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US, NATO Involved in Ukraine  12/01 06:16


   MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's foreign minister on Thursday accused the West of 
becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine by supplying it with 
weapons and training its soldiers.

   Sergey Lavrov also said that Russia's strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities 
and other key infrastructure that have left millions without power, heating and 
water were intended to weaken Ukraine's military potential and derail the 
shipments of Western weapons.

   "You shouldn't say that the U.S. and NATO aren't taking part in this war, 
you are directly participating in it," Lavrov said in a video call with 
reporters. "And not just by providing weapons but also by training personnel. 
You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of 
Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries."

   He said that the barrage of Russian missile strikes was intended to "knock 
out energy facilities that allow you to keep pumping deadly weapons into 
Ukraine in order to kill the Russians."

   "The infrastructure that is targeted by those attacks is used to ensure the 
combat potential of the Ukrainian armed forces and the nationalist battalions," 
Lavrov said.

   Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of targeting key civilian 
infrastructure in order to reduce morale and force Ukraine into peace talks on 
Moscow's conditions.

   Lavrov insisted that Moscow remains open for talks on ending the conflict. 
"We never asked for talks but always said that we are ready to listen to those 
who are interested in a negotiated settlement," Lavrov said.

   The Kremlin has urged Ukraine to acknowledge Crimea, which Moscow annexed 
from Ukraine in 2014, as part of Russia and recognize other land gains that 
Russia has made since sending its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. It also has 
continued to push for guarantees that Ukraine wouldn't join NATO, along with 
vaguely formulated "demilitarization" and "denazification" goals.

   Asked if a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. 
President Joe Biden is possible, Lavrov responded that "we don't shun contacts" 
but added that "we haven't yet heard any serious ideas yet."

   Lavrov said that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has raised the issue 
of U.S. citizens imprisoned in Russia in a phone call, but noted that Putin and 
Biden agreed to set up a separate channel of communication between special 
services to discuss the issue when they met in Geneva in June 2021.

   "It's working and I hope that some results will be achieved," he added.

   The Biden administration has been trying for months to negotiate the release 
of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Michigan 
corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner 
swap with Moscow.

   Commenting on Russia's decision to postpone a round of nuclear arms control 
talks with the United States that was scheduled for this week, Lavrov argued 
that "it's impossible to discuss strategic stability nowadays while ignoring 
everything that is happening in Ukraine."

   "The goal has been announced to defeat Russia on the battlefield or even 
destroy Russia," he said. "How can the goal of defeating Russia not bear 
significance for strategic stability, considering that they want to destroy a 
key strategic stability actor?"

   During the online news conference that lasted for 2 hours, Lavrov ranted 
against the U.S. and its NATO allies, accusing them of trampling on 
international law while trying to isolate and destroy Russia.

   He claimed that the U.S. has tried to discourage other countries, including 
India, from maintaining close ties with Russia, but those attempts have failed.

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