Document:Answers to journalists’ questions following the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit
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Answers to journalists’ questions following the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit
QUESTION: You have not reacted yet to the latest US and EU sanctions against Russia. How do you explain these sanctions and what impact do you think they might have on Eurasian integration?
As for the sanctions, I consider the first package of sanctions an unlawful and hostile act against Russia, and a step that will definitely damage Russia-US and Russia-EU relations. But as for the second package of sanctions, it is not even clear exactly what they are all about, because they have no cause and effect link to what is happening now in Ukraine and in Russia.
I think they are linked to the fact that our partners tried to settle the Ukrainian crisis using force, then realised what this leads to and are now looking for someone to blame. Let me say though that this has nothing to do with Russia. People say our special forces are present there, say we have sent instructors there. Let me say in all responsibility that there are no Russian instructors, special forces or troops of any kind there. We have no one there. They cooked up this whole mess themselves and are now trying to resolve the problem by using us.
Can the situation be resolved? It probably can, but this would require the parties to the conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and respect the Geneva agreements. This would mean that the authorities in Kiev would have to release from prison the people in whom Ukrainians have placed their trust and chosen as leaders, and would have to begin direct dialogue with these people. It would mean disarming the radicals, Right Sector and other radical groups, and clearing them out of buildings in Kiev rather than legalising their activities. It would mean equal respect too for the lawful rights of people in other parts of Ukraine, especially in the east and southeast of the country. Engaging in dialogue and looking for compromise solutions is something that must be done. The wrong thing to do is to start looking for scapegoats elsewhere.
You know, it was handing out those pies on the Maidan that paved the way to this crisis. We need to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and be equally serious about looking for solutions. Let me say again that there is nothing good in these sanctions – they will be damaging. The Russian Federation Government has already proposed some countermeasures. I do not see a need for us to take countermeasures, but if this kind of situation continues, of course we will have to start looking at who is doing what in Russia in different sectors of our economy, including the energy sector. We really have no desire to resort to these kinds of measures, take our own steps in response, and I hope that things do not reach this point.
QUESTION: How do you view the fact that the USA has taken the lead in the situation with Ukraine, pushing the EU into a background role?
QUESTION: A group of military observers was detained recently in Ukraine. Ukraine had invited these observers to the country and was supposed to guarantee their security. What is your view of this situation?
At the same time, we understand the concerns of our partners in Europe. I had a private meeting yesterday, met with the former German chancellor, Mr Schroeder, and he also expressed these concerns, given that a German citizen is among those who were detained. I hope that this conflict will be settled and that these people will be able to leave the region without hindrance, but everyone involved in this process should draw the according conclusions from what has happened and make sure to avoid any such mistakes in the future.
Thank you very much.