MINSK, November 18 (Sputnik) – Russia is not looking for confrontations with the European Union and is convinced that sanctions are “a road to nowhere,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.
“We confirm that we are not looking for confrontations [with the EU], and we have clearly confirmed we will be guided in our work with the necessity to make our European partners understand that sanctions are a road to nowhere and that they are completely counterproductive from the point of view of attempting to reach the goals that the European side has set before them,” Lavrov said during a joint press conference with Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei in Minsk.
Makei also agreed that using sanctions would not lead to anything positive.
"We believe that sanctions have no prospects as a tool to organize foreign policy and interaction… If sanctions are imposed on one country, they will affect the country that initiates them," Makei said.
The Belarusian foreign minister stressed that Minsk supports the absence of divisions in Europe and stands for resolving problems between countries through negotiation, not sanctions or blackmail.
He expressed the opinion that the European Union has recently come to "understanding that there is no need to put countries before the choice to be with the West or with the East, but to look for common grounds for cooperation."
Over the past few months, the United States, the European Union and a number of other Western countries introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia for its alleged support of independence fighters in southeastern Ukraine. The sanctions targeted in particular the country's banking, defense and energy sectors, as well as a number of high-ranking officials.
Lavrov Uninformed of Possible International Conference on Ukraine
Lavrov said he had not heard of a possible international conference on settling the Ukrainian conflict, adding that there was “no reason to reinvent the wheel” if the Minsk format already exists.
“If we’re talking about some new suggestion of holding a political conference on settling the situation in Ukraine, then I haven’t heard of one but I’m sure we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Lavrov said.
“The Minsk format of the contact group exists and is the only format today where Kiev authorities and participants from the southeast are represented along with Russia and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe),” Lavrov added.
Ukraine has been carrying out a military operation in the country's southeast since April, after its population refused to accept the legitimacy of the government installed after coup in February and established people's republics that later declared independence
In an effort to break the deadlock in the months-long conflict, a trilateral contact group on Ukraine, consisting of the representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE, was created in June.
The group was devoted to facilitating dialogue between Kiev and independence supporters. The Belarusian capital, Minsk hosted a series of the Contact Group meetings.
The September 5 meeting in Minsk resulted in a breakthrough agreement leading to the establishment of a ceasefire in the volatile eastern regions of Ukraine. Another Contact Group meeting in the Belarusian capital on September 19 resulted in a memorandum, specifying the implementation of the ceasefire. Since the establishment of the truce, both sides have frequently accused each other of numerous violations.