• Lavrov: Russia is not squeaky clean and not ashamed

Lavrov: Russia is not squeaky clean and not ashamed

Since the Russian army attacked Ukraine nearly four months ago, thousands of civilians have been killed and whole towns reduced to rubble, while millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes.

But on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looked me in the eye and told me things were not as they seemed.

"We didn't invade Ukraine," he claimed.

"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."

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, Mr. Lavrov has given only a few interviews to Western media.

He repeated the official Kremlin line that there were Nazis in Ukraine. Russian officials often claim that their military is "de-Nazifying" the country. Mr. Lavrov caused uproar recently when he tried to justify the Nazi slur regarding Ukraine's president, who is Jewish, by making the ridiculous claim that Adolf Hitler had "Jewish blood".

I quoted to him an official United Nations report about the Ukrainian village of Yahidne, in the Chernihiv region, which states that "360 residents, including 74 children and five persons with disabilities, were forced by Russian armed forces to stay for 28 days in the basement of a school… There were no toilet facilities, water…10 older people died".

"Is that fighting Nazis?" I asked.

"It's a great pity," Mr. Lavrov said, "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."

This article is from BBC News.

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