Russia`s plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories, but the protection of civilians and Russian citizens in Donetsk and Luhansk, Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy said in a statement to CNA on Thursday.
At the same time, with regard to the possible impact of the sanctions against Russia on Cyprus, he estimated that the volatility of the ruble in the foreign exchange market, provoked by the new package of sanctions, will significantly increase the cost of tourist packages denominated in euros and may negatively affect the tourist traffic from Russia to Cyprus.
"once again our bilateral relations are becoming a hostage to others' geopolitical games whose aim is to undermine the friendly relations between the two countries"
Osadchiy, who was responding to CNA questions on the issue said "Russia has been doing everything in the last eight years to ensure that the situation in Donbas is resolved peacefully within the framework of the Minsk agreements. But we see that the forces that seized power in Kiev in 2014 have ultimately abandoned the peace agreements at the official level."
"The United States and its European allies over the years have chosen the path of hushing up the crimes of the Kiev regime in southeastern Ukraine, as well as the facts of the actual genocide of the Russian population in the region," he said.
On the contrary, the Russian ambassador added, "the United States and NATO countries decided to fill the country with modern types of weapons, pushing it into war," noting that "instead of preventing the use of force by the Kiev authorities in Donbas, Washington launched an unprecedented campaign of disinformation and the demonization of Russia to shift the responsibility for the tragic consequences of Ukraine`s reckless game to Moscow".
"We cannot and will not ignore this. We were simply left without any other way to protect our people except with the measures we used today," the Russian diplomat said, adding that "the People’s Republics of Donbas have asked us for help. After that, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, upon the endorsement of the Federal Council of Russia and in pursuance of the friendship and mutual assistance agreements with the Donetsk People`s Republic and the Luhansk People`s Republic, the decision was made to launch a special military operation."
As Osadchiy stressed, "Russia`s plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territory, but we are also not going to wait until the Kiev regime, with the support and tacit approval of the West, arranges a `bloodbath` in eastern Ukraine. We will protect civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk, including the citizens of the Russian Federation who live there," he said.
As for the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy, Osadchiy said that " it certainly exists and it does not please us", adding that "over the many years of ongoing sanction pressure we have developed a set of anti-sanction measures in all areas of business and finance, which allows us to mitigate the negative effects."
Responding to a question about the possible impact of the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline completion on gas deliveries from Russia, the Russian official replied that "Gazprom will conscientiously, as in the past, fulfill all its obligations under long-term and spot contracts", stressing at the same time that since European companies are among the stakeholders and main beneficiaries of the Nord Stream 2 project, "ordinary consumers in a dozen European countries will suffer as they will be forced to buy American LNG at a much higher price. And this is exactly what the US has tried to achieve".
Asked about the next steps in Ukraine and whether there is still room for diplomatic dialogue, the Russian ambassador replied that there is always scope for negotiation.
"Due to a sharp increase in military activity of the Ukrainian army on the contact line and the mass shelling of the territory of Donbas with heavy weapons in the last days, we took the only possible correct decision to protect millions of civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk from annihilation", he said. "The future of the disputed territories should be resolved in the course of direct peace negotiations between the Kiev authorities and the leadership of these republics", he added.
Asked whether the EU sanctions might affect bilateral relations between Russia and Cyprus, Osadchiy noted that "once again our bilateral relations are becoming a hostage to others' geopolitical games whose aim is to undermine the friendly relations between the two countries", adding that "the volatility of the ruble in the foreign exchange market, provoked by the new package of sanctions, will significantly increase the cost of tourist packages denominated in euros, which may negatively affect the tourist traffic from Russia to Cyprus".