Russia has denounced alleged lawlessness by far-right activists in eastern Ukraine, in a statement likely to trigger fear in Ukraine over possible Russian intervention.
The Russian foreign ministry said on Monday it was outraged by lawlessness in the country’s east, blaming the far-right group Right Sector for “conniving” with the new government in Kiev.
Right Sector is a grouping of several far-right and nationalist factions who were actively involved in the uprising against Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich.
The movement uses swastika signs, is blamed for various attacks, and according to its leader Dmitro Yarosh, has “enough weapons to defend all of Ukraine.”
Witnesses in eastern Ukraine told Reuters news agency, tensions had been fueled by pro-Russian activists to provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with a justification for invading Ukraine to protect Russians.
Pro-Russia sentiment is at a high and there are fears Russia could seek to incorporate that area as well.
A referendum has been called in Crimea for March 16 on whether the region should split off and seek to become part of Russia.