February 19, 2014

An American diplomat has said that “the USA holds Yanukovich responsible” for the escalation of crisis in the country. Russia believes that this kind of stance actually encourages radicals on the streets of Kiev to provoke violence.

Protestors attempt to break through a police line in Kiev. Credit: jordibernabeu via Flickr
Protestors attempt to break through a police line in Kiev. Credit: jordibernabeu via Flickr

From this moment on, the USA holds Yanukovich responsible for everything that happens in Ukraine,” US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt told the Zerkalo Nedeli newspaper. The comment came after diplomats in Ukraine met with Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara.

Moscow believes that this accusatory position of the US could have, in fact, contributed to the escalation of violence Kiev has been witnessing, and, holding the president solely responsible for the crisis, is giving carte blanche to extremist radical forces out on the streets.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying it considers the crisis “a direct result of the permissiveness policy exercised by those western politicians and European structures, who from the very beginning turned a blind eye to the aggressive actions of the radical forces in Ukraine.”

Twenty-five people were killed overnight in the most violent clashes yet to have occurred between security forces and protesters since the opposition took to the streets of Kiev in November 2013. Nine of the casualties are Ukrainian police officers, who died of gunshot wounds, as did the rest of the victims, the Interior Ministry reported.

Two hundred and forty-one people were wounded, the Ukrainian Health Ministry said. Among those hospitalized are 79 security services employees, five journalists, three children, as well as MP Vasily Pazinyak for the Batkivshchina (Motherland) party.

The ministry also officially confirmed that a journalist from the local ‘Vesti’ newspaper, Vyacheslav Veremey, died in Kiev after a gunshot wound.

The Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior believes the casualties in the clashes could have been killed by the radicals, because the police do not use fire arms.

Taking into consideration the nature of the dead civilians’ wounds and also the nature of the weapons, which have been confiscated, we can assume that these wounds were inflicted by violent protesters,” a statement at the Ministry’s website says. “Police officers and interior troops do not use fire arms. Law enforcers are only using non-lethal weapons.”

Some of the European leaders have not been convinced and have been quick to lay the blame for the violence on Ukrainian president. The Swedish Foreign Minister said on Twitter that blood was on Yanukovich’s hands.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has described the violence in Ukraine as an attempt at a coup d’etat and a “brown” revolution.

In a Wednesday statement, the Ministry accused European politicians and institutions of “refusing to admit that all of the responsibility for the actions of radical forces in Ukraine rests with the opposition.

The Russian side is demanding the leaders on the streets to stop the violence in their country, immediately resume dialogue with the lawful government without threats and ultimatums,” the statement reads.

The Russian stance is out of tune with the European one. Several EU leaders have already spoken of introducing sanctions against the Ukrainian leadership, who they view as responsible for the crisis.

Germany, which previously refused to back Washington’s calls for sanctions against Ukraine’s government, could soon have a change of heart, according to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier .

“Whoever is responsible for decisions that lead to bloodshed in the center of Kiev or elsewhere in Ukraine will need to consider that Europe’s previous reluctance for personal sanctions must be rethought,” he said, according to AP.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday he would be pressing European Union leaders to impose sanctions on Ukraine’s government.

I will today hold talks with the leaders of the biggest EU countries and institutions, and persuade them to impose sanctions – personal and financial,” Tusk told a special session of the Polish parliament, Reuters reports. “I hope that such a stance from Poland will help the EU as a whole in taking fast decisions.”

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has also supported sanctions against the Ukrainian government, according to Itar-Tass.

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