In a March 2, 2022 interview on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the West is responsible for the Ukraine crisis since NATO had expanded eastward since the dissolution of the USSR. He said: "The whole situation was caused by the West's refusal to acknowledge Russia's equal rights in defining the security of Europe." Lavrov said that the West is using and arming Ukraine in order to establish a "hostile belt" in Russian environs. In addition, he said that the U.S. and Britain have built military bases in Ukraine, and that the Pentagon built military biological laboratories in Ukraine as a part of a "secret American program" to build laboratories in former Soviet republics for experimenting "on various bacteria." Moreover, Lavrov said that the Russian military's goal is to demilitarize Ukraine, and not to overthrow its regime, adding that "the Ukrainians themselves should make the decision once this conflict is over."
When asked if the world is on the verge of a third world war, Lavrov answered that this question should be directed at U.S. President Joe Biden, who he said has stated that a world war is the only alternative to sanctions on Russia. He added that Russia's "Western partners" do not rule out the possibility of a third world war, which they surely must know "can only be nuclear." The assertion that America placed biological laboratories in Ukraine was also recently made by Russian economist Valentin Katasonov (see MEMRI TV Clip No. 9403).
Sergey Lavrov: "In the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union came to an end, the West made promises to the Soviet leaders, and then to the Russian leaders. [The West] promised Boris Yeltsin and Eduard Shevardnadze that there would not be a geopolitical breakdown, and that NATO would not use the new situation to push its infrastructure eastward. Furthermore, it was promised that NATO would not accept new members.
"Instead of fulfilling those promises that would have guaranteed stability in Europe, NATO carried out five waves of expansion eastward. All these waves were accompanied by the deployment of NATO armed forces on the soil of the new countries. Back then, they said that this was a temporary deployment, but soon enough, it turned permanent.
"NATO gave Ukraine two options: You can either be with Russia, or with the West.
"[Zelensky] lied when he signed settlement agreements with Donbas. He did not abide by these agreements. For eight years, we have tried to get this regime back to its senses. The West did not do anything [in this respect], and we got the impression that it does not want to do anything, because even before 2014, the West was using Ukraine as a tool to deter Russia.
"This whole situation was caused by the West's refusal to acknowledge Russia's equal rights in defining the security of Europe.
"When Mr. Zelensky declares that if Russia does not stop demanding that Ukraine fulfils its commitments, Ukraine will consider obtaining nuclear weapons again — this crosses all the boundaries.
"All this built up to the point where it could no longer be tolerated. Everything I said was taking place on a daily basis. Day by Day, our conviction increased that the West decided to use Ukraine to deter Russia, in order to establish a hostile belt in our environs.
"As you know, in recent years, large quantities of weapons have been funneled into Ukraine. This happened recently in particular. The Americans and the British built military bases there. In Mariupol, on the sea of Azov, for example, they built a navy base.
"In addition, military biological laboratories that belong to the Pentagon were built in order to continue experiments on various bacteria. This is a secret American program. They have similar laboratories in other former Soviet republics in Russia's environs.
"We should be realistic. Crimea is not up for debate. President Putin made our position clear on numerous occasions, and our delegation presented it in the Belarus negotiations with Ukraine. Crimea is part of Russia."
Interviewer: "Why were Russian forces sent to Kyiv? What is the goal of that?"
Interviewer: "Or maybe it is to overthrow the regime?"
Lavrov: "Demilitarization. The Ukrainians themselves should make the decision once this conflict is over. They started this conflict and we are working to end it. After that, it will be up to them to decide how they want to live. This is being discussed in various circles, but I do not participate in these discussions.
"Our position is that all the national and ethnic groups in Ukraine should be represented. True, Zelensky is the President of Ukraine, but unfortunately, he is a president who lied to his people, who had elected him on the basis of his promises to end the war."
Interviewer: "Has the world reached the edge of the abyss? Are we on the brink of a third world war?"
Lavrov: "You should direct this question to President Biden. It was he who said: If we do not impose sanctions, the only alternative will be a third world war.
"It is impossible that he does not understand that a world war can only be nuclear. Apparently, the old urges till live in the minds of our Western partners, since they do not rule out such a possibility."