Sergei Lavrov claims Russia ‘didn’t invade Ukraine’ while admitting it ‘isn’t squeaky clean’

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Sergei Lavrov claims Russia ‘didn’t invade Ukraine’ while admitting it ‘isn’t squeaky clean’
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Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has baselessly claimed his country “didn’t invade Ukraine” and “is not squeaky clean”.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Lavrov suggested that western countries had spread “fake news” about Russia’s invasion, which has caused the death of thousands of civilians since February 24.

Mr Lavrov was asked by the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg about a UN report detailing how 360 residents of the village of Yahidne had been forced to stay in a school basement by Russian forces for 28 days – causing the death of ten people.

He responded: “It’s a great pity but international diplomats, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Secretary-General and other UN representatives, are being put under pressure by the West. And very often they’re being used to amplify fake news spread by the West.

“Russia is not squeaky clean. Russia is what it is. And we are not ashamed of showing who we are.”

Mr Lavrov, who has represented Russia on the international stage for 18 years, also repeated the baseless claim that Russian forces were attempting to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

He added: “We didn’t invade Ukraine. We declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into Nato was a criminal act.”

Elsewhere, he said that relations between the UK and Russia had hit a low point due to the prime minister’s rhetoric over the war.

“I don’t think there’s even room for manoeuvre any more because both [Prime Minister Boris] Johnson and [Liz] Truss say openly that we should defeat Russia, we should force Russia to its knees. Go on, then, do it!,” he said.

Pressed on the fate of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, two captured Britons who have been sentenced to death by a court in the breakaway region of Luhansk, he said: “I am not interested in the eyes of the West at all. I am only interested in international law.

“According to international law, mercenaries are not recognised as combatants. So whatever is in the eyes [of the West], to be honest, is irrelevant.”

He said the courts must decide whether the two soldiers are mercenaries.

Both men were captured in the besieged city of Mariupol while fighting for the Ukrainian army in April - but there is no evidence to suggest they are mercenaries and they had both been serving with Ukrainian forces for several years.

In other developments, Russian forces struck the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolayiv with missiles on Friday morning, killing two people and wounding 20.

The attack damaged four residential buildings and an infrastructure facility, regional Governor Vitaliy Kim added on Telegram.

Ukraine’s military claimed to have hit a Russian naval tugboat transporting soldiers, weapons, and ammunition to the Russian-occupied Zmiinyi (Snake) Island south of the Odesa region on Friday, regional governor Maksym Marchenko said.

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