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Ukraine-Russia crisis: Iran urges 'restraint' as Moscow sends troops to separatist enclaves

Tehran blamed Nato and the United States for the rise in violence in eastern Ukraine
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saied Khatibzadeh speaks during a press conference in Tehran on 22 February 2021 (AFP)

Iran urged "restraint" from Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday, blaming the United States and Nato for the latest spike in violence in separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, following a Russian decision to send troops into Ukrainian territory late on Monday. 

"The Islamic Republic of Iran calls on all parties to exercise restraint and avoid any action that could aggravate tensions," a foreign ministry statement said.

Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh added that "unfortunately, the interventions and provocative actions of Nato and mainly the US have complicated the situation in the region".

Tehran’s comments came after Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to recognise the independence of the two separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Moscow also announced they are sending troops into the region to "maintain peace" amid mounting fears in the West of a looming invasion of the country. 

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The US and the European Union promised harsh sanctions as a response to Putin’s decision to increase Russia's presence in Ukraine, which started in 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.

The Iranian remarks come as officials engage in talks with Washington to revive the 2015 deal that promised a relaxation of sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear programme. 

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