Russia Accuses US Over Ukraine Confrontation

Russia Accuses US Over Ukraine Confrontation

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the US of encouraging Ukraine into a confrontation with Moscow.

And he claimed the chances of resolving the Cold War-style crisis would be better if only Russia and Europe were involved.

Speaking on television, Mr Lavrov said: "Our American colleagues still prefer to push the Ukrainian leadership toward a confrontational path."

It came after EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Friday decided against immediately imposing new sanctions on Russia for destabilising eastern Ukraine, but gave Moscow and pro-Russian separatists until Monday to take steps to improve the situation.

Ukraine has also extended a ceasefire by its forces for 72 hours.

EU leaders also signed agreements with Ukraine and two other former Soviet states, Moldova and Georgia, to establish closer political and economic links with Europe.

It was the decision of the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to ditch a deal with Europe in favour of a pact with Russia which triggered protests culminating in his overthrow earlier this year.

Moscow responded by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimea in March, that led to pro-Moscow separatists rise up in eastern Ukraine.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "The UK is firmly committed to the prosperity of these sovereign and independent countries, which are signalling their determination to forge closer political and economic links with Europe.

"I look forward to ever closer relationships that will better the lives of their people and contribute to prosperity across the region."

The Foreign Office predicted that the completion of the agreements could result in GDP growth in Georgia of €292m (£234m) a year and €1.2bn (£960m) in Ukraine, while boosting Moldova's national income by 5.4% annually.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is seeking to increase its own gas production after Russia's state-controlled gas company, Gazprom, cut exports to the country, after talks to settle a debt and agree a lower price broke down.

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