"If it depends on us and on the [Donbas] militias, as far as we can understand their principled approaches, then war can and should be avoided," Lavrov said, commenting on the likelihood of war in light of the fact that more than half a million Donbas residents received Russian citizenship.
“If we speak for the Ukrainian side, for the side of [President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, I will not try to guess, because according to external signs, the main thing for him is to stay in power, and he is ready to pay any price, including indulging neo-Nazis and ultra-radicals who continue to declare Donbas militias to be terrorists," he said.
Zelensky had also previously offered to increase the role of Washington in the process by bringing more participants in the Normandy peace talks including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The Kremlin believes that Zelenskyy’s statement on the necessity to introduce changes to the Minsk agreements is a "worrying signal," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has noted that Kiev was pulling equipment and weapons to the contact line in southeastern Ukraine and the European Union turns a blind eye to the attitude for a military solution to the conflict in Donbas.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic also reported an increase in the number of attacks from the Ukrainian security forces in late March. The head of the republic Denis Pushilin did not rule out the possibility of a full-scale attack by Kiev on Donbas, noting that "Ukraine has everything ready for this."
In April 2014, the Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics (DPR and LPR) in Donbass, which declared independence after the coup d'etat in Ukraine in February 2014. According to the latest UN data, about 13,000 people lost their lives in the conflict.
Russia has repeatedly said it was not party to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.