Russia's latest justification for the invasion of Ukraine: Stopping a war in Ukraine

Russia's latest justification for the invasion of Ukraine: Stopping a war in Ukraine
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on, next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as they wait for the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on, next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as they wait for the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
  • Russia's Foreign Minister claimed Russia invaded Ukraine because the Kremlin is trying to prevent a separate war there.

  • Russian officials have spread a variety of falsehoods in an attempt to justify the invasion.

  • President Vladimir Putin initially claimed the operation would not target civilians, but casualties are mounting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered up a bizarre reason for Russia invading Ukraine, saying that the Kremlin is trying to prevent a separate war in the eastern European country.

"The goal of Russia's special military operation is to stop any war that could take place on Ukrainian territory or that could start from there," Lavrov said, according to a tweet posted on Monday by the Russian embassy in London.

The excuse is the latest justification for Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces attacked in the early morning hours of February 24, targeting key cities throughout the country with military strikes.

When he announced the invasion, Putin said he was seeking the "denazification" of Ukraine, a country whose democratically-elected leader, President Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish.

Putin has made other attempts to defend his invasion of Ukraine with baseless claims that genocide was being committed against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has dubbed the invasion a "special military operation" and has criminalized sharing information about the war domestically, threatening dissenters with arrest and prison time. In Moscow, one reporter said police were demanding to see civilians' phones and screening their photos and text messages.

Putin initially said that his invasion of Ukraine would not target any civilians, but the offensive has since bombed multiple towns and cities, hitting hospitals, apartment buildings, and an orphanage.

Ukrainian officials and human rights groups have accused Russia of war crimes, as have top US officials. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US has seen "very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians which would constitute a war crime."

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