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Lavrov: sanctions aim to make Russia accept West’s position

October 19, 2014, 12:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"It’s a relic of the past, inertia thinking dating back to colonial times," the minister emphasized

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© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Javakhadze

MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, October 19. /TASS/. The real purport of Western sanctions is to make Russia change its position on key, most fundamental issues and force it to accept the Wests’s position, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russia’s NTV television channel on Sunday.

“Our partners who actually imposed sanctions make no secret that the measures are not aimed at Ukraine,” he said. “In essence, their statements and acts are constantly showing the true goal of the restrictions - to change Russia and its position on the key issues that are a matter of principle for us, forcing the country to accept the West’s position. It’s a relic of the past, inertia thinking dating back to colonial times.”

However, he said he was sure the Western countries had understood “the malignancy of the current course aimed at punishing Russia.” “There is no result because they want us to change our position,” Lavrov said. “But which way? They tell us, ‘if you help settle the crisis in Ukraine, we will cancel sanctions; let us set a criterion for you: you make a step and ensure that the militias let observers to the border with Russia.’ Our answer is very simple - we will never fulfill or agree on any criteria or conditions of that sort.”

“Russia is doing much more than anybody else to settle the crisis in Ukraine,” the Russian foreign minister stressed. “We were one of those who advanced the Geneva initiative and following Berlin initiatives. The Minsk agreements, as it is fixed in the protocol of September 5, are the result of the initiative of Russian and Ukrainian Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Petr Poroshenko.” Now, according to Lavrov, Moscow is using all of its relations to have these agreements be duly implemented whereas Western colleagues “are not willing to use their influence on the Kiev authorities to persuade them that there is no alternative to moving along the path agreed between them and the militias.”

“I don’t think Europe and Russia can escape each other,” he said. “We are neighbours, we have a centuries-long common history.

Lavrov said that earlier Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested starting a serious conversation with the European Union on the establishment of a common economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

“A few years ago, we were told: ‘let’s wait’, which meant ‘no’,” he said. “Now that several years have passed, the EU leadership is saying it is necessary to think and start talking about that in practical terms.”

The Russian top diplomat said there are many such examples, for instance, the statement of April 17 signed by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU in Geneva on an immediate start of the constitutional reform [in Ukraine]. In order to give the statement more weight, Russia asked the UN Security Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to approve the document.

“Partners who signed it jointly with us in Geneva refused to do it,” Lavrov said.

Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March after a coup in Ukraine in February.

The West announced new sectoral penalties against Russia in late July over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in mass protests in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast.

In response, Russia imposed on August 6 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.

Russia wants equal cooperation

Russia wants international relations to have no attempts to trade economy for unilateral geopolitical purposes, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the NTV television channel on Sunday.

“No one wants to sustain losses, first of all, economic losses the Western partners are seeking to incur,” he said. “We want cooperation but we want equal cooperation, we want foreign politics be freed from ideology, from attempts to trade economy for dubious unilateral geopolitical purposes.”

“There might be a ‘school of thought’ (I don’t belong there), the followers of which think that the Russian side should make some concessions, including unilateral to have an economic advantage and avoid losses (let us be frank - sanctions do incur certain losses),” Lavrov said. “I don’t belong to this ‘school’ not because I don’t love my country, don’t wish it good, don’t want to see a successfully developing economy helping to solve social tasks efficiently, but because in foreign policy, such countries as Russia, along with rights, have a duty to stand for justice, equality and democratic character of international relations.”

According to the Russian foreign minister, the Americans “use the slightest pretext to teach all countries and demand they impose order, ensure the supremacy of law, respect democratic norms.” “But as soon as they are told that the same principles should be used in international relations - that international law be observed, democracy in decision-making be ensured - they immediately lose their enthusiasm to speak about such matters,” Lavrov noted.

“I think that the only way to ensure success is to combine responsibility for a more fair world and non-confrontational but persistent advocacy of our interests, the readiness for reasonable compromises that would be based not on unilateral concessions but on the balance of interests,” he stressed.

Russia has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.

Kiev’s military operation designed to regain control over the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions in Ukraine’s southeast, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums, kicked off in mid-April and has involved armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. It has killed hundreds of civilians, brought destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine’s embattled southeast.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on cessation of fire and exchange of prisoners during OSCE-mediated talks on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

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