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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a plenary meeting of the Russian State Duma on January 26, 2022. (Photo: Russian State Duma\TASS via Getty Images)

Lavrov Says 'There Will Be No War' Over Ukraine Unless US Escalates

"If it depends on Russia, then there will be no war," said the Russian foreign minister. "We don't want wars."

Julia Conley

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted Friday that his government has no desire to take military action in Ukraine, contrary to what peace advocates and Ukrainian officials have denounced as the United States' overly heated rhetoric in recent weeks.

"If it depends on Russia, then there will be no war," Lavrov said on a Russian radio program. "We don't want wars. But we also won't allow our interests to be rudely trampled, to be ignored."

Lavrov's remarks came as Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with French President Emanuel Macron in hopes of avoiding through diplomacy what French officials have said would be a "self-fulfilling" military conflict in Ukraine.

"Military solutions, as we saw with the war in Afghanistan and so many other wars—that is not the solution out of this conflict."

The U.S. has for months warned the Ukrainians that military aggression by Russia was imminent. The Pentagon said Friday that more Russian forces had been moved to the country's border with the former Soviet state in the past 24 hours, prompting Ukrainian security council leader Oleksii Danilov to demand the Biden administration dial down its warnings.

"When they start saying that tomorrow, you're going to have war, just take into consideration that the first thing we do not need in our country is panic," Danilov told the New York Times. "Why? Because panic is the sister of failure."

"That's why we are saying to our partners, 'Don't shout so much,'" he continued, adding that the U.S. should provide Ukraine with security assistance but halt its rhetoric regarding imminent violence and a potential deployment of thousands of American troops.

Lavrov suggested a diplomatic resolution could be achieved, considering the U.S. this week signaled that while it is not open to a retreat of NATO forces in Eastern Europe, it could negotiate on a Russian moratorium on deploying missiles in Europe and restrictions on military exercises near Ukraine's borders.

"All this was rejected for the past two or three years" by the U.S., Lavrov said, "and now they are offering to discuss it."

The latest remarks from Russia and Ukraine come as anti-war advocates in the U.S. have been speaking out against the White House's show of aggression and congressional Democrats' reported plan to expedite the passage of a $500 million military aid package. The bill includes new weapons for Ukraine and sweeping sanctions against Russia, both of which, as Peace Action president Kevin Martin wrote at Common Dreams Friday, could escalate the conflict rather than helping to resolve tensions:

Diplomacy and de-escalation are the urgent priorities; we can't risk putting out the fire with gasoline. While seemingly no one wants war, mis-calculations could lead to catastrophe between nuclear-armed behemoths.

Nobody should oversimplify the current situation. Russia-Ukraine relations and history, as well as post-Cold War triumphalism by the U.S. and NATO toward Russia, have contributed to the crisis. But diplomacy, via the Minsk II process or other means, needs to be the only solution on the table, not militaristic threats or increased weapons transfers. The Minsk II agreement would, if implemented, demilitarize the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine and guarantee meaningful political autonomy to the region while retaining Ukrainian sovereignty over the area and its borders.

As Common Dreams reported Wednesday, progressives in Congress are also calling on the Biden administration to approach Russia and Ukraine diplomatically.

"Diplomatic negotiations are still ongoing. We don't want to get in the way of that," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told MSNBC host José Díaz-Balart Friday morning. "We can always act quickly if we need to, but now is the time for diplomacy to play its role and for... us to really work with our NATO allies and show leadership in negotiations, not in war."

"Military solutions, as we saw with the war in Afghanistan and so many other wars—that is not the solution out of this conflict," the congresswoman added.

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