Russia on Monday accused far-right activists in Ukraine and the pro-Western Kyiv government of creating "chaos" in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, as pro-Russian forces continued seizing Ukrainian military bases in the Crimean peninsula.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement, which singled out the far-right Ukrainian group "Right Sector," also accused Western governments of ignoring the violence. The statement came as the Ukrainian Defense Department said armed men in uniforms surrounded and seized a Crimean naval base at Chernomorskoye, and a military hospital in Simferopol.
The New York Times said police interrupted an interview with a local man in Chernomorskoye, threatening its reporters and seizing their notes.
Ukrainian interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk meets Wednesday at the White House with President Barack Obama. A White House statement Monday said the visit will highlight the strong support of the United States for the people of Ukraine, and will include talks on economic aid and preparations for May elections in Ukraine.
The U.S. State Department Monday called on Russia to show evidence it is ready to engage on U.S. diplomatic proposals to end the Ukraine crisis. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki also said it is possible that Secretary of State John Kerry could meet this week with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, if he is convinced that Moscow is prepared to hold substantive talks.
For his part, Lavrov, speaking on Russian television, complained that the U.S. proposals amounted to "moving forward on the basis of a situation born out of a state coup." Moscow has consistently described the ouster of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych as the illegal overthrow of a legitimate head of state.
Russian news agencies say Mr. Yanukovych is expected on Tuesday to make his second public appearance since fleeing Kyiv last month as anti-government protesters laid siege to the capital.
In Kyiv Monday, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt also reiterated that Washington will not recognize the results of a Crimean referendum set for Sunday on whether residents of the peninsula will join Russia or remain a part of Ukraine with greater autonomy.
Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told VOA the annexation will "isolate Russia from the rest of the world for years to come, maybe even decades to come." He said "Even the Chinese are not supporting Russia in this act - nobody thinks this act is legitimate."