Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended on Monday the good health of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that no one in his judgment “can appreciate a symptom of illness” in him.

“President Putin appears publicly every day. You can see him on the screens, listen to his speeches. I don’t think people in their right mind can appreciate a symptom of illness in this man,” Lavrov said in a televised interview on TF1. and LCI in France.

Those claims come after reports and speculation in recent months about Putin’s alleged poor health.

In the interview, which lasted about 15 minutes, Lavrov defended Russia’s actions in Ukraine and insisted on the goal of “denazifying” the country and defending the Russian language. Lavrov criticized the European Union’s actions in this crisis, accusing it of acting as a vassal of the United States and of having planned the sanctions for a long time, even before February, when Russian tanks entered Ukraine.

Questioned about the suffering of the Ukrainian population and the death of thousands of civilians, Lavrov accused the Ukrainian Army and “neo-Nazi battalions” of using the population as a shield to protect military equipment, which according to Russia is their only objective. “If the operation takes so long, it is because the Russian Army has asked to avoid the attack on civilian infrastructure at all costs,” said Lavrov, who did not answer the presenter’s question about the devastating state of cities like Mariupol.

Russia’s goals, according to Lavrov, are “to protect the civilians of Donbas, to demilitarize Ukraine and to prevent there from being weapons that pose a threat to Russia. Also, to restore the Russian language and remove the Ukrainian Army” from the Donetsk and Lugansk” and the rest of the territory where there are people “who do not want to break ties with Russia”, because “it is up to the population to decide”.

For Lavrov, the sanctions of the European Union are “hysterical” and “show impotence”, since “the main loser of this war is Europe”. Regarding Macron’s insistence on keeping the discussion channels open with Putin, Lavrov said that the Russian president accepts requests for communication from all over the world. “We hear that Russia is publicly accused of aggression by EU leaders, without exception, in bellicose language. If behind that language there is a will to act on the problems and causes of the current crisis, we will always be ready to discuss” , he added. However, he said that despite the “long relationship of trust” between Macron and Putin, “France actively arms Ukraine, also with offensive weapons, and calls for a war to the end to defeat Russia.”

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