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February 14, 2014

Russian, German Foreign Ministers Discuss Ukraine

by VOA News

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rebuked the European Union for its position on Ukraine's political unrest, saying the EU is trying to create a "sphere of influence" by pressing Ukraine to choose closer ties with the EU over Russia.

Lavrov spoke Friday in Moscow at a joint news conference with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Lavrov said the situation is "obvious" and that diplomatic rhetoric could not hide that fact.

For his part, Steinmeier appeared to agree, saying Ukraine should not be seen as a "geopolitical chess game." He said Ukrainians must be allowed to find a political solution on their own.

On Monday, the European Union called for the formation of a new government in Ukraine to be followed by free and fair presidential elections. It stopped short of calling for sanctions.

Barricades still block off the heart of Kyiv as the standoff between protestors and the government enters its third week. Anti-government protesters are calling for President Viktor Yanukovych to step down.  

Protests erupted in November after Yanukovych backed out of signing a trade deal with the European Union, and signed a deal with Russia.