Russian FM accuses West of direct fighting in Ukraine

AFP , Saturday 23 Sep 2023

Western powers through their support to Ukraine have effectively entered direct fighting against Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.

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Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov speaks at a U.N. Security Council meeting during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 20, 2023 in New York City. AFP


"You can call it anything you want, but they are fighting with us, they are straight-up fighting with us. We call it a hybrid war, but that doesn't change things," Lavrov told a news conference at the United Nations.

US President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that he is seeking to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia, a fellow nuclear power, and will not send American troops. His administration has also distanced itself from Ukrainian attacks into Russia itself.

But Lavrov pointed to the billions of dollars in Western military equipment provided to Ukraine since Russia attacked last year, as well as US and British intelligence support and the presence of Western military advisors.

Westerners are "de facto fighting against us, using the hands and bodies of Ukrainians," Lavrov said.

"I think everybody present here who pays at least some attention to... the situation in Ukraine knows very well that Americans, Britons and others are fighting, first of all, through providing more and more weapons," he said.

He also pointed to the presence in Ukraine of Western mercenaries. The United States and several other Western governments say that they discourage citizens from travelling to Ukraine and that such fighters have gone on their own.

Lavrov was taking part in the annual United Nations General Assembly, where all eyes were on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who flew to New York to appeal for greater support against the invasion.

Zelensky on Wednesday addressed a special Security Council session, in which he demanded that Russia be stripped of its veto. Lavrov showed up well after the Ukrainian president had spoken.

"I watched it on TV. He seemed rather grim," Lavrov said.

"But I have my own affairs to attend to. We all knew what he was going to say, so why waste time?"

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