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28 Dec, 2021 07:21

Russia claims it knows NATO’s true mission

Russia claims it knows NATO’s true mission

Russia’s foreign minister has shared some stern words amid another spat between Moscow and the military bloc

NATO’s goal is to fill a void left over from the fall of the USSR, Moscow’s top diplomat has claimed, hitting out at the US-led military bloc as Russia seeks to obtain guarantees that it will not advance closer to its borders.

Speaking as part of an interview on Monday, Sergey Lavrov said 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. This is what they are doing.”

“But the fact that they have now already swung, as [Russian President Vladimir] Putin said, onto our doorstep, of course, we cannot be indifferent,” the veteran official said.

Lavrov went on to accuse the West of wanting to foment 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.

According to him, Washington and NATO member countries are “pumping weapons, boasting that since 2014 they have supplied [Ukraine] with ammunition, weapons and strike systems worth 2.5 billion dollars.”

The diplomat said 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.

The Minsk Protocol is a ceasefire package that was inked in 2014 in a bid to put an end to the war in Donbass. The conflict broke out after the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled Kiev’s democratically elected government. This eventually led to the two self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk Republics declaring their independence. Neither Moscow, Ukraine, nor any other UN member state, recognizes their sovereignty.

Lavrov’s remarks come amid reignited tensions between the US-led military bloc and Moscow in recent weeks. On Sunday, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said the expansion of NATO closer to Russia’s borders is a question of “life or death” as officials seek to obtain guarantees ruling out the organization widening eastwards.

Moscow has issued two separate documents to the military bloc and the US, imploring for Kiev’s long-held ambitions to ascend to not be realized, as well as calling for current members to desist military activity on Ukraine’s territory, as well as in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia.

Putin has previously insisted that the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, was given assurances by Western leaders that NATO would not expand into the space left after the collapse of the USSR. A tranche of documents was declassified in 2017, and was subsequently widely viewed as showing that American, British, and German officials verbally assured the Kremlin in the 1990s that NATO would not push into Eastern European countries, before then admitting members such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The Warsaw Pact was a collective defense treaty established by the Soviet Union and several other satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe. It ceased to exist in 1991 before the USSR collapsed in 1991.