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Iran blames West for Ukraine crisis, urges Moscow and Kyiv to show restraint

Tehran, itself under US sanctions, makes statement as Washington, Brussels set to announce economic measures against Russia

Tanks move during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in Belarus, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. Russia has deployed troops to its ally Belarus for sweeping joint military drills that run through Sunday, fueling Western concerns that Moscow could use the exercise to attack Ukraine from the north. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr)
Tanks move during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in Belarus, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. Russia has deployed troops to its ally Belarus for sweeping joint military drills that run through Sunday, fueling Western concerns that Moscow could use the exercise to attack Ukraine from the north. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr)

TEHRAN — Iran urged “restraint” from both Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday while blaming the United States and NATO for the sharp escalation of tensions.

President Vladimir Putin announced late Monday that Russia recognized the independence of Ukraine’s separatist-held Donetsk and Lugansk regions, paving the way for the deployment of Russian troops.

Moscow’s move triggered international condemnation and a promise of targeted sanctions from the United States and the European Union.

“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.

“We are following the issues related to this country with sensitivity.”

Residents attend an open training organised for civilians by war veterans and volunteers who teach the basic weapons handling and first aid on one of Kiyv’s city beaches on February 20, 2022 (Genya SAVILOV / AFP)

Tehran and Washington have been bitter foes since the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled the US-backed monarch and Iranian students took more than 50 US embassy staff hostage for over a year.

Both are now engaged in efforts to revive the 2015 deal that offered Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program, after then US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018.

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