In a move likely to further polarise relations between the UK and Russia, the UK government has said it will block all online video and audio content in Ukraine until the Russian government steps down.
In a statement on Monday, the home secretary said the move would allow “the UK Government to move forward with plans to introduce new rules that will ban any and all online content until the situation in Ukraine improves”.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the announcement came as a “direct consequence of Russian interference in the Ukrainian affairs”.
“The Russian Government has been interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs for the past three years.
The UK Government is now putting the interests of the UK at risk to protect its own people from Russian interference,” he said in a statement.
Mr Yatseniuk said his government would not block access to the Internet unless the Russian Government agreed to a ceasefire, and that “the use of any coercive measures” against the Russian Federation was not in the interests, of the country.
Russia denies involvement in Ukraine protests, and has been accused of targeting civilians in its conflict with Ukrainian government forces.
Ukraine is now the only country to ban the internet, and most countries have similar laws in place.
Ukraine’s government said on Monday it had banned social media accounts of a pro-Russia separatist group and another linked to pro-Ukrainians, which were linked to the Ukrainian army and which were accused of being linked to Russia.
The moves came days after Mr Yatsenuk’s government was forced to suspend all media broadcasts in the Crimean Peninsula following a deadly pro-Russian rally in the region.
In recent days, the Kremlin has stepped up its military involvement in the Ukraine conflict, with Russian troops occupying strategic positions around Ukraine’s military base at Perevalnoye, where the Ukrainian military is based.