Russia comments on risk of war with West
With tensions running high between Russia and the US, Moscow’s top diplomat has insisted that his country does not want a full-blown conflict to break out, but also warned it will not stand aside and watch well-flagged security concerns be ignored.
Speaking to news outlets as part of a broadcast interview on Friday morning, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked whether fighting could break out after talks over guarantees that NATO will not expand ended in deadlock.
“If it is up to the Russian Federation, there will be no war,” he declared.“We do not want wars,” he went on, stressing, however, that officials “will not allow our interests to be brutally attacked or to be ignored either.”
According to Lavrov, Washington’s response to Moscow's proposals is “almost a model of diplomatic decency.” However, he said that NATO’s answer to the two Russian draft documents “is so ideologized, it breathes the exclusivity of the Alliance, its special mission, its special purpose."
Lavrov went on to add that if the US is not willing to reconsider its stance on security matters, then Moscow is equally not prepared to make any compromises on its demands. “If they insist that they won't change their position, we won't change our position either,” he declared.
The comments come shortly after Moscow received long-awaited answers to its requests for security guarantees, including a pledge that Ukraine will not be admitted to the bloc.
On Thursday, Lavrov said that “there has been no positive response” to Moscow’s core concerns in the document provided by the American side following weeks of talks with their counterparts.
“The main issue is our clear position on the unacceptability of further NATO expansion to the East and the deployment of highly destructive weapons that could threaten the territory of the Russian Federation,” Lavrov explained.
The Kremlin also poured scorn on the response, arguing that the requests from Moscow’s officials had not been fully taken into account by Washington and the US-led military bloc.
At the same time though, according to Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, “there are and should always be prospects… for further dialogue.”
"But as for the substantive dialogue on the draft documents, there are issues of a different nature, but I will not get ahead of myself,” he said.
Last month, Russia handed over two draft treaties, one addressed to Washington and the other to NATO, which it says are aimed at reducing the risk of conflict on the European continent.
Moscow requested that the bloc refrains from any military activity on the territory of the former Warsaw Pact states that joined after 1997, following the fall of the Soviet Union. The US-led military bloc's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said it would unacceptable to create a "two tier" system that prevents it from engaging in activity with some member states.
A separate clause also demanded that Kiev’s ambitions to join the US-led bloc should not be granted. Ruling out NATO expansion closer to Russia’s borders has been a key demand from the country’s officials, with Peskov arguing that it is a question of “life or death.”