Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview for Belarusian television that the US and NATO fears over the Zapad-2017 military exercises were just a pretext for the deployment of troops in Poland and the Baltic States.
According to Lavrov, "the West was not so much afraid but tried to use the exercises as an excuse to start hysteria."
"Everyone who wanted to come to these exercises found that everything was transparent. But, amid the growing hysteria, our American colleagues together with NATO managed to deploy additional military contingents and equipment in the Baltic States and Poland, “ stated Lavrov
Lavrov also spoke about the situation around North Korea. According to him, "he is under the impression that the Americans deliberately provoked Kim Jong-un” by carrying out unannounced exercises in the region.
"Therefore, by condemning the Pyongyang missile terrorism, we cannot but condemn the provocative behavior of our American colleagues. And, unfortunately, they are trying to get the Japanese and South Koreans involved, who will be the first victims in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula, "said Lavrov.
The head of Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Moscow does not mind that its neighbors from the former Eastern bloc establish closer relations with the EU, but see "the desire of some EU states to use the Eastern Partnership for anti-Russian purposes. They are not the majority, but they behave quite aggressively," added Lavrov.
He also stated that Russia has no doubts about the attitude of Belarus, Azerbaijan and Armenia, which - unlike Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia - will not allow using the Eastern Partnership against Russia.
Lavrov criticized NATO and traditionally accused the Alliance of violating post-Cold War arrangements with Moscow and forcing Eastern neighbors to choose: West or Russia. "We do not blackmail anyone, we do not put ultimatums, we deal with our security, not with geopolitics," said Lavrov when asked about the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a post-Soviet alliance covering Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.