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Russia's Lavrov Warns West that Ousting Leaders is 'Contagious'

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The West's support for protesters who ousted Ukraine's president sets a bad example around the world, Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday.

President Viktor Yanukovych's overthrow in a "coup d'etat" was dangerous and "contagious," Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a trip to Spain.

When asked if Moscow would order its troops back to bases in Crimea -- a strategic Black Sea peninsula that is part of Ukraine but which features a Russian-speaking majority -- Lavrov said that the Kremlin does not command the local, pro-Russian "self-defense" militias.

Russia has consistently denied its soldiers are positioned outside Ukrainian bases in Crimea.

The West hopes to persuade Moscow to pull its forces back to base in Crimea and avert the risk of a war.

Secretary of State John Kerry was due to meet Lavrov face-to-face later on Monday for the first time since the crisis escalated.

Ed Flanagan and F. Brinley Bruton of NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.

Map of Ukraine
Map of Ukraine with the Crimea region highlightedLonely Planet / Lonely Planet Images

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