity that Ukrainian politicians dissociate themselves from ultra-nationalists and suppress their attempts to destabilize the various regions of the country;

- Importance of civil peace and national concord in Ukraine must be recognized to promote constructive relations in the Euro-Atlantic region on the basis of equality and mutual consideration of interests of all regional states;

The Russian Foreign Ministry also promoted a number of goals the Ukraine support group should pursue in its work.

1. Investigation of acts of violence

Immediately implement the obligations contained in the agreement signed on February 21, 2014, to settle the situation in Ukraine, which includes confiscation of illegal weapons, release of illegally occupied buildings, streets and squares, and impartial investigation of the acts of violence in December 2013 and February 2014

2. New Constitution, federate state, Russian as second state language

The Ukrainian parliament must without delay convene a constitutional assembly, with equal representation of all Ukrainian regions for the preparation of a new Federal Constitution, which would include the following principles:

The rule of law, protection of human rights and the rights of all national minorities, freedom of speech and activities of political parties and mass media, as well as other principles that would secure the political system of Ukraine as a democratic sovereign federate state with neutral military-political status;

Russian language along with Ukrainian language will be given the status of a second state language. The other languages will receive status in accordance with the European Convention on regional and minority languages;

Ukraine’s regions will elect their legislative and executive authorities by direct voting and will have a broad mandate, reflecting the cultural and historical specifics of each of them, in matters of economy, finance, in the social sphere, language, education, interregional relations, while protecting the rights of national minorities living in each subject of the Federation;

Interference in church affairs and inter-confessional relations will be prohibited and punishable;

The decision to approve the draft of the new Constitution must be adopted by consensus of all participants of the constitutional assembly.

The draft Constitution will be submitted to a nationwide referendum.

3. National and local elections

Immediately after the approval of the new Constitution, national elections of the supreme bodies of state power of Ukraine must be launched, as well as elections of legislative and executive authorities in each subject of the Federation. All elections must be conducted with broad and objective international observation.

4. Recognition of Crimean referendum

The right of Crimea to determine its fate, in accordance with the result of the referendum of March 16, 2014, should be recognized and respected.

5. International guarantees

Ukraine’s state system, established on the basis of the abovementioned goals and principles, as well as its sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral military-political status will be guaranteed by Russia, the European Union, the US and secured by a resolution of the UN Security Council.

The Foreign Ministry said that Russia is ready, together with its partners in the US and the EU, to initiate without delay the establishment of such a support group to facilitate the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis in accordance with these proposals.

The Ukrainian coup-imposed government rejected the Russian proposal.

"The statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry looks like an ultimatum," Foreign Ministry spokesman Evgeny Perebiynis told the Interfax Ukraine news agency. "The position as set out is absolutely unacceptable for the Ukrainian side."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has also said at a press conference in Brussels on Monday that Berlin is against Russia’s proposal.