Russia not the only one to blame says Harmony leader

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Jānis Urbanovičs, co-leader of the social-democratic Harmony political party told Latvian Television's news program Rīta Panorāma Monday that all sides involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict are equally responsible for the escalating situation in the Donbas region.

“Nobody is without blame and with great regret one must admit it won’t be ending soon. The war phase will end soon, apparently, with victory for Kiev’s forces, yet calls for blood will still be heard for a long time - the seed of hate has been planted in very fertile ground,” said Urbanovičs.

He reminded viewers that the investigation into the MH17 disaster had stalled amidst combat in the field and that no one in Latvia should exclusively condemn Russia for how the course of events has developed.

The Harmony party chairman said that the situation in Ukraine right now is, in his opinion, a “worst-case scenario in which the Ukrainian forces are being glorified.”

“I think the glorification of Kiev’s forces can quickly cause us some embarrassment. All of us Europeans will have to tighten our belts now and help Ukraine recover from this,” he said, pointing out that Ukrainian armed forces are allegedly bombing residential areas.

Urbanovičs defended Harmony’s “restrained” position and refusal to sever its ties to President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, with which it has a cooperation agreement.

“I think Russia is in a very lonely position right now. This loneliness, together with the fact that most of the populace is in full support of the leadership, that’s not a situation for belittling our party for keeping up low-level contacts and opportunities for dialogue, even if we are in the opposition,” he argued.

“Someday after all the screaming and yelling we will have to sit down at the table to talk with them, to make good relations again. So we’re keeping in effect the possibility of opening talks with Russia, at the risk of our ratings,” Urbanovičs explained.  

As for the effects of mutually countervailing sanctions between the EU and Russia, Urbanovičs said he hoped the government’s promises would hold true and Latvia would escape serious economic consequences.

However, he criticized the government for seeming overly eager to punish Russia. “Our ministers are like the first-in-line to judge and wreak revenge after holding it in for so long, while the Estonians pursue a more reserved European diplomatic style,” he said, adding that he expects the Russian leadership to feel “angry and react accordingly.”

As for domestic politics, Urbanovičs expressed regret that the Ukraine-Russia crisis was overshadowing all other issues.


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