07:42 GMT02 March 2021
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    Assertions that Russia is attempting to revive the Soviet Union are fiction, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, reaffirming that Moscow does not harbor imperial ambitions.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Stressing Russia's respect for the former Soviet republics' independence, Lavrov said relations with them are forged "exclusively on the principles of equality and consideration of each other's interests."

    "Statements about 'neo-imperial' ambitions, especially about plans to restore the USSR belong to the genre of fantasy and do not deserve serious discussion," Lavrov said in an interview with the International Affairs monthly.

    "Over nearly 10 years, Russia has provided assistance to Central Asian countries in the amount of $6.7 billion. Bilateral financial assistance amounted to more than $4 billion," he added.

    The countries received over $570 million from Russia through the UN, over $1.3 billion through the World Bank and nearly $600 million through the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development, Lavrov said.

    The European Union's policy in the post-Soviet countries often aims to break age-old ties while the implementation of its Eastern Partnership initiative can be labeled as bleak, Lavrov said.

    "There is a sad experience of the implementation of the EU initiative called the Eastern Partnership. It shows that Brussels' policy toward the former Soviet states is often built in the spirit of 'zero-sum games'. Not only does it not take into account the centuries-old ties connecting our people, but it is often simply directed at their scrapping," Lavrov told the International Affairs monthly.

    Adopted in 2008, the Eastern Partnership seeks to establish closer ties between the 28-nation bloc and several former Soviet republics, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The EU has allocated over $3.3 billion for development programs within the Eastern Partnership, which stipulates visa liberalization with the participating nations.


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