Russia’s top diplomat says Moscow doesn’t ‘want wars’ but warns ‘we also won’t allow our interests to be rudely trampled’

Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a joint press conference with his Portuguese counterpart following their talks in Moscow on May 31, 2021.
  • Russia's top diplomat warned that Moscow would not permit its "interests to be rudely trampled."
  • This came as Putin complained that the West didn't address his key concerns surrounding Ukraine tensions.
  • Russia has gathered tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine's border in recent months.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday said Russia is not pursuing war, despite the fact that it's gathered tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine's border. 

"If it depends on Russia, then there will be no war. We don't want wars. But we also won't allow our interests to be rudely trampled, to be ignored," Lavrov told Russian radio stations, per Reuters.

Lavrov's comments came as Russian President Vladimir Putin complained that the US and NATO had not addressed his central concerns in terms of Moscow's demands for binding security guarantees. Russia has insisted, among other things, that Ukraine and Georgia be banned from ever joining NATO. But the alliance and Washington have made it clear that this demand is a non-starter. 

The US and NATO delivered written responses to Putin's demands this week, which remain confidential. But both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg underscored that the responses did not make concessions on the alliance's open-door policy. 

"The US and NATO responses did not address Russia's fundamental concerns such as stopping NATO expansion...or rolling NATO's military capacity and infrastructure in Europe back," the Kremlin said in a readout of a call between Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday. 

Russia will "carefully study the written responses to the draft agreements on security guarantees received from the United States and NATO on January 26, after which it would decide on further action," the Kremlin added. 

The Kremlin has repeatedly claimed it has no plans to invade Ukraine, even as it refuses calls to withdraw troops from the border. Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, annexing Crimea in the process. Since that year, the Kremlin has supported rebels in a war against Ukrainian forces in the country's eastern Donbass region. 

The US has warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken a different tone and urged the West against inducing "panic."

"We don't need panic," Zelensky told reporters on Friday, warning that talk of an imminent invasion was risking the destabilization of the Ukrainian economy, BBC news reported. "There are signals even from respected leaders of states, they just say that tomorrow there will be war. This is panic — how much does it cost for our state?"

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