Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, speaking at the conclusion of the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, bluntly warned that NATO has no useful role in Ukraine. “The results of the meetings held in Brussels convince one that NATO has no, and should not have any role in settling the crisis in Ukraine,” he told Itar-Tass in an interview. “Any attempt [by the Alliance] to raise its profile, or, moreover, intervene will only bring about additional strain and heat up the situation. Particularly inappropriate in this context are allusions to the decisions of the Bucharest summit of 2008 (including a probable prospect of NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine note by Itar-Tass correspondent), and the ‘freedom of choice’ slogans that ignore the constitutional provisions about the non-bloc status of Ukraine.”
After pointing out that the military exercises ordered two days ago by Russian President Vladimir Putin, are being completely misread in Brussels, as are the reasons why the people of the Crimea are closing ranks against the new regime in Kiev, Grushko slammed NATO’s hypocrisy. “Of course, we took note of the NATO Council’s statement which contains a lot of provisions on the importance of the political process in the interests of all the Ukrainian people, and on the need to observe the supremacy of law and human rights,” he said. “But, however hard we listened to the remarks made, none of participants in the Brussels sessions uttered words censuring the actions of the radical elements, the unceasing pressure on and intimidation of members of the opposition parties and journalists, the onslaught on the Russian language, interference in the affairs of the Church, and desecration of Orthodox temples and memorials.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Responds to NATO Warnings
Russia responded to the statements coming out of the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday, warning Russia not to make any “miscalculations” regarding Ukraine, by pointing out that NATO and the West are already deeply involved in Ukraine, and should stop.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow issued a statement Thursday, noting that the Feb. 21 agreement between Ukrainian President Yanukovich and the opposition groups still has not been fulfilled. “Militants have still not laid down arms, they have not freed administrative buildings, or announced their intention to ‘make order’ in all the Ukrainian regions, and there are threats of physical reprisals. Furthermore, the government of national unity that the agreement called for has been ‘forgotten’ and instead ‘government of champions,’ which includes representatives of national extremists, is being created.” Constitutional reform has also been forgotten.
“We appeal to those western partners, who initially supported the opposition and who supported the Agreement of the 21 February, to become fully aware of their responsibility for its implementation,” the statement continues. “The statements that this document has already played its role are not serious. All the tasks listed and agreed on the 21 February, have not lost their meaning, in fact they have become even more topical to prevent further polarization of the community as a result of radical actions.
“We must stop interference in church affairs, the besmearing of Orthodox temples, memorials in honor of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War, who freed Ukraine from fascism, and other monuments.
“We are seriously concerned about the cancellation of the Law on the Foundations of the State Language Policy in violation of Ukraine’s international obligations, which leads to further deprivation of the rights of minorities, restriction of the freedom of mass media, bans on the activities of individual political parties.
“We currently note frequent appeals to Russia, by western countries, for cooperation about issues related to the situation in Ukraine. We proposed this long ago, long before this crisis ever entered its hot phase, however, at the time our colleagues were not disposed towards this.
“Nevertheless, we are ready to interact, understanding clearly that it must be done honestly, based on the ability not only to agree, but also to fulfill the agreements, which should take into account the interests of all the Ukrainian people, as well as all partners of Ukraine. The implementation of obligations under the Agreement of the 21 February would become an important step along this path.
“The attempts to replay agreed actions unilaterally every time, the lack of any wish to perceive the real situation as it is, never leads to any good. When NATO starts reviewing the situation in Ukraine, it sends the wrong signal. It even seemed appropriate for the NATO Secretary General to mention that Ukraine’s membership of NATO is not an urgent priority of the Ukrainian leadership. Does this mean that membership should be a priority, but not an urgent one? They are attempting to decide for the Ukrainian people again.
“We insistently recommend that everybody should refuse provocative statements and respect the out-of-bloc status of Ukraine, which is formalized in its Law on the Foundations of Domestic and Foreign Policy.”