The goal of Moscow’s special military operation is to demilitarize Ukraine, Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday.
Once Ukraine has been demilitarized, the Ukrainians “must decide themselves how they will live,” Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV channel.
All people living in Ukraine must have a say in this matter, he stressed.
Lavrov said Russia recognizes Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Ukraine’s legitimate president, although “he lied to the people” with his promise to end the country’s civil war.
Zelenskyy has been promoting “anti-Russian, Russophobe” rhetoric and making extremely controversial statements, he added.
Lavrov said Zelenskyy’s demand for security guarantees is “a positive step” and Russia is ready to discuss the issue during the second round of talks with Ukrainian officials.
However, he said the second round may not happen because Kyiv is waiting for Washington’s nod.
“The fact that President Zelensky declared his readiness, or rather, his desire to receive security guarantees – I think this is a positive step,” said Lavrov.
“Our negotiators are ready to discuss these guarantees with Ukrainian representatives during the second round of talks. But they have not yet confirmed the second round. They are biding time. I think they are also not allowed by the Americans. No one believes in Kyiv’s independence now,” he said.