Russia lambasts EU for wanting 'sphere of influence' in Ukraine
MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday rebuked the European Union for trying to extend its "sphere of influence" amid deteriorating relations over the political crisis in Kiev.
"Pressuring Ukraine in one direction, while warning that it faces an 'either-or' choice - either the EU or Russia - is essentially trying to create a sphere of influence," Mr Lavrov said at a press conference with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is on a two-day visit to Moscow.
"That is obvious and no beautiful words can change that," Russia's top diplomat said.
Ukraine, an ex-Soviet nation of 46 million people, has been in chaos since November when President Viktor Yanukovych ditched a planned EU trade and political pact in favour of closer ties with Moscow, stunning pro-EU parts of the population and sparking violent protests.