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Lavrov made explicit reference to Russia’s 2008 intervention in Georgia – which led to the breakaway of two republics, South Ossetia and Abkhazia – and said Russian intervention in Ukraine would be fulfilling international law, not breaking it.
Whether or not Ukraine goes forward with its intention to root out the armed militia groups occupying buildings, its leaders believe they would have Washington’s backing.
"We have obtained the support of the United States, that they will not leave us alone with an aggressor. We hope that in the event of Russian aggression, this help will be more substantive," said Yarema.
On Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Kyiv, offering a new aid package of $50 million to Ukraine.
Biden called on Moscow to pull back the troops that have built up on Ukraine’s borders and to help persuade rebels to disarm. The U.S. has repeatedly warned Russia it faces “mounting costs” if it fails to ensure full implementation of the Geneva agreement signed last week.
The accord – struck by the U.S., the European Union, Russia and Ukraine – stipulates that armed demonstrators who were occupying government buildings must give up their positions. It also mandates and end to violence and provocative actions on all sides.
Since then, Kyiv has largely suspended military operations in the east, but the agreement has come under significant trouble, with Washington and Moscow each putting the onus on the other side to ensure that the deal is properly implemented.
In his interview Wednesday, Lavrov rejected U.S. concerns and said Washington was engaging in reckless international behavior.
“Ukraine is just one manifestation of the American unwillingness to yield in the geopolitical fight. Americans are not ready to admit that they cannot run the show in each and every part of the globe from Washington alone,” he said.
The U.S. and NATO have made clear they will not intervene militarily in Ukraine. But the Pentagon said this week that it was sending about 600 soldiers to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland for infantry exercises. Troops arrived in Poland on Wednesday and were expected in the remaining three countries in the coming days.
The Kyiv government and its Western supporters accuse Moscow of using covert agents to foment unrest in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies that and says people in the east rose up spontaneously against a government in Kyiv – which Russia says is illegitimate and aligned with far-right nationalists.