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Lavrov Says U.S. Actions Threaten Russia's National Security

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the United States has been taking "aggressive steps" that threaten Russia's national security.

"We have witnessed a fundamental change of circumstances when it comes to the aggressive Russophobia that now lies at the heart of U.S. policy toward Russia," Lavrov told Russian state TV’s Channel One, according to the text of his interview published on the Foreign Ministry's website.

"It's not just a rhetorical Russophobia, but aggressive steps that really hurt our national interests and pose a threat to our security,” Lavrov added.

The minister cited an increased U.S. military presence along Russia's borders, the deployment of a missile shield in Eastern Europe, and the sanctions imposed on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine.

Moscow's relations with the West have plunged to levels of acrimony unseen since the end of the Cold War following Russia's military seizure of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in March 2014 and an ensuing war between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists that has killed more than 9,500 people.

Lavrov also commented on the conflict in Syria, saying that Moscow had the means to protect its assets there if the United States decided to carpet bomb the Syrian government's military air fields.

"This is a very dangerous game given that Russia, being in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government of this country and having two bases there, has got air defense systems there to protect its assets," Lavrov said.

The minister said he had heard that this was one option being advocated by some policymakers in Washington, adding that he was convinced U.S. President Barack Obama would not agree to such a scenario.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed by Russian and Syrian government air strikes in rebel-held areas of Aleppo since a U.S. and Russia-brokered cease-fire broke down on September 19.

Washington and Moscow, which have been on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict, have criticized each other for not following through on the truce agreements.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax