Russia accuses Nato of interference in Ukraine over call for dialogue
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday accused Nato of interfering in Ukrainian affairs, saying he did not understand why it felt it had the right to do so.
"I do not understand why Nato adopts such statements," Lavrov said of a declaration on Tuesday by the alliance calling for dialogue between the government and protesters angry at its decision to ditch an EU association accord.
Lavrov said he did not understand how Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen could even reply to a question earlier about possible Russian military intervention in Ukraine. "I cannot understand why such questions are asked," Lavrov said after a Nato-Russia Council meeting also attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
"It helps to create a distorted picture and sends a wrong signal which may cause wrong understanding," he said.
Whether Ukraine seeks closer ties with the European Union was "a domestic issue", he said, adding that he equally could not understand "the scope of the aggressive actions of the opposition".
President Viktor Yanukovych dropped the accord just before a set-piece summit late last month with the EU after Russia made clear the former Soviet state would pay a high price for deserting Moscow's fold.
The decision sparked violent protests in Kiev and dismay in Brussels, which saw the association deal as an achievement in bringing eastern Europe closer to the EU.
Ukraine is a partner of Nato, but Moscow jealously guards its influence in former Soviet states.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov yesterday warned the opposition to stop escalating the country's worst political crisis in a decade as his government sought to hold talks with Brussels and Moscow. Azarov said the protests were being manipulated for political ends.