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Russia insists it has 'no authority over' armed troops in Ukraine

By Agencies in Madrid, Spain | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-06 08:22

Russia said on Wednesday it has no authority over pro-Moscow forces that have taken de facto control of Ukraine's majority-Russian Crimean Peninsula.

A day after US President Barack Obama said Russia was "not fooling anybody" over its role in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted the armed troops in Crimea were not taking orders from the Kremlin.

Lavrov called for all sides to respect the letter of the law, treaties and the Ukrainian constitution so as to allow calm to be restored.

"If they are the self-defense forces created by the inhabitants of Crimea, we have no authority over them," Lavrov told a news conference in Madrid after a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

"They do not receive our orders," said the top Russian diplomat.

The Russian foreign minister, who left Madrid after the news conference for Paris to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry, said Moscow would not allow bloodshed to erupt in Ukraine.

"We will not allow bloodshed. We will not allow attempts against the lives and well-being of those who live in Ukraine and Russian citizens who live in Ukraine," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he did not want political tension to detract from economic cooperation with Russia's "traditional partners", signaling he hopes to avoid spillover from a bitter dispute with the West over Ukraine.

"We are seeing known political tension, it should not affect our current economic cooperation," Putin told Cabinet members.

"It's not necessary to add to the difficult situation, we need to cooperate with all our traditional partners - while providing for our own interests, of course," he said.

"It is not necessary to whip things up and place political considerations on top of issues of economic cooperation."

The United States and European Union are considering imposing sanctions on Russia over what they say is its military intervention in Ukraine's Crimea region and Putin's threat to send the armed forces into Ukraine if he deems it necessary.

Putin said on Tuesday he would only use the military in Ukraine as a last resort to protect Russians there.

Ukrainian troops remain blocked inside their barracks in Crimea in the gravest standoff between the West and Russia since the end of the Cold War.

AFP - Reuters

 Russia insists it has 'no authority over' armed troops in Ukraine

Anti-Yanukovych protesters warm themselves next to a fire in Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, on Wednesday. Emilio Morenatti / Associated Press

(China Daily 03/06/2014 page11)

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