Russia wants to resolve the Ukraine situation and end the war as soon as possible, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday.
Protecting the lives of soldiers and civilians is a priority for Moscow, Lavrov said in an interview on a Russian news program.
“We would like to settle this situation as soon as possible, to end this war that the West was preparing and eventually unleashed against us through Ukraine,” he said. “The priority for us is the lives of soldiers and the lives of civilians who remain in combat zones.”
However, Lavrov said Moscow has no desire to hold talks with the West, especially as Western politicians “have proclaimed that security in Europe should be built against Russia.”
On the US’ delivery of Patriot missile systems to Ukraine, Lavrov said Moscow was told via diplomatic channels that Washington does not intend to fight directly with Russia.
“We asked the Americans … whether the decision to transfer the Patriot system … means that there will be American specialists there (in Ukraine),” he said.
“We were explained in detail that there are no such plans, precisely because the Americans do not want to fight directly against Russia. They said it will take several months to put the Patriot system into operation, during which Ukrainian servicemen can master the technology,” he added.
He said the main reason why Washington insists on resuming inspections under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is to “understand what awaits them in case of direct conflict with Russia.”
Lavrov called "a serious change" in the US position, claiming the Pentagon said it cannot prohibit Kyiv to carry out strikes on regions internationally recognized as Ukraine's territory, including Crimea.
According to Lavrov, then-US Secretary of State John Kerry told him in 2014 that Washington has no doubts about the choice of Crimea's residents in favor of joining Russia.
He also questioned the logic of US President Joe Biden, saying he speaks simultaneously of the necessity to avoid direct war with Russia and Russia's defeat in Ukraine, noting that the US military is deeply involved in the conflict in Ukraine and that there is no communication channel between the Russian and American militaries for prevention of incidents.
Lavrov regretted the absence of "serious" peace initiatives and said this happened because the West does not allow Ukraine to do it as Russia has not been "exhausted" enough in the conflict.
The minister called "hypocritical" statements about Kyiv's readiness and Moscow's unwillingness to start peace talks, citing Kyiv's pledges to "never sit at the negotiating table" until the liberation of "native Ukrainian-Crimean," Russia's capitulation, a tribunal concerning it and subsequent payments of reparation.
Moscow is not going to ask Washington to restore dialogue but it is its "tradition to always respond to reasonable proposals," he noted.
Commenting on information about the possible transfer of S-300 air defense systems from Greece to Ukraine, Lavrov said Moscow reminded Athens that according to the contract, it has no right to transfer systems to anyone without Russia's consent.
"They (Greece) said they remember their commitment. We carefully monitor this kind of thing," he said.
About the US-Africa Summit, Lavrov said Washington showed that for the Americans, Africa is a different geographical concept, when it did not invite six or seven countries of the continent.
He also recalled that the US initiated the division of Sudan and then started complaining about the lack of obedience from both sides and now imposes sanctions on both parties.
Asked about plans for 2023, Lavrov said: "I am convinced that through our perseverance, patience, and determination we will defend noble goals that are of vital importance to our people and our country, consistently remaining always ready for an equal dialogue and agreements that will ensure truly equal, indivisible security in Europe."