Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has given Ukraine an ultimatum: comply with Moscow’s demands — including handing over the Ukrainian territory that Russia currently controls — or the Russian army will decide Ukraine’s fate.
A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said again that he was open to peace talks — which the United States has described as disingenuous — Lavrov told Kiev that it should comply with Moscow’s wishes for its “own good.”
“Our proposals to demilitarize and denazify areas controlled by the regime and eliminate threats to Russia’s security posed from there, including our new territories, are well known to the enemy,” state news agency TASS quoted Lavrov as saying late Monday.
“The point is simple: Do it for your own good. Otherwise, the matter will be decided by the Russian army,” Lavrov said.
Asked by TASS how long the conflict will last, Lavrov said: “It’s the regime’s turn and Washington is behind it.”
On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said again that Moscow was open to negotiations and blamed Kiev and its Western supporters for a lack of talks. The US has rejected these statements as disingenuous.
At the start of the 11th month of the war and despite countless setbacks on the battlefield for Moscow, the Russian armed forces are waging fierce fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine, while Russian rocket and drone attacks have devastated Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and left millions of people without electricity, heating and water.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video speech on Monday that the situation on the front lines in the Donbass region was “difficult and painful” and required the entire “strength and concentration” of the country. He said that as a result of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, almost nine million people are now without electricity. This figure represents around a quarter of Ukraine’s population.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians have also been killed in cities that Russia razed to the ground, and thousands of soldiers have died on both sides.
Putin received heads of state and government from former Soviet countries in St. Petersburg on Monday for a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States Group. He did not refer directly to the war in Ukraine and said threats to the security and stability of the Eurasian region were increasing.
“Unfortunately, the challenges and threats in this area, particularly from outside, are increasing from year to year,” he said.
Since the invasion in February, Ukraine has driven Russian forces out of the north, defeated them on the outskirts of the capital, Kiev, and forced Russian retreats in the east and south. But Moscow still controls parts of the eastern and southern country that Putin allegedly annexed.