MOSCOW (AFP) - Ukraine is on the brink of a civil war that has been inflamed by the West, a top Russian lawmaker who oversees foreign affairs said on Tuesday.
Mr Alexei Pushkov, the head of the lower house's foreign affairs committee, condemned the deadly violence that erupted in Kiev on Tuesday as an attempt to "seize power through chaos and lawlessness" in comments to the Interfax news agency.
"I consider that a significant amount of responsibility for this falls on the West and Western politicians, who are constantly putting pressure on the Ukrainian authorities," Mr Pushkov said.
At least nine people died during clashes between anti-government protesters and police on Tuesday, including seven civilians and two policemen, a police spokesman told Reuters.
Mr Pushkov said Western powers had prevented the authorities from cracking down on "these ultra-radical organisations that are now shooting at police and special forces and are leading the situation to civil war".
"Talking about the need to protect the democratic will of the Ukrainian people and the campaign of pressure on the Ukrainian authorities could well lead to a civil war starting there," he added.
"In fact, it is already present, in embryonic form."
The Russian foreign ministry earlier Tuesday had blamed the policies of Western countries for the clashes.
"What is happening is a direct consequence of the policy of connivance among those Western politicians and European agencies that have been shutting their eyes to the aggressive actions of Ukraine's radical forces," the ministry said in a statement.