Lavrov says Russia aims to stop Ukraine from joining NATO

File – Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday the country’s military operation against Ukraine is aimed, among other things, at ensuring that Kyiv does not join NATO.

Lavrov told Russian state television that Russian forces were attacking military targets in Ukraine, according to Reuters.

He further said the term “collateral damage” had been in use since the Western campaigns in Iraq and Libya.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its second week on Thursday an apparent tactical failure so far, with its main assault force stalled for days on a highway north of Kyiv.

Despite an initial battle plan that Western countries said was aimed at swiftly toppling the Kyiv government, Russia has captured only one Ukrainian city so far – the southern Dnipro River port of Kherson, which its tanks entered on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Lavrov said Moscow would press on with its military operation in Ukraine until “the end”.

He, however, said he had no doubt that a solution to the crisis in Ukraine would be found, and a new round of talks were about to start between Ukrainian and Russian officials.

But he said Russia’s dialogue with the West must be based on mutual respect, accused NATO of seeking to maintain supremacy and said that while Russia had a lot of goodwill, it could not let anyone undermine its interests.

Moscow would not let Ukraine keep infrastructure that threatened Russia, he said.

Offering no evidence, Lavrov said Russia had information that the United States was worried about the prospect of losing control over what he described as chemical and biological laboratories in Ukraine and accused Britain of building military bases there, Reuters reported.

British defense ministry said in an intelligence update that the main body of the large Russian column advancing on Kyiv “remains over 30 km from the center of the city having delayed by staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion”.

“The column has made little discernible progress in over three days. Despite heavy Russian shelling, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has stayed in Kyiv, releasing regular video updates to the nation.

In his latest message, he said Ukrainian lines were holding. “We have nothing to lose but our own freedom,” he said, according to Reuters.

The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and demanded that Moscow must stop fighting and withdraw its military troops.

The text of the resolution, supported by 141 of the assembly’s 193 members, “deplores” Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine.”

The last time Security Council convened an emergency session of the General Assembly was in 1982, according to U.N. website.

Thirty-five members including China abstained and five countries including Russia, Syria and Belarus voted against the resolution. While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight.

Russia has yet to achieve its aim of overthrowing Ukraine’s government, but has faced an unprecedented backlash from the West, whose sanctions have knocked Russia’s financial system while giant multinational countries have pulled investments out of Russia.

Washington has imposed several rounds of sanctions, including against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the central bank, since Russia’s forces invaded Ukraine in the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two. Moscow calls the assault a “special operation.”

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