Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu and Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmitry Kuleba, Antalya, March 10, 2022
10 March 2022 22:12
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today I had a meeting with Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu. After that, we held a trilateral meeting with Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmitry Kuleba at Turkey’s initiative. The idea was voiced by President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a conversation with President Vladimir Putin. We accepted that proposal of our Turkish colleagues because we stand for any contacts on the fundamental issues of the current Ukrainian crisis and on issues connected to looking for ways out of it.
The only thing we made clear straight away was that these contacts must have added value. We believe that they must not be used, first of all by our Ukrainian colleagues who often try to do things like that, to replace or devalue the main existing negotiations track, which is taking place in Belarus between two delegations approved by the presidents of Russia and Ukraine.
Our meeting today has confirmed that there is no alternative to this track. We talked about humanitarian issues, mostly at the initiative of our Turkish friends. We explained the measures our military are taking on the ground to help alleviate the plight of civilians, who are being held hostage and used as human shields by Ukraine’s so-called volunteer battalions and “territorial defence” forces. You know this for a fact. Our officials, including at the Defence Ministry, make statements for the media regarding this several times a day. We reaffirmed that the Russian initiative regarding daily humanitarian corridors remains effective. The routes of these corridors and the opening time are determined by those who are controlling the situation on the ground based on the analysis of the situation and the choice of the safest and most efficient exit routes for civilians.
We reminded our colleagues that during the latest round of talks in Belarus the Russian delegation made highly specific proposals, this time in the form of a legally binding draft document, and that the Ukrainian delegation said they would take them to Kiev for discussion and would provide a concrete reply soon.
We want to use the Belarusian platform to engage in a serious discussion. Instead of drafting informal papers of various kinds, what we want is to agree on matters that have already been recognised and must be resolved in the context of a comprehensive settlement of the Ukrainian crisis and efforts to promote security on the European continent taking into consideration the interests of all countries without exception.
This is the gist of what we spoke about at the meeting today. I am ready to answer your questions.
Question (retranslated from Turkish): Have you already assessed the losses from the war Russia has incurred? Are they smaller or bigger than you expected? Would you consider the possibility of intervening outside of the Ukrainian territory considering that the Ukrainian army has been receiving weapons from the West, as you have discovered? Will you view the deployment of Patriot systems in Poland as a direct threat? Does military retaliation remain a possibility for you?
Sergey Lavrov: I didn’t quite understand your question as it was interpreted to me. If we are talking about the progress of the special military operation, it is the Defence Ministry and, most importantly, the President of Russia as Supreme Commander-in-Chief who share these assessments. He has said more than once that on the whole the operation is going according to plan.
As for arms supplies to Ukraine from abroad, we see that our Western colleagues have been making some very dangerous steps, including the European Union. In fact, it has been encouraging the supplies of lethal weapons to Ukraine, including thousands of MANPADS, which can be taken anywhere and fired at any aim “from the shoulder.” This violates all EU principles and its so-called “values.” Terrorists often use these weapons to threaten civilian aircraft. Where will these thousands of MANPADS end up? We have been asking our EU colleagues this question whenever they start talking about ending the policy of creating a threat for the Russian Federation from Ukraine, which has been going for many years now. We are still waiting for an answer. How will these MANPADS be controlled later? The risks for civilian aircraft will persist for many years to come not only in Ukraine’s air space, but across Europe.
Turning to the question on whether we intend to attack any other countries: we are not planning to attack other countries. In fact, we did not attack Ukraine, either. We have explained many times that the situation in Ukraine has evolved in such a way that it poses a direct threat to Russia’s security. No one listened despite all our reminders, admonitions, calls and proposals during all these years. President Vladimir Putin has spoken on this topic many times. New evidence which is now being uncovered on the liberated territories, in particular in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, demonstrates that there was a detailed plan to attack these people’s republics this month.
We are also outraged by what Pentagon has been doing in the biological laboratories created with its funding. It uses the Ukrainian territory to carry out experiments with pathogens which can then be used to create biological weapons. Washington’s representatives have publicly refuted rumours that they have been engaged in prohibited activity in Ukraine. Not surprisingly, EU countries started saying in one voice that they do not know anything about the Americans working on biological weapons in Ukraine. By the same token, it is not surprising that UN representatives also said that they did not have this information. It goes without saying that the Americans have been doing this in total secrecy. They do this in other post-Soviet countries as well, with their biological weapons laboratories encircling the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. They will not get away with this. There is the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which requires states to report any activities on their territories and outside of it.
