December 19, 2014
West offers treatment to Ukrainian injured activist
Western governments pressed Ukraine's president to compromise with protesters camped on the streets, prompting a war of words with Russia and offering treatment to an opposition activist who says he was tortured.
At an annual security conference in Munich, founded at the height of the Cold War, Ukrainian opposition leaders met US Secretary of State John Kerry and European officials and the Russian foreign minister accused Western powers of fomenting protests against President Viktor Yanukovich.
Sergei Lavrov said the West had "imposed" on Ukraine to cooperate with its NATO defence alliance, while Kerry said the Ukrainian protesters believed "their futures do not have to lie with one country alone - and certainly not coerced".
Opposition leaders said they felt "huge support" after European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said closer ties to the EU were still on offer to Kiev and Kerry assured them that Washington and the EU "stand with the people of Ukraine" in "the fight for a democratic, European future".
The resignation in the past week of the prime minister and withdrawal of new laws curbing rights to protest have failed to appease demonstrators occupying public buildings and streets in Kiev and other cities who want Yanukovich out after he spurned a trade deal with the EU in November and sought Russian aid.
Reflecting fears that one of Europe's biggest countries may be lurching toward a civil war that could set Moscow against the West and destabilise the continent, Germany's foreign minister warned: "When the fuse on the powder-keg is already lit, playing for time is highly dangerous."
Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged Yanukovich to make good on a pledge to seek consensus. "Only then is there a realistic chance of a political solution to the confrontation," he added.