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Russia's Sergei Lavrov: Ukraine on the brink of civil war

sergei lavrov


by Joseph Earnest  May 14, 2014


Newscast Media HOUSTONRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, which will make it difficult to hold free and fair elections later this month. Lavrov added that pro-Moscow separatists should be included in Western-sponsored roundtable unity talks, according to AFP. 


"When Ukrainians kill Ukrainians, I believe this is as close to a civil war as you can get," Lavrov said in an interview with Bloomberg television.


Lavrov added that "in east and south of Ukraine there is a war, a real war, with heavy weaponry used.


"And if this is conducive to free and fair elections, then I don't recognize what free and fair is."


Ukraine is due to hold crunch presidential elections on May 25.


Lavrov insisted the rebels should have been included in the talks on Wednesday, held under a roadmap drafted by the pan-European security body the OSCE after the failure of a deal hammered out in Geneva last month. 

"We believe that for this national dialogue to succeed, it is absolutely necessary to ensure equal participation of all regions of Ukraine," he said. 

This included not only separatists in the east and south "but also the regions of the west where we also have some issues related to self-determination of minorities." 

But the Russian minister insisted that Moscow had "no intention" of sending in troops to eastern Ukraine after the referendums there, as it did when it absorbed the disputed region of Crimea.

However, Ukrainian politicians and civil groups gathered on Wednesday for talks on how to quell a pro-Russian rebellion in the east, but Kiev's refusal to let separatists take part cast doubt on whether the meeting could defuse the crisis.

Wednesday's talks brought together ministers, political party leaders, candidates for a May 25 presidential election, business representatives and local government officials.

Participants were expected to explore methods of devolving power to allow greater local autonomy which Kiev hopes will address disaffection in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, pro-Russian separatists ambushed Ukrainian troops on Tuesday, killing seven in the heaviest loss of life for government forces in a single clash since Kiev sent soldiers to put down the rebellion in the country's east.

About 30 rebels, who had taken cover among bushes along a river, attacked with grenade-launchers and automatic weapons near a village 20 km (12 miles) from Kramatorsk, the ministry said in a statement on its website, according to Reuters. 

"In all, as a result of the prolonged fighting, six members of the armed forces were killed. Eight soldiers were wounded, one of them seriously," it said. The state security service (SBU) said later that the seriously wounded soldier had died while being taken to hospital.

Rebel leaders held referendums in two eastern regions on Sunday which they said backed self-rule overwhelmingly. While Kiev and the West denounced the votes as illegal, the rebels called on Monday for their regions to become part of Russia. Moscow has stopped short of endorsing their bid for annexation. Add Comments>>


 Source: Tehran Times













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