Third World War Would Be Nuclear and Disastrous, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Says
09:54 GMT 02.03.2022 (Updated: 11:38 GMT 02.03.2022)
© Photo : RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRYRussia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (File)
© Photo : RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Wednesday that the Russian delegation will wait for its Ukrainian counterparts later in the day in Belarus to start the second round of bilateral talks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told Al Jazeera that if unleashed, a Third World War would be waged with the use of nuclear weapons and it would be disastrous.
Late last week, US President Joe Biden argued that the only alternative to sanctioning Russia to punish it for its "invasion" of Ukraine would be the start of a Third World War. The claims were followed by Washington and its Western allies imposing new sanctions on Russia, which included closing their airspace to all Russian flights and sanctioning a number of Russian banks and officials.
Touching upon the situation in Ukraine, Lavrov said that Moscow is preparing for the second round of talks with Kiev, but that the Ukrainian side is dragging its feet at the behest of Washington.
"We are ready for the second round of the negotiations, but the Ukrainian side is playing for time on the US' orders", Lavrov pointed out.
Lavrov Slams West for Refusing to Create 'European Security Architecture'
He also told Al Jazeera that "the West has refused to meet our demands for the formation of a new European security architecture".
The top Russian diplomat was referring to Moscow's proposals on security guarantees, released by the Russian Foreign Ministry in December 2021, and which envisage legally binding commitments by Moscow and Washington not to deploy weapons and forces in areas where they may be a threat to each other's national security.
In line with the proposals, Moscow also demanded that NATO stop its eastward expansion towards Russia's borders and avoid inviting post-Soviet countries into the alliance, or creating military bases on their territory.
Additionaly, Lavrov made it clear that Russia will not allow Ukraine to obtain a nuclear weapon, an apparent nod to Zelensky threatening last month to revise Ukraine's non-nuclear status and initiating talks on the Budapest Memorandum.
The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances is comprised of three identical political agreements signed at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference in Budapest, Hungary, on 5 December 1994. They stipulate security assurances by its signatories concerning the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty. The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers, including Russia, the UK, and the US.
Separately in the Al Jazeera interview, Lavrov reiterated that Crimea is an essential part of Russia and that the topic is "not subject to discussion".
He spoke after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian delegation will wait for the Ukrainian negotiators at the site of the talks late in the evening on Wednesday.
Peskov earlier confirmed that presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky remains the main Russian negotiator in Russia's talks with Ukraine.
The statement followed Russian and Ukrainian officials wrapping up the first round of talks in the Gomel region of Belarus on Monday. The talks are aimed at finding a way to end the Ukraine conflict.
Vladimir Medinsky told reporters that during the negotiations, the sides managed to find "some common points" on which they "predict common positions can be found". He said that the sides had agreed on the second round of negotiations, due in Belarus later this week.
He was echoed by Leonid Slutsky, a member of the Russian delegation and the head of the Duma's Committee on Foreign Affairs, who stressed that the sides had found "a number of important points on which progress can be reached".
"The Ukrainian delegation was ready to listen and participate in the most detailed discussion of the essence of the issues on today's agenda. The main result is that the negotiations themselves took place, that the parties heard each other", Slutsky said.
The talks come amid a Russian special military operation to demilitarise and "de-Nazify" Ukraine, announced by President Vladimir Putin on 24 February, in the wake of a request by the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPP) for help following intensifying attacks by the Ukrainian Army.
Russia's Defence Ministry has repeatedly underlined that the nation's armed forces are only targeting Ukraine's military infrastructure with precision weapons and that Ukrainian civilians are out of danger. In the latest development, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the Russian armed forces have taken complete control of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson as the DPR and LPR continue their offensive against the Ukrainian Army.