Russia’s Lavrov vows ‘full protection’ for any annexed territory | Russia-Ukraine War News

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the areas where the widely-criticized referendums are being held in Ukraine would be under Moscow’s “full protection,” increasing the possibility of using nuclear weapons if Kiev tried to retake the territories if annexed.

Lavrov’s comments at a news conference in New York City on Saturday came as residents of four Russian-occupied regions in eastern and southern Ukraine continue to vote on whether to join Russia.

Moscow has described the four-day referendum, which began on Friday, as a referendum on self-determination, but Ukraine and its Western allies view the vote as a sham orchestrated by the Kremlin.

Kyiv says residents of many regions are being pressured to cast their ballots.

“Following those referendums, Russia will certainly respect the expression of the will of the people who have suffered years of abuses of the neo-Nazi regime,” Lavrov told reporters after addressing the United Nations General Assembly.

When asked if Russia had evidence of using nuclear weapons to defend areas annexed to Ukraine, Lavrov said Russian territory was “under the full protection of the state,” including the area “further annexed” to Russia’s constitution in the future.

“All laws, doctrines, concepts and strategies of the Russian Federation apply to all its regions,” he said, referring specifically to Russia’s doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons.

The minister’s comments followed an outspoken warning by former President Dmitry Medvedev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Thursday that Moscow’s arsenal, including strategic nuclear weapons, could be used to defend territories annexed by Russia. Putin has previously vowed to use “all means at our disposal,” including nuclear weapons, if his country’s territorial integrity is threatened.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Lavrov’s comments and his claim that Putin was not slanderous about using nuclear weapons “irresponsible” and “absolutely unacceptable”.

“Ukraine will not give in. We call on all nuclear powers to speak up now and make it clear to Russia that such rhetoric endangers the world and will not be tolerated,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine has demanded that Russia be held accountable for its efforts to change Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders in violation of the UN Charter. .

Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has killed thousands, is now in its seventh month, and many leaders speaking at the UN’s annual summit in New York slammed Moscow for the conflict – condemning its nuclear threats and accusing it of atrocities and war. crimes, and blame its decision to call up some of its reserves.

Lavrov said his U.N. He has previously used the speech to justify Russia’s actions, repeating false claims that the elected government in Kiev was illegitimately installed, that the east of the country was populated by neo-Nazis and oppressed Russian-speakers.

He sought to draw attention to the United States, saying that Washington and its NATO allies — like the West, not Russia — were aggressively undermining the UN representative body. He charged that the West was aiming to “destroy and break Russia” in order to “remove the increasingly independent geopolitical system from the world map”.

Asked at a news conference if he expected future talks with the United States to make Russia feel more secure about what he calls NATO encroachment into its sphere of influence, Lavrov said the West had broken off previous discussions. His US counterpart, Antony Blinken, called off talks ahead of the invasion, calling Russia’s troop move along Ukraine’s border a “total rejection of diplomacy”.

“We don’t say no to contacts. When proposals for that come, we agree. If our partners want to meet quietly and no one finds out about it, that’s good, because talking is always better than not talking,” Lavrov said.

“But under the current circumstances, Russia is simply not going to take the first step.”

He tried to portray opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine as limited to Washington and countries under its influence, even though nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly voted to condemn Moscow in March.

China, Russia’s strategic partner, has stopped short of endorsing or aiding the military campaign, even as it criticizes Western economic sanctions against Moscow. In a surprising admission last week, Putin said that Chinese President Xi Jinping has concerns about Ukraine.

In his UN address, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on both Russia and Ukraine to “not let the crisis spread” and not affect developing countries.

“China supports all efforts to help resolve the Ukraine crisis peacefully. Facilitating peace talks is a pressing priority,” Wang said. “The basic solution is to address the legitimate security concerns of all parties and build a balanced, effective and stable security framework,” he added.

Asked by reporters if Russia was bowing to any pressure from China to end the war, Lavrov said: “You can tell your readers, listeners, viewers that I avoided answering your question.”

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