On July 20, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Western countries are “forcing” Ukraine to fight Russia, preventing peace talks, and placing training instructors in Ukraine to help with high-end rocket systems being used against Russian forces.
“The fact that they [the Ukrainians] are literally being held back from any constructive steps, the fact that they are literally not just being pumped up with weapons, but are being forced to use these weapons in a more and more risky way, the fact that foreign instructors and specialists are sitting there servicing all these systems … is practically no secret anymore.”
“… I have no doubts here: The Ukrainians will not be allowed to negotiate until the Americans decide ‘we have already caused enough trouble, we have sown enough chaos here, now we can leave them, so to speak, leave them to themselves, and we will see how they will get out.’ "
Lavrov specifically mentioned the HIMARS multiple rocket launch systems the United States is providing to Ukraine, a precision-guided system with a range of more than 50km.
The claim that the U.S. and Western allies are forcing Ukraine to defend against Russian invaders is false. And according to news reports citing U.S. military sources, training on how to use the HIMARS launchers is taking place at undisclosed locations outside Ukraine.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on July 20 that about 200 Ukrainians had been trained to service the HIMARS, which stands for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. The launchers are mounted on a heavy truck for transport.
In less than a month, these U.S. systems destroyed dozens of ammunition depots, military headquarters and Russian military equipment, according to multiple news reports citing military sources. The BBC’s Russian Service reported that HIMARS took out 14 ammo dumps in June.
“HIMARS have hardly had any rest during the day or at night. Their potential has been used to the maximum,” Oleh Zhdanov, a former member of the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff, told The Associated Press. “The results have been impressive. Over 30 important Russian targets have been hit with high precision over the past two weeks.”
As to being “forced” to defend itself, the fact is that Ukraine has been pleading for more sophisticated weapons and ammunition from the West since the onset of Russia’s invasion.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly complained that the West has been too slow in providing heavy weapons and that quantities have been insufficient.
In December 2021, Germany refused to supply Ukraine with anti-drone rifles and anti-sniper systems, arguing they could provoke Russia. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov responded: “Not provoking Russia — that strategy does not work and will not work.”
And Ukraine has been thankful. On April 13, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed that Ukraine had asked the U.K. to hurry weapon shipments. “Grateful to the UK for its leadership in increasing sanctions pressure on Russia. Underscored the importance of speeding up arms deliveries to Ukraine,” Kuleba tweeted.
No arm twisting there.
Most recently, on July 20, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska addressed the U.S. Congress and asked for military assistance. “I am asking for something now I would never want to ask. I am asking for weapons,” she said. “Weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land but to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home.”
Lavrov misleads when it comes to negotiations. Kyiv refused to negotiate with Moscow because Russia proposed conditions Ukraine found unacceptable, not because the West is preventing a deal.
During a March 4 telephone conversation with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to conclude a peace agreement with Ukraine “on condition that all Russian demands are met,” the Kremlin website reported.
Those “demands” included “the neutral and nuclear-free status of Ukraine with the mandatory demilitarization of the country, as well as the denazification of the Ukrainian state, recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the sovereignty of the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and LNR [Luhansk People’s Republic] within the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.”
The DNR and LNR are the two puppet governments that Moscow has recognized in Ukraine’s Donbas. Like Crimea, they are part of Ukraine. Russia's claims that Ukraine needs to be "de-nazified" have been repeatedly debunked by Polygraph.info and others.
Most Ukrainians oppose territorial concessions to Russia. In a poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in mid-May, 82 percent of the respondents objected to ceding any territory to Russia, even if it meant a longer war.
In another poll, conducted in Ukraine last month by NORC at the University for The Wall Street Journal, 89% of the respondents said they would not accept any peace deal with Russia that would give Russia “control over some parts of Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia.”
In May, the Ukrainian government ended talks with Moscow. “Russia should sit at the negotiating table after [its] defeat on the battlefield,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on July 18. “Otherwise, it will again be the language of ultimatums.”