West a party to Ukraine conflict, Russia says at UN

United Nations, Sep 24 (EFE).- The United States and European Union are “direct participants” in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Russian foreign minister said Saturday at the United Nations, where he also pledged that Moscow will respect the outcomes of the referendums in four Ukrainian regions on joining the Russian Federation.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Sergey Lavrov decried a “crusade by the West against the objectionables” and said that Western powers make no secret of their wish to defeat Russia militarily.

“What they want to do is to remove from the global map, a geopolitical entity which has become all too independent,” the foreign minister said.

He reiterated that Moscow launched what it calls the Special Military Operation against Ukraine on Feb. 24 to protect ethnic Russians living in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and to neutralize threats to Russian security.

Lavrov complained that Western countries never put any pressure on Kyiv to meet its commitments under the Minsk agreements, which called for negotiations on autonomy within Ukraine for Donetsk and Luhansk, whose residents chafed at restrictions placed on the use of the Russian language by the nationalist government that took power in February 2014.

He accused the West of “throwing a fit” over the referendums in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine.

The people in those areas, he said, were simply heeding the advice offered to them last year by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said that ethnic Russians who felt uncomfortable in Ukraine should “get out and to go to Russia.”

At a subsequent press conference where he alternated between Russian and English, Lavrov responded to a question about President Vladimir Putin’s comments this week hinting at a willingness to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia’s sovereignty by referring the journalist to Moscow’s published doctrine on nuclear security.

When a journalist from a German outlet asked for comment on reports that thousands of military-age men have been fleeing Russia after Putin announced a partial mobilization involving the call-up of 300,000 reservists, the foreign minister said he thought that Germany had ratified human rights conventions enshrining freedom of movement.

Regarding the referendums, he said that Russia “will unconditionally respect the results of these democratic processes.”

“Ukraine is being flooded with weapons,” Lavrov said. “Intelligence information is being provided. Satellite data is being provided.”

The US, NATO and the EU “have proven that they are not observers, but rather direct participants in the conflict,” he said.

Lavrov also accused the EU of behaving dictatorially when it comes to Russia, saying that a representative of Cyprus who planned to meet with Russian diplomats at the General Assembly was ordered by Brussels to cancel the meeting.

He advocated a reform of the UN’s highest body, the Security Council, to expand the number of permanent seats from five to eight adding Brazil and India to the US, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom and establishing another seat to represent nations of Africa.

And Moscow’s top diplomat urged a return to “the origins of UN diplomacy” based on the “sovereign equality of states.” EFE fjo/dr

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