Russian foreign minister criticizes UN secretary-general for ‘taking Ukraine’s side’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and employees of the UN Secretariat General are evading questions about the explosions of the Nord Stream gas pipelines, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.
Speaking at a news conference in Moscow following a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Faysal bin Farhan Al Saud, Lavrov said Guterres actively comments on “dubious circumstances” and “dubious ideas” while showing “complete passivity and detachment” in affairs demanding the UN assessment.
Lavrov specified that he means remarks by Guterres in Kyiv regarding the necessity of creating a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the absence of comments regarding the last year’s explosions of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
The diplomat added that “organizers” of the sabotage “must not get scot-free,” and “any conscientious member of the international community should insist on an impartial investigation” of the incident.
About the latest reports claiming “a Ukrainian oligarch” was behind the explosions,” Lavrov said: “Trying to explain with reference to some Western intelligence agencies that this (sabotage) is the work of a certain Ukrainian oligarch, I think it’s just a shame for those who push such a version through controlled Western media.”
Lavrov criticized Guterres for agreeing with Ukraine’s conditions for the implementation of the Russian part of the Black Sea initiative on grain export, saying as the head of the UN, the official has to adhere to a neutral position.
“I am very sorry that the UN Secretary-General, while in Kyiv, unequivocally, in fact, subscribed precisely to unilateral Ukrainian demands, although, of course, according to the UN Charter, as the main administrative person, he should take a neutral position. He once again failed to do it,” he stressed.
According to the diplomat, the Russian part of the deal is not being implemented “at all,” sanctions ban Russian vessels from entering foreign ports and foreign — to enter Russian ports, Russian agricultural bank is excluded off from SWIFT, and price of freight and insurance skyrocketed.
“If we are talking about a deal, then it is a package deal. You can only extend what is already being performed, and if the package is half completed, then the issue of extension becomes quite complex,” he said.
Lavrov added that an agreement on creating a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was close several months ago but the Ukrainian side blocked it.
Lavrov thanks Saudi Arabia for help in organizing war prisoners exchange
The situation in Ukraine was on the agenda with the Saudi foreign minister, Lavrov said, adding that Moscow appreciates Riyadh’s “balanced position and sincere interest to promote a political settlement,” the minister said.
He reminded that at the moment peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv are impossible due to Ukraine’s legislation qualifying negotiations with Russia as criminal offence, till Vladimir Putin serves as the country’s president.
“So far, we do not see any desire on the part of our Ukrainian neighbors to start a serious conversation. Moreover, I have already mentioned repeatedly (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy, by his decree in September last year, forbade any negotiations, and Zelensky’s Western masters constantly declare that Russia must first suffer defeat on the battlefield in order to talk to her from a position of strength,” he said.
Lavrov also thanked Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states for contributing in holding war prisoners exchange that took place on Tuesday.
For his part, the Saudi foreign minister said he discussed the situation in Ukraine with Lavrov and also spoke about the matter with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the G-20 ministerial meeting in New Delhi last week.
“We are always striving to provide support in order to achieve a settlement of this crisis (in Ukraine). We are ready to work with all parties to find a peaceful solution,” he said.
The diplomat confirmed that Saudi Arabia helped in the latest exchange of war prisoners, and that it was carried out “under the personal supervision” of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Normalization between Syria and Türkiye
The Russian foreign minister said he briefed his Saudi counterpart on the situation in Syria, and steps taken to normalize relations between Ankara and Damascus.
“We talked about the situation in and around Syria. We have common positions in favor of preserving the unity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of this country.
“We discussed the main tasks to promote a comprehensive political settlement. We shared information about the work of the Astana format, about efforts to promote normalization of relations between the governments of Syria and Türkiye,” he said.
Lavrov praised Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian aid to Syria, as well as the support of other Arab states.
“I would like to hope that this humanitarian solidarity will create conditions for resolving political issues, including the return of Syria to the Arab League,” he said.
About the situation in the Persian Gulf, Lavrov said “all problems should be solved based on a political dialogue involving all (regional) players.”
He added that the Russian-Saudi cooperation continues in many sectors and does not depend on political situation.
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