The United States and NATO have been directly involved in the Ukrainian conflict since the beginning, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russian FM said that the West has become directly involved in the Ukraine conflict by supplying weapons and training its soldiers.

“You shouldn’t say that the US and NATO aren’t taking part in this war. You are directly participating in it,” Lavrov said in a video call with reporters. “And not just by providing weapons but also by training personnel. You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries.”

Russia is said to be targeting crucial civilian infrastructure in Ukraine to reduce morale, cause Ukrainians to suffer during the winter, and compel the Kyiv government to accept Moscow’s terms for peace talks. He added that these Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities and other critical infrastructure were intended to weaken Ukraine’s military potential and prevent the delivery of Western weapons.

An anonymous senior US official said the barrages of missiles, drones, and artillery fire that have left millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heat, and water are meant to “disable energy infrastructure that keeps pumping deadly weapons into Ukraine, killing Russians.”

“The infrastructure that is targeted by those attacks is used to ensure the combat potential of the Ukrainian armed forces and the nationalist battalions,” Lavrov said.

Vladimir Putin
(Source: Presidential Executive Office of Russia/Wikimedia)

Russia seized the southern city of Kherson in the early stages of the conflict and withdrew from it last month. Kherson recently liberated, lost power due to Russian shelling last Thursday.

Before the pullback allowed Ukrainian forces to reclaim Kherson, Russia seized the entire Kherson region and three other regions after hastily arranging ‘referendums’ that Ukraine and the West saw as charades.

In response to the question of how strikes on infrastructure in Kherson and other areas comply with Moscow’s declared aim of safeguarding Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population, Lavrov drew an analogy with the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II.

“The city of Stalingrad also was part of our territory, and we beat the Germans to make them flee,” he said.

Lavrov said that Moscow remains willing to discuss how to end the war.

“We never asked for talks but always said that we are ready to listen to those who are interested in a negotiated settlement,” he said.

In their deal, Moscow wants Ukraine to acknowledge Crimea as part of Russia and to acknowledge other seized territories as such, in addition to pushing for guarantees that Ukraine would not join NATO. Furthermore, vague “demilitarization” and “denazification” objectives are being pressed.

Sergey Lavrov
(Source: UN Geneva/Flickr)

Lavrov said that “we don’t shun contacts” but that “we haven’t heard any serious ideas yet” in reply to a question about a possible meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden.

Lavrov noted that Putin and Biden agreed at a meeting in Geneva in June to establish a separate channel of communication between intelligence services to address the issue of Americans imprisoned in Russia.

“I hope some results will be achieved based on it working,” he said.

The Obama administration has tried for months to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a prisoner swap with Moscow.

Sergey Lavrov said that it is impossible to discuss strategic stability nowadays while ignoring everything happening in Ukraine in response to Russia’s decision to postpone a round of nuclear arms control talks with the United States.

“The aim is to defeat Russia on the battlefield or eradicate the country altogether,” he said. “How can the aim of eliminating a key strategic stability actor be insignificant for strategic stability, given that they want to get rid of him?”

Lavrov, who participated in an online news conference that lasted 2.5 hours, railed against the US and its NATO allies, accusing them of trampling on international law while attempting to destroy and isolate Russia.

However, NATO has denied its direct participation in the war and has released an official statement saying they are condemning Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“NATO condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine – which is an independent, peaceful and democratic country, and a close NATO partner. NATO and Allies continue to provide Ukraine with unprecedented levels of support, helping to uphold its fundamental right to self-defence.”