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West working to create belt of instability around Russia: Lavrov

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks with the UN special envoy for Syria during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, on July 22, 2021. (File photo by AFP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the United States and its Western allies are working to create a belt of instability around Russia, and that they are attempting to drive a wedge between Moscow and its closest neighbors to achieve that goal.

Lavrov made the remarks at an online conference on Friday, saying that the West was demanding that countries across Eastern Europe and Asia turn on Russia in order to gain American acceptance, adding that it was using Belarus and Moldova in particular.

“They are trying to form a belt of instability around us, forcing our closest neighbors, our brotherly peoples, to make a choice: ‘either you are with the West, or you are with the Russian Federation,’” Lavrov said.

“They want to master the territory around our country both militarily and economically and to surround us with a sanitary cordon, and even to profit from the fact that they are having a decisive influence on the benefit of our neighbors,” he added.

Lavrov pointed to the coup attempt in Belarus by European Union (EU)-linked rebel groups in early July, as well as the recent “geopolitical struggle” launched for Moldova in order to pull the former Soviet republic into the West’s sphere of influence and said the same policy had been used with regard to Ukraine.

“Now our Western colleagues are trying to expand their presence, including the military one, along the perimeter of our borders, including Central Asia and Transcaucasus,” he said.

Moscow has previously expressed serious concern about NATO’s growing military buildup in Central and Eastern Europe, saying that drills and exercises near the frontier with Russia are increasing the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculations.

The US has been deploying missiles in Eastern Europe and near Russia’s western borders, a provocative move repeatedly denounced by Moscow. American bombers and spy planes, as well as NATO aircraft, have frequently been detected in the vicinity of Russia’s borders in recent years.

Moscow has repeatedly warned the US and its NATO allies against conducting “provocative” war games near its borders.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Lavrov said the West was trying to undercut Russia’s domestic political stability as well.

“Western political strategists make no secret of the fact that they want to undermine domestic political stability. They resort to a wide range of dirty tools and fake information, and put forward unsubstantiated accusations,” the Russian foreign minister said.

Relations between Moscow and the West have been deteriorating over the situation in Ukraine, particularly the Russian-speaking Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces have been fighting since 2014. Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow, however, denies the allegations.

The two sides are also at odds over a range of other issues, including the recent jailing of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections.

More recently, the United States and Britain have also accused Russia of using “brute force” hacking techniques to target hundreds of organizations worldwide. Russia has denied the accusations.

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