Those supplying arms to Ukraine must understand that they bear responsibility for their actions. The same goes for those who encourage sending mercenaries to Ukraine to fight there in keeping with the traditions extreme radicals and their battalions introduced in Ukraine’s everyday life.
Question: Russia has used a lot of different words to justify the invasion of Ukraine. You’ve said that it’s for the Ukrainian people. But how can you possibly justify the bombing of a maternity ward and a children’s hospital? Do you agree with President Zelensky that it is an atrocity – to target pregnant mothers and children is, in fact, an atrocity? And also, for the Russian people themselves, today Russia faces a $40 billion default. That’s worse than we’ve seen in the Russian economy since 1917, in the Bolshevik revolution. How will you justify it to the people at home, that you’ve wrecked their economy for an invasion that, frankly, the rest of the world does not believe should be happening?
Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the maternity hospital, we have heard an emotionally charged outcry over the so-called “atrocities” allegedly committed by the Russian armed forces. Three days ago, on March 7, our delegation at the UN Security Council meeting provided facts to prove that this maternity hospital had been taken over by the far-right Azov battalion, who ordered all pregnant women, medical nurses and other personnel out of the building. You can draw your own conclusions about the manipulation of public opinion around the world.
I have seen reports by your network and other Western media today. They are very emotional. Regrettably, no attention is being given to the other side, which would have allowed people to have an objective view of the situation.
As for the Russian economy, well, we will take care of it ourselves. The President and the Government are working on this now. You have said that we are using a lot of different words to justify our actions in Ukraine. We had been trying for years to draw attention to the turning of Ukraine into “anti-Russia.” Since the early 2000s, the West openly demanded before every election that Ukraine make a choice between the West and Russia. That is, you are either with us, or against us. Is this the Western values that were being forced on the Ukrainian people?
We have also seen other things. When a pro-Western candidate got the smallest number of votes, as it happened in 2009, the West forced the Ukrainian Constitutional Court to adopt a decision on the third round of voting, in violation of the Constitution of Ukraine. There were a lot of such manipulations in those “best years.” Ukraine was being consistently turned into a pro-Western instrument for Western experiments. Ultimately, NATO demanded that Ukraine must be free to join the bloc, naval bases were being established in Ukraine, and the deployment of missiles, which were a direct threat to the Russian Federation, was discussed. It has now turned out that military biological laboratories were operating there secretly from the public in Ukraine and the rest of the world. When it was suggested that Ukraine should abandon its non-nuclear status, we appealed to the reason and conscience of our Western partners and urged them to coordinate security principles for Europe.
They replied that any issue could be discussed but that we should back off from the matter of NATO’s expansion. They would decide it without us. We should not worry because NATO’s expansion would not affect our security. Why should NATO make decisions on issues of our security and our security interests? This won’t do. Russia won’t be spoken to like that. We are not going to justify our actions in Ukraine. Their goals are perfectly clear: we don’t want the militarisation of Ukraine, whether it is or isn’t a member of NATO, because US [missile] systems targeting our territory can be deployed there without NATO. We don’t want Ukraine to become a neo-Nazi state where battalions wearing SS stripes march before the President of Ukraine, and where these militants are trained to stage terrorist attacks. We want Ukraine to be a neutral state. President Putin said on numerous occasions that while insisting on NATO’s non-expansion we are not going to overlook the security interests of the Ukrainian nation. We are ready to discuss security guarantees for Ukraine together with security guarantees for European countries and Russia. Judging by the recent statements made by President Zelensky, awareness of this approach is growing, which inspires a certain amount of optimism.
As for our economic problems, we will deal with them. We faced difficulties at all stages in our history. I can assure you that this time we will emerge from the crisis with a healthier mindset and mentality. We will have no illusion that the West can be a reliable partner who will not abandon anyone and its own values at the drop of a hat. Could you imagine that private property rights will be buried as easy as one-two-three? Have you ever seen the presumption of innocence, the pillar of the Western legal system, to be openly disregarded and trampled underfoot? I can assure you that we will overcome this. And we will also do everything in our power never to depend on the West in the areas of critical importance for our people.
Question: The deputy head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office says Kiev is ready for a diplomatic settlement, but that it would only be possible through negotiations at the presidential level. Do you consider it appropriate to organise a meeting between the presidents of the two states, now or in the future?
