Russia says armed action by Ukrainian authorities in the east of Ukraine could undermine forthcoming talks on the issue.

In a statement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ukraine is demonstrating its inability to take responsibility for the fate of the country.

Ukraine earlier warned pro-Russian protestors, who stormed police stations in eastern towns yesterday, that they would be harshly dealt with.

The US has accused Russia of inciting trouble in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has denied that it is directly responsible for the unrest.

Four-party talks involving Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union are due to start in Geneva on Thursday.

Eastern Ukraine has a large Russian-speaking population and has seen a series of protests since the ousting of Ukraine's pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

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