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Lavrov Says Russia Wants Military Cooperation With NATO, 'Pragmatic' U.S. Ties

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a working session during a meeting of foreign ministers of the G20 leading and developing economies at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany, on February 17.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the "post-Cold War order" has come to an end but that Cold War thinking persists among some leaders in the West.

In a brief statement at the Munich Security Conference on February 18, Lavrov repeated Russian accusations that the enlargement of the NATO alliance has created tension in Europe.

But he called for the resumption of military cooperation between Russia and NATO, saying that political meetings were pointless without it.

He said Russia wanted relations with the United States that are "pragmatic" and marked by mutual respect and acknowledgement of a shared responsibility for global stability.

Lavrov said the badly strained ties that existed now were "unnatural" and the two countries had huge potential for cooperation.

Lavrov spoke a few hours after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the United States would "hold Russia accountable" for its interference in Ukraine while also seeking common ground with Moscow, which Pence said U.S. President Donald Trump believed can be found.

Lavrov rejected the blame Kyiv and Western countries have placed on Russia for continuing war in eastern Ukraine, accusing Ukraine of failing to meet commitments under the 2015 Minsk cease-fire deal.

He said a quarter-century after the Cold War, the world was neither "West-centric" nor "less dangerous," and that a "unipolar world" -- meaning in which the United States is dominant -- cannot last long.

Addressing allegations that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election in 2016 and is seeking to influence elections in Europe this year, Lavrov claimed that no proof of such interference had been provided.

"Show us facts," he said.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia used hacking, leaks, and other methods to interfere in the U.S. election in an effort to undermine U.S. democracy, discredit presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and tilt the November vote toward Trump.

With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and TASS
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