Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that a new “iron curtain” was descending between Russia and the West.
Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine in February has triggered an overhaul of Europe’s defence and security policies, led to the historic Nordic expansion of NATO with Swedish and Finnish membership, seen the imposing of severe sanctions on Russian goods and services, and hardened anti-Russian sentiment across the continent.
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Speaking at a press conference in Belarus on Thursday, the Russian foreign minister said that the “process has begun” for the closing of a new iron curtain between Russia and its Western neighbours.
“As far as an iron curtain is concerned, it’s practically already coming into place,” Lavrov said.
“Let them just behave carefully,” he said of Western countries in their new relationship with Russia.
Lavrov added that Moscow has not had any relations with the European Union since 2014, when Moscow annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine.
The foreign minister also said that Moscow would not trust Washington and Brussels “from now on”.
“The EU is not at all interested in understanding our interests,” Lavrov added.
“It is interested in what has been decided in Brussels. And what has been decided in Washington has been decided in Brussels.”
After Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, the West has slapped Russia with several rounds of unprecedented sanctions.
The United States and Canada, which are far less reliant on Russia as an energy supplier than Europe, have banned all Russian oil imports.
The European Union, however, has introduced only a gradual oil embargo as part of its sanctions on Moscow, although Group of Seven (G7) leaders said on Wednesday they had agreed to explore a price cap on Russian oil.
The war has also created a global food crisis, sending prices soaring for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser.
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a key global fertiliser exporter and Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil.
Moscow says Western sanctions against it are to blame for the worsening global food situation.
The sanctions do not directly target Russian grain and fertilisers, but Russia’s exports have been badly hit because of the difficulty of arranging shipping, insurance and finance.