In an interview with the Serbian news agency on February 19, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that NATO's expansion to the East was the reason for Russia's annexation of the Crimea and the Russian invasion of the Donbas.
He noted that for the Russian Federation "developments in Ukraine were not surprising".
“This became, as I said, the consequence of the line that NATO has chosen. After the "cold war" ended, three waves of expansion of the Alliance were observed, and with each such wave its military infrastructure was approaching closer and closer to the Russian borders.”
QHA reported that the former acting Minister of Defense of Ukraine, ex-Commander of the Navy Ihor Tenyukh said that Russia had begun preparations for the annexation of Crimea in 2010, when Viktor Yanukovych came to power.
Preparation began with personnel cleansing, reducing the number of fleets, dissolving the commissariats and manning the Navy with contract soldiers from the Crimea.