Sergey Lavrov: I think everyone is well aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin never refuses to talk – provided the purpose is to achieve specific agreements. We do not want to meet for the sake of meeting. This topic was touched upon today. I reminded Mr Kuleba that we are always ready to meet if it helps to resolve the problem. However, in recent years, after the anti-constitutional coup d’état, the Ukrainian leaders prefer meeting for the sake of meeting and simulating decision-making for the television cameras. When the Minsk agreements were tightly blocked by the Kiev regime, President Vladimir Zelensky constantly insisted – let’s meet, let’s finally get together again. In turn, we reminded our Ukrainian colleagues that a Normandy format summit was held in Paris in December 2019, all its decisions were transferred to Kiev, and not one of them was actually implemented. What was the Paris meeting for, if another summit needed to be held for the Paris decisions to be finally implemented? They have this tendency to substitute the essence of any problem with various external effects: they also proposed expanding the Normandy format by adding the British, the Americans and Poles. They proposed inviting Turkey too. They either decided to create a parallel Contact Group, or to invite the French and Germans to the Contact Group. The Kiev regime gushed with initiatives. At our meeting today, we reaffirmed that President Vladimir Putin does not refuse to meet with President Vladimir Zelensky. I hope, the need for this meeting will arise someday. But before that happens, preparatory work needs to be completed on the Belarusian track. Three rounds have already taken place. Our extremely specific proposals have been submitted to the Ukrainian side. They promised us to give very specific answers. We are waiting.
Question: Wherever Russia comes with peace and denazification, kidnappings and torture occur. This happened in Crimea. We know about 200 Crimean Tatars and deputy speaker of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Nariman Dzhelyalov. Women have been abducted in the occupied territories south of the Sea of Azov today. One of them is a deputy of the Zaporozhye Regional Council, a Crimean Tatar Leyla Ibragimova. You seem to have reached a new level. You haven’t been kidnapping women in these eight years. It is important that my colleagues from Turkey know what Russia has been doing with the Crimean Tatars, not only for eight years in Crimea. What do you have to say about this? These are facts. I am talking about my native region where I spent my childhood – Genichesk, Melitopol.
Sergey Lavrov: You said these were facts. I think you should have used a different f-word, which is “fake.” The airwaves, the internet and all the media are full of fakes. I knew nothing about this story, about the alleged kidnapping of a representative of the deputy corps, but I know about other stories that the Kiev regime is known for. Yesterday I heard that member of parliament Yevgeny Shevchenko has disappeared. Found him yet? Denis Kireyev, a member of the delegation at the Belarusian negotiations who participated in the first round, has been killed. First they said the Ukrainian security service executed him without trial or investigation, on charges of treason, then there was a report of some showdown. If you delve into these kinds of stories, you can find a lot of interesting and outrageous details. I believe that trying to take one episode, most likely fictional, and using it to whip up public sentiment, including here in Turkey, in order to promote an anti-Russia policy, is another attempt to substitute serious conversation, negotiations and actions with such external effects. I have not heard about these cases involving deputies. I will inquire about this. I have heard about Shevchenko though, who disappeared in Kiev, not in Zaporozhye.
I think that you have already been filmed and the video will be shown in your country with fanfare. You have attained your goal.
Question: There are some voices about the use of biological weapons in the attack. What can you say about that?
Sergey Lavrov: We are alarmed by the information that has recently come to light that the Pentagon established several dozen military biological laboratories on Ukrainian territory under its programme to set up such facilities all over the world in violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. We have sent an official inquiry, and we will demand an explanation.
I have no information as to whether they have already used their weapons. But there is no doubt that these experiments were far from peaceful, and that their aim was to develop ethnically-oriented biological weapons.
Question: The United States is saying openly that US ambassadors have been given instructions to convince national governments to join the anti-Russia sanctions. Did you give similar instructions to Russian ambassadors to persuade governments not to take part?
Sergey Lavrov: In any situation, we inform Russian ambassadors about our official position and facts, linked with any situation that the Foreign Ministry addresses. We do this in the most detailed manner possible. Russian ambassadors conscientiously inform the governments of host countries on these matters, so that they would have an objective picture.
It is not our tradition to run around the world and force sovereign, independent countries, members of the UN, to fulfil the Big Brother’s order. Actually, we are good-mannered people, as you are aware. The Americans do not conceal the fact that they are demanding that Turkey, India, Egypt, Southeast Asian countries and even China join the illegal unilateral US sanctions. It is impossible to imagine such disrespect for these great countries and civilisations. However, the Americans let nothing pass. For them, any means are acceptable to whip up Russophobia to unprecedented heights. We do not do such things.
