Moscow: Russia is calling its ambassador to Ukraine back to Moscow for "consultations", the foreign ministry has said on Monday, after tumult in Kiev led to pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych being toppled and replaced with a pro-EU leadership from the opposition.
"Due to the escalation of the situation in Ukraine and the necessity of analysing the existing situation from all sides, a decision has been made to recall the Russian Ambassador to Ukraine (Mikhail) Zurabov to Moscow for consultations," the foreign ministry said in a statement late yesterday.
Three months of protests in central Kiev led to carnage and nearly 100 dead last week after clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators. The crisis also led to President Viktor Yanukovych`s flight from the capital and parliament voting to call new elections on May 25.
The political crisis in Ukraine also triggered a tug of war over Russia`s neighbour between Moscow and the West, with Moscow accusing Western diplomats of meddling and encouraging unrest, and calling protesters extremists and even "neo-Nazis".
The protests started in November as rallies against Yanukovych`s decision to back out of an Association Agreement with the European Union and opt for closer relations with Russia, but evolved into a broad movement against his rule.
Western officials gave cautious but vital backing to the changes in Ukraine, but Russia warned that a bailout loan agreed with Yanukovych and desperately needed for the country`s empty coffers was on hold.
Russia`s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday told US Secretary of State John Kerry that the opposition in Ukraine had "de-facto seized power, is refusing to lay down weapons and continues to rely on violence".