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MOSCOW — Russia hopes for cooperation with Donald Trump’s administration on “strategic stability” — including nuclear weapons — and the Syria war, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.
The President-elect “wants every country to be responsible for its own development and this is an attitude we can relate to,” he told reporters at a news conference, reiterating Russia’s criticism of President Barack Obama's administration, NATO and the European Union.
“Donald Trump has unique views that differ from the views of his predecessors, both Democrats and Republicans,” Lavrov said. “And at the core of it is the interest of United States as Donald Trump sees it. When we hear that his main focus is fighting terrorism, of course we will support it because this is actually what our American partners have been missing up until now.”
His comments come after Russia-U.S. relations plunged to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, Syria and other issues.
Russia has also come to the fore in U.S. politics amid allegations that it hacked American institutions including the Democratic National Convention. Outgoing CIA director John Brennan said Sunday that Trump lacks a full understanding of the threat Moscow poses to America.
While being broadly positive about the relationship with the new administration, Russia’s top diplomat did sound an ominous note on NATO escalation at Russia’s borders, especially the Baltic states.
“If the NATO forces do not see any other place for themselves aside from the Russian-Estonian border, it means their Intelligence services are not doing a good job as they don't see what is happening in other areas,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov also said he would invite U.S. representatives to upcoming Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan brokered by Russia and Turkey.
“I hope our cooperation in regards to the Syrian crisis and fighting terrorism will be more successful than the one we had with President Obama's administration,” Lavrov said.
Russia is a major backer of Syria's Bashar al-Assad, who the United States opposes, and has helped tip the balance of the war in the president's favor.
Lavrov made a point of mentioning Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson’s comment at last week’s Congressional confirmation hearing that "Russia is a threat but Russia is not unpredictable." That statement is important, said Lavrov.
Lavrov also referred to the alleged of Russian hacking of U.S. organizations, saying the claims were “false.”
“We've seen some poor accusations that don't hold water, that since have been shrugged off by the British and their American counterparts who tried to jeopardize the new administration,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov also took a swipe at what he called "the messianic obsession of the west" with exporting its values, such as democracy.
Russia isn't trying to export anything, especially not values, he said, adding that the concept of a unipolar world was "obsolete" because there are "many centers of power."