Ukraine’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Petro M. Kolos accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty saying Moscow’s move is an act of aggression.
Talking to Arab News Kolos said, “Russian troops illegally entered Crimea with the plan to expand its military presence on the pretext of protecting the Russian-speaking population there.”
The Ukrainian ambassador earlier met Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and Saudi authorities in Riyadh to discuss the ongoing crisis in Crimea.
Kolos said the Russian military presence in Crimea constituted an act of aggression against Ukraine, a violation of international law and posed threat to peace and stability in the region.
He said that Russia refused to comply with its obligations as the state guarantor of Ukraine under Budapest Memorandum that obliges the Russian Federation as well as other permanent members of the UN Security Council to ensure the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
“Until now Ukraine has not received any official reply from Russia regarding its military presence in Crimea despite efforts by the Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get an official response,” Kolos said.
“In fact Russia officially rejected Ukrainian proposal to hold immediate bilateral consultations under Article 7 of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation of 1997 and also refused to participate in the
extraordinary meeting between the state guarantors of Ukraine under Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances at the ministerial level,” the ambassador said.
He further said that Russia violated the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations obliging all member states to refrain from using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.
Regarding the Russian-speaking population, the ambassador said that 1,256 secondary schools are currently functioning in Ukraine teaching Russian language where about 700,000 students study.
Moreover, 1,176 newspapers are published in Russian language in Ukraine, whereas in Russia there are only seven newspapers and magazines published in Ukrainian language, he said adding there is only one broadcasting program in Ukrainian language in
Russia, whereas in Ukraine there are around 5 to 75 percent (depending on the region of Ukraine) of broadcasting done in Russian language. Commenting on the situation in Crimea, Kolos said, “Beginning Feb. 28, approximately 16,000 Russian troops have been deployed in Crimea and they have taken control of crucial
government and military installations in Crimea like the Parliament of Crimea, all civil and
military airports, radio stations, military and coastguard bases and headquarters of the Ukraine Navy in Crimea. All main roads are currently blocked by the Russian military personnel.”
He said that the presence of Russian troops and military equipment along the eastern border of Ukraine indicates Russia’s plan for a possible military intervention in other parts of Ukraine. “Ukrainian armed forces, so far, have exercised restraint and refrained from active resistance to the Russian aggression although they are in full operation readiness,” the envoy asserted.
The ambassador said that the Russian move in Crimea as well as in the southeastern regions of Ukraine is aimed at discrediting the legitimate authorities of Ukraine, dividing the Ukrainian nation, spreading separatism and misleading public opinion by calling Russia’s intervention a “peacekeeping operation.”
Kolos said that the referendum in Crimea scheduled for March 16 will be illegal as it violates the current law of Ukraine.
The ambassador further said that Ukraine considers the agreement signed by the former president of Ukraine and opposition leaders and endorsed by the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland on Feb. 21, 2014 to be of great importance.
Although Russia participated in the negotiation and drafting of the document, it refuses to recognize this agreement.
According to the agreement, within 48 hours after the signing of the accord, a special law that would restore the Ukrainian Constitution of 2004 had to be adopted by the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). The parties agreed to refrain from the use of violence.
He further added that the allegations by Russia that the Ukrainian opposition that Ukraine failed to implement the agreement are “groundless.”