Ukraine Crisis: William Hague States ‘Blow To Democracy’ If Russia Prevents Election

H/t reader squodgy:

“Here’s why William Hague is an idiot.

Played right into Putin’s hand.”

Ukraine crisis: William Hague states ‘blow to democracy’ if Russia prevents election (Telegraph, May 7, 2014):

William Hague says it would be a “terrible blow to democracy” if covert Russian fighters stop Ukraine holding presidential election

Russia is deploying covert fighters and “enormous propaganda” to prevent Ukraine holding a presidential election later this month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday during a visit to Kiev.

If Moscow succeeds, it would be “a terrible blow to democracy,” said Hague, who accused Russia of engineering an independence referendum in Ukraine’s east this weekend to undermine the May 25 presidential poll.

Hague, speaking at a news conference after meeting Ukrainian leaders, said Ukrainian troops were not battling only pro-Russian separatists but also the same special forces Russia sent to Crimea before its annexation in March.

“It is clear that the leading elements of these forces, from their training, their equipment, their identical behaviour to the infiltrators in Crimea, are not simply pro-Russia forces, they have been Russia forces,” he said.

Russia’s aim is to prevent Ukraine’s presidential poll at all cost, he said.

Western countries have thrown their full weight behind that election being held, seeing it as a key step to bringing political stability to Ukraine, where months of Kiev street protests forced the ouster of the country’s pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

The pro-Russian separatists who seized more than a dozen towns in Ukraine’s east following Crimea’s annexation are planning an independence referendum on Sunday.

Hague said the referendum and the armed insurgency constituted “unacceptable” interference from Moscow.

He said Britain was working this week with its EU partners on more sanctions against Russia to pressure it to change course.

Kiev’s Western backers, he said, “want de-escalation” through dialogue.

But Hague warned that the unrest in Ukraine’s east – which the West charges is sponsored by Russia – “might be a pretext to intervene” militarily, though it was “hard to speculate” on Moscow’s intentions.

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