Question: You said some time ago that Russia had no intention to invade Ukraine. I think today you said that Russia did not invade Ukraine, when it clearly has. You’ve also said that Russia would not hurt civilians, and thousands have been hurt, homes destroyed, and it seems that hospitals are being attacked. Why should the Ukrainians take you seriously, with all due respect? Why should they, and the rest of the world, believe a word you say?
Sergey Lavrov: I have mentioned hospitals and maternity homes, but you are not listening. This will never be shown and not a single Western media outlet will report that we explained at the UN Security Council three days ago what had happened to that maternity hospital.
As for the claims about who will do what or who will not do what, we wanted to solve this problem diplomatically until the last moment. We presented a detailed document about the Russian-US bilateral agreement and a draft Russia-NATO agreement on all the key European security issues, which takes into account the security interests of all countries without exception, including Ukraine. We were told that Ukraine was “theirs,” that they would decide Ukraine’s fate together with Ukraine, and that they would do as they pleased. They have also rejected many other Russian suggestions, including one on preventing physical land-based threats to the Russian Federation. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has made it clear why he has taken the decision to launch a special military operation. I hope that you (even if you will not be allowed to communicate this to your listeners and viewers) will be able to read the Russian document personally and understand our logic. It is explained there. We would like to see a Ukraine that is friendly, demilitarised, and immune to the danger of the creation of yet another Nazi state, a Ukraine that will not ban the Russian language, Russian culture, and the Russian Orthodox Church. Regrettably, all of this has been done and is reflected in law. All our admonitions during the eight years since the coup in Kiev and our appeals to our Western colleagues that they should bring the Ukrainian authorities to their senses have run against a dead wall of silence. Take, for example, the most obvious things regarding the Russian language. They have passed the law On Ensuring the Functioning of Ukrainian as the State Language, which declares Ukrainian alone as fit for use, while all other languages are open to prejudice in some way or another, including in terms of teaching them at elementary schools and universities. Russia has expressed concern, as have Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. Then the Ukrainian authorities did a simple trick by making an exception for EU languages under this discriminatory law. Quite elegant! Russian remains standing alone, deprived of all rights, even though its rights are guaranteed by the Ukrainian Constitution. The West fell silent and relaxed. This has shown once again what precisely the West wants Ukraine to do. Its assignment is to constantly work against Russia and all things Russian.
The West’s attitude towards the referendum in Crimea is also an example of the policy of double standards. There was no referendum in Kosovo. NATO, by its bombing attacks, deliberately created a situation, where it could bring about the disintegration of Yugoslavia. When the Kosovo legislature declared independence, the entire West (almost entire) was applauding and supported this as a manifestation of democracy and freedom of choice. But why can Albanians do it while Russians in Crimea cannot? The Albanians in Yugoslavia were not just allowed to do it, they were being encouraged in every way to advance in this direction, because the long-standing goal of a certain country with a rich history – I am referring to Great Britain – has always been to prevent the Balkans, and for that matter Europe as a whole, from having excessively big states. We know this well. Quite likely, the same goal has been pursued in relation of the Russian Federation as well.
We have realised that the point at issue is not Ukraine at all. It is an aggression against all things Russian – interests, religion, culture, language, security, etc. The West’s furious reaction to our actions demonstrates that this is a life and death struggle, a struggle for Russia’s right to be on the political map of the world with full respect for its legitimate interests.
Question: Just now the Ukrainian Foreign Minister said that there was no progress on a ceasefire. My question is: Was there any positive outcome of this meeting? What is your plan to ease the crisis?
Sergey Lavrov: We did not come here to replace the negotiation track on the Belarusian territory set up by the President of Russia and the President of Ukraine. All practical matters are discussed on that track. We explained in meticulous detail what is needed to end this crisis. The requirements include demilitarisation and denazification, ensuring Ukraine’s neutral status and several other things. They are having a serious conversation there. We warned our colleagues at the beginning of today’s meeting that we do not intend to create a parallel track here, which is what Ukraine wants. They always prefer to substitute specific efforts necessary to fulfil agreements with creating new formats that will be widely covered by the media and imitate actual work.
I am not surprised that Dmitry Kuleba declared that the ceasefire negotiations were unsuccessful. There was no intention to agree on a ceasefire. The Ukrainian side is well aware of all these proposals and the sequence of steps described in these proposals.
