Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia’s intentions and goals in Ukraine are “clear” and maintained that Moscow is not halting grain exports from Ukraine.
During a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, a Ukrainian journalist asked Lavrov: “Aside from the grain products, what [else] did Russia steal from Ukraine?”
He responded that “with regards to grains, there is no obstacle or challenge caused by the Russian Federation.”
“Mr. Zelensky needs to give an instruction so that Ukrainian ports can become safe,” Lavrov said, reiterating his earlier remarks that Ukraine needs to de-mine its waters to ensure the safe passage of ships.
Lavrov said “we are not the ones to blame” for creating an issue and that “the ball is in their [Ukraine’s] court.”
The Russian foreign minister said Russia is discussing securing the safe passage of ships with the Turkish military.
Lavrov said Russia has “clear intentions and clear goals” in Ukraine, which he claimed are to “liberate” the country from a “neo-Nazi regime,” once again repeating a false claim from the Kremlin about Ukraine’s government.
The spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry hit back at Lavrov’s statements.
“Lavrov’s words are empty,” Oleg Nikolenko said via Twitter, alongside photos of news headlines summarizing Lavrov’s statements.
“Ukraine has made its position on the sea ports clear: military equipment is required to protect the coastline and a navy mission to patrol the export routes in the Black Sea. Russia cannot be allowed to use grain corridors to attack southern Ukraine,” Nikolenko said.
CNN’s Mick Krever contributed reporting to this post.