NATO expansion to the East enables the alliance to deploy forces next to Russia’s borders and then accuse Moscow of “carrying out dangerous maneuvers” near the alliance’s bases, the Russian foreign minister told a Swedish media outlet.
“This is a mean-spirited attempt to turn the issue on its ears,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter daily.
“NATO military infrastructure is inching closer and closer to Russia’s borders. But when Russia takes action to ensure its security, we are told that Russia is engaging in dangerous manoeuvres near NATO borders. In fact, NATO borders are getting closer to Russia, not the opposite,” the Russian FM pointed out.
NATO deployments of AMD bases and troops near Russian borders have already violated the basic 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, the foreign minister noted. Today, NATO is different from what it used to be and Russia pays no attention to its soothing words, but instead reacts to the alliance’s military potential massed near Russia’s borders, Lavrov added.
Russia is not interested in neutral Sweden entering NATO, yet “If Sweden decides to join NATO, we (Russians) won’t think that it intends to attack Russia,” Lavrov said. However, he also mentioned that alliance infrastructure in Sweden would definitely arouse a reaction from the Russian military.
Every state is free to choose its self-defense strategy in consideration of its national interests, and it’s better to ask the people before making this decision, according to the Russian foreign minister.
“The answer [why NATO needs new member states] is simple - NATO seeks to cover as much geopolitical space as possible and surround the countries that somehow disagree with NATO, such as, for example, Russia and Serbia."
Russian foreign policy is subject to change because sanctions against Moscow have made business as usual “absolutely impossible.” Russia will have to rely on its own resources first and foremost, the minister told the Dagens Nyheter daily.
“From now on we have to look to ourselves. We have everything we need for that. We are a self-sufficient country,” Sergey Lavrov said, adding that Russians are prepared to work hard to avoid having to buy anything abroad.
“This is a strategic course. It has nothing to do with self-isolation,” Lavrov said. He expressed hope that “when and if” Western partners opt to revert to “normal behavior,” this would only mean additional opportunity for development and cooperation. “But in basic things we’re going to paddle our own canoe.”
The EU will mature and come to an “equitable respectful dialogue without ultimatums,” Lavrov said, expressing hope that the ongoing situation in Russia-EU relations won’t last long, because the European Union and Russia are not capable of competing in the modern world on their own.
“We’re destined to live and cooperate together,” the Russian foreign minister stated.
Lavrov added that Moscow will speak with other European capitals as “equal partners and defy any ideas prescribed by the EU to be taken for granted.”
He went on to say that not everyone in Europe is happy with the outcome of the anti-Russian sanctions, and it is no secret Brussels will have to discuss the issue.
“Let’s hope that common sense prevails,” Lavrov said, noting that the “European Union, of course, will head in the direction that Germany wishes to go.”
Sergey Lavrov reiterated that Russia would rely on generating internal resources to avoid being dependent on Europe, which is currently putting politics ahead of economic expediency.