Ukraine ready for talks with Russia, condemns referendum
Ukraine is ready for talks with Russia, but Moscow must first withdraw its troops, abide by international agreements and halt its support for "separatists and terrorists", Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Thursday.
He said he had requested a second telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The two premiers spoke on Saturday, the only high level contact between the countries since the crisis began, Reuters reported.
"We have declared our readiness to hold talks with the Russian government," he said. He listed a number of conditions, including withdrawing troops and "halting support for the separatists and terrorists in Crimea".
Crimea's pro-Moscow leadership, which took power when Russian troops seized the region last week, announced on Thursday its parliament had voted to join Russia immediately and hold a referendum on the issue on March 16.
"No one in the civilized world will recognize the results of a so-called referendum carried out by these so-called authorities," Yatseniuk said, calling the plans illegal and unconstitutional.
As a result of protests in Ukraine, the country's President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted on Feb. 22. The Verkhovna Rada (parliament) has approved the new composition of the parliament and is preparing to hold pre-term elections.
On Feb. 26 several thousand people participating in two rallies gathered in front of Supreme Council of Crimea. After the escalation of the protest actions in Crimea, the Federation Council supported President Vladimir Putin's appeal regarding the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine pending "the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country".
Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the U.S., as well as chairman of the European Council and the chairman of the European Commission made a joint statement condemning Russia's position on Ukraine and canceled the preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi, scheduled for June 2014.