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Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daily Briefing
15 March 2014 04:51

13 March, 19:26 Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Danylo Lubkivskiy

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to make a few statements concerning issues that are relevant to Ukraine’s foreign policy.

First of all, we welcome the results of negotiations in Washington, DC.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk met with President Barak Obama and continued his meetings with other US officials and representatives of international financial institutions.

The results are very practical and important. We highly appreciate the talks in Washington.

We recognize the very clear and strong position shared by the USA and the EU in support of Ukraine in a situation, when our state has experienced an act of aggression by the Russian Federation, when part of Ukraine remains occupied and human rights are being violated in Crimea.

Regarding the USA. We are entering a fundamentally new, very interesting and encouraging stage in relations with the United States—an intensified stage of cooperation. This was announced at the meeting between the Prime Minister and the President of the United States.

A decision regarding $1 billion in loan guarantees, along with a package of technical and other assistance, were approved.

We are restoring the work of the Commission on Strategic Partnership at the ministerial level (in the areas of nuclear security and nonproliferation, political dialogue and the rule of law, energy security, security and cooperation and science and technology).

In the near future we will hold consultations on defense between the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the US Department of Defense.

We are starting to prepare for the American-Ukrainian Business Summit in Washington, DC.

We are also starting work to create an Innovation Council. This is a very interesting and very practical development. Its main aim is to create an environment that will accelerate business development and the requisite legal culture, and an infrastructure for innovation in Ukraine.

Representatives of the Department of Justice and a team from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are in Ukraine to provide strategic advice on locating the illegally-obtained assets of former high-ranking officials of Ukraine. In this matter, additional assistance and technical expertise will be provided by the US State Department.

We anticipate receiving expert assistance for the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance and the National Bank of Ukraine to address short-term challenges.

These are specific agreements that have directly to do with people.

Expanded funding will be provided to launch a Fulbright Program in Science and Technology (Fullbright-STEP)—a pilot program in which travel and training will be reimbursed for a select group of Ukrainian graduate students to study in the USA during the 2014-1015 academic year.

The number of Ukrainian students participating in the exchange program for the 2014-2015 academic year will be doubled.

Over 50 future leaders of Ukraine will have the opportunity to take part in short exchange programs. We anticipate innovation grants to supplement this program.

We have had very good and encouraging results from the first day of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s and Foreign Minister Deshchytsia’s visit to the United States.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine appreciates that the US Senate will quickly review and approve the resolution put forward by Senator Richard Durbin with 32 co-sponsors entitled “Condemning the Undue Russian Aggression in Ukraine.”

This resolution, following its adoption, will have serious consequences for the Russian Federation. It proposes to use all available economic tools to defend the independence, sovereignty and economic integrity of Ukraine. It also foresees terminating Russia’s membership in the G8.

About the UN.  The Prime Minister of Ukraine also visited New York City and made a presentation at the UN Security Council about the situation in Ukraine and also met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

We would like to underscore the importance of the significance of this event. The UN Security Council, as you well know, is the only body empowered to resolve issues concerning international peace and security.

We will present our position to the highest state levels and to the highest governmental levels. We anticipate the confirmation of unanimous international solidarity in support of the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Ukraine that will be voiced by the UN Security Council.

About Crimea.  Russia is preventing objective information from reaching the international community about the real state of affairs in Crimea. We strongly and categorically condemn this approach.

Assistant Secretary General of the UN for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic was denied a scheduled visit to Crimean on March 12, 2014.

In addition, OSCE observers, who have been in Ukraine since March 5, 2014, have been denied entry to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

In Vienna, the Russian delegation alone refuses to consent to the OSCE observer mission which is in accordance with the organization’s mandate and supported by all of the other member states of the organization.

We are documenting numerous examples of human rights violations in Crimea, and condemn each one. I have a list of over 50 items.

Several hundred people, mostly Crimean Tatars from Crimea have arrived as refugees in numerous regions of Ukraine.

National Ukrainian television stations are blocked from being broadcast and cable networks, including TRC “Chornomorka,” the most popular regional station.

Over 70 instances of flagrant violations of journalist rights and interference with their duties have been documented. A complete and total system of censorship of information has been instituted in Crimea.

This atmosphere is characterized by intolerance, non-openness and is undemocratic and we categorically condemn all of these actions, attitudes and approaches to citizens’ rights and interests.

