Russian President Vladimir Putin says the crisis in Ukraine has evolved into a full-scale civil war, blaming the situation on Washington’s backing for the overthrow of former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Putin’s remarks came on Friday during an economic forum in the western Russian city of Saint Petersburg.
“The Ukrainian crisis arose because Yanukovych postponed the association agreement with the European Union,” said Putin, adding, “This was followed by a coup backed by [the US], and as a result there is…full-scale civil war.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West of triggering the crisis in Ukraine by its “megalomania.”
Lavrov said the West should reach a resolution based on mutual interests and end zero-sum games if it sincerely seeks to help the Ukrainian people.
The Ukrainian crisis erupted last November when Yanukovych refrained from signing an association agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.
The refusal triggered months of unrest and clashes with the police, which finally led to the ouster of Yanukovych on February 23. He then travelled to Russia, where he was given sanctuary.
In the meantime, pro-Russia protests gained momentum in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine after Crimea declared independence from Kiev and formally became part of the Russian Federation following a referendum in March.
Ukraine has experienced a fresh wave of unrest since Kiev’s interim government launched military operations in mid-April in the country’s southeastern regions in a bid to root out pro-Russia demonstrations.