Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia is open to talks with US despite pulling out of nuclear New START Treaty talks
By Caitlin McFall
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the U.S. and NATO on Thursday of “direct” participation in its war in Ukraine but claimed Moscow was still open to talks.
In an annual news conference from Moscow, the foreign minister began his comments by defending Russia’s barrage of missile fire on civilian targets like Ukraine’s energy sector and attempted to claim it was a defense tactic to halt Western arms.
“We disable energy facilities [in Ukraine] that allow you [the West] to pump lethal weapons into Ukraine to kill Russians,” Lavrov said, according to a translation by Reuters.
“So don’t say that the U.S. and NATO are not participants in this war – you are directly participating,” he continued. “Including not only with the supply of weapons, but also with the training of personnel – you train the [Ukrainian] military on your territory.”
Lavrov was referring to international efforts to train up Ukrainian servicemen with NATO tactics in nations like Britain, Germany and Italy – comments which were made after reports surfaced this week suggesting that Washington may expand its training of Ukrainian soldiers on U.S. bases in Germany.
Russia has been accused by NATO of using winter as a “weapon of war” by forcing Ukrainian citizens to endure increasingly harsh conditions without electricity, heat or running water as the cold months set in.
In addition, the West has asserted that Moscow is aiming its attacks at civilian areas in an effort to pressure Kyiv into submission after suffering heavy casualties on the front lines.
Despite the fact that cities all over Russia have postponed their Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in remembrance of the expensive war, it is still unclear what the general sentiment is in Russia regarding Moscow’s bloody war in Ukraine.
According to estimates from the West, since the conflict started in February, Russian troops have suffered at least 80,000 casualties.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, has declared that he will not take part in peace negotiations until Russia has fully withdrawn all of its forces from Ukraine.
Reduced ties between Russia and the West continue to be a significant geopolitical worry, particularly after Moscow canceled this week’s scheduled negotiations with Washington over the nuclear New START Treaty.
Lavrov on Thursday suggested that Russia remains open to talks with the U.S. and NATO member nations, but said it was “naive” of the U.S. to think it would engage in nuclear talks at this time.
“For now we aren’t hearing any meaningful ideas,” he said. “If there will be proposals from the president [Biden] and from other members of his administration, we’ll never shy away from contacts.”