ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday said the next U.S. administration would have to work with Moscow to solve world crises, and argued that the peace process in Syria had been “sabotaged” by other countries involved in talks.
Days before the U.S. presidential election, Sergey Lavrov made the remarks on a visit to Greece, a NATO and European Union member that has maintained close ties with Russia.
“If you remember a few months ago (President Barack) Obama said just that: ‘We are the ones who should lay down the rules.’ It may have been arrogant but at least he was honest,” Lavrov said.
“If this is the way our American partners think, it means we will have to go through a painful period of realisation that no one can do anything on their own.”
Lavrov met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias as part of a friendship initiative between the two countries that included multiple cultural exchanges and a visit to Greece in May by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Over the weekend, the Russian navy destroyer Smetlivy reached Greece’s main port of Piraeus before sailing onto the east Mediterranean to join warships backing government forces in Syria’s five-year-old civil war.
Lavrov argued that U.S. backing of Syrian rebels opposed to President Bashar Assad was extending the war.
“Unfortunately on many occasions, efforts for a political resolution have been sabotaged. That is not in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions . Some parties are backing extremists aimed at removing the Assad regime,” he said.
“If those resolutions had been carried out in an honest way, the situation in Syria would have already improved.”
He didn’t name any countries. Peace talks have involved U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran.
Russia’s relations with the U.S. and its allies came under further strain after Moscow used airpower to back a Syrian government siege of Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city. Peace talks resumed after Russia halted the airstrikes last month.
“We have seen that after every humanitarian pause, the opportunity is used by the terrorists to strengthen their manpower and weaponry,” Lavrov said.
Athens is keen to maintain close ties with fellow-Orthodox Christian Russia, despite its participation in EU sanctions against Moscow, and a gas pipeline project designed to limit Russia’s regional energy dominance.
Russia is one of Greece’s main trading partners, but business has been hit by the sanctions and a drop in commodity prices.
Lavrov’s trip comes less than two weeks before a visit to Greece by Obama.