GENEVA, March 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s foreign minister said Monday that the decision to dispatch troops to Ukraine is not an act of aggression, but a measure aimed at protecting human rights and Russian citizens.
Sergei Lavrov said in a speech to the UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva that military intervention would normalize the political situation in Ukraine and curb what he described as the radicals that have taken power.
“I reiterate, we are talking about protecting our citizens and compatriots, about protecting the most fundamental human right – the right to live and nothing more,” he said.
Lavrov’s support for direct military engagement in Ukraine appears to be at odds with previous insistence that the international community refrain from interference in the former Soviet nation’s affairs.
Russia’s parliament over the weekend gave its assent to a request from President Vladimir Putin to allow the deployment of a military force in Ukraine in response to recent developments.
While Putin has not formally ordered any deployments, there is mounting evidence that Russian troops have fanned out across Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which is heavily populated by ethnic Russians opposed to the interim government.
Lavrov said there have been reports of plans for new provocations against the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has earlier said that unknown assailants attempted to storm an Interior Ministry building in Crimea on Friday night, although local officials have denied the attack took place.
Lavrov said that the West to put aside geopolitical calculations and take into account the interests of the Ukrainian people.
“Those who try to interpret the situation as an act of aggression, threaten us with sanctions and boycotts, are the same partners who have been consistently and vigorously encouraging the political powers close to them to declare ultimatum and reject dialogue, and ignore the concerns in southern and eastern Ukraine, and eventually to the polarization of the Ukrainian society,” he said.