MOSCOW, December 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described the EU’s reaction to the Ukrainian decision to reject an economic association agreement with the union as “bordering on hysterical.”
“The sovereign decision of the legitimate government of Ukraine brought about astonishment bordering on hysteria,” he said. “What has the government of Viktor Yanukovych done? Maybe it has withdrawn from an agreement on nuclear weapons proliferation? Or declared it is making an atomic bomb in contravention of its obligations? Or shot someone?”
“If the [Ukrainian] government takes a decision to sign, the document goes to parliament for ratification,” he said. “There, it’s possible to discuss problems, present questions, support it or not support it, and protest and react in a constitutional, civilized field,” he said.
“A rabid reaction – there aren’t any other words for it – has followed an absolutely normal event: a declaration by a government that after studying an agreement, it thinks it is not very advantageous to Ukraine, and they don’t want to sign now but want to consider it further. Demonstrators are taking to the streets on such a scale and with such fierce slogans as if the country had declared war against a peaceful state against the wishes of the Ukrainian people. It doesn’t stand up to normal human analysis. There can be no doubt that provocateurs are behind this,” he said.
Kiev turned its back on a widely expected association deal last month, saying it would harm economic relations with Russia, prompting mass demonstrations by pro-EU protesters and throwing the country into a political crisis. Last Wednesday, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Kiev would return to talks on the association agreement with the EU in the spring.
Both the EU and Moscow have accused the other of using strong-arm tactics to secure economic ties with Kiev.