Russia’s foreign minister blamed the conflict in Ukraine on other countries’ efforts to increase their security since the collapse of the Soviet Union and said his country will become a new pole in a multipolar world.
A day after Russia and Ukraine clashed over how to move toward a new cease-fire agreement, Lavrov said the U.S. and the European Union had repeatedly “torpedoed” peace efforts. Ukraine, the European Union and the U.S. blame President Vladimir Putin for supporting pro-Russian separatists and stoking a conflict that has killed more than 4,100 people, according to UN estimates.
“Throughout the Ukrainian crisis our country has consistently sought to help Ukraine to overcome this difficult period in its history,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in the Russian Duma. “Russia can’t stand by and watch what’s happening in a neighboring fraternal country.”
The crisis has intensified since the rebels held Nov. 2 elections that Ukraine and its allies condemned as illegitimate. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg criticized Russia yesterday for staging a “serious military buildup” on its western border and sending troops and weapons into Ukraine. Russia denies military involvement.
Two Ukrainian troops were killed and 13 wounded in the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Facebook. Rebels violated the cease-fire 43 times, it said. Shelling also killed three civilians yesterday in Luhansk, the region’s governor said on his administration’s website.
After Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko decreed last week for the government in Kiev to cut off financing and services to the rebel-held territories, Lavrov said the former Soviet republic was conducting an economic blockade that may precede a new military assault by Ukrainian troops.
That followed a day of shuttle diplomacy from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who visited Putin last night after meeting top Ukrainian officials in Kiev. There can be no military resolution to the conflict, Steinmeier said after talks in Moscow with Lavrov.
“I can understand your skepticism,” Steinmeier told reporters. “But I believe we should keep working to carry out the Minsk protocol.”