Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov has clearly said Moscow's ambitions in Ukraine are not limited to taking control of the largely Russian-speaking regions and securing geopolitical lifelines to Crime and other Russia-held territories.
Lavrov has said, perhaps for the first time, that Moscow wants a regime change in Kyiv. Calling the government of Volodymyr Zelensky an "unacceptable regime," Lavrov has strongly suggested that the Kremlin will want a new dispensation in Kyiv.
Russia had made advances on Kyiv in the initial weeks of the invasion but the move was dropped thereafter, signalling that its goal was to 'liberate' the Donbas region and secure its access to Crimea by taking control of Mariupol and Kherson.
However, Lavrov has now said one of Moscow's goals is to help Ukrainians liberate themselves from the grip of the Kyiv administration. Lavrov was speaking at an Arab League summit in Cairo on Sunday, Euronews reported.
Zelensky' Western Friends
Lavrov said Zelensky and his Western friends are trying to make sure, through insidious propaganda, that Ukraine becomes the eternal enemy of Russia.
"We are determined to help the people of eastern Ukraine to liberate themselves from the burden of this absolutely unacceptable regime," Lavrov said, according to the report.
Lavrov also hinted that Russia's goals are not limited to retaining control of the Donbas region. "We will certainly help the Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical," Lavrov, who has been President Vladimir Putin's foreign minister for 18 years, said.
Change in Plan
When Russia pulled back its columns that were marching on Kyiv in March, it was interpreted as a clear sign that Russia was not looking for a regime change in Ukraine. However, six months into the war, the plan seems to have changed even as the West, led by the US, is pumping money into Ukraine's war machine.
Lavrov appears to suggest that the West's intrepid support has emboldened Zelensky so much so that Ukraine is not willing to sit down for talks to end the hostilities. The Russian foreign minister says Kyiv changed its position on talks decisively in March, obviously under the Western insistence. Instead, Zelensky now wants to defeat Russia on on the battlefield and retake the lands lost to Moscow.
"The West insists that Ukraine must not start negotiations until Russia is defeated on the battlefield," Lavrov said.