‘Russia is not interested in territorial expansion by means of Ukraine’
RT:Russia's reaction on the referendum in eastern Ukraine has been less combative than others - recognizing the people's opinion, but also calls for dialogue with Kiev. What is Moscow's goal here?
Dmitry Babich: I would say that Moscow from the very beginning of this crisis has been calling for dialogue. It was the EU and the US which rejected dialogue. Let me just remind you that the current crisis spread out of a relatively minor problem. The Ukrainian President Yanukovich wanted to postpone the signing of the association agreement with the EU. When the EU protested, he suggested holding trilateral talks between Moscow, Brussels and Kiev to sort out the differences. The EU said “No, we are only going to talk to you, Russia has no business here.” Then after many tragic events, the trilateral talks were held in Geneva and this time it was Russia, the EU and the US. When Russia suggested bringing protesters from the East of Ukraine to the table because they became a new party to the conflict, the West said “No, these people are just your agents, we are not going to see them at the talks.” But I am sure that sooner or later the representatives of eastern Ukraine will come to talks, they will be invited by the West again with four or five months of delay, again after lots of victims, again after lots of destruction and again the West will blame everything on Russia.
RT:The Donetsk region is talking of applying to join Russia. Is that something Moscow is interested in?
DB: Russia is not interested in territorial expansion. This has not been the policy of the Russian government since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Transnistria held a referendum asking to become part of Russia, South Osetia did the same and Russia did not make these territories its parts because we don’t need new territories. Crimea was an exception and it would have never happened if there had been no coup d’état in Kiev, so basically Crimea needed to be protected from the junta that is now ruling Ukraine without any legitimacy whatsoever. So what Russia wants is some kind of a dialogue between Kiev and Donetsk, Kiev and Lugansk. What we want to see is the bloodshed being stopped. But how can you stop the bloodshed if the authorities in Kiev do not want to stop their so-called military operation, they use their army against the protesters who occupied government business. We saw the same situation two months ago in Kiev and at the time the West was saying the use of the army by Yanukovich would mean crossing the line. Now Kiev is crossing all red lines, it is killing dozens of people every day and the West has not had any single critical word for the Kiev authorities. What Russia suggested is a dialogue between Kiev and eastern Ukraine.
RT:The White House has not only denounced the referendum, but blamed Russia for it. President Putin even called for the referendum to be postponed… What more does Washington want then?
DB: These statements just reflect the amount of distrust of the American government towards anything they hear from Russia, or from the protesters in eastern Ukraine. They do not believe a single word from Russia but they believe everything they have been told by Kiev. All the lies that come from Kiev they believe in, like dialects which Mr. Kerry mentioned several weeks ago as if he was a specialist in Russian and Ukrainian language. In the same way, they believe that there are no East-Ukrainian protesters, these people are just Russian agents, so Putin could stop these referendum by a snap of his fingers. This is not true because people of eastern Ukraine are dying every day, they have aviation and tanks used against them and still they held this referendum and still they do not give up. So the West is just unable to believe reality.
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