Putin on Ukraine Okay With China-Syria-Venezuela Minority
Following is a roundup of how countries around the world have reacted to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region. The responses are grouped under the headings “Pro-Russia,” “Anti-Putin” and “On the Fence.”
Of the 45 governments surveyed, three signaled support for Putin’s actions, 25 opposed them and 17 indicated no strong bias either way.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the ethnic Russians who dominate Crimea are at risk from the new government in Kiev, an allegation Ukraine denies. He backs the Black Sea region’s recently appointed administration, which plans to hold a March 16 referendum on joining Russia.
While Chinese officials have repeatedly urged a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, they underscore their nation’s ties to Russia and oppose sanctions against it.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said March 8 that China’s relationship with Russia is “in its best period in history, characterized by a high level of mutual trust” and firm support for each other. Wang called for calm and restraint in the Ukraine crisis.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a cable expressing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the state-run SANA news agency reported on March 6.
He “reiterated Syria’s support to President Putin’s rational approach, which favors peace and seeks to establish a global system that supports stability and combats extremism and terrorism,” the report said.
Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro condemned Ukraine’s “ultra-nationalist” coup, which it said was supported by NATO and the U.S., according to a Foreign Ministry statement March 7.
“The installation in Kiev of de facto authorities not only threatens Ukraine’s national unity, but the stability of the entire region as it places in danger Ukrainian citizens of Russian origin and the Russian Federation’s own sovereignty,” the Foreign Ministry said.
ON THE FENCE:
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on March 3, offered to “propose alternatives for a peaceful solution that respects human rights and the UN charter.”
In meetings with UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, Timerman said Argentina is against external intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign countries.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said the events in Ukraine are a serious concern and show that the European Union and its Eastern Partnership program face challenges.
“It’s necessary to take all possible measures in order to ease the tension and find reasonable solutions through dialogue,” Sargsyan said March 6.
Armenia, a former Soviet republic, last year agreed to join a Russia-led customs union and is home to a Russian military base.
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has said his country favors a peaceful solution that supports international law.
“Austria has always maintained civil ties with both Russia and Ukraine,” Faymann said March 4. “We have always been keen to underscore these ties, also in the EU, within a framework of our approach as Austrians of de-escalation.”
Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey was quoted as saying by the country’s foreign ministry that Belarus “is interested” in Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Belarus will maintain contacts with its neighbor’s new government, while “analyzing” its legitimacy, Makey was cited as saying in an interview with Baltic News Service on March 3. Belarus, a former Soviet republic and part of a Moscow-led customs union, is historically pro-Russian.
With Russia as a BRICs partner and plans to launch a joint satellite with the Ukraine next year, Brazilian leaders have avoided taking sides in public statements.
President Dilma Rousseff and Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo have yet to speak publicly on Crimea. The highest-ranking official to comment on Ukraine is Brazil’s representative at the International Monetary Fund, Paulo Nogueira Batista. He warned on March 7 against easing the fund’s standards to enable a large loan to Ukraine under pressure from the U.S. and Europe.
Bulgaria as a Black Sea state has a lot to lose if the region is destabilized, Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said on March 10, urging to seek solutions to the Ukraine crisis through dialogue between all sides involved.
“If the European Commission decides to use sanctions as leverage in the negotiations, they should not be at the expense of member states,” he said.
Chile’s Foreign Ministry has called for “the necessary dialogue to lead to stability, peace and wellbeing in Ukraine, respecting the rule of law, civil liberties and the complete protection of human rights,” according to a statement on its website.
Russia’s ally during the Cold War has refrained from calling for a withdrawal from Crimea and urged talks to address the standoff. Russia remains one of India’s largest suppliers of arms.
The dispute should be solved through “free and fair” elections that “meet the aspirations of all sections of Ukraine’s population,” the Foreign Ministry said in a March 6 statement. National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said at a press briefing the same day that Russia has “legitimate” interests at issue in the conflict.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Indonesia emphasizes the need to respect the integrity and sovereignty of a country. “Where does Ukraine belong to? In Ukraine or Russia?” he said March 4.
Indonesia urges all parties to restrain themselves and to prioritize a peaceful approach that respects international law, Natalegawa said. Indonesia calls on the United Nations Security Council to carry out its responsibility outlined in its charter to maintain peace and international security, he said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on March 1 that foreign intervention in Ukraine hasn’t been helpful, the state-run Mehr news agency reported.
“We are worried about developments in Ukraine and believe that in past months intervention from abroad hasn’t helped to improve the situation. We hope that people from Ukraine will get to choose their future.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declined to comment on the Crimea situation, despite his country’s close ties to the U.S. and many Russian-speaking immigrants.
“I hope the Ukrainian thing is resolved quickly, amiably, but I have enough on my plate, which is quite full,” he told Fox Business news on March 6 in his only remark on the issue.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama and “once again confirmed the need of a peaceful resolution of Ukraine’s crisis with the use of diplomatic methods that guarantee the territorial integrity of this country,” according to a March 11 statement on the Kazakh president’s website.
