does,’ says the statement. Al-Arabiya quotes Lavrov as saying
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Al-Arabiya in an exclusive interview that Moscow does not consider itself at war with NATO, but NATO does.
“There is no need for anyone to provide help to open humanitarian corridors,” he said, dismissing UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ requests for humanitarian assistance and civilian evacuation. There is only one problem: Ukrainian ultranationalists are ignoring humanitarian corridors.
“We appreciate the secretary-willingness general’s to assist… (We’ve) stated… what technique they’ll use to track how humanitarian corridors are announced.”
When asked about the dangers of war spilling into Moldova after a series of explosions shook a separatist border region within the country, Lavrov stated, “Moldova should be concerned about its own destiny… since they are being drawn into NATO.”
In an hour-long interview with Talal Al-Haj, the Al-Arabiya news channel’s New York/UN bureau chief, which aired on Friday night, Lavrov discussed the Russian government’s view of the Ukraine conflict, which is now in its third month and has claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides, civilians and soldiers.
“Unfortunately, it appears that NATO considers itself at odds with Russia,” he remarked. “Many NATO and EU leaders, including those in the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, France, Germany, and, of course, EU Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell, have stated unequivocally, publicly, and repeatedly, ‘Putin must fail, Russia must be beaten.’ I believe you believe you are at war with the person you wish to beat when you use this word.”
The Russian government has stated that its “special military operation” in Ukraine is intended at ensuring Russia’s security as well as the security of Russian-speaking population in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Russia has been accused by Western nations of invading a sovereign country and committing war crimes.
Since the invasion began on February 24, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have sanctioned over 1,000 Russian persons, enterprises, and rich individuals, with the United States prohibiting all Russian oil and gas imports.
The economic sanctions are intended to harm Russia’s economy while also punishing President Vladimir Putin, senior officials, and those who have benefitted from his reign.
“To believe that this latest outrage and wave of sanctions, which eventually revealed the true face of the West, which, as far as I now understand, has always been Russian-phobic, to believe that this latest wave of sanctions will make Russia cry uncle and beg for forgiveness, those planners are lousy, and of course they don’t know anything about Russian foreign policy and how to deal with Russia,” Lavrov said.
NATO nations and allies have pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine as a result of the crisis. Surface-to-air missiles, heavy artillery, and surveillance devices are among the weapons systems being delivered to Ukrainian military.
The Biden administration has agreed to have monthly talks with Western allies to review the requirements of the Ukrainian government, prompting fears that the conflict would “drag on and extend for months and years,” as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg put it.
NATO has stated that it will do all possible to assist Ukraine while ensuring that the conflict does not spread beyond its borders into neighboring countries.
Lavrov, on the other hand, claimed that NATO’s collaboration with Ukraine was merely “an tool to confine, dissuade, and annoy Russia.”
He claimed that Russia was aware of the arms-supply lines utilized by Ukraine, and that “as soon as these weapons enter Ukrainian soil, they are fair game for our special operation.”
Lavrov stated that Russia has made numerous solutions to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, but that none have been accepted so far. He claimed that Ukraine was to blame for the stalled peace talks, blaming the government’s shifting negotiating positions.
The Pentagon has been accused by Russia of supporting and developing biological weapons at a number of Ukrainian laboratories. The US refuted the allegations in January of this year, claiming that the laboratories are there to “lower the possibility of biological weapons proliferation.” The claims made by the US were emphatically denied by Lavrov.
Lavrov again accused the West of undermining peace efforts, stating that talks in Istanbul last month were progressing on topics of Russian territorial rights and security assurances until Ukrainian officials backtracked at the West’s request.
“We’re stuck due of their constant urge to play games,” he explained. “Because (the Ukrainian officials) have received instructions from Washington, London, and other capitals not to speed up the negotiations.”
Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, according to Lavrov, is focused at protecting the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Donbas.
“The purpose of our operation,” he stated flatly, “is to protect these two republics and to ensure that no threat ever emanates from Ukrainian territory to the security of this people and the Russian Federation.”
President Putin acknowledged the territory in late February, allowing Russian military to station themselves there. Because “they have been under siege by the Ukrainian authorities for a long, long eight years,” Russia has been working to protect the two republics, according to Lavrov.
