Russia’s Lavrov blasts CNN
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has hit out at a series of questions from American news network CNN, which probed Moscow about its decision to raise concerns about NATO while reportedly bulking up its presence on the Ukrainian border.
Speaking on Friday in Geneva following discussions with his American counterpart Antony Blinken, Russia’s top diplomat poured scorn on a journalist’s assertion that Moscow could stage an incursion into Ukraine – a prospect that has been raised repeatedly by Western leaders and media outlets in recent months.
“You claim that [Russia] is planning to attack Ukraine, even though we have already explained many times that this is not the case,” he insisted. “But when you assert that this will happen, you immediately ask ‘Why now? When aren’t we going to attack?’”
In response to a question about the need to make deployments to the border when the security stance of Washington and NATO has remained fairly unchanged in the past few years, Lavrov said that the US-led military bloc was designed against the world’s largest country.
“It was set up against the Soviet Union and for some reason it still works against Russia,” he said, adding that Moscow had previously warned about the inclusion of the Baltic states in the alliance.
He ended his remarks to the journalist with a request for CNN to be more “accurate with [your] facts.”
Lavrov’s remarks come after the two diplomats held talks in the Swiss city of Geneva, the latest in a series of diplomatic meetings after Moscow handed over two draft treaties last month. One document was addressed to Washington and the other to NATO, which Russia says are designed to reduce the risk of conflict on the European continent.
Among the requests is a demand for the military bloc to provide written guarantees that it will not expand further toward Russia’s borders, effectively blocking Ukraine from joining its ranks. Moscow also demanded that NATO should refrain from military activity on the territory of the former Warsaw Pact states that joined after 1997, after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Last month, 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.
Russian President Vladimir 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 interpreted 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.