US uses Ukraine crisis to derail Russia-Germany partnership – Lavrov
“Strategically [the US] don’t want to allow a situation in which important regions of the world live and prosper without them, without the Americans. That is why it is important for them to keep people dependent of them,” he said.
The assessment was voiced by Lavrov during a two-hour marathon Q&A session with three Russian radio stations: Echo of Moscow, Moscow Speaks and Sputnik Radio. They were represented by their respective chiefs, Aleksey Venedictov, Sergey Dorenko and Margarita Simonyan, who also heads RT.
The Ukrainian crisis is used by the US to derail Russia’s partnership with the EU and particularly Germany, Lavrov stressed.
“An open partnership between Russia and Germany is necessary to rattle the European Union, to make the lane of pursuing national interests of [EU] member states prevailing, not to give up the EU policies to marginal politicians acting on orders from across the ocean,” Lavrov explained.
In addition to the economic aspect there is the military one, the minister said. The Ukrainian crisis allows Washington to rally NATO members against the perceived threat from Russia similarly to how it did in 2001 to form a coalition to invade Afghanistan.
Placing nukes in Latin America wouldn’t help Russia’s security
Unlike the US, which hosts its tactical nuclear weapons in five European countries in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Russia objects to any kind of nuclear proliferation and would not deploy its nuclear weapons in other countries, Lavrov said.
“We don’t believe that the security of our nation should be ensured by transporting our nuclear arsenals elsewhere,” he replied to a question as to whether Moscow would like to have its nuclear weapons hosted in some Latin American country.
Lavrov added that Russia is interested in having a military capable of carrying out missions in any part of the world and is working with other nations for this goal.
“This is about our Navy’s long-range missions and the flights of our strategic aviation. We use airfield, ports; we are open for discussion with foreign nations of establishment of supply points,” he said.
“But we don’t deem it necessary to have bases in the sense the American military bases are – well-defended fortresses full of modern weapons,” Lavrov added. “But we want to have an opportunity to resupply, let the crews rest – we have this capability and we will improve it.”
No formal military alliance with Iran necessary
Russia has strong cooperation with Iran to fight against common threats like terrorism and organized crime, but it doesn’t seek to form a military alliance with Tehran, Lavrov said.
“Neither we nor Iran needs a military alliance. I am certain about it and we received no proposals in that regard. That would be unrealistic and unnecessary,” he said.
He commented on the recent suggestion by Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, who suggested that Iran, Russia, China and India could form a military block to oppose NATO, saying that the four countries are already engaged in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Lavrov added that Russia would further develop military cooperation with Iran after the UN Security Council lifts arms trade restrictions under an expected nuclear deal between Tehran and leading world powers.
The unfreezing of the delivery of Russian surface-to-air missiles S-300 to Iran was taken to stimulate Iran for a more constructive position in the nuclear talks, Lavrov added, saying the move had worked.
“Those who want to attack Iran would probably think twice now,” he said. “The events in Yemen and the entire region demonstrate that there are high risks. We don’t want Iran too to be targeted by illegal use of force.”
The minister dismissed speculations that Israel would supply drones to Ukraine in retaliation for the S-300 deal.
Peacekeepers in Ukraine would lead to further dissolution
Moscow is skeptical about Kiev’s request to deploy UN peacekeepers in Ukraine because it would further tear the country apart, Lavrov said.
“Deploying UN troops – they would dig trenches, build fortifications. It would be physically cutting away a part of the country. I don’t know why it is needed. It’s probably a distraction to draw attention away from Kiev’s distorting and altering the Minsk agreement,” he explained.
Russia accuses Kiev of failing to deliver a political reform that was promised under the Minsk ceasefire agreement with rebels in the east of the country.
“Kiev’s every suggestion seems to be directed at sundering the country and either strangling the [rebel areas] or ejecting them from the Ukrainian state. That’s what the economic blockade or the suspension of social payments or the refusal to negotiate with the very people who signed the agreement for [the self-declared republics of] Donetsk and Lugansk are aimed at,” Lavrov said.
He added that Russia wants to see Ukraine as a united nation and a neutral in terms of military alliances. A Ukraine divided and casting out everyone not agreeing with the anti-Russian stance of the current government would be an easy target for NATO to absorb, he explained.
Quarrel with British foreign secretary partially true
Lavrov confirmed that he indeed told former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband not to lecture him during an intense conversation amid the 2008 war with Georgia. But he said he didn’t use profane language to do so, despite what the British media reported.
“I did use the four-letter word, but not as a profanity. I quoted a colleague of ours who had returned from Tbilisi [Georgia’s capital] the day before that – the conversation was on August 12, 2008. And he said, ‘Hello. I’m just back from Tbilisi. Saakashvili is a… well, a lunatic.’ That’s where the word was used. Miliband was trying to convince me to seek a deal with Saakashvili,” Lavrov recalled.
Then-Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili sent his army on August 8, 2008 to seize by force the rebellious region of South Ossetia. His troops killed Russian peacekeepers stationed at the border to keep the warring parties separated, which prompted an intervention by Russia that resulted in Georgia’s defeat.