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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ukraine prime minister Yatseniuk says Russians 'want us to freeze'

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) and Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk pose for a photo with the flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo (R) by mistake, before their bilateral meeting on the sideline of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 25, 2014. (AFP)

The prime minister of the Kiev government accused Russia of attempting to freeze Ukraine in the coming winter by using natural gas as a weapon to subjugate the former Soviet Republic.

"They want us to freeze. This is the aim and this is another trump card in Russian hands. So, except military offense, except military operation against Ukraine, they have another trump card, which is energy," Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said in an interview on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

"The ultimate goal of Russia is to organize, to orchestrate another frozen conflict in Ukraine."

Russia's state-controlled energy company Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June because of a row over Kiev's unpaid gas bill, raising concerns that the country may not be able to cover the peak-demand winter season.

The European Commission is aiming to propose an interim solution to the gas quarrel between Russia and Ukraine at talks it is brokering in Berlin on Friday.

Yatseniuk said there were no official negotiations on it, though he said a plan to help Ukraine secure additional gas "would be helpful for us."

He defended the Kiev government's decision to grant temporary autonomy to rebel regions, saying it was the least repugnant choice they had, as well as a "goodwill" move that demonstrated their commitment to a peaceful solution.

"We do understand that we had just two options: bad and worse," he said. "So the president and the government decided to take just the bad option."

He expressed little confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin as a partner in peace talks.

"I have no trust in President Putin," he said, adding that was why it was crucial to have the United States and European Union sitting with Ukraine at talks with Russia.

Echoing comments he made in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Yatseniuk said EU and US sanctions against Russia should remain in place until all of Ukraine is back under control of Kiev, including Crimea, a Black Sea region Russia annexed after an independence referendum in March.

"Russia has to pay the price," he said. "They want to get back to business as usual but we want to restore law and order, restore territorial integrity and independence of our country."

"This is the aim of the sanctions, to urge Russia to pull back its forces," he said. "To pull back its artillery and stop the supply of weapons and lethal aid to Russian-led terrorists and just to get out of Ukraine."

Asked if he was disappointed by the United States not supplying weapons to his government, Yatseniuk said Washington had taken the lead in pushing for international sanctions against Moscow and was likely to do more. He did not provide details. Poroshenko visited Washington last week.

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Tags:  World  Ukraine  Russia  Unrest  US  EU  UN  





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