UK Politics

Ukraine crisis: William Hague warns of 'many dangers'

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Media captionUK Foreign Secretary William Hague: 'Still many dangers facing Ukraine'

Unrest in Ukraine poses "many dangers", but there is an opportunity to unite a "very divided country", UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

He told the BBC that Russia's reaction was still "uncertain", adding that he would hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators remain in the centre of Ukrainian capital Kiev.

Opposing sides must form a "government of national unity", Mr Hague said.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian parliament voted to dismiss President Viktor Yanukovych in what he described as a coup.

His whereabouts are unknown. Oleksandr Turchynov, who has been appointed interim president, told MPs they had until Tuesday to form a unity government.

Meanwhile, freed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has said she has no interest in doing the job again.

The health ministry says 88 people, mostly protesters, are known to have been killed since 18 February in demonstrations against Mr Yanukovych's government.


Mr Hague told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show the situation remained "desperately difficult".

But he also said: "There's an opportunity now in Ukraine, after those terrible scenes and the horrific bloodshed of a few days ago."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protesters are still camped out in central Kiev following the disappearance of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych

He added: "There are many dangers but it's urgent that they get on to form that inclusive government, a government of national unity in effect.

"It's urgent that they confirm their constitutional arrangements for elections coming up which they have declared for May.

"It's really urgent that they and we get on with improving their economic situation."

Mr Hague said: "There are still many dangers. The political situation even among the opposition is still very complicated. It's clearly been a very divided country."

The foreign secretary revealed that he would be holding a telephone conversation with Mr Lavrov on Monday, saying: "It's very important to try to persuade Russia that this need not be a zero-sum game."

The protests broke out after President Yanukovych's government rejected an accord with the European Union in favour of stronger ties with Russia.

Mr Hague said: "It's in the interests of the people of Ukraine and Russia to trade with the European Union."

He added: "It's important that Russia doesn't do anything to undermine that package... We don't know, of course, what Russia's reaction will be."

Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Simon Hughes said the West had to act delicately when dealing with the situation in Ukraine.

He said: "We really need to make sure they have our support but recognising that just dragging them into the West is not something that we can arrogantly assume will happen either."

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