Efforts to resolve Ukraine crisis continue

Western leaders return to Kiev this week to talk to rival political factions and find a way to end the stalemate.

    Western politicians are returning to Ukraine this week to resolve the political crisis that has gripped the country for months, with the US saying it is in preliminary discussions to provide financial aid to the protest-hit country.

    According to the news agency AFP, the European Union's head of foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, is in Kiev to meet with the government and the opposition to try to resolve the stalemate between the two sides. 

    US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, is also travelling to the Ukrainian capital this week.

    Let me be clear, this is at a very preliminary stage. We are consulting with the EU... and other partners about the support Ukraine may need after a new technical government is formed.

    Jen Psaki, US State Department spokesman

    In Washington a US State Department spokesman said on Monday that the US was in "preliminary" talks about putting together a financial aid package for Ukraine.

    Jen Psaki said: "Let me be clear, this is at a very preliminary stage. We are consulting with the EU ... and other partners about the support Ukraine may need after a new technical government is formed."

    Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk has asked for $20bn, a similar sized package to the one promised by Russia that is now on hold.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich, who joined office on Monday after a brief illness, criticised mass protests against his government as "extremism".

    Yanukovich criticised the anti-government movement as "radicalism and incitement to hatred behind which there is a struggle for power".

    The renewed attempts to resolve the crisis come as disagreement and confusion emerged among activists about the way forward.

    Some anti-government activists have agreed with the police to demolish a major barricade and end their two-month occupation of City Hall in exchange for the amnesty of all arrested protesters.

    According to a report published on the Korrespondent news website on Monday, Andrei Paruby, from the opposition Batkivshchyna party, and representatives from other activist groups met Aleksand Yakimenko, the head of Security Service of Ukraine, and Viktor Dubovik, the first deputy of minister of internal affairs, on Friday.

    Roman Dashavets, an anti-government activist, told Al Jazeera's Tamila Varshalomidze: "It is true that negotiations took place and the decision was made to demolish barricades on Grushevskogo, restore traffic movement and vacate the Town Hall building."

    Dashavets said he was not present at the talks, but he talked to those who were. "According to the deal, the jailed activists should first be freed and then our side will do their part. But I think something will go wrong, one side is bound to make some step that will make this impossible."

    But other activists disgreed with the decision to cooperate with security forces.

    "It's not possible. If we demolish the barricade, people will be left without any protection. They will be out on a flat spot ready to be dispersed," Dima Krizskiy, who leads a group of activists, said.

    "If we go through with this, it would mean the protests are over."

    Krizskiy said his group of activists did not recognise the authority of opposition leaders such as Paruby and Vitaly Klitschko.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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