Lavrov: Ukraine must demilitarize, otherwise Russia will do it

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned Tuesday that Ukraine must meet Moscow’s demands for “demilitarization” and “denazification,” as well as the elimination of military threats to Russia, Otherwise “the Russian army (will) solve the problem.”

Sergey Lavrov also accused the West of fueling the war in Ukraine to weaken Russia, saying it depended on how long the conflict between Kyiv and Washington, which began on February 12, lasted. 24 o’clock Russian invasion of Ukraine, will continue.

“As for the duration of the conflict, the ball is on the side of the (Kyiv) regime, while Washington is behind it,” Lavrov told state news agency TASS. “They may stop their unnecessary resistance at any time.”

Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that “Russia needs to face reality,” an apparent reaction.

“Whether it’s a general mobilization, a panicked search for ammunition, a secret contract with Iran, or Lavrov’s threats, nothing will help,” he said. “Ukraine will demilitarize RF (Russian Federation) to the end and expel the aggressors from all occupied territories. Waiting quietly for the finale…”

A day earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with The Associated Press that His government wants a summit to end the war, but he doesn’t want Russia to attend.

Kuleba said Ukraine wanted to hold a “peaceful” summit within two months, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as mediator. But he also said Russia must face a war crimes court before it can talk directly with Moscow.

Both statements illustrate how complex and difficult any attempt to end the war is. Ukraine has said in the past it will not negotiate with Russia until it withdraws completely, while Moscow has insisted its military gains and its annexation of Crimea in 2014 cannot be ignored.

Meanwhile, intense fighting continued on Tuesday in the Russian-claimed Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which have recently been the scene of the most intense conflict.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malial said Russian troops were trying unsuccessfully to encircle the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. Heavy fighting was also taking place around the city of Kremina in the Luhansk region, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said.

In the partially occupied southern Kherson region, Russian troops fired 40 shells into Ukrainian-held areas on Monday, wounding one person, Ukrainian authorities said. The city of Kherson itself – which Ukraine recaptured last month in a major victory – was targeted 11 times, regional administrator Yaroslav Yanushevich said.

Russia has made few significant gains since making initial strides when the war began 10 months ago, instead regularly hitting Ukrainian infrastructure and leaving millions without power, heat and hot water in winter conditions.

Lavrov did not specify how the Russian military would achieve its goal of demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine – a stated goal of Russia when the invasion began in February. The reference to “denazification” comes from Russian allegations that the Ukrainian government has been heavily influenced by radical nationalist and neo-Nazi groups. The claim was ridiculed by Ukraine and the West.

Lavrov warned that further Western support for Ukraine could lead to direct confrontation.

“We have been warning our adversaries in the West of the danger of escalating the crisis in Ukraine,” he said, adding that “the risk of the situation spiraling out of control remains high.”

“The strategic objective of the United States and its NATO allies is to outwit Russia on the battlefield to significantly weaken or even destroy our nation,” he said.


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