In an interview with India Today broadcaster, the minister said that Russia has no plans to pressure a regime change in Kiev, noting that the people of Ukraine must decide their own destiny.
NATO Conducts Military Exercises Near Russian Border
According to the official, Russia was forced to carry out its special military operation in late February amid increased shelling by Ukrainian military forces in the Donbass region, which led to mass evacuations of civilians and prompted the leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) to seek help from Moscow.
On this occasion, Lavrov said anew that the Russian military was aiming only at the military infrastructure in Ukraine and added that Moscow was contemplating the use of conventional weaponry only in this phase.
The foreign minister also said that after the Istanbul talks, Russia showed its goodwill and commitment to peace by changing the position of its forces in Ukraine; however, this attitude was not reciprocated by the Ukrainian side, that promptly engaged in a provocation in Bucha seeking to defame Russia, Lavrov said.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a special military operation in Ukraine in response to a request for help from the leaders of the DPR and LPR. The operation was aimed at demilitarization and denazification of the country; President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated.
The conflict in the Donbass region dates back to eight years of Kiev-led warfare. It worsened following Russia's recognition of the sovereignty of the Donbass republics, which then denounced the heaviest shelling in months.