Russia on Tuesday said it has decided to withdraw from the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), a political forum for regional cooperation with 11 member states including Germany, Finland, and Sweden.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said the organization has been turning into "an anti-Russian tool," and some discriminatory decisions have been made in violation of the consensus rule such as suspending Russia from the council and Belarus as an observer state.
"Former partners' tried to politicize the activities of the CBSS," the readout said, adding that Russia was trying to direct cooperation in a practical direction, putting the task of sustainable socio-economic development of the Baltic region in the first place. But "unfortunately, in the end, the destructive logic of our counterparties prevailed."
"Western countries – let's call a spade a spade – have monopolized the Council for their opportunistic purposes, are making plans to set up its work to the detriment of Russian interests.
"Extra-regional problems are projected onto the Baltic, pressure is exerted on those interested in continuing full-fledged cooperation, the entire array of accumulated in recent years, stability in the region is put at risk," the ministry said.
Russia was not invited to the CBSS's upcoming meeting in Norway, its pecuniary contribution "was stolen" under the pretext of sanctions, and prospects of the resumption of constructive work are not seen, the ministry continued.
"We consider our country's further stay in the CBSS to be inappropriate and counterproductive. Russia will not participate in turning the organization into another platform for subversive activities and Western narcissism," the ministry said.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed all relevant parties about the Russian withdrawal, and simultaneously the country's parliament also approved the decision.
"Termination of membership in the CBSS will not affect Russia's presence in the region. Attempts to oust our country from the Baltic are doomed to failure," the statement said.
"We will continue to work with responsible partners, hold events on key issues of the development of the Baltic region – our common heritage, and protect the interests of compatriots. The current situation in the CBSS is on the conscience of those who destroyed the foundations of the organization's activities."