Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has slammed the West for “aggravating internal differences” in Ukraine. His ministry says Kiev should stop “blaming Moscow for all of your problems.”
Writing in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the Russian official said that Western powers “have been trying to compel Ukraine to make a painful choice between east and west, further aggravating internal differences,” referring to the EU-Ukraine cooperation agreement that sparked the stand-off that led to the ousting of Viktor Yanukovich.
The political part of the agreement has now been signed by the interim government.
Contrastingly Lavrov said that "Russia has done more than any other country to support the independent Ukrainian state, including for many years subsidizing its economy through low energy prices."
Instead of closer cooperation with the EU, Lavrov said Ukraine should implement “real constitutional reform, which would ensure the legitimate rights of all Ukrainian regions and respond to demands from its south-eastern region to make Russian the state's second official language; firm guarantees on Ukraine's non-aligned status to be enshrined in its laws, thus ensuring its role as a connecting link in an indivisible European security architecture; and urgent measures to halt activity by illegal armed formations of the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalist groups.”
In recent days, Russia has been advocating federalization, which would give greater autonomy to the Russian-speaking eastern part of the country. Politicians in Kiev have rejected the move, saying that it would open a backdoor path for those territories to secede from the country, and possibly join Russia.
These calls have become particularly resonant after anti-Kiev demonstrators occupied various key government buildings in major eastern urban centers of the country over the past two days. In Donetsk, activists declared the region “an independent republic” and asked Russia to send in “a peacekeeping corps.”
Acting President Aleksandr Turchinov accused Moscow of staging a “special operation” to splinter Ukraine. He also threatened to increase penalties for separatism and said that protesters bearing arms will be treated as terrorists.
Moscow has rejected accusations of meddling.
“Stop blaming Russia’s for all of Ukraine’s problems. Ukrainian people want to hear meaningful answers from official Kiev,” said a statement on the foreign ministry’s website, which warned that Ukraine would “face new crises and difficulties” unless its “irresponsible" politicians make the necessary reforms to pacify its eastern regions.
Moreover, Russia’s upper legislative assembly, the Federation Council, said that Moscow has no plans to send troops to Ukraine without a go-ahead from the UN Security Council, but noted that it has internally sanctioned Vladimir Putin’s use of force on Ukrainian territory.