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Russian Foreign Minister: West Wants 'Regime Change' in Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to reporters after a meeting with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Saud al-Faisal, in Moscow, Nov. 21, 2014.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the West of seeking a "regime change" in Russia by imposing sanctions because of the Ukraine conflict.

Lavrov said Saturday that prominent figures in Western countries are saying there is a need to impose sanctions that will destroy Russia's economy and incite public protests.

His comments came two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country must prevent a "color revolution," referring to protests that have toppled leaders in other former Soviet republics.

The Ukraine crisis has severely strained ties between Moscow and Washington and triggered a series of harsh Western economic sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for its role in the crisis. Russia was hit by the sanctions for sending weapons and soldiers to fight with pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, a charge the Kremlin has always denied.

On Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden condemned what he called Russian "aggression" after meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kyiv.

Biden said they talked about the threat to Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity posed by Russia's military intervention. He called Russia's annexation of Crimea and its backing for separatists in the east a "flagrant violation of the bedrock principles of the international system."

Biden also accused Russia of ignoring the September cease-fire between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists.

The United Nations says nearly 1,000 people have been killed since the tenuous cease-fire was established. Each side blames the other for violating the truce.

Friday was the first anniversary of the popular uprising in Ukraine that forced pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych to flee after he unexpectedly backed out of an economic deal with the European Union.

The uprising in Kyiv prompted Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine to defend themselves against what they saw as a threat by the new pro-Western leadership. This led to Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.