Russia Wants World War Three, Says Ukraine

Tensions mount amid escalating rhetoric and unconfirmed reports that a Ukrainian military helicopter has been hit by a grenade.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has accused Russia of wanting to start “a third world war”.

Mr Yatseniuk said that Russia wanted to occupy Ukraine “militarily and politically”, creating a conflict that would spread to the rest of Europe.

“The world has not yet forgotten World War Two, but Russia already wants to start World War Three,” he said.

His comments came as Barack Obama said he would consult key European leaders later on the possibility of imposing new sanctions against Russia.

Pro-Russian separatist militants fill sand bags to reinforce a checkpoint in Slavyansk, Ukraine.
A pro-Russian separatist fills sand bags at a checkpoint in Slavyansk

Speaking in Seoul, Mr Obama said he wanted to coordinate a united approach with Western US allies.

On the ground, Ukrainian special forces launched a second phase of their “anti-terrorism” operation in the east of the country on Friday.

They mounted a full blockade of the rebel-held city of Slavyansk, an official on the presidential staff said.

Reports that pro-Russian snipers had shot at a Ukranian military helicopter in the eastern town of Kramatorsk have been treated cautiously.

According to officials in Kiev, the helicopter exploded at a military base after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Obama in South Korea
Barack Obama will consult European leaders about new sanctions

Its pilot managed to escape but was wounded, the official said. Kramatorsk is one of several under the control of pro-Kremlin gunmen.

Sky’s foreign affairs editor, Sam Kiley, in Ukraine, said that the “bellicose” rhetoric between Russia and Ukraine was escalating more quickly than action on the ground.

“On the ground, there are incidents, but the level of violence has been relatively low and does not justify the type of rhetoric we have heard,” Kiley said.

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia of “deception” and “destabilisation” in Ukraine and hinted at more sanctions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement on Ukraine from the State Department press briefing room in Washington.
John Kerry has warned Russia of ‘grave’ consequences

Mr Kerry warned Moscow time was running out for it to change course.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia face a choice,” he said in unusually blunt language.

“If Russia chooses the path of de-escalation … all of us will welcome it. But if Russia does not, the world will make sure that the costs for Russia will only grow.”

Mr Kerry added this would be a “grave” and “expensive mistake”.

He also said the Kremlin has not honoured an agreement aimed at defusing the crisis, echoing earlier comments by Mr Obama.

A checkpoint set on fire and left by pro-Russian separatists is seen near Slaviansk
A checkpoint apparently set on fire by pro-Russian separatists

The Geneva accord between Russia, Ukraine, the US and EU compelled armed groups to put down their weapons and vacate official buildings.

The US says Moscow is stoking unrest and separatist sentiment in the east of Ukraine after its annexation of Crimea.

Russia accuses Washington of encouraging a pro-Western government to adopt anti-Russian policies.

On Thursday, Ukraine’s interior ministry said up to five “terrorists” had been killed during an operation to clear checkpoints in the eastern town of Slavyansk.

And seven people were injured overnight at a pro-Ukrainian checkpoint near the Black Sea port of Odessa when an explosive device blew up, police said.

A woman bandages the head of a pro-Russian activist injured outside the Mariupol town hall, East Ukraine.
A pro-Russian actvist has his head bandaged

Residents in the town have built several such checkpoints aimed at stopping pro-Russian separatists entering from Moldova’s breakaway territory of Transdniestria.

Interfax news agency quoted witnesses as saying a bomb was thrown at the checkpoint from a passing car, though this was not confirmed by police.

Mr Putin has said there will be “consequences” if Kiev has used its army against the activists.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has warned the crisis is threatening to “spin out of control” and urged all sides to “refrain from violence”



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