NATO’s goal is to fill a void left over from the fall of the USSR, as stated by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He noted that “NATO is now a purely geopolitical project to develop the territory which was left abandoned after the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact and after the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
“But the fact that they have now already swung, as Putin said, onto our doorstep, of course, we cannot be indifferent,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov also pointed out that the West wants to flame up a conflict in Ukraine and put the blame on Moscow for any subsequent provocation.
“I don’t rule out that there’s this desire to fuel militaristic sentiment, to wage a little war, blame us and then impose a round of sanctions to suppress our competitive ability,” he said.
The diplomat warned that Russia will firmly insist on the inviolability of the Minsk Agreements, but said that if another party breaks the accords aimed at establishing peace in eastern Ukraine, they should face up to the consequences, RT reports.
Systematic provocations by NATO near Russia’s borders are fraught with major risks of developing into an armed conflict, Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Alexander Fomin, added.
“Lately, the alliance opted for direct provocations, fraught with a great risk of developing into an armed standoff,” Fomin said.
As an example, he mentioned the June 23, 2021 attempt by the British destroyer Defender to intrude into Russia’s territorial waters near Crimea’s Cape Fiolent.
“It is significant that the US strategic reconnaissance plane RC-135 provided support for the British naval ship,” Fomin said.
The intensity of reconnaissance flights in the Black Sea region has grown by 60 per cent in contrast to 2020. The number of sorties increased from 436 to 710.
However, Russia will firmly defend its national interests at the upcoming security talks with the US and NATO in January, Lavrov promised, as Sputnik reports.
“We are now preparing to firmly and effectively pursue the agenda of defending our interests and refusing to make concessions that would be unilateral and that would not take into account the balance of interests. This is what we are proceeding from now when we are getting ready for the negotiations, first of all, with the United States,” Lavrov said.
In turn, the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergey Ryabkov, stressed that Russia is not bluffing by putting forward the security safeguard proposals on a part of NATO and the US and will make every effort to facilitate the West’s awareness of it.
“When we say loud and clear that we demand an official withdrawal of the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest summit relating to Ukraine and Georgia’s to join NATO, […] when we say that further expansion of NATO needs to be prevented, when we say that NATO facilities and all kinds of activities that are provocative for Russia need to be rolled back to the positions that existed in 1997 when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed, we are not bluffing. These are our real proposals. The West’s awareness of this needs to be facilitated and we are going to make every effort to achieve it,” the senior diplomat emphasized.
Commenting on the question about the possibility of joining NATO on certain conditions, on an equal footing, Sergey Lavrov noted that he did not assume such an opportunity for Russia.
“I do not consider this possibility, as the whole process does not revolve around NATO or the EU, it is about the West’s unwillingness to have any competitors in the international arena that are in the slightest degree comparable in terms of influence,” Lavrov said.
According to the Russian top diplomat, such attitude of the Western states explains their “hysteria over the rise of China”, which accepted the rules of the game introduced in the global economy and “outplayed the West on its own field.”