(Adds quotes, context)
MOSCOW Feb 18 Russia blamed the West on Tuesday
for an escalation of tension in Ukraine, saying European
politicians had encouraged "radical forces" in the former Soviet
republic by failing to condemn their actions.
"The atmosphere has worsened sharply in central Kiev," the
Russian Foreign Ministry said after anti-government protesters
clashed with police, torched vehicles and threw stones in the
worst violence in the Ukrainian capital in three weeks.
"What is happening is the direct result of connivance by
Western politicians and European structures that have shut their
eyes on the aggressive actions of radical forces from the very
beginning of the crisis," it said in a statement.
Russia has repeatedly accused the European Union and the
United States of interfering in Ukraine, where the government's
decision to shelve plans to sign pacts with the EU and improve
ties with Moscow instead sparked huge protests.
The Russian ministry called on the Ukrainian opposition to
"refrain from threats and ultimatums and establish a substantive
dialogue with the authorities with the aim of extricating the
country from deep crisis."
Tuesday's clashes in Kiev broke out after protesters marched
to the parliament building to press opposition leaders' calls
for President Viktor Yanukovich to relinquish what they call his
Russia on Monday said it was giving Ukraine $2 billion, part
of a $15 billion aid package.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Writing by Steve Gutterman Editing
by Jeremy Gaunt)