To settle Ukraine crisis, rebellious east should be heard – top Russian diplomat

Russian Foreign Ministry Building Tower file photo

(RIA Novosti – May 6, 2014) Russia would like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to play a more active role in establishing a dialogue between the Kiev authorities and the separatist forces in Ukraine’s southeast, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said. He went on to say that any format of future international efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine should ensure “adequate representation” of the country’s southeast regions. Ryabkov also accused the USA and the EU of failing to recognize the actual state of affairs in Ukraine. He made the statements in an interview with Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti posted on the news agency’s website on 6 May.

Asked to comment on the prospects of possible further international efforts to settle the crisis in Ukraine given that the agreements reached in Geneva on 17 April are not being implemented, Ryabkov said: “We would like the OSCE to play a more active role in contributing to a dialogue between the so-called government in Kiev and the southeast regions. In what form this could be done is another matter: we are quite flexible there.”

Further asked about what format possible international contacts on resolving the Ukrainian crisis may take, Ryabkov replied: “Various schemes are being discussed, but the main thing is for Ukraine’s southeast regions to receive adequate representation, to be present at the table and for their voice to be heard. Because what is being proposed from Kiev in terms of a so-called constitutional reform and a certain increase in the status of the Russian language is just about empty promises and as few specific actions as possible. We do not believe what is being said. What needs to be done here is not to make some declarations and promises but to really invite the southeast to a dialogue and really change the country’s p olitical system through, as envisaged in the Geneva statement, an inclusive political dialogue.”

Ryabkov went on to accuse the Kiev authorities of failure to fulfil the Geneva agreements. He said: “Largely speaking, there would have been no need to look for any additional platforms, round tables or any other dialogue formats, had those who are now trying to run the country from Kiev approached the implementation of their obligations under the 17 April Geneva statement responsibly and with an understanding of how critical the current moment in the history of their country is. Unfortunately, instead, the opposite happened: a so-called antiterrorist, which is in fact a military, operation against the southeast regions began. The horrifying tragedy in Odessa took place, whose origins lie in the Kiev authorities’ irresponsibility. Against this backdrop, chances of finding a new approach, in my view, are minimal.”

Ryabkov went on to accuse the USA and the EU of “indul ging the ambitions of those who are setting the tone in Kiev” and failing to see what is really happening in Ukraine. “Instead of specific steps and practical actions, our partners limit themselves to pouring dirt on Russia and we hear the constant ‘wailing’ about sanctions. This does not help,” he added.

Ryabkov admitted that Ukrainian developments had had an effect on the overall amount and atmosphere of Russian-US contacts, including the missile defence dialogue, adding however that “responsibility for that lay on the American side”.