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Russia doubts Kyiv leadership

February 24, 2014

Ukraine's new opposition-dominated leadership has won recognition from the EU but Russian leaders continue to challenge its legitimacy. Freed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko will seek medical treatment in Germany.

Ukraine Kiew Maidan 23.2.2014
Image: Reuters

EU delegation travels to Kyiv

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday told Western nations that they were mistaken in recognizing new leaders in Kyiv. From Brussels, the European Commission described Oleksandr Turchynov as Ukraine's "interim president."

Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said a draft EU association with Ukraine "remains on the table" but could not be signed until after Ukrainian elections scheduled for May 25. Aid would be linked to economic reforms, he added.

Medvedev raised the rhetoric, saying Moscow would not communicate with a government comprising people who "carry Kalashnikovs."

Elusive Yanukovych sought

Ukraine's acting interior minister, Arsen Avaknov, said the new Kyiv leadership had issued a warrant for the arrest of ouster president Viktor Yanukovych in the wake of "mass killings of civilians" during sniper fire on protestors in Kyiv last week.

Yanukovych reportedly fled on Saturday to Ukraine's southern Black Sea peninsula of Crimea where Russia has a large naval base.

State coffers nearly empty

Acting finance minister Yuri Kolobov said Monday Ukraine urgently needed $35 billion (25.5 billion euros) to finance state services this year and next and expressed hope that Europe or the United States would help.

EU delegation travels to Kyiv

Kolobov called for an emergency loan from international donors within the next two weeks. His remarks coincided with another visit to Kyiv by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for talks with Turchynov.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who helped mediate in Kyiv during last week's tumult, said Monday financial assistance was "available" as soon as Ukraine agreed terms with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Parliament appointed one of its members, Stepan Kubiv, who has experience in banking, to head Ukraine's central bank. That followed the resignation of his predecessor, Ihor Sorkin, during Yanukovych's overthrow.

NATO, Russian generals consult

The news agency Interfax said Monday senior Russian and NATO military generals Valery Gerasimov and Philip Breedlove had consulted by phone and "expressed concern over the situation in Ukraine."

Turchynov, who was elevated from parliament speaker to interim president on Friday, said he hoped to form a new coalition government by Tuesday.

He is an associate of opposition figure Yulia Tymoshenko, who was freed from jail on Saturday.

In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Ukraine needed a "transparent process" to resolve the crisis democratically. Its new leaders should also consider the interests of pro-Russian southern and eastern Ukraine, he added.

On Sunday, Merkel had said she and Russian President Vladimir Putin were agreed that Ukraine's "territorial integrity must be respected. Since the Sochi Olympics closed on Sunday, Putin has continued to remain publicly silent on Ukraine.

In Crimea's port city of Sevastapol on Monday, protestors replaced a Ukrainian flag near the city hall with a Russian flag.

Tymoshenko headed to Germany

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the the Ukrainian opposition leader who was freed over the weekend, announced on her website Monday that she was headed to Germany for medical treatment.

"Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has accepted the offer of treatment from German Chancellor Angela Merkel," the website said, adding she would seek the treatment after attending the European People's Party congress scheduled to start March 6 in Dublin. Tymoshenko suffers from chronic back problems.

ipj/dr (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)