BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the West on Friday for what he said were constant attempts to blame Russia for the crisis in east Ukraine and said Moscow was not isolated over the conflict.
Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s calls for Kiev to hold direct talks with pro-Russian rebels fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine, saying it “makes no sense” to seek ways out of the conflict without the separatists’ involvement.
“Our Western colleagues, some European countries but Americans first and foremost ... if they want to try to present us as the main culprits, which is what they are constantly doing ... this is not right, this won’t work,” he said.
The West says Russia provides arms and troops to the rebels to destabilize Ukraine and stall its drive
Lavrov also called on Kiev’s Western backers, including France and Germany, to press Ukraine to carry out constitutional reform, which Moscow has said must give the Russian-speaking eastern regions wide autonomy.
To address common security problems in Europe, Russia says it wants a new platform for dialogue between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, a bloc which Moscow is creating as a counterweight to the 28-nation EU.
Some EU member states are opposed but Lavrov said on Friday his meetings at the two-day meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) showed the idea was gaining popularity. He praised what he said was Berlin’s readiness to discuss it.
Reporting by Joshua Franklin, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Timothy Heritage