MOSCOW, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Russia would respond if its interests or citizens were under "direct attack," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
"If we are attacked, we would certainly respond," Lavrov said in an interview with the Russia Today TV channel.
"If our legitimate interests, the interests of the Russians are attacked directly, I don't see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law," he said, adding an attack on Russian citizens is an attack on the Russian Federation.
However, that was the worst-case scenario for Ukraine's political crisis, he said.
Lavrov said the situation in Ukraine was "just another example of Washington trying to gain ground in the geopolitical struggle."
"Ukraine is just one manifestation of the U.S. unwillingness to yield in the geopolitical fight. Americans are not ready to admit they can't run the show in each and every part of the world," he said.
U.S. "ready-made solutions" could not remedy the crisis in Ukraine because Washington did not understand its roots, he said.
The United States, along with Russia, the European Union and Ukraine, held talks in Geneva on April 17, trying to find a solution of the crisis. Lavrov accused the government in Kiev of stepping back on its pledge to stop the violence.
"In Geneva, we agreed there must be the end to all violence. Next afternoon, (acting Ukrainian President Alexandr) Turchinov declared almost a state of emergency and ordered the army to shoot at the people," he said, describing those actions as "criminal."
Lavrov also said the buildup of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine was within international law. He said the troops have been participating in routine military drills and he denied the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.
"Our troops are on our territory," he said.
On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said war between Russia and Ukraine was unlikely. He said Russian troops had been holding small-scale drills, which did not exceed the limits set by the 2011 Vienna document on confidence and security-building measures.