US, NATO Involved in Ukraine 12/01 06:16
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's foreign minister on Thursday accused the West of
becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine by supplying it with
weapons and training its soldiers.
Sergey Lavrov also said that Russia's strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities
and other key infrastructure that have left millions without power, heating and
water were intended to weaken Ukraine's military potential and derail the
shipments of Western weapons.
"You shouldn't say that the U.S. and NATO aren't taking part in this war,
you are directly participating in it," Lavrov said in a video call with
reporters. "And not just by providing weapons but also by training personnel.
You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of
Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries."
He said that the barrage of Russian missile strikes was intended to "knock
out energy facilities that allow you to keep pumping deadly weapons into
Ukraine in order to kill the Russians."
"The infrastructure that is targeted by those attacks is used to ensure the
combat potential of the Ukrainian armed forces and the nationalist battalions,"
Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of targeting key civilian
infrastructure in order to reduce morale and force Ukraine into peace talks on
Lavrov insisted that Moscow remains open for talks on ending the conflict.
"We never asked for talks but always said that we are ready to listen to those
who are interested in a negotiated settlement," Lavrov said.
The Kremlin has urged Ukraine to acknowledge Crimea, which Moscow annexed
from Ukraine in 2014, as part of Russia and recognize other land gains that
Russia has made since sending its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. It also has
continued to push for guarantees that Ukraine wouldn't join NATO, along with
vaguely formulated "demilitarization" and "denazification" goals.
Asked if a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S.
President Joe Biden is possible, Lavrov responded that "we don't shun contacts"
but added that "we haven't yet heard any serious ideas yet."
Lavrov said that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has raised the issue
of U.S. citizens imprisoned in Russia in a phone call, but noted that Putin and
Biden agreed to set up a separate channel of communication between special
services to discuss the issue when they met in Geneva in June 2021.
"It's working and I hope that some results will be achieved," he added.
The Biden administration has been trying for months to negotiate the release
of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Michigan
corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner
swap with Moscow.
Commenting on Russia's decision to postpone a round of nuclear arms control
talks with the United States that was scheduled for this week, Lavrov argued
that "it's impossible to discuss strategic stability nowadays while ignoring
everything that is happening in Ukraine."
"The goal has been announced to defeat Russia on the battlefield or even
destroy Russia," he said. "How can the goal of defeating Russia not bear
significance for strategic stability, considering that they want to destroy a
key strategic stability actor?"
During the online news conference that lasted for 2 hours, Lavrov ranted
against the U.S. and its NATO allies, accusing them of trampling on
international law while trying to isolate and destroy Russia.
He claimed that the U.S. has tried to discourage other countries, including
India, from maintaining close ties with Russia, but those attempts have failed.