12th March 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons made the following contribution, under the Catch the Eye procedure, to a debate on the Russian invasion of (a small part of) Ukraine.
"The present crisis in Ukraine did not start with the Russian invasion. It started with the EU's reaction to Ukraine's rejection of an EU-Ukraine trade deal. This reaction took the form of the EU's friends in that country exploiting Ukrainian Nationalists to provide paramilitary assistance on the streets of Kiev.
"I am no supporter of Mr Yanukovych - of his political or personal background or of his tactics against demonstrators.
"However, the Ukrainian Parliament does not have the power simply to remove the President (under Article 108* of the Ukrainian Constitution) and it does not appear that the impeachment procedures (under Article 111**) were followed.
"The EU is determined to ensnare Ukraine by bribery and intimidation.
"I do not view the presence of Russian troops in the Crimea with equanimity. I would like them to withdraw. However, Russia is reacting to extreme acts of provocation, not only from the EU but also from the United States. (We know this from the leaked conversations between the US ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and a senior employee of the State Department, Victoria Nuland)***."
* Article 108 mentions only four circumstances in which a term of office of the President can be terminated early:
2. inability to exercise presidential authority for reasons of ill health;
3. removal from office by impeachment;
** Article 111 states that the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) shall appoint an ad hoc investigating commission comprising a special prosecutor and special investigators to conduct an investigation. The findings and conclusions would then be considered at a (subsequent) meeting of the Verkhovna Rada. It appears that the Parliament removed President Yanukovych in one afternoon's sitting without the niceties of an investigation.
*** This refers to a bugged telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State and the US Ambassador to the Ukraine, Mr Geoffrey Pyatt. They appear to be discussing who should be ministers in the next government of Ukraine.