Stop Russian interference in Ukraine – envoy

The Ambassador of Ukraine to London has accused Russia of deliberately trying to disrupt the presidential elections in May in order to “tear the country apart” and urged the European Union to take stronger measures against its neigbour.

In an interview with Embassy, Ambassador Volodymyr Khandogiy said the interim government would take firm measures against separatist groups.

But he said a new government would consider constitutional reform to devolve powers to the regions, including the more pro-Russian East.

However, he rejected what he called Russia’s “obsessive recommendations” on Ukraine’s military and political status and its state languages, which he regarded as “clear interference” in the domestic affairs of UKraine.

The Ambassador added that European integration remained Ukraine’s foreign policy priority. But he said this should not be a “zero-sum game” and that it was in Russia’s interest to have a stable Ukraine on its border.

While international support for Ukraine had been welcomed, the Ambassador said the current sanctions were “inadequate” at stopping escalation and urged the EU to put in place tougher economic sanctions.

At the Lord Mayor’s Easter Banquet, Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that Moscow could face international isolation and lasting economic damage, through a reduction in foreign investment, if it continued to destabilise Ukraine.

“We call on Russia to stop these actions and to condemn the lawless acts in eastern Ukraine,” said Hague.

He added: “Russia must choose whether it is open to diplomacy and de-escalation, and if it decides otherwise, we must be ready for a different state of relations with Russia in the next 10 years than in the last 20.”

The Foreign Secretary said Ukraine could be a “bridge” between East and West.

In response, Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko Tweeted that there was no evidence to support Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine. He also called on US President Barack Obama to use his influence to ensure no force was used on peaceful protesters.

He added Russia was ready to be a partner based on the February 21 Agreement, which put in place measures to protect minorities.

Protestors en route to the Russian Embassy in London