Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday said that Western nations are quietly changing strategy regarding the war in Ukraine.
“Some ‘calls’ begin, whispers, like, why don’t you meet with someone in Europe who would be ready to talk, and talk about Ukraine without Ukraine,” Lavrov told state-owned news organizations RIA Novosti and Rossiya 24, according to a Google translation of the interview transcript shared by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
“They used to boast of the position ‘not a word about Ukraine without Ukraine.’ There are hints and leaks in the Western media that the West now wants to look for some way out of this situation, but [in] ways that would still make it possible to declare victory for Ukraine.”
Russia claims that the aims of its full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, during which it has occupied swathes of internationally recognized Ukrainian territory, are “demilitarization” and “denazification.” Moscow refers to its activity in Ukraine as a “special military operation” and has repeatedly accused Western countries, especially the U.S., of fighting a proxy war.
Asked about the next phase of the conflict, Lavrov said that Russia would continue to pursue its stated goals.
“Especially in the context of the fact that the West is now really changing its tactics, maybe … even thinking about clarifying the strategy. Because if the ‘strategic defeat’ of Russia is a strategy, forgive the tautology, then it failed miserably,” he said.
Ukrainian officials strongly refute any suggestion of a deal that does not involve the total withdrawal of Russian forces and reestablishment of Ukraine’s prewar borders. Lavrov on Thursday criticized the 10-point peace plan drawn up by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in November 2022, which he said was set to be backed by G7 members and other allies early next year.
Both Ukraine and Russia have incurred heavy losses since the invasion in February 2022, and questions loom over the future of the conflict after Ukraine’s counteroffensive on occupied lines made slower-than-expected progress.