Lavrov explains Ukraine’s jitter regarding talks with Moscow
Ukraine is not a sovereign country, and this explains why its dealings with Russia to negotiate a cessation of hostilities was so chaotic, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed during an interview with international media on Thursday.
“The Ukrainian team once again found some reasons to delay negotiations. They certainly take orders from Washington, I have no doubt about that. The country is absolutely dependent,” the Russian diplomat remarked.
Lavrov was referring to the second round of Russian-Ukrainian talks, which were initially scheduled to take place on Wednesday, but were pushed back to Thursday at Ukraine’s request. On Thursday morning, there was another change of plans, reportedly after Kiev requested to change the location of the meeting.
The talks are set to take place somewhere close to the Polish border in Belarus, which provides security guarantees for visiting Ukrainian and Russian officials.
The first round of talks on Monday failed to produce a negotiated settlement. Russia says it would agree to nothing less than the demilitarization of Ukraine and the elimination of radical nationalist elements from its military, law enforcement and other parts of the government.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that his government would reject “unacceptable conditions and ultimatums” from Russia, but indicated that Ukraine’s neutral status was not off the table.
Lavrov remarked that the crisis in Ukraine has a wider aspect of determining the future world order.
“It’s no coincidence that the West has been avoiding at all costs reacting to our clear suggestions, which are based on existing treaties, regarding the security architecture in Europe,” he said.
Moscow accuses the US and its NATO allies of compromising its national security through continued expansion in Europe. It declared attempts to include Ukraine in the alliance as a red line that must not be crossed and that it would not tolerate the increasing presence of NATO instructors and equipment in Ukraine.
Commenting during the interview on Western assurances that Russia’s suspicions were unfounded, Lavrov said foreign nations were in no position “to determine for us what we need for our security.”
Western nations responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine with harsh financial and trade sanctions aimed at devastating the Russian economy. They also said they will ramp up arms supplies to Ukraine and other forms of military assistance for Kiev.