UK

Ukraine Crisis: Russia Wants To Start World War III, Says Ukraine PM Arseny Yatseniuk

25/04/2014 13:35 BST | Updated 25/04/2014 13:59 BST

The Ukrainian Prime Minister has accused Russia of wanting to start World War Three, in a call for international help against "Russian aggression".

In a stark warning Friday, Arseny Yatseniuk said that by occupying Ukraine "militarily and politically" Russia is creating a conflict that he said would spread to the rest of Europe.

"The world has not yet forgotten World War Two, but Russia already wants to start World War Three," Yatseniuk told the interim cabinet in remarks broadcast live.

"Attempts at military conflict in Ukraine will lead to a military conflict in Europe."

In some of the strongest language he has yet used in a war of words between the former Soviet neighbours, as both sides have deployed troops close to their frontier, Yatseniuk accused Moscow of acting like a "gangster" supporting "terrorists".

"It is clear that Russia's goal is to wreck the election in Ukraine, remove the pro-Western and pro-Ukrainian government and occupy Ukraine politically as well as military," added the premier.

His comments came as reports emerged that a Ukrainian military helicopter exploded at a base near the eastern town of Kramatorsk on Friday after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Officials in Kiev said the helicopter was hit in the fuel tank and exploded

The dramatic developments came as Barack Obama said he would consult key European leaders later on the possibility of imposing new sanctions against Russia.

Ukraine’s defence minister Mykhailo Koval said Friday a column of Russian troops conducting exercises close to the Ukrainian frontier came within one kilometre of the border, but did not cross.

"Ukraine's armed forces are ready to repel any aggression," he warned.