As the world watches with bated breath over the crisis in Ukraine especially the presence of Russian troops in Crimea, the Ukraine Ambassador to Nigeria, Valerii Vasyliev, provides how the crisis began and what his country wants. He spoke with EZRA IJIOMA

How the crisis began

On November 29, 2013 in Vilnius (capital of Lithuania), under the pressure of Russian Federation, Ukraine refused to sign Agreement on Association with European Union.

Firstly, it was a peaceful protest of Ukrainian people, mostly students, against government of President V. Yanukovich. They gathered for a peaceful meeting on the Independent Square in Kiev.

But tension was growing steadily and on February 19, 2014, bloody clashes started, which took place in Kiev [capital of Ukraine] and dozens of people died and hundreds were wounded.

Attempts to resolve the crisis

On February 21, 2014, the President of Ukraine V. Yanukovich, on the one side and the opposition leaders V. Klychko, O. Tyahnybok and A. Yatsenyuk on the other side, signed an agreement on the settlement of crisis in Ukraine. Negotiations were held with the participation of the European Union representatives including the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland R. Sikorski, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany F. Steinmeier, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France L. Fabius, as well as V. Lukin, a special envoy of the President of the Russian Federation. V. Lukin, a representative of the Russian Federation, did not sign the Agreement, thereby not recognizing it.

According to the agreement, within 48 hours after signing it, a special law that would restore the Ukrainian Constitution of 2004 had to be adopted by the Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine Parliament], signed by the President and made public. It means the return to the parliamentary- presidential republic, when appointment of the government belongs to the parliament.

The parties also agreed on early presidential elections to be held immediately after the adoption of the new Constitution of Ukraine, but no later than in December 2014.

Meanwhile, on February 22, 2014, V. Yanukovych publicly stated in a video-interview that he renounced the agreement and had no intent to sign the law restoring the Constitution of 2004 adopted by the parliament, he left the city of Kiev for an unknown destination and, in fact, removed himself from his constitutional authority.

On the February 23, 2014 in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada adopted the resolution to entrust the Head of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Mr.O.Turchinov, with duty of President of Ukraine until the elections of 25th of May, 2014.

On the February 27, 2014 Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved a new Government of Ukraine with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyukand appointed Mr.Andrii Deshshitsia, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

The situation continues to deteriorate. On the 28th of February Russian troops illegally entered the territory of Ukraine in the Crimean Peninsula under ambiguous reason to protect a Russian-speaking population of Ukraine.

The Upper House of the Russian Parliament (Council of Federation) has unanimously authorized the use of military force against Ukraine, upon request of the President of Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. In fact, all Ukrainian military units in Crimea were blocked by Russian troops.

Implications of Russian actions

These actions by the Russian Federation constitute an act of aggression against the state of Ukraine, a severe violation of international law, posing a serious threat to sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country as well as peace and stability in the whole region.

The Russian Federation refused to comply with its obligations as State- Guarantor of Ukraine under Budapest Memorandum, obliging Russia as well as other permanent members of the Security Council to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia officially rejected Ukrainian proposal to hold immediate bilateral consultations (under Article 7 of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation of 1997). Russian Federation brutally violated the basic principles of Charter of the United Nations obliging all member states to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

What Ukraine Government wants

Facing the announced military intervention in Ukraine, the Government of Ukraine has requested to hold a meeting of the Security Council. Ukraine calls upon the Security Council, to do everything possible to stop aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. Ukraine addressed to the Guarantor States to react immediately to prevent the intervention.

Ukraine urges all member-states of the United Nations to demonstrate solidarity with Ukrainian nation, to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

UN Security Council has held three meetings about situation in Ukraine, starting from the 28 of February, 2014. Two of them were initiated by Ukrainian Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr. Y. Sergeev, and the third by Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, V. Churkin, (on March 3, 2014). Russian Representative presented a statement, allegedly made by Mr. Viktor Yanukovich, with the request to the leadership of the Russian Federation to use its military forces for restoration of law and order, peace and stability as well, as protection of population of Ukraine.

In this regard, it is necessary to point out, that in accordance with Constitution of Ukraine, the Parliament of Ukraine has an exclusive power to approve a decision on admission of foreign military forces into the territory of Ukraine.

Furthermore, Mr. V. Yanukovich is no longer a legitimate President of Ukraine. The Ukrainian crisis was discussed on March 5, 2014 in Paris, France by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of US, UK, France, Germany and EU counterparts. The statement of Russian President that there are no Russian troops in Crimea is not coordinate with reality.

We are open to the international community and interested in unbiased coverage of the events in Crimea.

US President Barack Obama also condemned proposed referendum in Crimea to join Russia, saying it would “violate international law” and that any decision on Crimea “must include the Ukrainian government”.

Safety of Nigerian students in Ukraine

We know that Nigerian parents are worried about their children studying in Ukraine. There are about 5, 000 Nigerian students in Ukraine and they are safe. We believe that situation in our country will be normalized soon. We have no combat actions on the territory of Ukraine, no cases of shooting or killing of people.