MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow will be forced to respond correspondingly to any actions undermining the interests of Russian citizens, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
“If we are attacked, we would certainly respond,” Lavrov said in an English-language interview with the RT news channel.
“If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I don’t see any other way but to respond in full accordance with international law. Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation,” the foreign minister said, adding that Russia is not engaged in any military activity that does not fall under international law.
“The only thing I would like to highlight at this stage is that the Russian troops are on the Russian territory, the requests for inspections under the so-called Vienna Document 2011 and under the treaty of the Open Sky, they all have been granted,” he said.
“The inspectors visited the areas of deployment of the troops participating in the training exercises … No one who participated in the inspections, including the Americans, Ukrainians and Europeans, ever brought up any fact which would indicate that Russia was engaged in some dangerous military activity,” Lavrov said.
The Vienna document is an international treaty of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), aimed at building up trust among members.
The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force in 2002, established a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member states to promote openness and transparency of military forces and activities. Russia ratified the treaty in 2001.
Commenting on Russia’s alleged military presence near the Ukrainian border, Lavrov explained that Russian troops were dispatched in response to Ukraine’s own deployment.
“We never denied that we moved additional troops on the border, just like Ukrainian authorities moved their troops closer to the Russian border because they moved them to the east and south regions,” the minister said.
He also stressed that Russia was conducting military exercises in different regions of the country on a regular basis.
“Last summer and last fall there were exercises in the East and in the Siberian part of Russia, then there was an exercise in the area of Central Russia close to Ukraine. Now I think they’re planning new training games in the Northwest of Russia. So it’s an ongoing process because the army must feel itself fit and ready in the expectation that they would never be required to do anything,” Lavrov added.