The Kiev government’s military operation in eastern Ukraine seems to be aimed at “razing the southeast to the ground” and forcing the Russian-speaking population to flee, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
“So far, it seems that the purpose of the so-called anti-terrorist operation is to raze the southeast [of Ukraine] to the ground and make all Russians leave it. Apparently, with a purpose to later populate it with those who have a different view of our history, culture, friendship and centuries-long ties between our peoples,” Lavrov told reporters during his visit to Sochi.
Kiev launched a military crackdown on independence supporters in the mostly Russian-speaking eastern regions of the country in mid-April. According to the United Nations, at least 1,367 people have lost their lives, with more than 730,000 Ukrainian residents fleeing to Russia since the beginning of the conflict. The Russian Federal Migration Service reported last week that about 60,000 Ukrainians have requested refugee status or temporary asylum in Russia. Moscow has repeatedly condemned Kiev’s war against its own people and urged an immediate stop to the punitive operation, advocating a peaceful resolution to the crisis.