MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti) – After the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February, Ukraine “has practically slid into a civil war,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Friday.
“After the forceful overthrow of the current president and with the active participation of external forces, the country has practically slid into a civil war,” Shoigu said during an international security conference in Moscow.
Shoigu said that a hot spot of tension has been artificially created in Europe, which has “a negative impact on global security.”
Ukraine underwent a regime change resembling a military coup on February 22. The country’s parliament ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, changed the constitution and scheduled an early presidential election for May 25.
Russian-speaking southeastern regions of Ukraine have refused to recognize the legitimacy of Kiev’s new authorities. The Luhansk and Donetsk regions have been facing violent clashes between government soldiers and protesters following the beginning of a large-scale military operation by the Kiev authorities in mid-April. Both sides have suffered numerous casualties.
The authorities' special operation in the region is still under way even though the Ukrainian parliament approved a so-called memorandum of peace and consent earlier this week, which called on the return of troops stationed in eastern Ukraine to their permanent bases.
The eastern city of Slaviansk is currently surrounded by Ukrainian military personnel, which the Kiev authorities claim is an effort to ensure the conduct of the upcoming presidential election on Sunday. The self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic has declared a general mobilization of men aged 18 to 45, with local military offices overcrowded with people wanting to join the self-defense forces.