“We have to tell the Ukrainians the truth: the Russian Federation is waging a real war against Ukraine in the east, in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in particular,” she said.
She called on the West to “recognize Russia’s aggression against eastern Ukraine as a war.”
Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema also accused Russia of sending its troops to Ukraine, saying Kiev has “evidence that those people are occupying Slovyansk and Kramatorsk right now are servicemen of the Russian 45th Airborne Regiment.”
Ukraine’s security services also identified one of the leaders of the pro-Russian operation in Slovyansk as a Russian foreign intelligence agent named Igor Strelkov, who it said also coordinated Russian seizures of military facilities in Crimea.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, dismissed all those claims as absurd.
Russia strongly warned Kiev against using force against the pro-Russian protesters, saying that could prompt Moscow to walk out of Thursday’s international conference on Ukraine in Geneva.
“You can’t send in tanks and at the same time hold talks. The use of force would sabotage the opportunity offered by the four-party negotiations in Geneva,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
The events in Ukraine helped pushed global stock markets down as investors worried that the West might scale up sanctions against Russia. The DAX index in Germany, which has strong trade ties with Russia and imports a third of its gas from the country, fell 1.8 percent while Moscow’s MICEX slumped 2.5 percent.
Ukraine’s currency, which last week hit a record low against the dollar, was stabilized after the central bank hiked interest rates.