Russia is open to having an “honest, equal” dialogue with foreign states on the crisis in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday, insisting that Russia bore no responsibility for the situation.
“We are open to an honest, equal and objective dialogue with our foreign partners to find a way to help all of Ukraine come out of the crisis,” Lavrov said at a televised news conference in Moscow with his Tajik counterpart, in a clear reference to the West.
“We are ready to continue dialogue on the understanding that this dialogue should be honest and partner-like, without attempts to portray us as one of the sides in the conflict.”
But Lavrov challenged Western accusations that Russia was to blame for the crisis and implied the West had wanted to challenge Moscow’s authority in the post-Soviet sphere. “The crisis has been created artificially, out of geo-political motives,” he said.
He added, “This crisis was not created by us (Russia). All the more, it was created in defiance of our repeated and longstanding warnings.”
Tensions between Moscow and the West have surged in recent days as pro-Moscow forces took over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which then announced plans to hold a referendum on becoming part of Russia. Lavrov has held talks with Western officials including US Secretary of State John Kerry, but without reaching any breakthrough.