23 January 2018
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UKRAINIAN CRISIS: ROOT CAUSES AND BLAME GAME (by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to UK )

The scale of the Ukrainian crisis eclipsed a fundamental issue of who and why provoked it. All the ratchet, which broke loose like hell in Western media seems to avoid a reasoned debate on this issue of culpability. It is obvious that those who hid behind colorless personalities of Brussels bureaucracy knew full well what they were doing when offered Kiev a deep integration short of full membership. They knew also that this deal would have a serious impact on an extensive Russo-Ukrainian trade and economic relationship. If Moscow was engaged in such talks when the EU admitted new members, why not now? Now they feign ignorance, though, as it looks, Russia’s part in that geopolitical exercise was to be a shock-absorber to soften the disastrous consequences of shock therapies to be prescribed to Ukraine through the IMF. The EU didn’t want to deal with that issue when it was raised fairly by President Yanukovich, supposedly, to keep the entire nation in a fix, thus breaking its will to decide for itself. And it was hatched in secret both from the Ukrainian people and Russia.

Now, the new authorities in Kiev ask for pretty much the same financial assistance for the same reasons. And it is being dealt with by Brussels as a sound and legitimate request.

Against this background the entire situation cannot help being seen as an irresponsible geopolitical gamble with stakes sky-high. Irresponsible because our response was easy to foresee. But with that in mind, Moscow did its best to soft-land the fast-evolving crisis through international mediation. On 21 February such an agreement was reached between the Government and the opposition with the help of Foreign Ministers of Germany. France and Poland and a representative of President Putin, who, our partners admit, played critical role in getting President Yanukovich’s consent to this broad, far-reaching and fair compromise. It had nothing to do with the personality of Victor Yanukovich and it did everything with Ukrainian national interest. If took into account the fragile state of the Ukrainian statehood, deep divisions within Ukraine on its national and historical narrative. It didn’t rock Ukraine’s boat, but provided for everything required to preserve that frail consensus in its society that had ensured its survival as a sovereign state since independence.

Under the pretext that President Yanukovich had to flee the country, the 21 February agreement was reneged on by the opposition. Our Western partners do not deny that. A blatant power grab followed by a partly legitimate Rada, which acted in a climat of intimidation by armed protestors, claiming a “revolution”, which, as is well known, always means destruction of the entire constitutional order and the balance of interests if sustains. No impeachment procedure was followed, and the Constitutional Court which plays an important part in it, was disbanded with the Judges prescribed by new authorities to be meted out revolutionary justice.

President Putin, talking to media on 4 March, explained Russia’s view of the situation in great detail, leaving nothing to guess. It is an honest and open position. We want the 21 February agreement to be followed through in due course. That means an extensive constitutional reform, agreeing the prospect of a national unity government and only afterwards holding elections.

Vladimir Putin referred to the experience of the Russian Revolution of 1917, when extremist political forces grabbed power through better organization and ruthlessness to their opponents among moderate opposition. At the time “due course” meant vesting power in the Constituent Assembley, already elected by the time of the Bolshevik takeover in late October 1917. It was disbanded by the revolutionary authorities claiming their own legitimacy. Pretty much like Cromwell did to the Rump in 1653 to establish his Protectorate.

Likewise, revolutionaries unleashed a campaign of terror and intimidation against the rest of the society. Turning a blind eye to this rise of violence, in fact denial of the right to peaceful protest, is aimed at effective cover-up of the origins of this entire enterprise. We are open to be convinced of the opposite.

Rule of law, legitimacy and Constitutional order are not empty words nor abstract categories. In politics it is about the proper process that defines a just and sustainable outcome. Or is it too much for Russia to ask in this particular case?

As to recognition of the revolutionary authorities, the precedents of the Soviet Government’s recognition by Western powers provide a good case in point. It was not automatic nor immediate. It took Washington 16 years and the painful experience of the Great Depression to establish diplomatic relations with Moscow.

Everybody knows that a new Crimean War is out of the question. But that war was as unnecessary as the present crisis in and about Ukraine. Like any human condition, this situation is open-ended. There is still time to save Ukraine from the dire prospect of civil war, since if the nationalist minority begins to impose its will and its narrative upon the rest of the society by “revolutionary” terror, the people, protesting peacefully now, will rise in self-defense.

Russian doesn’t intend to extend its humanitarian mission to other part of Ukraine, but may be compelled to. In the final count its about the old dilemma – the state for the people, or the people for the state. Silence is a sign of spiritual and, ultimately, physical death. Moscow answers calls by Western leaders and its Foreign Minister has been keeping in touch with his counterparts. Leo Tolstoy in his “War and Peace” wrote about Napoleon being indifferent to the truth. If that is the case for the West as a whole, then we are facing a genuine cultural divide. And I don’t know how to overcome it, since its seems again that the only thing our Western partner understand is crude force of facts.



17.01.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the unveiling of memorial plaque in Sayes Court Park

Dear Mayor, Dear Councillors, Lady Joan, Ladies and gentlemen, It is now 320 years ago that a truly remarkable man set foot in Deptford. As you know, the Russian Tsar Peter, later named the Great, visited Western Europe in 1697—1698 under the nickname of Peter Mikhailov, with his Grand Embassy. He was eager to find out about the latest achievements in science and technology and create new diplomatic alliances. Of course, England couldn’t escape his attention. He mostly studied shipbuilding at the famous Deptford Dockyard, but he also met King William III, and, reportedly, Isaac Newton. Peter’s landlord, the famous John Evelyn, was also a respected scientist – a founder member of the Royal Society.

13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.

08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)

25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.

20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.

16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation

25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.

23.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at presentation of the book "The Mystery of Repentance" held at the Russian Embassy

I’m glad to welcome you here to a discussion of two prominent hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of England, on Christian future of Europe.

12.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the exhibition opening (“Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia” 12 September, British Museum)

Today the British Museum and the State Hermitage of Saint-Petersburg are once again proving their unique world class by bringing a whole new civilization to London. Ancient, and almost mythical, but creative, powerful and very different from what we have all known about antiquity – the Scythians.

14.07.2017 - Letter of Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov to the Herald newspaper, published 13.07.2017

I NOTE a rather questionable article by Mark McLaughlin (“Russians lurking near Faslane to eavesdrop on nuclear submarines", The Herald, July 11). Do you really believe that 145 million Russians would elect a leader who would command his nuclear submarines to chase someone's sole and lonely operative U-boat which is firing missiles in the opposite direction or Type 45 destroyers with faulty engines or an aircraft carrier without aircraft on it, all of them being located in Scottish waters?

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