MOSCOW, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Russia said Monday that it would not militarily interfere in the ongoing Ukraine crisis, and warn against possible intensified sanctions the West was mulling.
"There will be no military interference ... We advocate only peaceful settlement of the heaviest crisis, the tragedy," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).
He expressed the hope that the Contact Group for Ukraine, which met in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Monday, primarily is dedicated to "an imminent and unconditional ceasefire."
Meanwhile, Lavrov described demands for Ukraine's independence- seeking militia to lay down arms "quite unrealistic," and urged the United States and the European Union (EU) to help stop Kiev from using heavy weapons.
The minister also accused the EU of exerting strong "sanctions inertia," referring to the bloc's Sunday decision to apply further sanctions on Russia within a week given Moscow "continues to escalate the Ukraine crisis."
Washington and Brussels, Lavrov said, should give up the " absolutely hopeless policy of ultimatums, threats and sanctions" if they want to resume pragmatic cooperation with Russia.
Answering a MGIMO student's question on Russia's possible withdrawal from the World Trade Organization (WTO), the minister said, "quite the opposite."
"We are ready to use WTO mechanisms, for instance, in the defense of our opinion on the impermissibility of the retroactive enforcement of norms of the so-called EU Third Energy Package," Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.
The Third Energy Package mainly prohibits gas producers from being the owners of gas pipelines.
Later in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Moscow reserves the right to take response measures aimed at defending its legitimate interests should the EU apply further sanctions.
"While resting on absolutely groundless statements on the presence of Russian armed forces in the country ... Brussels continues to evade acknowledgment of the real causes of the dramatic situation in southeastern Ukraine," said the statement.
Moscow also accused the 28-member bloc of lacking assessments of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in southeastern Ukraine.
Also on Monday, Valentina Matviyenko, chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council, upper house of the parliament, said during a visit to Russia's Tula region that Moscow has "a very serious package of retaliatory measures."
Calling the Ukraine crisis a geopolitical game and the conflict- torn country a "geopolitical card", Matviyenko said the final goal of the game was to weaken the EU.
"There is a fierce struggle for markets and the economy, and the United States aims to weaken the European Union," Interfax quoted her as saying.
The EU, Matviyenko said, should observe the Ukrainian situation "independently," taking its members' substantial interests into account.
Later in the week, representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the EU could meet again for gas talks as the fall is coming.
The armed conflict in southeastern Ukraine between government troops and independence-seeking militias, which erupted in March, have claimed at least 2,200 lives, with hundreds of thousands others displaced.