Nikolay Udovichenko, Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, speaks on the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine by his country and Russia’s suspension from G8.
President Obama has called Russia’s action on Crimea as reckless and illegal. How does it sound to you?
I believe the consent of Russia to accept the appeal of Crimea to join our country was an act of willpower and courage, a display of rare patriotism to protect the interests of the Russian people in a critical situation. Only the country with strong political will is able to firmly resist the massive propaganda deployed by the West against Russia. Frankly, it was a forced but courageous step fully corresponding to the international norms, the UN Charter and the right of nations on self-determination.
We stand for a responsible approach, equitable relations in international affairs. The world today is not a place for geopolitical games in the spirit of the “Cold War”. It is regrettable that those who oppose the imposition of foreign will are traditionally described as enemies of humankind. We tried to avoid the aggravation of the situation, we did everything we could to prevent the coup d’etat in Ukraine and the appearance of a dangerous crisis situation.
But, unfortunately, all agreements broke down and the situation began to develop in the unpredictable direction. Under such circumstance, the Russian government couldn’t ignore the appeal of the absolute majority of the people of Russian Crimea. Our final choice was made and it was dictated by the history of our country, the international law and the responsibility of Russia to the Russian people who got into trouble after finding themselves abroad because of historical injustice.
It is not accidental that the Western countries also began to understand the danger of the current trends in Ukraine, and started, through their communication channels, to demand from new the Kiev authorities to put an end to the mayhem in Ukraine.
Ukraine is one of Russia biggest trade partners. Many people think this crisis will affect Russia’s economy?
Of course, you do not necessary have to be a prophet to foresee, that taking into account close Russian-Ukrainian economic ties – last year bilateral trade volume was more than 45 billion US dollars. The economic recession that followed the political crisis in Ukraine can have a negative impact on the Russian economy as well. We are trying to minimize the damages, maintain trade cooperation and avoid a break-up of the cooperative ties especially in industry and energy spheres.
I am confident that if the political situation in Ukraine is stabilized – although it is not that easy to do now – there will also be hope to save our economic relations.
Why is Russia deploying more troops to the Ukrainian borders?
Please, do not regard planned or, as in our current situation, unplanned military training as a threat. Our activities are transparent and fully correspond with the criteria and rules fixed by the international community. Particularly, we allowed international observers including Americans and Ukrainians to come for relevant inspection activities in the territory of Russia.
Thus, within the framework of the Treaty on Open Skies, according to which flights around territories of member states for observation from the air are organized, the flights were organized just a few weeks ago at the request of the Ukrainian party. In the reports on the results of the inspection made by the international observers, there was no evidence that could contradict my words.
There is the allegation that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine from the eastern border. Are you going to war with Ukraine or what?
Definitely not. I would like to underline that we have absolutely no intention to cross the border to Ukraine. The President of Russia Vladimir V. Putin stated it many times that we don’t want war with Ukraine or with any other country. We stand for stability and prosperity of our neighbors. We will steadily apply such policy. I am confident that there will be no military conflict with Ukraine.
Russia has been suspended from the G8. How does this affect Russia?
It is well-known that the so-called G8 is an informal club which does not issue membership cards. Nobody can suspend anybody from the group. Many people believe that the G8 has played its role because; after the creation of the G20 that includes China, Brazil and other big countries, all the economic and financial issues are being discussed there, while the G8 exists primarily as a forum for talks between the leading Western countries and Russia.
Issues of the Iranian nuclear programme (INP), the nuclear programme of the Korean Peninsula, the Syrian situation, the Balkans and some other problems are discussed there. However, there are other formats for the discussion of these issues: UN Security Council, the quartet of the mediators on the Middle East, P5+1, etc. Therefore, as our Foreign Minister S.V.Lavrov stated, recently, if our Western partners believe that this format is outdated, let it be so. At least, we do not cling to this format. We may see if we can do without it for a year or more, after that, everything will be clear on the future of this structure.