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19 Apr, 2024 10:00

Ukraine conflict, relations with West, and peace talks – Lavrov speaks to Russian media: as it happened

The foreign minister has held a press conference with three domestic radio stations on the most pressing international issues
Ukraine conflict, relations with West, and peace talks – Lavrov speaks to Russian media: as it happened

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has given a wide-ranging interview to radio stations from Sputnik, Moscow Speaks, and Komsomolskaya Pravda. The conversation addressed the Ukraine conflict and other foreign policy issues on Moscow’s agenda.

This live stream has ended.

  • 19 April 2024

    12:16 GMT

    The German opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has been highly skeptical about supporting Ukraine, was immediately implicated in a Russian espionage scandal after it began to gain ground in the polls, Lavrov has said.

    The minister noted that Berlin had no problems tracking down two people who were allegedly preparing terrorist attacks on US military bases in Germany and sabotaging defense industry facilities that send weapons to Ukraine. 

    However, for some reason, Germany has been unable to identify the perpetrators of the attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in 2022, Lavrov said, arguing that the project is of immense economic importance for the country. He claimed that it is common knowledge that NATO military forces were involved in preparing the explosion at the facility, but “no one saw it.”

  • 11:57 GMT

    EU leaders are stirring up the narrative about a purported looming Russian attack because “they desperately need to ‘wheedle’ money out of their lawmakers to continue the war,” Lavrov believes.

    He added that many EU leaders, such as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have invested too much of their political capital into supporting Ukraine, having openly declared Russia an “enemy.”

    “They would simply be finished as politicians if they changed this rhetoric,” Lavrov suggested.

  • 11:43 GMT

    A draft agreement to settle the Ukraine conflict, which was discussed in the spring of 2022, included “very serious security guarantees” for Kiev, Lavrov explained. “It was specifically stated that those guarantees do not apply to Crimea and Donbass,” which essentially meant those areas were a no-go zone for Ukraine.

    According to the minister, another provision stipulated that Ukraine would not host any foreign military bases, with the treaty also limiting how many weapons, personnel Kiev could have. “It also said that Ukraine would not hold military drills with the participation of third countries,” he added, recalling that this rule could be waived in specific cases if the guarantors of the treaty – namely Russia and China – had no objections.

    However, when the agreement was almost finalized, Ukrainian negotiators attempted to introduce supposedly “minor” amendments, which in practice severely diluted the ban on foreign military war games. “This was a red flag, saying that they had been either prohibited from doing so overnight, or maybe someone decided to fool the Russians a little while longer.”

  • 11:14 GMT

    Several weeks before the start of the Ukraine conflict, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flatly refused to discuss a commitment not to expand NATO, which is traditionally one of Moscow’s core security concerns, Lavrov has said.

    According to the minister, Blinken also refused to talk about a pledge not to deploy intermediate-range rockets to Ukraine, agreeing only to discuss a cap on the number of such assets in the country.

    “I don’t know what else we should explain as to why we launched the special military operation [against Ukraine],” the minister said.

  • 11:00 GMT

    Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s ‘peace formula’, which demands that Russia withdraw all its troops from territory Kiev claims as its own, is a non-starter for negotiations, Lavrov said. The proposal should be “set aside,” he insisted. “If they want, as President [Putin] said, let’s talk about the basis on which we are ready for talks.”

    Lavrov also insisted that Switzerland could not host a summit on Ukraine, arguing that it had abandoned its neutral status and become an “openly hostile state” to Russia. Moscow has previously said it will not attend the June meeting there, even if officially invited.

  • 10:47 GMT

    Moscow has no intention of attacking other countries in Europe, despite Western leaders’ attempts to parrot “the Russian threat narrative” prior to elections, Lavrov has said. “They want only to frighten and intimidate... There is no reason for us to attack them… They themselves wanted to bring NATO… closer to our borders, and we will not allow this to happen in Ukraine.”

  • 10:44 GMT

    Iran has no nuclear weapons, Lavrov has stated, noting that this opinion is also shared by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “Iran is the most verified country among the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” he said.

  • 10:36 GMT

    After Iran launched a retaliatory strike against Israel in response to what it claimed was an attack on its consulate in Syria, Russia remained in contact with both countries to defuse tensions, Lavrov has said. 

    “There were telephone contacts between the Russian and Iranian leadership, as well as between our representatives and the Israelis,” the minister stated. 

    “We clearly recorded and conveyed to the Israelis that Iran does not want an escalation,” Lavrov stressed, arguing that Tehran had no choice other than to respond to a “brazen violation of international law.”

    He also expressed hope that a reported Israeli strike on an Iranian airbase on Friday was also conducted in a manner that would avoid further escalation.

  • 10:22 GMT

    Russia has always “preferred talks to fighting and wars,” Lavrov said. He noted that when Kiev understood that it had gotten “too carried away with bombing Donbass” and promoting “genocide methods” on territory it claims as its own, it engaged in talks with Moscow, shortly after the start of the conflict in February 2022.

    According to the minister, at that point, Kiev put forward a proposal whereby it would commit to putting an end to discrimination against the nation’s minorities – mostly Russians – and stop supporting neo-Nazi ideological movements.

    This round of talks, however, collapsed in the spring of 2022 despite initial progress. Moscow claims this happened after then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised Kiev to keep fighting.

  • 10:02 GMT

    Russia has no intention to cease hostilities with Ukraine, even if Moscow and Kiev start peace talks, given that the country has proven itself to be an untrustworthy actor, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.