Yanukovich denies ouster, says 'ashamed & guilty' for not preventing chaos

Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich pledges to fight for Ukraine. He addressed a press conference in southern Russia, appearing in public for the first time since he fled Kiev amid bloody riots, according to Russian Television (RT).

Dozens of international reporters have flocked to the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don after the fugitive Ukrainian president announced he would hold a press conference there.

Before anyone was allowed to ask questions, Yanukovich decided to set the record straight, saying he considers himself the only legitimate president of Ukraine.

“No one has ousted me,” he told reporters. “I had to leave Ukraine because of a direct threat to my life and the lives of my family.”

It is the current Ukrainian parliament that is “not legitimate,” the Ukrainian leader said, adding that the people who took power in Kiev are “spreading the propaganda of violence.”

“As you know, the power in Ukraine has been seized by nationalist fascist-like fellows representing the absolute minority of Ukrainians. The only existing way out of the situation is fulfilling all that was stipulated in the [February 21] agreement between the president of Ukraine and the opposition with participation of the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland, and a representative of the Russian Federation,” Yanukovich said.

He described the situation in Ukraine as “complete lawlessness,” “terror” and “chaos”, saying that the politicians, including MPs, have been threatened and are facing threats of violence. It has nothing to do with the unity government that was negotiated with the opposition, he added.

According to Yanukovich, the early Ukrainian elections announced for May 25 are also completely “illegitimate” and he will not take part in them.

Despite that, the ousted leader said he will “remain in politics,” “keep on fighting for the future of Ukraine” and return to his home country as soon as he receives “international safety guarantees.”

‘Irresponsible politics of the West’

Yanukovich left Ukraine’s capital Kiev amid the worst surge of violence in the country’s post-Soviet history, which left dozens of people dead and hundreds injured. The pro-Maidan opposition immediately capitalized on his absence from the city, dominating the parliament, which then voted to strip the president of his powers and announced early elections. It also placed the full blame for the tragic events in central Kiev on Yanukovich, making it a nearly indisputable allegation in local and Western media.

Yanukovich gave his own clear assessment of the events for the first time in weeks, drawing a very different picture. The violence and deaths in Ukraine are the “result of the irresponsible politics of the West, which has encouraged Maidan,” Yanukovich said.

US and other Western countries’ representatives “must take full responsibility” for the fact that the agreement between the president and the opposition leaders was not honored, he said.

There remains, however, a chance for the country to change its course and not to slip into chaos, Yanukovich said.

‘I lacked strength, I am sorry’

When asked if he feels ashamed of any of his own actions, Yanukovich replied that he feels both ashamed and sorry for “not having been able to stabilize the situations and stop the mayhem” in Ukraine.

“I want to apologize to the Ukrainian people for what has happened in Ukraine and that I lacked strength to maintain stability,” he said.

Yanukovich also apologized to the Ukrainian riot police, Berkut, for having to “suffer” while doing their duty of maintaining peace and order. Police officers were “burned and poured over by petrol bombs,” were “fired at and killed by rifles” but still stood their ground, he said.

The Ukrainian leader then said he had not given any order for police to fire live rounds until the rioters started using firearms, putting the officers’ lives under threat.

Yanukovich refused to comment on the Ukrainian parliament’s intention to try him in the International Criminal Court, saying that an independent investigation has to be carried out first. However, he stressed that “the scenario of bloodshed… was drafted not in Ukraine.”

‘Crimea part of Ukraine, Russian presence a rumor’

Even as Yanukovich was speaking, the situation in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking Autonomous Republic of Crimea was increasingly getting out of the capital’s control. The Crimean parliament was forming a new regional government while local "self-defense squads" started actively patrolling strategic sites to prevent provocations from Ukrainian radical groups.

Yanukovich said he understands the concerns of Crimeans, who want to “protect their homes and families” from “bandits.”

However, he then urged the people of Crimea not to let any bloodshed or civil war happen. Crimea must remain a part of Ukraine while maintaining broad autonomy, Yanukovich said.

The fugitive president ruled out any possibility that he will ask Russia for military help to resolve the situation there. Also, there is no confirmed information about Russia’s alleged military presence in the region, Yanukovich said.

“I do not have any such official information,” he said. “I did not have it back then [in Ukraine], and there isn’t any now. This all has been on the level of some rumors spread by somebody,” he told journalists.

Yanukovich made it to Russia from Crimea thanks to “patriotically-minded officers,” who helped to “save his life.” He has not yet met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but they have already talked over the phone.

When asked why he chose to leave Ukraine for Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovich said that he has “an old friend there,” who can provide him with a “temporary safe haven.”

‘Russia cannot abandon Ukraine’

Yanukovich received a lot of questions on Russia’s role and possible actions in the Ukrainian crisis.

While saying “it is not correct” to tell Moscow what to do, Yanukovich said he believes “Russia cannot abandon Ukraine to its fate and should use all possible means to prevent chaos and terror in its neighboring country.”

