In a lengthy interview broadcast on Russia’s Channel One TV two days ago, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave his fellow Russians a detailed report on the ironies of his recent discussions with the new Ukrainian government and his Western counterparts. Russia Today television network made it available for a Western audience, by publishing an English translation of the transcript.
When it comes to the fascist Ukrainian government which seized power in a coup, Lavrov said, his Western colleagues “keep on telling us that ‘When it’s gone, it’s gone; it can’t be undone. Let bygones be bygones, and let’s be constructive about it and think how you can call off your decision regarding Crimea.’ I’m not exaggerating; that is literally what they keep saying to us,” Lavrov reported.
“My response is very simple. Even if we don’t compare the legitimacy of what happened on Maidan and what happened in Crimea (and I am absolutely sure that the first was an unlawful act while the latter was the expression of the will of the people…), so, even if we forget about that, it makes absolutely no sense for a diplomat to say that you have to accept what happened on Maidan as reality but what happened in Crimea is not reality. This is a dirty trick. If they are willing to accept the first reality, then they definitely have to accept another one.”
He reported that his Western partners “all ask me to understand the sitution and walk in their shoes, because the West cannot put up with such developments”; they tell him privately, one-on-one, that “we do understand you, but we are a team, and we all have to speak with one voice.”
Whose voice? He did not name the British ventriloquist controlling his Western interlocutors.
He also relayed the content of his “calm” talks which went nowhere with Ukrainian acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia on the sidelines of the recent Nuclear Security summit in The Hague. Lavrov noted that when he had asked what reforms the Ukrainians plan for the Constitution, he had gotten little answer. Yet, “in The Hague, I had pretty long conversations with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of other EU member states, and it seemed to me that they know much more about the reforms planned by the parliament and the government it appointed than our Ukrainian counterparts.”
The West is deliberately turning a “blind eye” to the human rights violations and Hitler program of Svoboda and the Right Sector, he said. We have told them that Svoboda’s party platform “still relies on the principles set forth in the declaration signed by Ukrainians in June 1941, which is basically an oath of allegiance to Hitler and his new order in Europe.”
As for those who said that Moscow’s hand was behind the Right Sector, “we have factual information—which I have presented to my counterparts—about whose embassy maintained contacts with the Right Sector, and whose embassy its leaders visited all the time; whose representatives were always staying on Maidan, in the buildings controlled by the Right Sector from there [the movement] was orchestrating many of its acts of violence including sniper shootings.”
The full interview transcript is available here.
Medvedev Announces Economic Arrangement for Crimea
The Moscow Times reported today that Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev visited Crimea March 31 with a delegation of cabinet ministers and essentially held a sub-cabinet meeting as well as touring schools and other locations in Simferopol. He announced the formation of a Russian office for development of Crimea and a series of steps to improve its economy.
Medvedev’s visit drew public fits from the acting Ukraine government in Kiev, but that government also announced that it saw the number of Russian troops near Ukraine’s border being reduced. The Russian Defense Ministry said that at least one motorized battalion had left the area where maneuvers have been held in recent days, and returned to its base.
Medvedev announced Russia will make Crimea a special economic zone offering tax breaks, reduced customs and other charges. “Our aim is to make the peninsula as attractive as possible to investors, so that it can generate sufficient income for its own development,” he said, and also stated that pensions for Crimeans would be raised gradually over the coming months until they reach the [Russian] national level, and investments will be made in the peninsula’s transportation, energy, and water infrastructure.