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Ukrainian crisis marks culmination of West’s policy towards Russia - Lavrov

According to Lavrov, once Western countries realized it, they started trying to slow down Russia’s development

MOSCOW, March 19. /TASS/. The Ukrainian crisis was caused by the policy that the West adopted after it had realized that Russia "won’t be obedient," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the international track of the Leaders of Russia Contest on Saturday.

"It’s not about Ukraine. It is the culmination of the policy that the West adopted in the early 1990s after it had realized that Russia would not be obedient as it has an opinion. It’s not because we seek to bully others all the time but because we have our own history, traditions and understanding of our people’s history, as well as our own vision of how to ensure our security and interests in the world," he pointed out.

According to Lavrov, once Western countries realized it, they started trying to slow down Russia’s development. "It’s a shame because when President Putin took office in the early 2000s, we were open to the West, we were ready to cooperate in various forms, including what the president described as relations close to those of an alliance. Unfortunately, it didn’t work," the Russian top diplomat noted.

He added that attempts to build relations between Russia and NATO had also failed. "We repeatedly suggested making equal agreements and ensuring security based on the belief that no one should strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others," Lavrov said.

He emphasized that promoting economic cooperation had also turned out to be impossible because the "European Union was moving towards fully depending on NATO and the US." "The fate of Nord Stream 2 is a vivid example of these developments. In the end, even Germany, who continued to express its interest in the project until the very last moment, was told: ‘It’s not in your interests." An explanation of the interests of Germany and the German people came from the other side of the Atlantic," Lavrov added.

Referendum in Crimea

US former Secretary of State suggested back in 2014 another referendum be organized in Crimea to verify the voting for the West, Lavrov said.

"I will tell you a secret. I hope the then US secretary of state will take no offense. John Kerry said in April 2014 after the Crimean referendum: we understand that is was a fair voting but you organized it too swiftly, announced and held in in a week," Lavrov said, adding that Kerry suggested another referendum be organized in Crimea in the summer or autumn of 2014. "Announce it a couple of months ahead, the result will be the same, but you will be able to invite international observers and they will bless you and verify everything," Lavrov recalled Kerry’s proposal. "You see, it was not about the essence of the matter, which was clear for everyone, but about making a nice picture to say later: yes, they voted and we, Western partners, verified this voting - this is what it was about."

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russian, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.7% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification treaties on March 18, 2014. The documents were ratified by Russia’s Federal Assembly, or bicameral parliament, on March 21.