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White House Hails Tymoshenko Release, Russia Warns Against 'Extremists'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) has urged the opposition to fulfill its part in a deal concluded with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (left) on February 21.
The United States says that developments in Ukraine on February 22 could help "a de-escalation of violence, constitutional change, a coalition government, and early elections."

In a statement, the White House welcomed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's release from prison. It also said the United States will work with its allies and Russia to support a "strong, prosperous, unified, and democratic Ukraine."

Earlier, Russia had warned that "extremists" in Ukraine are posing a threat to the country's sovereignty.

In a statement issued on February 22, Russia's Foreign Ministry said the opposition has failed to fulfill its side of a deal intended to end the country's political crisis.

It said the opposition is "pushing new demands, submitting itself to armed extremists and looters whose actions pose a direct threat to the sovereignty and constitutional order of Ukraine."

The ministry said that this was the message Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov conveyed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The ministry also said Lavrov urged his French, German, and Polish counterparts to exercise their influence with the opposition to ensure the "restraining of rampaging hooligans."

The three EU ministers helped broker an agreement between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition on February 21.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged both sides to "begin building a relationship of trust."

He said the priority now was for both parties to hold talks on forming a stable government acceptable to all sides.

Laurent Fabius of France called on the two camps "to refrain from violence.”

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski took to Twitter to deny allegations that the events in Kyiv amounted to a coup.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement that he is in close touch with European Union partners over the "extraordinary developments" in Ukraine.

"We will work closely with our EU partners in support of a new government in Ukraine, as and when that is formed,” the statement read.

In a tweet, Hague also said he had agreed with his German counterpart to push for a "vital" International Monetary Fund financial package for debt-laden Ukraine.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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