Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeDefenceForeign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RIA Novosti and Rossiya 24 TV...

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RIA Novosti and Rossiya 24 TV on current foreign policy issues

Dmitry Kiselev: What do you consider Russia’s main diplomatic victory in the outgoing year of 2023?

Sergey Lavrov: It is difficult to single out just one event. I believe that our victory was not only and not so much a diplomatic one. First, a victory is forged on the frontline, in the special military operation.

However, the results there would definitely have been different if it were not for the home front and nationwide support. Our entire people, all our leadership headed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin are ensuring forward progress. It is obvious and steady. It is expressed in the results at the contact line, the results of hostilities and in our economic performance. President Vladimir Putin spoke about this quite recently. He noted that the economy is expected to increase by at least 3.5 percent against the backdrop of declining GDP growth in Europe, including Germany that was the driver of the European economy. 

The main point is that practically the entire country, all social strata have worked and continue working for victory. When we launched the special military operation, the West started gloating – Vladimir Putin wanted to stop NATO’s expansion but now the alliance is expanding with Finland, and Sweden is next in line. Probably, this is how they are reassuring themselves. They wanted to convince themselves that they had done everything right. But in reality, they wanted something else. Their main goal was not to expand NATO but to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia. This was the whole point of the expansion by the North Atlantic alliance.

Back in 2015, US President Barrack Obama said that the Russian economy was “in tatters.” Now they are seeing the reverse effect from their policy of weakening and even splitting up Russia. Many idle armchair politicians abroad started speculating about this as well. Because of this hybrid war by the entire collective West, which was unleashed by the hands, bodies and other parts of Ukrainian society against us with the use of modern Western weapons, Russia has become much stronger during this year. The unity of our people has increased substantially. I am sure that this is not what they wanted. They wanted to split the country up and promote protests against the special military operation. The sanctions were supposed to stir up people and provoke waves of protests. But they only achieved stronger cohesion in the country and among the people.

Dmitry Kiselev: Do diplomats feel it?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, we do. And we are taking an active part in it. Everything that is happening is the subject of difficult discussions in the external contour.

The overwhelming majority of states, the World Majority, have not joined the sanctions but cannot raise their voice high enough during debates for the time being.  However, they are coming to realise that this could happen to anyone, and that any country could become a target for sanctions by the US, Europe or any US ally. Nobody can predict what the US won’t like the next day. In the last few years, the US did not like the fact that Ukraine was a neighbour of Russia and was striving to develop normal working relations with it. They started dragging it into the European Union under the slogan “you’re either with us or with Russia.” This “either-or” ultimatum will not go away anytime soon.

Look at Serbia. They are being told the same thing:  
“Join the sanctions against Russia, give Kosovo away, recognise its full independence, and we will admit you to the European Union.”

Dmitry Kiselev: And if not, a state coup will happen.

Sergey Lavrov: They tried to stage a state coup. Moreover, I will note (since you mentioned it) how the Western community represented by the EU reacted to the latest elections. The US accused the Serbian authorities of ballot stuffing and vote-buying during the elections. Washington said this on the same day when the campaign on removing Donald Trump from the elections was launched. That’s what the ruling elite wanted. This evoked waves of indignation in the US itself but this doesn’t matter at all to the US administration. They are allowed to do anything. They will do all they want, and then dictate to others. Many countries are aware of this.

More and more countries are telling us that they are with us. They understand that the lengthy process of forming a multipolar world has begun. They will help us by action but will have to occasionally trot out fake excuses (excuse the rude expression) to avoid being given a hard time. This is a serious trend.

The West’s striving to lecture others is not limited to African or the Latin American countries, or even to Serbia, a small European state.

Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel recently went to China. I was shocked to hear Ursula von der Leyen say in an interview on the sidelines of this visit that Europe’s attitude towards China would be determined by its attitude to Ukraine. I couldn’t even imagine such impudence. Yes, they got used to speaking like that with their former colonies or some other “average countries” that depend financially on the EU and other Western states. But talking like that with a great power, a country with the world’s biggest economy and millennia-long history, culture and traditions… This speaks volumes about the manners of modern European bureaucrats.

Dmitry Kiselev: We will get back to this later. After all, this interview is taking place in the run-up to the New Year. How would you describe Russia’s top diplomatic goals in the coming year?