Kazakhstan is a former Soviet republic and part of a Russia-led customs union.
Malaysia called on both nations to aim toward finding a peaceful settlement to the conflict, which it viewed with “deep concern.”
“Given Malaysia’s friendly relations with Russia and Ukraine, we urge both countries to work towards a peaceful resolution of the issues between them,” Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman said in a March 5 statement. “We hope both sides would adopt a moderate approach and find a mutually acceptable solution.”
Mexico’s government has called on Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and on the new Ukrainian government to guarantee the security and protection of rights for all its citizens.
“Mexico urges all parts and all actors involved in this crisis, within and outside Ukraine, to exercise moderation in the face of this conflict,” the Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement on March 4.
* SOUTH KOREA
A U.S. ally that has at the same time sought to expand relations with Russia, South Korea’s officials have refrained from extensive comment on the Ukraine crisis, while calling for Ukraine’s sovereignty to be respected.
South Korea is “deeply concerned about the recent situation in Ukraine and urges all parties involved to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful solution while respecting the sovereignty, territorial reservation and democratic development of Ukraine,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young said, reading a statement on March 4.
* NORTH KOREA
The North Korean leadership has not yet commented on the situation in Ukraine.
Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, urged “maximum restraint and wisdom” for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.
The events in Ukraine “may lead to yet more escalation of tension and hard-to-predict consequences, create the real threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country,” Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website on March 4.
U.S. ally and this year’s head of the Group of 20, Australia has criticized the Russian move into Crimea. The Foreign Affairs Department summoned Russia’s ambassador to Canberra on March 4 to question his nation’s intentions.
“This is a fluid and a dangerous situation and really the only way to resolve it is for Russia to pull back,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a March 4 television interview on Nine Network. Russia needed to “stop what appears to be a blatant aggression against a neighbor that has done nothing to justify it,” he said.
Canada has suspended participation in a bilateral economic commission with Russia, is participating in a global military observer mission in Ukraine and has frozen assets of members of the former President Viktor Yanukovych’s government.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of international law,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said March 5.
Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic was cited by the HINA news service on March 6 as calling Russia’s steps “a territorial aggression” against Ukraine.
“‘The situation on the ground is such that it doesn’t offer much optimism about the future of Crimea,” Milanovic was cited as saying.
* CZECH REPUBLIC
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has urged Russia to follow international treaties and said the referendum on Crimea’s status violates Ukrainian laws and isn’t legitimate. Prague was invaded by Soviet troops in 1968.
“Russia is the one that violates the international law. At the same time, we don’t belong to countries that would harass Russia with the threat of economic sanctions,” Sobotka told Czech TV channel CT24 on March 9.
Estonian President Toomas Ilves has said that neighboring Russia’s military intervention in Crimea follows the example of the Soviet Union in 1940 when it invaded the Baltic republics and then organized a referendum to strip Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania of their independence.
“Russia is currently following the same script in Crimea and has violated all the rules, both written and unwritten,” Ilves said in March 8 statement.
Finland’s government and President Sauli Niinistoe said in a joint statement on March 2 that neighboring Russia’s military measures in Crimea are a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“Russia’s move to gain control over the Crimean peninsula cannot be accepted,” Niinistoe said. “All parties are urged to refrain from any military or other action that might escalate the situation.”
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said Russia needs to end its military escalation in Crimea and urged to handle the situation through mediation. France called for the meeting of Group of Eight leaders to be suspended until Russia reverses its military intervention in Ukraine.
“If Russia doesn’t back down, it risks serious consequences from Europe,” Fabius said March 8.
The current processes in Ukraine, namely in Crimea, have taken on a “very alarming development,” said Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in a March 1 statement. Georgia fought a 2008 war against Russia over two separatist regions.
“We call on the international community not to allow a new conflict in Europe and to use all existing means to evade possible aggression and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while she prefers avoiding sanctions, events in Crimea “demand a response” by the European Union.
“There will be far-reaching change in our relations with Russia, possibly including a broad palette of economic measures, if Russia takes further destabilizing measures in Crimea in addition to those already undertaken, or takes military action,” Merkel said on March 6. “I hope it doesn’t get to that point. We would like to see a diplomatic process.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has urged Russia and the European Union to negotiate, adding that the security of ethnic Hungarians in neighboring Ukraine was a top priority for Budapest. Budapest was invaded by Soviet troops in 1956.
“The European Union must take immediate steps in response to Russian troop movements,” Orban said on March 4. “The steps can’t be of a military nature; they must be decisive, immediate and be of an integrative nature.”
Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said in a March 2 statement that Russia needs to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and must avoid actions that would further aggravate the current crisis.
“For Italy, violation of these principles would be wholly unacceptable,” Renzi said.