With that, Yanukovich made it clear he was “categorically against any intervention into Ukraine and breach of its territorial integrity.”

“The truth will prevail,” Yanukovich said in an emotional conclusion to his comments to journalists, urging the politicians that have seized power in Kiev to “leave” for the sake of the Ukrainian people.

So far, there has been no indication that the new Ukrainian authorities are considering returning to a dialogue with what they consider an overthrown rival. A Kiev court on Friday issued an order for Yanukovich’s arrest, while the Ukrainian parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) earlier voted in favor of trying him at the ICC in The Hague for alleged “crimes against humanity during the recent peaceful protests.”


Lavrov, Kerry discussed the situation in Syria, Ukraine

MOSCOW, (ST ) _Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart, John Kerry, in a telephone call today discussed the situation in Syria and Ukraine, issues pertinent to settling issues in the Middle East and " some of the most pressing issues " on the bilateral agenda.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that " the foreign ministers of the two countries expressed in the telephone call today, at the initiative of the American side, a unified vision of the need to activate the direct talks between the parties to the crisis in Syria in Geneva”

 Concerning Ukraine, the Russian side renewed the " urgent need to restore the situation in Kiev to the legal status and implement the agreements signed on 21 February, including primarily the cessation of radical extremists and encourage national reconciliation, on the ground of serving the interests of all political forces and all Ukrainian areas  ".

A similar telephone call was made yesterday between Lavrov and Kerry at the initiative of the American side, during which the Russian side, stressed the need to implement all the agreements between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition, especially the agreement signed on February 21, certified by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Poland, and supported by the United States, and to provide guarantees of implementation.

T. Fateh

Russia to Expand Military Presence Abroad, Cooperate in Fight Against Piracy

The Russian Defense Ministry plans to expand the Russian military presence in several regions of the world, Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu has stated. Negotiations on creating military bases in countries of South-East Asia and Central America are under way. The Voice of Russia have discussed with experts the purposes and prospects of such an expansion, including in the framework of the international fight against piracy.

Currently, negotiations are held with a number of countries, in particular, with Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Seychelles and Singapore, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said recently. However, it should be clarified that the matter does not concern creating overseas military bases in the usual sense. The Ministry of Defence of Russia was more interested in support facilities for our naval fleet and long-range aviation in remote regions, head of the TASS editorial office of military news, Viktor Litovkin, told the Voice of Russia:

"Russian ships and submarines are now present in the World's Ocean – in the Atlantic, in Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in the Mediterranean.

Our long-range airplanes fly almost all over the world. They need to be refilled somewhere. Ships also need to replenish their supplies of water and fuel, and their crews need rest. We are not alone in our desire to have bases abroad. The USA has about eighty bases, where they have deployed not only combat service support operators, but entire contingents of the armed forces. We are not going to deploy large contingents far away from Russia."

Today, there is neither political expediency nor economic justification in the presence of large military contingents of Russia far abroad. On the other hand, siting of support bases in different points of the World Ocean can enhance the effectiveness of our country’s international cooperation in the fight against piracy, RIA Novosti military expert, Konstantin Bogdanov, says:

"Agreements with a group of countries on the use of their port infrastructure for calling, bunkering and refueling of our ships can really simplify forces maneuver between Russian bases on the territory of Russia and their presence in the areas where they solve problems of fighting against piracy, in particular, in the Horn of Africa. If Singapore and the Seychelles give us this opportunity, this will facilitate planning of operations on transferring the forces of the Pacific Fleet."

Today, from the point of view of experts, the most promising prospect is return of the Russian military to the Vietnamese Cam Ranh base. Last November, the presidents of Russia and Vietnam signed an agreement on creating a joint submarines’ maintenance center there. Besides, there is an international airport in Cam Ranh, which in case of a necessity is able to accommodate airplanes of the Russian Air Forces, including long-range aviation.

Source: Voice of Russia


Moscow Concerned over News on Saudi Arabia’s Plan to Buy Weapons for "Armed Opposition" in Syria

MOSCOW- Russia is concerned over media reports about Saudi Arabia’s plans to buy shoulder-fired missile weapons to support the "armed Syrian opposition", the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, according to Itar Tass.

“We are deeply worried over media reports citing the gulfnews.com website that Saudi Arabia plans to buy Pakistan-made shoulder-fired missile and anti-tank systems to send them to the Syrian armed opposition groups based in Jordan,” the ministry said.

“According to media reports, this deal is called to change the balance of forces in favor of gunmen in the course of the spring attack by illegal armed formations on Damascus from the southern front,” the ministry noted.

“If such weapons are in the hands of extremists and terrorists Syria is inundated with, the risk is high that such weapons in the long run will be used far beyond the boundaries of that Middle East state,” the ministry said.

“We are also worried over media reports that Jordan’s territory is used to transit weapons to armed groups and to train gunmen at training camps ahead of the launching of the above mentioned spring attacks in the southern front against the Syrian government forces,” the ministry added.

