The centrality given to false claims of Russian aggression and incursions by our troops and armoured vehicles in discussions of the crisis in Ukraine raises a number of serious questions.
Why do those clamouring for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council consistently block our proposals for a comprehensive discussion of the origins of the Ukrainian tragedy and for collective action on a solution that serves the interests of all Ukrainian people, and instead treat Ukraine like a bargaining chip in unilateral geopolitical schemes?
Why do our partners in the UN Security Council, the OSCE and other international organisations consistently refuse to discuss the aerial bombardment and shelling of Ukrainian cities and towns, where entire neighbourhoods, schools, kindergartens, hospitals and Orthodox churches are destroyed and civilians continue to be killed?
Why do the Western capitals continue only to urge the Kiev government to use “proportionate” force instead of denouncing these crimes?
In every other conflict in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world, the West invariably opposes and demands an end to actions that harm civilians. And yet it takes the diametrically opposed position on southeast Ukraine in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.
Our partners surely understand that the military objective of the self-defence forces in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions is to push back Ukrainian forces to a distance where they are unable to use heavy weaponry, including multiple-launch rocket systems and ballistic missiles, against cities, killing innocent civilians and destroying critical infrastructure.
When Kiev says that negotiations will only begin after the capitulation of those it calls “separatists,” the self-defence forces are left with no choice but to keep fighting to defend their homes and families.
Regarding the detention of Russian military personnel in Ukraine, we have provided explanations of how they turned up in Ukraine. Ukrainian military personnel have entered Russia more than once, including with armoured vehicles. We provided them with medical treatment and other assistance and let them go. We expect Ukraine to act in a reciprocal way and without delay.
We also call on Kiev to end provocations against Russian diplomatic missions and staff in Ukraine. The latest outrage, occurring on 28 August in Kiev, involved security staff of the Russian Embassy, including the bodyguard of the Russian Ambassador. They were detained while exiting a café under the patently fabricated charge of carrying grenades, even though they showed their diplomatic passports. We insist on the immediate release of all Russian Embassy staff and urge Kiev to refrain from further violations of international conventions on diplomatic immunity.
As for the issue of who is fighting and where, we have pointed out more than once that there are many volunteers from foreign countries fighting on both sides in Ukraine. We have repeatedly inquired about specific media reports on this matter with our partners, including the “work” of retired US Special Forces soldiers in Ukraine and the role of US advisers and instructors in planning the operations of Ukrainian forces. Of course, there are Russian volunteers in Ukraine, and they are fighting on both sides. But the selective outrage of the international community over this or that symptom of the Ukrainian crisis will not help end it. It is important not to give into the temptation to distract from the main issue: the need for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire followed quickly by an inclusive national dialogue in Ukraine. This is the goal which Kiev, the EU and the United States agreed on with Russia. We honour these agreements and urge our partners to stop torpedoing their implementation.
This is the only path forward, provided the West really cares about the interests of not only the loyal portion of Ukraine’s political spectrum, but the entire multiethnic population of the Ukrainian state, whose future depends on national reconciliation.
Russia will work persistently to create conditions for negotiations by fostering trust between the opposing sides and taking practical measures to de-escalate the situation and help people who are suffering from the humanitarian crisis. This is the message expressed by President Vladimir Putin in his address on 29 August. We are urging all sides in Ukraine and all Western partners to show the good will to find a purely peaceful solution to the problems we face.
29 August 2014