Yulia Tymoshenko: Russia are holding the people of Crimea at gunpoint
The freed political prisoner who has become one of the symbols of the Ukrainian revolution has said Europe must act to repel Russian aggression.
Yulia Tymoshenko claimed the Russia was holding the people of Crimea at gunpoint.
She is one of the favourites for leadership in her country when presidential elections are held later this year.
And she paid tribute to the bravery of hundreds killed or injured during anti-government demonstrations which led to the toppling of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
"In recent weeks Ukraine became more than a country, it became a symbol, an idea, the idea of Europe in freedom, the idea of Europe in strength, don't let this be broken," she said.
She claimed European nation building contrasted sharply with Russia's use of the Kalashnikov firearm.
"The Kremlin must understand that Ukraine is a state and not a territory, a sovereign nation that is free to join Europe," she added.
"It is not a vassal...or a colony that can be driven into a cage.
"We are different, we are free and we want something else than (Vladimir) Putin can give us today.
"For the Kremlin to understand a simple truth, we need action, we need a bit of Europe, which has always spoken in one voice."