By Mick Krever, CNN
The Ukrainian government has implemented “almost all” of the opposition demands, but the opposition is refusing to cooperate, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara told CNN on Wednesday.
“We are ready to discuss the constitutional reform,” Kozhara told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, it looks like the opposition doesn’t want to share their part of the responsibility with the Ukrainian government.”
Protesters stoked fires along barricade lines as night fell Wednesday over Kiev's Maidan, or Independence Square, a day after 26 people died in violent clashes that have drawn reproach from Western leaders.
Kozhara, speaking from Kiev, called Tuesday’s events “very unfortunate.”
“In the last weeks, police actually stood still, and not responding to offensive actions from the radical groups, which are today many in Kiev.”
Never before, he said, has Ukraine had to deal with “so many extremist groups.”
Even today the police have been issued a “strong instruction” not to use “offensive means” against protestors, he said.
Unrest in Kiev intensified after an anti-protest law went into effect, and erupted into outright violence Tuesday night. CNN reporters saw protesters clawing paving stones from the streets and firing Molotov cocktails attached to fireworks from an improvised air cannon.
Both police and protesters were among Tuesday's dead. A journalist and a government employee died, too.
Protests have been near constant since November, when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia.
Russia has accused Washington of meddling in Ukrainian affairs, and is itself waving money, standing by with billions in economic aid for Ukraine's economy.
Kozhara said that Russia is an important partner for Ukraine economically and strategically, but denied that the country feels “direct influence” from Russia.
Ukraine should not be “used as a playing card in the geopolitical games between the West and the East. This is the right of the Ukrainian people to decide their own destiny.”
The foreign minister described as “completely wrong” the notion that the ruling Party of Regions is “anti-European and anti-Democratic,” as he said that is the perception.
The French, German and Polish foreign ministers will visit Ukraine on Thursday, AFP reported.
“We want that they will have their own perception, and they will witness the real situation,” Kozhara said.
The opposition is still pushing for President Yanukovych to step down, but Kozhara rejected this.
“President Yanukovych was elected in 2010 in a legitimate way,” he said. “I think to put a question of early presidential elections first of all is far away from reality. We are ready to talk on the inclusive government, and on the constitutional reform.”