Russia proposes 'support group' on Ukraine

2014-03-17 17:08
(File: Efrem Lukatsky, AP)

(File: Efrem Lukatsky, AP)

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Moscow - Russia proposed on Monday creating an international support group to mediate in the Ukraine crisis but outlined terms that are unlikely to be acceptable for Kiev and the West.

In response to Western calls for a "contact group" to mediate in the crisis, Russia's foreign ministry suggested the "support group" could push for Ukraine to recognise the outcome of a referendum in which the Crimea region voted to join Russia.

The ministry also said the support group should urge Kiev to implement parts of a peace deal concluded by President Viktor Yanukovich and his opponents on 21 February, hours before he fled Kiev and one day before he was removed from power by parliament.

Moscow's initiative may be intended mainly to deflect criticism abroad that it has not engaged sufficiently in diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.

Russia is facing sanctions from the United States and the European Union over Russian forces' seizure of control in Crimea, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet has a base.

The statement did not say who might take part in the group, but said it should urge Ukraine to adopt a new constitution setting out broad powers for the country's regions and require Ukraine to uphold military and political neutrality.

This would imply greater power for Russian-speaking regions in the east and southeast of Ukraine, a move already promised by the Ukrainian authorities, and could be seen Moscow as a way to prevent Ukraine joining the Nato defence alliance.

The 21 February deal called for an investigation into violence in which dozens of people were killed during anti-government protests.

The violence followed harsh police intervention but Moscow blames it on radical groups among the protesters and says the new leadership in Kiev has not investigated properly.

Read more on:    nato  |  viktor yanukovich  |  russia  |  ukraine
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