Speaking at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Stockholm, Lavrov warned that NATO’s expansion to the east would affect “fundamental interests” of Russian security.
He stressed that although Russia “does not want any conflict” with NATO over Ukraine, it retains the “right to choose means to ensure its legitimate security interests”.
“And let us not forget, of course, the proclaimed principle of indivisibility and security, including in the OSCE, in the NATO Council of Russia, which says that no one has the right to strengthen his security to the detriment of the safety of others. And NATO’s continued advance eastward will certainly affect the fundamental interests of our security. “
The United States, for its part, has again warned that there will be “grave consequences” if Russia agrees to “continue the confrontation” with Ukraine.
This aggression “would move us exactly in the opposite direction,” Blinken said, stressing that “it is just not in nobody’s best interest.”
He added that “the best way to avoid the crisis is diplomacy”, calling on Russia to respect the Minsk peace accords concluded in 2015 between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.
The interpretation of this and other key OSCE documents has emerged as a sticking point between the two countries, with Lavrov saying it “is clear” that the United States and Russia interpret them “differently. manners ”.
Blinken criticized Russia’s accession to the Helsinki Final Act, a multilateral agreement dating from 1975, saying the country “continues to violate the Helsinki principles and repeatedly hinders the work of this organization.”
Despite the accusations, the two officials recognized the importance of dialogue, Lavrov acknowledging “the importance of our two states for global stability and security, including in the Euro-Atlantic area”.
Blinken also held a bilateral meeting on Thursday with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba, in which the senior US diplomat reiterated Washington’s “unwavering commitment to territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine ”.
The OSCE summit follows a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Latvia which was dominated by concerns about recent events in Belarus and Russia’s intentions in Ukraine.
The United States and NATO say Russia is increasing the number of combat troops near its border with Ukraine.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that Russia plans to invade Ukraine and views NATO support for the country as a threat to Russia’s western border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called for specific agreements that would exclude any further eastward NATO expansion and the deployment of its weapons near Russia’s borders.
On Tuesday, Putin said NATO’s military expansion near Russian borders and the deployment of missile systems in Ukraine would cross a “red line” for Russia. In response to actions by the West, which Russia sees as a threat, the country is developing its own hypersonic missile weapons.
CNN’s Alex Marquardt reported from Stockholm, Niamh Kennedy from London and Anna Chernova from Moscow.