Saturday

24th Aug 2019

EU and UN reject 'farcical' east Ukraine votes

  • Gunpoint elections with no credible monitors installed two men on EU blacklists as the new leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk (Photo: dasjo)

The EU, the UN, and Nato have rejected the outcome of “so-called elections” in Ukraine rebel zones, but Russia and a handful of fringe MEPs gave their stamp of approval.

In her first official statement as the EU’s foreign policy chief, Italy’s Federica Mogherini said the polls are “a new obstacle on the path towards peace in Ukraine … illegal and illegitimate”.

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She added they were held “contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Minsk Protocol” - a Russia-Ukraine ceasefire deal, which the EU is using as a yardstick to decide whether to maintain, relax, or increase sanctions on Russia.

The Lithuanian foreign ministry noted that the votes were “directly supported by the Russian Federation” and “represent a gross violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity”.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said they are a “breach of the [Ukrainian] constitution and national law”, while Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said they “show that Russia continues its efforts to destabilise Ukraine”.

For his part, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called them a “farce” which was “organised at gunpoint by two terrorist organisations” and which “has nothing in common with the real expression of people’s will”.

He added: “I expect that Russia will condemn them [the elections] as well”.

The leaders of France and Germany on Friday phoned Russia’s Vladimir Putin to convey a similar message.

But the Russian foreign ministry later said in a statement that Moscow “respects the expression of will of the south-eastern [Ukrainians]”, cited a high turnout, and noted that it is “extremely important” for Ukraine to work with the new authorities.

The OSCE, a European multilateral club, declined to send observers to what it dubbed the “so-called elections”.

But the Russian project was, as earlier in the Crimea referendum in March, endorsed by a handful of fringe-party MEPs.

The list, as cited by rebel authorities, includes: Austria’s Ewald Stadler; France’s Jean-Luc Schaffhauser; and Italy's Fabrizio Bertot, who all hail from the far-right. Greece’s Sotirios Zarianopoulos, a far-left euro-deputy, also took part.

National politicians from mostly extreme parties in Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia equally lent support.

The British daily, The Guardian, notes that Stadler, who entered the rebel zone from Russia, claimed to be there on behalf of the ASCE (Agency for Security and Co-operation in Europe), which sounds like the OSCE, but which does not exist on paper.

The vote, according to an early count by the self-proclaimed authorities, are to see Aleksandr Zakharchenko take control of Donetsk and Igor Plotnitsky to rule in Luhansk.

Both men are on EU blacklists, with German chancellor Angela Merkel warning at the last EU summit in Brussels that the vote is designed to create another Russia-sponsored “frozen conflict” in Europe, alongside Transniestria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.

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