Russia says it will respond if Ukraine interests attacked

Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:21pm EDT
 

By Pavel Polityuk and Alastair Macdonald

KIEV (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of being behind the political upheaval in Ukraine and said Moscow would respond if its interests came under attack.

Lavrov's comments came a day after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in the Ukrainian capital with promises of support for the pro-Western government, and a warning to Russia not to interfere in Ukraine.

The crisis in Ukraine, now in its fourth month, has dragged Russia's relations with the West to their lowest since the Cold War. In the east, pro-Russian armed separatists have seized about a dozen public buildings and are defying Kiev's authority.

A further escalation could lead to damaging economic sanctions, and raises the risk of a disruption to the Russian gas supplies on which Europe depends.

NATO says Russia has built up a force of about 40,000 troop in its border with Ukraine. Moscow says some are stationed there permanently, while others have been deployed as a precaution to protect Russia from the instability in Ukraine.

In Moscow, Lavrov said Moscow would respond if its interests, or the interests of Russian citizens, were attacked.

"Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation," he said according to excerpts of an interview with the Russia Today news channel.

"There is no reason not to believe that the Americans are running the show," RT quoted him as saying.   Continued...

 
Members of Maidan self-defence forces march along the street in central Kiev, April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko