Deposed Ukrainian President: ‘I Was Wrong’ to Ask Russia for Help

Yanukovych, living in exile in Moscow, believes Crimea’s annexation was a mistake.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (left) winks at Russian President Vladimir Putin during a signing ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow in December.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Marina Koren
April 2, 2014, 11:57 a.m.

A month ago, now-ous­ted Ukrain­i­an Pres­id­ent Vikt­or Ya­nukovych asked Rus­sia to send troops in­to Crimea. Now, the politi­cian says that was a mis­take.

“I was wrong,” Ya­nukovych said. “I ac­ted on my emo­tions.”

Ya­nukovych’s re­marks were re­por­ted Wed­nes­day by the AP‘s Caro Kri­el and Vladi­mir Isachen­kov, in the politi­cian’s first in­ter­view since he fled Ukraine in late Feb­ru­ary in the face of op­pos­i­tion forces.

“Crimea is a tragedy, a ma­jor tragedy,” said Ya­nukovych, whom AP de­scribed as “de­fens­ive and at times teary-eyed” dur­ing the in­ter­view. He in­sisted that Rus­sia would not have taken the pen­in­sula had he stayed in power.

Ya­nukovych wants to ne­go­ti­ate with Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin and con­vince him to re­turn Crimea to Ukraine. Putin, however, is un­likely to listen to him. While Putin did of­fer Ya­nukovych pro­tec­tion — and in­sists that he re­mains the true lead­er of Ukraine — the Rus­si­an pres­id­ent hasn’t worked too hard to re­store Ya­nukovych’s in­flu­ence. Last month, Putin said that Ya­nukovych “has no polit­ic­al fu­ture.”

Still, the pair have talked. The AP re­ports:

Ya­nukovych said he has spoken with Putin twice by phone and once in per­son since he ar­rived in Rus­sia — de­scrib­ing their talks as “dif­fi­cult” — and hopes to have more meet­ings with the Rus­si­an lead­er to ne­go­ti­ate Crimea’s re­turn to Ukraine.

“We must search for ways … so that Crimea may have the max­im­um de­gree of in­de­pend­ence pos­sible … but be part of Ukraine,” he said.

And Putin could in­cor­por­ate Ya­nukovych’s turn­around in­to fu­ture strategy:

While Rus­sia can hardly be ex­pec­ted to roll back its an­nex­a­tion, Ya­nukovych’s state­ment could widen Putin’s op­tions in the talks on set­tling the Ukrain­i­an crisis by cre­at­ing an im­pres­sion that Mo­scow could be open for dis­cus­sions on Crimea’s status in the fu­ture.

Ya­nukovych’s re­gret over los­ing Crimea con­tra­dicts his re­cent re­marks on the Ukraine crisis. Just last week, the long­time politi­cian, who is liv­ing in ex­ile in Mo­scow, was ur­ging Ukraine to hold a series of re­gion­al ref­er­en­dums like the one held in the pen­in­sula, which res­ul­ted in its an­nex­a­tion by Rus­sia. But in the AP in­ter­view, Ya­nukovych again re­it­er­ated his sup­port for a ref­er­en­dum “that could turn Ukraine in­to a loosely knit fed­er­a­tion.”

Ya­nukovych’s apo­lo­get­ic state­ment comes just two months be­fore Ukraine’s pres­id­en­tial elec­tions. The politi­cian said he hopes to re­turn to Ukraine, though his sup­port­ers have largely aban­doned him.

What We're Following See More »
TIME TO SPLIT
House Passes CR, Sends Bill to President’s Desk
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
CAN’T NAME ONE WORLD LEADER
Gary Johnson Stumbles Again
7 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
GOES TO PRESIDENT
Senate Approves Bill to Preserve Rape Kits
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation ensuring sexual assault survivors in federal criminal cases have access to forensic evidence collection kits, sending the bill to President Obama's desk. The legislation, known as the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, was passed by unanimous consent as lawmakers prepare to leave Washington until after the election. The House passed the measure earlier this month."

Source:
2-MONTH GIG OR 8-YEAR GIG?
Alec Baldwin to Play Trump on ‘SNL’
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS
STRIKES DOWN NEW HAMPSHIRE BAN
Court: Selfies in Voting Booth Now OK
11 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
×