Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov summed up the results of 2014. He spoke about the atmosphere in international relations, the sanctions that Russia imposed in response to restrictive measures from the West, about the confrontation with NATO and about the Ukrainian crisis, RIA Novosti reports.
According to Lavrov, Moscow is open for a dialogue with Washington. However, Russia will not compromise its interests, under no circumstances. The minister stressed out the fact that the current downturn in relations between Russia and the USA was not the first one at all.
"The question is when Washington is going to be ready to co-operate on the principles of equality and taking account of Russian interests that we are not going to compromise under any circumstances," said Lavrov. He also said that Washington was ready to cooperate by word of mouth, but in reality, USA's actions in relation to the Russian Federation were of unfriendly character.
However, the Russian Federation and the United States have not interrupted contacts on the top level. "Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama have met three times this year, including at the APEC summit in Beijing and the G20 summit in Brisbane. In addition, they have spoken ten times on the telephone, and those were quite long conversations, mainly on the initiative of the White House," Russian Foreign Minister said.
One of the main problems in relations with the United States is related to the deployment of the US missile defense system in Europe. According to Lavrov, the US ignores Russia's concerns about the US plans to begin deploying elements of the missile defense system in Romania and Poland next year. The system can be used to launch medium-range missiles, such as Tomahawk, Lavrov said.
"Be warned that at some stage of the development of the US missile defense system, we will have to take adequate measures to ensure our own safety. We have no intention to get involved in a costly arms race, but we will ensure the defensive capability of our country for certain," Lavrov said.
Noteworthy, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual Address to the Federal Assembly, spoke about the unfolding missile defense system in Europe as a threat to Russia's security.
According to Sergei Lavrov, Russia's current relations with NATO experience the most serious crisis since the times of the Cold War. Yet, Russia favors the preservation of channels for a political dialogue.
"The alliance continues the policy of the containment of Russia; steps are being taken to strengthen the military potential and build up the military presence of the bloc near Russia's borders," said the minister.
He explained that it goes about practical decisions to suspend cooperation with Russia on military and civil lines. "Such actions will certainly aggravate tensions and undermine stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. Despite this, we believe it is necessary to maintain open channels for a political dialogue," Lavrov said.
The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the recent statements from the leaders of the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics indicate their willingness to restore common economic, humanitarian and political space with Kiev. However, he added, "in response, Kiev started to actually block the region, in particular, cutting it off from the single financial system of the country."
According to the minister, Russia as one of the mediators of the Minsk process will take part in developing a program of the economic recovery of Donbass. At the same time, he acknowledged that tensions in Ukraine were not going to ease in the near future. "For the time being, it is clear that we are far from this," Sergei Lavrov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Lavrov said that Moscow considers Ukrainian President Poroshenko the main partner in searching for a way out of the crisis in the Donbas. "Today, our major partner in Kiev in finding a solution to the conflict in the south-east of the country is President Petro Poroshenko. The peace plan that he proposed and adequate initiatives from President Vladimir Putin became the foundation of the Minsk agreements, the strict implementation of which is the key to the sustainable solution to the current crisis," Sergei Lavrov said.
Lavrov added that Russia was expecting a real constitutional reform in Ukraine. "We are convinced that the goal and the outcome of preparing the draft law to amend the Constitution of Ukraine should be not the cosmetic touch-up of previous texts, but the appearance of deeply revised and upgraded social agreement, which the entire multiethnic Ukrainian society would perceive as a solid long-term document, the foundation of the rule of law to guarantee equal rights for regions and nationalities," said the minister.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, commenting on the sanctions war, said that Moscow would not single-handedly abolish restrictive measures on imports of foodstuffs from the European Union. According to him, the relations between Russia and the EU have come "to the point when gestures of goodwill do not work."
"We have repeatedly stated that attempts to talk to Russia in the language of ultimatums is unacceptable and hopeless. Our response to those moves was balanced, and it took account of Russia's rights and obligations under international treaties, including the WTO," he said.
Also, Russia is not going to discuss the criteria for lifting the Western sanctions, although Russia is ready to cooperate on this, should partners demonstrate common sense. "Their abolition is a business for those who imposed them. Of course, if the EU demonstrates common sense, we will be ready to constructive cooperation on this issue," said Lavrov.
Sergei Lavrov admitted that Belarus and Kazakhstan, as members of the Customs Union, would also have to respond to Western sanctions.
"The legal framework of the Customs Union enables its members to take joint steps of commercial nature in the event third countries put economic pressure on one of the members of the Customs Union," said Sergei Lavrov.
"On today's agenda, there is no issue of the implementation of these actions in response to the restrictive measures of the West against Russia. We do not exclude, however, that such a necessity may arise in the future," the Russian foreign minister added. According to him, the Russian authorities have no doubt about the fact that Belarus and Kazakhstan will prevent the possible transit of European food products to Russia through their territories.
The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Washington's calls to join efforts to combat the Islamic State terrorist group did not sound convincing against the background of the fact that the USA put the Russian Federation on the same line with Islamist extremists.
"Washington did not see us as a direct participant of the anti-IGIL coalition that it was building by its own rules and parameters, strictly for itself, disregarding international law. Moreover, President Barack Obama has repeatedly put Russia on a par with such global threats as IGIL and Ebola," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The General Staff noted that the document appeared at a time when Russia was trying to deter the arms race unleashed by the United States