* Russia warns EU not to undermine trust of "strategic
* Says OSCE must condemn opposition violence
* EU halted talks on visa regimes, overarching Russia pact
By Steve Gutterman
MOSCOW, March 7 Russia on Friday accused the
European Union of taking an "extremely unconstructive position"
by freezing talks on easing visa barriers and on a comprehensive
agreement that would govern ties between Moscow and the EU over
With the European Union pressing for a negotiated solution
to the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow also set out tough conditions
it indicated the West must take to win Russia's cooperation.
"Russia will not accept the language of sanctions and
threats" and will retaliate if sanctions are imposed, the
Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement about agreements
reached at an emergency EU summit on Thursday.
The EU summit was held in an effort to enforce a call for
the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine's Crimea region
and the opening of negotiations between Moscow and Kiev amid
It resulted in the suspension of visa talks that began in
2007 and that Moscow hopes will eventually enable its citizens
to travel to Europe without obtaining visas - a major goal for
President Vladimir Putin.
The 28-nation EU also agreed to suspend talks on an elusive
new pact that would replace a 1997 Russia-EU Partnership and
Cooperation Agreement and would involve closer economic
cooperation, investment, research, trade and energy relations.
"It is hard to shake the impression that opportunistic
approaches prevailed over common sense, which dictates the need
to, at a minimum, listen to the fundamental position of a
strategic partner of the EU: Russia," the Russian statement
Russia hopes "the European Union - which has tried, not
always successfully, to play a leading role in Ukraine - will
not take steps that could undermine trust in it as a strategic
partner," the ministry said later in a separate statement.
It appeared to set out steps regional organisations such as
the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose
unarmed military observers have been unable to enter Crimea,
must take to win Russian backing.
"International support for stabilisation of the situation in
Ukraine can be useful and effective, but only if they are
objective," the statement said.
It said the OSCE must "condemn all violent actions" by
government opponents during the bloody standoff in Kiev that led
to President Viktor Yanukovich's ouster.
The OSCE must also "recognise the coup d'etat in Kiev as
illegal" and take steps to implement a peace deal reached by
Yanukovich and his foes a day before he fled the capital.
A Russian envoy did not join European diplomats who signed
the pact, but since Yanukovich's downfall Moscow has said the
document must be the basis for a solution to the crisis.