Published On: Mon, Feb 24th, 2014

Ukraine: Russia Recalls Ambassador Over ‘Deterioration’

Russia has recalled its ambassador to Ukraine over what it described as the deteriorating situation in the country.Moscow has condemned the removal of President Viktor Yanukovych, who was dismissed by MPs on Saturday.

Ukraine Russia recalls

Ukraine’s newly appointed interim president, Oleksandr Turchinov, says the country will now focus on closer integration with the EU.

Mr Yanukovych’s rejection of an EU-Ukraine trade pact triggered the protests that toppled him.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the US strongly supports the actions by the Ukrainian parliament.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has announced she is visiting Kiev on Monday to discuss EU support “for a lasting solution to the political crisis and measures to stabilise the economic situation”.

‘Seized power’

Russia and the US have been on opposite sides during the Ukraine crisis, with the US, along with the EU, backing the opposition.

On Sunday Mr Kerry said the MPs’ vote offered “the best and most promising path forward to restore peace and stability”,

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, again accused Ukraine of deviating from a political deal signed on Friday.

He said the opposition “had in effect seized power in Kiev, refused to disarm and continued to place its bets on violence”.

Russia said late on Sunday that it had recalled its ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, for consultations.

The move was announced after Mr Turchynov, a close ally of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, gave a televised address following his appointment as interim president.

He vowed to set up a “government of the people”, and said: “We have to return to the family of European countries.”

He added: “We are ready for a dialogue with Russia… on a new, fair, equal and neighbourly basis, acknowledging and taking into account Ukraine’s European choice.”

Mr Turchynov said MPs had until Tuesday to form a new unity government.Moscow recently agreed to provide $15bn (£9bn; 11bn euros) to support Ukraine’s struggling – but there are now fears Moscow could withdraw that offer.

A US official said US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had discussed Ukraine with Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Sydney on Sunday.

Mr Siluanov reportedly left open the question of whether Russia would pay the next instalment of financial help for Ukraine, worth $2bn.

British Chancellor George Osborne said early on Monday that the UK was ready to provide financial support to Ukraine through international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Some German government MPs have also called for swift financial aid to Ukraine, the BBC’s Stephen Evans reports from Berlin.

There have been fears that the crisis may exacerbate divisions between the Russian-leaning east of the country and the more pro-EU west.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned Russia it would be a “grave mistake” to intervene militarily.

Yanokovych missing

Thousands of opposition supporters remain in Kiev’s Independence Square, heeding opposition calls not to disperse.

The health ministry says 88 people, mostly anti-Yanukovych protesters, are now known to have been killed in clashes that took place last week.

Mr Yanukovych refused to stand down in an address on Saturday. He is last thought to have been in the eastern city of Kharkiv after travelling there late on Friday night

Media reports have quoted Ukrainian officials as saying he was stopped by border police while attempting to flee to Russia.

MPs from Mr Yanukovych’s Party of Regions now appear to be disowning him, having issued a statement criticising him to Interfax-Ukraine.

Former world champion boxer Vitaly Klitschko suggested to the BBC that he may make a bid for the presidency in elections scheduled for 25 May.

“I want to make Ukraine a modern European country,” he said. “If I can do that through the president’s position, I will do my best.”

In other decisions on Sunday:

  • Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara and Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk were dismissed
  • Arrest warrants were issued for former Incomes Minister Oleksandr Klimenko and former Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka
  • Parliament lowered the official status of the Russian language by cancelling a law brought in by Mr Yanukovych
  • Parliament also voted to seize Mr Yanukovych’s luxury estate near Kiev, which protesters entered on Saturday