Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia would now be seeking closer ties to Washington following Trump’s victory, and will push to promote sovereign interests whilst continuing to strongly reject NATO.
“Responsible leaders should make a choice, I hope that the choice will be done in favor of creating a democratic and just world order,” Lavrov said at the Munich Security Conference Saturday attended by world leaders, including Vice President Mike Pence.
“If you want, you can call it a ‘post-West world order,’ when each country, based on its sovereignty within the rules of international law, will strive to find a balance between its own national interests and the national interests of partners.”
His remarks came as growing number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for an independent investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Moscow. His national security advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned Monday after the Washington Post published an investigation that revealed Flynn was haggling with the Kremlin over U.S. sanctions.
Lavrov did not mention the scandal, but did outline his hopes for working alongside the Trump administration, the Associated Press reported. Trump has called NATO “obsolete” and threaned to withold support if European members do not spend more of their national budget on defense spending, even as some nations have expressed fears over Russia possibly violating international law within their borders, such as with the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
“What kind of relations do we want with the U.S.? Pragmatic relations, mutual respect, understanding our special responsibility for global stability,” Lavrov said. “We have immense potential that has yet to be tapped into, and we’re open for that, inasmuch as the U.S. is open for that as well,” he added.
Lavrov said NATO “remained a Cold War institution.” You can watch a video of his remarks here.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg dismissed Moscow’s criticism of NATO. The military alliance recently sent troops to the Baltics and Poland as a deterrence to a “more assertive Russia,” he said.
“We don’t want to provoke a conflict. We want to prevent conflict and preserve the peace,” Stoltenberg told the AP. “Our aim is not to isolate Russia. We don’t want a new Cold War, we don’t want a new arms race, what we do is measured and defensive.”
Pence just hours earlier told attendees at the annual Munich Security Conference that the U.S. would “hold Russia accountable” for its actions in Ukraine and the Syrian war. He also pledged Washington’s “unwavering commitment” to NATO members.