If peace in Ukraine depended on Russia and most European countries, the chances for achieving it would be higher, the Russian Foreign Minister believes. However, he is sure the US is pushing the Ukrainian leadership towards confrontation.
“We also have partners across the ocean – our American colleagues – who, according to a lot of evidence, still favor pushing the Ukrainian leadership towards the path of confrontation,” Lavrov told Rossiya 1 channel's news show "Sergey Brilev's News on Saturday".
The minister argues one of the reasons behind the on-going violence in Ukraine is that not all the military forces fighting self-defense squads in the country’s south-east are under government control.
“Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko would like to ease tension and go on with the truce, but there are also other forces among the Ukrainian authorities – there are radicals still controlling or very closely cooperating with armed ultra nationalists, there is the “Right Sector”, the battalions of Igor Kolomoysky and other serious groups, who do not obey Ukraine’s Central Command and the Commander-in-Chief,” Lavrov said.
Poroshenko announced on Friday he was extending the week-long cease-fire for another three days, which was about to come to an end. During the cease-fire sporadic fighting still continued throughout southeastern Ukrainian with both sides of the conflict blaming each other for outbreaks of violence.
Speaking to journalists in Brussels, the Ukrainian president accused Russia of doing nothing to help bring peace back to the country.
"I think now Russia has done nothing [to end the violence]," he said, as cited by the Guardian.
Lavrov dismissed the accusation. He said that the recent release of four OSCE observers was one of the examples of Russia’s involvement in the peace process. According to the minister, self-defense fighters listen to advice from Russia, but have their own vision. “It does not mean everything we call for is being immediately done,” he said.
“Stating that Russia is doing nothing to advance the peace process is, to say the least, cunning. I hope that was not done to please those in the West who want a confrontational scenario,” Lavrov said.
Russia’s foreign minister also commented on the free trade deal Ukraine and EU signed on Friday. He reiterated Moscow’s determination to protect its own economic interests should they be harmed by the agreement.
“We will assess the situation with the help of a single criterion – what damage will be done to conditions of trade for Russia and other countries of the free trade zone within the Commonwealth of Independent States.”
Lavrov has been skeptical of the amendments to the Ukrainian constitution proposed by the president.
The minister gave a reminder that Ukraine pledged an inclusive and transparent process to amending its constitution in the Geneva peace agreement signed in April. Lavrov said Kiev never fulfilled its promise.
The draft constitution, according to him, just suddenly “emerged” without any nationwide debate, concerning the document.
“We should see what will happen to the draft constitution. Having announced in Strasbourg, Poroshenko said that it’s submitted to Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian parliament], but the discussion will take place later. In other words the draft is being submitted to the Rada simultaneously to its presentation in the European council, while it’s not being a product of agreement between forces within the Ukrainian parliament, to say nothing of the political forces in the regions.”