U.S. Envoy: Crimea Crisis Solution Needs To Address Russian Concerns

U.S. Envoy: Crimea Crisis Solution Needs To Address Russian Concerns

By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times

KIEV, Ukraine — The United States continues to rule out military action to eject Russian troops from Crimea and acknowledges that a diplomatic settlement needs to address Moscow’s interests in the strategically important peninsula, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Monday.

“Crimea is and should remain a part of Ukraine. Discussion over,” said Geoffrey R. Pyatt, the top American diplomat in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

But the Obama administration, which has slapped limited sanctions on Russia for its incursion into Crimea, remains committed to finding “an off-ramp” for Moscow that would take into account its “legitimate interests in Crimea in a way that’s in conformance with international law and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Pyatt told reporters at a news conference.

Pyatt added that Ukrainian officials have recently indicated a willingness to consider greater autonomy for Crimea, where a majority of residents are ethnic Russians or Russian-speakers and where a semi-autonomous parliament has been established.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin denies sending in troops to take over the peninsula, saying that local pro-Russian forces have independently seized control of state and military installations, he has said he feels compelled to act to protect beleaguered Russians there from what he describes as a new, ultra-nationalist government in Kiev.

No independent observers have confirmed any instances of persecution of Russians in Crimea since Moscow’s ally in Kiev, former President Viktor Yanukovich, fled the capital last month after prolonged protests against his government. Western nations have dismissed Putin’s claim as a trumped-up pretext for Russia to invade its neighbor.

A referendum in Crimea, backed by Russian guns, has been called for March 16 to decide whether the region should secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

In a sign of how seriously the U.S. takes the crisis, President Barack Obama has invited acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk to Washington this week for a meeting at the White House.

Pyatt said the two leaders would discuss how to move forward regarding the Crimean referendum and how to stabilize Ukraine’s flailing economy. The Ukrainian government is near bankruptcy and desperately needs an infusion of cash to pay its bills.

Pyatt accused pro-Russian forces of trying to stir up public dissension and tension in Ukraine, and of trying to provoke Ukrainian troops in Crimea into retaliating violently.

He said he admired the troops’ forbearance and also the orderliness and mutual tolerance shown by activist groups that remain encamped in Kiev’s central Independence Square even after having ousted the former government. The groups say they are staying put in order to keep pressure on Ukraine’s new government to rule transparently.

“As someone who grew up in Southern California and lived through the Rodney King riots, I have great respect for the moral authority that the Ukrainian people demonstrated,” Pyatt said.

AFP Photo/Genya Savilov

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

As Nebraska Goes In 2024, So Could Go Maine
Virus Exploded After Nebraska Governor Refused To Close Meatpacking Plant
Virus Exploded After Nebraska Governor Refused To Close Meatpacking Plant

Every state is different. Nebraska is quite different. It is one of only two states that doesn't use the winner-take-all system in presidential elections. Along with Maine, it allocates its Electoral College votes to reflect the results in each of its congressional districts.

Keep reading...Show less
Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel

Donald Trump attacked late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel in an early morning all-over-the-map social media post Wednesday. That night, Kimmel told his audience that he learned about Trump’s latest attack on him from all the text messages waiting for him when he woke up.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}