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Russia sets Ukraine agenda with diplomacy, threats


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The fears in the Ukrainian capital and beyond are that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of Ukraine in the pro-Russian east of the country, the country’s industrial powerhouse and agricultural breadbasket.

Hague said "the world cannot just allow this to happen." But he, like other Western diplomats, ruled out any military action. "The U.K is not discussing military options. Our concentration is on diplomatic and economic pressure."

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Faced with fears of more Russian aggression, Ukraine’s new government has moved to consolidate its authority, naming new regional governors in the pro-Russia east picked among the country’s wealthy businessmen.

By putting influential oligarchs in control of key eastern provinces, Kiev appears to be hoping that Russian-leaning citizens will be more willing to remain within the Ukrainian fold.

In Geneva, Lavrov attempted to deflect international blame back onto the West.

"Those who are trying to interpret the situation as a sort of aggression and threatening us with sanctions and boycotts, these are the same partners who have been consistently and vigorously encouraging the political powers close to them to declare ultimatums and renounce dialogue," Lavrov said.

"We call upon them to show a responsibility and to set aside geopolitical calculations and put the interests of the Ukrainian people above all."

Lavrov justified the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine as a necessary protection for his country’s citizens living there. "This is a question of defending our citizens and compatriots, ensuring human rights, especially the right to life," Lavrov said.

Market reaction to the Russian seizure was furious Monday. On Wall Street, both the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq composite closed sharply down, while oil prices rose on fears that Russia, a major oil exporter, might face sanctions. In European trading, gold rose while the euro and stock markets fell.

The greatest impact was felt in Moscow, where the main RTS index was down 12 percent at 1,115 and the dollar spiked to an all-time high of 37 rubles. Russia’s central bank hiked its main interest rate 1.5 percentage points Monday to 7 percent, trying to stem financial outflows.


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Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, was also a big loser, its share price down 13 percent as investors worried about how it would get its gas to Europe if hostilities kept up, since much of it goes through Ukrainian pipelines.

Tension between Ukraine and Moscow rose sharply after Yanukovych was pushed out by a protest movement among people who wanted closer ties with the European Union. Yanukovych fled to Russia after more than 80 demonstrators were killed near Kiev’s central square. He says he is still president.

Putin’s confidence in his Ukraine strategy is underpinned by the knowledge that the nation’s 46 million people have divided loyalties. While much of western Ukraine wants closer ties with the 28-nation European Union, its eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support.

Crimea is where Russia feels most at home in Ukraine: It is home to 2 million mostly Russian-speaking people and landlord for Russia’s critical Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

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Bennett reported from Kerch, Ukraine. Associated Press writers Lara Jakes in Washington, Yuras Karmanau in Kiev, Raf Casert and Juergen Baetz in Brussels, Frank Jordans in Berlin, John Heilprin in Geneva, Volodya Isachenkov and Laura Mills in Moscow and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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