(Reuters) -Russia’s foreign minister said on Monday that Moscow would consider offers from the West to re-establish ties and determine whether that is needed, but will focus on developing relations with China.
Sergei Lavrov, in a question and answer session at an event in Moscow, said Western countries had espoused “russophobia” since Russia launched its incursion into Ukraine – described by Moscow as a “special military operation”.
Russia was working to replace goods imported from Western countries, he said, and in future, would rely only on “reliable” countries not beholden to the West.
“If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website.
Lavrov set down grievances with Western countries that he said were determined to change the rules of international relations to Russia’s detriment.
“We must cease being dependent in any way on supplies of absolutely everything from the West for ensuring the development of critically important sectors for security, the economy or our homeland’s social sphere,” he said.
Moscow says its incursion seeks to demilitarise Ukraine after what it describes as a Western-inspired coup in 2014 that embodied extreme nationalism and evicted a Russia-friendly president.
Lavrov said Moscow’s goal now is to further develop ties with China.
“Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster,” Lavrov said.
“In addition to direct revenue for the state budget, this is a chance to develop (Russia’s) far east and eastern Siberia.”
China, he said, had information and communications technologies “that are in no way inferior to the West. A great deal here will ensure mutual benefits.”
Lavrov said Russia would count on “only ourselves and on countries which have proved themselves reliable and do not ‘dance to some other piper’s music’. If Western countries change their minds and propose some form of cooperation, we can then decide.”
(Reporting in Melbourne by Lidia Kelly and in Winnipeg by Ronald Popeski;Writing in Melbourne by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Chris Reese and Christopher Cushing)