The sharp escalation of the Ukraine crisis virtually puts the country on the brink of civil war, Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a telephone call.
Putin and Merkel discussed the upcoming Ukrainian crisis talks between Russia, Ukraine, the EU and the US, scheduled to be held on Thursday in Geneva.
Merkel’s press office noted that, despite some differences of opinion, the upcoming talks were the main focus of the telephone conversation.
"While there were differences in the interpretation of current events, preparations for the planned meeting in Geneva...were the focus of the talks," Merkel's office said in a statement.
Putin meanwhile expressed hope that the Geneva talks will help to de-escalate the situation, and return it to peaceful cooperation.
The president also reiterated the importance of stabilizing the Ukrainian economy, and ensuring the supply and transportation of Russian natural gas to Europe.
On Tuesday, Moscow urged international partners to condemn Kiev’s recent "anti-constitutional" actions in southeastern Ukraine, which it believes may lead to catastrophe.
“We are deeply concerned over the military operation launched by the Ukrainian special forces with support by the army. There have already been victims,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Russian diplomats called it a criminal offense for Ukraine to fight against its own people who demand that their lawful rights are preserved. “Current events demonstrate persistent unwillingness of Kiev’s authorities to organize a dialogue with Ukrainian regions, which is necessary for the country,” the statement reads.
The US has approached the situation from a different angle,
justifying Kiev’s actions against anti-government protesters in
the country's eastern region.
"The Ukrainian government has the responsibility to provide law and order and these provocations in eastern Ukraine are creating a situation in which the government has to respond," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday.
Annie Machon, an analyst and former MI5 agent, believes the US has contributed to the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.
“State Department official Victoria Nuland boasted that since the fall of the Soviet Union, America has pumped about $5 billion into Ukraine to try and peddle influence in that country. So I don’t think there’s any doubt that Washington has been meddling with the internal politics of Ukraine and continues to do so. But I think this time they’ve miscalculated the wishes of the Ukrainian people,” Machon said.
The US has not been alone in supporting the military operation against anti-government protesters in Ukraine. Giving his reaction, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorskii said that Warsaw agrees fully with the military operation in eastern Ukraine, RIA Novosti reports. He believes the Kramatorsk actions against “armed people” who “occupy airports” to be in line with the law.
Earlier in the day, Putin also spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During the call Putin stressed that the escalation of the Ukraine crisis was the result of Kiev’s irresponsible politics, which ignored legitimate rights and the interests of the Russian-speaking population.
The two also discussed bilateral cooperation and other topics on the international agenda, including the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.