Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned Turkey and other nations not to get involved in fuelling Ukraine's militarism amid concerns that Kiev may be gearing up to launch a new offensive against the Donbass breakaways.
"We strongly recommend that all responsible nations which we are in contact with - among them Turkey, that they analyse the situation, the never-ending militaristic statements by the regime in Kiev. We warn them against feeding these militaristic sentiments," Lavrov said, speaking to reporters in Cairo after meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry.
Lavrov recalled that in 2014, similar encouragement from abroad prompted elements of Ukraine's elite to carry out an unconstitutional coup d'etat, after which "the new authorities in Kiev - the putschists, carried out aggression against their own people."
"Therefore, when representatives from the Zelensky administration declare that Kiev is not planning anything in the Donbass, because Kiev cannot fight against its own people, this is not true. Kiev, after the 'revolution of dignity', which in reality was an unconstitutional putsch, attacked its own people and since that time has waged a war against its own people, declaring them to be terrorists," Lavrov stressed, referring to the residents of eastern Ukraine. The people of Donbass, he said, "did not attack anyone in the rest of Ukraine, but merely asked to be left alone to figure out what was happening after neo-Nazis seized power in Kiev and immediately began to act against the rights of the Russian-speaking population of their own country".
The foreign minister went on to ask what goals the United States was pursuing by deploying troops and warships in Ukraine, thousands of kilometres from America's own shores.
"As for the military activities of the United States, including the deployment of ships to the Black Sea, this is taking place regularly, right now it is being done particularly energetically, and is accompanied by aggressive rhetoric," Lavrov said.
"We are asked what Russia is doing on the border with Ukraine. The answer is very simple - we live here, this is our country. But what the United States is doing via its warships and troops, which are constantly organising some kind of events in Ukraine under the auspices of NATO, thousands of kilometres from America's own territory - this question still remains unanswered," the diplomat stressed.
The US military attache in Ukraine was photographed with “Ukraine or Death” insignia on her arm during her visit to the conflict line in Donbas. pic.twitter.com/CMuBXkcPv1— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) April 9, 2021
Donbass Conflict Heating Up
Lavrov's comments come amid an intensification of concerns that Ukrainian authorities may be preparing a new offensive to regain control over the breakaway territories of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine. The regions split from Kiev in March-April 2014 in the aftermath of the February 2014 coup d'etat, in which Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown after weeks of street protests culminated in bloody attacks on security forces and protesters alike by mysterious snipers. In May 2014, Kiev launched a military operation to try to regain control of the rebellious eastern provinces.
In recent weeks, Donbass authorities and militia commanders have reported an intensification of provocations in the form of shelling and sniper attacks along the lines of contact, and have expressed fears that Kiev may be gearing up to launch a major offensive. These fears have been exacerbated by reports that Ukraine is continuing the purchase and localisation of Turkish-made armed drones. The same kind of drones were delivered by Ankara to Azerbaijan last year for its successful offensive against the Armenian-populated breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.