MOSCOW, March 15 Russia is considering peaceful
citizens' requests for defence in Ukraine, Moscow's foreign
ministry said on Saturday, in a further sign that Russian
military intervention in Ukraine may extend beyond Crimea.
Two weeks ago President Vladimir Putin was authorised by
parliament to deploy armed forces in Ukraine to protect ethnic
Russians and Russian-speakers after the fall of pro-Moscow
president Viktor Yanukovich to mass protests.
"Russia is receiving numerous appeals with requests for
defence of peaceful citizens. These appeals will be considered,"
the foreign ministry statement said.
After talks in London on Friday with U.S. Secretary of State
John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow
"does not and cannot have" plans to invade easetrn Ukraine.
However, his ministry also said Russia reserves
the right to defend its compatriots.
In its statement on Saturday, the ministry said that
Ukrainian armed militants are continuing to act lawlessly,
including from Right Sector, a Ukrainian nationalist group.
It said that on March 14 two people were killed in the
Ukrainian city of Kharkiv when militants opened fire on peaceful
demonstrators opposed to the new government in Ukraine, with
Commenting on the same incident, Ukrainian authorities have
accused Russia of provoking it.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement cited "alarming
information" that columns of armed militants from Right Sector
were leaving Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lugansk in order to open an
It added that a decision by Ukraine's parliament to
legitimise Right Sector and other radicals by turning them into
a type of National Guard was dangerous - a view it said was
shared by both Kerry and Lavrov during their London meeting.
"Sergei Lavrov insistently called on John Kerry to use the
influence of Washington on Kiev to stop the rampage of the
ultra-nationalists," the statement said.