Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Debate

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The Joint Committee met at 14:30


Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne Deputy Eric Byrne, Information on Michael Mullins Zoom on Michael Mullins Senator Michael Mullins,
Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe Deputy Seán Crowe, Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Senator David Norris.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan,  
Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith Deputy Brendan Smith,  

In attendance: Senator Fiach Mac Conghail.

Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan DEPUTY BERNARD J. DURKAN IN THE CHAIR.

Situation in Ukraine: Russian Federation Ambassador

Vice Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Apologies have been received from Deputy Pat Breen and Senator Jim Walsh. The draft minutes of our meetings with the Tánaiste on 4 March and the ambassador of Ukraine on 5 March have been circulated. Are they agreed to? Agreed. I ask all members and visitors to turn off their mobile phones to avoid interference with the recording system.

The main item on our agenda is a discussion of the current situation in Ukraine with His Excellency Maxim Peshkov, ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ireland. I welcome the ambassador and his colleagues. There have been a number of significant developments in Ukraine recently, none more so than the events in Crimea in the past week. The joint committee heard from the Ukrainian ambassador last Wednesday when the Embassy of the Russian Federation was represented in the Visitors Gallery. Today, in a continuation of our hearings on the issue, we have the pleasure of the company of the Russian ambassador and his colleagues. They are very welcome and we look forward to hearing what they have to say to the committee.

H.E. Mr. Maxim Peshkov: I thank the joint committee for giving us the opportunity to express our views on the situation in Ukraine. Unfortunately, there has not been much understanding of the situation there from the perspective of my country. As we see it, the events in Ukraine are a result of the very deep internal political crisis which did not come about only yesterday. The crisis was not created by Russia and came about, despite multiple warnings from my country. It was created artificially for geopolitical reasons. The current leadership in Ukraine, the United States of America and the European Union are trying to demonise my country by depicting us as the cause of the conflict. This is not new for us. Every time Russia attempts to protect its lawful interests, the image of an ugly, vicious Russian bear appears immediately.

The events in Ukraine are causing pain for all Russians. Unlike for political technocrats in the United States and Europe, Ukraine has never been just another foreign country for Russians. Russian history begins in Kiev and Belarus. Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities and the starting point for the Russian fleet. Ukraine is an inseparable part of Russian history. The people of Ukraine are our brothers, not just in a figurative sense. That is why all Russians are grieving for all those who lost their lives during the recent violence in Ukraine. The fates of Russians and Ukrainians are bound together historically, culturally and at family level. Together we defeated fascism. All of these facts should be taken into consideration when one is trying to understand the relationship between Russians and Ukrainians. Our two peoples are now being forced to clash with one another.

My country does not recognise the new leadership of Ukraine because of its illegitimacy. The current leadership took power as a result of a coup d'état and has consciously obstructed the agreement signed on 21 February this year with the connivance of France, Germany and Poland, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of which signed the agreement and guaranteed its implementation. Consequently, the current Ukrainian authorities have de-legitimised all of their subsequent activities.

I would like to draw attention to how the new authorities began.

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