Russian troops not in control of Crimea, says Lavrov

Russian troops not in control of Crimea, says Lavrov
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Ukraine’s government is illegitimate and Russian troops are not in control of Crimea, Russia’s Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has insisted.

Speaking in Madrid, Lavrov again condemned the removal of President Victor Yanukovych and repeated Moscow’s assertion that armed men deployed to Ukraine’s Crimea region, were not Russian but ‘‘self-defence forces.’‘

‘‘There was an armed seizure of power and a legitimately elected president was overthrown. This was a violation of Ukraine’s constitution. If the international community is encouraging those, who are now attempting to rule our great, historical neighbour, then they should realise this sets a very bad and contagious example,’‘ Lavrov said.

Lavrov’s words came ahead of crunch talks in Paris with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Despite sharp differences, both Washington and Moscow shows signs of prefering dialogue.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, who is in the French capital, also called for a diplomatic way out of the crisis.

“It’s quite clear that what happened in Ukraine was an agression from Russian side and the Crimea. But now we have to think about a way out, and way out not only about Ukraine, but way out and future of Russia, how Russia will deal what Russia did to Ukraine.”

Despite efforts to bring the Ukrainians and Russians together, for the moment, it is thought unlikely Ukraine’s top diplomat will hold face to face talks with Lavrov.

Crimea – a quick history

1783: Crimea annexed by Russian Empire.

1853: Crimean War begins between Russian Empire and a French-, British- and Ottoman-Empire and Sardinian alliance for influence over territories in the diminishing Ottoman Empire. Principal fighting takes place in Crimea.

1854: Allied troops land in Crimea and besiege the city of Sevastopol, home of the Tsar’s Black Sea fleet.

1856: Russia loses the Crimean War.

1917: Russian Civil War begins. Crimea changes hands several times.

1921: The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is created as part of the Russian SFSR, which was to become part of the new Soviet Union. Crimea experiences the first of two severe famines in the 20th century.

1941: Germany invades and takes over much of Crimea as part of its World War II campaign.

1944: Sevastopol comes under the control of Soviet Union troops. The city is destroyed. “Ethnic cleansing” programme begins under order of Joseph Stalin. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Bulgarians and Greeks deported to Central Asia.

1945: The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is abolished and becomes a province of Russia.

1954: Crimean region becomes part of Ukraine, after decree by USSR.

1967: Crimean Tatars rehabilitated, but banned from returning to their homeland until the Soviet Union is in its last days.

1991: Collapse of the Soviet Union. Crimea becomes part of the newly-independent Ukraine. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet remains stationed in the region.

1994: Russia agrees that Crimea is legally part of Ukraine and pledges to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

1998: Current constitution put into place. Territory’s name changed to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

2008: Ukrainian foreign minister Volodymyr Ohryzko accuses Russia of handing out Russian passports to Crimean residents. Describes it as a “real problem” given Russia’s policy to protect its citizens abroad with military intervention.

2009: Polls in Crimea suggest the population is opposed to the idea of becoming part of Russia. Anti-Ukraine demonstrations held by ethnic Russian residents in Crimea later in the year.

2010: Treaty to extend Russia’s lease on a military wharf in Sevastopol until 2042 ratified by Ukraine and Russia.

2014: Pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters clash in Crimean city of Simferopol. Vladimir Putin deploys Russian armed forces in key points in Crimea. Foreign ministry states this is in line with Ukraine-Russia agreements. Russian parliament grants President Putin’s request to use military force in Ukraine. EU and US condemn the motion.

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