Sergey Lavrov: First, our goal is to continue to provide vigorous and proactive support for the special military operation internationally. This goal was defined by President Vladimir Putin. He himself is at the forefront of the foreign policy efforts. Our goals in this regard are a top priority.

Everything else is subordinated to the goal of ensuring an objective picture of Russia internationally as well. This has always been the case. With the special military operation underway and our ongoing confrontation with the West, including on the economic and sanctions front, the objective substantiation of our actions takes on special importance.

The key areas some of which have been significantly adjusted (and some redefined) are reflected in the Foreign Policy Concept approved by the President in March. It clearly prioritises relations with the Global Majority, rather than with the countries that have publicly declared us an adversary. (US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, a public official, even went as far as calling us an enemy). If so, we are prepared for any turn of events. More than once in history, there have been attempts to conquer and subjugate us.

In the context of the emphasis on the Global Majority, on the countries that are ready to work with us in a fair, mutually beneficial and mutually respectful manner, including in the economy, politics, and security, our chairmanships, two of them, coming next year, are of central importance. One is in the CIS and the other in BRICS.

I will not discuss the CIS at length, or focus on the importance of our immediate neighbours, allies, and strategic partners. There is a chairmanship programme which relies on the wealth of experience gained in the post-Soviet space. There is every reason to believe that in the coming year the CIS will continue to build on its positive dynamics in all spheres of its activities.

Clearly, our BRICS chairmanship has a global dimension. The number of its members has doubled following the summit in Johannesburg in August. Starting from January 1, 2024, we will need to bring the new members up to speed. Our activities cover international politics, international security, economy, culture, education (universities cooperate with each other) and, increasingly, sports.

The BRICS Games have been planned as well as steps to create our own cinema award. Plans are in place to revive the Intervision song contest, but no longer within the space of the former Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, as before, but as part of the BRICS+. Almost all countries will have the opportunity to participate in this contest.

The economy and finance matter the most. During the summit in August, the BRICS countries clearly outlined the goal (spearheaded by Brazilian President Lula da Silva) for central banks and finance ministers to submit recommendations concerning alternative payment systems. Everyone is tired of the US dollar, which has become a tool to exert influence, to undermine the legitimate competitive positions of countries from different regions, to interfere in internal affairs, and to change regimes.

Brazilian President Lula da Silva suggested using alternative means of payment for all Latin America. But in addition to this regional initiative, he has a global proposal. It is being developed by BRICS. By the next summit in Kazan in October 2024, ministries of finance and central banks should present such a proposal.

The issue is about securing and protecting the global economy from those who, for many years now, even after the colonial era, have been trying to preserve some of its elements in the sense that they wanted to continue to live at the expense of others. They imposed their model of globalisation on everyone, and many people fell for it. Market economy, fair competition, inviolability of property, and presumption of innocence were introduced by the West as global values. Likewise, the Americans never stopped emphasising that the US dollar was the reserve currency for the entire world rather than just the United States, and the most reliable safety net protecting against all troubles. When they were confronted with the need to fulfil their universal (as they believe) goal of weakening Russia and undermining our position in the world, without second thought, all these principles were discarded, and a real war began.

Everyone has come to this conclusion firmly. From now on, the formation of the global economic system will follow different paths.

We realise that our Chinese friends’ trade with the United States and the EU is tens of times greater than with the Russian Federation. However, it is decreasing, while our trade with China has grown by almost 30 percent. It passed the $200 billion target ahead of schedule (it is now around $230 billion). By the end of the year, the statisticians will come up with the final results.

Here is what I would like to say. China has beaten the United States at its own game based on the globalisation standards introduced by the United States and later used by the Chinese. Truth be told, we relied on the same principles after the Soviet Union ceased to exist, and everyone thought that we entered an era of universal prosperity, and now all people are friends, comrades and brothers.

The United States witnessed the rise of China. Washington announced its goal that no country should be stronger than America in any sphere of human activity. That means total hegemony. This is the official ideology. The Americans began to discriminate against Chinese-made goods. For years, China has been filing lawsuits with the WTO’s dispute settlement body. For many years, this body has been unable to review them because the United States has blocked this mechanism by preventing the election of new members to replace the outgoing ones. There is just no quorum there, such a simple and basic trick. This is just one example, of which there are many. These are the methods used by the United States.

Moving towards a fairer economic order cannot be stopped. The BRICS summit participants set a clear goal and made a clear demand: give BRICS members and other developing countries that have lifted themselves up economically and financially quotas at the IMF and the World Bank that reflect their real economic weight. They won’t. This is just another case of the United States corrupting its own principles of fair competition.

