Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the NATO military should be “wise enough” not to start a war with Russia, warning that unintended incidents between the two sides have increased due to a complete lack of dialogue.
"I believe everyone will be wise enough to prevent that,” Lavrov told RT France, Paris Match and Le Figaro on Thursday, when asked whether NATO drills in Europe risked a third World War.
“However, we are certainly very much concerned about the total absence of any professional dialogue between the Russian military and NATO,” he added.
The Western military alliance severed ties with Moscow in 2014, after the Crimean Peninsula re-integrated with Russia in a referendum.
Accusing Moscow of meddling in the Ukraine crisis, NATO has been sending troops and weapons to Russia’s western borders while simulating military confrontations with Russia by staging massive drills in the region.
The next NATO exercise, dubbed Trident Juncture, will be held in Northern Europe from October 25 to November 7.
Some 50,000 troops from 29 NATO members along with Finland and Sweden will partake in the war games, which would also involve over 100 aircraft and dozens of ships, including a US carrier strike group.
Lavrov said Moscow was willing to enhance ties but the last three meetings of the NATO-Russia Council had failed because the alliance only wanted to discuss Ukraine under pressure from the US.
“Attempts were made to use the NATO-Russia Council as another tool to blame all mortal sins on us, and another way of satisfying the whims of our Ukrainian neighbors who dream of sanctions being endlessly perpetuated and want nothing more than Russia to always be subject to intense criticism," the top diplomat explained.
The West has so far imposed several rounds of harsh economic sanctions on Russia over the deadly crisis in Ukraine.
The rejoining of Crimea to Russia came following deep political changes in Kiev where a pro-Western movement staged weeks of street protests that led to the ouster of the pro-Russia government.
People in Crimea and in the industrial eastern territories of Ukraine, areas which are dominated by ethnic Russians, effectively refused to endorse the new administration in Kiev, which is keen on expanding ties with Washington.
Criticizing NATO’s reliance on the US for making decisions, Lavrov said the 29-member pact was basically “hostage” of Washington.
"It is clear that no one in NATO does anything without the US," he stressed. "So, look at this situation. I believe it is absurd to remain hostage to US legislators’ whims."