Foreign Secretary William Hague has sent a message of support to the Ukrainian people ahead of presidential elections this weekend. He restates UK support ahead of the most important elections since Ukraine voted for independence in 1991.
EU country embassies throughout Washington DC opened their doors on 10 May for the EU’s Annual Open House Day to mark EU Day. For the 7th year, the British Embassy in Washington took part in this special day-long event, which celebrates the remarkable work that EU country embassies are doing in Washington and provides a wonderful way to experience what makes each EU country unique. The British embassy hosted an interactive and family-friendly bazaar celebrating UK culture, creativity, business and innovation. With the theme GREAT Britain: You’re Invited, the embassy showcased why the UK is a fantastic destination for travel, study, and business, while illustrating the unparalleled partnership the UK shares with the United States.
Source: Flickr / ukinusa
The UK government is gravely concerned about the situation in Crimea and in the east of Ukraine, where armed groups seized government buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lugansk. There can be no justification for this action, which bears all the hallmarks of a Russian strategy to destabilise Ukraine. Russia should be clear that a deliberate and further escalation of the crisis will bring serious political and economic consequences. I commend the Ukrainian Government for their clear and determined response so far.
The European Council has asked the Commission to draw up far reaching sanctions in the event of further escalation by Russia. It is alarming that President Putin has already sought authority to send armed forces into any part of Ukraine. Russia should be clear that the UK will consider any armed Russian presence in eastern Ukraine as a further and deliberate escalation.
We will be assessing events in eastern Ukraine carefully over the coming days. The strength and unity of the EU is vital for upholding a rules-based international system, and the Prime Minister and I have stressed to European partners the need to accelerate measures that will reduce European dependence on Russian gas. We are also convening an urgent meeting of G7 energy Ministers to discuss energy security ahead of the G7 Summit in June.
Foreign Secretary William Hague speaking after answering questions on Ukraine in the House of Commons.
I condemn the fact that this referendum has taken place, in breach of the Ukrainian constitution and in defiance of calls by the international community for restraint.
Nothing in the way that the referendum has been conducted should convince anyone that it is a legitimate exercise.
The referendum has taken place at ten days’ notice, without a proper campaign or public debate, with the political leaders of the country being unable to visit Crimea, and in the presence of many thousands of troops from a foreign country. It is a mockery of proper democratic practice.
The UK does not recognise the referendum or its outcome, in common with the majority of the international community. At the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers tomorrow we believe measures must be adopted that send a strong signal to Russia that this challenge to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine will bring economic and political consequences.
Furthermore, any attempt by the Russian Federation to use the referendum as an excuse to annex the Crimea, or to take further action on Ukrainian territory, would be unacceptable.
I call on Russia to enter into dialogue with Ukraine and with the international community to resolve this crisis through diplomacy and in accordance with international law, not to exacerbate it further through unilateral and provocative actions.