Moscow reveals preparations for possible conflict
Russia does not want an armed conflict with Ukraine, but will continue to take steps to defend itself, Moscow’s top diplomat has said, as Kiev claims Moscow could order an offensive against its neighbor.
Speaking on Wednesday in an exclusive interview with RT, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia “would not want to choose the path of confrontation,” referring to tensions with Kiev.
He warned “hot heads” in Ukraine against military confrontation and said that Russia will respond to any provocations.However, the diplomat said that “the choice is up to our partners.”
According to him, "the fact that the US authorities have been quite expeditious with regards to organizing future contacts, I believe it is a positive sign, regardless of the substantial work ahead."
Lavrov added that Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said Russia "has all the capabilities in place to ensure a full military and technical response to any kind of provocations that might unfold around us."
The top diplomat’s remarks come amid heightening tensions in the east of Ukraine, with a number of Western officials and news outlets alleging that Russian forces are building up near the demarcation line as a possible precursor to launching a full-scale invasion of its neighbor.
The Kremlin has consistently rejected the allegations, arguing that they are groundless and only illustrate a “hysteria” whipped up in the press.
Moscow has instead accused the West of encouraging Kiev’s officials to engage in anti-Russian provocations. Earlier this month, Lavrov said that its authorities are “becoming more and more insolent… with its aggressiveness towards the Minsk agreements, towards Russia, and in its attempts to provoke the West into supporting its militant aspirations.”
The Minsk Protocol is a ceasefire pact, signed in 2014 in an effort to end the war in Donbass. The conflict in the country’s east broke out following the events of the 2014 Maidan, when the elected government was overthrown following violent street protests, with the self-declared Lugansk and Donetsk republics declaring their autonomy from Kiev.
Neither Russia or Ukraine nor any other UN member-state recognizes them as sovereign nations.The Kremlin has insisted that it is not a party to the conflict, however, and has said the onus is on Kiev to strike a deal with the leaders of the two breakaway regions on the Russian border.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, however, has refused to hold talks, insisting that the separatists are Russian-backed, and has called for talks with Vladimir Putin.