I could talk at length about these goals. They will be fulfilled not only during the next year, but during many following years as well.

Dmitry Kiselev: Changes are visible on the Ukrainian track. What can we expect? What are you getting ready for as diplomats?

Sergey Lavrov: We are getting ready to implement our goals – demilitarisation and denazification. There is no avoiding this. We are actively working with the developing nations, especially in the context of changes in the West’s tactics. Maybe, the West is even thinking about “specifying its strategy” because if “Russia’s strategic defeat” is a strategy (excuse my tautology please), it has failed miserably. Everyone understands this.  They are starting to approach us and beginning to whisper – why don’t you meet someone who will be ready to talk to you in Europe. Indicatively, this suggests talking about Ukraine without Ukraine.

Before, they would boast of their position – “Not a word about Ukraine without Ukraine.” Now there are signals and leaks in the Western media about the West’s desire to search for ways to overcome this situation. But they try to find approaches that will allow them to announce Ukraine’s “victory.” These are idle officials for whom it is important to report that they fulfilled a five-year plan in three or four years (like it was with some Soviet bureaucratic structures). In most cases, this was true but often it was an eyewash. I think what the West is doing now is very similar to the worst cases of eye washing in our country. Indicatively, they are not good at it. It is clear what they want to achieve – to leave as soon as possible from this grievous position, one that Europe was driven into primarily by Washington. The Americans have disrupted the European economy and risen very seriously at Europe’s expense by dragging down its industrial production, providing energy for their industry at prices that are four or five times less than those they imposed on Europe for their LNG after blowing up our pipelines. They have done this before, too. They need a way out “without losing face” or a way out that will allow them to persuade at least themselves that they have not lost face. This is how I see it.

The launch of the Copenhagen format created in June of 2023 was part of this changed tactic. Several meetings in this format have already taken place. The G7, BRICS members (except Russia) and a number of other large developing nations were invited to attend. The goal was to compel them to sign Vladimir Zelensky’s “peace formula.” This is a figment of their sick imagination. No matter what was written in the agenda of these meetings for decoration – food security or energy security – the main point was to tell Russia – “Go back to the 1991 borders, give Crimea and Donbass back.” In general, they were going to establish an “exclusion zone” around Russia, where a demilitarised zone would be announced on its territory and many other things.

When developing nations started visiting these meetings, we asked them why they needed to do this. Don’t they understand that these meetings were pointless at best? They replied that they understand everything. These statements were made by countries from the world majority, which were invited to attend these meetings. But they were pursuing two things: first, they wanted to hear what they had to say, and how serious a suggested settlement would be, and second, they wanted to explain that nothing good would come of it until direct talks were held with Russia’s participation. Russia was not only ready for such talks but we had practically come to terms (President Vladimir Putin confirmed this again recently).

Considering our good relations, I can say that another meeting like this took place ten days ago – the G7 plus the leading developing nations. Not all countries from the world majority attended. Some turned down their invitations. The meeting took place in complete secrecy. Nothing was reported about it; there were no leaks.

Dmitry Kiselev: But you know about it.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, we do. Our close allies and associates who attended that meeting did not promise to keep an issue that concerns Russia secret from us. Another meeting is scheduled to take place in January 2024 and a “peace summit,” where Zelensky’s “peace formula” is to be “approved,” in February 2024.

The information we’ve received has been corroborated by numerous other sources. The West is talking about “Zelensky’s 10-point plan,” which does not allow for any deviation, not a step left, right or back, only forward; and must be approved as is. In simple terms, it is a scam, pardon my French. Here are the 10 points, they say. If the idea of a cordon sanitaire around Russia doesn’t sit well with you, consider food security, they say, as if in sympathy.

Next, they will say that so many countries are taking part, and that one accepted this “innocent” point and another accepted that “innocent” point, like nuclear safety, and that, taken together, they support the restoration of Ukraine’s borders recognised in 1991.

When we talked about possible solutions to the crisis with the countries that were invited to that get-together and those who were kept outside that process but want to be informed about it, we told them a simple thing.

What does the recognition of the 1991 borders mean? It means that Ukraine will remain within the borders that existed at a time when the Soviet Union was dissolved. President Putin has pointed out again recently that part of that process was the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by Ukraine, which clearly stated that it would not join NATO, that everyone was equal, that national minorities had equal rights, and so on.

