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30 Jun, 2023 13:07

Key takeaways from Lavrov’s press conference on Ukraine

The Russian foreign minister delivered his remarks in the wake of the Wagner rebellion
Key takeaways from Lavrov’s press conference on Ukraine

The situation in Russia in the aftermath of the Wagner uprising, the prospects for peace in Ukraine, the fate of the Black Sea grain deal, as well as Western attempts to thwart BRICS expansion, were among the topics Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed during a press conference on Friday.

Russia owes no explanation about the Wagner mutiny

If the West “has any doubts” about Russia’s stability in the wake of the last week’s uprising led by Evgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the private military company, “that’s your problem,” the minister said.

“We are not obligated to explain anything to anyone, to give any assurances,” Lavrov stressed, adding, however, that Russia has been very transparent about recent events.

He reiterated that Moscow has always emerged stronger from various challenges it has had to overcome in the past, noting that the Wagner mutiny – which he described as “nothing more than trouble” – will be no exception.

West “schizophrenic” on Ukraine peace

Remarks by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the Ukraine conflict would be resolved by diplomatic means sounded “strange,” Lavrov noted. He pointed to numerous statements by Blinken himself and other Western officials who have insisted that peace negotiations can only start after Ukraine conducts a successful counteroffensive against Russia.

“This looks like a schizophrenic situation… They say that everything will end in negotiations, but first Russia must be defeated.” 

The minister also suggested that the West is seeking to temporarily freeze the Ukraine conflict in order to win more time to deploy new military infrastructure and provide Kiev with new lethal long-range weapons.

Humanitarian law violations by Kiev

The Russian foreign minister stated he had not seen a “single fact of deliberate shelling of civilian targets by the Russian army,” but noted that Kiev allowed “mercenaries, Western generals and instructors to use civilian facilities to hold all sorts of meetings.” 

Such actions, he insisted, stand in violation of international humanitarian law and amount to a “war crime.” 

“If we discover such gatherings, for example, as in Kramatorsk, we will destroy them, because these are people who have declared war on us,” he added.

No secrecy about evacuated Ukrainian children

Moscow has been absolutely transparent in its efforts to protect Ukrainian children that had been caught in the midst of the fighting, Lavrov said. He added that Moscow does not try to hide the names and locations of the children that were taken to safe zones inside Russia.

“If those children have parents or close relatives, they have every right to pick them up,” Lavrov noted, adding that this has already happened dozens of times.

Grain deal in jeopardy

Lavrov said he saw no arguments that could convince Moscow to extend the UN- and Türkiye-brokered grain deal with Kiev that unblocked agricultural exports via the Black Sea, pointing out that Ukraine’s shipments of such goods are purely commercial.

However, the minister signaled that even if the deal were to expire on July 18, Russia “would provide grain supplies in the same or larger amount to the poorest countries” at its own expense and completely “free of charge.” 

Attempts to derail BRICS expansion

Western countries are seeking to prevent the group, which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, from accepting new members and increasing its international clout, Lavrov claimed.

The West, he continued, does not want Russia and China to find new allies and are trying “to undermine the unification processes” on the Eurasian continent.

However, according to the minister, “the global majority does not want to live by Western rules and stands by the universal norms of international law” enshrined in the UN Charter.

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