Lavrov blasts ‘absurd’ claims
Speculation in the West that Russia could attack the Baltic and Nordic states once the Ukraine conflict ends is pure fiction, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.
Speaking to the heads of diplomatic missions on Tuesday, Lavrov said the US had gathered a group of 54 countries to provide military, technical and intelligence aid to Ukraine to help it fight Russia. “All this is being done to prevent Russia from claiming victory,” he added.
He said Western countries were claiming that “if Russia wins and asserts its interests in this war, the Baltics, Sweden, and Finland will be next.”
Three Baltic nations became NATO members in the early 2000s, more than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Both Helsinki and Stockholm applied to join the bloc after the start of the Ukraine conflict, although only Finland’s application has been ratified so far.
Lavrov noted that this view was shared by Joe Biden, referring to remarks by the US president in early December, when he said that “if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there” and could proceed to attack a NATO country.
Moscow said at the time that such comments were “unacceptable for a responsible nuclear state.”
The Russian foreign minister said that “the absurdity of such statements is clear to anyone who understands the slightest bit of history and the goals of the special military operation in Ukraine, which we announced openly and without hiding.”
Russian officials have repeatedly said that Moscow is seeking the “denazification” and “demilitarization” of Ukraine, as well as an arrangement guaranteeing that the country would not join NATO, and would instead recommit to neutrality.
Lavrov further noted that the military campaign against Kiev is aimed at eliminating “historical injustice.” According to the minister, Moscow is fighting attempts to rewrite history, as well as efforts to turn territories where Russians and other peoples of Russia have lived for centuries “into a springboard for US-led NATO to be used to threaten the [country’s] security.”
Last month, Putin said Moscow had no interest whatsoever in launching an offensive against the bloc.
He added that the president of the United States – which he called the “master” of NATO – surely knows that “Russia has no interest… geopolitically, economically or militarily... in waging war against [the bloc].”