Ukraine issued an arrest warrant yesterday for ousted president Viktor Yanukovych over the "mass murder" of protesters and appealed for $35 billion in Western aid to pull the crisis-hit country from the brink of economic collapse.
The dramatic announcements by the ex-Soviet nation's new Western-leaning team -- approved by parliament over a chaotic weekend that saw the pro-Russian leader go into hiding -- came as a top EU envoy arrived in Kiev to buttress its sudden tilt away from Moscow.
Three months of unceasing protests over Yanukovych's shock decision to spurn an historic pact with the European Union in favour of closer ties with its old masters in the Kremlin culminated in days of carnage last week in Kiev that claimed almost 100 lives.
Ukraine's new interim head of the federal police said he held Yanukovych and his team of feared security insiders directly responsible for the deaths.
Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine's new leadership and said that Western countries which accept it are mistaken, in his first reaction to the transfer of power in Kiev.
Medvedev said that Russia was unable to accept the new authorities in Kiev as a partner for talks and could not negotiate with rebels "carrying Kalashnikovs".
"Strictly speaking, there is no one for us to communicate with there today. The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
"Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise... this is some kind of aberration of perception when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny," Medvedev said.
On the other hand, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday that Russia, Europe and the United States all have an interest in keeping crisis-hit Ukraine from breaking apart.
A new era dawned in the ex-Soviet state when parliament appointed a pro-Western interim leader after impeaching a defiant president Viktor Yanukovych.
"It's not in the interests of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or of the United States to see the country split," Rice told NBC's "Meet the Press" talk show. "It's in nobody's interest to see violence return and the situation escalate."
She warned that it would be a "grave mistake" for Ukraine's old master Russia to send in forces to restore the kind of government it would like to see in Kiev.