Claims to the effect NATO is an exclusively defensive alliance sound ridiculous and disgraceful these days, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a meeting with students and teachers at the Belarusian State University on Friday.
“Recently, a representative of the White House once again reiterated that Russia should not be afraid of NATO and that no one should be afraid of it at all, because NATO is a defensive alliance. But it is already ridiculous to hear adults say such obvious nonsense. I would say, it is simply disgraceful,” Lavrov said.
He recalled that when there were two alliances – the Warsaw Treaty and NATO – it was clear “from whom NATO was defending itself. Similarly, the Warsaw Treaty Organization was defending itself from NATO. There was a clear boundary between these two military-political blocs.”
“The Warsaw Treaty Organization and the Soviet Union are no more. NATO has moved eastward five times. They argue they have remained a defensive alliance all the time. Who were they defending themselves from then? When someone pushes forward, establishes control of territories and deploys armed forces and military infrastructure there, it is not exactly what is called defense. It’s just the opposite,” he stressed.
Lavrov also pointed out that the West “has never proved its ability to keep its word.” He recalled the assurances that NATO gave to the Soviet and, later, the Russian leadership to the effect the alliance would not expand eastwards. “Those promises turned out to be lies,” Lavrov stressed.
He also recalled that “at the cost of well-known compromises in the late 1990s the Russia-NATO Founding Act was concluded, in which Moscow took another step towards further concessions.
“Not a word was said there that that NATO would not expand to the East. It was simply stated that on the territory of the newly-adopted NATO member-countries (which in fact was tantamount to the recognition the expansion was taken for granted), there would be no permanent deployment of significant combat forces,” Lavrov continued. “In recent years, NATO ditched this commitment, too. And the latest decisions by the Madrid summit proclaim a colossal increase in the armed forces, weapons and military infrastructure on NATO’s so-called eastern flank,” he stated.
Lavrov also noted that the North Atlantic Alliance had completely ignored another of its fundamental obligations – to ensure the indivisibility of security.
“This formula was approved first at the OSCE summit in Istanbul in 1999. Then it was reproduced in 2010, and not so long ago – at the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan. It reads as follows: each country has the right to choose a way to protect itself and to ensure its security, but at the same time, no country has the right to strengthen its security by harming the security of any other country in our common space. Another element of this formula stipulated that no country, no organization, and no alliance have the right to lay claim to a dominant role in Europe. NATO is doing precisely this,” Lavrov said.
“Firstly, it ignores the security interests of our countries, and secondly, it declares that NATO is generally the pinnacle of political creativity and the world’s best alliance over centuries, which functions to the benefit of all countries and peoples,” he summed up.