Russia issued a sharp warning on Wednesday that it will strike back if its “legitimate interests” in Ukraine are attacked, raising the stakes in the Cold War-like duel with the United States over the former Soviet republic’s future. “If we are attacked, we would certainly respond,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state-controlled RT television. “If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law,” he said, referring to Russia’s armoured invasion of Georgia in 2008. Moscow also insisted that Kiev withdraw the forces it has sent into eastern Ukraine to dislodge pro-Russian rebels who have seized control of government buildings in several towns. Both Kiev and Washington believe the current crisis is being deliberately fuelled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to restore former Soviet glory. More