Kyiv, April 1, 2014. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has encouraged its colleagues in the Russian Federation (RF) to focus on their own domestic issues, rather than to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs. This statement was released in response to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s call for the federalization of Ukraine and for Ukraine adopting Russian as the country’s second official language.
Over the past several weeks, Russia has been working hard to portray itself as a wise and virtuous older brother whose role it is to resolve any alleged issues in Ukraine, whether it be minority rights violations or the presence of fascists in the government. The best example of Russia’s indispensable help is its “defense” of the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine’s Crimea, which resulted in the invasion of a foreign country and an illegal seizure of its territory.
Disclosing the official position of the Russian Federation, Minister Lavrov stated that a “form of unitary state for Ukraine exhausted itself; Ukraine needs a new Constitution, each region must have a right to select its own government, executive and legislative power.” According to Lavrov, Ukraine should follow Russia’s federal structure, and make Russian as its second official language.
His “constructive advice” was met with a resolute reaction in Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ukraine’s MFA proposed to the Russian side that “that instead of dictating its ultimatum-like terms to a sovereign and independent state, it should first pay attention to the catastrophic condition and complete lack of rights of its own national minorities, including Ukrainians.” The statement continued with a rhetorical question: “Why doesn’t Russia implement federalism, which, by the way, is affixed in the official name of the state, with real and not just declarative substance?”
Russia, the world’s largest country, is home to more than one hundred ethnicities, whose people can legitimately demand a broadening of their autonomy and rights within the Russian Federation. Unfortunately, this concept would never gain support in today’s Russia, noted Ukraine’s MFA.
“The mere suggestion of this is immediately suppressed in Russia, and any attempt to purse the idea will be drowned in blood, as it was in the Northern Caucasus,” stated Ukraine’s foreign ministry in its comments.
Russia’s aggressive method of securing ethnic minority rights through the deployment of military units ‘for the good of Ukraine’ de facto undermined the integrity of Russia’s own borders, destabilized the global balance of power and compromised international and regional peace. Seeking an unarmed resolution to the Ukraine-Russia confrontation, last week the United Nations held a General Assembly during which one hundred UN members supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity and denounced Russia’s recent military intervention in the country. In addition, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russia’s Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris on March 30, 2014. After the talks, Kerry said: “no decision on Ukraine’s future can be made without Kiev’s [sic] involvement.”