‘Moscow has responsibility to defend Russians in Ukraine’
Pushkov reminded that Washington had played a crucial role in setting up the government in Kiev, which now gives orders to use military force against the eastern part of the country.
“Without the support of the European Union and the United States, this government in Kiev could not have been formed,” Pushkov said, adding that the support is still ongoing. “We have seen how the government started its so called anti-terrorist operation after the head of the CIA came to Kiev, something that the American side tried to hide.”
Pushkov said that Russia was drawn into the conflict and has always honored the February 21 agreement which called for constitutional reforms and early presidential and parliamentary elections.
“For three months we did not interfere in any form. Even when Maidan started, we did not interfere in any form. We did not send our ministers, our members of parliament, our specialists in public relations to Ukraine, unlike the Western countries.”
But as Kiev is continuing its military operation in east Ukraine, Russia has an obligation to protect the rights of the people in those regions.
“What did the West expect? That Russia would have no say over the future of Ukraine whatsoever? It is not realistic to expect. There are millions of Russians who are living in Ukraine and we have a certain responsibility to defend their rights. We will be defending those right preferably by diplomatic and political means.”
Pushkov said that he hopes that Kiev will be “reasonable enough not to use the armed forces", saying that Russia wants to “limit” its role in the crisis to a “political dialogue and diplomacy.”
But diplomacy is sometimes difficult as highlighted in the recent case of an anti-Russian resolution that was approved by PACE, which deprived the Russian delegation of the right to vote and banned it from participation in PACE’s ruling bodies and monitoring missions till the end of the year.
Pushkov says that Russia “does not plan to leave this body,” but will only participate in its activities only with “credentials fully restored” namely the right to vote.
“We are an important country. We are a country which historically defined the fate of Europe. We are one of the largest payers into the budget of the Council of Europe. And we will not agree to such a discriminatory approach.”
The European system of values is in “crisis”, Pushkov says because “values should be above politics,” but unfortunately morals are being “manipulated” as they are being used to “serve certain geopolitical interests.”