Jeff Steinberg
© Unknown

The United States is trying to provoke a confrontation with Russia and using the crisis in Ukraine as an excuse to achieve its goal, a political commentator says.
Jeffrey Steinberg, senior editor at Executive Intelligence Review, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Wednesday .

"I think, this entire crisis, if you look at it honestly, has been provoked from the United States and some other NATO member countries in Europe. The illegal coup d'état that took place in February was in reaction to the fact that the legally- elected Ukrainian government refused to sign a partnership deal with the European Union that would have meant economic destruction of the country," Steinberg said.

"And that government is violently overthrown by... the children and grand children of the wartime pro-Nazi Ukrainians, who fought with the Axis (the Axis powers) against the Soviet Union, United States, Britain and others in World War Two," he added.

"These violent people carried out the military coup, and the United States and most European countries have refused to acknowledge that, and fully support the overthrow of a legitimately-elected and certified government," the veteran journalist noted.

"Now they have turned against Russia because Russia has told the truth about the neo-Nazi networks deeply involved in the coup, about the illegality of it. So, now Russia is being punished basically for telling the truth and for defending the Russian minorities in Ukraine at a time when they are genuinely under threat," Steinberg stated.

He went on to say that the Geneva agreement was broken by these neo-Nazi networks, who carried out armed attacks against pro-Russian protesters.

"What we are seeing is an attempt to provoke a confrontation with Russia," he said, adding that people like US President Barack Obama, Susan Rice and Victoria Nuland "want a confrontation with Russia and they are using Ukraine as an excuse."

The Autonomous Republic of Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17 and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum a day earlier, in which nearly 97 percent of the participants voted in favor of the move. On March 21, Crimea officially became part of the Russian territory.

On April 17, Russia, Ukraine, the US and the European Union agreed over steps to "de-escalate" the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where anti-Kiev protesters seized buildings in several towns and cities.

But, Ukrainian authorities have ordered military operations against pro-Russian protesters in both eastern and southern Ukraine, claiming that Russian special forces are fueling unrest in the country.

Moscow has dismissed as "nonsense" claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in Ukraine.

A fire at a Trade Unions House in the southwestern port city of Odessa on Friday led to at least 46 deaths that had been sheltering opponents of the US-backed interim government of Ukraine.

According to reports, members of neo-Nazi Right Sector set the building on fire in Odessa. The victims were burnt alive within the premises and video footage showed bloodied and wounded survivors being attacked by the extremists.

Meanwhile, the death toll from a Ukrainian military offensive against pro-Russian activists in the eastern town of Slavyansk rose to at least 34 on Tuesday.

According to a report published on Sunday in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are helping the interim authorities in Kiev to end the crisis.

The newspaper, citing unnamed German security sources, reported that dozens of CIA and FBI agents are involved in the offensive against the pro-Russian activists.

Earlier this year, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland disclosed that Washington has "invested" about $5 billion in "promoting democracy" in Ukraine over the past two decades.

In early February, Nuland visited Ukraine and held meetings with anti-Kremlin politicians who organized anti-government protests that led to the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, the country's democratically-elected president.