Russia ready to hold talks as soon as Ukrainian army lays down arms: Lavrov

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 25, 2022: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on during a meeting with Vladislav Deinego, foreign minister of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), and Sergei Peresada, first deputy foreign minister of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Reception House. Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS Report:

Moscow is ready to hold talks at any moment once the Ukrainian Armed Forces lay down their arms, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference following talks with Deputy Foreign Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Sergey Peresada and Foreign Minister of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Vladislav Deinego on Friday.

“We are ready to hold talks at any moment, once the Ukrainian Armed Forces respond to our president’s call, end their resistance and lay down their arms. No one plans to attack and oppress them, let them return to their families, and let us give the Ukrainian people a chance to decide their future,” Lavrov pointed out.

At the same time, he emphasized that Russia had always called for negotiations. “There is no shortage of talks but when talks are replaced with blatant sabotage, while Russia is accused of allegedly failing to implement the Minsk accords, it’s effrontery, which is what some of our Western colleagues are famous for, but this time, it just went beyond all limits because it was accompanied by a continuous deterioration of the Russian-speaking population’s situation in Ukraine,” Lavrov stressed.

“I have already mentioned what they did to the Russian language, the Russian-language education and the Russian Orthodox Church. Try to apply it all to your own traditions, this is what I say to our Western colleagues. If they did, they would understand that it is impossible to tolerate such things,” the Russian top diplomat concluded.

On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. The treaties on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance were signed with their leaders.

On Thursday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation based on a request from the heads of the Donbass republics. Russia’s Defense Ministry reported later that the Russian Armed Forces were not delivering strikes against Ukrainian cities. The ministry emphasized that the Ukrainian military infrastructure was being destroyed by precision weapons and there was no threat to civilians.