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Pompeo lambastes Russia for sowing 'chaos, conflict, and division' in Mediterranean

Pompeo's comments came in response to accusations from his Russian counterpart that the U.S. plays 'games' in region.

Updated: December 17, 2020 - 8:49am

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has launched a verbal salvo charging that Russia continues to destabilize the Mediterranean, and that it sows "chaos, conflict, and division" in the region.

Pompeo directed his comments Tuesday at his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who recently accused the U.S. of playing political games in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. 

"It’s unfortunate and unhelpful that Mr. Lavrov again gets the facts wrong and attempts to rewrite history," Pompeo said in a statement. "The United States is working actively with allies and partners in the Eastern Mediterranean to promote greater stability, security, and prosperity."

The comments come during a time of increased tensions between Washington and Moscow, and in the wake of reports that Russian hackers have breached U.S. government computer systems. 

Although he did not directly mention hacking operations, Pompeo charged Russia with spreading disinformation and undermining national sovereignty specifically in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean.

"In Syria, Russia supports the Assad regime whose war against its own people has added to regional instability, led to a protracted humanitarian crisis, and displaced half the population," Pompeo said. 

The secretary of state listed a number of Russian actions in Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and elsewhere.

"In Libya, Russia supported an assault on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, killing civilians and undermining the UN’s efforts to bring peace to the country," Pompeo said. 

Citing a litany of actions in Libya, Pompeo noted Russia had printed counterfeit Libyan dinars  and has used its proxy mercenary army known as Wagner to fuel conflict.  

"The Libyan government’s release of two Wagner operatives caught undermining Libyan politics is just another example of how Russia uses mercenaries and political shenanigans rather than open democratic means to advance its interests," Pompeo said.  

Lavrov made his remarks about the United States during a virtual meeting Dec. 4 of the Mediterranean Dialogues conference in Rome.

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