April 24, 2015

Lavrov: Ukraine’s neutrality important


MOSCOW – Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Ukraine’s unity and neutrality are in Russia’s best interest. In an interview on April 22 with Moscow-based radio stations Ekho Moskvy, Govorit Moskva and Sputnik, Mr. Lavrov said, “It is in our interest not to divide Ukraine. It is in our interests to keep it neutral, primarily in a military-political sense.” He added that Russia wants “Ukraine to be peaceful and quiet” and not “dismembered” by what he described as some European countries “that once gave some of their territories to the current Ukrainian state after World War II.” Mr. Lavrov also accused the United States of using the Ukrainian crisis to reach what he claimed was a “strategic goal” of Washington to “hinder the development of Russia’s cooperation with the EU, especially with Germany.” He expressed doubts about the effectiveness of a U.S. program to assist Ukrainian military forces with instructors, claiming that such attempts were unsuccessful in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Russian Foreign Affairs Minister also accused the United States of breaching the Non-Proliferation Treaty by placing tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. According to Mr. Lavrov, the Kremlin does not see any threats from the East, noting, “I don’t see any threats from China; I don’t see any threats from the East generally, except for one: the missile-defense system, which is a global U.S. system and which is being created on U.S. territory [and deployed in] Europe and Northeast Asia.” (RFE/RL, based on reporting by Ekho Moskvy and Interfax)