Marking the third anniversary of Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Hromadske spoke to Matthew Rycroft – the UK Permanent Representative to the UN. The anniversary coincides with Ukraine holding the Presidency on the UN Security Council this February.
We have heard from the UK and yourself as well, that Russia should give back Crimea. And in return we have heard some weird statements about Falklands or Gibraltar. How do you deal with that? Do you think that Russia is living in some kind of different world with a different agenda?
The UK stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine and literally, we sit side-by-side in the Security Council because of the alphabetical order, so we’re right next to Ukraine and we sit and stand shoulder-to-shoulder and that we’ll continue all the way though the time of your country on the Security Council. And part of that commitment is to stand by the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia’s annexation of Crimea is illegal, Russia’s occupation in Eastern Ukraine is illegal and sanctions will remain on Russia, until Russia is out of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
Russia is very good at defending its position and normally the thing they do is to invent some false parallel or create some false facts. They are very good at what they do and we need to respond to that clearly and calmly and focus not only on the person making the argument, but on the underlying message and on the underlying principles. This is a legal question and a moral question and we should stand firm on those principles and this is exactly what we do at the United Nations.
Why do you think Crimea is off the table in all negotiations? “Minsk” is not about Crimea. Is there any platform in the world, where this question could be negotiated, where Ukraine could stand along with its allies under the “Budapest Memorandum”, which UK is also part of?
The UK is very proud to be part of that and we will keep in close touch with our Ukrainian colleagues about that question, but the answer to that question should come from them, not from us.
Ukraine has been elected to represent Eastern Europe as a non-permanent member on the UN Security Council for the years 2016 and 2017. This February it holds the Presidency.