American Foreign Policy Is Creating Global 'Turmoil,' Russian Foreign Minister Says

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the U.S. of fomenting global chaos through a destabilizing foreign policy.

Lavrov—who has served as Russia's top diplomat since 2004—told reporters Friday the Kremlin is unhappy with American foreign conduct, whether related to Iran, the rest of the Middle East or nuclear arms control restrictions.

Lavrov said the world "continues to be in turmoil," according to Russia's Tass state news agency, and blamed the U.S. and its western allies for the situation.

He complained of "aggressive policies of certain western countries, and our American colleagues in particular, aimed at demolishing the security architecture established by international law."

Western nations are trying to replace this architecture, he alleged, with "a world order based on rules they created themselves." These efforts, Lavrov added, "remain the key destabilizing factor" in global diplomacy.

Specific grievances include the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned ground-launched nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges from 310 miles to 3,417 miles.

President Donald Trump ended American compliance with the Cold War-era agreement last summer, accusing Russia of violating the deal. Since ditching the accord, both the U.S. and Russia have been working on weapons that were previously banned.

Lavrov also complained of Washington's delay in extending the New START arms control measure. New START—which is due to lapse in 2021—capped the number of nuclear weapons that Russia and the U.S. were able to store and deploy.

Russia has offered to extend the deal without preconditions, but the Trump administration remains tight-lipped on its plans. Arms control advocates have warned that the collapse of the INF and New START deals could herald an expensive and dangerous nuclear arms race between the Cold War foes.

Lavrov then accused Washington of "artificial heightening of tensions in the Persian Gulf region."

Russia has been among the nations urging de-escalation and dialogue since Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—a.k.a. the Iran nuclear deal—in May 2018.

Russia—along with the U.K., France, Germany, the European Union and China—is a signatory of the deal.

Trump dismissed the Obama-era agreement as inadequate and doomed to failure, though all inspections indicated Iran was fully compliant with the deal, even after the U.S. exit. Since Trump's withdrawal, Tehran has been incrementally violating elements of the accord.

The past month has seen the U.S. and Iran stagger to the edge of armed conflict via tit-for-tat military strikes in Iraq. Though both sides stepped away from further violence, Iran said it will no longer abide by the nuclear deal.

Lavrov condemned the U.S. "attempts to overhaul universally accepted basics of Middle Eastern settlement" and the "ramping up of NATO's military activity along Russian borders."

The veteran foreign minister did not touch on controversial Russian foreign policy, which its rivals say is also undermining global stability. The Kremlin is leveraging conventional and covert capabilities to weaken its adversaries and project power, despite political and economic trouble at home.

In eastern Ukraine, for example, Moscow-backed separatist rebels remain at war with Kyiv. And the Crimean peninsula—seized from Ukraine by Russian forces and annexed in 2014—remains under Russian control.

The Kremlin is also accused of maintaining tension along its border with Georgia. Russia is supporting separatist forces in the small Caucasus nation, as it did in its 2008 war with Tbilisi.

The Russian government is employing active measures across Europe and North America to try and destabilize its rivals. Cyberwarfare, covert assassinations and election meddling have all rocked Western democracies as Putin attempts to push his more powerful adversaries off-balance.

Though Russia's mineral-dependent economy has struggled in recent years, its weapons industry remains strong. This has given Moscow much needed income and political leverage with nations in Africa, South America and Asia.

The Kremlin has also been able to drive a wedge between NATO nations by selling its S-400 anti-aircraft system to Turkey, which prompted Washington to kick the country out of the F-35 stealth fighter jet program.

Sergei Lavrov, US, foreign policy, turmoil, Russia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gives a press conference in Moscow, Russia on January 17, 2020. DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images/Getty