Question: Western media and politicians continue to whip up tensions over the alleged Russian “invasion” of Ukraine, although it seems fewer and fewer people trust their statements as time goes by. This has become a bad joke even in the UK and the United States. Why do they go on with this? What do they want to achieve?

Sergey Lavrov: I am sure that even people who are halfway interested in international politics have become convinced that this is only propaganda, fake news and lies. The main thing is for those who invent these fakes to believe in them. They like it. If they do, they can continue. Why not, indeed?

This is ridiculous. Grown-up people make “forecasts” and repeat their incantations every day. The Politico magazine has postponed the “invasion” date several times. Their latest forecast is February 20. At the same time, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been saying that the invasion may begin at any moment over the course of many months. They are trying to set the scene for the future. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that Russia will “invade” Ukraine in a matter of weeks, if not days. We know that the State Department has warned its NATO allies confidentially that the “invasion” can be expected to begin before the end of February. However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (no matter what you may think of his activities) has said they have no information indicating that an invasion is imminent. According to the Foreign Office, “it’s important that [they] prepare for any eventuality,” and “even if Russia pulls back from the Ukrainian border, the problem will not have gone away.” They are creating pretexts for the future. When the drills end, the troops will return to their barracks. It is already taking place, as they can see. But they are setting the tune for the future: even if Russia moves its troops back to their permanent bases, the threat will remain.  … there is a saying that real men do what they say, at the very least, at the international level.

In the meantime, they are increasing their military and military-technical presence and building up their military infrastructure. The UK has said that it will double the number of troops in Estonia and will send equipment, including tanks and armoured fighting vehicles there. US Permanent Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield has provided an example of “refined diplomacy” when she told the media that Russia is “prepared for an attack any day.” “We’ve seen them do it when they invaded other parts of Eastern Europe,” she said. Well, they are giving us no slack.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the leaders of other NATO countries say that NATO is a defensive alliance. President Vladimir Putin reminded Mr Scholz during a news conference following the talks that NATO bombed Yugoslavia in 1999. The Chancellor replied that this was done to prevent a genocide of Kosovo Albanians, and that everything went well, and the region is prospering now. But it is not prospering at all. Kosovo and several other parts of the Western Balkans have become a breeding ground for crime, with terrorists and drug traffickers. Mercenaries are recruited there to fight in the conflicts that are being covertly fomented, including by the United States. According to available information, mercenaries are being recruited in Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, including for deployment to Donbass in an attempt to knock Russia off balance. We are currently checking this information.

The situation Olaf Scholz described with regard to Yugoslavia had nothing to do with genocide. International courts have not passed this verdict. We know who created a pretext for the bombing of Yugoslavia: US national William Walker, who headed the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission. There were armed clashes, and he convened journalists to tell them in a televised statement that they had discovered the bodies of 30 civilians in Racak who had been massacred by the Serbs. He described it as genocide and took a unilateral decision, which he had no right to do, to withdraw the mission from Kosovo. This is what triggered the bombing. They said that the atrocity in Racak was the last straw and that they would cut short the activities of the criminal regime.

Later a special group was assigned to investigate the incident. It established that the dead were not civilians but militants who were dressed in civilian clothes after they had been killed in battle. The holes in their clothes did not align with the wounds. Yes, the case was investigated very thoroughly. So, saying that NATO’s invasion of Yugoslavia had a noble purpose is wrong and unethical.

The statement made by William Walker played the same role as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s vial with tooth powder, which provided an excuse to invade Iraq and destroy it. So far, neither democracy nor economy is flourishing there. Everyone knows this.

Our NATO colleagues will not be able to avoid a discussion about how we are going to implement the obligations we have signed up for. They cannot have a selective interpretation of the concept that has been approved at the top level and stipulates that all the components of indivisible security are interconnected.

We are in correspondence with our American colleagues. We have responded to their reply to our December initiatives. We have not made much progress on the issues of principle. We will continue to uphold a comprehensive approach. It is impossible to make lasting agreements on matters of secondary importance without coordinating the political concept of our interaction.

Question: It has been reported that you plan to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Is this so? Do you expect to make progress?

Sergey Lavrov: Secretary Blinken and I have agreed that he would be ready to meet with me after Russia sent its document and they analysed our vision of the situation. Both of us are interested in this. It meets our interests and plans.

As I have said, we want to explain to our American colleagues and their NATO allies that we will not be satisfied with verbal promises, especially since the written obligations by the heads of state and government regarding NATO’s full respect for Russia’s interests (let alone the oral guarantees which President Vladimir Putin has mentioned on numerous occasions) turned out to be worthless. This won’t do.

We will press on for a fair solution. I don’t want to use slang, but there is a saying that real men do what they say, at the very least, at the international level.


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