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Lavrov challenges 'hypocritical' West over Kyiv ultimatum to Ukraine protesters

Lavrov challenges 'hypocritical' West over Kyiv ultimatum to Ukraine protesters
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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Western countries of hypocrisy over Ukraine, challenging them to respond to Kyiv’s threat to use force against pro-Russian protests.

“The violence on Maidan, which ended with dozens and dozens of deaths – this was called a democracy. While peaceful protests going on now in the southeast (of Ukraine) is called terrorism and it is declared that armed forces will be used in a so-called ‘anti-terrorism operation’,” Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.

He also said that Russian-speaking eastern regions should be involved in drafting a new state structure that Kyiv has said may be put to a referendum next month.

Lavrov said it was not in Russia’s interests for Ukraine to break up, but that Moscow wanted Kyiv to give all citizens equal treatment.

He denied Ukrainian and US allegations that Russia had undercover agents fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, and said he was seeking an explanation of media reports that the director of the CIA, John Brennan, had visited Kyiv.

As EU foreign ministers prepared to meet in Luxembourg – under pressure to show they have influence on events in Ukraine amid calls for more sanctions against Moscow – Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Beijing.

He said both China and Germany had an interest in ensuring that what happened in Crimea did not set a precedent.

“We are both of course for de-escalation and for non-violence and we both believe, that it is a dangerous precedent to change borders arbitrarily,” Steinmeier added.

As Moscow and Kyiv edge closer to a military confrontation, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said a political resolution was the only way to end the Ukraine crisis.