Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said Monday that the upheaval in neighboring Ukraine amounts to an “armed mutiny,” markedly stepping up the rhetoric against Ukraine’s new Western-leaning leadership.
The pro-Western opposition effectively deposed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian ally, over the weekend after months of protests, and on Monday interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of “mass murder of peaceful civilians.” The new government has drawn the support of officials in the European Union and the U.S. eager to help steer Ukraine out of Russia’s sphere of influence. On Monday, E.U. foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton arrived in Kiev, the capital, to discuss financial support for the new government. The U.S. Treasury Department also released a statement Monday saying Secretary Jacob J. Lew and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, discussed providing an international assistance package.
Medvedev said the Western countries are wrongly accepting the legitimacy of the new government, BBC reports.
“This is some kind of aberration of perception when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny,” he was quoted as saying by the Russian news agencies. “We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens.”
The Russian foreign ministry recalled its ambassador for consultation on Monday and said that dissenters in Russian-speaking regions faced suppression under the new government.
— with reporting from Zeke J Miller