The tug of war between Russia and the West over Ukraine intensified on Wednesday even as the Ukrainian Parliament struggled to defuse the crisis amid warnings of “civil war.”
Russia’s Parliament accused the Ukrainian opposition of encouraging “pogroms” and “aggression” against police and blasted Western politicians for “destabilising” the situation in Ukraine.
A strongly worded statement unanimously voted by the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, described the protests in Ukraine as “a well-organised campaign aimed at discrediting and overthrowing the legitimate government.”
Russian senators expressed “indignation” at Western politicians who “unceremoniously interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine and deliberately provoke instability in the country.”
The Russian statement came as the West stepped up pressure on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to go the extra mile to accommodate the opposition. The concessions Mr. Yanukovych made on Tuesday in accepting the resignation of the government and in scrapping anti-protest laws that triggered violent clashes in the streets of the capital failed to appease the opposition.
U.S. President Barack Obama weighed in on Ukraine in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, saying: “In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country’s future.”
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden placed two calls to Mr. Yanukovych on Monday urging him to pull back riot police. The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele arrived in Kiev on Wednesday for talks with Mr. Yanukovych.
As Ukrainian Parliament debated amnesty for protesters on Wednesday, former President Leonid Kravchuk warned the country stood on the “brink of civil war.” “It is a revolution,” Mr. Kravchuk said, addressing the law makers.Mr. Yanukovych agreed to grant amnesty to all protesters, but only if demonstrators stop street protests and vacate buildings. However, opposition leaders wanted the condition to be dropped.