Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has accused the United States of being behind the political upheaval in Ukraine and said Moscow would respond if its interests came under attack.
These comments came only days after U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, expressed serious concerns in a phone call to Mr Lavrov on the afternoon of Tuesday 22 after a deal aimed at reducing violence in Ukraine has resulted in little movement from pro-Russian separatists.
Under the international deal, signed by Ukraine, Russia, the US and the EU, rebels were to disarm and give up buildings they seized in the east of Ukraine.
A senior State Department official stated that the secretary expressed “deep concern” over the lack of positive Russian steps to de-escalate, and cited mounting evidence that separatists continue to increase the number of buildings under occupation and take journalists and other civilians captive.
The call came as Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, urged law enforcement agencies to renew their crackdown against separatist forces within Ukraine. He claims that “brutally tortured” bodies had been found near the city of Slaviansk, which is in the hands of pro-Russian militants.
One of those bodies was of Vladimir Rybak, a local politician who belonged to the president’s party and who had recently been abducted by “terrorists”.
An official said Mr Kerry urged Russia “to tone down escalatory rhetoric” and issue public statements “calling for those occupying buildings to disarm and stand down in exchange for amnesty.
“Secretary Kerry also reiterated that the absence of measurable progress on implementing the Geneva agreement will result in increased sanctions on Russia,” the official said.
Mr Kerry also reiterated in his telephone conversation with Mr Lavrov that the absence of measurable progress on implementing the Geneva agreement will result in increased sanctions on Russia.
The US is to provide an additional $50 million USD for political and economic reforms in Ukraine, including $11 million USD to help run the presidential election due on 25 May.
The decision was designed to show a strong commitment to the alliance as events unfolded in Ukraine, a U.S. defence department spokesman stated.
At a press conference, Joe Biden, the US vice president, said Russia needed to defuse confrontations in the east of Ukraine.
“No nation should threaten its neighbour by massing troops on the border. We call on Russia to pull these forces back. We call on Russia to stop supporting men, hiding behind masks, sowing unrest in eastern Ukraine.”