Lavrov Walks Back Rhetoric, Saying Russia Not Interested in Breaking Off Diplomatic Relations with Ukraine

August 15, 2016
Sergei Lavrov. Photo by Jorge Silva

LIVE UPDATES: Russia is not planning to break off diplomatic relations with Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavovr said today in Yekaterinburg.

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Lavrov Walks Back Rhetoric, Saying Russia Not Interested in Breaking Off Diplomatic Relations with Ukraine

Russia is not planning to break off diplomatic relations with Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today in Yekaterinburg at a briefing on his talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Said Lavrov (translation by The Interpreter):

“I don’t think that we are now in a situation when someone is interested in a break of diplomatic relations. These are extreme measures.

I think now the main thing is not to succumb to emotions and not fall into some kind of extreme options of actions, but guarantee the stabilization of the situation with restraint and concentration.”

On Friday August 12, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that President Vladimir Putin may break off relations if there were no other options, RT reported, following an uproar over two alleged incidents involving Ukrainian “saboteurs” on the border of Russian-occupied Crimea and the Ukrainian mainland in which an FSB officer and Russian soldier were said to have been killed.

Even before the incidents, media speculated about a disruption in already greatly-strained Russian-Ukrainian relations due to Moscow’s designation of Mikhail Babich, an official with a military resume, as envoy to Kiev. Ukraine says it is not reviewing the request for the Russian ambassador as their is already a temporary charge d’affaires.¬†

The claim last week by the Federal Security Service that a group of Ukrainian saboteurs were caught trying to lay bombs in Russian-occupied Crimea — strenuously denied by Ukraine — has caused relations to further deteriorate.

The Russian story of the “subversion” has been scant and contradictory, as now 9 people have been detained in connection with two border incidents, but only three names have been given. Friends and relatives of one Ukrainian man, Yevhen Panov say he may have been abducted. Ukrainian media has reported the name of the Russian soldier killed, but this has not been confirmed by the Russian government.

Lavrov said Russia has undeniable proof that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry was behind the attempt to sabotage sites at the Crimean border, but it has not been supplied.

Catherine A. Fitzpatrick