Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticized Western governments for their policy of pushing countries to turn away from Moscow, saying such approach has regrettably fomented divisions between his country and the West.
While on a visit to Slovenia, Lavrov said Wednesday that the West had been clearly pressing the countries in Europe and elsewhere to either have warm relations with Russia or join a front against the country with no other options in between.
“I think it's absolutely detrimental to push a false choice on any country, which suggests that well, you go either West or East,” Lavrov said, adding that being a member of NATO or the European Union “does not mean it is necessary to avoid contacts with states that are not included in those international organizations.”
Lavrov said Western governments have clearly applied the East-West classification in their way of dealing with European countries near Russia’s borders.
“Regrettably, some of our counterparts in the West proceed from precisely this logic when they communicate with countries in Western Balkans, and not only there,” he said.
The top Russia diplomat is also slated to visit Serbia, a European Union hopeful which holds warm ties with Moscow. Despite repeated calls from the EU, Serbian authorities have refused to join a regime of sanctions imposed by the West on Russia over a crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Before his trip to Serbia, Lavrov reiterated his criticism of the West’s anti-Russia policies in the Balkans. He wrote in a joint opinion piece with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic that policies of "'either with us or against us' have fueled mistrust and instability on the European continent."