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Hague's warning to Kremlin over crisis in Ukraine

By David Hughes

Foreign Secretary William Hague is due to speak to his Russian counterpart today as concerns over military intervention in Ukraine run high.

Mr Hague has warned it would not be in Russia's interests to intervene militarily in the crisis on its borders amid fears that Moscow could send in troops.

The Foreign Secretary said there was a "moment of opportunity" in Ukraine after MPs voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych and hold fresh elections in May, but acknowledged there were "still many dangers" for the country.

Asked about the role of Russia, Mr Hague said Prime Minister David Cameron held talks with President Vladimir Putin last week and he would speak to foreign minister Sergey Lavrov today.

He said: "It's very important for us to try to persuade Russia that this need not be a zero sum game. It's in the interests of the people of the Ukraine to be able to trade more freely with the EU, it's in the interest of the people of Russia for that to happen as well."

On BBC1's Andrew Marr Show Mr Hague said "we don't know what Russia's next reaction will be" when he was asked if Mr Putin could send in the tanks.

Pressed on whether he believed there could be a Russian intervention he added: "I am not suggesting that. I'm really suggesting that it would not be in the interests of Russia to do any such thing, that we have to keep up the communication with Russia."

Mr Yanukovych is believed to be in Ukraine's Russian-leaning east and Mr Hague acknowledged the complex picture in the vast country.

"It's urgent that they get on to form that inclusive government, a government of national unity in effect," he said.

Ukraine's parliament voted to temporarily hand the President's powers to speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, a close ally of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

After spending two-and-a-half years in prison, Ms Tymoshenko addressed the protest movement in Independence Square, but has asked not to be nominated for the post of Prime Minister in the new administration being formed.

It is thought she may want to focus her energies on campaigning for President, where she could face former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.

QUOTES

"That would be a grave mistake. It's not in the interest of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or the United States to see the country split."

Susan Rice, US president Barack Obama's national security adviser, on whether the White House fears Russian troops will be sent into Ukraine

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