Lavrov claims NATO should have disbanded after Soviet collapse

In comments made at a meeting on the Ukraine conflict with heads of foreign embassies, Lavrov said many historians and political scientists in the West have long held the view that NATO outlived its purpose after the end of the Cold War rivalry between the Soviet-led and U.S.-led blocs.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has asserted that many Western experts believe NATO should have been dissolved following the fall of the Soviet Union and the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact alliance.

In comments made at a meeting on the Ukraine conflict with heads of foreign embassies, Lavrov said many historians and political scientists in the West have long held the view that NATO outlived its purpose after the end of the Cold War rivalry between the Soviet-led and U.S.-led blocs.

He cited recent remarks by the prominent American economist Jeffrey Sachs, who in an interview called NATO’s perpetuation after 1991 “a mistake” that undermined hopes for a new security architecture.

Lavrov claimed the irresistible desire of the U.S. to retain control of Europe through NATO was the reason the alliance shifted its focus from collective defence against the Soviet Union to new missions and enlargement after the Cold War’s conclusion.

The fiery criticism fits a longstanding Russian narrative that NATO’s post-Cold War expansion into Eastern Europe represented an affront to Moscow and a missed opportunity to build a more inclusive European security order.

Ukraine’s aspirations to eventually join the alliance have been a particular irritant to the Kremlin cited as one of the motivations behind last year’s invasion by Russian forces.

In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ramped up condemnations of NATO’s “confrontational” policies along Russia’s borders and demanded legally binding security guarantees precluding the alliance’s future growth.

However, U.S. and NATO officials have firmly rejected any such restraints, accusing Russia of attempting to re-establish spheres of influence over its neighbours and former Soviet republics.

Lavrov’s latest broadside underscored the seemingly irreconcilable visions for European security underlying the spiralling tensions and protracted conflict in Ukraine.