People are lying when they claim that Russia is offering to negotiate with Ukraine in bad faith and is only interested in buying time for its military to regroup, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov stated.
“We never asked for any negotiations. But we always stated that if somebody has an interest in a negotiated settlement, we are ready to listen,” he said, pointing to talks in Istanbul in late March as an example.
“When they accuse us of constantly asking for some negotiations to buy time to gather additional forces for conducting the special military operation, this is both ludicrous and repulsive because people tell lies and do it openly,” the top diplomat stressed.
Russia’s chief diplomat recalled that in March the Ukrainian side requested that Moscow listen to them and after several rounds of negotiations handed over a document with settlement principles to the Russian side.
“These principles stipulated ensuring Ukraine’s security by honouring its non-aligned status, which meant that it would not join NATO, and by respecting its nuclear-free status, implying that [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky would no longer say that it was a mistake to give up nuclear weapons in 1994, and the provision of Ukraine’s security by granting it collective guarantees not from NATO but from five UN Security Council permanent members, with Germany and Turkey also mentioned,” Lavrov elaborated.
“We were ready to agree with them on those principles that they themselves put forward but they were not allowed to do that because the conflict had not yet sufficiently enriched those who oversee it and direct it and this is primarily done by the United States and of course, by the British,” Lavrov specified.
He accused the US of pushing Kiev towards continued military confrontation and derailing the peace process. Washington is seeking to weaken Russia and profit from arms sales, he claimed.
Moscow will not reject any contact with any party that seeks to engage, but does not expect fruitful talks to happen with Western nations at this time, Lavrov said.
“Anyone asking for a phone conversation gets one, the president speaks to them with no time constraints. But we do not hear any meaningful ideas,” he said.
The West’s policy of not discussing “Ukraine without Ukraine” is “at least naive” and obviously flawed, Lavrov added, since ignoring the Ukraine conflict when discussing global stability is impossible. After all, the US has declared the defeat of Russia, a major player in global security, as its goal in Ukraine, he remarked. European countries have not proposed anything concrete so far as mediating between Russia and Ukraine goes, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told.
“At least a week ago, I heard another statement either by (EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep) Borrell, or someone else from this European institution that the sanctions do not contain any restrictions on the export of Russian fertilisers or Russian grain. But this is an outright lie, because although the heading ‘fertilisers and food from Russia’ is not on the sanctions list, what these headings do contain and what is prohibited is a ban on banking transactions, primarily on our leading bank — Rosselkhozbank (the Russian Agricultural Bank – TASS), which has been cut off from SWIFT. It serves more than 90 percent of all our food supplies. The sanctions also include a ban on access of our ships to European ports and foreign ships to Russian ports. And the sanctions also apply to ship chartering and ship insurance,” Lavrov explained.
The top diplomat recalled that back in March, the Russian military began announcing daily 12-hour periods for the operation of humanitarian corridors to export Ukrainian grain from Ukrainian ports. However, the only obstacle was that these ports were mined. Our military would announce these humanitarian corridors and say: ‘Ukrainian colleagues, kindly usher out the appropriate vessels through the minefields, and we will guarantee their safe delivery to the entrance of the straits.’ (President of Ukraine Vladimir) Zelensky said: “You can not trust the Russians. Then we suggested guaranteeing freedom of passage through neutral waters together with our Turkish colleagues. They agreed. And again, Zelensky was capricious,” Lavrov detailed. The intervention of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made it possible to sign two documents. One of them explains in detail what steps and guarantees will apply when exporting Ukrainian food from three Ukrainian ports, and the second document states that the UN Secretary General will try to remove artificial obstacles on fertiliser and grain exports from Russia, the chief diplomat recounted. He added that all this was publicly emphasised by Guterres at the recent G20 summit in Indonesia.
The Russian top diplomat noted that Moscow supports Guterres’ actions, but simultaneously pointed out that “there is not much respect by the West for his efforts.” “This is also typical of the West, showing who’s the boss and who should be chased after, who to plead for,” Lavrov added.
Strike targets in Ukraine and US, NATO role in the conflict
Western nations should not claim that they are not participants in the Ukraine war, considering everything they have done for Kiev, Lavrov said, as he explained the Russian military’s choice of strike targets in the country.
“We are taking out infrastructure objects, which allow you to pump lethal weapons into Ukraine so that they can kill Russians. So do not say that the US and NATO are not part of this war. You are participating in it directly,” he insisted.
In addition to sending arms, NATO members are training Ukrainian troops both on their soil and on the ground, the minister added. There is “a large number of mercenaries” involved, open intelligence sharing while “an overwhelming number of targets” attacked by Kiev “are picked by Western masters of this (sic) regime,” he stated.
Risks of nuclear war
Russia believes that any armed conflict between nuclear states should be avoided and urges other states to adopt the same stance, Lavrov said.
“We have a joint statement by the presidents (of Russia and the US) of June 2021 that a nuclear war cannot be won by anyone, so it should not be started. There is a similar statement by the five nuclear-weapon states, and we, as I have already said, were ready to go further and say that not only should nuclear war not be waged, but any war between nuclear powers is unacceptable either. Even if someone plans to start it by conventional means, the risk of escalation into a nuclear war will be enormous,” he cautioned. He added that this made Western claims that Russia could use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine particularly concerning.
US subjugation of European security
Moscow does not need “the kind of security” architecture that Western countries are trying to build without Russia and Belarus, Lavrov said. “European security now boils down to being fully submissive to the US,” he added. Just a few years ago, France and Germany sought independence from American military protection, Lavrov recalled. But the US is determined to make NATO indispensable, and wants to pit other European nations against Russia, he claimed. If they choose to change this direction, Moscow would be willing to discuss better alternatives, the foreign minister said.
“What is happening now signifies NATO’s return to the conceptual priorities that were developed 73 years ago. Nothing has changed: the Russians are not welcome in Europe, and the Americans have already subjugated the entire Europe and it is not just Germany that is kept down, but all of the European Union. So, the philosophy of domination and unilateral advantages has not gone anywhere following the end of the Cold War,” Lavrov said.
The minister urged not to forget that during its existence, NATO “could hardly take credit for even one real success story.”
“It brings devastation and suffering. I have already mentioned the aggression against Syria, the aggression against Libya, the destruction of the Libyan statehood,” the minister continued. “While in 1991 NATO consisted of 16 countries, now there are already 30 of them. Sweden and Finland are on the cusp of accession. The alliance deploys its forces and military infrastructure ever closer to our borders.”.
‘Unchristian’ remarks from the Vatican
Lavrov criticised Pope Francis for making a controversial statement about Buryats and Chechens, two of the many ethnic groups in Russia, who serve in the Russian Armed Forces, and take part in the special military operation in Ukraine.
The pontiff’s claim that they were particularly prone to brutality on the battlefield was, Lavrov said, “strange” and “unchristian,” and “certainly did not help the cause [of peace in Ukraine] and the reputation of the Holy See.”