PARIS (AFP) - Russia's foreign minister said on Tuesday he had "very serious reasons" to think Western sanctions were an attempt to force regime change in Moscow.
Sergei Lavrov also told France 24 television that the sanctions showed the European Union was not independent from the United States when it comes to foreign policy.
Asked whether the sanctions were an attempt to force the current leaders from power, Lavrov replied: "I have very serious reasons to believe this is the case. Some politicians don't even try to hide it."
He said US Vice-President Joe Biden had publicly said that Washington had ordered Europe to join sanctions against Russia.
"Frankly it's really a pity that for many years, we overestimated the independence of the European Union and even big European countries," said Lavrov.
"I can assure you that Russia will not only survive but we will come out stronger. We have been in much worse situations in our history and every time, we got out of those fixes much stronger," he said.
"This will happen this time."
Nevertheless, he also admitted: "Well of course it hurts. We don't take any pleasure from sanctions."
"But it's not our problem. It's the problem of the European Union, the United States and other countries."
Lavrov also took a shot at members of the US Congress who on Saturday unanimously approved fresh economic sanctions against Russia and lethal weapons for Kiev.
"Congress is a very special group of people: more than 80 per cent of them never left the United States. They live in their own world, so I'm not amazed at this Russophobia," said Lavrov.
"We want to see what (US President Barack) Obama does because the Bill is not automatic," added Lavrov.
The measure is aimed at Russia's defence and energy sectors, punishing companies like state defence import-export company Rosoboronexport.