Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in the Spanish capital Wednesday that he hoped Ukraine's interim leaders would accept the pact forged by ousted President Viktor Yanukovych with the opposition on Feb. 21.
Moscow will not tolerate "attacks" on ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Lavrov told reporters after meeting with his Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, in Madrid.
The West encouraged behavior that broke the law and "assaulted" power in Ukraine, the Russian foreign minister said.
Western countries did not react quickly enough in the face of actions against the legitimate authorities, creating "bad examples that are very contagious," Lavrov said.
Yanukovych signed a deal with the opposition on Feb. 21 under which he agreed to call early presidential elections in a bid to put an end to the bloody street battles in Kiev, Ukraine's capital.
He also pledged to revert to the 2004 constitution, which gave the president fewer powers, and said he would start the process of forming a coalition government.
Shortly after the deal was signed, the Ukrainian Parliament approved a resolution to "comply with its international commitments" and free former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, voting to decriminalize sections of Ukraine's criminal code under which she was imprisoned.
Lavrov was asked during his press conference about the possibility of Ukraine allowing its territory to be used for parts of the U.S. missile defense shield in exchange for financial assistance from Washington.
The missile defense shield issue is just another example of how Ukraine's Western partners and the current leadership in Kiev "complicate the relationship between Russia and the West, and try to fish for something in troubled waters," the Russian foreign minister said.
"I believe this policy is not serious," Lavrov said.
The pro-Russian troops in Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian republic, are not taking orders from Moscow and Russian military personnel on Ukrainian territory are on their bases under a special alert to protect Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Lavrov said.
Moscow deployed its forces last week in the Crimean Peninsula, a majority Russian-speaking region, claiming it was protecting ethnic Russians and Russia's interests in the area.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, which has been the home of the naval force since the 18th century.
The Crimean Peninsula, located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, is home to 2 million people; ethnic Russians make up 60 percent of the population, while 25 percent of residents are ethnic Ukrainians and 12 percent are Crimean Tatars.
"We are not going to allow any bloodshed. We are not going to allow any attacks on the lives or safety of those living in Ukraine, or on the Russian citizens who live in Ukraine," the Russian foreign minister said.
Garcia-Margallo, for his part, said Spain supported using diplomacy and dialogue to end the crisis in Ukraine.
International law and Ukraine's borders must be respected, upholding Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty "without foreign interference," the Spanish foreign minister said.
Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plan to meet in Paris on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
The crisis that led to Yanukovych's ouster erupted at the end of November, when he backed away from plans to ink a pact with the European Union and instead signed a $15 billion financial-aid package with Russia.
Protesters took to the streets of Kiev and began occupying administrative buildings, prompting Ukraine's parliament, then controlled by Yanukovych's allies, to pass a package of laws on Jan. 16 restricting freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and other basic rights.
Violent clashes pitting demonstrators and riot police broke out three days later and left six dead and hundreds wounded.
Ukrainian officials and opposition leaders began seeking a negotiated solution to the crisis in the wake of the bloodshed.
The talks led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Jan. 28 and the repeal of the controversial anti-protest laws.
But more street battles pitting pro-European Union protesters against the security forces left dozens dead in February, and led to Yanukovych agreeing to call early presidential elections and then fleeing Kiev.
After Yanukovych left the city, many of his former allies in parliament turned against him and helped oust him from power and release his arch-rival, Tymoshenko, from prison. EFE