Lavrov Warns Russia Could Act in Ukraine as It Did in Georgia
Russia will respond if its interests in Ukraine are attacked, the country's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.
He made clear that an attack on Russian citizens is also a "direct attack on Russia itself" and drew a parallel between the present situation in Ukraine and that in Georgia six years ago, when Russia fought a brief war in the country after the Georgian region of South Ossetia moved to break away.
In an interview for the Russian state-owned RT channel, he stated that the "anti-terrorist" operation started by Kiev last week was re-launched during an official visit by the US Vice President Joe Biden.
Lavrov also stressed that if Russia's interests, "the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example," he did not see "any other way but to respond in full accordance with international law".
Minority rights were the Kremlin's motivation to approve sending troops to the Crimean peninsula in March and to accept its request to join the Russian Federation after a local referendum backed the step.
During the interview, Russia's Foreign Minister expressed confidence there was "no reason not to believe that the Americans are running the show".
He was referring to Kiev's operation in the east and south and also to the last few months' situation in Ukraine, which saw its President Viktor Yanukovych toppled after mass protests.
Lavrov reiterated accusations that Kiev had broken the Geneva accord (envisaging steps toward de-escalation and disarmament in Ukraine) by renewing its military response to pro-Russian separatists.
On Tuesday Lavrov and Kerry, top diplomats of Russia and the US, discussed over the phone the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Their conversation, however, seems to have ended in mutual accusations and warnings.