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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday condemned the EU and the US for trying to dictate a world order according to their whims and forcing Russia and China to bow to the will of the West.
Lavrov’s comments – in a lengthy manifesto published in Russian in Kommersant newspaper and in English in Russia in Global Affairs magazine – came just days after a high-level summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva for new hopes Cooperation and perhaps an end to the long-standing, badly deteriorated relationship between Moscow and the West.
But he seemed to give this new reality little opportunity. “Without false modesty, Washington and Brussels described themselves as ‘anchors for democracy, peace and security’ as opposed to ‘authoritarianism in all its forms’,” he wrote. “In particular, they announced their intention to use sanctions to support ‘democracy around the world’.”
Lavrov’s article was also published just days after a European Council summit last week in which the 27 heads of state and government unanimously adopted unusually harsh conclusions setting the stage for Putin’s government before moving towards diplomatic relations . The heads of state and government agreed on their declaration after a divided debate in which Poland and the Baltic states successfully tried to reject a proposal by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron for new contacts with Moscow, including the possibility of a summit .
Lavrov in his article criticized the EU heads of state and government as little more than Biden’s substitute singers, who were given their song sheets during the G7 meetings, at NATO headquarters and in Brussels before the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva. And he complained that immediately after Geneva, US officials began to claim that they had made new demands on Moscow and that Russia would face increased pressure, including further sanctions, if it were not respected.
“European capitals immediately drew attention to the mood of Big Brother and recorded the melody with great enthusiasm and enjoyment,” Lavrov wrote. “The gist of what they say is that they are ready to normalize their relations with Moscow, but only after behavior has changed. It’s like a choir has been arranged in advance to sing with the lead singer. “
By accusing the West of hypocrisy for dictating its worldview to Moscow and Beijing, Lavrov reiterated false accusations, such as that the US, NATO and the EU supported a 2014 coup in Ukraine. Indeed, after months of protests in Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovych left the country after breaking his promise to sign an economic and political association agreement with the EU.
Lavrov, of course, also did not mention Russia’s malicious activities abroad, including killings, cyberattacks and election interference. And he described the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s long financial and military support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine as “efforts to stand up for the rights of Russians”.
Lavrov also made no direct reference to opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who was the subject of an assassination attempt before she was arrested and imprisoned when she returned to Russia after recovering in Germany.
Instead, Lavrov noted that Putin’s repeated stance that Russia would never bow to pressure from Western sanctions, and warned Western capitals that this view was widespread among Russian voters.
“There have never been any unilateral concessions since the late 1990s,” Lavrov wrote. “If you want to work with us to restore lost profits and business reputation, let’s sit down and agree on ways we can meet halfway to find fair solutions and compromises.”
Lavrov has been deeply trained in United Nations Security Council procedures for years in New York and is a highly qualified negotiator. But he can also be deeply cynical and dryly sarcastic until he defies reality, even to the discomfort of his own citizens, arguing that they should be willing to forego Italian Parmesan cheese in order to send a geopolitical message.
Lavrov reiterated Putin’s call for a summit of the five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, Britain and the US – a format Moscow has long favored, although some analysts argue that it is out of date. He insisted that Russia is ready to talk, something Western capitals don’t necessarily buy.
“We will always remain open to an honest dialogue with anyone who shows a mutual willingness to find a balance of interests that is firmly anchored in international law,” Lavrov wrote. “These are the rules we obey.”