US biolaboratories in Ukraine must be investigated: Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discusses the US biolabs in Ukraine, the threat of a nuclear war, and the global food crisis.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia has no doubts that the operations of US biological laboratories in Ukraine must be probed.
"We have no doubts that there should be an investigation, we will continue to do it," Lavrov said in an interview for Al-Arabiya broadcaster.
"We have reasons to believe that biological and chemical weapons are something that we should focus on much more frequently during our dialogue with the United States," the Minister stressed.
"We must insist that they must publicly explain why they once again postponed the commitment to destroy all chemical weapons, why they built these military biological laboratories, not agreeing to an open test under the Convention, and much more," he added. "We want clarity and we will insist on getting answers."
Russia does not consider itself at war against NATO
Russia does not consider itself at war with NATO, but such a turn of events would raise the risk of nuclear war, which cannot be tolerated, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"We do not consider ourselves at war with NATO, because this would be a step that would increase the risks of what we just discussed [nuclear war]," Lavrov said in an interview for Al-Arabiya broadcaster.
"Unfortunately, there is a feeling that NATO believes that it is at war with Russia. NATO, the US, European leaders, many of which, in particular in the UK, the US, Poland, France, Germany, and, of course, the head of European diplomacy Borrell directly say that Putin must lose, Russia must be defeated. When someone uses such concepts, I think they believe that they are waging war with whomever you want to win," the Minister added.
Russia not threatening anyone with nuclear war
Russia does not threaten anyone with nuclear war, but Western countries are beginning to discuss it, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"I was asked about whether a nuclear war was possible, whether the risks of starting a nuclear war had increased, and whether Russia assumed that this could happen. I replied that from the very beginning of our cooperation with the administration of [former US President Donald] Trump, we offered them to reaffirm the Reagan-Gorbachev thesis of 1997 that there could be no winners in a nuclear war and therefore it should never be unleashed," Lavrov told Al-Arabiya.
He emphasized that Russia has initiated the adoption of statements on behalf of all nuclear countries confirming commitments linked to nuclear weapons on many occasions. Despite Trump's refusal to accept such a statement, it was issued following the first meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden in Geneva.
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"It's not Russia playing with the words 'nuclear war,' You remember [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy saying in January that Ukraine made a mistake when it renounced its nuclear status. And then he said that Ukraine should think about acquiring nuclear weapons. Recently, the Polish prime minister said that Warsaw would welcome the deployment of US nuclear weapons on its territory and their redeployment from Germany to Poland. We never play with such dangerous concepts. Never. We must all be committed to the statements of the 'nuclear five.' — 'A nuclear war can never be unleashed.' But Western countries in this case should rein in officials from Ukraine and Poland, who see no danger in playing with such words," Lavrov added.
Any foreign arms shipments to Ukraine 'legitimate targets'
Any weapons coming to Ukraine from the West are legitimate targets for the Russian armed forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
"Any weapon, any arms shipment on Ukrainian territory is legitimate target, because these weapons would be given to the regime, who has a war against its own population, who conducts military offensive against civilians in the east of the country," Lavrov said warned.
The top Russian diplomat also stated that Moscow knows the routes by which weapons are supplied to the Ukrainian side.
"As soon as these weapons are reaching Ukrainian territory, they are fair game for our special operation," Lavrov added.
Most partners agreed to switch to Russia's gas payment scheme
Most of the key partners have agreed to switch to the Russian-proposed scheme to pay for gas in rubles, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
"Most of Russia's key partners who buy gas have already switched to the payment method that I talked about. I want to emphasize again — there is no difference in the currency in which they will pay, but it will be a bank, not Gazprom. Because Gazprom was actually robbed," Lavrov confirmed.
The West essentially stole more than $300 billion from Russia by taking money paid for gas, he said.
"When, after the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, our Western 'friends' stole more than $300 billion from us, in fact they stole what they themselves paid for gas," the Minister said.
Russia, Ukraine could advance in negotiations if Kiev did not change position
The talks between Russia and Ukraine stalled due to the inconsistent position of Kiev. The parties could already achieve significant results if it [Ukraine] was an honest negotiator, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
"If they were honest negotiators, if they were committed to what they agreed on step by step, we could make significant progress in these negotiations," Lavrov told Al-Arabiya.
Ukraine could receive guarantees from a group of states, which includes the countries of the UN Security Council, Germany, Turkey, the Minister noted.
Western sanctions became one of the causes of global food crisis
Western countries blame Russia for the global food crisis, but it did not start this year; however, it was exacerbated by Western sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
"The food crisis did not happen this year, not 2 months ago. It started a few years ago for several reasons, including the coronavirus infection, as well as miscalculations of Western countries. They were too concerned with directing the food chains toward themselves. And, of course, the real situation exacerbated the problem," Lavrov told Al Arabiya TV broadcaster.
The Minister stated that anti-Russian sanctions were the primary cause of the crisis' escalation.
"But the sanctions announced by the West have destroyed all existing food supply chains. For example, dozens of foreign ships are blocked in the Black and Azov Seas on the territory of Ukraine because they were sanctioned. We are ready to release them, and the Ukrainian government is not cooperating with us on this issue," Lavrov said.