Today Zelensky says he must get these territories back. Many events have happened since 1991. A number of laws have been adopted, beginning in the Yushchenko period and later during the terms of Poroshenko and Zelensky. It was a post-coup campaign. The use of the Russian language was prohibited in all spheres. The Constitution of Ukraine still guarantees the rights of the Russian and other ethnic minorities and explains this provision in detail with regard to education, culture, upbringing and virtually all other spheres. The new laws ban all this in flagrant violation of the Constitution. These laws have been supplemented with local regulations. For example, several months ago Vladimir Klitschko banned the use of Russian in all spheres in Kiev: in the cultural and social spheres and in everyday life. However, the majority of people continue to speak Russian. It is evidence of the people’s attitude towards the Kiev regime and its slogans.

There is a selection of quotes about what Ukrainian officials think about Russians. After the state coup, then Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseny Yatsenyuk said that Russians are “subhuman.” Later, Petr Poroshenko said that their children would attend schools and kindergartens while children in Donbass would be sitting in basements. Zelensky was asked before the special military operation what he thought about the people living in Donbass and their demand for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. He said that there were people and then there were “creatures” and that those who lived in Ukraine and were Ukrainian citizens but felt association with the Russian language and culture should “beat it to Russia.” He said this in August 2021.

Therefore, those who call on the world to support the demand for returning Ukraine to the 1991 borders are supporting the call for genocide.

Dmitry Kiselev: On Monday, Vladimir Putin actually said that it is like a civil war. He said it. He also said that Russians and Ukrainians are one people. This means that we are the largest divided nation in the world (a close comparison is East Germany and West Germany). We are fighting for reunification. It is a historical process. Moreover, President Putin outlined the geographical boundaries, saying that Ukraine’s western lands were historically pro-Western, and that Western countries were not averse to having them back. He said that we would not interfere, but we would not give up what is ours. In other words, the essence of the current developments is much broader than the initial goals of the special military operation: denazification and demilitarisation. It is the historical reunification of a divided nation. How else can one see this process? Am I right?

Sergey Lavrov: Absolutely. We were aware of the tragedy when the Soviet Union fell apart and the next morning over 25 million people found themselves living abroad. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was created, and all sides declared in Belovezhskaya Pushcha and in Almaty in December 1991 that they would remain brothers forever and that no artificial barriers would be created to living together and speaking the same language. Yes, we became different states, it so happened, but we lived in the same civilisational and historical space. This is how it was.

The destruction of that ideology of brotherhood and unity began in Ukraine. Ample evidence has been made public, showing that the Americans and the British started “heating up” the situation back in 1993. You know what this has led to.

I would like to get back to the previous question.  It is connected with what we are talking about now. Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Alexei Danilov and all sorts of Yermaks and Podolyaks say that they will take Crimea back. Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate Kirill Budanov said this recently, that they would take Crimea back even if several hundred thousand people would perish in the process…

Dmitry Kiselev: I think he said millions.

Sergey Lavrov: No, it was some Ukrainian woman who said this.

Dmitry Kiselev: “This will require a major effort since there are millions of erring and misguided people there.”

Sergey Lavrov: But they speak Russian. “We will eradicate and eliminate all this,” “we will kill off everything Russian.”

This is the way they frame their vision. You referred to an objective truth when you mentioned President Vladimir Putin’s statements. We are talking about one divided nation. The overwhelming majority of people in Ukraine have always spoken Russian, read in Russian, watched Russian movies and contributed to Russian culture. Some stand-up comics worked in Russia all the time, appeared in Russian shows, stage productions and other events and performed in Russian. These are the same people, including the President of Ukraine, who are now talking about cancelling everything Russian.

Vladimir Zelensky decided to say something in Russian recently and pretended, much like a drama queen, that he needed someone to remind him how to do it. But anyone who goes online can see that several years ago he took a principled position in the spirit of the Servant of the People by telling everyone to “stop nagging the Russians – this is their language, just live your lives.” He said that he was a Russian-speaking Jew with a Ukrainian passport. Why can’t he revert to this vision? He betrayed his people. Both his peoples.