We would be remiss not to mention the anti-Ukrainian hysteria, which continues in Russia, and it is with profound sadness that we see ordinary people held hostage of this delirium. Even representatives of the arts community have condoned the use of force to attack Ukraine which challenges the entire system of international relations. This extreme position stands in stark contrast with the great spirit of Russian culture that we together love and value.

Colleagues,

We express a profound frustration with the inaction and the position of the CIS to these events.

The CIS is caught by the exclusive, or near-exclusive, influence of Russia.

The CIS has abandoned its decision-making responsibility based on the principle of coexistence. This approach is certainly not acceptable for Ukraine. And this approach bodes poorly for the future.

Colleagues,

I would like to underscore, we have mobilized all our resources, there is room for much more work, we clearly understand the available options of this effort, and we see what the next steps can be taken.

The Ukrainian Foreign Affairs service clearly understands the mean and mechanisms that are available to influence the situation.

The world, in fact, unanimously supports Ukraine.

No one has the right to “veto” the sovereign foreign policy of Ukraine.

Questions from the media:

Question: There have been reports that Ukraine may leave the CIS. Is this the reason why the acting foreign minister of Ukraine will not attend the CIS meeting?

Answer: The minister has clearly stated: What is the sense of an organization that is dormant and incapable? But let me clarify this. We are being provoked to a demarche. We are being provoked in various ways, in a speculative way, for us to demonstrate an aggression stance by the Ukrainian state and accordingly, a stance that would justify the actions of Russia. But this will not happen. We clearly understand the sequence of our steps vis-a-vis the CIS. We understand that if this organization continues to display its inability, then we will respond accordingly, and that includes all available means at our disposal. At this time, we will maintain our voting rights in the CIS, we will make use of this institution, but we also understand what lies ahead and what awaits us in response. We will not give in to this provoked demarche. We will act accordingly, based on our knowledge and our experience, to meet the needs of the moment. Thank you.

Colleagues,

In any event, we are grateful for your support and, as you’ve seen, we have very good results from our partnership with the European Union, who we respect, for its support of Ukraine. We are making preparations to sign the Association Agreement and this is very good news for our country, for future reforms, transformations and this is very good news for the Ukrainian people. We also have very good news arising from negotiations between the Prime Minister and his American colleagues. This means that the authorities, the Government, are doing everything to ensure that promises will match expectations. This is no easy task. And it is complicated. But we are doing everything possible. The results we have achieved today are very good result and I am very hopeful, that Ukrainian citizens will feel the benefits of these results.

Question: How many notes have been presented to the Russian side and what was their reaction?

Answer:  We are surprised by the “game of hide and seek.” This is something new. We’ve presented many notes and we await responses. We anticipate that they will respect the requisite rules of engagement between diplomatic offices.

Additionally, we periodically call in the Charge d’Affaires of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in Ukraine. During these meetings we have requested explanations. I want to underscore that we are prepared for dialogue with the Russian Federation, this is our principled position, a logical and natural position, that will avoid any conflict that will put the lives of our people in danger.

 

In response, we hear statements that do not reflect reality, and in that, they use arguments of a double standard. In particular, the latest statement recognizing the legitimacy of the declaration of the independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The arguments put forward in their statement, as you’ve seen for yourselves, contradict Russia’s position, declared countless times. Moreover, these principles, expressed by the Russian side, only apply to the situation in Ukraine, ignoring other major and numerous threats.

We have tried to establish contact with the Russians, but beside that, except for a peaceful settlement of this situation, I am convinced we will be able to convince our Russian partners, that their behavior will have unintended consequences in which no one is interested.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Evhen Perebiynis:

An Overview of the events around the Autonomous Republic of Crimea

The Russian side continues to escalate the tensions between our two states.

According to the state security services of Ukraine, the Russian Federation continues to build its military presence in Crimea, in particular, the activity of military aircraft, the concentration of capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the border with Ukraine near Sumy, Chernihiv and Kharkiv Oblasts and along the Ukrainian border with Belarus.

Naval Forces of the Russian Federation are gathering in the Azov and Black Seas, particularly, three military boats of the Russian Navy entered the open waters of the Azov Sea.

Russian soldiers and self-defense units under their control have embarked upon a more aggressive phase of destabilization in Crimea. They have intensified their efforts to capture, block, intimidate, storm and issue ultimatums  as a means to pressuring individual members of Ukraine’s Border Control and members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

On March 12, 2014, 44 BTRs (APC), 28 military trucks, 20 large trucks labeled “Humanitarian Aid Crimea” and 40 “Neoplan” buses with passengers landed in Crimean via the “Crimea – ferry crossing” ferry crossing.

