KIEV (AFP) — Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Saturday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of wanting to wipe out Ukraine as an independent country despite a truce deal.
“His aim is not just to take Donetsk and Lugansk,” Yatsenyuk said at a conference in Kiev, referring to the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine where fighting has been raging for five months.
“His goal is to take the entire Ukraine… he wants to eliminate Ukraine as an independent country,” Yatsenyuk said in English.
He described the truce signed on September 5 in Minsk between Kiev, pro-Russian rebels, Moscow and the European security body the OSCE as just a “first step” to “stop a massacre” in eastern Ukraine.
He said that having a bilateral accord with Russia was “not the best” idea and called on the United States and the European Union to play a direct role in peace talks, and to guarantee Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.
“They (the Russians) will outplay us,” he said. “Putin wants to get another frozen conflict and get his hands on our belly fat.”
He said the conflict had made it impossible for the Kiev authorities to embark on real change, to tackle political reforms, the economic crisis and endemic corruption.
He denied however that the unrest in the east, which erupted after pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising against Kiev’s rule, was a “civil conflict.”
“The only person who is destabilising the situation is Putin,” he said. “We are in a state of war and the key aggressor is the Russian Federation.”
Yatsenyuk’s warning came amid reports that Russia had sent another convoy of what it said was humanitarian “aid” into the war-torn city of Luhansk. Russia refused to have most of convoy inspected by Ukraine’s border services or by the Red Cross, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said.
“The first group of 40 trucks were quickly checked by the Russian border guard and customs services,” the OSCE said in a statement.
“The 180 other vehicles were not inspected. All vehicles crossed into Ukraine without being inspected by Ukrainian border guard and customs officers or the International Committee of the Red Cross.”
The U.S. and European Union on Friday leveled a new round of sanctionstargeted at Moscow’s energy, defence, and financial sectors. Among the new targets is Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank of Russia, as well as the major defence conglomerate Rostec.
The sanctions prohibit US and EU citizens or companies from providing new financing to Sberbank, thereby cutting off its access to US capital markets. The sanctions also shorten the maturity threshold for the debt prohibition to 30 days from 90 days — meaning US and EU persons cannot provide equity or debt financing of longer than 30 days.
The new measures “will significantly increase the pressure on these institutions by constraining the financing options available to them,” a senior Obama administration official said Friday.
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