Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Putin Accuses the West of Backing Coup in Ukraine ; Russian Leader Says Moscow Reserves the Right to Use Military Action to Protect Its Citizens.

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Putin Accuses the West of Backing Coup in Ukraine ; Russian Leader Says Moscow Reserves the Right to Use Military Action to Protect Its Citizens.

Article excerpt

ACCUSING the West of encouraging an "unconstitutional coup" in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow reserves the right to use its military to protect Russians there but voiced hope it will not need to do so.

The Russian leader's first comments on Ukraine since its fugitive president fled to Russia came as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev to meet with Ukraine's new government.

Mr Putin declared that Western actions were driving Ukraine into anarchy and warned that any sanctions the West places on Russia for its actions there will backfire.

Both the US and the 28-nation European Union have raised the possibility of sanctions against Russia.

The US has announced a one billion US dollar (Pounds 599 million) aid package in energy subsidies to Ukraine, which is scrambling to get international loans to fend off looming bankruptcy.

Its finance minister, who has said Ukraine needs 35 billion dollars (Pounds 21 billion) to get through this year and next, is meeting officials from the International Monetary Fund. Tensions remain high in Crimea, with troops loyal to Moscow firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. Russia took over the strategic peninsula on Saturday, placing its troops around the peninsula's ferry, military bases and border posts.

Two Ukrainian warships remained anchored in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, blocked from leaving by Russian ships.

The new Ukrainian leadership in Kiev, which Mr Putin does not recognise, has accused Moscow of a military invasion in Crimea.

Yet world markets seemed to recover from their fright over the situation in Ukraine, clawing back a large chunk of yesterday's stock losses, while oil, gold, wheat and the Japanese yen gave back some of their gains.

"Confidence in equity markets has been restored as the standoff between Ukraine and Russia is no longer on red alert," David Madden, market analyst at IG, said. …

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