West has declared 'total hybrid war' on Russia, claims Lavov – as Putin warns Finland against joining NATO

The West has declared a “total hybrid war” against Russia and it is hard to predict how long it will last, Moscow’s foreign minister has said.

Sergei Lavrov said the effects of the war in Ukraine will be felt around the world.

But speaking about sanctions on Russia, he warned: “Western politicians should understand their efforts to isolate our country are in vain.”

Russia cuts electricity supply to Finland; Georgia region to vote on joining Russia – Ukraine live

And he went on to accuse Western nations of stealing other countries’ assets and losing their reputation as reliable partners.

“In the future, the world economy will be de-Americanised,” he said in a speech on the 80th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We did everything to avoid a direct clash – but now that the challenge has been thrown down, we of course accept it,” Mr Lavrov continued.

“We are no strangers to sanctions: they were almost always there in one form or another.”

His comments come after a meeting of G7 foreign ministers took place earlier on Saturday, which saw the nations sign a statement saying they will continue to put economic pressure on Russia.

The group, which is made up of the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy, also backed giving more aid and arms to Ukraine and expediting its efforts to “end reliance on Russian energy supplies”.

“We reaffirm our determination to further increase economic and political pressure on Russia, continuing to act in unity,” a joint statement read.

Putin warns Finland it would be a ‘mistake’ to join NATO

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Finland’s leader that abandoning neutrality would be a “mistake” but that there are no security threats to its capital, Helsinki.

In response, Saul Niinisto told Mr Putin that his demands for countries to avoid joining NATO, together with the invasion of Ukraine, have changed Finland’s security environment.

In a readout of a phone call between the two leaders, Finland’s president said: “The conversation was direct and straight-forward and it was conducted without aggravations. Avoiding tensions was considered important.”

Russia’s Kremlin described the call as a “frank exchange of views” – normally a diplomatic euphemism for a difficult conversation.

Finland’s NATO membership bid is expected to be followed by a similar move from Sweden.

An expansion of NATO would be a blow to Mr Putin, who undertook the war in, what he said was, a bid to thwart the alliance’s easterly advance.


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