Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk speaks at a press conference following talks with European Union heads of state. (Agence France-Presse)
BRUSSELS — In an impassioned address during a press conference here at an extraordinary summit of EU leaders, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has suggested an overhaul of the global security system due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and says the government and military are ready to protect the country if there is further escalation and military intervention.
“Having Russian boots on the ground and Russian tanks is unacceptable in the 21st century. Who knows the limits? It will be somewhere near the Ukraine and EU border. What’s up with global security? Are we going crazy? Is it acceptable in the 21st century, with no legal grounds and with no reason, that one country which possesses nuclear weapons to, in a snapshot, invade another,” he argued.
“Probably we need to do something with global security and overhaul the whole system. This is not the end. This is why we ask Russia to stop, because God knows what is the limit.”
Pointing out that Ukraine had so far refrained from using military force despite Russian provocation, and expressing support for a peaceful solution, he warned, “in case of further escalation and military intervention in Ukrainian territory by foreign forces, the Ukrainian government and military will act in accordance with the constitution and laws. We’re ready to protect our country.”
He urged Russia’s government to pull its military back into its barracks and not to support the “illegitimate, so-called government of Crimea and to start real talks for a peaceful solution. Crimea is and will be an integral part of Ukraine,” he added.
A referendum on whether or not Crimea will remain independent is set to take place soon.
Asked about his expectations from EU leaders, he said he anticipated the EU, US and probably Russia to try and stabilize the situation.
“All options are on the table,” he said. “We consider the contact group option as a first step to pave the way towards stability.”
He also expressed thanks for the EU’s financial package to Ukraine and said that the Ukrainian government is determined to sign a political association agreement with the EU as soon as possible.