March 17, 2014 - 17:19 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Russia proposed on Monday, March 17, creating an international support group to mediate in the Ukraine crisis but outlined terms that are unlikely to be acceptable for Kyiv and the West, according to Reuters.
In response to Western calls for a "contact group" to mediate in the crisis, Russia's Foreign Ministry suggested the "support group" could push for Ukraine to recognize the outcome of a referendum in which the Crimea region voted to join Russia.
The ministry also said the support group should urge Kyiv to implement parts of a peace deal concluded by President Viktor Yanukovich and his opponents on Feb 21, hours before he fled Kyiv and one day before he was removed from power by parliament.
Moscow's initiative may be intended mainly to deflect criticism abroad that it has not engaged sufficiently in diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, Reuters says.
Russia is facing sanctions from the United States and the European Union over Russian forces' seizure of control in Crimea, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet has a base.
The statement did not say who might take part in the group, but said it should urge Ukraine to adopt a new constitution setting out broad powers for the country's regions and require Ukraine to uphold military and political neutrality.
This would imply greater power for Russian-speaking regions in the east and southeast of Ukraine, a move already promised by the Ukrainian authorities, and could be seen Moscow as a way to prevent Ukraine joining the NATO defense alliance.
The Feb 21 deal called for an investigation into violence in which dozens of people were killed during anti-government protests. The violence followed harsh police intervention but Moscow blames it on radical groups among the protesters and says the new leadership in Kiev has not investigated properly.