Ukraine PM cancels appearance at Hague summit for IMF talks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 March, 2014, 8:56pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 March, 2014, 8:56pm

Ukraine’s interim premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on Sunday he has cancelled plans to attend a major summit in the Netherlands next week to hold talks with an IMF delegation in Kiev.

“I have cancelled my trip to The Hague (to)... continue negotiations to complete a programme with the IMF,” Yatsenyuk told a cabinet meeting a day after opening talks with a visiting mission of the International Monetary Fund.

Yatsenyuk had been scheduled to meet with the Group of Seven most industrialised nations in The Hague on Monday ahead of a nuclear summit to be attended by world leaders the next day.

It came as Crimea’s rebel leader urged Russians across Ukraine on Sunday to rise up against Kiev’s rule and welcome Kremlin forces whose unrelenting march against his flashpoint peninsula has defied Western outrage.

The call came amid growing anxiety among Kiev’s Western-backed rulers that Russian President Vladimir Putin - flushed with expansionist fervour - will imminently order an all-out attack on his ex-Soviet neighbour after being hit by only limited EU and US sanctions for taking the Black Sea cape.

“The aim of Putin is not Crimea but all of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council chief Andriy Parubiy told a mass unity rally in Kiev.

“His troops massed at the border are ready to attack at any moment,” he said a day after Russian forces used armoured personnel carriers and stun grenades to capture Ukraine’s main Crimean airbase.

The takeover came as the chill in East-West ties grew stiffer with a charge by Germany - a nation whose friendship Putin had nurtured - of a Kremlin attempt to “splinter” Europe along Cold War-era lines.

Europe’s most explosive security crisis in decades will now dominate a nuclear security summit opening in The Hague on Monday that will include what may prove the most difficult meeting to date between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The encounter comes with Russia facing the loss of its coveted seat among the G8 group of leading nations and Putin’s inner circle reeling from sanctions Washington unleashed for their use of force in Crimea in response to last month’s fall of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin regime.