Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told local media on Friday (Jan. 28) that Moscow did not want war with Ukraine but restated the Kremlin would not allow its security interests to be ignored.
“If it depends on the Russian Federation, there will be no war. We do not want wars, but we will not allow our interests to be rudely attacked, we will not allow our interests to be ignored,” the top diplomat said in an interview with several Russian radio stations.
His remarks came a day after the United States and NATO submitted their responses to Russia’s security demands that were raised in December after Moscow built up troops near the border with Ukraine.
The Russian demands include a ban on Ukraine joining NATO and on new military bases in former Soviet countries.
Lately, the West and Kiev have been speculating a great deal about the risks of Russia invading Ukraine. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed such allegations as groundless fanning of tensions
Lavrov also spoke positively about security proposals received from the United States. The U.S. proposals were better than proposals received from NATO, he said.
The US response is “an example of diplomacy,” he said compared to “arrogant and ideologically biased” NATO document, for which he was “even ashamed.”
Lavrov is expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the next couple of weeks and added that President Vladimir Putin would decide how to respond to the proposals.
Asked about Washington’s new package of sanctions against Moscow, such as personal measures against President Vladimir Putin and cutting Russia from the SWIFT payment system, Lavrov said their introduction will mean the breakup of diplomatic relations.
“As far as the threats of introducing sanctions are concerned, the Americans were told, including at the level of presidential contacts, that this package…, accompanied by the total disconnection from the financial-economic systems controlled by the West, would be tantamount to the severing of relations,” he stated.
Blinken, Lavrov hold fresh talks
Blinken held fresh talks Tuesday (Feb. 1) with Lavrov and called for a prompt de-escalation in Ukraine. The phone call between the two diplomats comes a day after United Nations representatives from the two countries lashed out at each other in a heated discussion on Ukraine at the UN Security Council.
Blinken restated the US request for a “withdrawal of troops and equipment from Ukraine’s borders,” and reiterated America’s readiness to meet Moscow’s invasion “with swift and severe consequences” the State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price noted in a statement.
Russia’s top diplomat criticized Washington’s response to Russia’s security guarantees request, describing the note as “negative” and accused Washington of focusing too much on matters of secondary importance.
With reporting by TASS, AFP, Reuters,