‘Russia open to equal dialogue on Ukraine’

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Copy of iol pic wld_UKRAINE-CRISIS-RUSSIA_0308_11 REUTERS Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov takes part in a news conference in Moscow. Picture: Sergei Karpukhin

Moscow -

Russia is open to having an “honest, equal” dialogue with foreign states on the crisis in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.

“We are open to an honest, equal and objective dialogue with our foreign partners to find a way to help all of Ukraine come out of the crisis,” Lavrov said at a televised news conference in Moscow with his Tajik counterpart, in a clear reference to the West.

“We are ready to continue dialogue on the understanding that this dialogue should be honest and partner-like, without attempts to portray us as one of the sides in the conflict.”

Lavrov added: “This crisis was not created by us (Russia). All the more, it was created in defiance of our repeated and longstanding warnings.”

Tensions between Moscow and the West have surged in recent days as pro-Moscow forces took over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which then announced plans to hold a referendum on becoming part of Russia.

Lavrov has held talks with Western officials including US Secretary of State John Kerry, but without reaching any breakthrough.

The Russian foreign minister launched a new attack on the Ukrainian government that took power after the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych and said terror and chaos were reigning in the country.

“The so-called temporary government is not independent and depends very unfortunately on radical nationalists who carried out an armed seizure of power,” Lavrov said.

“There is no kind of de facto state control for law and order,” he said.

Lavrov said far-right radicals of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) group were “playing the tune” and accused them of using methods of “terror and intimidation”. - Sapa-AFP

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