Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that the West was “supporting genocide” in Ukraine through its backing for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s peace plan, which he claimed would “destroy everything Russian” in east Ukraine and Crimea.
Lavrov, speaking during a trip to Africa, did not offer evidence to support his claim. Russia has long accused the West of ignoring what it says is Ukrainian persecution of Russian language speakers in the eastern Donbas region and elsewhere.
“The conclusion is very simple – the West directly supports genocide,” Lavrov said during a press conference with his Burundian counterpart.
Zelenskiy’s peace plan envisages the withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory, including the Crimea peninsula, which Moscow forcibly annexed in 2014.
Speaking on the day when Russia accused Ukraine of launching its biggest ever drone attack on Moscow, Lavrov said the West was directly helping Kyiv to carry out such “terrorist” strikes by providing it with weapons and military equipment.
“The statement of the West that the weapons it is supplying (to Ukraine) must not be used against the territory of the Russian Federation is just another lie,” he said.
Lavrov also took aim at comments by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, saying they could be understood as encouraging the killing of Russians.
In an edited video released by Zelenskiy’s office last Friday, Graham was shown saying during a meeting with the Ukrainian president in Kyiv that “the Russians are dying” and then saying U.S. support was the “best money we’ve ever spent”.
After Russia criticised the remarks, Ukraine released a full video of the meeting on Sunday which showed the two remarks were not directly linked.
Graham said he had simply praised the spirit of Ukrainians in resisting a Russian invasion with assistance provided by Washington.