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Putin Says West Is Using Ukraine Crisis To Destabilize Region

Russian President Vladimir Putin made his remarks during a meeting with Russian ambassadors, envoys, and diplomats at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow on July 1.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of seeking to use the crisis in Ukraine to destabilize the whole region.

Putin told a biennial meeting of Russian ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow on July 1 that "events provoked by the West in Ukraine are a concentrated manifestation of a containment policy against Russia" and dubbed Western sanctions regarding Russia a "policy instrument."

He said Moscow is ready for dialogue with Washington only on an "equal basis" and said "everyone in Europe" needs to make sure that the Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Ukraine scenarios do not "become contagious" in the region.

He also said that "Russia will continue to protect ethnic Russians abroad, including using political, economic, and humanitarian means."

Speaking of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Putin said Russia and European partners could "not convince him not to take the path of violence."

He said Poroshenko "took upon himself the responsibility for unleashing battle actions in Ukraine" when he decided late on June 30 not to extend a 10-day cease-fire with pro-Russian separatists in the east.

Putin also charged Kyiv with conducting a targeted program to "eliminate" Russian media representatives working in the east of the country.

"The murders of journalists are totally unacceptable and I reiterated this yesterday to the president of Ukraine," he said.

His remarks followed the death of a Russian TV cameraman near a pro-Kyiv military unit in the Donetsk region on June 30.

Anatoly Klyan was the third Russian journalist to die in the conflict and the fifth journalist overall.

Putin also accused Kyiv of using "blackmail" in negotiations on gas prices, saying Kyiv had demanded a "totally unjustified" price cut for supplies of Russian gas.

And he said "conscientious" consumers and suppliers should not suffer from "the actions of Ukrainian politicians."

Negotiations over gas prices between Moscow and Kyiv broke down last month as Russia restricted gas supplies to Ukraine after a payment deadline passed on June 16.

Russia has said its "final price" is $385 per 1,000 cubic meters, a price Ukraine says is too high.

With reporting by Reuters
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