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Issue #1628      February 26, 2014

Sanctions against Ukraine blackmail

Threats of sanctions against the Ukrainian government look like blackmail, and a demand for early elections is a way to force Kiev towards the EU, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The sanctions will only encourage extremists, he added. The statement came just prior to President Viktor Yanukovych leaving Kiev and the parliament appointing the speaker interim president until a May poll. Yanukovych rejected the appointment of the speaker and said that he remained the legitimate president.

Yanukovych had made a statement on television in which he compared the situation in Ukraine with the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.

“Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and banditry and a coup d’état. I will do everything to protect my country from break-up, to stop bloodshed.”

He continued, “I am not leaving the country for anywhere. I do not intend to resign. I am the legitimately elected government.”

Lavrov blasted the sanctions against Ukraine, some of which have already been imposed by the US, and are now being eyed by the EU, as “double standards.” Such actions will only encourage extremists to continue violence in the country, he said.

“The [Ukrainian] opposition cannot or does not want to dissociate itself from extremists. The US lays all the blame on the Ukrainian government – this is a double standard,” Lavrov said.

“The EU is also trying to discuss the imposing of sanctions, at the same time there are uninvited missions coming to Ukraine. Such actions resemble blackmail,” the minister said. [Since Lavrov’s statement, the EU decided on sanctions – Ed]

Not only are such threats “inappropriate,” but also will aggravate the conflict in Ukraine, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, said.

There is “no doubt” a “plain coup attempt” is going on in Ukraine, with armed rioters widely using firearms, the spokesman added.

“We strongly condemn the actions of radicals and extremists, who are mostly responsible for violence and bloody riots. Serious responsibility also lies with the opposition, who have been unable to fulfil the agreements reached with the government,” Lukashevich said.

The so-called Maidan [Independence Square] leaders must “immediately stop bloodshed” and “continue seeking a peaceful resolution to the crisis without threats or ultimatums,” he stressed.

Russia’s President Putin, in response to a proposal from President Yanukovich, is going to send ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to Kiev to mediate talks between the government and the opposition, Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, after the two leaders had spoken on the phone.

“It’s well known that Lukin has vast diplomatic service experience, is admired among rights activists and used to lead a large opposition party,” Peskov said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lukashevich said that there are plenty of “false flag reports,” such as Russian riot police taking part in quelling the riots, which are distributed over social networks and by “some politicians.”

“As regards to the accusations of Russia, there is a proverb saying that a guilty mind is never at ease. We are deeply concerned with what is happening and how the Western states are commenting on it and are trying to affect it. In Western media, the situation is presented in an extremely perverted way, some simple mantras are hammered into heads like that the West is calling on the government to keep its hands off Maidan,” Lavrov said. However, the Western politicians and media prefer not to go into detail on what is happening on Maidan.

“Police pelted with Molotov cocktails, the killings, the seizure of buildings – none of that is being commented on or explained,” the minister said.

The individual sanctions that the US and the EU are trying to impose are “absolutely illegitimate” from the point of view of the international law, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The only legitimate sanctions can be imposed by the UN Security Council, the ministry stressed.

Another senior Russian diplomat said that an information war has begun in Ukraine creating a dangerous situation.

“Invented stories about mass hostage taking and murders are being spread via social networking services. All this creates a very dangerous atmosphere,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Rossiya 24 TV.

Russia Today

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