MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. US and NATO actions on the so-called "eastern front" produce the strongest impression that the United States and the alliance deliberately fan tensions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview.
"We are witnesses to a build-up of the military potential, growing military presence and NATO infrastructures on the so-called ‘eastern front’ of the alliance — unprecedented ever since the end of the Cold War — aimed at putting military and political pressures on our country," Lavrov said.
"Near Russian borders the member-countries of the alliance conduct combat exercises, which are quite often provocative. On the pretext of a mythical ‘threat from the East’ US troops and heavy armaments are deployed in Central and East European countries and new elements of the alliance’s command and staff infrastructures emerge," Lavrov said.
"All these actions by the alliance received ‘approval’ at last July’s NATO summit in Warsaw, which in fact reaffirmed a long-term policy of building up the alliance’s military component," Lavrov said. "One has a strong impression the United States and NATO intentionally fan tensions."
Lavrov said "these steps are part of the North Atlantic Alliance’s years-long destructive policy aimed at achieving military and political domineering in European and world affairs and containing Russia." "Even in ‘better days’ NATO never stopped advancing its military infrastructure towards Russian borders, including by means of the ‘three waves of expansion’, maintained intensive activity in the East European region, and plugged itself into US missile defense programs. The real aims of these programs had aroused no special doubts even before the settlement over the Iranian nuclear program," Lavrov said.
"Not to mention the attempts made by the alliance and some of its members to attain their own selfish geopolitical aims in defiance of the norms and principles of international law," Lavrov said. "Suffice it to recall the bombings of former Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq and the aggression against Libya.
"In the current conditions Russia, faced with the need for adapting itself to the situation in the continent, which has been changing as a result of destructive actions by NATO, is forced to take a corresponding package of measures in order to strengthen its defense capabilities and national security," Lavrov said.
"We’ve been taking all these steps in our own territory, in contrast to the United States and a number of other countries, which move troops to countries neighboring on Russia and conduct provocative military demonstrations near our borders," Lavrov said.
"We will be prepared for a dialog and cooperation with NATO, but exclusively on the conditions of equality, precisely the way it is stated in the Russia-NATO Founding Act," Lavrov said.
Accusations of cyber attacks
Washington has not yet provided any "proof" of Moscow’s interference into the US electrical process, Lavrov said. US citizens helped President-elect Donald Trump by supporting his candidacy at the November 8 election, he noted. "We never wanted to influence the election campaign proceeding from the fact that this is the internal affair of the United States," he added. "If anyone tried to interfere, they were US allies. Just read what many European leaders said and wrote about Trump during the election campaign," he said.
"Considering tales about ‘Russian hackers’ and other accusations made against us in the pre-electoral context, they have already grown old," Lavrov added. "It is symptomatic that authors of such insinuations, who fanned Russophobic hysteria in the US in the wake of the election, have not fallen silent," he said.
"No promised ‘proof’ of interference into the electoral process has been presented to either US or international community," he added. "This once again confirms that this whole story is from the sphere of myths created with the aim of resolving conjunctural political tasks," Lavrov concluded.
Moscow and Washington will have to make serious efforts to overcome consequences of the anti-Russian policy of Barack Obama’s administration, the foreign minister said.
The full restoration of Russian-US cooperation is a difficult task, the minister noted. "Both sides will have to take serious efforts in order to overcome the destructive consequences of the anti-Russian policy of Barack Obama’s administration," Lavrov said. "But, according to President Vladimir Putin, we are ready to make our part of the way to stabilize the Russian-US relations."
"We believe that much depends on our countries in the modern world, including the maintaining of strategic stability and security, and effective resolution of key problems," he added.
Lavrov also said Russia and the United States could work together on the development of cooperation in the trade, investment, innovation, technological, cultural and humanitarian spheres.
"We expect the new US administration not to repeat mistakes of its predecessors who intentionally destroyed the Russian-US relations," Lavrov said. "Of course, we are positive about Donald Trump’s intention to develop cooperation between our countries, which he demonstrated during the presidential campaign."
The minister said that Russia is always open for an honest and pragmatic dialogue with the United States on all global and bilateral issues on the basis of "principles of mutual respect, equality, consideration of each other’s interests and non-interference into domestic affairs."
"On November 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump held first phone talks and confirmed readiness for joint work in order to resolve the current crisis in bilateral relations and settle key international problems, including counter-terrorism," he added.
"We hope the foreign policy team of the new president will take practical steps in this direction and cooperation with it will be constructive," Lavrov said.
Crisis in Syria
Moscow calls on its Western and regional counterparts to abandon geopolitical engineering in Syria, Lavrov went on.
"The Syrian conflict should be resolved by the Syrians," the minister stressed. "We once again call on our Western and regional counterparts to abandon their attempts to implement geopolitical engineering in the region, respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and join efforts in order to bring peace and reconciliation to the country."
"We should first and foremost ensure peace and security, eliminate the hot bed of terrorism in Syria," the Russian minister pointed out. "At the moment, vast areas remain under the control of terror groups, such as the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia), Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra) and others."
"In this connection it would be reasonable to establish a broad anti-terrorist front based on generally recognized principles and norms of international law. Russia President Vladimir Putin came up with this initiative last September," Lavrov added.
"At the same time, the intra-Syrian talks should be launched based on the Geneva Communique dated June 30, 2012," the Russian top diplomat said. "UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, acting under the mandate of the Security Council, should significantly contribute to achieving this goal."
"We have been trying to create favorable conditions for that by supporting local ceasefires and maintaining contacts with the armed opposition through the Reconciliation Center established at the Hmeymim airbase," Sergey Lavrov said.
"We have always proceeded from the assumption that military methods are not enough to untangle the Syrian knot," Lavrov said. "Our key goal is to act so that the Syrians will have a prospect, a hope for a better future in a free secular state, where all ethnic and religious walks of life will live in peace and harmony."
"Since the beginning of Syria crisis, Russia has persistently come forward and continues to come forward, seeking to find a political and diplomatic solution to it — through the launch of an inclusive intra-Syrian talks," he said. "We are strictly measuring all our actions by international law."
"The attempts to impose the agenda alien to Syrians have ended up in hundreds of thousands of the killed and wounded people, in millions of refugees and temporarily displaced people. They have set the country back several years, brought elements of ethnic and religious split in the Syrian society," Lavrov said. "In order to find a solution to these problems, the Syrians should reach an agreement by themselves, without any external interference, on how they see their state, on its political and administrative structure and then, in a democratic way, they should decide who will rule the country.".