When President Vladimir Putin expressed this idea, he made a special point by emphasising that everything was all right in our relations as long as Ukraine stayed true to the Declaration on State Sovereignty. It provided for non-bloc status and maintaining brotherly relations with neighbours. We could see that they were at least trying to abide by these principles. President Vladimir Putin recalled the time when we found ways to talk to each other and be friends even during Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency despite its Western focus. We did not have any crises or repulsion which were artificially planted into the minds of a new generation of Ukrainian politicians by Washington, London or other capitals.

President Vladimir Putin has been talking about “never giving up anything that belongs to us” for quite a while now. He has recently recalled the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest and its declaration on enabling Georgia and Ukraine to join the alliance. There was a Russia-NATO summit soon after the Bucharest meeting, and I was there. President Putin asked Angela Merkel, who was the German Chancellor at the time, why did they do this after promising that it would never happen. Her answer was that it was George W. Bush who made this case arguing that they had won. What was written was not binding – it was just a political promise. But what would constitute a legally binding promise, Vladimir Putin asked. It turned out that if NATO wanted to officially open its doors to Georgia and Ukraine, it would have offered them Membership Action Plans, i.e., a legal document where you can tick the boxes to track the way these curators greenlight various reforms. Vladimir Putin said that this was a mistake on their behalf.

During the Russia-NATO meeting, the Russian President questioned everyone about their decision. He went on to explain the fragile nature of Ukrainian statehood, how it came into existence, what happened when its western regions became part of the Soviet Union, and what needed to be done for them to live in harmony with the Russian people and their traditions. He explained everything. The message was that NATO’s actions would disrupt this fragile balance. People in western and eastern Ukraine lived within a single state but had little in common, even in terms of their commemorative dates. By that time, people in Western Ukraine had stopped marking May 9 and instead celebrated Stepan Bandera’s and Roman Shukhevich’s birthdays, as well as the creation of the Ukrainian insurgent army. But people in eastern Ukraine will never forget what May 9 means for them. NATO needed to understand this at the very least.

They responded by creating a media narrative saying that President Putin described Ukraine as an artificial entity that had to be destroyed. The media did a great job of framing the issue the way their higher-ups desired. At the time, President Putin observed what we are now witnessing in western Ukraine. Poles are looking at these territories, and Budapest has been outraged by the way the Ukrainian government has been treating Hungarians in Transcarpathia. Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó regularly express their indignation and demand that education in the Hungarian language be reinstated. The same goes for Romanians.

Let me give you another example. A government coup has taken place in Ukraine. Crimea stood up against it and repelled an attempt to have a mob armed with bats and rifles seize the Supreme Council of Crimea. A referendum took place there. Donbass also said that it did not want to have anything to do with them and declared its independence. It took us a year to persuade the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics to sign the Minsk agreements. In the wake of the Crimean Spring, with hostilities still raging, the Kiev regime designated people from Donetsk and Lugansk regions as terrorists and launched a punitive counter-terrorist operation. It used its air force to bomb cities, including Lugansk. In late April 2014, then US Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a meeting in Geneva. He brought along Catherine Ashton, the EU’s top diplomat, and acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshchitsa, who was later appointed ambassador to Poland.

We had a good conversation and agreed on a document about one and a half or two pages long. In fact, I did not contribute to drafting many of its provisions. The document addressed the need for Ukraine’s transition to a federal structure and launching efforts to draft a federal treaty with the participation of all heads of the Ukrainian regions without exception. This came as something natural for John Kerry and Catherine Ashton. But the document was never adopted. Still, there was an understanding in Washington and London at that time that this was a way out in order to prevent a chain reaction and further deterioration of the situation.

It was primarily Vladimir Zelensky who refused to accept federalism. Petr Poroshenko signed the Minsk agreements which outlined a clear framework for a federal structure since they provided for a special status for Donbass to be incorporated into the Ukrainian Constitution. How is this different from federalism? Vladimir Zelensky went on to deceive President of France Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In December 2019, the Normandy Four gathered in Paris and agreed on a document. Its provisions focused on what made any progress impossible, in particular, the need to grant the DPR and the LPR special status and enshrine it in the Constitution in order to ensure that this status is permanent.

Vladimir Zelensky signed this document. Fast forward several years, when the special military operation was already underway, Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine Andrey Yermak said that the President of Ukraine has deceived everyone just so that they would leave him alone while he focuses on the real thing (with the help of his senior comrades). He wanted to buy some time.

Dmitry Kiselev: Is there a sense that Germany is being downright ungrateful towards Russia? After all, East and West Germany were able to unite thanks to Moscow. Now, the Federal Republic of Germany is obstructing the process by sending tanks adorned with crosses.

