The EU and NATO are gathering a coalition for war with Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday, commenting on the granting of EU candidacy status to Ukraine and Moldova.
Speaking at a news conference in Baku following a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, Lavrov said the situation reminds the state of affairs before World War II when Hitler united most of the European countries for a war against the Soviet Union.
"When the Second World War was about to start, Hitler gathered most of the European countries under his banners. Now the EU and NATO are also gathering the same modern coalition for the fight, and by and large, for war with the Russian Federation. We will look at all this very carefully," he said.
Lavrov said that, unlike NATO, the EU is not a military organization and so membership in this structure does not pose risks to Russia.
But he also noted that the recent expansion has been carried out under the "Russophobic idea," and so Moscow will monitor if new members follow the general idea and subdue their actions to the EU demands.
Lavrov then announced the second bilateral meeting on the border delimitation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which will take place in Moscow.
Both sides confirmed their willingness to work on the issue, considering it very significant for the current stage of the settlement, he noted.
"This meeting was agreed (to take place) in Moscow, and we are currently selecting dates that would be convenient for both sides," he said.
Lavrov also reiterated Russia's readiness to contribute to signing a peace treaty between Baku and Yerevan and supported the idea of cooperation in a 3+3 format in the South Caucasus, comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia and their three "neighbors" -- Russia, Türkiye, and Iran.
But Lavrov also noted that Moscow has been following the steps of the EU and doubts that the bloc's "Russophobic policy" will soon dissipate.
Noting that they discussed the issues of strengthening peace, security, and stability in the South Caucasus, Lavrov said Moscow and Baku approach similarly to most of the key problems.
"We reaffirmed that there is no alternative to the implementation of all agreements -- which are consolidated in three agreements adopted in November 2020, January 2021, and November 2021 at the level of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia -- which relate to almost all aspects of the post-conflict settlement in this region," he said.
On Russia-Azerbaijan relations, Lavrov stressed the development of ties in the cultural, humanitarian, and educational areas.
Lavrov emphasized that the two ministers on Friday signed a document -- an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation -- that strengthens the contractual and legal base in the field of ensuring international information security.
"We agreed to make an inventory of the entire contractual and legal framework, which includes more than 200 documents that have been adopted over the past 30 years. And of course, it is important to see what steps need to be taken to make it meet today's requirements," he said.
For his part, Bayramov said they believe that for the first time since the restoration of independence -- after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 -- both Azerbaijan and Armenia have a "truly unique opportunity" to establish normal, good-neighborly bilateral relations, as well as achieve normalization.
"Because the fundamental problem existing during the Armenian occupation has been eliminated, Azerbaijan is guided by this principle not only in words, but in actions as well," he added.
Bayramov said Baku's priority is normalization and the long-term peace in the region, and this process cannot be "held hostage" to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group on Karabakh, which does not currently exist.
The Minsk Group, a body under the OSCE was tasked around three decades ago to solve the Karabakh dispute, but it had achieved no results during this time, he stressed.
The OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US, was formed on March 24, 1992, to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group, who visited both countries periodically and met with the authorities, did nothing more than issuing warnings to the parties to abide by the cease-fire each time.
Bayramov underlined that his country aims at consistent development of relations with Russia, and thanked Moscow for its role in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, which remained in the past for Azerbaijan.
"It is necessary to maintain a peaceful agenda (now)," he stressed.
Relations between the two former Soviet countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied then Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted in September 2020, and the 44-day conflict saw Azerbaijan liberate several cities and over 300 settlements and villages that were occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
A tripartite agreement was brokered by Russia to bring an end to the war in November 2020.