News   /   Russia

Liberation of Donbas ‘unconditional priority’ for Moscow, says FM Lavrov

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint press conference with his Malian counterpart following their meeting in Moscow on May 20, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the liberation of Ukraine's breakaway Donbas region an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future.

The top Russian diplomat made the remarks in an interview with French television on Sunday as Russia scaled up its military operation to seize control of key towns in Donbas.

“The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognized by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority,” Lavrov said, according to a text released by his ministry. 

For other territories, he added, they will not be willing to “return to the authority of a neo-Nazi regime that has proven it is Russophobic in essence”, and “must decide for themselves.

Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s intentions of its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, which is to “denazify” and demilitarize its neighbor after waves of NATO’s eastward expansion.

According to Lavrov, Russia’s military operation became “inevitable” after Western governments ignored Russia’s warnings about Ukraine’s military attacks on its Russian-speaking citizens.

His remarks came after the two sides exchanged intense fire in the east Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk as Russian soldiers attempted to gain a strategic foothold to conquer the region.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was paying a rare frontline visit to Kharkiv, depicted the situation as “indescribably difficult,” with a relentless Russian artillery barrage destroying critical infrastructure and damaging 90 percent of the buildings.

Zelensky claimed that Russians don’t care about casualties in their attacks. However, Lavrov hit back saying that Russian soldiers were “under strict orders categorically to avoid attacks and strikes on civilian infrastructure.”

Sievierodonetsk is a strategic city located 143 kilometers south of the Russian border, which has emerged as the epicenter of Moscow’s quest to capture Ukraine’s entire eastern industrial Donbas region.

EU set to increase support for Ukraine

European Union leaders are scheduled to meet on Monday to declare continued support for Ukraine, despite their failure to agree on a new sanctions package against Moscow.

The leaders are also set to discuss the recent crises in Europe including high energy prices, food shortages, and the bloc’s defense needs.

However, according to a Reuters report, draft conclusions of the meeting show that the EU is only generous with verbal support.

“After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, we saw what can happen when Europe stands united. With a view to the summit tomorrow, let's hope it continues like this. But it is already starting to crumble and crumble again,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Sunday.

The alliance is also expected to introduce a 9 billion euro loan package to help Ukraine keep its government functioning and pay wages for around two months.

The decision will be only made later after the European Commission proposes how to raise the money.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku