Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said there will be no more joint projects with the European Union and said Moscow will instead turn to “like-minded” allies for future diplomatic partnerships.
“Thank God, the world is not just the European Union for us and we have lots of friends and like-minded nations elsewhere,” he told Russia state-owned media outlet TASS.
The minister’s comments come as Russian President Vladimir Putin has increasingly looked to bolster ties with China and Iran in recent months, turning to the latter for arms as its looks to shore up economic ties with Beijing.
Lavrov accused the EU of waging a “hybrid war” against Moscow since Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine in February.
“Naturally, there will be no more ‘business as usual’ with such counter-parties. We do not intend either to knock on closed doors or initiate any joint projects,” he added.
The Russian foreign minister accused the EU of following in the footsteps of the U.S. and NATO and said, “They have been following the anti-Russian lead of the hegemon across the ocean almost in full obedience.”
Lavrov has repeatedly accused the U.S. and its Western allies of waging war against Russia by providing Ukraine with defensive and humanitarian aid – including financial support to help Kyiv restore its energy infrastructure which Russia began targeting ahead of winter.
Putin made headlines on Christmas day when he suggested that Moscow was open to negotiating with Ukraine, telling Russian media “We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are.”
But Kyiv rejected these comments noting that Russia was only open to discussing “ultimatums” that would include allowing it to keep the nearly 20 percent of Ukrainian territory that Russia currently occupies, including Crimea.
These accusations were supported by Lavrov Tuesday when he said Kyiv must accept Moscow’s demands or face a continued war, reported Reuters.
“Our proposals for the demilitarization and denazification of the territories controlled by the regime, the elimination of threats to Russia’s security emanating from there, including our new lands, are well known to the enemy,” he said citing Moscow’s top propagandist claims.
“The point is simple: Fulfill them for your own good. Otherwise, the issue will be decided by the Russian army,” Lavrov added.
Despite the foreign minister’s threat Russia has made little advancements in Ukraine and has lost territory over the last few months.
The UK defense ministry has assessed that the most intense fighting remains around the Donetsk town of Bakhmut where Russia has made little headway.
The defense officials noted that its dwindling supply of missiles has prompted its troops to increasingly lay mines along the front lines in a defensive posture.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his forces last week that it was their duty to hold the territory they have occupied, though Crimea remains the only region fully occupied.
While Russia is assessed to have control over Luhansk, Ukrainian forces have begun to push the front lines eastward into the region where areas are now contested.
Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk are not fully occupied.
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