Russian diplomat says relations with NATO worse now than during Cold War

The Russian military is ready for the possible deployment of US-led bloc troops to Ukraine, a top diplomat has said.

The current state of relations between Russia and NATO can be described as “something more than the Cold War,” said Konstantin Gavrilov, head of Moscow’s delegation at the Vienna talks on military security and arms control. During his interview with RIA Novosti on Monday, Gavrilov was asked to comment on French President Emmanuel Macron’s February statement that he “cannot exclude” the possibility of troops from NATO countries being sent to Ukraine to aid Kiev amid the conflict with Moscow. “The military strategists in Washington and Brussels should realize: if by lifting the taboo on the potential deployment of the bloc’s servicemen to Ukraine they are trying to test our country’s strength, then we are ready for any turn of events,” he replied.

According to the diplomat, warnings by US President Joe Biden and some other Western politicians that if Russia defeats Ukraine it is going to take on NATO states next are actually aimed “to divert the attention of taxpayers from the senseless pumping of their money into the Ukrainian ‘corruption black hole’ as well as to warm up the public opinion in favor of reviving defense industries in their countries.”

His comment echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement last week that “the claims that we are going to attack Europe after Ukraine – it is utter nonsense and intimidation of their own population just to beat the money out of them.” Gavrilov said that during the Cold War, almost all NATO statements began with the evaluation of the possibility of a sudden large-scale attack on the bloc by the USSR and its Eastern European allies. Similar rhetoric is prevalent within the US-led military alliance today, he added. The diplomat recalled that Russia has been labeled “the most significant and direct threat” in NATO’s Strategic Concept, which was adopted in 2022. “Apparently, now their ideal vision of European security is the borders with our country being wrapped in barbed wire,” he said. “As a result, Russia-NATO relations can now be characterized as something more than a Cold War,” Gavrilov stressed.

Since fighting between Russia and Ukraine began in February 2022, Moscow has said repeatedly that the US and its NATO allies have become de-facto parties to the conflict through the provision of arms, including advanced weaponry, intelligence-sharing, and the training of Ukrainian troops.