Ukrainian PM seeks international support at UN
Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk appealed to the U.N. Security Council Thursday for its support to help stop Russia from annexing its Crimea region in a referendum planned for Sunday.
Yatsenyuk told the U.N.’s most powerful organ that his country is facing the military aggression of one of the council’s permanent members – Russia.
“This aggression has no reasons and no grounds. This is absolutely and entirely unacceptable in the 21st century to resolve any kind of conflict with tanks, artillery and boots on the ground,” he said.
Yatsenyuk said despite Russia’s violation of a number of treaties, Ukraine still believes there is a chance to resolve the dispute peacefully and avoid the secession and annexation of Crimea this Sunday.
Speaking in Russian he addressed Moscow’s ambassador, asking him if Russia wants war saying, “We are looking for an answer to the question whether Russians want war. I am sure as prime minister of Ukraine — which for decades had warm and friendly relations with Russia — I am convinced that Russians do not want war.”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin replied to Mr. Yatsenyuk during his remarks saying “Russia does not want war and nor do the Russians. And I am convinced that Ukrainians don’t want this either. And furthermore, this is something I want to underscore, we do not see any premises to view and interpret the situation in such terms. We don’t want any further exacerbation of the situation,” said Churkin.
Russia’s international isolation was evident, with even its closest ally, China, having taken a firm stance in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and asserting its policy of non-interference in another state’s domestic affairs.
Earlier Thursday, the U.S. delegation circulated a draft resolution reaffirming the principles of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence and that states that Sunday’s referendum is illegal, and urges nations to not recognize the results. The draft text does not name Russia as an aggressor nor explicitly demand it pull its troops back from Crimea.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said her Russian counterpart’s remarks seemed to be about validating the referendum and annexation of Crimea.
“This causes us great alarm, which is one of the reasons that we have circulated this resolution, in the hopes of finding a vehicle for showing the extent of Russia’s isolation as it pursues a non-peaceful path,” said Power.
Diplomats said they expect a Russian veto, but if Moscow’s close ally, China abstains, it would demonstrate Russia’s extensive international isolation. Several diplomats said they favored holding a vote by Saturday.
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk also met with U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon Thursday. Mr. Ban has repeatedly called on all parties to deescalate the situation and find a solution through political dialogue.