European Union leaders in Brussels have signed a landmark association agreement with Ukraine to ensure closer relations between the two.
This show of support came on the same day Russian president, Vladimir Putin, signed a treaty to formally absorb Crimea into the Russian Federation.
During a time of great change and controversy in Ukraine, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk spoke to euronews about the situation in his country.
euronews: “Let’s speak about Crimea. What can Ukraine and the international community do in order to keep Crimea in Ukraine?”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseni Yatsenyuk: “It is not just about Crimea.”
euronews: But what can we do about Crimea now?
Yatsenyuk:“Let’s talk about the global security. And what has happened in Crimea is an armed robbery committed by (the) Russian Federation. This is a violation of all international standards and the international law. The key question for us – I mean for the entire globe not just for the European Union or the US, for the international community – is to find an appropriate response how to contain this kind of robbers. On Crimea we do understand that this conflict will be another protracted conflict. But I wanted to be very clear seeing that the time will pass and God knows in a short term or mid term prospective we will take our territory back.”
euronews:“Is Ukraine ready for military actions against Russia if needed?”
Yatsenyuk: “In case, if Russia wages the war in mainland, if they cross the border and they start shooting Ukrainian military and Ukrainian civilians we will retaliate.”
euronews: “Are you thinking now about some retaliation measures against Russia? Visa regime and so on?”
Yatsenyuk: “Russia has started not just a military operation, Russia waged the war in both political and economic sides. I said a number of times that we stick to a peaceful solution that we believe that the best exit strategy is to start negotiations, to start real talks how to fix economic and political problems, how to not to reset but to build from the scratch a new type of relations between Ukraine and Russia. But you know Russia is deaf. It is like a wall.”
euronews: “Are you in contact with Russian authorities? Are you speaking to them?”
Yatsenyuk: “We did it a number of times. I just once reached out (to the) Russian Prime Minister saying clearly that look, Mr Prime Minister, it is better for us to talk about our economic relations but you have to decide what is your historic moment – whether you start the war with Ukraine or whether you stop the war with Ukraine. So despite this Russians are reluctant to have any kind of contact with the legitimate Ukrainian government. But again let’s wait and see. We will build up our Ukrainian future in Ukraine. We do understand that Russia will do everything they can in order to destabilise the situation in Ukraine, they will turn all screws – trade screw, political screw, military screw, diplomatic screw. That’s what Soviets did and that what Russia will do. But we accept this, we accept this challenge and we will find an appropriate solution.
euronews: “Do you expect that the EU will introduce economic sanctions against Russia?”
Yatsenyuk: “We expect that the international community will do everything in order to stop this mess that (was) created by Russia. Because this is about the global security, this is about global economy and this is a global challenge to the UN Charter, to the United Nations, to the Helsinki Final Act, to the OSCE and to the results of the Second World War.”