Lavrov: Russian option to send troops is only to protect human rights

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressing the UN Council for Human Rights (Still from video)Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressing the UN Council for Human Rights (Still from video)

Russia’s decision to allow troops to be sent to Ukraine is meant to deter radicals from using violence in the country and to facilitate reconciliation, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
He dismissed the interpretation of the move by Western powers as  an act of aggression on the part of Moscow and called on the West  to stop using human rights as a pretext for pursuing geopolitical  goals.
“I reiterate, we are talking here about protection of our  citizens and compatriots, about protection of the most  fundamental of the human rights – the right to live, and nothing  more,” Lavrov told on Tuesday the UN Council on Human Rights  in Geneva.
“Those who try to interpret the situation as an act of  aggression, threaten us with sanctions and boycotts, are the same  partners who have been consistently and vigorously encouraging  the political powers close to them to declare ultimatums and  renounce dialogue, to ignore the concerns of the south and east  of Ukraine and consequently to the polarization of the Ukrainian  society,” the minister charged.
Lavrov suggested that Russia would not use its military force for  geopolitical gains under a pretext of protecting human rights.
“Human rights are too important to make it a bargaining chip  in geopolitical games, to use it to impose one’s will on others;  less so to instill regime change,” he warned. “An  intervention through force under a pretext of protecting  civilians causes the opposite, multiplies the suffering of  peaceful citizens, and strips them of their fundamental human  right – the right to life.”
Lavrov said Russia’s position on the Ukrainian debacle is that  the self-proclaimed government in Kiev must comply with its  obligations under an agreement, signed on February 21 by  President Yanukovich, opposition leaders and foreign ministers of  Germany, France and Poland. Yanukovich held his end of the  bargain, but the opposition didn’t, the FM stressed.
“The opposition did nothing. The illegal arms have not been  relinquished, the government buildings and streets of Kiev have  not been completely freed, radicals maintain control of cities.  Instead of a promised national unity government a ‘government of  the victors’ has been created,” he said.
Lavrov called on Kiev to return to the February 21 agreement and  conduct a constitutional reform, which would include participants  from all regions of Ukraine. The reform should be approved in a  nationwide referendum, he said.
Following the ousting of Viktor Yanukovich in a wave of violent  street protest, the opposition-controlled parliament appointed a  new government. Ten Ukrainian regions saw massive protest rallies  against the developments in the capital. Several of them,  including Crimea, announced that they would not take orders from  the new government and replaced appointed governors with elected  representatives.
Moscow reserved the option to send troops to Ukraine, if it were  required to protect civilians in the defiant regions. Kiev called  the move “a declaration of war” and announced military  mobilization. The US threatened Russia with political and  economic isolation.

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