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Lavrov Says Ukraine's Neutrality Important, Lambasts U.S.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on April 22, during his interview with Moscow-based radio stations Ekho Moskvy, Govorit Moskva, and Sputnik.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Ukraine's unity and neutrality are in Russia's best interest.

In an interview on April 22 with Moscow-based radio stations Ekho Moskvy, Govorit Moskva, and Sputnik, Lavrov said, "It is in our interest not to divide Ukraine. It is in our interests to keep it neutral, primarily in a military-political sense."

Lavrov added that Russia wants "Ukraine to be peaceful and quiet" and not "dismembered" by what he described as some European countries "that once gave some of their territories to the current Ukrainian state after World War II."

Lavrov did not exclude amnesty for jailed Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko, who has been held in Russian custody since July on suspicion of involvement in the killings of two Russian journalists during clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Lavrov said Savchenko might be amnestied as part of Minsk agreements' provisions but added that the case should first be heard in court.

Lavrov also accused the United States of using the Ukrainian crisis to reach what he claimed was a "strategic goal" of Washington to "hinder the development of Russia's cooperation with the EU, especially with Germany."

He expressed doubts about the effectiveness of a U.S. program to assist Ukrainian military forces with instructors, claiming that such attempts were unsuccessful in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Russian Foreign Minister also accused the United States of breaching the Non-Proliferation Treaty by placing tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

According to Lavrov, the Kremlin does not see any threats from the East, except for the placement of elements of the U.S. missile-defense system in the region.

Lavrov said: "I don't see any threats from China; I don't see any threats from the East generally, except for one: the missile-defense system, which is a global U.S. system and which is being created on U.S. territory [and deployed in] Europe and Northeast Asia."

Lavrov also said Russia is threatened by militant group Islamic State (IS) -- the extremist terrorist group that has seized large swaths of territory Iraq.

Hundreds of Russian citizens and those of other former Soviet republics have been reported as fighting alongside IS militants.

Based on reporting by Ekho Moskvy and Interfax