The shipment to Ukraine of short-range missile launchers, more sophisticated than those used so far, irritates the Russian government, which threatens to push the front line further in response to Western military aid. “The greater the range of weapons that provide [a Kiev]the more we will move away from our territory the line from which the neo-Nazis can threaten the Russian Federation, ”said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday, who described as “fantasy” the possibility of returning to the lines of contact prior to February 24, the day on which Vladimir Putin ordered the assault on Ukraine on several fronts.
The United States announced last week the delivery to kyiv of Himars multiple missile launcher systems, while the United Kingdom will send the M270s, similar in their greater technical capabilities. The maximum radius of these weapons is between 70 and 80 kilometers away and -according to Washington and London- the Government of Volodímir Zelenski has promised not to use them against Russian territory.
At his press conference in Moscow, Lavrov was asked if Ukraine would have received this arsenal had it not suffered from the Russian offensive. The diplomat justified the military action in which the Kremlin had asked NATO in the last 20 years not to incorporate new members. “They admitted in 1999 that no one would strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others (…) and five times they approached our borders,” he added, referring to the subsequent accession of the Baltic countries, Poland and Romania, among others.
Lavrov has also justified the “special operation”, as the Kremlin calls it, in which the United States intervened in the past “10,000 kilometers from its borders”, in places like Kosovo, Iraq and Libya, while Moscow is condemned despite that “the Russian people have been discriminated against in Ukraine, where laws have been passed to ban their language and the theory and practice of Nazism has been imposed with the applause of the West.” However, some of the largest Ukrainian cities are majority Russian-speaking and have been hit by the fighting, such as Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson and Odessa.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin downplayed the delivery of these missile launchers over the weekend, considering that they only replaced similar Soviet-made weapons that Ukraine already had and with which Russian territory was already within range once the troops The Russian forces withdrew at the end of March from the fronts that were heading towards the capital and towards Kharkov, among other areas.
That coincided with the small advances made in the negotiations in Istanbul, where kyiv agreed to negotiate in the future the fate of the Donbas region and Crimea. However, the dialogue broke down after the Russian withdrawal around the Ukrainian capital exposed the Bucha massacres and the destruction in other towns around the Ukrainian capital. “Ukraine does not want to negotiate, it rejects it, and we have reason to believe that it fulfills the will of the Anglo-Saxon leadership of the Western world,” Lavrov said in a new paragraph that, for the Kremlin, Ukraine is a tool of Washington in the confrontation that they maintain.
Moscow says it has fewer problems with Turkey, despite the fact that it is also in NATO and they maintain a constant pulse in half the world, from Libya to Central Asia, passing through Syria and the Caucasus. “We do not hide our positions and we take into account the concerns of the other party,” Lavrov commented on Turkey, a country with which he hopes to close a proposal this week to unblock the exit of Ukrainian cereals through the Black Sea and thus alleviate the food crisis. international.
The Kremlin, which still maintains the veto on the export of Russian fertilizers due to sanctions, proposes to create a naval corridor where Ankara will supervise the content of transport ships. The condition is that Ukraine demines its ports and the West does not sanction shipping companies. Washington offers to put the second point in writing, and Putin has promised that Odessa and other ports will not be attacked if left unprotected. However, for kyiv the promises made in January that the Russian forces deployed on its border would withdraw after completing their alleged maneuvers are very recent.
the russian newspaper Izvestia has unveiled this Monday the scheme negotiated by both countries and Ukraine. It consists of Turkey taking charge of demining the coastal area of Odessa and, once clean, its fleet supervises the departure of transport ships to neutral waters, from where they will be escorted by Russian warships to the Bosporus. The newspaper adds that only the coordinates of this route remain to be negotiated.
The Balkans, a new focus of tension
Lavrov was scheduled to travel to Belgrade this week, but his official visit has been suspended because the airspace of the EU, to which Bulgaria belongs, is closed to Russian planes due to its offensive over Ukraine, and Montenegro and North Macedonia, the neighboring countries of Serbia that do not belong to the Union but to NATO, have refused to open a special corridor for their aircraft.
“These facts have shown what the membership of Montenegro and North Macedonia in NATO is worth and why the Alliance [Atlántica] you need them. He wants to punish Russia and expand the anti-Russian points in Europe, which act as containment mechanisms”, Lavrov argued to repeat the discourse of the threat of the Atlantic Alliance on Russia. “A sovereign State has been deprived of its right to exercise its foreign policy. Serbian international activity has been blocked from targeting Russia”, he denounced.