Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told FRANCE 24 on Thursday that Russian moves to take over Crimea posed an “existential threat to his country and to the world”.
In an exclusive interview, Yatseniuk told FRANCE 24 that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to extend his hold on Ukraine beyond the Crimean peninsula into other areas in the east of the country, where the majority of Ukraine’s Russian speakers live.
Yatseniuk, who was attending a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, said his country would use “any means and tools” to “retaliate against any further territorial incursions”.
Ukraine, he said, wanted peace with Russia and was ready to negotiate, “but all Moscow has done was extend the barrel [of a gun]”.
“Russia abstains, rejects and blocks [all attempts at] negotiations,” he said.
The Ukrainian prime minister accused Russia of sending “well-trained spies and provocateurs” into eastern Ukrainian cities to foment the country’s current crisis.
'EU must stand up to Russia'
Asked whether Kiev had given up on Crimea, Yatseniuk said “the battle is not lost”.
“It is Russia that is isolated, the whole international community is against what happened” in Crimea, Yatseniuk said, urging the “European Union to stand up to Russia with firm sanctions”.
The 39-year-old prime minister, who came to power following months of protests against former President Viktor Yanukovitch, said he hoped his country would ultimately become a "stable and prosperous member of the EU".
Challenged on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that the Ukrainian coalition government was seriously compromised by far-right Ukrainian nationalists, Yatseniuk countered that the real fascist threat was coming from Russia.
"What has happened in Crimea resembles what happened in the 1930s in Germany", Yatseniuk claimed, referring to Nazi expansion into Austria and Czechoslovakia.
Date created : 2014-03-20