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Lavrov Says Western ‘Russophobia’ Worse Than During Cold War

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

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the level of what he described as "Russophobia" in Western countries is higher than it was at the peak of the Cold War.

"This Russophobia is unprecedented. We never saw this during the Cold War," Lavrov told Russian daily Kommersant in an interview published on January 21.

"Back then, there were some rules, some decorum...Now, all decorum has been cast aside," he said.

He also warned that Russia had its "red lines" that other countries should not cross.

"Serious politicians in the West understand that these 'red lines' should be respected as they were during the Cold War," he told the newspaper. He did not say specifically what Russia's "red lines" were or what Russia would do if they were crossed.

The foreign minister criticized what he said were "efforts to punish Russia by any means possible," specifically citing sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union -- moves he called "absurd and baseless."

Western countries hit Moscow with sanctions in 2014 in response to its takeover of Ukraine's Crimean region and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has denied that it is supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, despite compelling evidence that Moscow has provided military, economic, and political support to the separatists in a war that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.

The United States also imposed sanctions against Russia after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to undermine faith in U.S. democracy, denigrate Hillary Clinton, and improve her rival Donald Trump's chances of winning.

Russia has also denied it meddled in the election.

Lavrov also said in the interview that Trump was being forced by pressure from political opponents into making anti-Russia decisions.

During his campaign and into his presidency, Trump has said he wants to push for better relations with Moscow and has downplayed talk of Russia meddling.

Amid U.S. investigations into the matter, he has denied there was any collusion between his associates and Russia.

With reporting by AFP and Kommersant
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