The West is “fighting directly” against Russia in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Minister accused Saturday at the UN at a time when Kiev claims to have killed Russian military leaders in the strategic Crimean peninsula.

“You can call it what you want but they are fighting us, they are fighting us directly,” Sergei Lavrov said on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“We call it hybrid war, but that does not change the reality,” he added, referring to financial aid, weapons and “mercenaries” from Western countries.

The head of Russian diplomacy, during a long press conference at UN headquarters in New York, was questioned about the involvement of the United States in the conflict in Ukraine.

“The fact that they are de facto fighting against us using the corps of Ukrainians, I think that everyone here who is interested in the situation in Ukraine knows very well that the Americans, the British and others are fighting in first of all providing more and more weapons,” asserted the head of Russian diplomacy.

In Ukraine, the Kiev army claimed on Saturday to have killed or injured “senior commanders” of the Russian navy during its strike the day before against the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, in annexed Crimea.

Declining to say whether Western-made missiles were used, Ukrainian intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said the attack killed “at least nine people,” including generals, in comments to Voice of America .

AFP was unable to verify this information.

Russia said one of its service members was missing after the attack.

Crimea, a Ukrainian region annexed by Moscow in 2014, and the city of Sevastopol, where the targeted naval headquarters is located, are at the heart of the Russian military system for its invasion of Ukraine, both to supply the occupying troops the Ukrainian south and to carry out missile strikes from the sea.

The United States and European countries, which have been supplying weapons systems to Kiev since the Russian invasion of February 2022, insist that they are not at war with Moscow but that they are helping Ukraine to defend itself.

Sergei Lavrov was speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly during which, earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came in person to ask for more support from the international community.

He proposed a summit to discuss his peace plan intended to end the war.

Lavrov said the proposed settlement was “completely infeasible, impossible to implement, not realistic.”

Asked about how to put an end to the bogged-down conflict, the head of Russian diplomacy judged that “in these circumstances, if they (the Westerners and the Ukrainians, editor’s note) say that this must happen on the battlefield, fine, it will be done on the battlefield.”

Before the UN Security Council on Wednesday, President Zelensky denounced Moscow’s “criminal aggression” against his country and the “blockage” of the UN body due to Russia’s right of veto.

Mr. Lavrov had carefully avoided being present in the Council room when the Ukrainian head of state spoke. But during his intervention on Wednesday — after Mr. Zelensky’s departure — he responded that the Russian veto was a “legitimate tool” vested in the five permanent members of the Council.

“I watched him on TV. He seemed rather gloomy,” Mr. Lavrov attacked on Saturday, adding: “I had to do, we all knew what he was going to say so why waste his time.”

Late Saturday morning, during an anti-Western speech before the UN General Assembly, the Russian minister warned that it was in “the common interest to avoid the spiral of a full-scale war scale and to prevent the final collapse of the international cooperation mechanisms put in place by our predecessors” at the United Nations.

23/09/2023 22:29:47 –       United Nations (United States) (AFP) –       ©2023 AFP