The Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has increasingly been framed by Mr. Putin as not against that country, but against the West — specifically, the United States, as the supposed patron of Mr. Zelensky’s government and its aspirations to escape Russia’s sphere of influence as a former Soviet republic.
Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said in a Russian television interview that aired on Monday that what the Kremlin calls its “special operation” in Ukraine is aimed at rolling back American influence — which the Russian government characterizes as the root of the world’s ills.
“Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the reckless expansion, and the reckless course toward complete dominance, of the United States,” Mr. Lavrov said.
The United States and European Union have imposed increasingly severe economic sanctions on Russia over the invasion and are sending weapons to Ukraine’s military. But they do not want to get drawn into a war with Russia. And the European Union remains reluctant to ban Russian oil and natural gas, which remain critical to the bloc’s own economic health.
E.U. foreign ministers met on Monday in Luxembourg and the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, said that “nothing is off the table, including sanctions on oil and gas.”