Russia’s ambassador to the US reveals why the Ukraine war started, how it could end

A month and a half into Russia’s war in Ukraine, Moscow’s envoy to Washington has underlined newsweek He elaborated on his country’s reasoning for launching what appears to be a “special military operation” against its neighbor, and demands that, if satisfied, could end the conflict involving Europe’s two largest nations.

And as Kyiv (spelled Kyiv by Russia) accused the Kremlin of committing “war crimes” to the extent of “genocide”, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, argued that it was Ukraine’s alleged ethnic cleansing, along with It was with his bid to join the US-led NATO Western Military Alliance, which fueled the war.

“The special operation in Ukraine is the result of the Kyiv regime’s reluctance to stop the genocide of Russians by fulfilling its obligations under international commitments,” Antonov said. newsweek, “The desire of NATO member states to use the territory of the neighboring state to gain a foothold in the struggle against Russia is also evident.”

The senior Russian diplomat said the events of February 24 had their roots eight years ago, when an uprising known to its supporters as Euromaidan toppled a Ukrainian government with close ties with Moscow and called for closer ties with NATO. brought the pro-Western administration to power. European Union.

As for Russia, Antonov said the revolution was a “bloody coup instigated by the West” in which “extremist ideas came to power in Kyiv.” He stated that policies viewed by Moscow as hostile, such as the removal of Russian as a national language and the resettlement of nationalist Ukrainian figures such as Stepan Bandera, who had collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II, had affected the external Under the administration took root in Ukraine. ,

As unrest broke out in Ukraine for the first time in 2014, Russian forces quickly seized Crimea with the stated goal of protecting the ethnic Russian majority of the Black Sea peninsula, and around this time, pro-Moscow separatists took up arms, Announced breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia) People’s Republic in the eastern region of the Donbass (spelled Donbass by Russia).

Tensions escalated in an all-out fighting between Kyiv and the rebels, which killed 14,000 people, including civilian casualties, which both sides blamed for instigating. There were two ceasefire attempts known as the Minsk Pact, but bloodshed continued amid allegations of violation.

Antonov argued that it was “the nationalist hysteria and rebellious spirit of the Kyiv regime” that resulted in the effective death of the Minsk deals as Ukraine chose a “route of rapid militarization” with help from abroad.

“NATO member states have begun military exploration of Ukraine,” Antonov said. “It was filled with Western weapons while President Vladimir[sic] Zelensky announced Kyiv’s plan to acquire nuclear weapons, which would threaten not only neighboring countries, but also the whole world.”

While Ukrainian officials have repeatedly denied any plans to develop nuclear weapons, and the UN nuclear agency has also rejected the argument, Zelensky said in a speech to the Munich Security Conference days before the Russian incursion. The non-nuclear status of Kyiv was questioned.

At this point, Russia had assembled about 200,000 personnel on the borders of Ukraine, which included neighboring Belarus and Crimea. However, Antonov argued that it was Ukraine that assembled its forces to prepare for an attack on the rebel states in the Donbass, something Kyiv has denied.

“In this context, Russia had no choice but to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics,” Antonov said. “Then, in accordance with Chapter VII, Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, with the authorization of the Federation Council of Russia and in the execution of treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin made a decided to launch a special military operation.”

“It aims to demilitarize and discredit Ukraine in order to reduce the military threats posed by Western states that are trying to use brother Ukrainians in the struggle against the Russians,” he said.

An aerial view, taken on Friday, shows excavators working in the rubble of collapsed buildings in the city of Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv. Ukraine has accused Russia of killing civilians, some execution style, although Moscow has dismissed these claims, arguing that far-right forces have kidnapped the Ukrainian army, of its own atrocities. is staged.
Ronaldo Schmid/AFP/Getty Images

The goal of the operation, Antonov said, “is to end the genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime and ensure Ukraine’s nuclear-free and neutral status.”

At a time when Ukraine, and a growing number of its foreign allies, including US President Joe Biden, are calling on Russian forces, including Putin, to face trial for war, Antonov said that Moscow is trying to achieve its goal. There is a need to end the hostilities”has been happening since 2014 and at the same time prosecute those who have committed a large number of bloody crimes against citizens, including citizens of the Russian Federation.”

