Russian and Ukrainian media take opposing views of standoff

Pro-Russian protesters burn tires as they prepare for battle with the Berkut (Ukrainian special police forces) on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 13, 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kiev and the US have accused Russia of being behind the insurrection; Moscow denies this

With tension continuing to mount over the occupation of government buildings in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian militants, the media in Ukraine and Russia offer completely different perspectives.

Most Ukrainian media outlets voice dismay at what they see as their country's powerlessness to control the situation, and speculate what Moscow's next move could be.

The Russian media are practically unanimous in portraying Kiev as the aggressive party, accusing it of preparing to wage civil war on pro-Russian and pro-federalisation activists in the east.

'No chance'

The private Ukrainian TV channel One Plus One says there is "practically no chance" that the pro-Russian gunmen will heed the call from interim Ukrainian president Olexander Turchynov for them to lay down their arms.

Image caption Ukrainian papers fear the east is already lost

The Kiev-based press is also pessimistic over the likelihood of a satisfactory outcome, with several front-page headlines reflecting the view that the loss of Ukraine's eastern regions to Russia is practically a fait accompli.

The business weekly Delovaya Stolitsa declares: "We have already lost Donetsk Region. What's next?".

Vecherniye Vesti runs a front-page report headlined "Farewell to Sloviansk" - a reference to the eastern town seized by pro-Russian gunmen two days ago.

In a front-page report headlined "Battle for the east", the popular daily Segodnya accuses Russia of getting ready to send troops into the Donetsk region.

The Ukrainian news website notes that the east of the country "exploded over the weekend" and that it is now hard to say just who is in control there.

Several media outlets cast doubt on the loyalty of security forces in the region.

Vecherniye Vesti says that law-enforcers are doing "little to counter" the threat to the Ukrainian state being implemented in Donetsk, while a Facebook post by the military analyst Dmytro Tymchuk says that the police in Donetsk are almost entirely on the side of pro-Russian forces.

"There's total sabotage and betrayal," Tymchuk writes.

'Red hot'

Russian TV channels focus mainly on the ultimatum issued by Kiev and on a statement made by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Sunday, in which the ousted pro-Russian leader warns that the country is "on the verge of a civil war".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Russia has warned Kiev not to use violence against the pro-Russian activists

State-controlled Channel One TV says that "Kiev is willing to unleash a real civil war".

The official state TV channel Rossiya 1 describes the situation in south-eastern Ukraine as "red hot".

It says that the Ukrainian government is guilty of "acts of provocation" and that "self-defence" units are being set up to counter Kiev's "aggression".

Meanwhile, Gazprom-owned NTV called on its viewers to "stop looking for Moscow's hand in the Ukraine crisis".

Events in Ukraine were also a dominant topic in Rossiya 1's flagship Sunday current affairs programme, Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week).

The programme's strongly pro-Kremlin anchor Dmitry Kiselev said the Kiev government already had "blood on its hands", and that radical Ukrainian nationalists were to blame for bringing the country to the brink of civil war.

Russian newspaper headlines highlight the same theme.

The popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda declares on its front page that "civil war has started in Ukraine".

Another popular tabloid, Tvoy Den, speaks of "bloody slaughter" in the "peaceful town" of Sloviansk.

Daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets says the "first blood" has been shed in what it describes as the "Russian Spring".

And centrist daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that as fire breaks out in eastern Ukraine, Kiev "looks for arsonists in Russia".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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