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Putin: Nato powers 'building a new Berlin Wall'

Vladimir Putin arriving at the annual address. Credit: Reuters

Vladimir Putin has accused Nato countries of "building a new Berlin wall" and blamed other nations for the current situation in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian President said Moscow was ready to mediate in the crisis in a bid to resolve it politically, rather than militarily.

When asked by a Ukrainian journalist how many Russian soldiers had been sent into the region, Putin denied sending any - claiming any that went did so of their own volition.

He also said the current economic crisis in Russia was not a penalty for its involvement in Crimea, claiming sanctions were an attempt to turn Russia from a bear with "claws" into a stuffed animal.

Russia will 'definitely' take action against further US sanctions

Moscow will "definitely take counter-measures" if the United States imposes new sanctions on Russia, Reuters has reported, citing the Interfax news agency.

The US Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which would impose new sanctions on Russian weapons companies and investors in the country's high-tech oil projects.

"Certainly, we will not be able to leave that without an answer," the agency quoted Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

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Putin: Some want Russia 'dismantled like Yugoslavia'

Vladimir Putin claims some countries would like to see Russia dismantled in the same way as Yugoslavia.

During an annual televised address from the Kremlin, the Russian president accused Western nations of acting "cynically and aggressively" in their response to the Ukraine crisis.

He also claimed American plans for an anti-ballistic missile shield in Europe were a threat to Russia.

Alert responds to more Russian flights in EU airspace

An alert over 'extremely aggressive' probing of UK airspace comes in the wake of Nato reporting an increase in the number of Russian flights through EU airspace.

Long ranged Tu-95 Bear H bombers were spotted. Credit: PA

In October, RAF fighters were scrambled to intercept a pair of Russian long-range bombers over the North Sea, as Nato marked an "unusual" spike in Russian military flights in European airspace. Typhoon fighter jets from RAF Lossiemouth were scrambled to track a pair of Tu-95 Bear H bombers through UK airspace.

Nato radar picked up several Russian aircraft formations carrying out "significant military manoeuvres" from the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

Read: Tensions high as British jets probe Russian spy plane in eastern Europe

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Hammond: Russian aircraft probing our air space

Government officials have said they are concerned by a sharp increase in Russian military flights close to Britain's borders, which they say were designed to test its air defences.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Credit: PA

It is entirely appropriate for NATO countries in particular to work together to respond to what is a change of Russia's dealings with NATO and indeed the non-NATO European countries.

– Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

"The extremely aggressive probing of our air space by Russian aircraft is an issue of concern to us," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told a committee of lawmakers.

Russia's actions in Ukraine 'could draw more sanctions'

Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine are unacceptable and could draw greater sanctions from the US and the European Union, David Cameron has warned.

"I still hope that the Russians see some sense and recognise that they should allow Ukraine to develop as an independent and free country, free to make its choices," Cameron told a news conference in the Australian capital Canberra.

Smoke rises in Donetsk during fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces. Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

"If Russia takes a positive approach towards the Ukraine's freedom and responsibility we could see those sanctions removed," the Prime Minister continued.

"If Russia continues to make matters worse then we could see those sanctions increased, its as simple as that".

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