Spain tells Russia it should respect international law in Ukraine

Spanish foreign minister calls on Moscow to initiate dialogue with EU

Madrid -
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo (r) and his opposite number from Russia, Serguei Lavrov, during Wednesday's press conference in Madrid.
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo (r) and his opposite number from Russia, Serguei Lavrov, during Wednesday's press conference in Madrid. Zipi (EFE)

Spain on Wednesday expressed its concern to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the tense situation in Ukraine, asking Moscow to respect international law and the sovereignty of the Eastern European nation, and begin dialogue with the European Union.

Lavrov met this morning with his Spanish counterpart, José María García-Margallo, on the second day of his two-day visit to Madrid.

On Tuesday, the Russian diplomat met privately with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after holding talks with Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, who flew to Madrid exclusively to meet with Lavrov.

“I have given the minister my opinion about Ukraine. The most important thing is the defense of the international and domestic legality of Ukraine as a sovereign nation and the inviolability of its borders,” Margallo said during a joint news conference.

I hope the situation calms down and we can shift away from this climate of distrust"

“I hope the situation calms down and we can shift away from this climate of distrust between the EU and Russia. It is time for dialogue.”

Lavrov called the situation in Ukraine “a very complex problem, and to resolve the situation we should all follow the law.” He denied that his country had mobilized troops outside the military bases in Crimea, and insisted that Russia has no direct control of the pro-Moscow paramilitaries who are reportedly in the peninsula.

“We are not going to permit any type of bloodshed in the Ukraine,” he said.

When asked if Moscow was willing to allow international observers or a peace force in Crimea, he said: “It is not up to us. The Rada [Ukraine’s parliament] doesn’t control all of the territory. You will have to ask Crimea.”

Lavrov confirmed that he would meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris before returning home.

The Russian minister was on an official visit to Madrid to discuss, among other things, Russia’s cooperation in Syria’s commitment to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal and bilateral trade, which last year, according to Lavrov, reached more than eight million euros. Around 1.5 million Russians visited Spain last year, the foreign minister said.

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