Russia ‘overturns’ UN tenets: President Bērziņš

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Speaking to the UN General Assembly Thursday President Andris Bērziņš affirmed Latvia’s call for Russia to pull its armed forces from Ukraine. In his speech he stressed that Russia has a “vital role” to play in European security and stability, but that it is “ignoring the basic principles of the UN by overturning the very foundation of the international system.”

“It should be part of the solution, not the source of the problem,” Bērziņš told the Assembly.

“Russia has shown that treaties and obligations mean nothing, and it arbitrarily ignores and manipulates international opinion. These actions qualify as a threat to peace and security around the world,” the Latvian head-of-state continued.

“It has grabbed a part of a sovereign European country, using previously unseen war tactics and a huge propaganda campaign against its neighboring state. It allowed the tragic downing of a civilian airliner,” he added.

Recalling the Baltic Way and comparing the people of Ukraine to Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, Bērziņš said “they have the same rights to choose their democratic way, human rights and basic freedoms.”

Political unrest that has grown into the current military conflict began last November with popular protest against then-president Viktor Yanukovich’s pro-Russia line in reviewing Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU. Following months of protests in Kiev’s Maidan square, Yanukovich and his government officers fled their positions. Yet in March soldiers and fighters appeared in Crimea to support its referendum for joining the Russian Federation, only later acknowledged by Russia to have been its forces.

Since April heavy fighting has ensued in the Donbass region around the major industrial towns of Donetsk and Lugansk. Russian forces backing separatists appear to have set back Ukraine’s tremendously challenged army, which was previously making inroads toward pushing the pro-Russian rebellion back.

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