Russia will achieve its objectives in Ukraine despite a “hybrid war” waged by the West against Moscow, Moscow’s top diplomat said on Wednesday.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the goals of Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine are “determined by Russia’s core legitimate interests” and will be fulfilled.
“There must be no military infrastructure in Ukraine that poses a direct threat to our country,” he said, adding that Moscow also intends to make sure the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine are protected.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has explained his decision to send troops into Ukraine on February 24th as the need to “demilitarise” and “denazify” Ukraine, to prevent the neighbouring country from joining Nato, and to protect Russian speakers living there.
Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected those arguments as a cover for an unprovoked act of aggression.
Speaking at a marathon annual news conference, Mr Lavrov dismissed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s demands for a complete Russian withdrawal from Ukraine.
He also dismissed Ukraine’s insistence on payments for war damages and the prosecution of war criminals as a platform for future talks, saying “there can be no talks with Zelenskiy”.
Mr Lavrov alleged “the West makes all the decisions for Ukraine” with the goal of using the conflict to exhaust Russia. Nato members have provided Ukraine with substantial military aid.
“The amount of Western support clearly shows that the West has invested a lot in its war against Russia,” he said. “It’s the West that makes the decisions. And it has made decisions for Ukraine and without Ukraine.”
He asserted that Russia’s action in Ukraine is “our response to a hybrid war unleashed against us” by the West.
He said Russia is ready to “seriously consider” any Western initiatives on ending the conflict but added: “We haven’t seen any serious proposals yet.”
Any future Russian talks with Western representatives should not be limited to Ukraine, Mr Lavrov continued.
“It makes no sense to talk to the West only about Ukraine.
“The West is using Ukraine to destroy the security system that existed in the Euro-Atlantic region for a long time and hinged on consensus, indivisibility of security and settlement of all issues through dialogue and co-operation.”
He warned that Russia’s showdown with the West over Ukraine is part of global policy shifts that will evolve over a long period.
“The process of forming a multipolar world order will be long; it will take an epoch,” he said. “And we are in the middle of that process now.”
💬 FM Sergey #Lavrov: Russia-Chinese relations are in their best shape ever. They are pragmatic, trusting, mutually beneficial, and are based on a balance of interests.
The West is trying to bring discord in our relations.#Outcomes2022 pic.twitter.com/0VmcnOWMJj
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) January 18, 2023
He cited Western efforts to hamper the widening co-operation between Russia and China, maintaining that they will not succeed.
Mr Lavrov said Russia’s relations with the West “will never be the same”.
He accused the West of failing to observe signed agreements with Russia.
“Never again there will be a situation when you lie, sign documents and then refuse to fulfil them,” he said.