RT TV: Russia says would retaliate if citizens’ interests threatened; Ukraine’s leaders say have US backing to take on ‘aggressors’

Masked pro-Russia protesters pelt supporters of Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko with eggs outside a regional government building in Donetsk. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)

(Reuters) – Russia would retaliate if its citizens’ interests were threatened and its territory came under attack, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying, adding the United States was behind events in Ukraine.

“If we are attacked, we would certainly respond,” he told Russia Today (RT) television in an interview to be aired later on Wednesday, according to RT’s website.

“If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law,” he said, referring to a separatist territory in Georgia into which Moscow sent troops in August 2008.

“There is no reason not to believe that the Americans are running the show,” RT quoted him as saying, referring to developments in Kiev.

People hold signs reading “Don’t buy Russian vodka. Don’t pay occupiers” as they empty bottles of vodka into the sewer during a flash mob in the center of the western city of Lviv, Ukraine. (AFP/Yuriy Dyachyshyn)

See also, Ukraine’s leaders say have U.S. backing to take on “aggressors”: KIEV, April 23 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s government relaunched a security operation to crack down on pro-Russian armed groups after an Easter pause on Wednesday and said it had the backing of the United States.

Prompted in part by the discovery of the body of a Ukrainian politician who appeared to have been tortured, officials in Kiev decided to renew what they call an “anti-terrorist operation” against separatist militias who have seized control of about a dozen public buildings in eastern Ukraine.

But it was unclear what steps, in reality, Kiev could take to restore its authority in the mainly Russian-speaking east, without wrecking an international deal, signed last week in Geneva, designed to defuse the stand-off…

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