Ukraine war: Russia 'did not attack Ukraine' says Lavrov after meeting Kuleba

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media after meeting with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Turkey
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media after meeting with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Turkey   -  Copyright  Credit: AP Photo

Expectations were low when Ukraine's Dmytro Kuleba and Russia's Sergei Lavrov met in Turkey on Thursday for the first time since Vladimir Putin's forces invaded Ukraine two weeks ago and launched a war.

There were few surprises after their meeting in Antalya when the Ukrainian foreign minister reported "no progress" towards agreeing on a ceasefire, as the Russian military continues to bombard Ukrainian towns and cities.

Kuleba called on Russia to allow the evacuation of civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol through a "humanitarian corridor", but said Lavrov had promised nothing to that effect.

The Ukrainian minister said his Russian counterpart had not been able to make such a commitment but had agreed to discuss it with the relevant authorities.

Kuleba said the meeting had been "difficult" but added that the two sides had agreed to continue talking, saying that Ukraine was ready for diplomacy.

But Moscow, he said, was still seeking "a surrender from Ukraine", and Kyiv was not going to do that. On the contrary, Ukraine was determined to defend itself.

Ahead of the meeting, Ukraine said its conditions were for an immediate ceasefire, an improvement in the humanitarian situation in Ukrainian cities, and a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

The two sides' talks lasted for one hour and 40 minutes, in the presence of Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu. Afterwards, they gave separate news conferences.

Lavrov said that Putin would not refuse a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss "specific" issues.

Russia's foreign minister described the West's supply of arms to Ukraine as "dangerous", and also claimed the maternity hospital bombed in Mariupol was being used as a base by Ukrainian nationalists, without providing evidence.

He dismissed concerns about civilian casualties in the war as “pathetic shrieks” from Russia’s enemies.

There was familiar rhetoric from Lavrov when he addressed reporters' questions after giving his account of the meeting.

He repeated Moscow's claims that Russia is seeking to rid Ukraine of "Nazis".

Lavrov also said Russia had no plans to attack any other country.

"We do not plan to attack other countries; we did not attack Ukraine either. However, we just explained to Ukraine repeatedly that a situation posed direct security threats to the Russian Federation," he said.