The United States warned Russia on Friday not to inflame the situation in Ukraine and raised questions about reports of Russian armored vehicles and personnel in Crimea, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. “We raised the issue of the airports, raised the issue of armored vehicles, raised the issue of personnel in various places,” Kerry said of a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“While we were told that they are not engaging in any violation of the sovereignty and do not intend to, I nevertheless made it clear that that could be misinterpreted at this moment and that there are enough tensions that it is important for everybody to be extremely careful not to inflame the situation and not to send the wrong messages”, said Kerry.
Earlier in the day, fugitive former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, speaking to a mostly compliant press at a conference in Rostov, Russia, has denied issuing the order to fire on Maidan protesters in Kyiv, and insists the new government is illegitimate.
Over an hour into the press conference Yanukovych had yet to face a difficult question, and had not chosen to rebut accusations of corruption, or sought to claim documents recovered from his home including an “elimination” list of journalists were forgeries.
However he did insist he was still the legal president of Ukraine, and blamed his ousting on “fascists and neo.nazis”. He put the blame for the bloodshed and what he called “chaos, lawlessness and anarchy” squarely on the shoulders of the “radicals” leading the Maidan protests.
He also criticised Western powers and the EU for “indulging” the opposition forces, and said he only fled Ukraine after receiving “threats”.
In the meantime tension rises in Crimea pro-russian region where militiamen have blocked the region’s airports and main roads. Moscow has refused this afternoon to hold talks with Kyiv’s new leadership about the situation of the region that decided Thursday to hold a referendum on autonomy the 25th of May.