ARKHANGELSK, October 19. /TASS/. Allegations about Russia’s aggressiveness are used by the West to brainwash voters, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following ministerial meeting of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) on Thursday.
He cited as an example the West’s response to the Zapad-2017 Russian-Belarusian exercises, which, according to Lavrov, baffled Moscow. "They [the exercises] were branded as offensive and non-transparent, although Russia invited foreign observers long before these exercises were held, including from the NATO member-countries, including to the field training, and observers came and watched all that with pleasure," he noted. "However, this ideological attack, attempts to hammer into ordinary people’s heads the allegations of Russia’s aggressiveness continue, and virtually none of the media outlets wrote honestly what actually happened to transparency around these exercises."
"Or take the false stories that Russian troops will stay in Belarus after the exercises," Lavrov went on to say. "The funny thing is that after these exercises ended and the Russian troops that took part in them returned to their home bases, [the West] has continued to assert that some troops eventually stayed there. It is sad to see grown up people brainwashing their voters."
In light of that, the minister drew attention to the Aurora-2017 multinational military exercises held in September close to Russia’s borders and presented as "purely defensive and motivated by the sharp deterioration in the security situation." "US heavy armored vehicles were used for the first time during these drills near our borders," he added.
"By the way, we see our Swedish neighbors regularly participate in NATO’s exercises," Lavrov stressed. "We hear appeals or promises to grant North Atlantic Alliance membership to Sweden and Finland. Let me say once again that every country has the sovereign right to determine its own foreign policy, its alliances and choose ways of ensuring its security. We believe that Finland’s and Sweden’s neutrality has hitherto been one of the gains of their foreign policy and continues to make a very important contribution to efforts to maintain stability on the European continent."