Japan signed the joint statement with fellow G-7 countries condemning Russia’s “clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has sought to strengthen ties with Russia amid Japan’s escalating tensions with China, has held off on committing to potential U.S.-led sanctions against Russia. Abe on March 10 called for restraint from all parties involved in the standoff and is sending his National Security Council chief to Russia to convey Japan’s position.
Latvia, a former Soviet republic, has denounced neighboring Russia’s steps as a “gross violation of international law and a direct interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state,” in a March 1 joint statement by Latvian President Andris Berzins, speaker of parliament Solvita Aboltina, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.
“Russia’s arguments regarding such manner of the use of armed forces are completely unjustified and in a direct contradiction with Russia’s international commitments.”
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has said Russia is “trying to rewrite the borders after the Second World War in Europe.”
“Russia today is dangerous,” she said March 6. “After Ukraine will be Moldova, and after Moldova will be different countries.”
Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca said Russia’s incursion into Crimea was a “very dangerous development,” in a March 5 interview with Bloomberg. “Its very contagious,” he said.
Moldova is a former Soviet republic and Ukraine’s neighbor, which has a Russian-dominated separatist region, Transnistria.
New Zealand condemned Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, calling it an unacceptable breach of sovereignty and territorial rights, and on March 3 the Foreign Ministry called in the Russian ambassador over the issue.
The same day, Prime Minister John Key said he instructed officials to suspend talks with Russia over a free-trade agreement, citing the situation in Ukraine. It was “not the right time” to sign an FTA with Russia, Key said.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Boerge Brende has called on Russia to “immediately” accept Ukraine’s request for negotiations and to resolve the crisis without the use of violence.
“Russia has a particular responsibility to de-escalate the tense situation,” Brende said on March 2.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Europe “can’t buy peace with concessions” on Crimea, while urging a change in the continent’s climate and energy policies to reduce dependence on its neighbor Russia’s natural gas.
“This is our biggest crisis since Poland regained independence” in 1989, Tusk told lawmakers in Warsaw on March 5. “What’s at stake isn’t just Ukraine’s future, but that of its neighbors and the whole region.”
Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean said Romania “firmly condemns” acts of aggression against a sovereign and independent Ukraine, its neighbor.
“The Romanian government fully supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and condemns any attempts at secession,” Corlatean said on March 10.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has condemned Russia’s actions, saying it’s breaching international law.
“Russia just continues,” Bildt said on Twitter on March 9. “Prepares annexation of Crimea. Clearly wants regime change in Kiev. But highly likely to fail.”
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s government has voiced its opposition to the “invasion” of Ukraine, saying it contravenes international law and could hurt the global economy if war breaks out.
“We condemn any unprovoked invasion of a sovereign country, whatever the pretext,” Lee said in a March 6 Facebook post. His Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had said in Parliament the previous day that Russian troops shouldn’t be in Ukraine as it’s a breach of international law.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on March 3 the country, which lies across the Black Sea from the Crimean region, “will make every effort to secure Crimea’s future within Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” The Crimea is home to the minority Tatar community whose Turkic-speaking Muslim state was annexed by Russia in the 18th century.
* THE EUROPEAN UNION
The leaders of the 28-member European Union suspended trade and visa liberalization negotiations with Russia and threatened “additional and far reaching consequences” should Russia further destabilize Ukraine. The EU is considering a second-stage of sanctions including asset freezes and travel banks of unnamed Russian officials.
“We strongly condemn Russia’s unprovoked violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said after the March 6 emergency summit in Brussels. “We call on Russia to immediately withdraw its armed forces; and allow immediate access for international monitors.”
* UNITED KINGDOM
U.K. argues any referendum vote in Crimea will be “farcical,” “illegal” and “illegitimate” and calls on Russia to de-escalate its aggression and signal it understands the outcome won’t be binding.
“I am not interested in a tug of war,” Prime Minister David Cameron said on March 10. “Ukraine should be able to choose its own future and act as a bridge between Russia and Europe.”
The U.K. is providing technical assistance to Ukraine to support elections and assist with public financial management, debt management and energy pricing.
* UNITED STATES
The U.S. says that Russia has invaded Crimea in violation of several accords protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The U.S. agrees with the new Kiev government that the planned Crimea referendum on joining Russia violates the Ukrainian constitution and that any such vote should be held nationwide.
The U.S. wants the referendum to be canceled and Russia to pull back its forces to Russia or to authorized Russian bases in Crimea, where Russia maintains a major naval base that is home to its Black Sea fleet. On March 6, President Obama signed an executive order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities “responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people.”
“President Obama has been clear that we cannot allow Russia or any country to defy international law with impunity,” Secretary of State John Kerry said March 6 in Rome. “There’s no place in the community of nations for the kind of aggression and steps that we have seen taken in Crimea in Ukraine in these last days.”
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