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Published: Saturday March 8, 2014 MYT 6:35:14 PM
Updated: Saturday March 8, 2014 MYT 6:35:14 PM

Russia sticks to its demands in Ukraine crisis

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday the new Ukrainian government should stick to an agreement signed by the ousted president, signalling no change in Moscow's position over the Crimea crisis.

The peace deal on February 21 between now-deposed President Viktor Yanukovich and leaders of what were then opposition parties foresaw the creation of a national unity government and an investigation into the deaths of protesters in Kiev.

"This document is not being adhered to in terms of the obligations which these people undertook," Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.

Yanukovich was backed by Moscow, which is worried by the new Ukrainian government's plans to forge closer ties with the European Union in a geopolitical battle between East and West over the fate of the former Soviet republic.

Lavrov said Moscow was ready for dialogue but accused the government in Kiev of taking orders from people he described as extremists and denied Moscow had any direct role in the crisis in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

Russian forces in uniforms with no markings have surrounded Ukrainian bases on the peninsula since they took control of it last week, and the region's pro-Russia separatist leadership has ordered the Ukrainians to surrender.

"The interim government... is not independent. It depends, unfortunately, on radical nationalists who carried out an armed coup," Lavrov said.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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