And he shrugged off speculation of plans to take control of Ukraine in the long term, saying “the occupation of Ukraine is not the goal of a special operation.”

He also rejected Ukrainian allegations that the Russians were responsible for targeting civilians, such as in Buka, where hundreds of civilians were reportedly slaughtered, some execution-style, days after the Russians left the city. Later. Antonov previously told newsweek that the horrific scenes of the massacre were organized by the Ukrainian military which entered Buka shortly before the news of the mass killings surfaced in the international media.

“The Russian Federation is taking the necessary measures to preserve the life and safety of citizens,” Antonov said. “We do everything to maintain law and order and the normal functioning of critical infrastructure, to ensure the safety of people. Attacks are carried out only on military targets and exclusively with high-precision weapons.”

Such attacks on Friday were claimed by the Russian Defense Ministry that “destroyed weapons and military equipment reaching the Donbass in Pokrovsk, Slavyansk and Barvenkovo.” Russia has since denied the missile attack against the Kramatorsk station, instead blaming Ukrainian forces, which they say have killed up to 50, in their enemy’s deadliest attacks on civilians to date. was one of

Washington has backed Kyiv’s assessment of the incident as the Biden administration and its European allies vowed to send more military aid to Ukraine. Antonov warned that such aid would only worsen the conflict and potentially lead to a direct conflict between the US and Russia.

“Western states are directly involved in the current events as they continue to pump Ukraine with arms and ammunition, leading to further bloodshed,” Antonov said.

“We warn that such actions are dangerous and provocative as they are against our state,” he said. “They can directly lead the US and the Russian Federation on a path of military confrontation. Any supply of weapons and military equipment from the West, by convoys transporting through the territory of Ukraine, is a legitimate military target for our armed forces.”

Antonov also reiterated Russian allegations that the Pentagon was involved in potentially illegal biological research activities in Ukraine, the result of a 2005 agreement that laid the groundwork for joint bio-research. He asked, “What does the Pentagon have to do with health issues? Why have bio labs set up thousands of kilometers away from US territory along the Russian borders?”

Last month, a State Department spokesperson confirmed newsweek The presence of “Ukrainian clinical and biodefense laboratories” but emphasized that these “are not biological weapons facilities” and instead “combat biological threats across the country.”

The conflicting narrative has been a central tenet of the war in Ukraine, as both sides sought to dominate the information space with their respective claims.

But as Antonov accused the West of “showcasing our country”, he insisted that “the policy of our country today is based on the right of all people living in Ukrainian territory to choose their future.”

“Together we need to get rid of the nationalists who seize power in Kyiv as soon as possible, turn this sad page and move forward to build mutually respectful and equal relations,” he said.

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A Russian soldier portrays the “Z” symbolizing the country’s “special military operation” on military vehicles in Ukraine, in a still from footage published by the Russian Defense Ministry in March.
Russian Defense Ministry

To end the conflict, representatives from Kyiv and Moscow have engaged in several rounds of talks, the first of which took place in Belarus just days after the war and the latest of which took place in Turkey.

Antonov explained what Russia wanted from these talks.

“Our principled position regarding conflict resolution is clearly defined,” Antonov said, “which calls for unconditional consideration of Russia’s security interests, the demilitarization and demilitarization of the Ukrainian state, its neutral and non-nuclear”. Including ensuring the position. as well as recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.”

Zelensky and his administration have expressed an openness to ending Ukraine’s NATO aspirations and formally ending any nuclear plans. But territorial concessions have proved to be a more difficult area of ​​contention as the Ukrainian government still considers Crimea and the Donbass region as a whole to be part of the country’s territory, a position supported by the international community.

Nonetheless, Antonov said that Moscow sought to end the conflict as soon as possible.

He told Greeley Tribune that “Russia is doing everything possible to negotiate a path to the early end of the conflict, the restoration of peace in the Donbass and the return of the people of Ukraine to a peaceful life.”

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