Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putting is believed to be concerned over reports that the United States and it allies are trying to lure India to be a part of their strategic military alliance targeting Russia and China. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who once again accused NATO of whipping up tensions near China in a way that posed risks for Russia, has claimed that NATO members are trying hard to drag India into an anti-Russia and anti-China alliance at a time when the West is making attempts to squeeze out the Russian influence.
Lavrov further said that the South China Sea is now becoming one of those regions where NATO has become very active now, aiming to escalating tensions.
Addressing a press conference, the Russia Foreign Minister said, “We know how seriously China takes such provocations, not to mention Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, and we understand that NATO’s playing with fire in these regions carries threats and risks for the Russian Federation. It is as close to our shores and to our seas as Chinese territory.”
Accusing the US-led NATO of playing with fire, Lavrov explained why Russia was forging close military ties with China and conducting joint exercises. “The fact that NATO members under the leadership of the United States are trying to create an explosive situation there, in the wake of Europe, is well understood by everyone,” he said.
Lavrov, however, did not provide evidence to back his assertions, but alluded to the formation of the AUKUS alliance between the United States, Britain and Australia.
It may be recalled that Lavrov has time and again accused the West of becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine by supplying it with weapons and training its soldiers.
Lavrov reiterated also said that Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities and other key infrastructure that have left millions without power, heating and water were intended to weaken Ukraine’s military potential and derail the shipments of Western weapons.
“You shouldn’t say that the US and NATO aren’t taking part in this war, you are directly participating in it,” Lavrov said in a video call with reporters. “And not just by providing weapons but also by training personnel. You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries,” he claimed.
Defending Russia’s action in Ukraine, Lavrov said that the barrage of Russian missile strikes was intended to “knock out energy facilities that allow you to keep pumping deadly weapons into Ukraine in order to kill the Russians.”
Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of targeting key civilian infrastructure in order to reduce morale and force Ukraine into peace talks on Moscow’s conditions. Lavrov, however, insisted that Russia remains open to talks on ending the conflict. “We never asked for talks but always said that we are ready to listen to those who are interested in a negotiated settlement,” Lavrov said.
The Kremlin has urged Ukraine to acknowledge Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as part of Russia and recognise other land gains that Russia has made since sending its troops into Ukraine on February 24. It also has continued to push for guarantees that Ukraine wouldn’t join NATO, along with vaguely formulated ‘demilitarisation and denazification’ goals.
(With Agency Inputs)