Units of Armed Forces of the Russian Federation numbering near one company were formed in all directions around the regions near the “Armyansk”, “Dzhanhara city” and “Chonhar” roadblocks.

Russian secret services continue to escalate the conflict with Ukraine by instigating pro-Russian elements in eastern and southern regions. Extremists from the Russian Federation continue to attempting to enter Ukraine with special equipment to organize unrest in the east.

***

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced large scale exercises in regions adjacent to Ukraine, in particular the Rostov, Begorod and Kursk regions.

Remarkably, in accordance with this announcement, the Russian troops are to operate “in unfamiliar territory and untested grounds” and are ordered to take appropriate stealth and camouflage measures to conceal their movements.

This raises a question from the Ukrainian side: Does the Russian side deny the obvious presence of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and those of the Black Sea Fleet currently on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as part of their favored tactic of “deceiving the enemy to achieve an element of surprise”?

Given this background, it is particularly cynical and provocative to hear the statements made by Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Anatoly Antonov that the military exercises conducted in Ukraine “will stir things up in Ukrainian-Russian relations.”

Ukraine - CIS

In Moscow, on March 14, 2014, the Economic Council of the CIS will convene. Some media have reported that Ukraine intends to ignore this meeting. To this end, we would like to announce that the Ukrainian delegation to this body, which we belong to as a permanent member, will participate in the meeting. The delegation will be led by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Russian Federation Volodymyr Yelchenko, who has the necessary authority to sign documents of the Economic Council of the CIS.

As previously reported, at the initiative of the Russian Federation, the CIS Executive Committee proposed to hold a meeting in Minsk of the deputy foreign ministers of CIS countries “to discuss the situation in Ukraine.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affiairs, believes that such a multilateral discussion should only occur in Ukraine and at a higher political level. To this end, we were offered an extraordinary meeting of the foreign minister of the CIS, which, unfortunately was not supported by a majority of member states.

As a result, if individual member states of the CIS decide to hold their meeting on March 14, 2014 in Minsk, Ukraine will be represented by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Coordinating Offices of the CIS as an observer. The Ukrainian side reserves the right to make an appropriate statement about the results of such a meeting.

***

Due to the CIS Executive Committe’s refusal to hold an extraordinary meeting on March 12, 2014, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine presented a note to the CIS Executive Committee that, inter alia, states:

-    By calling for an extraordinary meeting, Ukraine seeks to satisfy one of the main duties of the Council of Foreign Ministers—to seek peaceful settlement of disputes and conflicts so as to remove any threats to peace, security and stability in the Commonwealth as defined by the Regulations Council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

 

-    The urgency of a prompt extraordinary meeting of the Council of Minsters is obvious and is necessary to de-escalate the conflict in Crimea caused by the aspirations of the Russian Federation to implement a policy favorable to them on a territory of Ukraine and, in so doing, rejecting the sovereignty of Ukraine, as evidenced by the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on March 11, 2014.

-    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is frustrated with the rejection of a majority of member-states of the CIS to hold an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers in Kyiv that would bring about a solution to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine and remove threats to peace, security and tranquility in the region.

The Ministry concludes that the proposal to hold a meeting to resolve vital and important questions that impact all CIS member states at merely the expert level testifies to the absence of responsible political decision-making on the part of the CIS and undermines the basic reasoning for the Commonwealth’s existence.

This approach is not acceptable to the Ukrainian side.

-    Ukraine again asserts its readiness to hold immediate bilateral discussions regarding the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea with the Russian Federation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Executive Committee of the CIS to distribute this note to all member states of the CIS.

***

On March 13, 204, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine presented a note to the Russian side informing it that, a white strip of unknown origin was seen floating in the region near the southern sand bar Donuzlav from the location where the submarine hunter ship “Ochakov” was sunk and near the diving boat toward the seaward side floats. The Ministry would like to remind the Russian side that as a result of deliberate misconduct on their part, it will be in violation of its obligations under the December 18, 1998 agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of the Russian Federation to ensure environmental safety and environmental control in areas where the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation are based or located on the territory of Ukraine and will have created a potential threat to the ecological security of the marine environment of the Black Sea. To this end, the Ukrainian side states that the responsibility for damage to the marine environment and natural resources of the Black Sea lies solely with the Russian side.

Foreign embassies in Ukraine and international organizations were informed of this development.

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