Russia says the United States and Europe continue to look at the world with a Cold War mentality, an anachronistic worldview that is to blame for such international maladies as the Ukrainian conflict.
Speaking at the “Russia & the EU in a changing world” conference in Berlin on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia had hoped for international peace and cooperation since the end of the Cold War in 1991 but had seen those hopes dashed by a West feeling triumphant and refusing to cooperate.
In the early 1990s, “the US and its allies decided to pronounce themselves winners [in the Cold War] and refused to cooperate on creating equal and undivided security [in Europe], having instead chosen to move dividing lines closer to Russia’s borders,” Lavrov said.
“The Western world has been pursuing the policy to politically and economically contain Russia,” he said.
That policy, he said, has been pursued through the expansion of NATO and a European Union program called “The Eastern Partnership (EaP),” Lavrov said, explaining that countries in Eastern Europe were forced to make a choice between working either with Russia or the West.
Such pressure has made many people in Eastern Europe feel they are “victims of geopolitical games,” he said.
He said the crisis in Ukraine — “largely provoked from the outside” — was in particular the “direct consequence” of such “shortsighted” policies of the US and the EU.
Lavrov said the West’s policies had also led to an “unprecedented growth of the terrorist threat.”
“Numbers of dissatisfied and deprived have grown both in national and global scales, which — against the backdrop of many unresolved issues — fuels extremist moods,” he said.
Lavrov said Moscow was willing to let bygones be bygones and resolve conflicts and threats.
Moscow will be ready to cooperate “when the EU recognizes the importance of getting back to normal relations with Russia,” Lavrov said.
Moscow has been wary of the West’s aggressive bid to expand its influence in the world, including militarily through the expansion of NATO.