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03:20 PM | Fri, 09 Dec 2016

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Lavrov slams attacks on Russian diplomatic missions in Ukraine

273 Days ago

Moscow, March 11 (IANS) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday condemned the continued attacks on his nation's diplomatic missions in Ukraine by protesters demanding the release of a Ukrainian pilot by Russian authorities.

"The actions of thugs, who attacked the Russian embassy and our consulates general, broke into our territories and tore flags, are outrageous," Lavrov said in an interview with Russia's REN TV channel, Xinhua reported.

Lavrov said the attacks could not be performed without "a blessing of tutors of Ukrainian authorities".

According to the Russian media, the attacks against Russia's diplomatic missions started on Wednesday in several Ukrainian cities including Kiev, Odessa and Lvov.

Ukrainians rallied to support Nadezhda Savchenko, a 34-year-old Ukrainian female pilot captured in June, 2014 by insurgents in eastern Ukraine near the town of Shchastye, north of Lugansk city.

"I will speak once again today on this issue with the US Secretary of State John Kerry. We have also sent corresponding signals to European capitals," Lavrov said.

Lavrov also expressed disappointment that the international community had not reacted.

Western countries are more concerned with Ukraine's demands -- releasing Savchenko without completing the trial, Lavrov said.

"This is a separate issue, but hypocrisy and double-dealing are obvious here," he said.

Savchenko has been tried in Russia after being accused of directing artillery fire and conspiring the killing of two Russian journalists during fighting between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014. She denied any wrongdoing.

Savchenko will face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. The sentencing has been scheduled between March 21 and 22.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Wednesday that he was ready to perform a prisoner exchange to secure Savchenko's return to Ukraine.

The Kremlin said on Thursday that it took notice of Poroshenko's statement, but did not elaborate on its possible consequences.

"We would like to remind once again that the trial is still underway," the Kremlin spokesman told reporters.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said earlier in the day that no talks on Savchenko's swap had been held yet, and that there could not be any until the court gave the verdict. (IANS)

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