Ukraine fights to hold off Russian advances in south, east
Moscow does not consider itself to be at war with NATO, but NATO does, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has told Al-Arabiya in an exclusive interview.
He brushed aside UN chief Antonio Guterres’ proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians, saying: “There is no need for anybody to provide help to open humanitarian corridors. There is only one problem … humanitarian corridors are being ignored by Ukrainian ultranationalists.
“We appreciate the interest of the secretary-general to be helpful … (We have) explained … what is the mechanism for them to monitor how the humanitarian corridors are announced.”
Asked about the risks of war spilling into Moldova after a series of explosions rattled a breakaway border region within the country, Lavrov said: “Moldova should worry about its own future … because they are being pulled into NATO.”
“Unfortunately, NATO, it seems, considers itself to be at war with Russia,” he said. “NATO and EU leaders, many of them, in England, in the US, Poland, France, Germany and of course EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell, they bluntly, publicly and consistently say, ‘Putin must fail, Russia must be defeated.’ When you use this terminology, I believe you think that you are at war with the person who you want to be defeated.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian forces fought to hold off Russian attempts to advance in the south and east, where the Kremlin is seeking to capture the country’s industrial Donbas region, and a senior US defense official said Moscow’s offensive is going much slower than planned.
While artillery fire, sirens and explosions were heard Friday in some cities, the United Nations sought to broker an evacuation of civilians from the increasingly hellish ruins of Mariupol, where the mayor said the situation inside the steel plant that has become the southern port city’s last stronghold is dire.
Citizens are “begging to get saved,” Mayor Vadym Boichenko said. “There, it’s not a matter of days. It’s a matter of hours.” —Agencies