Russia is interested in the stability and prosperity of Ukraine more than anyone and is acting within existing agreements, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said after a private meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in the country.
Any movements of Russian military within Crimea are in line with the existing arrangements with Ukraine on the deployment of military assets in the former Soviet republic, Churkin added, addressing media speculation on military deployments.
“We have an arrangement with Ukraine about the stationing of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol and we are acting within the framework of that agreement,” Churkin told reporters.
Earlier the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s press service dismissed reports that Russian troops were blocking an airport in Crimea. Media speculated heavily on the issue after Crimean self-defense squads in military uniforms raided the international airport in the republic’s capital, Simferopol on Friday night.
Churkin reminded that is was the opposition forces who broke the EU brokered agreement and forced Yanukovich to leave the country.
“Legal aspects of declaring him to be not president any longer are very questionable,” Churkin said. “What happened there is that immediately after this agreement was signed – not just by President Yanukovich and opposition leaders but the signatures were fixed by the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland, supported by the European Union – immediately there were threats that they will be storming the Presidential residence unless he resigns by 10am the next morning. My understanding is that is what caused him to leave the city. And that of course was not something which was envisaged in the agreement. That was a clear breach of that agreement.”
The best way to resolve the crisis in Ukraine will be a return to that agreement, Churkin believes.
“The best way to resolve the crisis is to look hard again at the February 21 agreement and try to do things the way they were described there,” he said. “They need to have a constitutional dialogue and process of forming a new constitution. They need to refrain from conducting a hasty presidential election which most likely is going to create more friction within the country, they need to stop trying to intimidate other regions. They need not just to declare, but to show, in their actual policies that this is about national reconciliation, unity, territorial integrity of Ukraine. They need to work to establish a common ground here.”
Churkin added that without a request from Crimean authorities Russia opposes any internationally imposed mediation to settle tensions there.
“This is something that should be analyzed. Crimean authorities should be asked what they think about such a mission ,” said Churkin. “But we are against an imposed mediation,” he said. Earlier, US ambassador Samantha Power told reporters that Washington has offered creating a mediation mission to settle the situation in Crimea.
As Russia’s UN ambassador was speaking to the press, US President Barack Obama made his own address from the White House, expressing his nation’s “concerns” about “reports” of “military movements” inside Ukraine.
"We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine," Obama said.
“The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine," he warned. The US leader stated that it is up to Ukrainian people to determine their own future as the situation “remains very fluid.”
Crimeans began protesting after the new self-proclaimed government in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages in official circumstances in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language for their communication. The residents have announced they are going to hold a referendum to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region.
Facts you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil.