Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Monday of the real risk that the conflict in Ukraine could be the trigger for a Third World War
“The danger is serious, it is real. It cannot be underestimated,” Lavrov said during an appearance on Russian television reported by the Interfax news agency. China has been quick to respond that “no one wants a Third World War”. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged “all parties” to engage in dialogue “to prevent the conflict from escalating, to prevent Europe and the world from paying a higher price”, according to statements reported by official television.
Lavrov compared the current situation with that of the so-called Missile Crisis of 1962, but the head of Russian diplomacy recalled that “at that time there were rules, written rules”. “The rules of conduct were very clear. It was clear in Moscow how Washington was behaving and Washington was clear how Moscow was behaving, (but) now there are few rules left,” he has argued. Then, in 1962, “there was a channel of communication that the leaders trusted.” “Now there is no such channel and no one is trying to create one. There are timid attempts that have been made in the first phase, but they have not been successful,” he revealed. Thus, he mentioned the START treaty, “but at the same time other control and non-proliferation instruments have been practically destroyed”.
Lavrov reproached the United States for having “sent many weapons to Ukraine despite our warnings” and for having “whipped up its Russophobic essence”.
Asked what Moscow was doing to prevent this World War III, Lavrov has argued that “Russia has already done a lot in many ways for years.” “During the (Donald) Trump administration we advocated at the highest level that Moscow and Washington reaffirm (Mikhail) Gorbachev and (Ronald) Reagan’s 1987 statement that there can be no victors in a nuclear war and that it must never happen. We asked the Trump team to take up this very important statement, important for our peoples, but also for the whole world,” Lavrov explained. “Unfortunately, we did not manage to convince our colleagues that this initiative was necessary, and in June last year, during the meeting in Geneva our presidents made such a statement,” he stressed.
Moreover, Lavrov has reminded that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have made a similar statement. “And that is our principled position,” he reiterated.
On the other hand, Lavrov has reproached the Ukrainian government for hardening its stance in negotiations with Russia due to pressure from its Western allies. “Neither the United States nor the United Kingdom (…) advise (Volodymyr) Zelensky to accelerate the negotiations, but they advise him to harden his position”, he pointed out. Thus, he recalled that in Istanbul Ukraine received a signed proposal for “the basis of a treaty”, but Ukraine rejected it, “a big step backwards”. “They backed out of the positions we had agreed on as a basis and told them to do it,” he has explained. However, he has stressed, Russia has continued to negotiate “and a week ago we handed them another version of the agreement that took into account their positions and we have been waiting ever since.”
Lavrov has assured that in any case Russia wants to continue negotiations. “We still want to negotiate with the team appointed by Zelensky. These contacts will continue,” he reiterated, although he warned that “goodwill is not unlimited.”
Finally, Lavrov stressed that Poland would be ready to send its military to Ukraine as peacekeepers. “Prime Minister Prime Minister (Mateusz) Morawiecki has raised some kind of peacekeeping operation in Ukraine and is clearly interested in sending his troops there,” he said.