SANTIAGO, April 30 /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow does not make decisions under anyone’s pressure, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after a meeting with his Chilean counterpart Heraldo Munoz on Wednesday.
“If statements that there are no Russian troops in [Ukraine’s] southeast due to [Western] sanctions [against Russia] reflect the desire to somehow send a signal that the United States acts resolutely and achieves results, then we know such methods but don’t use them,” Lavrov said commenting on statements that US Secretary of State John Kerry recently made in an interview with US media.“If he says so, let God be his judge,” the top Russian diplomat said.
According to Lavrov, Russia “has never taken any actions under anyone’s pressure. We act proceeding from the national interests of the Russian Federation, on the basis of the international law and with full account of the situation - both regarding Crimea and... developments in Ukraine’s southeast”.
Some Russian and Crimean officials and companies have been subjected to sanctions by Western nations after Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March. Russia has also taken some limited punitive actions in response.
The West has threatened Russia with new economic penalties unless the country changes its foreign policy, but Moscow has dismissed the unfriendly measures saying the language of sanctions is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western nations.
Ukraine saw a coup in February, with new people propelled to power amid deadly riots as security concerns prompted President Viktor Yanukovich to leave the country.
Crimea, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum on March 16 in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The reunification deal with Russia was struck on March 18.
Kiev and Western nations do not recognize Crimea’s reunification with Russia despite Moscow's repeated statements that the Crimean plebiscite conformed to the international law and the UN Charter.
After Crimea's accession to Russia, protests against the new Ukrainian authorities erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern regions, with demonstrators, who are demanding referendums on the country’s federalization, seizing some government buildings.
Ukrainian parliament-appointed interim head of state Alexander Turchinov on April 15 announced the start of an anti-terrorism operation in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has condemned the operation, which is apparently aimed to crack down on federalization supporters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday dismissed claims that Russia could be involved in pro-federalization protests in southeastern Ukraine.
“People say our special forces are present there [in Ukraine], say we have sent instructors there. Let me say in all responsibility that there are no Russian instructors, special forces or troops of any kind there. We have no one there,” Putin said in the Belarusian capital Minsk, where he went for integration talks with the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan.