Answers to questions from the Russian mass media by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, 15 June 2014
Question: How would you comment on the destruction of the Russian Embassy in Kiev and statements by the Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Andrii Deshchytsia? What is being undertaken to free correspondents of Zvezda TV channel, who were seized in Ukraine?
Sergey Lavrov: We continue to deal with the matter of clarifying the events around the Russian Embassy in Kiev, as well as the situation regarding the seizure of the journalists from Zvezda TV channel. In both cases we sent official notes the Ukrainian authorities having requested the immediate liberation of the journalists and determination of their location. There are some contacts right now within the ambit of the Russian General Consulate in Kharkov and the headquarters of the military attaché of the Russian Embassy (in Kiev).
As to the bacchanalia organised by the youths using neo-Nazi and other indecent slogans about our Embassy in Kiev, we sent an official note to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting them to find and punish those who are guilty and to repay the serious damage, which was inflicted. We will try to get an intelligible reaction from our Ukrainian colleagues.
I was especially offended that the Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, who was appointed by the Verkhovna Rada, who addressed the so-called “protesters” at the Russian Embassy, and either admonished the crowd or participated in this bacchanalia allowing himself to make statements going beyond the bounds of decency. I understand that he has good teachers, because those, who actively support the current Ukrainian authorities in Washington, do not avoid the use of strong language. Nevertheless, a diplomat, and Andrii Deshchytsia is a diplomat, should be selective in his language. I do not know how he is going to communicate with us and work with us now.
In fact, I want to say that I have no particular reasons to believe that the attack on the Russian Embassy was organised by the Ukrainian authorities. But I have no doubt that it is a reflection of the impunity the Ukrainian authorities enjoy (with satisfaction, I guess), because at least some of our western partners cover them up. This impunity is showing up in the arrogance of the Ukrainian authorities with regard to the gas negotiations, when they reject all reasonable compromises, which are proposed by Russia one after another and which are supported and understood by representatives of the European Union. We do not like the fact that some third power supports this arrogant and absolutely unacceptable position. We have reasons to believe that it is so.
Similar approaches have been observed in the categorical statements regarding the intention to sign the free trade zone and association agreement with the European Union on the 27 June without any changes. And this happens despite the multiple promises regarding the need to consult in the trilateral format (Ukraine-Russia-EU), looking at how we can achieve that and the development of relations between Ukraine and the European Union is not contrary to its rights and obligations in the CIS free trade zone.
Of course, the main thing concerning us now is the lack of any practical actions to implement the frequent assurances that the fire in the South-East will be stopped, a cease-fire will be announced and they will start to search for agreements with the South-East regarding the separation of the two confronting parties and begin a mutually respectful dialogue to find solutions, which would satisfy the expectations of all the regions and political forces of Ukraine.
I will highlight again that I cannot get rid of a feeling that either somebody is consulting Ukrainians to make their position inexorable in all the issues, or it is some kind of “dizziness from success”.
We are worried that this impunity is showing up more and more frequently. The case with journalists from Zvezda TV channel (not the first capture of mass media representatives) and the absolutely disgusting attack on the Russian Embassy is a reflection of this trend. By the way, let us not forget that militants from the so-called battalion Azov, which was created and financed by Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who was appointed the governor of Dnepropetrovsk by the current Kiev authorities, played the leading role in the attack on the Embassy. This is a good reason for our western partners, who support all the steps by the Ukrainian authorities in every possible way, to think how they use the authority they received after the “Maidan”.
I will highlight again, we will request immediate actions to free the Russian journalists. We are dealing with this closely within the ambit of our diplomatic bodies (in Ukraine). We will request the establishment of those, who are guilty, and their punishment and compensation for the damages inflicted as a result of their attack on the Embassy.
Question: How do you evaluate the actions by the Ukrainian authorities, who initiated a criminal case about hooliganism with regard to the attack on the Russian Embassy in Kiev, as well as the reaction of the international community?
Sergey Lavrov: We will follow the actions by the Ukrainian authorities attentively. The main thing for us is that they do not qualify such crimes as a pure accident – some young hooligans came, threw some brilliant green and eggs and t that is all. These are serious things. I can say that our diplomats believed that the goal of the attackers was to occupy the building of the Embassy physically. There are reasons to believe that they wanted blood to be spilt.
As to the reaction of our western partners, when we learned about the attack on the Embassy, I contacted the President of Switzerland, Didier Burkhalter, who is the Current OSCE President, immediately. Later I also talked to German and French partners. We also approached the leaders of the U.S. Department of State. Respective signals were sent to all of them, including appeals to use their influence on the Ukrainian leaders to make them use their power. You know that special units were at a walking distance from the Embassy, but they did nothing despite the fact that the Ukrainian Minister of the Interior, Arsen Avakov, also came to the place of these events and talked to the crowd, but he gave no orders to stop absolutely wrongful actions which were in violation of all the Ukrainian obligations under Vienna conventions.
Our western partners assured us and our diplomats in respective capitals that they condemn this action. However, when we proposed a draft statement in the UN Security Council, these were our western partners who refused to support it. They attempted to link this document with the proposition to condemn the incident involving a plane, which was pranged in the South-East, and some other incidents, which have nothing to do with the main issue– the inviolability of diplomatic representations is unconditional. And the task of fighting terrorism is unconditional as well. We were disappointed by such a position taken by our western colleagues. I think that this does not enhance the reputation to the European and US diplomatic school.