MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign minister says the crisis over Ukraine has been provoked by Western efforts to pull the country into its sphere of influence as part of efforts to create a buffer zone around Russia.
In a foreign policy speech Wednesday, Sergey Lavrov harshly criticized the West for ignoring Russia's interests and refusing to treat it as an equal partner.
Ukraine's pro-Russian president was chased from power in February following months of protests sparked by his decision to ditch a pact with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow. Russia then annexed Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and a pro-Russian insurgency has swept Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland.
Lavrov again called on the West to urge the Ukrainian government to end its military operation against the insurgents.