Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today said that the rift between Moscow and the European Union began many years ago and that the crime is confined to Brussels.
“Anyone interested in the situation in Europe, even the slightest, knows that this decay has been going on for years. Relations have been severed by the European Union,” Lavrov told a joint news conference with the Finnish representative, Becca Havistov, in St. Petersburg.
Lavrov, who sought to clarify his statements on the gap with the EU last Friday, said it was a key moment for EU officials to express their “incompetence” in the face of what EU officials described as the “conspiracy” of February 2014. Kiev, which led to the fall of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
“I believe there was a real disgrace to the EU at that time,” Lavrov refers to the so-called revolution in Euromidean (wave of nationalist protests calling for greater European integration in Ukraine).
The head of Russian diplomacy accused the EU of being negligent in the attacks on the people of Crimea and Donbass by those in power in Kiev, calling him “radical extremists and neo-Nazis.”
He referred to sanctions from Brussels to Moscow over the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine and armed intervention in eastern Ukraine, denouncing Lavrov as “the EU’s blaming Russia.”
Lavrov criticized Brussels for abandoning all means of cooperation between the two parties in recent years, including bi-annual summits or annual meetings between the Russian government and European commissioners.
According to Lavrov, relations between Russia and the European Union are now limited to essential and issues such as the conflict in Syria or the Iranian nuclear program.
“We have lived without these mechanisms for seven years. The structure of relations has been emotionally destroyed at the initiative of the European Union,” Lavrov said, adding that Moscow has a duty to “be prepared for any development of events” involving the 27 countries of the European Union.
“The choice is coming to the EU: in any case, if the decision is made to restore relations, we will be ready,” he said, stressing that Russia has no problem with most European countries.
“The EU should not be confused with Europe. We are not leaving Europe. We have many friends and many supporters in Europe. We will continue to develop mutually beneficial relations with them,” Lavrov explained.
Commenting on the social barriers and their impact on trade between Russia and its European partners, the Russian minister said that “life goes on” and that relations for each country individually were above the level of cooperation with the EU.
Lavrov said on Friday that relations with the EU could be severed over new sanctions after EU foreign policy envoy Joseph Borrell confirmed Russia’s gradual withdrawal from Europe.
Borel, the first head of social diplomacy to visit Russia on February 5, acknowledged that the meeting with Lavrov was tense, especially when he called for the release of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
On his return to Brussels, the diplomat did not refuse to accept a new embargo against Moscow, but responded to requests from several members of the union.