Moscow wants to rule out the threat of nuclear conflicts despite the high risks at the moment and reduce all possibilities of “artificially” raising those risks, the Russian diplomat said in a television interview broadcast tonight.
In a context of unprecedented tensions between Russia and Westerners over the Russian offensive in Ukraine, Lavrov warned of the “real” danger of a Third World War.
“The danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Interfax agency.
“This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks are now considerable,” Lavrov told Russian state television, according to a transcript provided on the ministry’s website.
“I would not want to artificially raise those risks. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real, and we should not underestimate it,” he stressed.
He compared the current situation with the Missile Crisis of 1962, and stressed that “at that time there were rules, written rules.”
“The rules of conduct were very clear. It was clear in Moscow how Washington was behaving and Washington was clear how Moscow was behaving, (but) now there are few rules left,” he said.
So, in 1962, “there was a channel of communication that the leaders trusted.” “Now there is no such channel and nobody is trying to create it. There are timid attempts that have been made in the first phase, but they have not worked,” he said.
He indicated that the START treaty is in force, “but at the same time other control and non-proliferation instruments have been practically destroyed.”
When asked what Moscow is doing to prevent this Third World War, Lavrov pointed out that “Russia has already done a lot in many ways for years.”
“During the (Donald) Trump administration we advocated at the highest level for Moscow and Washington to reaffirm (Mikhail) Gorbachev and (Ronald) Reagan’s 1987 declaration that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that it must never happen. We ask the Trump team to return to this very important statement, important for our peoples, but also for the entire world,” he said.
“Unfortunately we were not able to convince our colleagues that this initiative was necessary and in June of last year, during the meeting in Geneva, our presidents made that declaration,” he said.
In addition, Lavrov recalled that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have made a similar statement. “And that is our principled position.”
He reproached the United States for “sending many weapons to Ukraine despite our warnings” and for “stirring up its Russophobic essence.”
Western arms deliveries to Ukraine mean NATO is “essentially at war with Russia” and Moscow sees these weapons as “legitimate targets,” he said.
“Storage facilities in western Ukraine have been targeted more than once (by Russian forces). How can it be otherwise?” Lavrov said.
He accused the Ukrainian president Volodymir Zelensky of “pretending” that he is negotiating. “He is a good actor (…), if he observes himself carefully and carefully reads what he says, thousands of contradictions will be found,” he indicated.
“Goodwill has limits. And if it is not reciprocal, it does not contribute to the negotiation process (…) But we will continue to hold negotiations with the team sent by Zelensky”, he was quoted as saying by Russian agencies.
Since the beginning of the war, more than two months ago, Zelensky has incessantly asked his Western allies for heavy weapons in order to counter Russia’s theoretical military superiority.
He was confident that “everything will surely end with the signing of an agreement” with Ukraine, adding that “the parameters of this agreement will be defined by the situation of the fighting when the agreement becomes a reality,”