Ukraine could lose its statehood if the former Soviet republic continues to be divided by competing interests, Russia’s top security official has said.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s security council, accused Ukrainian authorities, including president Petro Poroshenko, of being “controlled” by the US amid simmering tensions between Kiev and Moscow.
He continued: “The Kiev authorities are doing everything to split Ukraine, implementing the West’s scenario to break Ukraine away from Russia, while ignoring the interests of its own people,”
Mr Patrushev’s comments come amid a crisis between the two countries following Russia’s 2014 invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea, an autonomous region in Ukraine’s southeast with close historical and cultural ties to Russia.
The standoff moved a step closer towards open conflict last year when three Ukrainian vessels and 24 Ukrainian sailors were fired at and captured by Russian coast guards in the Black Sea in November.
The US has provided more than $1bn to Kiev to help enhance its defensive military capabilities, and last year their militaries co-hosted a major exercise involving US Navy warships and hundreds of sailors and Marines.
“In southern and eastern regions, Kiev’s power is ensured, to a large extent, at the expense of moral and physical pressure exerted on the local population by radical nationalists.
"Because of that, anti-government sentiment in the aforementioned regions is mounting, with the public rift exacerbated by the inter-church standoff," he concluded, in reference to Ukraine’s forming of its own Orthodox Church.
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