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Russia accuses US of indulging 'provocative' Kiev

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Geneva (AFP)

Russia on Wednesday accused the United States and some European countries of indulging "provocative" action by Ukraine, as tensions mount over Russia's seizure of Ukrainian ships.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva for a United Nations conference, was asked about Western sanctions targeting Moscow following Sunday's confrontation in the Kerch Straight.

"I think it reflects Washington's tendency to indulge any and all action taken by the Kiev regime, even inciting them to provocative actions," Lavrov told reporters

"This is really regrettable," he added, following talks with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis.

"There are plenty of facts which show that Washington and some European capitals are willing to tolerate the whims of the Kiev regime," Lavrov further said.

Russian border patrol boats fired on, boarded and seized the three Ukrainian vessels, along with 24 sailors, on Sunday off the coast of Crimea.

The Ukrainian vessels -- a tug and two gunboats -- were trying to pass through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea, but were refused access and chased into international waters by 10 Russian vessels.

Western governments have rallied behind Kiev in the dispute, accusing Russia of illegally blocking access to the Azov Sea and of taking military action without justification.

US President Donald Trump has said he may cancel a long-awaited summit with Putin at the G20 this week as a result of the confrontation.

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