Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that the U.S. and other western nations have declared “total war” against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“A real hybrid war, total war was declared on us,” Lavrov said, as the Associated Press reported.
Hybrid warfare refers to the use of both conventional and unconventional means of attacking an opponent, for example attacking an opponent with traditional weapons like missiles and artillery as well as hacking an opponent’s communications. Total warfare refers to warfare that treats the entirety of an opponent state, including its civilian population, as legitimate targets of military action.
Lavrov said the goal of this “total war” declared by the west is “to destroy, break, annihilate, strangle the Russian economy, and Russia on the whole.”
Lavrov’s remarks raise concerns Russia might lash out if it feels war has been inflicted on it. Lavrov and other Russian officials have previously warned that Russia would treat suspected shipments of weapons to Ukraine as legitimate targets for its forces to attack.
To date, the U.S. and other nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have supplied weapons to Ukraine, including hundreds of tons of man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile launchers, to use against invading Russian forces. The U.S. and other nations have also imposed a range of sanctions targeting Russian banks and officials. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden also ordered the U.S. to ban all imports of Russian oil and gas in a move he said would “deal another powerful blow to [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] war machine.”
Despite the range of western sanctions and support for Ukraine’s military, Lavrov said, “We have many friends, allies, partners in the world, a huge number of associations in which Russia is working with countries of all continents, and we will continue to do so.”
On Saturday President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “butcher” and cannot remain in power.
“We will have a different future — a brighter future rooted in democracy and principle, hope and light, of decency and dignity, of freedom and possibilities,” Biden said at the close of a 27-minute speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned Biden’s remarks on Saturday, saying, “it’s not up to the president of the U.S. and not up to the Americans to decide who will remain in power in Russia.” Peskov also responded to Biden’s characterization of Putin as a “butcher,” saying, “a state leader should keep their temper.”