Ukraine on verge of civil war: Putin

Moscow, April 16: The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has brought the country to the verge of civil war, Kremlin said in a statement Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephonic conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel late Tuesday night warned of the possibility of civil war, the Kremlin press service said Wednesday.

The two leaders “exchanged opinions about the anti-constitutional course of the incumbent Kiev authorities towards the suppression by force of popular protests in southeastern Ukraine,” the Kremlin statement said.

Putin and Merkel accentuated the importance of the four-party negotiations between Russia, the EU, the US and Ukraine scheduled for Thursday, expressing the hope that the Geneva meeting could send a “strong message” to encourage events to take a peaceful route, Xinhua reported.

Putin also highlighted the importance of solving the problems of Ukraine’s economic stabilisation and the provision of deliveries and transit of Russian natural gas to Europe.

A new wave of unrest erupted in eastern Ukraine over the weekend, as pro-Russia activists seized several government buildings in the cities of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov, demanding a referendum on autonomy and closer ties with Russia.

Ukraine accused Russia of being behind the unrest, but Moscow has firmly denied any involvement in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday said Russia does not interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

IANS