Lavrov Addresses Western Meddling in Volatile Ukraine
January 22, 2014 • 1:44PM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during yesterday's press conference to review Russia's diplomacy during the past year, sharply rebuked U.S. and EU officials and diplomats who have barged into the political conflict within Ukraine to push the British agenda of chaos and War. Responding to a question posed in terms of a possible break-up of Ukraine, Lavrov said: "I would not want to support any provocational discussion of a break-up of Ukraine. Russia is doing everything in its power to prevent this and to stabilize the situation."

Lavrov then blasted the European posture, saying, "I don't know why the EU is offended at us over the events in Ukraine. But we would prefer it if some of our European colleagues took fewer liberties with respect to the Ukrainian crisis; members of several European governments have burst onto the Maidan [central square in Kiev] uninvited and have taken part in anti-government demonstrations in a country with which they have diplomatic relations. This is unseemly, and this is what is heating up the situation."

Lavrov asked what would happen in any EU country, if demonstrators seized the city hall of a major city, or occupied government buildings. "This would never be allowed. Pogroms, attacks on the police, arson, Molotov cocktails, explosives — this is horrific, and it is an absolute violation of all European norms of behavior!" Lavrov said that the calls even from opposition leaders, including Vitali Klitschko, for people to be more sensible, indicate that "the situation is going out of control."

He continued, "We know that to a significant extent the situation is being driven from the outside. Those who are driving it don't even think about what's in the interest of the opposition itself, and are trying to provoke violence. When anything like this happens in an EU country, nobody questions the need for firm measures to stop the violence and disorder. Yet in this case, there are demands from outside to make a choice. At the OSCE session in Kiev in early December, our U.S. colleagues demanded that the Ukrainian government 'listen to the voice of the people,' and said that 'if they don't listen, there will be chaos.' I don't know what that was, a prophecy or a vision. But most likely someone has an interest in this chaos. We don't. We want Ukraine to be stable. There are too many economic, cultural, and spiritual ties that bind us, for us to be pouring grease on the bonfire somebody is trying to ignite there. And the main thing is: what was the cause of these protests? The fact that the government, fully within its authority and competence, decided not to sign or initial documents with the EU at this time."

Lavrov asked what the political future portends for people in Greece who have demonstrated to leave the EU, or for the euroskeptic parties being formed in other EU member countries, or for the 50 percent of Latvians who opposed entering the Eurozone, as the Latvian government just decided to do. He reiterated that Russia is prepared to discuss ways of overcoming the "either for us or against us" posture, adopted by the EU toward many Eastern European countries. He noted that there has been no explanation offered for the EU's categorical rejection of Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov's proposal for trilateral EU-Russia-Ukraine consultations.

In Kiev yesterday, clashes continued between masked demonstrators and the police. A growing number of reports focus on a group called Right Sector, partly made up of violent soccer fans and espousing an anti-government ideology that is not even pro-EU, as constantly initiating violent clashes. Rumors of an imminent move to clear the Maidan by force are everywhere, with Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party leader Arseni Yatsenyuk crying today that "few days are left, or maybe even hours, when solving the political process is possible through negotiations." Interviewed on the Russian state TV channel Vesti 24, Prime Minister Azarov warned, "If the provocateurs don't stop, the authorities will have no other choice left than to use force, as provided for by law, in order to protect our people."

Who Is Escalating in Kiev?

A View from Germany

The German mainstream media have mostly been in favor of the Kiev protests, but the most recent escalation has prompted more critical reports, focusing on the role of extremists and the fact that "moderate" Vitaly Klitschko either seems to have lost control, or is refusing to maintain control of the protests. Klitschko and the other two main opposition leaders, Tyahnybok and Yasenyuk, have distanced themselves from the riots, but at the same time are calling for even more Ukrainians to stream into Kiev to help bring the government down. Klitschko said he fears human casualties if the government continues not to implement the protesters' demands, and if people die, the government is to blame.

As for Tyahnybok's Svoboda party, Germany's weekly Die Zeit reports that his own party members actively support the violence and are bringing more and more young men into Kiev. Germany's Telepolis online magazine reports that the red-black flags of the extreme-nationalist western Ukrainian group UNA-USO were spotted among the violent crowds, which also include members of Svoboda. Furthermore, the leader of the group Bratstvo, Dmytro Korchynsky, has been spotted wherever the clashes with the police and riot squads are taking place. Korchynsky is an advocate of armed struggle, who fought against the Russians on the Georgian side in 2008, and he is said to also have been active in Chechnya. Rioters have not only been using hammers, axes, and molotov cocktails against police and police cars, but have also deployed wooden catapults, resembling a scene from the Middle Ages, which they use to hurl big stones and other objects at the police.