Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Ukraine & The Future Of Crimea

The steps taken by President Putin to annex Crimea to Russia are in flagrant breach of international law and send a chilling message across the continent of Europe. Russia has invaded a fellow European nation and used force to change its borders.

This is the most serious risk to European security in this century. Vital principles are at stake, including the territorial integrity of European nations and the rights of democratic countries to choose their own future.

We must defend these principles. The United Kingdom cannot accept the use of armed force to resolve disputes in place of negotiation and the rule of law.

That’s why the UK has taken action against Russia, in conjunction with our international partners. The European Union has adopted unprecedented sanctions against Russia, including further asset freezes and travel bans. Preparatory work is underway for more far-reaching European Union sanctions, including economic and trade measures.

These are not designed to punish the Russian people, they are a message and warning to the Russian Government. We want Russia to enter direct talks with Ukraine. And we will continue to work with our international partners to find a diplomatic solution to this crisis.

But as long as the Russian Federation is unwilling to engage constructively, we must be prepared to contemplate a new state of relations with Russia: where Russia is outside some international organisations, where it faces lasting restrictions on military cooperation and arms sales, and where it has less influence over the rest of Europe. European nations are also now considering how we can diversify our energy security.

Russia’s actions have done immense damage to its reputation. The arc of Russia’s path in world affairs risks once again bending towards isolation and stagnation. The choice is clear for President Putin: de-escalate and start engaging in efforts to reach a diplomatic solution or face tougher sanctions and increasing isolation from the international community.