WASHINGTON, April 30 (CNBC) - Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow does not consider itself at war with NATO.

In an interview with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya TV channel, Sergei Lavrov said: “Unfortunately, NATO, it seems, considers itself to be at war with Russia.”

“NATO and European Union leaders, many of them, in England, in the United States, Poland, France, Germany and of course European Union chief diplomat Josep Borrell, they bluntly, publicly and consistently say, ‘Putin must fail, Russia must be defeated,’” he told the network.

“When you use this terminology,” he said, “I believe you think that you are at war with the person who you want to be defeated.”

Lavrov — who has been sanctioned by the U.S., U.K. and Europe for his role in the war — reportedly said his country’s “special operation” in Ukraine is “a response to what NATO was doing in Ukraine to prepare this country for a very aggressive posture against the Russian Federation.”

He told Al-Arabiya that Ukraine was given arms that can reach Russian territory, and that military bases were being built, including on the Sea of Azov — where the battle for the besieged port city of Mariupol continues today.

Russian forces have largely destroyed the city of Mariupol, though Moscow falsely claims that it doesn’t target civilian areas.

Lavrov claimed many military exercises held on Ukrainian territory “were conducted under NATO auspices, and most of these exercises were designed against the [interests] of the Russian Federation, so the purpose of this operation is to make sure that those plans do not materialize.”