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Russia annexes Crimea, Ukraine refuses to cede
March 23, 2014, 11:45 am

The Embassy of Ukraine in Kuwait held a press conference on Thursday, 20 March, to reiterate the Ukrainian government’s position on events that continue to unfold in that country.

His Excellency Volodymyr Tolkach, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Kuwait, began by unequivocally stating that current situation on the Crimean Peninsula, was created by the Russian Federation in total breach of Ukrainian and international law, it violated the territorial integrity of Ukraine and was a direct aggression on a sovereign and independent state. The Russian aggression is creating a dangerous precedent that threaten not only the sovereignty of Ukraine, but undermines regional and international stability, noted the diplomat.

The ambassador pointed out that besides Ukrainian nationals and Tartars in Crimea, members of the Ukrainian military, stationed at bases in Crimea, have also experienced constant pressure from armed pro-Russia groups, as well as members of the armed forces and special units of the Russian Federation, which was a violation of the terms of bilateral agreement that governs the stationing of Russian military units on the Crimean Peninsula.

Ambassador Tolkach further added that the recent referendum in Crimea was unconstitutional as under the Ukrainian constitution no region of Ukraine can undertake a referendum without approval of the Central Government. Moreover, the Russian Federation’s actions were against the UN Charter and were in complete disregard for fundamental international legal frameworks, which underline the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, especially the principle of sovereign equality, political independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

The annexation of Crimea is not only against the UN Charter, it also violates the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the bilateral 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, said the ambassador. Russia, as one of the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum, alongside the United States and Great Britain, had guaranteed to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine and  to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.

The Russian Federation, under guise of humanitarian concerns, was interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine.

Moreover, these alleged human rights violations were groundless said the ambassador. Elaborating on this, the ambassador said, “For instance, in Russia there are around two million Ukrainians, in Ukraine we have more than eight million Russians and, while there are more than 1,250 Russian language schools in Ukraine, there were only a handful in the entire Russian Federation.

Also, a recent OSCE fact-finding mission looking into allegations of discrimination against Russians in Ukraine came to the conclusion that Ukraine protected the rights of Russian citizens more than many other European nations.

Moreover, the ambassador said, if the Russian Federation was implying that it needed to protect the rights of Russian language speakers in Ukraine then it would have to extend the protection to all of Ukraine as nearly all of the 46 million Ukrainians speak Russian.

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