Russia must stop supporting ‘terrorist activities’ in Ukraine: Kiev
Ukraine will demand that Russia cease its support for "terrorist activities" on its territory, Kiev's foreign minister said Wednesday on the eve of crunch talks with Moscow, the US and EU.
“Our main demand is to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine. We want Russia to withdraw the troops from the eastern borders of Ukraine. We want Russia not to support terrorist activities in eastern Ukraine,” Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya said after he landed in Geneva for Thursday’s meeting.
Kiev has accused Moscow of dispatching barely-covert special forces to Ukraine’s Russified east and south to marshall pro-Russian militants into confronting authorities and destabilising the country.
Russia has also massed tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border.
Deshchytsya set out a string of other demands for Moscow as tensions between the two neighbours soared.
“We want them to confirm that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine. We want Russia to withdraw troops from Crimea and to deny the decision of the parliament to allow the Russian government to use Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine,” he said.
Russia seized the largely Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea in March, weeks after the ouster in Kiev of pro-Moscow Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych.
Moscow repeatedly has argued that it needed to protect ethnic Russians from Ukrainian nationalists, but Kiev rejects that, and a United Nations probe this week also dismissed the stance, accusing pro-Moscow militants of fear-mongering for political ends.
Deshchytsya said Ukraine was “ready to talk” to Russia about defusing tensions, but that Moscow had no right to dictate to Kiev how to run the country.
The east Ukrainian militants’ demands range from more autonomy to the recasting of Ukraine as a federal country to outright takeover by Russia.
Deshchytsya said that while Kiev ruled out federalisation, it was already planning reforms to give the country’s regions more power.
“But it’s up to Ukraine, the Ukrainian government and the Ukranian people to decide on these issues. We are not going to discuss with Russia the internal developments of Ukraine,” he said.
Deshchytsya said Kiev was clear that dialogue was needed with Russia, Ukraine’s main trade partner and gas supplier.
“We want to continue talks with Russia. We want to provide more arguments and evidence that the only way to stabilise the situation in Ukraine and around Ukraine is what at this moment is still possible, a diplomatic way,” he said.
“If Russia continues to violate international law, that will of course have a negative impact on the relations with Russia, and Russia might have a very bad outcome,” he added, without elaborating.