LONDON, 14 March, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting his U.S. counterpart John Kerry in London on Friday that Russia did not and simply could not have any plans to invade the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine.
Lavrov described as outrageous the recent clashes between the pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian demonstrators in Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine.
He said that militant groups of armed men had arrived in Donetsk from other regions to deal with peaceful protesters who were criticizing the interim government in Kiev.
“Russia does not and cannot have any plans to invade southeastern Ukraine. We believe that the rights of ethnic Russians, Hungarians and Bulgarians must be ensured and protected without fail,” Lavrov stressed, adding that additional security precautions taken in Crimea had prevented any serious offences on the peninsula.
“People’s volunteer units (that were set up in Crimea) were determined to avert the repeat of the Maidan scenario,” Lavrov said.
"Talks with Kerry were certainly useful"
Russia and the United States still have disagreements over the situation in Ukraine, but talks with Kerry were certainly useful, says Lavrov.
“We do not have common understanding of the situation, some disagreements persist, but talks were certainly useful to realise how we understand each other,” the Russian foreign minister noted.
Russia urges the Ukrainian authorities to fully observe the provisions of the effective agreements on cooperation in civil aviation.
"According to the information provided by the Russian airline Aeroflot, which has been appointed to carry out regular flights to all the destinations in Ukraine for the purpose of transporting passengers, freight, luggage, and mailings, the Ukrainian border service is denying entry of the Ukrainian territory to Aeroflot's customers and crews," the ministry's report said.
"The Russian side assesses these steps as provocations standing at variance with international acts and conventions on human rights and regulations for security of international commercial passenger flights," the ministry said.
Crimea for Russia “means much more than the Comoro Islands for France or the Falkland Islands for Great Britain,” Lavrov said.
In reply to the question about forthcoming referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea after which sanctions against Russia may follow the Russian minister said with hope that Western partners “realise that this is really the case that cannot be considered in isolation from the history.”
“Are there some precedents in international law or there are no precedents, but they exist, by the way. Everybody understands, I state this with responsibility, what Crimea means for Russia,” the Russian foreign minister noted.
Lavrov said that Russia’s western partners who were offering to set up a contact group to deal with the Ukrainian crisis proceeded from the fact that the purpose of that multilateral process should be to promote a direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia.
“It seems to us that we are dealing with an open substitute of notions. 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.
Sanctions against Russia
Sanctions against Russia are a counterproductive instrument and if such decision is taken, this will not promote mutual interests of development of our partnership - Lavrov said.
Ukrainian authorities’ claims about the allegedly unaffordable financial and technical conditions impeding an emergency surveillance flight over the Russian territory under the Treaty on Open Skies “are causing astonishment as a minimum,” Sergei Koshelev, the chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s department for international defense cooperation told Itar-Tass.
"Considering the emergency character of the flight, we recommended that the Ukrainian side pay up the expenses (meals and accommodation of the mission personnel, fueling and troubleshooting services) before the arrival of the jet at the Kubinka airbase near Moscow,” he said. “The offered the standard prices effective for all the signatory countries of the Treaty on Open Skies.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did not voice any threats against Russia, Russian Sergey Lavrov said.
Russia and Ukraine do not need any international structure to discuss Russian-Ukrainian relations, Sergey Lavrov said.
“We do not need any international structure to discuss Russian-Ukrainian relations and these relations did not interrupt,” the minister noted.
“When this happened what happened in Kiev and the legitimately elected president was ousted from power, we had some difficulties, but Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed members of the government to work on settling daily issues with our partners in current Ukrainian leadership,” the Russian foreign minister noted.
No one cancelled the right of peoples for self-determination, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“It is senseless to argue further (on results of a referendum in Crimea - Itar-Tass eds), we should wait for its results. No one cancelled the right of peoples for self-determination. This is fixed in the United Nations Charter,” the Russian foreign minister noted.
The international community should appeal to launch a constitutional reform in Ukraine.
“The international community should appeal to launch the process of constitutional reform, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament - Itar-Tass eds) should invite all regions without exception to involve in it,” the Russian foreign minister noted.
Sergei Lavrov said that it was necessary to respect the opinion of Crimean peoples and wait for the outcome of a referendum on Crimea’s status slated for March 16.
“As for the referendum, the president of Russia has already expressed our position on the issue saying that we will respect the choice of Crimean peoples and will express our attitude when we know the results,” Lavrov said, adding that any further speculations were senseless.