Sergey Lavrov speaks during a joint news conference with his South Africa’s counterpart Naledi Pandor (Picture: AP)
Russia’s top diplomat has today lashed out at the West’s support for Ukraine, stressing the conflict can no longer be defined as a ‘hybrid war’.
As allies step up their military aid to the Ukrainian Army, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov warned the war was ‘almost a real one’.
‘When we speak about what is happening in Ukraine – it is a war, not a hybrid one, almost a real war, that the West has been plotting for a long time against Russia,’ he said during a diplomatic visit to South Africa today.
‘The goal is to destroy everything Russian, from language to culture, that has been in Ukraine for centuries and to prohibit people from speaking their mother tongue.’
He also claimed Russia was willing to negotiate with Ukraine in the early months of the war, but the US and other Western nations advised Kyiv against this.
His remarks were similar to those made last year by president Vladimir Putin, but no evidence has been offered to support them.
People supporting Ukraine picket against the diplomat in Pretoria, South Africa (Picture: AP)
Meanwhile, the US and other Western nations have stressed Russia is not serious about hammering out a deal to end the war.
Lavrov said: ‘It is well known that we supported the proposal of the Ukrainian side to negotiate early in the special military operation and by the end of March, the two delegations agreed on the principle to settle this conflict.
‘It is well known and was published openly that our American, British, and some European colleagues told Ukraine that it is too early to deal, and the arrangement which was almost agreed was never revisited by the Kyiv regime.’
It comes as Poland has reiterated that it is ready to send tanks to Ukraine without Germany’s consent.
Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his government would seek permission to send its German-made Leopard tanks without specifying when the request will be made.
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Poland needs the consent of Germany to send them to a non-NATO country like Ukraine.
But Morawiecki said he request is ‘a secondary matter’ as a group of EU countries look at how to help.
‘Even if, eventually, we do not get this permission, we – within this small coalition – even if Germany is not in this coalition, we will hand over our tanks, together with the others, to Ukraine,’ he said.
According to the Polish leader, Germany has ‘more than 350 active Leopards and about 200 in storage’.
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