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Lavrov Interview to RIA Novosti Echoes Putin Warnings and Offers

Dec. 9, 2014 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave an extensive interview to RIA Novosti on Tuesday, which mirrored President Putin’s Dec. 4 state-of-the-nation speech. Right at the outset, Lavrov went after the European Union’s role in the coup that overthrew the legitimate government of Ukraine.

“We have repeatedly stressed that attempts to speak to Russia in the language of ultimatums is totally unacceptable and will yield no results.” Lavrov next went after the European sanctions against Russian banks, which, he said, created the conditions for dumping cheap European agricultural goods on the Russian markets. “We are not,” he said, “going to discuss any criteria for lifting sanctions. Lifting sanctions is the responsibility of those, who imposed them. Surely, if the European Union shows common sense, Russia will be ready for constructive dialogue on the issue.”

Lavrov strongly praised the emerging cooperation with China, noting,

“Our relations with China are not of an opportunistic nature and are not directed against anyone. We are the two largest states, which historically live in close proximity.... In the second decade of the XXI century, our relations have reached a new level—a comprehensive equitable and trustful partnership and strategic interaction... As leaders of our countries repeatedly point out, relations between Russia and China are currently the best in their entire history.” He added that “if the relationship among other countries resembled the Russian-Chinese, it would only benefit international stability and security.”

Lavrov struck an optimistic note on relations between Russia and Ukraine, reminding the readers that Russia has invested $32.5-33.5 billion in Ukraine. He praised the work of the OSCE observers and called for an even greater role.

Lavrov also emphasized that the chill in relations with the United States had no impact on the arms-control agreements, which are of a binding treaty nature. However, he sharply attacked the NATO incursions aimed at “containing Russia” and said that a decision was made to suspend “practical cooperation.” “Despite this,” he continued, “we consider it necessary to keep channels for political dialogue open.”

Lavrov was also very blunt in his criticism of President Obama, who “has repeatedly put Russia on the list of global threats in line with IS and the Ebola fever. Against such background,” he added, “the timely pleas of other US representatives to ‘unite efforts’ against the IS terrorists carry little conviction.” He said that the Obama Administration continues to “demonize Assad while retaining their right to apply force anywhere, anytime, on a unilateral basis. This is why the Obama administration did not apply to the UNSC when forming the anti-IS coalition.” He added, “It is impossible to lead a war on terrorism on the territory of a certain foreign nation without checking with its legitimate authorities.”