Ian Traynor and Oksana Grytsenko
January 29, 2014
President Vladmir Putin warned Europe to keep its hands off Ukraine on Tuesday, as Brussels sent its top foreign policy envoy to Kiev to try to mediate in the 10-week stand-off between President Viktor Yanukovychand the opposition on the streets.
Russia’s intervention in Brussels followed Yanukovych’s biggest concession to the opposition, the sacking of his hardline prime minister and government and a promise to repeal draconian laws criminalising protest and freedom of speech.
Putin met EU leaders for the first time since November’s clash between the Kremlin and Europe over the future of Ukraine triggered the crisis in Kiev. Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, took part in the meetings with Putin in Brussels then traveled to Kiev to try to mediate between the opposing sides.