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Jimmy Carter: Reunification With Russia Was "Something Crimean People Wanted"

Carter has also said he believes that Russia genuinely wants the Minsk peace deal for Ukraine to succeed and is adhering to it

May 5, (Sputnik) - Carter also recalled the history of the Crimean issue. In the 1950s then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred control of Crimea to Ukraine as a gift. However, Khrushchev made this move as he could never have imagined that the USSR would ever disintegrate.

"It was something the Crimean people wanted, I believe," Jimmy Carter said in an exclusive interview with VOA radio's Russian Service.

Crimea rejoined Russia in March 2014 following a referendum in which 96 percent voted in favor of the move.

Earlier this week, the former US president participated in a series of meetings in Moscow as part a group of famous politicians and diplomats 'The Elders', which had been founded by Nelson Maldela. Former UN secretary-General Kofi Annan and former UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi were among those well-known politicians who accompanied Jimmy Carter during his visit to Russia.

On Alleged Russian Role in Ukrainian Crisis

On Wednesday, 'The Elders' met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and discussed the situation in Ukraine.

After the meeting with the Russian leader, Carter said that he was satisfied with the results of the talks, noting that he believes Moscow is adhering to the Minsk agreements.

In February, the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine met in the Belarusian capital Minsk to hold talks on Ukrainian reconciliation. The talks resulted in a ceasefire agreement between Kiev and the self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR). The deal also stipulates measures aimed at decentralizing power in Ukraine, giving more autonomy to DPR and LPR.

“There's not any doubt in our mind that the Russians genuinely want to see all the aspects of that concluded. I think that's the only ballgame in town.”

He added that the only way to restore peace in Ukraine was to implement the Minsk deal.

Commenting on the US allegations that Russia has been sending military personnel and equipment to eastern Ukraine, the former US president said that this information has never been confirmed.

Russian authorities repeatedly denied these accusations, calling for a political resolution of the conflict and active participation in Ukrainian reconciliation talks on different levels.

Carter “would like very much to see a cessation of sending arms to Ukraine, either to Kyiv [Kiev] or to the eastern part.” “And, my hope is that President Obama would not do so.”

He also stated differing views between Moscow and Washington of what happened in Ukraine more than a year ago after then-president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted.

From the point of view of the Americans, he noted, Petro Poroshenko's accession to the presidency was in accordance with the law, however, Moscow's stance is quite different.

To Attend or Not to Attend Victory Day Parade in Moscow?

Jimmy Carter, who served as the US president from 1977 to 1981, commented on several European leaders' decision not to attend the Victory Day celebration in Moscow on May 9, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Western leaders, including the presidents of the United States, Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, Israel, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia refused to attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow citing their stance on the situation in Donbass in eastern Ukraine.

However, the leaders of about 25 countries have confirmed their readiness to attend the celebrations.

The former US president considers the decision not to visit Moscow on May 9 as an independent move made by European leaders without any pressure from the United States.

Carter said that he discussed the issue with the Russian president and “the most he said was that he was sure on many of these issues there was close consultation between the United States and European countries.”

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