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Sunday, October 23, 2016

By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW — Ukraine’s acting president said Tuesday that it would be at least another two days before an interim government is in place as further negotiations are needed to ensure that a genuine “coalition of national faith” agrees to see the divided country through to May 25 elections.

Interim President Olexander Turchynov made the announcement to the parliament now dominated by opposition figures and defected members of fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions. A provisional government, on which sympathetic Western countries are waiting to work out an urgent bailout for deeply indebted Ukraine, had been expected on Tuesday.

Turchynov also warned of the dangers of separatism threatening Ukraine, which is torn between Russian-leaning eastern citizens and pro-European city-dwellers in the western regions.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin assembled his national security team for a Kremlin caucus on the turmoil in Ukraine, the former Soviet republic Moscow has dominated for centuries. Rossiya-24 television showed the top Cabinet ministers and Russian security advisers gathering in an ornate hall but gave no report on their discussions or decisions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later told journalists at a Moscow press conference that Russia would refrain from interfering in Ukraine’s domestic crisis and expected other countries to do likewise.

Ukraine’s industries and economy are dependent on components and trade with Russian companies, and Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet is based in the port of Stavropol, which became a Ukrainian city after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most of the eastern half of Ukraine had voted for Yanukovich and supported his decision late last year to continue strengthening economic and political ties with Russia rather than entering into an association agreement with the European Union.

While Russian officials have made disparaging remarks about the Yanukovich opponents now running Ukraine’s government following the president’s de facto ouster last week, Putin has said little about how he expects the power struggle and fight over Ukraine’s future to play out.

Lavrov seemed to be conveying a Kremlin message that it was taking a hands-off approach while watching to see what leadership emerges from talks underway in Kiev.

“We have confirmed our principled position to not interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and expect all (foreign powers) to follow a similar logic,” Lavrov said.