MOSCOW, March 3 Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
on Monday rejected accusations that Russia is acting
aggressively toward Ukraine and accused the West of putting its
own "geopolitical calculations" ahead of the fate of the people
in the former Soviet republic.
At a U.N. human rights meeting in Geneva, Lavrov tried to
turn the tables following a hail of Western criticism after
President Vladimir Putin secured permission from lawmakers to
send the military into Ukraine.
"We call for a responsible approach, to put aside
geopolitical calculations, and above all to put the interests of
the Ukrainian people first," he said on a live feed broadcast to
While the Kremlin says Putin has not decided to send troops
into Ukraine, Western states say Russian forces have already
taken control of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula with a Russian
Without acknowledging that forces moving around Crimea are
Russian, Lavrov repeated Russia's arguments that its actions
have been justified by what it says are threats against Russian
citizens and Russian-speakers.
"Information is coming in about preparations for new
provocations, including against the Black Sea Fleet," Lavrov
said, referring to a Russian naval unit based in Crimea. He did
not give any further details.
Lavrov also said all sides should stand by a European
Union-brokered Feb. 21 peace agreement between now-ousted
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and his foes, which Russia
says the opposition and the West have abandoned.