Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the West on Saturday of trying to use sanctions imposed on Moscow in the Ukraine crisis to seek “regime change” in Russia.

His comments stepped up Moscow’s war of words with the United States and the European Union in their worst diplomatic standoff since the Cold War ended.

“As for the concept behind to the use of coercive measures, the West is making clear it does not want to force Russia to change policy but wants to secure regime change,” Tass news agency quoted Lavrov as telling a meeting of the advisory Foreign and Defence Policy Council in Moscow.

He said that when international sanctions had been used against other countries such as Iran and North Korea, they had been designed not to harm the national economy.

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