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Russia will decide on its own how to ensure its security, Lavrov says

The Russian foreignn minister noted that the EU considers it possible to set up areas of influence and interfere in Russia’s neighbors’ affairs with anti-Russian aspirations

MOSCOW, February 17. /TASS/. Russia will independently decide how and by which means to ensure its own security, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference following talks with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio on Thursday.

Commenting on the stance of a number of Western partners who are wondering why Moscow is promoting its security initiatives although "nobody and nothing threatens [it]," the Russian top diplomat urged to respect Russia’s concerns. "Definitely, it’s up to Russia to decide on its own how and by which means to ensure its security," he stressed.

That said, the Russian foreign minister reiterated that Russia’s demands on security guarantees are articulated on the basis of provisions enshrined in international agreements and pointed out that a question by an Italian journalist as to which specific results and concessions Russia was expecting from its Western partners in response to its imperative demands was incorrect. "It’s not quite correct to talk about Russia submitting a list of security guarantees which it designated as imperative. It’s not Russia that formed the list of guarantees, it is enshrined both in the OSCE documents and in the NATO-Russia Council documents," he explained.

According to the foreign minister, this caveat is important since "out of the entire variety and all the interrelations of the components that were approved at the highest level within the OSCE framework, the West singles out only one element - the freedom of choosing alliances, while simply walking away from all other obligations."

Additionally, the Russian top diplomat noted that the EU considers it possible to set up areas of influence and interfere in Russia’s neighbors’ affairs with anti-Russian aspirations. He reiterated how EU leaders recently stated that "they must decide everything in the Balkans, while Russia has nothing to do there." "Recently, [EU High Representative Josep] Borrell reiterated his position that Russia is in the EU’s way in Africa. That is, I suppose, the EU can have some areas of influence, and for Russia even its neighbors are not something that the EU and NATO are trying to actively infiltrate," Lavrov underscored. "And to infiltrate not with an open heart and sincere intentions, but to infiltrate in order to act against Russia’s interests there."

Russia submitted the demands on security guarantees to the US and NATO, particularly, on the non-expansion of the alliance and the withdrawal of strike weapons. The West was not receptive to these initiatives, using negotiations to "prevent" Russia’s allegedly planned "invasion" of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov branded such information as an "empty and groundless" escalation of tensions, emphasizing that Russia does not pose a threat to anyone. That said, he didn’t exclude the possibility of provocations being whipped up in order to justify such claims.