Europe's top diplomat stepped up pressure on Ukraine's embattled president yesterday (Wednesday) to end his differences with opposition negotiators in talks over power sharing.
Viktor Yanukovych was accused of time-wasting as the opposition appealed to Baroness Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, to take a more active role as she visited Kiev yesterday. She said European diplomats would deepen support for a peaceful outcome and warned that the process was too slow.
"We have the capacity to provide support," she said after talks with Mr Yanukovych on a new EU aid package worth more than euros 16?billion (pounds 13.3?billion) failed to secure concessions. "I really need to feel a growing sense of momentum on this. We still need a lot more work."
After talks between the ruling Party of the Regions and its opponents stalled on Tuesday, Vitali Klitschko, the former world boxing champion and an opposition leader, told Lady Ashton that outside mediation was needed to bring the two sides together as mass demonstrations persist and the country's foreign exchange reserves dwindle.
"I met Yanukovych and he started to tell me that it will take months, up to half a year, to work out constitutional changes," he said.
"It can be done very quickly but neither the president nor the Party of Regions wants to solve the problem. The president escalates the situation."
While Mr Yanukovych has sacked his prime minister and offered the post, with additional powers, to the opposition, there is no prospect of a quick deal.
Mr Yanukovych has met Lady Ashton and will meet Victoria Nuland, the US assistant secretary of state, for discussions on the terms of a Western aid package on offer to a new government. But he also flies to Russia tomorrow to meet President Vladimir Putin, who is withholding $2?billion of aid. Analysts believe the aid has been delayed to ensure Kiev does not go back on its rejection of a trade agreement with the EU.