Lavrov: Russia, US, EU, Ukraine agree on de-escalation roadmap
Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine have adopted a joint document on the de-escalation of the Ukraine crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, after talks in Geneva. It calls for all illegal armed groups to lay down arms and a wide amnesty.
The document calls for an “immediate start of a nationwide national dialogue within the framework of the constitutional process, which must be inclusive and accountable,” Lavrov said.
The most important agreement reached during the talks, according to Lavrov, states that the Ukrainian crisis “must be resolved by the Ukrainians themselves concerning an end to the conflict” including those related to “detaining protesters, occupying buildings” and, in the long run “the start of true constitutional reform.”
“Among the steps that have to be taken are: the disarmament of all the illegal armed groups, and the return of all the occupied administrative buildings,” Lavrov told journalists at the Thursday briefing.
“An amnesty for all the protesters must take place, except of those who committed grave crimes,” the Foreign Minister added.
The issue of illegal armed groups and seized buildings concerns all the regions of Ukraine, Lavrov stressed.
“It is impossible to solve the problem of illegally seized buildings in one region of Ukraine when the illegally seized buildings are not freed in another,” he said.
“Those who took power in Kiev as a result of a coup – if they consider themselves as representing the interests of all the Ukrainians – must show the initiative, extend a friendly hand to the regions, listen to their concerns, and sit down with them at the negotiation table,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov said the document does not give any guidelines on the future political system of Ukraine.
“We did not use any terms… There are federations where the rights of the regions are limited, and there are unitary states in name only where the regions have broad authority,” he explained.
The goal of the meeting was to send a signal to the Ukrainians that they are responsible for stability in the country and must ensure that “each region can protect its history and language,” Lavrov stressed.
“Only then will Ukraine be a strong state, a proverbial bridge between the East and the West,” Lavrov said.
The Russian side on Thursday provided US and EU representatives with documents passed on from south-eastern Ukrainians, which contain “a thorough vision of how their interests should be reflected in the new [Ukrainian] constitution.”
The OSCE’s (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) monitoring mission must play “the leading role” in assisting the Ukrainian authorities to resolve the crisis, Lavrov stressed, adding that Russia “will support” the mission’s work.
The Geneva meeting has given Russia “hopes” that “the US and the EU are genuinely interested in a trilateral cooperation with Russia aimed at convincing the Ukrainian to sit down at the negotiation table,” Lavrov said.
According to the Russian top diplomat, the Americans now have a “decisive influence” on the Kiev authorities, which should be used for resolving the crisis.
Russia “does not want to send any troops to Ukraine,” Lavrov stressed, answering journalists’ questions. Moscow’s chief concern is that the rights of all the Ukrainian regions, including those with Russian-speaking majorities, must be taken into account in the constitutional reform.
“We have absolutely no wish to send our troops to Ukraine, to the territory of a friendly state, to the land of a brotherly nation. This is against the fundamental interests of the Russian Federation,” Lavrov said.
Calling the recent NATO statements on Ukraine’s neutrality “unacceptable,” Lavrov stressed that pushing for changes in the country’s non-aligned status will “undermine the efforts to resolve the crisis” in Ukraine.
“The fact that Ukraine has chosen non-aligned status and enshrined it in its law must be respected by all and there should not be any attempts to doubt it or to erode its meaning,” the Russian Foreign Minister stressed.
Ahead of the quadrilateral talks, Lavrov met US Secretary of State John Kerry, while EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton saw Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa. Both meetings were held behind closed doors.