NATO is not Russia’s enemy – Lavrov to French media

NATO is not Russia’s enemy – Lavrov to French media
The NATO military alliance is not Moscow’s enemy, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov told French media that suggested the opposite. Lavrov also expressed disappointment over the fact that Russia had overestimated EU’s independence from the US.

Speaking to France 24 in Moscow, Lavrov stated that the military doctrine of the country never mentioned that NATO is Russia’s enemy, even though the French media suggested that there is such an impression in the Western world.

“What [Russia’s military doctrine] says is that the security risks for Russia, among other things, are NATO expansion to the East and the movement of military infrastructure of NATO closer to the Russian borders – not NATO itself, but its militarized movement to the East is considered by the Russian military doctrine as a security risk and threat for Russia,” he said.

Lavrov said that, due to Russia’s stance in the Ukrainian crisis, NATO had cut off all ties with Russia, “severed all practical cooperative mechanisms, including on Afghanistan, including on counter-terrorism, some other specific things.”

However he added that the military alliance “quietly” asked Russia to continue working outside of “the context of NATO-Russia projects” on, for instance, training pilots for the Afghan Air Force.

“In other words, the substance, they want to continue, but for public consumption, they want to say that they are so firm with Russia that they severed all the ties. Childish, but what to do? Sometimes big boys play games.”

Reuters / Yves Herman

The Russian FM also said that Moscow had overestimated the independence of the EU from the US.

He recalled the public statement made by US Vice President Joe Biden that America’s leadership had to embarrass Europe to impose economic hits on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine – even though the EU was opposed to such a motion.

“I don’t believe [the sanctions] help Europe. As Joe Biden publicly said, it was the United States that ordered Europe to join sanctions against Russia, and frankly, it’s really a pity that we for some previous years overestimated the independence of the European Union and even big European countries,” Lavrov said.

READ MORE: Biden says US 'embarrassed' EU into sanctioning Russia over Ukraine

He reiterated that sanctions were a “sign of irritation” and not an instrument of serious policies. Lavrov elaborated that the last portion of sanctions was voted in the EU right after the Minsk agreement, which included a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, was signed on September 5.

“So the next morning after the huge achievement was reached, which was praised by everyone, the gentleman, what was his name, Van Rompuy, declared that there was a new round of sanctions being introduced on Russia. If this is the European choice, if this is what Europe has as a reaction to something positive, then I once again can only say that we hugely overestimated European independence in foreign policy,” Lavrov said.

The Russian FM also spoke on the Ukrainian crisis and the Syrian conflict, France’s sale of Mistral warships to Russia and Palestine’s independence. Read Lavrov’s full interview with the French media on RT here.