World Bulletin/News Desk
"The world has not yet forgotten World War Two, but Russia already wants to start World War Three," Yatseniuk told the interim cabinet in remarks broadcast live. "Attempts at military conflict in Ukraine will lead to a military conflict in Europe."
In some of the strongest language he has yet used in a war of words between the former Soviet neighbours, as both sides have deployed troops close to their frontier, Yatseniuk accused Moscow of acting like a "gangster" supporting "terrorists".
Yatseniuk took office in February after pro-European protests prompted the Kremlin-backed president to flee to Russia.
Ukraine plans to hold an election to replace Viktor Yanukovich on May 25, but the Russian-speaking east of the country has been disrupted by pro-Moscow militants who have taken over the city of Slaviansk and public buildings elsewhere, demanding to follow Crimea into being annexed by Russia.
Russia denies involvement but has denounced the Ukrainian government, which it says is illegitimate and backed by "fascist" Ukrainian nationalists, and has threatened to move in to protect ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine.
Yatseniuk called on Moscow to fulfil obligations to persuade activists in eastern Ukraine to lay down arms under a four-way agreement signed last week in Geneva by the two governments, as well as Ukraine's U.S. and EU allies.
"Russia's support for terrorists and bandits who torture peaceful citizens is an international crime. It is a crime against humanity," added the prime minister.
Ukraine's state security service has accused Russian military intelligence officers in Ukraine, and the separatist leader in Slaviansk, of involvement in the torture and murder of a local councillor from Yatseniuk's Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party.
The prime minister said Kiev was still waiting for a response to an official request for details of Russian military exercises on the border. It made the request through mechanisms of Europe's OSCE security body and set a deadline of Saturday.
The defence minister, quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency, said Russian troops on manoeuvres had come within one kilometre (1,100 yards) of the border but had not crossed.
Yatseniuk said: "If the United States, the European Union and the entire international community continues to be united and act together to compel Russia to fulful its obligations, then we will maintain the peace, stability and international security system that Russia wants to destroy."
OPERATIONS TO CONTINUE
Ukraine is pressing on with its operation against pro-Russian rebels in the east and has ample military resources to keep up the offensive round the clock, the interior minister said on Friday.
Arsen Avakov dismissed talk that Kiev suspended its "anti-terrorist operation" (ATO) in the face of threats from Moscow after Ukrainian troops closed in on the rebel stronghold.
"There has been no suspension of the ATO in connection to the threat of invasion by Russia's armed forces," he wrote on his Facebook page. "The ATO goes on. The terrorists should be on their guard around the clock. Civilians have nothing to fear."
Denying suggestions that Kiev's forces are stretched, he also stressed that care was being taken to avoid non-combatant casualties, after Moscow warned it may act to protect civilians.
"Contrary to the rumours, only insignificant forces from the ATC were deployed, without the use of tanks or other heavy armour," Avakov wrote on his Facebook page, referring to an Anti-Terrorism Centre involving the army and other agencies.
"The ATC has sufficient forces at its disposal to rotate them and operate round the clock if necessary."Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2014, 13:03