West's unkept promises the problem, not Russia
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West's unkept promises the problem, not Russia

Recognising the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic was a very difficult but necessary decision. It was necessitated primarily by humanitarian considerations and a willingness to protect the civilian population from ongoing armed violence in Donbas by the present Ukrainian authorities. The decision was taken in light of the free will of the Donbas people and expressed through an official appeal by their representatives. This was done, moreover, on the basis of provisions of the United Nations Charter, the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning friendly relations among states, the CSCE Final Act of 1975, and other fundamental documents -- wherein the right of peoples to self-determination and the obligation of other states to respect such rights are recorded.

From the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis eight years ago, Russia has made persistent efforts to resolve disagreement by peaceful, diplomatic means. Russian representatives facilitated intra-Ukrainian dialogue in the Contact Group and worked on a settlement in the Normandy format. My German and French colleagues here argued that their governments tried to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Donbas. Well, apparently, these efforts were insufficient, or rather insincere.

In fact, for the past eight years representatives of the current regime in Kiev, with the silent acquiescence of their foreign handlers, have advocated something completely different -- namely, to establish control of the border and suppress dissent in Donbas without giving its population any of the political guarantees and status that are stipulated for in the Minsk Package of Measures. Instead of reaching political agreement with its fellow citizens, the regime carried out a punitive operation against them that qualifies as genocide or a civil war. In flagrant violation of the Minsk Package of Measures, the Kiev regime imposed a brutal transport and economic blockade on Donbas, suspended pensions and social benefits of its inhabitants, referred to them derogatorily as "specimens", and suggested they get out of Ukraine.

Fourteen thousand civilians perished and many more became homeless and permanently displaced as result of such policy. Kiev publicly, including at the highest political level, stated that "Donbas will not receive any special status" and "there will be no direct dialogue with representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic", also alleging the Minsk agreements are impossible to implement.

Western partners did not see all of this, or instead pretended not to notice. Not a word was said about the need for Kiev to immediately and unconditionally stop its stranglehold of the region, for example by lifting Kiev's socio-economic blockade. Instead, some Nato countries have embarked on an obvious and unprecedented supply of lethal weapons into Ukraine, in effect giving carte blanche to the further killing of civilians and destruction of infrastructure.

Both Berlin and Paris have failed to ensure Kiev's compliance with and adherence to prior agreements and thus bear their own share of responsibility for what has, but never should have, happened in Ukraine. This fact is truly disappointing and regretful.

Even more unfortunate is that Russia has seen before this kind of behaviour from Kiev's Western partners: the assurances, promises and even signed agreements and commitments yet without actual intention of fulfilling them. This is the real problem.

As the Russian ambassador to Thailand, my main objective is to develop bilateral relations between our countries. Moreover, throughout my time here I have never publicly passed judgement on the internal matters of Thailand or any other third country. I intend to maintain such abstinence in the future.

To know the present, one must know the past. Blaming and shaming Russia for all problems in Europe and beyond is simple, easy and convenient but hardly true. The recent developments in Ukraine have ensued from a complicated and nuanced history, one that requires a close reading for one to gain meaningful insight. Thus I do ask Bangkok Post readers to study the problem with open-mindedness and intellectual honesty rather than resort to mindlessly repeating simplistic labels suggested by any of the stakeholders.

Evgeny Tomikhin is Ambassador of Russia.

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