The crisis in Kiev has prompted a war of words between East and West. But the US Secretary of State was keen to reject the Kremlin’s fears that Washington aims to extend its influence in Ukraine. “We all back the democratic process that is underway and we are looking for an outcome that will reflect the true will of the Ukrainian people,” said Colin Powell, speaking in Sofia where the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has been meeting.
His comments come after a fresh outburst from the Russian president who warned of colonial-style meddling by the West in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin evoked the possibility of a split in the country along the lines of the old East and West Germany – with first and second class citizens. “If the native protests, he will be punished, beaten with missiles and bombs like in Belgrade,” he added, in a reference to NATO’s military action against Yugoslavia in 1999. Speaking on an historic state visit to Turkey, Putin added that Russia would seek to help solve Ukraine’s political crisis without itself interfering in its affairs.