The “real humiliation” for the EU was not the visit of the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, to Moscow, but the helplessness of Brussels during the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Borrell arrived in the Russian capital in early February. He met with Lavrov and representatives of public organizations. As the head of Eurodiplomacy noted, there are areas in which Moscow and the EU can and should cooperate. According to him, the European Union stands for dialogue with Russia, despite the difficulties in relations. MEPs condemned the visit, considering it a manifestation of the weakness of European diplomacy. Some of them said the trip ended in humiliation for the EU.
“This kind of a turning point, when a coup d’etat took place in Ukraine and the European Union showed its largely helplessness in relation to the agreement that was reached right on the eve of the coup d’etat between the government and the opposition and under which Germany, France and Poland put their signatures,” Lavrov at a press conference after talks with his Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto in St. Petersburg.
According to him, the Ukrainian opposition “did not give a damn about these signatures and the opinion of the European Union” about the need to fulfill the agreement.
“And I believe that it was then that the real humiliation of the European Union took place,” added the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Lavrov said last week that Moscow is ready to sever relations with the European Union if there are sanctions on its part that pose risks to sensitive areas of the economy. As the presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov later explained, Russia will not initiate such a rupture; it wants to develop relations with the EU.
Today at a press conference, Lavrov stressed that the European Union itself is consistently breaking off relations with Russia, and the format of communication with EU representatives consists of rare meetings at which the interests of Brussels are primarily affected.
“We must be ready for any development of events. The choice is for the European Union: if it decides that relations need to be restored, and reverses actions to break them, then we will be ready for this, too,” the minister said.
Lavrov stressed that Russia “is not leaving Europe” – it has “many friends” at the level of individual countries of the union. According to him, Moscow is ready to consider any issues that may be of mutual interest.
“But in any case, meetings that occur from time to time do not necessarily mean a relationship,” Lavrov concluded.
After Borrell returned from Moscow, the European Union reported that they could introduce new anti-Russian sanctions. According to the head of European diplomacy, Russia “did not live up to expectations” and “did not become a modern democracy.” In addition to the conflicts in Ukraine and Transnistria, as well as the situation in Belarus, the cause of tension was the arrest of Alexei Navalny and the detention of protesters at uncoordinated rallies on January 23 and 31.