UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A letter requesting Russian military intervention in Ukraine that Moscow says was from ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to President Vladimir Putin lacks any legal validity, the Kiev government wrote to the U.N. Security Council.
The note from Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev to Luxembourg's Ambassador Sylvie Lucas, president of the 15-nation Security Council this month, was a response to a letter purporting to be from Yanukovich, which Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin read out to the council on Monday.
"In this regard I have to point out that, in accordance with paragraph 23 of Article 85 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the Parliament of Ukraine has an exclusive power to approve a decision on admission of foreign military forces into the territory of Ukraine," said Sergeyev's letter, which was dated March 4.
The Ukrainian letter reiterated Kiev's position that Yanukovich was no longer the legitimate president of Ukraine, noting that his dismissal by a parliamentary vote was done according to Article 112 of Ukraine's constitution.
"Thus the request of Mr. Viktor Yanukovich addressed to the President of the Russian Federation to use its military forces in Ukraine may not be regarded as an official request of Ukraine," Sergeyev wrote.
Yanukovich, a Russian ally, was ousted on February 22 after months of protests in Kiev over his decision to pull Ukraine out of a trade deal with the European Union under Russian pressure. Yanukovich is now believed to be in Russia.
Churkin displayed what he said was a copy of the Yanukovich letter during a heated meeting of the Security Council on Monday that was reminiscent of the Cold War period. During the meeting Western envoys and the Russian ambassador hurled allegations at each other for over two hours.
"The country has plunged into chaos and anarchy," Churkin quoted the letter as saying. "The country is in the grip of outright terror and violence driven by the West."
"People are persecuted on political and language grounds," he read. "In this context, I appeal to the President of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to re-establish the rule of law, peace, order, stability and to protect the people of Ukraine."
After Yanukovich's ouster, Russia effectively occupied Ukraine's Crimea region, where its Black Sea fleet is based, raising international tensions and sparking fears of war. Western nations and Ukraine say Russian allegations of threats to ethnic Russians in Ukraine are fabricated and a pretext for invading the country.
Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Paul Simao