Ukraine ‘on the brink of civil war’, warns Russia’s PM

April 15, 2014 | By | Reply More

Apr 15, – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave a gloomy assessment after at least two people died on Sunday when Kiev unsuccessfully tried to regain control in Slavyansk, one of about 10 towns and cities where the separatists have seized buildings.

hromedia Ukraine ‘on the brink of civil war’, warns Russia’s PM eu news2Russia has declared Ukraine on the brink of civil war, as Kiev said an “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Moscow separatists was at last under way.

However, 24 hours after a Ukrainian ultimatum for the separatists to lay down their arms expired, witnesses reported no signs that Kiev’s forces were ready to storm state buildings the rebels have occupied in the country’s Russian-speaking east.

Police said separatists had voluntarily surrendered the police headquarters in the city of Kramatorsk.

Interim president Oleksandr Turchynov insisted the operation had started in the eastern Donetsk region, although it would happen in stages and “in a considered way”.

Against the backdrop of the deepest East-West crisis since the cold war, the leaders of Russia and the United States called on each other to do all in their power to avoid further bloodshed.

“Blood has once again been spilt in Ukraine. The country is on the brink of civil war,” he said on his Facebook page.

Turchynov said the offensive, which he first announced on Sunday, was finally under way.

“The anti-terrorist operation began during the night in the north of Donetsk region. But it will take place in stages, responsibly, in a considered way. I once again stress: the aim of these operations is to defend the citizens of Ukraine,” he told parliament.

Outside the occupied local police headquarters in Slavyansk about a dozen civilians manned barricades that have been built up overnight with more tyres and wooden crates.

Ukraine’s security forces have been in some disarray since protesters ousted pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych in February. However, the delays to the crackdown may also reflect a desire by the interim leadership to avoid making things worse by causing civilian casualties.

Moscow accuses Kiev of provoking the crisis by ignoring the rights of citizens who use Russian as their first language, and has promised to protect them,

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov denied accusations that Russia was inciting the separatists in the east and southeast as a possible prelude to repeating its annexation of Crimea.

“Ukraine is spreading lies that Russia is behind the actions in the southeast. This is a total lie that supposes that those residents there are completely incapable of protesting of their own will,” Lavrov said on a visit to China.

He called on Kiev to hold back before a meeting between Russia, the European Union, the United States, and Ukraine planned for Geneva tomorrow.

US President Barack Obama criticised Russia in a call to President Vladimir Putin on Monday, saying its actions were not conducive to a diplomatic solution.

“The president emphasised that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged President Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized,” the White House said.

Moscow put the onus for peace on Washington. “President Putin called on Barack Obama to do his utmost to use the opportunities that the United States has to prevent the use of force, and bloodshed,” the Kremlin said.

Press journalist for HR Omedia – Ignacio damigo contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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