Ukraine’s Ousted Ex Leader Denies Calling In the Russians 3 Years after Crimea Annexation

Ukraine’s Ex-president Viktor Yanukovych is seen here speaking during a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, after giving a video conference testimony to a Ukrainian District Court in Kiev in a trial concerning the events during the 2013-2014 Euromaidan Revolution. 25 November 2016. Photo: EPA

  • Former President Yanukovych speaks out 3 years after the pro-Western revolution in Kiev which led Russia to seize Crimea and likely back an uprising in Donbass
  • He denies having asked Vladimir Putin to rescue his rule with military force
  • In a letter to world leaders, he proposes a referendum to resolve the war in Ukraine
  • The ex President puts the blame for his ouster and the ensuing conflict on an all-out Western “conspiracy” including earlier “Color Revolutions” and the Arab Spring

Ukraine’s former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych has spoken out 3 years after the pro-Western Euromaidan Revolution in Kiev ousted him, leading Russian leader Vladimir Putin to seize and annex the Crimean Peninsula and to possibly stir an ongoing insurgency in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass.

Yanukovych has denied having asked Russia to send in troops to Ukraine to rescue his rule as the 2013-2014 Euromaidan Revolution was unfolding, and has authored a letter to global leaders proposing that the ongoing war in Ukraine be settled peacefully through a referendum.

The pro-Russian Donbass insurgency possibly instigated by Russia began in 2014, after Putin had seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea.

The pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine have since established two self-proclaimed states, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. They face Ukraine’s government troops on a 250-mile (400 km) frontline in a war that has already claimed over 9,700 lives, and has displaced millions of people.

Even though it first covertly sent troops with unmarked uniforms to occupy the Crimean Peninsula before openly annexing it in March 2014, the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied official involvement in the war in Donbass, claiming that any Russian citizens fighting there do so on their own free will.

Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, however, has been exposed by Russian servicemen captured by the Ukrainian forces at the beginning of the conflict, and on February 18, 2017, Putin issued a decree recognizing all civilian documents issued by the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics just as the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France (the “Normandy Four”) negotiated a ceasefire renewal.

No Putin Letter, Just Putin Statement

Speaking to reporters in Moscow on Wednesday, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych denied that on March 1, 2014, he sent a letter to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin asking him to send military forces to Ukraine to “restore order”.

The letter in question caused an uproar at a UN Security Council meeting on March 3, 2014, when it was read out and shown by then Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin (who recently passed away).

“The country has plunged into chaos and anarchy. The country is in the grip of outright terror and violence driven by the West. People are persecuted on political and language grounds. In this context, I appeal to the President of Russia Vladimir V. Putin to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to re-establish the rule of law, peace, order, stability and to protect the people of Ukraine,“ read Churkin an unofficial translation of the letter sent to Putin by the already ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

A man is seen mourning at the Kiev Memorial in honor of the people who lost their lives in the 2013-2014 Euromaidan Revolution in Ukraine, on the 3rd year since the start of the Euromaidan protests. 21 November 2016. Photo: EPA

However, some three years later, Yanukovych argued that what he sent to Vladimir Putin was “a statement”, not “a letter”, and that he was trying to “protect” his people.

“I never asked to send troops to Ukraine. First, it was not a letter. It was a statement. Second, we have laws. I never betrayed my people, I tried to protect my people, to do it within my competences,” the former Ukrainian President said on Wednesday, as cited by the Russian state-owned news agency TASS.

“Stopping illegal gangs that obeyed no one and that began to kill people in Donbass. This was the goal for me. It may seem to be emotionally-driven but I tried to find a way to protect people,” he said.

Now There Are Letters

Viktor Yanukovych announced, however, that he had recently sent letters to world leaders proposing solutions for the settlement of the war in Ukraine.

The letters are largely identical in content, and are addressed to US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Polish President Andrzej Dude, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, PACE head Pedro Agramunt, and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

In them, Yanukovych says the current Ukrainian government still needs to execute an agreement from February 21, 2014, settling the “political crisis” in the country. It provided for restraining the use of force, and amending the Ukrainian constitution to settle any grievances, among other things.

“I am convinced that only a consistent political and law enforcement of Ukrainian authorities to execute the Agreement on the settlement of political crisis, which was aborted upon their own initiative, as well as the Minsk agreements, can lead to quality changes in the socio-political life of Ukraine,” Yanukovich says in the statement announcing his letters to world leaders.

“In case the current Ukrainian authorities do not comply with the Minsk agreements, it is necessary to initiate a referendum on the status of Donbass,” he adds.

The ousted ex President of Ukraine also proposes that “representatives of the protesting party, representing the people of Donbass” be included in the negotiations on the conflict in Ukraine of the so called Normandy Format (or Normandy Four), which includes the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.

Rescue workers pull down a building damaged in shelling in the pro-Russian rebel controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine, 03 February 2017. Photo: EPA

US & EU Found Guilty of All-out Western Conspiracy

The Ukrainian protesters from the Euromaidan Revolution (named after the “Maidan” square in Kiev) repeatedly made it clear they were driven by the rampant corruption in the country, and in part by Yanukovych’s backtracking from an earlier course to sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union.

However, in his statements on Wednesday, the former Ukrainian leader largely put the blame for the 2013-2014 revolution that led to his ouster on an anti-Russian “Western conspiracy”, which has also been the long-running propaganda message of Vladimir Putin’s government in Russia.

“I ask you to give an objective legal and political assessment of the actions of US officials during the Ukrainian crisis,” Yanukovich writes in his letter to US President Donald Trump.

Answering questions in Moscow on Wednesday, the former Ukrainian President went further by declaring that “manipulation and techniques that were used at that time, and manipulation of public opinion was carried out at a very high professional level.”

“Today we know that this was generously financed, paid for by various international funds“, “under the great support of Western countries and the United States,” Yanukovych stated linking the 2014 coup in Ukraine to an even wider international conspiracy.

“The main reason for the tragic events is the desire to seize power in Ukraine by all means. The people who have committed a coup, used all the methods known through the previous color revolutions projects and the Arab Spring, but this was the Ukrainian project,” he said.

Yanukovych also said the EU was “partly to blame” for his ouster and the Euromaidan Revolution because its representatives who gave guarantees for the agreement from February 21, 2014, failed to “condemn the radical actions of the opposition leaders aimed at disrupting” it.

In his interview with reporters in Moscow, Yanukovych confirmed that he had been residing in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, close to Ukraine’s eastern border, “renting a small house there”, and declared he was dreaming of returning to his home country to do “something for the good of Ukraine and its people”.

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