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Code: 268996
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Date: Saturday, June 28, 2014
Russia Accuses US Over Ukraine Confrontation
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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.

They also signed agreements with with Ukraine and two other former Soviet states 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.

Ukraine's newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko, travelled to Brussels to finalise a historic deal with the EU, with agreements also signed by the republics of Moldova and Georgia.

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 brokedown.

Russian general
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