Russia’s envoy to the United Nations (UN) claims that the country does not plan to occupy Ukraine and that its operations will end as soon as it achieves its objectives.

Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said during a recent UN General Assembly that the country he represents is only acting to save the lives of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region who for nearly a decade have been the victims of atrocities. He further claimed that the Russian army will not occupy Ukraine.

“Occupation of Ukraine is not part of our plans. The purpose of this special operation is to protect the people who have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for the past eight years. This is why it’s necessary to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine,” said Nebenzya.

As an example of the crimes supposedly committed by the Ukrainian government, Nebenzya cited an incident that occurred in 2014 in the southwestern city of Odesa, wherein pro-Russian protesters were burned alive after a building they occupied was set on fire by anti-Russian demonstrators.

Nebenzya added that Russia is only acting to defend itself from the Ukrainian government and its plans to “gain access to nuclear weapons.” As proof, Russia cited a statement made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Feb. 18.

The ambassador further argued that the Russian invasion of Ukraine does not violate any of the underlying principles of the United Nations. Nebenzya claimed that Russia is merely acting to prevent another world war.

Russia also supposedly engaged in preemptive action against Ukraine to prevent it from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“Ukraine joining NATO is a red line,” said Nebenzya. “It compels us to adopt measures in response and has placed us at the verge of this conflict.”

Finally, Nebenzya claimed that Russia is acting defensively and that it did not begin hostilities.

“The Russian Federation did not begin these hostilities,” he said. “They were unleashed by Ukraine residents, dissenters. Russians are seeking an end to this war.” 

Russian officials insist Moscow will not occupy Ukraine

On Friday, Feb. 25, Russia’s ambassador to Japan held a prolonged conference with reporters where he repeated Nebenzya’s claim that Russia has no intention to occupy Ukraine.

Ambassador Mikhail Galuzin said Russia was acting defensively to prevent the further expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, while at the same time seeking to “demilitarize and de-nazify” Ukraine.

Like Nebenzya, Gazulin claimed that ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the Donbas region are being subjected to human rights abuses, including genocide, by the government in Kiev. He even accused Ukraine of “glorifying Nazi cooperationists” instead of the Soviet and Russian “heroes who brought an end to Nazism.”

Despite clear evidence to the contrary, Gazulin further claimed that Russia was only attacking military targets in Ukraine and is not intentionally targeting civilians. He added that it was up to the Ukrainian people to “choose their future,” implying that they should ditch the pro-European government in favor of putting in power one that is more pro-Russian.

Gazulin also refused to call Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a war. He instead referred to it as a “special operation.” He made this claim as he repeated the assertion that Ukraine brought this invasion upon itself for violating a 2014 peace agreement with the pro-Russian separatist governments in the Donbas region.

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on Friday also held a press conference reiterating that Russia’s “special operation” is only limited in its scope and is not seeking the occupation of Ukraine.

“No one is going to occupy Ukraine. The aim of the operation has been openly declared: demilitarizing and de-nazifying,” said Lavrov. “Russia sees no possibility of recognizing the Ukrainian government as democratic given that it is oppressing and using methods of genocide against its own people.”

Lavrov claimed that President Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine to be truly independent and free from the influence of foreign powers so that it can elect a new government. Lavrov added that this government should represent all Ukrainians, end the genocide of Russians in Ukraine, prevent foreign powers from using it to contain Russia and stop supporting neo-Nazi groups.

Ukrainian officials deny all of Russia’s allegations, especially the claim that it is acting defensively. Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said during the General Assembly meeting: “Everyone knows that Russia and Russia alone started this invasion.”

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