MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) – Relations between Russia, the European Union and NATO need to be fundamentally reconsidered, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
“We will discuss international affairs, including the European situation, on what is happening in the interrelations between Russia and the EU, what is happening in the NATO-Russia Council in regard to the crisis in Ukraine,” Lavrov said at talks with his Slovak counterpart Miroslav Lajcak.
“These relations require essential rethinking and with both our partners in the European Union and with NATO member states we are trying to conduct an analysis in order to better understand where we are, what our coinciding assessments are, and where we have disagreements,” Lavrov said.
Lajcak, who is also serving as deputy prime minister, arrived in Russia on a working visit Sunday. During the talks, the sides focused on bilateral relations as well as settling the current crisis in Ukraine.
Last month, NATO foreign ministers said they were suspending practical cooperation and military ties with Russia amid the situation around Ukraine, but would continue contacts of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) at the level of ambassadors and higher.
Russian officials have repeatedly said that Moscow was not seeking confrontation with NATO, but was ready to take all political and military measures to ensure its security.
Tensions between Russia and the West rose after the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February, followed by the rise to power of Ukrainian nationalist politicians in the new government in Kiev, which Moscow considers illegitimate.
The subsequent reunification of Crimea with Russia, sparked by deepening concerns over ultranationalist rhetoric from the new authorities in Kiev, triggered the deepest crisis in relations between Moscow and the West since the end of Cold War.
Since March, the US and EU have imposed targeted sanctions against Russian officials, freezing their assets and banning them from obtaining visas, as well as against 17 Russian companies. The leaders of the G7 group of nations have further threatened Russia with sanctions against key sectors of the country’s economy in the event of a further escalation in the Ukrainian crisis.
Moscow has repeatedly stated that the language of sanctions is "inappropriate and counterproductive" and warned its Western partners about the "boomerang effect" that sanctions would have.