Saudi Arabia has been the main supplier of weapons and funds to the armed groups inside Syria.



Lavrov calls on Council of Europe for Impartial Approach to Ukraine Crisis

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called on Secretary General of the Council of Europe, ThorbjørnJagland, for an impartial approach to the Ukrainian situation, the Russian Ministry announced following a telephone conversation, initiated by Jagland, between the politicians, Voice of Russia reported.

"The situation in Ukraine was a central topic of the negotiations between the two officials," the Ministry said. Sergei Lavrov expressed his concern about the unrest in Ukraine caused by the actions of far-right protofascist political organizations undermining the peace deal signed on February 21, and threatening peace, stability of the society and people's safety."

"Both sides agreed that the decisions made by the VerkhovnaRada should conform to Ukrain's obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights," the Foreign Ministry said.

"The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, called on ThorbjørnJagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to show an impartial approach to the Ukrainian situation. He also pointed out that some decisions by the VerkhovnaRada contradict the standards of the CE as they infringe upon the language rights of Russians and other nationalities, living in Ukraine," the Foreign Ministry added.

Lavrov:Russia not to interfere in Ukrainian affairs and expects Western countries to do the same

Western partners should not interfere in Ukrainian internal affairs but use their contacts with various political forces in that country for peacemaking, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, the Voice of Russia correspondent KiraKalinina reports. "A mutual profound concern has been expressed regarding the fact that processes are not always constructive," Lavrov said after negotiations with his Luxembourg counterpart Jean Asselborn.

 "We reaffirmed our principled position of non-interference in Ukrainian internal affairs and we expect everyone to abide by similar logic and use contacts with various political forces in Ukraine for the promotion of peace," he continued.

One should not try "to gain some time serving unilateral advantages at a stage when national dialogue and the return of the entire situation to a legal field are required," the Russian Foreign Minister said.


Russian official: Armed groups attacking aid convoys in Syria

Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin accused anti-Syrian armed groups of sabotaging the process of aid supplies to the war-stricken regions.
Russian official: Armed groups attacking aid convoys in Syria
Talking during the Saturday session of the UN Security Council, he said certain governments are after gaining their own political interests from the humanitarian situation in Syria.

Slamming these governments for following such attitudes, he stressed the process of providing aids to war-stricken areas is facing serious problems now due to dominance of armed groups there.

He further called on all warring sides to help supply humanitarian assistance to war-stricken people.

During the same session, Chinaˈs representative to the international body too expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Syria and urged the Security Council to act impartially in this regard and try to safeguard peace, stability and territorial sovereignty in Syria.

Source: irna.ir


Unanimously approved, Security Council resolution demands aid access in Syria

22 February 2014 – The United Nations Security Council today unanimously approved a resolution to boost humanitarian aid access in Syria, a move Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said can at least ease some civilian suffering, if it is implemented quickly and in good faith.

Through Resolution 2139 (2014), the Council demanded that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders.

The 15-member Council also called for an immediate end to all forms of violence in the country and strongly condemned the rise of Al Qaida-affiliated terror attacks.

Members insisted that all parties cease attacking civilians, including through the indiscriminate use of weapons in populated areas, such as shelling and aerial bombardment with barrel bombs, whose use has been condemned by senior UN officials.

Mr. Ban, who participated in the rare Saturday meeting, welcomed the resolution but added it should not have been necessary as humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated but allowed by virtue of international law.

He expressed profound shock that both sides are besieging civilians as a tactic of war, and noted that reports of human rights violations continue, including massacres, as well as sexual and gender-based violence against children.

In the resolution, the Council strongly condemned the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and urged all parties involved in the conflict to lift sieges of populated areas, including in Aleppo, Damascus and Rural Damascus, and Homs.

The resolution builds on the Presidential Statement adopted four months ago, which stressed the need for immediate action to protect civilians and give access to people in need.

In today's resolution, the Council emphasized that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution and expressed support for the UN-sponsored direct talks between Government and opposition representatives.

Source: UN Website


Telephone conversation with President of the United States Barack Obama

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States of America Barack Obama. The conversation was initiated by the American side.

Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama had a substantive discussion on current issues on the bilateral and international agenda, including the situation in Ukraine. The President of Russia stressed the need to take immediate measures to stabilise the conflict, emphasising the importance of working with the radical opposition, which has taken the confrontation in Ukraine to a very dangerous point.

The two leaders noted the constructive nature of their bilateral cooperation on the Iranian nuclear programme; they agreed to continue cooperating actively on this matter.

The Presidents of Russia and the United States exchanged views on the progress made in destroying Syria’s chemical weapons, as per the signed agreements. The two nations’ foreign ministers will continue working closely together with the aim of advancing the peace process in Syria, taking into account the talks in Geneva.

Barack Obama congratulated Vladimir Putin on the successful Olympic Games in Sochi.


Source: Russian President Website