U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned on Sunday that it “would be a grave mistake” if Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened militarily in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Rice was among U.S. leaders saying they want to see a unity coalition government in the country after President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev, the capital, and a unanimous vote in Parliament removed him from power.
“The United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people,” Rice said. The people expressed themselves peacefully, she said, and Yanukovych “turned on” the people by using violence against them.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said there must be focus on forming a unity government. “Yanukovych needs to step aside, and I will say this: Now that the Olympics are over, we need to watch the behavior of the Russians,” she said.
Obama “needs to up his game and send a clear, unequivocal, public message to Putin not to interfere in what is happening in Ukraine,” Ayotte said, “to let the Ukrainian people determine their future, to ensure that there is no interference in their sovereignty.”
Will all this tension break into a third World War?
Parliament in Ukraine has named its speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, as interim president.
Turchynov takes charge following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday (read more of this here) . Mr Turchynov told MPs they had until Tuesday to form a new unity government.
Parliament also voted to seize Mr Yanukovych’s luxury estate near Kiev, which protesters entered on Saturday.
The whereabouts of Mr Yanukovych, who described parliament’s decision to vote him out as a coup, remain unclear.
Thousands of opposition supporters remain in Independence Square, where the atmosphere is described as calm, after weeks of violent clashes ending in the death of dozens.
Venezuela said Monday that three U.S. diplomats have 48 hours to leave the country, accusing them of conspiring against its government.
The State Department fired back, calling that claim “baseless and false” and saying the United States had not yet received any formal notification of the officials’ expulsion. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua accused the U.S. officials of using a visa program as a cover to meet with youth organizers at private universities “for training, financing and creating youth organizations through which violence is promoted in Venezuela”.
The expulsion, which President Nicolas Maduro first announced Sunday, comes after the State Department expressed concerns about rising tensions in Venezuela.
Three anti-government protesters died in clashes last week in Caracas, and authorities have issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopold Lopez on charges including conspiracy and murder in connection with the violence.
Three people have been killed by bombs and mortar fire near the Syrian capital Damascus.
Two bombs exploded near the capital’s famous Hamidiyeh market., another seven people were wounded.
Also on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss a planned peace conference.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group, said it had also seen “initial reports” of Thursday’s deaths in Damascus.
Central Damascus has experienced increasing violence recently as clashes between government forces and rebels in its suburbs continue.
On Monday the driver of a school bus and four children died when a mortar hit the bus in Damascus’s Old City.
Last week eight people were killed and 50 wounded in the central Hijaz Square, the state-run news agency Sana reported.
The UN says more than 100,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011. More than 2.2 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries while an estimated 4.25 million have been displaced internally.
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