MOSCOW, March 7 President Vladimir Putin's
spokesman lashed out at the West on Friday and defended Russia's
actions in Ukraine, but said he hoped a new Cold War would not
break out despite "extremely deep disagreements".
The remarks, broadcast on one main state channel while
another showed the Paralympic Games opening ceremony, appeared
to be part of an effort by Putin to avoid a major confrontation
with the West while giving no ground in the dispute over
Dmitry Peskov said "extremely deep disagreements of a
conceptual nature between Russia and the European Union and the
United States have already been registered".
But he added: "There still remains hope ... that some points
of agreement can be found as a result of dialogue - which our
partners, thank God, have not yet rejected."
Peskov said calls for talks between Russia and Ukraine with
the West as a mediator "make us smile". He said Western
countries had failed to follow though on a Feb. 21 peace deal
between Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich and his foes, and that this
had cost them their credibility.
Peskov said the Kremlin was not behind moves by leaders in
Ukraine's Crimea region to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
But Moscow was concerned there would be ethnic persecution if
those behind what he called the "coup" that brought down
Yanukovich were to reach Crimea or eastern Ukraine.