Russia's Lavrov Warns Ukraine Against Joining NATO, Slams U.S.

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/ Source: Reuters

MOSCOW - Russia's foreign minister warned NATO not to offer Ukraine membership of the alliance as it gathered for a summit on Thursday and told the United States not to try to impose its will on the former Soviet republic. Sergei Lavrov also urged Kiev and pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine to back peace moves outlined by President Vladimir Putin and avert what he said could be a large-scale crisis in the heart of Europe.

Lavrov said attempts to end the Ukraine's non-aligned status could "derail all efforts aimed at initiating a dialogue with the aim of ensuring national security." Moscow has long said it will regard NATO membership for Ukraine as a national security threat. Underlining Moscow's concerns about U.S. influence on Kiev, Lavrov said: "Some of our Western partners, including unfortunately the most influential players - the United States - want victory for NATO and a situation where America dictates its will to everyone."

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- Reuters