As rebels in eastern Ukraine exchange further gunfire with government troops near Donetsk, a war of words between Moscow and the West is escalating.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has accused the West of trying to use sanctions imposed on Moscow to “seek regime change” in Russia.
This after the US Vice President slammed Russian actions as “unacceptable” during a visit to Kyiv and called on Moscow to pull its troops out of Ukraine. Russia denies it is helping the rebels.
On Thursday the Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow must be on the alert against what he called a “colour revolution” in Russia, referring to the mass protests that have toppled leaders in former Soviet states.
Sanctions have begun to hurt Russia; as well as freezing the assets and travel visas of key officials, the measures have limited access to foreign capital for some of the countries largest banks and companies.
The rouble has fallen by nearly 30 percent against the dollar since the start of the year, making worse an economic downturn. The drop in global oil prices has also been bad news for Moscow.
Despite a supposed ceasefire, fighting continues around the Donetsk airport, still held by Ukrainian soldiers.
One pro-Russia rebel Commander told reporters:
“We’re carrying out an operation to neutralise a sniper. He is not alone but is working in a pair together with a spotter, who directs fire towards our combat positions.”
More than 900 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since the truce was signed and the UN says 4,300 have died since April.