GENEVA — A Ukrainian envoy says he is hopeful four-way Ukraine talks in Geneva Thursday will deter further Russian military aggression in his country. But he warns Ukraine will do whatever it takes to protect its territory if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve this standoff.
Foreign ministers from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine are to hold crisis talks Thursday in an effort to prevent the standoff between Russia and Ukraine from spiraling out of control.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Yurii Klymenko says it will not be easy to restore stability in his country, nor to get Russia to back off from its territorial designs. But he says he believes the talks could find a way to work toward a peaceful settlement.
The ambassador said the issue of the Federalization of Ukraine is not on the agenda, adding that his government is committed to decentralization, to granting more power to the different regions. But Klymenko said the government opposes Russia’s demand Ukraine become a federalized state, which is seen as a ploy by Moscow to weaken the role of the central government in Kyiv.
“This meeting will not consider the issues pertaining to the internal affairs of Ukraine, but measures for the escalation of pressures on the borders of Ukraine, as well as ways for resuming trade and economic relations between Ukraine and Russia based on mutually profitable market principles," he said. "Ukraine is persistently opposing efforts by Moscow to disrupt Geneva talks under any concocted pretext.”
According to the ambassador, Ukraine considers negotiations as the only option for settling conflict. But he told VOA if Russia continues its aggressive actions, Ukraine is ready to use all means of self defense, according to article 51 of the UN Charter, which gives states the right to take up arms.
“If there will be any aggression, a blatant aggression against Ukraine, against its Eastern and southern regions, so Ukraine will use its right of self-defense," he warned. "I am telling you as a diplomat... Not only the Ukrainian army will defend the country, but every Ukrainian will defend its motherland.”
The foreign ministers hope their combined diplomatic effort Thursday will succeed in breaking the logjam between Moscow and Kyiv. But if there is no breakthrough, the United States and European Union have threatened to impose more economic sanctions on Russia.