Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took a tough stance, and blamed the European Union’s deteriorating relations with Russia, on the former’s support for Kyiv in the Ukraine conflict.
“The European Union has lost Russia. But it is its own fault. It is the EU member countries and EU leaders who openly declare it is necessary to inflict, as they call it, a strategic defeat on Russia,” Lavrov told the website Argumenty i Fatky in an interview on Tuesday.
He added that Russia would respond in a reciprocal and “tough manner if necessary” based on its national interests, describing the EU’s steps in supplying Ukraine with weapons and instructors as “hostile.”
Meanwhile, Lavrov praised Russia’s relationship with China, accusing the West of trying to drive a wedge between the two countries.
The top Russian diplomat was specifically referring to Western analysis of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent trip to Moscow, which was interpreted as a reflection of the unequal relationship between the two countries.
Lavrov stressed that Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached a “strategic partnership” between their countries during 10 hours of talks on the backdrop of the visit some two weeks ago.
“Naturally, we have a sense of comradeship and readiness to stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of each other’s fundamental interests,” Lavrov said.
Xi’s visit to Moscow came on the heels of the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Putin. Analysts at the time suggested Putin was holding on to the visit to portray an unphased reaction to the warrant, whereas Xi was using Russia’s delicate situation to secure cheaper energy supplies.
On a trip to Moscow, Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva’s top foreign adviser discussed the potential for peace negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin late last month, according to media reports.
Celso Amorim, who head’s Lula’s special advisory group, met Putin for an hour in the Kremlin on March 25, the French AFP news agency and CNN Brazil reported.
Lula had proposed creating a mediation group in the war. His advisor’s trip preceded Lula’s scheduled visit to China, another country also pushing to mediate a peace deal between the warring countries.
Lula reportedly plans on discussing such mediation efforts with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, when they meet in Beijing next week.
Amorim, who served as Lula’s foreign minister from 2003 to 2010, told CNN Brazil that he believed that both parties will start considering the need for a peace deal sooner than is expected.
Apart from Putin, Amorim reportedly met as well other top Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Lavrov is due to visit Brazil on April 17.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has called on Moscow to stop planting landmines in Ukrainian agricultural fields. The appeals came on Tuesday’s International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
In a Foreign Ministry statement, Baerbock said such mines cause several civilian casualties and also scare away farmers.
Baerbock signaled the impact of mines on global food security, which already took a hit when the war in Ukraine affected the export of grains. Before — and even during — the war, Ukraine has been a major exporter of grains to the world market.
The German foreign minister described anti-personnel mines as “cruel weapons,” addressing their lasting impact long after fighting concludes.
Baerbock referred to parents in Iraq, Cambodia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and their inability to relax whenever their children go outside to play, in fear that a landmine from years ago might explode.