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UK Tells Russia: Don’t Intervene In Ukraine

UK Tells Russia: Don’t Intervene In Ukraine.

Posted: 02/23/2014 6:09 am EST Updated: 02/23/2014 9:59 am EST


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By Andrew Osborn

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Britain warned Russia on Sunday against intervening in Ukraine’s “complex” crisis, saying London wanted to contribute to an international economic programme aimed at shoring up the “desperately difficult” situation of the Ukrainian economy.

In comments that may anger Moscow, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his government was in regular contact with the Russian government to try to persuade it that closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union should not worry it.

“If there’s an economic package, it will be important that Russia doesn’t do anything to undermine that economic package and is working in cooperation and support of it,” Hague told BBC TV.

When asked if he was worried that Russia might “send in the tanks” to defend the interests of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine, Hague warned against what he called “external duress” or Russian intervention.

“It would really not be in the interests of Russia to do any such thing. We have to keep up the communication with Russia as we are doing … so that the people of Ukraine can choose their own way forward. There are many dangers and uncertainties.”

Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday after three months of street protests, while his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko hailed opposition demonstrators as “heroes” in an emotional speech in Kiev after she was released from jail.

The crisis began as protests against Yanukovich’s decision to abandon a trade agreement with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia, which promised to lend Ukraine $15 billion euros. Ukraine needs the money — foreign investment inflows fell by almost half last year, to a net $2.86 billion from $4.13 billion in 2012 

Britain has so far assumed a lower profile on Ukraine than countries such as Germany and Poland, though Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin last Thursday about the situation there and Hague said he’d be talking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

Hague said the priority was to persuade Moscow that the fate of Ukraine – a country that was part of the Soviet Union and has been within Russia’s sphere of influence for decades – was not what he called “a zero-sum game” and that closer ties with the EU were not a bad thing.

“It’s in the interests of the people of Ukraine to be able to trade more freely with the EU. It’s the interests of the people of Russia for that to happen as well.”

He said he didn’t know what Russia’s “next reaction” would be, but he pushed the Ukrainian opposition to move urgently to form a government of national unity, agree arrangements for new elections, and to crack on with shoring up the economy.

“While all this has been happening, the Ukrainian economy is in a desperately difficult situation,” Hague said. “And they need an economic programme that the rest of us, through the International Monetary Fund and other institutions, can support so that they can stave of an even more serious economic situation.”

Ukraine police dismantle protest camps – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Ukraine police dismantle protest camps – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

At least three protesters have been killed in clashes as Ukraine’s prime minister takes a hard line against demonstrators flouting anti-protest laws.

Mykola Azarov said on Wednesday that anti-government protests had brought “terrorists” onto the streets of Kiev and pledged to punish all “criminal action”, even as protesters confronted police near government headquarters.

“I am officially stating that these are criminals who must answer for their action,” Azarov said.

Wednesday’s violence came after Ukrainian security forces started dismantling barricades at the protest camp in downtown Kiev, where demonstrators and police have been facing off for the past two nights.

It is reported that two of the victims died from gunshot wounds and were found less than three hours apart in a national library close to the clashes.

The third died in a fall from the top of Dynamo football stadium.

Azarov said opposition leaders should be held responsible for the deaths and said that police at the site of the clashes did not have live ammunition.

The wounds resembled those caused by live ammunition, Oleh Musiy, coordinator of the protesters’ medical corps, told the AP news agency.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday urged “an immediate end” to the escalating violence, while the Polish Foreign Ministry has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador.

Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from Kiev, said some protesters had become more determined as a consequence of Wednesday’s events.

“It’s not clear how news of the deaths will change the nature of these protests, but for now people are continuing to arrive here at the scene of the clashes,” our correspondent said.

New laws

The violence began when protesters braved heavy snow to remain in Kiev’s central square on Wednesday morning, despite warnings from Azarov that security personnel could use force to disperse demonstrations.

Azarov told Russian television that if “provocateurs” did not stop, the authorities could act under controversial new laws that essentially ban large protests in Ukraine.

Azarov added that he hoped there would be no need for the use of force to disperse the protests.

“We are hoping for common sense,” he said. “People need to understand that they are being offered chaos and destruction.”

On Tuesday, President Viktor Yanukovych refused to meet with an opposition leader, dimming hopes of a peaceful solution to the political crisis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the situation in Ukraine was spiralling out of control after two months of protests over Yanukovych’s failure to sign a deal with the European Union.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called the situation in Ukraine “very worrying” and said the government should suspend the controversial anti-protest laws.

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