Russia‘s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov refused to comment on ‘conjecture’ that Moscow was targeting Ukrainian civilians and warned foreigners not to believe the ‘American action movie’ that U.S. media portrays the invasion as.
‘The world is seeing civilians being killed in Ukraine by Russian bombs,’ ABC’s George Stephanapoulos noted to Lavrov virtually during a press conference.
‘I cannot comment on conjectures, there are a great deal of these now. If you paid your attention probably to the fact mostly the United States are trying to close down all the media outlets and information sources broadcast by Russia from Russia,’ Lavrov said.
He said that the Ukrainian army ‘robs and rips off’ pro-Russian regions within Ukraine.
‘How the Ukrainian army, how the neo-Nazi battalions behave toward the peaceful civilians – they rob and rip off the Donbas settlements,’ he said. ‘We saw the footage of foreigners trying to flee by Russian soil and they’re not allowed.’
Asked if he believes Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s first Jewish president, is a Nazi, Lavrov said: ‘I think the Nazis and neo-Nazis manipulate him.’
‘Please learn more facts. Don’t try to pretend that this American action movie is developing according to your plan of absolute good and absolute evil,’ he told Stephanapoulos.
Sergei Lavrov has repeated his warning that World War Three would be nuclear as he accused the West of fixating on his dire threats
Lavrov also said that Russia does not feel politically isolated, ignoring the fact that much of the world has united against them.
The foreign minister said that Vladimir Putin is prepared to press forward with fighting in Ukraine until ‘the end’ but added that Moscow is not looking to pursue nuclear war.
‘The thought of nuclear is constantly spinning in the heads of Western politicians but not in the heads of Russians,’ he said. ‘I assure you that we will not allow any kind of provocation to unbalance us.’
He claimed that the U.S. has a vested interest in the Ukrainian invasion because it has biochemical facilities there it needs to protect.
‘We have evidence that the Pentagon is very much concerned about the fate of chemical and bio facilities in Ukraine, because the Pentagon in Ukraine has actively built two biological military laboratories and has been developing pathogens there – in Kyiv and Odessa,’ Lavrov said, without providing the evidence, in a press conference Thursday.
He also accused the United Kingdom of building military bases there.
The U.S. has a stake in nuclear facilities in Poland and Romania, but none in Ukraine.
Meanwhile French President Emanuel Macron spoke to Vladimir Putin for a second time since the invasion on Wednesday, and the call did not leave him hopeful for peace.
A force of around a dozen Russian vessels including landing ships is massing off the coast of Crimea today, with experts saying an assault on Odessa could come later in the day
‘There was nothing in what President Putin told us that should reassure us. He showed great determination to continue the operation,’ and aide to the French leader told reporters.
‘The expectation of the president is that the worst is to come, given what President Putin told him,’ the aide said, according to AFP.
Putin ‘wanted to seize control of the whole of Ukraine. He will, in his own words, carry out his operation to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine to the end.’
Macron also reportedly told Putin to avoid striking civilian areas and allow for humanitarian aide to enter Ukraine. Putin reportedly said he was in favor, but did not make any commitments.
On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces be put on high alert, accusing the West of taking ‘unfriendly’ steps against his country.
Moscow has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and a huge cache of ballistic missiles which form the backbone of the country’s deterrence forces.
The move was followed up by comments from Lavrov yesterday in which he warned another World War would be ‘nuclear and destructive.’
In separate comments today, Lavrov accused the US of trying to conquer Europe.
He told Sky News: ‘Napoleon and Hitler had the objective to have the whole of Europe under their control, now Americans have got Europe under their control.
‘We see that the situation what role the EU is really playing in the context of the global situation, they are just fulfilling a role.
‘We see that there’s a picture like in Hollywood of absolute evil and absolute good and this is unfortunate.
‘I think that this hysteria will end and our partners will settle down after a while and we will sit down to negotiate but only on one absolute condition and that is as equal parties.’
Still, Lavrov said he was certain a solution to the crisis would be found, as a new round of peace talks are set to take place between Russia and Ukraine.
Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s two largest cities, remained under a heavy bombing campaign overnight with missiles striking civilian areas – including a train station in the Ukrainian capital being used to evacuate people from the city and as a shelter for those who cannot or have chosen not to leave.
On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces be put on high alert
Chernihiv, in the north west, and Mariupol, in the south, also remain under Ukrainian control despite being all-but surrounded by Russian forces and coming under heavy bombardment.
The mayor of Mariupol said Thursday that Russian artillery fire has been so intense that they cannot even remove wounded people from the streets.
Vadym Boichenko accused the Russians of doing ‘everything to block the exit of civilians’ including blowing up the city’s trains, leaving people stranded before the artillery opened fire.
Evacuations continued elsewhere, however, with the UN estimating that 1million people have now fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries.
Ukraine estimates that 2,000 civilians have been killed in fighting. The UN has confirmed 227 of those but said the true toll is likely far higher. War crimes prosecutors have opened a case into the deaths.