In an interview with Sputnik, the Russian Foreign Minister has touched upon a wide range of issues, including the recent escalation around Ukraine, the West’s attempts to take advantage of it, as well as the deterioration of relations between Russia and the West.
Ukraine should not count on military assistance from the United States, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Sputnik, weighing in on the recent Donbass escalation.
“…there is no point in relying on military assistance from the US. Everyone always knew that. If someone had an illusion that such help would come, well, such ‘advisers’ would be worthless in any government, including the government of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy”.
According to Russia’s top diplomat, Zelenskyy’s team is “tying itself into knots” to reverse the Minsk agreements while the West, which backed the agreements at their inception, and is showing its powerlessness as it simply watches on.
The foreign minister recalled Zelenskyy’s statement about the agreements, when the Ukrainian president became “desperate to turn Minsk agreements around” and said that the treaty “is no longer good for us, but we need it because preserving the Minsk agreements guarantee so that the sanctions against Russia will remain in place”.
“We ask the West, how do you assess that? They cast their eyes down in shame and cannot say anything. But I think that it’s a shame, it’s a disgrace when an international legal document is being twisted like that, and the West, which co-authored the document and backed it in the UN Security Council, is showing an absolute lack of power.”
The West keeps trying to convince Moscow of the need to “soften” the Minsk agreements or change the sequence of the implementation of the set of measures, but doing so would lead to a massacre in Donbass, Lavrov cautioned, while slamming Kiev’s attempts to promote the need to “reaffirm” the ceasefire in Donbass.
“A couple of weeks ago, the Ukrainian leadership decided it is necessary to revive the ceasefire topic again. This is shameful and reproachful.”
OSCE Tries to Avoid Publishing Objective Report on Donbass Developments
The foreign minister continued by saying that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is trying to avoid publishing fair data on the situation in Donbass, while Moscow is making an effort to ensure the regular publication of such reports.
“The leadership of the Special Monitoring Mission and of the OSCE itself feels very uncomfortable about this and is trying in every possible way to avoid publishing the honest data.”
According to the Russian minister, the OSCE statistics on civilian injuries and damage to civilian facilities “is not in favour of Kiev”, since it confirms that in the overwhelming majority of cases, it is Kiev which launches the strikes, thereby forcing the Donbass militia to retaliate.
Lavrov Sees as ‘Wishful Thinking’ Western Claims That Russia Backed Down by Finishing Drills
Lavrov believes that the West has indulged in wishful thinking when claiming that Russia “backed down” by wrapping up military exercises in the western part of the country, close to the border with Ukraine.
“You remember how they cried that Russia is pulling its troops closer to the border with Ukraine … And then, when the exercises ended and we made a relevant announcement, we heard spiteful exclamations from there, from the Western side, like, look, Russia was forced to back down, Russia retreated. You know, there is such an expression, a self-fulfilling prophecy, but this is about something else, this is wishful thinking,” Lavrov said.
“It shows that the West wants to take advantage of this, first of all, to tout its decisive word and decisive place in modern international relations. This is sad.”
Russia Will Not Label Countries as ‘Unfriendly’ Indiscriminately
As the foreign minister zeroed in on the tensions prevailing between Russia and the West, especially against the background of the expulsion of Russian diplomats, he emphasised that Moscow will not indiscriminately label countries as “unfriendly” without first conducting a deep analysis before making such a decision.
“If we come to the conclusion that nothing else can be done, I believe the list will be updated from time to time,” Lavrov said, stressing that the list that is currently being drafted may be revised in the future.
The minister noted that “unfriendly” countries will be banned from hiring staff in Russia, not only among Russians, but among citizens of third nations as well.
Lavrov Slams as ‘Schizophrenia’ Events Unfolding in Prague Around Vrbetice Blasts Probe
Lavrov then went on to describe as “pure schizophrenia” Prague’s official statements about the deadly 2014 blasts at the ammunition depot in Vrbetice and the high treason accusations levelled against Czech President Milos Zeman, who called for all explanations to be considered, including the possible careless handling of weapons.
“I cannot talk about it because I do not understand what they actually want. One can follow this like watching some sort of not-too-elegant TV series, there are a lot of schizophrenic components in this story. When President Zeman says we need to figure it out, he does not rule out the possibility that this could have been sabotage by some foreign agents.”
“He just proposes taking into account the version that was raised by the Czech leadership, including current Prime Minister [Andrej] Babis: they said in 2014 that this happened because of negligence of the warehouse owner. And President Zeman just suggested considering this version, that has never been vitiated in the past seven years. Now he is accused of treason. And the parliament chairman claimed that, having pointed to the need to study all versions, President Zeman revealed a state secret… Well, is not this schizophrenia? In my opinion, this is pure schizophrenia.”
Zeman’s statements come a week after the Czech government accused Russia of being behind the explosion at the Vrbetice ammunition warehouse. Prague also claimed that the explosion was organised by two alleged GRU agents: Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
The two were previously accused by British authorities of carrying out an alleged attack involving a toxic agent against former GRU agent Sergei Skripal, but they strongly denied being GRU agents themselves or being involved in any way in Skripal’s poisoning.
Following the Czech government’s accusations on 17 April, Prague expelled 18 Russian diplomats and removed the Russian state company Rosatom from the list of contenders for building a new reactor at the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant.
Moscow has strongly denied Prague’s accusations and linked the Czech Republic’s actions to a new wave of anti-Russian hysteria initiated led by the US. Russia responded to the expulsion of its diplomats reciprocally, sending away 20 Czech diplomats. Prague may also fall under the conditions of a recently-announced law banning the embassies of “unfriendly” countries from hiring Russian citizens.
Lavrov Points to UK’s Subversive Role in Russia-EU Relations
The United Kingdom is playing a significant subversive role in relations between Russia and the European Union, the Russian foreign minister stressed.
“As far as the relations between Russia and Europe are concerned, I still believe that the UK is playing an active and a very serious subversive role. It withdrew from the European Union, but we see no decrease in its activities on this track. On the contrary, they are trying to influence EU member states’ approaches to Russia to the maximum possible extent.”
“At the same time, you know, they send us signals, they propose establishing contacts. This means, they do not shy away from communication [with Russia], but try to discourage others. Again, probably [this can be explained by] their desire to have a monopoly of these contacts and again prove that they are superior to others.”
Russia Has No Intention to Join the G7 Format
In this vein, he added that Russia has no intention of joining the G7 format, as it believes the group has lost its significance in the new world order.
“We have repeatedly said we will never join it. There will be no G8, this is a thing of the past,” he says, noting that the G7 members’ statements against calling for Russia to joint the format are only aimed at “promoting their decisive word”.
The G8 format, established in 1998, was reduced to G7 in 2014, when the other member states accused Russia of interference in Ukraine’s domestic affairs following Crimea’s reunification with Russia, and slapped sanctions on Moscow.