Ukraine says it has repelled “Russian invasion” and has retaken territory seized by Russians earlier. An official has said that Ukraine repelled a combination of Russian soldiers and pro-Kremlin militias- the country continues to appeal to the West for protection against Russia.
By Germain Moyon (AFP) – 37 minutes ago
Rostov-on-Don — Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovych insisted Friday he had not been overthrown as he defiantly surfaced in Russia from a week in hiding and savaged the new pro-Western powers in Kiev.
The deposed pro-Kremlin leader spoke as a new crisis erupted over what the pro-EU interim authorities branded as an “armed invasion” of Ukraine’s volatile Crimean peninsula by Russian troops.
The untested new team — made up in part of leaders of the protests that gripped Kiev for three months — is grappling not only with separatism fears but also the risk of a devastating debt default.
But IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Friday there was no need to panic while US Secretary of State John Kerry said he had been assured by Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that Moscow was still willing to help its neighbour despite Yanukovych’s ouster.
Yanukovych dramatically ended six days of guesswork about his whereabouts by walking out on stage before about 200 reporters in Rostov-on-Don — an industrial city less than two hours’ drive from the border with Ukraine.
The 63-year-old — sitting confidently in a pressed suit with a dark blue tie in front of three Ukrainian flags — said he had been shot at with automatic fire in Kiev and left because of threats to his life.
He vowed to continue to fight for Ukraine’s future while boycotting a snap presidential poll the new Western-backed leadership has set for May 25.
“I have not been overthrown by anyone, I was compelled to leave Ukraine due to an immediate threat to my life and the lives of those close to me,” he said.
“I intend to continue the fight for the future of Ukraine against those who try to saddle it with fear and terror.”
He called the new leadership “young neo-fascists” and blamed the “irresponsible policies” of the West for the crisis but said he planned to return.
Yanukovych also revealed he had spoken by phone with — but had not met — Russian President Vladimir Putin and expressed surprise that his ally had not yet spoken out on Ukraine since his flight.
The Kremlin issued a brief statement after Yanukovych’s comments saying Putin had stressed in phone talks with EU leaders “the extreme importance of not allowing a further escalation of violence” in Ukraine.
But US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki once again stressed that Washington believed “Yanukovych has lost legitimacy as he abdicated his responsibilities. He left Kiev.”
The ex-Soviet country’s bloodiest crisis since its 1991 independence erupted in November when Yanukovych rejected an historic deal that would have opened Ukraine’s door to eventual EU membership in favour of tighter ties with old master Russia.
– ‘Naked aggression’ –
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