NEWSLINK: Russia accuses EU of seeking Ukraine “sphere of influence”

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[“Russia accuses EU of seeking Ukraine ‘sphere of influence'” – Reuters – Gabriela Baczynska, Alexandra Hudson – February 14, 2014 –]

Reuters covers tensions between Russia and the EU over Ukraine, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov bemoaning the prospect of an EU sphere of influence on Russia’s borders:

Russia accused the European Union on Friday of seeking to create a “sphere of influence” on its borders by pressing Ukraine to choose closer ties with the Western bloc at the expense of relations with Moscow.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sharpened Russian allegations of Western interference in its neighbor’s turbulent affairs at a joint news conference after talks with his visiting German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The Ukrainian government’s decision last fall to hold off on closer ties to the EU sparked protests that rage on:

Russia and the EU have exchanged recriminations since Kiev’s decision in November to shelve plans for a trade agreement with Brussels and to seek closer links with Russia instead, a move that sparked mass unrest in Ukraine claiming at least six lives.

EU-Russia meetings reportedly have addressed Russian concerns about the impact of EU expansion on Russian business as well as an apparent Russian desire for a broader EU-Eurasian trade area:

Putin and top EU officials met in Brussels to ‘clear the air’ at the end of January. Russia stressed it wanted more a detailed study of the economic impact of ex-Soviet republics entering a trade association with the EU and how this might affect the competitiveness of Russian firms.

Lavrov on Friday urged an end to the ‘politicization of economic and business ties’ and said Moscow wanted to see a trade area between the EU and Eurasian zones.

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