- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Situation in Ukraine
On 24 February, Russia launched a special military operation amid Kiev's ongoing shelling of the DPR and LPR. President Vladimir Putin stated that the op is meant to protect the people of Donbass, and its goal is the complete demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine.

Russian FM Lavrov: West Has Just Stolen Over $300 Billion From Moscow

© Sputnik / Pavel Bednyakov / Go to the photo bankRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a press conference following talks with Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh in Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a press conference following talks with Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh in Moscow. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.05.2022
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In an extensive interview with an Italian TV network, the foreign minister discussed a whole range of problems in relations between Moscow and the collective West. In particular, comprehensive sanctions against Russian business and the oil and gas sector, that arose after the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Sunday that over $300 billion was stolen from Russia, the majority of which was payments for oil and gas supplies, because energy giant Gazprom had to store money in Western bank accounts.

"They wanted to ‘punish’ Russia, so they stole it," Lavrov told the Italian Mediaset broadcaster, explaining that "money was stolen from us (over $300 billion)... most of the amount was received for oil and gas supplies."

Lavrov noted that "now we are offered to continue trading as before, and the money will remain with them."

"When they want, they will pocket them again. That's the reason," he added, noting that in the West, "no one talks about this."

Asked about why Russia is halting gas deliveries, which has caused concerns in Italy, Lavrov said that the West could take money away from Russia at any time in the future if the situation were to remain unchanged.

"...’Gazprom’ was forced to keep the money on its accounts in Western banks (according to your rules)," Lavrov said, adding that "now we proposed that the deliveries be considered paid for not when Gazprombank gets the euros or dollars, but when they are converted into rubles, which can no longer be stolen."

A view of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday evening, January 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.04.2022
Situation in Ukraine
‘Longtime Allies & Clients' Snub 'Hypocritical' US Pressure to Impose Russia Sanctions - Economist
The foreign minister noted that "nothing changes for buyers," as they still pay the amounts for the energy specified in the contract in euros and dollars, and the conversion will be carried out after that.

"We have no right before our own people to allow the West to continue its thieving habits."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - Sputnik International
Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister
Notably, Lavrov expressed his surprise at the fact that Italy is in the vanguard of pushing initiatives on sanctions against Russia, as it was strange to see this, given the close ties between Rome and Moscow.

"Italy is in the forefront of those who not only accept anti-Russian sanctions, but also put forward initiatives in every possible way. It was really strange for me to see it, but now we are already used to the fact that Italy can be like that," he said.

Russia Never Stops Efforts to Prevent Nuclear War

Speaking about the global situation, the possibility of nuclear war in the light of current events and the arms race, the Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that Russia has never stopped efforts aimed at preventing a nuclear war.

"Russia has never stopped efforts to reach agreements that will guarantee the non-initiation of a nuclear war," he emphasized.

As for its newest armaments, Moscow was forced to develop hypersonic weapons, knowing that the US missile defense system would be directed against Russia, Lavrov pointed out.

"We were forced to develop hypersonic weapons, because we knew very well that the US missile defense system would be directed not at North Korea and Iran, but against Russia and subsequently China," he said.

According to Lavrov, Russia needed weapons capable of overcoming this anti-missile defense.

"Otherwise, the country possessing missile defense and offensive weapons may be tempted to strike a first blow in the hope that a retaliatory strike will be suppressed by missile defense systems," the minister explained.

Lavrov added that the US stopped the dialogue with Russia on strategic stability, where hypersonic systems were to be discussed, so now Moscow will rely on itself.
As for the US-led military bloc and the nations within it, NATO has ceased to fit Washington amid the situation in Ukraine, since the alliance is seeking to reach a consensus on the issue, according to the diplomat.

"Currently, even NATO does not fit the Americans. They held last meetings not within the framework of NATO (a meeting dedicated to the support of Ukraine), but just convened delegations, because there is a consensus in NATO. But they [the Americans] need to quickly and single-handedly resolve all issues," Lavrov explained.

Last Friday, Lavrov reiterated that Moscow does not threaten anyone with nuclear weapons, and that it is Western countries who start talking about the threat.
After the secessionist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk requested assistance in protecting themselves against Ukrainian aggression, Russia initiated a military operation in Ukraine on February 24. The US, EU and a number of other countries retaliated by slapping broad sanctions on Russia and several of its large banks and companies, also expanding financial and military support for Ukraine.
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