If the purpose of the meeting was to ask questions such as “let’s cease fire” or “let’s build the humanitarian corridors not the way Russia proposes but as Ukraine wants,” then the point was only to tell the media that all their noble aspirations failed. This fits into the logic of Ukrainian diplomacy that I have already mentioned: going for external effects to create a certain public appearance here and now instead of doing actual work.
Question: My question is about the US ban on imports of Russian oil and gas. What is Russia’s oil policy in Europe? How is Russia reacting to the sanctions by various companies and countries?
Sergey Lavrov: I have already said that we will solve this problem – and the solution will be to no longer depend on our Western partners, be it governments or companies that are acting as tools of Western political aggression against Russia instead of pursuing the interests of their businesses. We will make sure that we never again find ourselves in a similar situation and that neither some Uncle Sam nor anybody else can make decisions aimed at destroying our economy. We will find a way to eliminate this dependence. We should have done it long ago.
As for oil and gas, we are leaving it to the discretion and conscience of our Western colleagues. We have never used oil and gas as a weapon despite their consistent accusations. The first crisis happened in 2010, when Ukrainian authorities started stealing the gas transiting to Europe after they stopped paying for their own. We provided transit gas to Europe without fail in full conformity with our obligations (concerning amounts and rates) and they were stealing it. Do you think Europe did anything to rein them in? Not at all. Europe started saying that Russia is using gas as a weapon – although they knew very well what was actually happening. In relations with Ukraine, they saw only one criterion: how can we use this country to cause damage to Russia? They began deterring Russia even before it was officially announced. Here is an interesting point that speaks volumes about European values. They are cursing us up hill and down dale. They besieged us with sanctions and banned their companies from staying in Russia. However, they say they will continue to buy our oil and gas because otherwise they will freeze. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who supervises the energy sector, explained in great detail that we will not be try to persuade anybody to buy our oil and gas. If they want to find a substitute, they are free to do it. We will still have markets for our gas. We already have them.
Question: Does Russia have any red lines regarding countries that send military assistance to Ukraine?
Sergey Lavrov: I have already answered the question about whether we are going to react in any way to the actions by the countries that are arming Ukraine. We believe that these countries pose colossal threats to themselves, especially when they transfer the most dangerous weapons, for example, man-portable air defence systems, and when they watch, with complete dispassion, as the Ukrainian authorities distribute hundreds of thousands of small arms to random people, without any identification. We have never mentioned any plans concerning NATO member countries. But my new colleague, British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss, spoke about this. She said that if President of Russia Vladimir Putin did not lose in Ukraine, then this would not be the limit of his ambitions, and the Baltic states and Moldova would be his next targets. It is not we who say this, but Elizabeth Truss, who is famous for her catch phrases. When she prophesies an attack on the Baltic states and Moldova, I think that this is quite in line with English culture, politics, and diplomacy, because the British wrote a fake testament of Peter the Great once, in exactly the same way. Sounds like them.
Question: We are witnessing things today that seemed totally unimaginable yesterday. Do you believe a nuclear war could start?
Sergey Lavrov: I do not want to believe it, and I don’t. Please note that in the context of the Ukraine events in recent years, which have aggravated in recent months and weeks, the nuclear topic has been thrown into this discourse exclusively by Western representatives, primarily from NATO. Let me remind you that again, Elizabeth Truss (we seem to be talking a lot about her today) said she did not rule out a conflict between NATO and Russia. How can one even think something like that? Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (I would say he has become too independent of late, not coordinating his statements with all NATO members as expected) said that if NATO wanted to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of its Eastern European members, the alliance would do it. My French colleague, Jean-Yves Le Drian, reminded President Vladimir Putin that France also has nuclear weapons. By the way, French Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire proudly announced that the West was declaring a total war on Russia (“Totaler Krieg,” as the “non-French” used to say). US President Joe Biden, when asked if there was any alternative to these sanctions from hell, said the only alternative was World War III. It keeps popping up in their subcortex. We never talked about it. It is definitely alarming that the West keeps making those Freudian slips, returning again and again to this topic.
Question: President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev earlier proposed Kazakhstan as a platform for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Is Russia considering this proposal and when can the next negotiations between the conflicting parties be held?
