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Václav Klaus Says Crimea Did Not Belong to Ukraine

© AFP 2023 / RADEK MICAPresident of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus
President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus - Sputnik International
The Czech Republic’s former president Václav Klaus said Crimea has historically been a part of Russia and added that the Russian ‘intervention to the peninsula’ was provoked by Maidan events.

MOSCOW, January 21 (Sputnik) – The Crimean peninsula has historically been a part of Russia and the Russian government was forced to take corresponding measures to prevent attacks on the Russian population in the region, former president of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus said in an interview to the German newspaper “Die Presse”.

“Russia's acting in the Crimea was just a reaction, not an action”, Mr. Klaus said. “This was the reaction to the Maidan, the events in Kiev, the attacks on the Russian population there,” he added.

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Crimea reunited with Russia following a referendum in March 2014. Russian troops were deployed to the peninsula before the referendum to guarantee security and ensure that the voting on the region’s status would be held peacefully.   

Mr. Klaus claimed that Russia is not to blame for the current crisis in Ukraine. The crisis is a result of efforts to force Ukraine to decide whether it belongs to the West or to the East. One of the key conflict factors was the idea to bring Ukraine into the EU or NATO; the Association Agreement was the first step in that direction, Mr. Klaus said.

The Ukrainian crisis had a negative impact on Russia's relations with western countries, as Moscow was accused of being involved in the military conflict in the southeastern regions of Ukraine.  The EU and the US imposed sanctions against Russia, including individual travel bans, asset freezes and economic restrictions.

“I think the [imposed] sanctions are wrong”, Mr. Klaus said, adding that the crisis could have been prevented if the government was ready to have a dialogue with opposition. “I would have started talking to the opposition earlier.  But politicians in Ukraine have not done that. This is the reason for me, everything else is a consequence”.

In April 2014, Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters in the eastern parts of the country, who refused to recognize new authorities following a February coup. The United Nations estimates that at least 4,700 people were killed and more than 10,300 wounded in the conflicts in eastern Ukraine since mid-April.

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