On March 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov adressed a recent budget request by US President Donald Trump for $500 million in funds to counter “Russian influence” in other countries.
“I don’t know how much the countries targeted by this initiative would like to be ‘bought’ [by the US]. Considering the manners that now prevail in Washington, I do not exclude that if they [EU states] refuse to accept the aid, they will be sanctioned. So now they have to make a choice”, Lavrov stressed following a meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl.
The Russina foreign minister also described this move as an attempt to “buy allies”. Regarding the US sanctions threats against the Nord Stream 2 project, Lavrov said that such restrictions would contradict international law.
In own turn, the Ausrian foreign minsiter said that her country believes “in other forms of interaction”:
“I can only say as the Austrian foreign minister that we believe in other forms of interaction — diplomatic visits, negotiations like the one we had today, and exchanges. Such a format [US actions] only contributes to contradictions. I understand diplomacy as communication on par, when you can discuss various issues without fearing to ‘take out hot coal with bare hands’. I think that we should continue diplomacy in its original meaning — [as] constructive and polite dialogue, like the one we had today.”
It should be noted that in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal, President Trump asked for $500 million to counter Russia’s “malign influence” around the world. According to the document, the budget should provide “assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia” in order to “advance shared security” and “safeguard the territorial integrity”.
In other words, the Trump adminsitration is going to exploit the ‘Russian threat’ narrative in an attempt to solve the recently grown tensions with its allies in Europe and other regions. An interesting fact is that most of these tensions appeared as a result of own actions of the Trump administration.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Trump’s 2020 Budget Asks For $500 Million To Counter “Russian Malign Influence,” Raises Military Spending Again