While diplomats talk, guns are silent but any military conflict ends in negotiations. With the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry and Lavrov personally have been sidelined from the main process.
It is all the more interesting to learn how the head of Russian diplomacy sees the future of relations with the United States and the EU and what the Foreign Ministry proposes to do.
Summary Interview With TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about the confrontation between Russia and the West, of which the Ukrainian crisis is an integral part, as well as the prospects for dialogue between Russia and the West on security guarantees.
With the outbreak of the military conflict in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry and Lavrov personally found themselves on the sidelines of the main process. In March, Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky was sent to Istanbul as head of the Russian delegation. Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko played an auxiliary role as a member of the delegation.
It often happens that an outside view is more accurate, because it marks important points without being blurred by routine. Is this the case? On the other hand, any conflict always ends in negotiations, which means that the Foreign Ministry will still take the lead, if not today, then tomorrow. Thirdly, it is Lavrov's office that professionally studies the international situation and operates the norms of international law. In connection with all of the above, it is clear why the interview by the Foreign Minister deserves special attention.
Relations With West and Ukrainian Crisis
According to Lavrov, the Ukrainian crisis is global in nature because the United States, EU countries and NATO members are directly or indirectly involved in the conflict. At the same time, the strategic goal of the U.S. is “to defeat Russia on the battlefield as a mechanism to significantly weaken or even destroy our country.”
Here Lavrov's assessment echoes that of U.S. diplomat and politician Henry Kissinger, who admitted in his column for The Spectator a few days ago that some Western elites hope for a significant weakening of Russia after a military conflict. At the same time, Kissinger clarified that he himself does not support this point of view.
Meanwhile, Lavrov called the United States the main beneficiary of the military conflict in Ukraine, which has at least two global goals: weakening Russia and severing ties between Russia and Europe.
“The main beneficiary of the 'hot conflict' is the United States, which seeks to derive maximum benefit from it both economically and militarily. At the same time, Washington is also solving an important geopolitical task to break the traditional ties between Russia and Europe and to further subdue the European satellites,” Lavrov said.
In addition, the Russian foreign minister criticized Western countries for fueling the conflict in Ukraine in every possible way, but at the same time playing the above-the-fray role in public.
“As for the duration of the conflict, the ball is on the side of the regime and Washington behind it. They can stop pointless resistance at any moment,” Lavrov said.
Why Kiev, Washington, and Brussels should suddenly go for it, if they themselves believe they are almost winning, and the U.S. has a strategic goal of “substantially weakening” Russia at all, Lavrov never explained.
No Nuclear War
Lavrov also commented on the common concerns regarding the threat of nuclear weapons. According to the Russian foreign minister, Western countries intentionally whip up hysteria by attributing to the Russian leadership a threat of nuclear weapons use, although top officials have never allowed themselves any such thing.
On the contrary, Lavrov gave examples when Western politicians, as he put it, “put all decency aside.” In this context, Lavrov recalled how British prime ministerial candidate Liz Truss had declared during a debate in August that she was ready to launch a nuclear strike on Russia. Then the foreign minister created a sensation by saying that some “unnamed officials” from the U.S. Defense Department had proposed a “decapitation strike” to destroy Vladimir Putin.
“However, Washington has gone the furthest. Some “unnamed officials” from the Pentagon have actually threatened to launch a “decapitation strike” against the Kremlin, and, in fact, we are talking about the threat of the physical elimination of the Russian head of state. If such ideas are in fact cherished by someone that someone should think very carefully about the possible consequences of such plans,” said Lavrov.
Frankly speaking, when there is no reliable evidence or names, such statements sound pretty toothless.
Lavrov also had a “soft-spoken word” for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who had gone so far as to call for “preventive strikes” against Russia, meaning nuclear weapons, while speaking live to think tank members from Australia.
In doing so, the Russian foreign minister made an important prediction, warning that in general the West's long-standing policy of containing Russia is provoking a threat when the world could slide into a nuclear conflict.
“We are talking about something completely different: the West's policy of total containment of our country is extremely dangerous. It bears the risk of a slide toward a direct armed clash of nuclear powers,” said Lavrov. He warned that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it must never be unleashed.
Goal is to Agree on new Security Structure
Lavrov recently closed his remarks by bringing all the above-mentioned problems down to the need to agree on “a renewed, more stable international security architecture” and stressed that the Russian leadership is in favor of this very scenario.
As for the EU, Lavrov said that “our relations with the European Union are now at their lowest historical level” because the EU authorities, after launching a military operation in Ukraine at the behest of the United States and NATO, “have essentially declared a hybrid war on us.”
Lavrov's words suggest that the Russian Foreign Ministry has chosen a tactic of waiting with regard to the EU countries. As Lavrov put it, “I can assure you that there will be no problem on our side when the EU is governed by politicians who are in favor of a mutually beneficial partnership with Russia.
Is Russia ready to negotiate with the U.S.? Right now, according to Lavrov, the United States is pursuing a “confrontational, anti-Russian course,” so relations with the U.S. “are indeed in an extremely poor state.” They are practically frozen through Washington's fault.
Lavrov made it clear that he can't maintain “normal communication” with Joe Biden's administration, which has declared “strategic defeat for our country as its goal.”
In this connection Lavrov has announced that the Russian Foreign Ministry is not going to “come up with any initiatives,” although it is high time to discuss new agreements in the field of strategic offensive arms (i.e. intercontinental ballistic missile systems, nuclear submarines and strategic bombers which can reach and destroy targets thousands of kilometers away.) According to Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Ministry is now basing its policy on “the principle of peaceful coexistence between states with different political and socio-economic systems.”
If “they don't take it, let's cut off the gas”? Meaning a military-technical response?
At the same time, Lavrov said in conclusion that “normal relations between our countries (i.e. between Russia and the United States) would benefit everyone.”
“Lavrov ended his TASS interview with the chief of Russian diplomacy, saying, “We'll wait until Washington comes to the realization of the flaw in its current policies and the absence of any alternative to building relations with us on a mutually respectful and equal basis, while taking into account Russia's legitimate interests.”
Too Much of West
Judging by Lavrov's interview, it appears that the Russian Foreign Ministry is primarily oriented toward cooperation with the West. This is not surprising, because historically Russian diplomats have been pro-Western for centuries.
For example, when discussing the state of relations with the EU and the US, Lavrov could say that there are other possibilities. If no common language can be found with Washington, London, and Brussels, he might talk about a “pivot to the East.” For example, to inform, at least in the abstract, what the prospects are for cooperation with China, India, Iran, and finally. Unfortunately, Lavrov's interview does not include this. Not to mention the fact that if Lavrov had reported examples of large-scale cooperation with China, Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea, Washington, London, and Brussels would have sparked much more than after another “serious concern” from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
All the more so since these questions will still have to be answered, because the logic of Russia's current foreign policy dictates this.