Lavrov says that Russia’s goal is to remove the Ukrainian president.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia appears to have reversed itself after the country’s top diplomat said Moscow’s main goal is to topple the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky because Russian artillery Shells and airstrikes are destroying cities across Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments came amid efforts by Ukraine to resume grain exports from Black Sea ports, which would help ease global food shortages, under a new deal. Under the Russian attack on Odessa at the weekend.

Addressing ambassadors at the Arab League summit in Cairo late Sunday, Lavrov said Moscow was committed to helping Ukrainians “free themselves from the burden of this totally unacceptable regime.”

Lavrov accused Kyiv and its “Western allies” of spreading propaganda aimed at ensuring that Ukraine “becomes Russia’s eternal enemy.”

“The Russian and Ukrainian people will continue to live together, we will definitely help the Ukrainian people to get rid of the government, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” he said.

Lavrov’s comments were in stark contrast to the Kremlin’s line early in the war, when Russian officials repeatedly stressed that they did not want to overthrow Zelensky’s government.

Lavrov argued that Russia was ready to negotiate a deal to end hostilities in March when Kyiv changed its strategy and announced its intention to defeat Russia on the battlefield, adding that the West has encouraged Ukraine to continue fighting.

“The West insists that Ukraine should not start negotiations until Russia is defeated on the battlefield,” Lavrov said.

It was not yet clear when grain shipments would resume after Russia and Ukraine signed similar agreements with the United Nations and Turkey on Friday in Istanbul. The deals are intended to clear the way for shipments of millions of tons of Ukraine’s much-needed grain, as well as Russian grain and fertilizer exports.

The Kremlin insisted on Monday that the weekend attack on the port of Odessa targeted military assets and would not affect grain shipments.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the strike was to be carried out “exclusively against military infrastructure”.

“It is in no way related to the infrastructure involved in fulfilling contracts and exporting grain. So it cannot and should not affect the start of the shipment process in any way,” Peskov said.

The Kremlin spokesman also said that Moscow has no interest in cutting off all gas supplies to Europe and that the recent restrictions on the flow of Russian gas to European countries “are only the result of sanctions imposed by the Europeans and the Europeans themselves.” are bearing the brunt of the sanctions.”

“Russia is a responsible gas supplier, and no matter what anyone says, in the European Commission, in European capitals, in the United States, Russia has been and still is a country that is a major supplier of gas,” Peskov said. The extent guarantees Europe’s energy security,” Peskov said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s presidential office said Monday that at least two civilians were killed and 10 others wounded in the latest Russian shelling over the past 24 hours.

In the eastern Donetsk region, the center of the Russian offensive, Russian artillery hit Avdiivka, Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka. At least five houses were damaged in the airstrike on Bakhmut.

“The Russians are firing from the ground and from the ground, they are firing from the ground and from the air,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kirilenko said in televised remarks.

The Russians also attacked the Kharkiv area. A Russian attack in the city of Chuhuyu destroyed a local club building and rescue workers pulled several people from the rubble.

Kharkiv Governor Olya Senyhobov condemned the attack, saying it looked like a deadly lottery when no one knew where the next strike would come and the entire region was at risk of life.

A 10-year-old girl was injured by shelling in Dnipro region, a 7-year-old child was injured by Russian shelling in Mykolaiv region.

Among other developments:

– Russia’s top national security agency said Monday it had foiled an attempt by Ukrainian military intelligence to persuade Russian military pilots to hand over their warplanes to Ukraine.

The Federal Security Service (FSB), the KGB’s successor agency, said on Monday that Ukrainian citizens offered cash and EU citizenship to Russian pilots to lure them into hijacking their warplanes. In a video released by the FSB, a man believed to be a Ukrainian intelligence officer offers to pay a potential defector pilot $2 million if he flies his plane during a combat mission over Ukraine. Will hand over.

Russian state television has claimed that Western intelligence agencies helped the Ukrainians in the effort. Russian claims could not be independently verified.