Russia Insists Crimea Referendum Is Legal, And That The U.S. Must Rein In Right-Wing Thugs Rampaging In Eastern Ukraine

Over the past 48 hours, both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have used numerous diplomatic exchanges with American and European officials to urge that they help put an end to the rampage by right-wing thugs in Eastern Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry also pointedly warned on March 15 that “Russia is receiving numerous requests to defend civilians. These requests will be considered.”

* March 15 Foreign Ministry statement: “Guerrillas, including from Right Sector, are continuing to rampage in Ukraine. Alarming information has been received about movement of a column of armed Right Sector mercenaries out of Kharkov in the direction of Donetsk and Luhansk… During their meeting in London on March 14, Foreign Minister Lavrov drew the attention of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry to the danger of the Supreme Rada’s decisions legitimizing Right Sector and other radicals through bringing them into law enforcement bodies such as the national Guard.”

* March 15 phone conversation between Lavrov and Kerry. The Foreign Ministry reported that Lavrov “underscored the need for the current Kiev authorities to rein in the rampaging of ultranationalist and radical groups that are terrorizing dissidents, the Russian-speaking population, and our compatriots.”

* March 16 phone conversation between Lavrov and Kerry. The Foreign Ministry reported that “Lavrov called for the USA to use its influence on the current Kiev authorities to stop the mass lawlessness and abuses against the Russian-speaking population…”

* March 16 phone conversation between Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Foreign Ministry reported that Putin pointed out that the Crimean referendum is “in full accordance with international law,” and that “Russia will respect the Crimean people’s choice. Mr. Putin also expressed concern over tensions in eastern and south-eastern parts of Ukraine being heated up by radical groups with the connivance of current Kiev authorities.”

As if to confirm all of Russia’s charges, Ukraine’s illegitimate Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, freshly returned from a trip to Washington, where he received instructions from his handlers in the Obama administration, said on Sunday that those resisting his government would be hunted down and destroyed: “We will find all of them–if it takes one year, two years–and bring them to justice and try them in Ukrainian and international courts. The ground will burn under their feet.” Yatsenyuk further defended his government’s plan to legalize and incorporate Right Sector, Svoboda, and other neonazi thugs into Ukraine’s official military forces, through the creation of a 20,000-strong National Guard. “It will have training centers; legal weapons will be distributed,” Yats stated. “You will have the opportunity to defend the country, with the forces of the National Guard and the security forces.”

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