Lavrov: West seeking regime change in Moscow

Foreign minister says sanctions imposed over Ukraine conflict aim to destroy Russian economy and cause public unrest.

    Lavrov: West seeking regime change in Moscow
    Ukraine's defence minister says there are 7,500 Russian troops in the country's east [EPA]

    Russia has accused the West of seeking a regime change in Moscow, once again raising tensions over the conflict in Ukraine.

    The criticism of Western sanctions on Russia by Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, came a day after US Vice President Joe Biden hinted at possible further measures over Russia's "unacceptable" role in the fighting that continues to plague Ukraine.

    "As for the concept behind to the use of coercive measures, the West is making clear it does not want to force Russia to change policy but wants to secure regime change," Tass news agency quoted Lavrov as telling a meeting of the advisory Foreign and Defence Policy Council in Moscow on Saturday.

    He said that when international sanctions had been used against other countries such as Iran and North Korea, they had been designed not to harm the national economy.

    Ukraine crisis: Are there any winners?

    "Now public figures in Western countries say there is a need to impose sanctions that will destroy the economy and cause public protests," he said.

    Lavrov's remarks came came on a day Ukraine's defence minister said there were 7,500 Russian troops in the country's east.

    Russia denies claims that it provides military support to pro-Moscow separatists locked in conflict with government forces in the former Soviet state.

    The US and the EU have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over Ukraine targeting the key energy, defence and finance sectors.

    These have sent the ruble into free fall and inflation soaring.

    On a visit to Kiev, Ukraine's capital, on Friday, Biden accused Russia of failing to honour a peace agreement signed in September, which includes a shaky ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

    "So long as that continues, Russia will face rising costs, greater isolation," he said.

    More than 4,300 people have been killed in the conflict in seven months, according to the UN.

    Nearly 1,000 have died since the ceasefire came into effect.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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