KIEV (RFE/RL)—Ukraine’s interim government on Thursday refrained from publicly criticizing official Yerevan for accepting the outcome of a disputed referendum in its autonomous republic of Crimea that led to its incorporation into Russia.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Armenia, Ivan Kukhta, said President Serzh Sarkisian’s statement on the issue made on Wednesday has been officially communicated to Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry. He pointedly declined to comment on the statement, saying that every nation is free to adopt a position on a particular issue.
Moreover, Kukhta seemed to downplay the moves’ damage to his country’s ties with Armenia. “In my view, even now there are prospects for improving those relations further,” he told a news conference.
U.S. Disappointed With Armenia’s Crimea Stance
John Heffern, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, on Thursday voiced Washington’s disappointment with the Armenian government’s decision to effectively recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea strongly condemned by the West.
Heffern described as “very unfortunate” President Serzh Sarkisian’s statement to that effect made during a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The envoy reiterated the official U.S. line that the weekend referendum in which residents of Crimea voted for becoming part of Russia was illegal. “There are many things [the Russians] could have done short of what they did,” he said at an international conference on regional security held in Yerevan.
Sarkisian was quoted by his press office as telling Putin that the vote engineered by Moscow was “yet another example of the realization of peoples’ right to self-determination.” Official Yerevan had until then avoided taking sides in the broader crisis in Ukraine that has brought about Russia’s most serious standoff with the West since the end of the Cold War.