Putin meets Russia's Security Council members to discuss Ukraine crisis
Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other high-ranking officials.
The conference was also attended by Federation Council Chair Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin, presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, his deputy Rashid Nurgaliyev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) chief Mikhail Fradkov, and Security Council permanent member Boris Gryzlov.
"The situation in Ukraine was discussed at the conference," Peskov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has held telephone conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the Kremlin press service said. "The sides voiced their extreme concern over the sharp escalation of the armed confrontation in Ukraine that happened through the fault of the opposition's radical wing," it said.
"Putin emphasized that it is imperative to immediately stop the bloodshed and take urgent measures to stabilize the situation and suppress any extremist and terrorist sorties," the press service said.
"The Russian president informed Merkel and Cameron that Russia's Commissioner for Human Rights Vladimir Lukin was heading to Kiev for the purposes of mediation," it said.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin sends Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to Kiev, as a mediator in negotiations with the opposition, at the request of President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, Press-Secretary of the Russian leader, Dmitry Peskov, said.
"A telephone conversation between President Putin and President Yanukovych was carried out on the initiative of the Ukrainian side, during which the President of Ukraine suggested that the head of the Russian state should send a Russian representative to Kiev to participate in the negotiation process with the opposition as a mediator," Peskov said.
The Russian leader's Press Secretary said that "Putin has made the decision to send Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin on this mission".
It is known, that Vladimir Petrovich (Lukin) has an abundance of experience in diplomatic service, and a considerable reputation among human rights defenders; he has headed a major opposition party," Peskov reminded.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned Western threats of sanctions against Ukraine as blackmail and double-standard approach.
The foreign minister is on a working trip in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. He said at a press conference that Ukraine's opposition couldn't or simply wouldn't "dissociate itself from extremist forces."
"The possibility of sanctions is nothing but an attempt at bullying," Lavrov said during a news conference in Baghdad, in remarks translated from Russian into Arabic.
Mr. Lavrov accused the United States of double standards as it piled all the blame on the Ukrainian government.
"The EU is mulling sanctions while paying uncalled-for visits to Ukraine," he added. "This behaviour looks like blackmail [to me]."
Ukraine and the West should stay apart from radicals, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, said. "Russia thinks that Ukraine opposition as well as western countries should stay apart from extremists and other radicals," said Lavrov during the press-conference in Bagdad on Thursday. This Tuesday, mass disorders escalated in Kiev again.
During the Verkhovna Rada meeting, the opposition insisted on return of the parliamentary-presidential form of government and on putting the Constitution of 2004 in force again.
Aggressive protestors wanted to approach the building of Ukrainian Parliament, they seized the buildings in the center of Kiev, burned tire-covers, threw stones and Molotov cocktails in the law enforcers. According to the police, the radicals use fire arms.
The demand to hold early elections in Ukraine is aimed at forcing Ukraine to choose Europe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"You probably heard more than once that the capitals of Western European countries have demanded that the people of Ukraine should be given the freedom to choose, and they added that the choice should be in favor of the European Union," Lavrov told a press conference in Baghdad.
"Their purpose in the current initiatives is to essentially force this choice is evident to the Ukrainian administration: the demand to hold parliamentary and early presidential elections as soon as possible and to form a coalition government. That is, they are trying to decide everything for them," Lavrov said.
The West is incorrectly interpreting the extremists' actions in Ukraine and threatening Kiev with sanctions instead, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"Our Western partners in Europe and the U.S. are laying all the blame on the country's authorities and fail to properly qualify the extremists' actions," Lavrov said at a press conference in Baghdad.
"We are really concerned about this, because double standards are obvious here, and instead they are threatening [the government] with sanctions, and not only threatening, but the Americans have already imposed them, thereby encouraging the opposition to dismiss any compromises," he added.
The Western mainstream media are distorting the situation in Ukraine, Russia's foreign chief Sergei Lavrov has said.
Speaking at a press conference in Baghdad, Lavrov accused Western media of giving biased coverage on the Ukrainian political crisis.
The latest accounts estimate the number of casualties at 35 following clashes that have been erupting across the country. Over 500 have been injured in Kiev alone.
Moscow has accused extremist and opposition of pushing the country towards the edge, adding that the rhetoric of foreign officials was inciting radicalism and contributing to unrest.
Voice of Russia, RIA, Interfax