“When the coup took place in 2014, they stated they didn’t want anything to do with the individuals who took power unlawfully, and they said, ‘Leave us alone, we want to understand what’s going on.’ The remainder of Ukraine was never attacked.”
Lavrov was alluding to the toppling of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, which came after months of protests in Kyiv’s Independence Square, or Maidan, over his unwillingness to sign a deal that would have brought Ukraine closer to the EU.
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine around the same time, and backed the Donbas rebellion. Since then, separatist governments supported by Moscow have governed Donetsk and Luhansk.
“The (leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics) were declared terrorists, and an anti-terrorist operation was launched by the butcher leader who came to power by force through illegal means, and they have been victims of Ukrainian aggression for eight years, with the Ukrainian regime killing 13,000 to 14,000 civilians, destroying civilian infrastructure, and committing many, many other crimes against them,” Lavrov said.
Russia’s “special operation,” he explained, was a “reaction to what NATO was doing in Ukraine to prepare this country for a highly aggressive stance towards the Russian Federation.”
“They were handed offensive armaments, including arms that may reach Russian territory,” he claimed of the Ukrainian government. “Military bases were created, notably on the Sea of Azov, and many dozens of military drills, many of them on Ukrainian soil, were performed under NATO auspices.”
“The majority of these exercises were planned to harm the Russian Federation’s interests, thus the goal of this operation is to ensure that those plans do not come to fruition.”
“All these years we have been initiating draft treaties, draft agreements with NATO, with countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” Lavrov said, “and recently in December last year we proposed another initiative to the US and NATO to conclude treaties with both of them on security guarantees to all countries in the Euro-Atlantic space without joining any military alliance.”
He was talking about the OSCE, a regional security-oriented intergovernmental organization with UN observer status whose mandate encompasses topics like arms control, human rights advocacy, press freedom, and free and fair elections.
“Every time we tried to take these steps, we were met with more or less courteous rejection. We presented the European Security Treaty in 2009, but NATO refused to accept it, despite the fact that the treaty was basically about codifying something that all OSCE nations had signed at the top level.”
According to Lavrov, Russia proposed that countries be given the freedom to pick their alliances and not to bolster their security at the price of another country’s security, implying that “no single European organization can pretend to be a dominant player in this geopolitical arena.”
According to Lavrov, NATO responded to Russia by stating that outside of NATO, there would be no legally enforceable security assurances, making the OSCE “simply lip service.”
He claimed that Russia’s most recent attempt was in December 2021, just before the start of the operation in Ukraine, in reaction to “growing tension and antagonism” over the years.
According to Lavrov, NATO rejected the Russian approach because it did not want to give up its “open doors policy,” which “does not exist in the Washington Treaty (which serves as NATO’s foundation)” and is being used as a “cover to support NATO expansionist goals.”
“NATO was pushing closer and closer to the Russian border, despite its promises and the promises of its leaders, and they were assuring us, ‘Don’t be afraid, we are a defensive alliance, and we will pose no threat to your security.'”
After World War II, when there was a Berlin Wall and a “geopolitical wall between NATO and the Warsaw Pact,” he accepted that NATO was a defensive alliance.
“However, as the Warsaw Pact disbanded and the Soviet Union fell apart, NATO determined that the line of defense should be relocated to the east, which they did five times.”
“One of these days, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss remarked that NATO must be a global actor, so we can hear about the defensive aspect of this alliance so many times, but this is a falsehood.”
The Ukrainian administration, according to Lavrov, has “cancelled everything Russian,” including “the language, education, media, and day-to-day use of the Russian language.”
“The Ukrainian regime accelerated shelling of the eastern parts of the country in Donbas at the end of last year and early this year, in the greatest violations of the Minsk Agreements, which were signed in February 2015 and backed by the Security Council resolution,” he stated. We didn’t have a choice when they were targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, and kindergartens.”
The risks of a nuclear conflict should not be “underestimated,” according to Lavrov, if the US and its allies continue to arm Ukraine.
“We’d never played with anything so deadly before.” We should all cling to the P5’s (permanent members of the UN Security Council) pronouncements that a nuclear war will never happen. But, in order to ensure that this is the case, the West must discipline speakers such as our Ukrainian and Polish colleagues, who see no risk in using such extremely dangerous terms.”
Lavrov claimed that Western media outlets misinterpreted his statements, but that “we are used to it.”