Sergey Lavrov: Russia is grateful to everyone who, out of good intentions, offers their services in helping to resolve the current grave internal Ukrainian crisis and who is ready to help find a solution, taking into account the concerns of all parties, and based on a balance of interests. The problem is that those proposals (which, as I have already said, we are certain that our Turkish friends and our Kazakhstani friends have made with the best of intentions) are not used by the Ukrainian side, which continues to substitute any real action to fulfil its obligations with external effects. I remember that they wanted to relocate the Contact Group to Kazakhstan, when the Minsk agreements were still breathing; they also suggested Turkey as a platform. I am certain that the motive behind all this has been their reluctance to do what they must, do what we have agreed upon. But, as President Vladimir Putin said, and as we have been reiterating, Russia is ready for a variety of formats if they have added value, and are not convened just to do more talking.
Question: Is Russia really serious about seeking a negotiated solution to this crisis? If so, what did you bring to the table today, what progress, if any, did you make?
How can you talk of diplomacy, ceasefires and negotiations, when maternity hospitals are being struck, when so many civilians are dying?
Sergey Lavrov: It is the third time that I have heard this question about the maternity hospital, which means that you haven’t heard what I said about this particular case, which you and your corporation, as well as all other mainstream Western media have reported as headline news. In that maternity hospital, as we said on March 7, 2022, at the UN Security Council, there were no women, children or medical personnel. It has long been taken over by the Azov battalion and other radicals, who have established a firing point there, just as they are doing all over Ukraine, turning people into human shields and deploying strike weapons in residential buildings to attack the positions of the Russian forces and the Donetsk and Lugansk militias.
As for our proposals, which we made back on December 15, 2021, they were extremely serious. We proposed creating a security system, not an entirely new system but a system based on the implementation of the decisions that have been agreed at the highest political level, including at the OSCE summits in Istanbul in 1999 and in Astana in 2010, which said in black and white that all countries have a right to choose alliances, but nobody has the right to strengthen one’s security at the expense of others’ security. That formula was coordinated as a package. It was the summit of diplomacy. That decision was signed by the leaders of Russia, its neighbours and, excuse me for saying this, the free world. No state or group of states, and no organisation in Europe has the right to claim the dominant position, as NATO is doing now in flagrant violation of its member states’ obligations.
When we proposed signing a Russia-NATO agreement to seal the principles I have mentioned here, the principles that have been set out in the documents that were signed at the highest level, codified and became legally binding, we received curt formal replies from Jens Stoltenberg and Josep Borrell, saying that we need not worry and that they were ready to talk with us. The fact that we did not receive replies from the leaders of individual countries but from the heads of NATO and the EU means that Britain and the other Western leaders delegated their powers to them and made them responsible for the implementation or non-implementation of the pledges made in the OSCE summit documents. This is what your leaders, representatives of the West have done to diplomacy.
We still want all issues to be settled diplomatically. But this time we have explained very clearly the necessity of the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine. This must be done without any procrastination. The direct military, cultural, information, language and civilisational threats to Russia, which were created in the territory of Ukraine, have become perfectly clear and immediate. If we dealt with upright and honest people, the problem would likely have been long settled and security agreements would have been reached. But we do not see any partners who are ready to play fair with us. Several attempts to do this have been made, though. I hope that the Western leaders who have become more concerned over Ukraine will become aware of the existential threat to European security created by their failure to act and their unwillingness to honour previous agreements.
We never wanted a war, and we still don’t want it. We want to end this war, including in the interests of the two republics which refused to recognise the bloody anti-constitutional coup of 2014 and the regime that looked on proudly and cynically when its representatives burned people alive in Odessa, that sent warplanes to bomb central Lugansk, and that has bombed, attacked and shelled residential districts, villages, schools and kindergartens for the past eight years. There is a lot of evidence, because we and our journalists have been showing this 24/7 (I bow my head to all those who have died doing this). And all these eight years, Western journalists hardly ever went to the contact line. Instead, they showed how well people were living in the other part of Ukraine. Some 70 or 80 percent of the destruction is in the territory of the people’s republics, which shows who is usually the first to attack. Once members of your corporation, the BBC, spent several days there, and afterwards, I have to say, produced a relatively objective report. But I don’t remember anyone in the West providing daily coverage of the Ukrainian regime’s aggression against its own people, its sabotage of the Minsk agreements, which were approved by the UN Security Council, and its open refusal to implement that vital document. If we look at your current reports from Ukraine and compare them to what you have been telling your audiences for the past eight years, it will provide a revealing picture about freedom of speech, access to information and many other things, which have been approved by OSCE decisions adopted at the highest political level and which our Western colleagues do not quite respect, as we see it.