Sergey Lavrov: You could put it that way. But when someone shows ingratitude, people who have a conscience feel ashamed and even lose sleep over it. People in charge of the Federal Republic of Germany have no such feelings.

I could talk about this at length. It is true, we played a decisive role in the unification of Germany. The Anglo-Saxons did not want it to happen at all. They reluctantly accepted it, fearing the revival of Germany as a major economic powerhouse and especially fearing the prospect of us establishing good relations with the Federal Republic of Germany. And that’s exactly what happened eventually. It was the basis for Germany’s economic prosperity.

There is more. The Munich Security Conference was held in February 2015. At that time, it still claimed to be an objective forum and brought together participants representing a wide range of public opinion at various events. Now, all it does is brainwash the public to fit the Western mould. There is no such thing as alternative institutions there, whereas in 2015 there was.

About 10 days before the Minsk agreements were signed and almost a year after Crimea reunited with Russia, I made a speech. A German member of the European Parliament (I cannot remember his name) asked me why we “annexed” Crimea. I said that if we were to have that conversation, we should think back to when the German people were a divided nation. He burst into hysterical laughter in an attempt to win over the audience. He used that hysterical tone to convey the idea of how dare I compare the Germans exercising their right to us allegedly taking Crimea – which is not Russian territory – away from Ukrainians.

It’s amazing. It was 2015, the best of times, when Germany enjoyed economic advantages and a high standard of living at our expense. That is when they introduced refugee allowances in amounts that German pensioners now resent.

Dmitry Kiselev: What have the Americans done to Europe, to Germany? If things continue like this, what will become of the EU?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t see a bright future for the EU at the end of the rainbow (in the good sense of the word). In other senses, they have already determined their future.

Americans are very cynical people. They have developed what is sometimes referred to as an island mentality, like Britain. The bulk of the settlers who moved to America were British. They eradicated the native tribes and forced the survivors into reservations. This island mentality is reinforced by the fact that no one around them poses serious security threats, except for the threats they create themselves. They have a sense that things are fine back home overseas, and they can take advantage of uncertain situations. So, the plan is to create confusion and profit from it.

It started in Vietnam. They wanted that country to become a capitalist democracy instead of a communist state. Iraq and Libya followed suit. Everyone is aware of that. Serbia is on everyone’s lips.

The same goes for Ukraine. They believed that Europe would protect US interests. Even Donald Trump said they should focus more on their own interests.  During his presidency, the deep state behind the US government was telling Europe that even if the US keeps fewer troops there (but still in control, so you can’t afford to be complacent), it will still ensure the dominance of the golden billion around the world. That is their mindset. Only a major domestic problem or upheaval can bring them back to reality. So far, they have been overflowing with a sense of infallibility and superiority, especially evident when the Democratic administration was in the White House and sought to dominate not only the world, but also their own country, going against their own constitution. This could lead to unwanted developments within the United States.

Dmitry Kiselev: Clearly, this alliance is causing Europe to decline. The Economist ranked Germany as the world’s 27th largest economy. How did that happen? Germany’s growth rates are lower than Russia’s. It seems strange. What does the future hold for them if they continue on this path?

Sergey Lavrov: Do you remember when German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during her speech at the Forum 2000 in the Czech Republic four months ago: “No matter what my German voters think, I want to keep our promise to the people of Ukraine”? By that time, economic problems had kicked in and their standard of living was declining. The middle class was struggling, the economy was in the grips of deindustrialisation, and businesses were relocating to America. She did not even attempt to establish logical connections.

Dmitry Kiselev: Josep Borrell has recently cast himself as Europe’s defence minister. He said that he was not only Europe’s chief diplomat but also a European Minister of Defence.

What kind of people are in charge there? What can you say about them?

Sergey Lavrov: Frankly, it may sound undiplomatic, but they are a poor sight in terms of professionalism. We had worked with the teams of the European Commission and Josep Borrell’s service for several years before they cut all ties with us after the beginning of the special military operation. To put it kindly, I was not impressed.

People in Europe, for example in Hungary, Slovakia and several other countries (the authorities in Hungary and Slovakia and a growing number of MPs and opposition politicians in other countries) wonder why the EU and the 27 member states, led by presidents and prime ministers elected by their people in national elections, are governed by the European Commission, which is not an elected body. The commission’s members are appointed through behind-the-scenes bargaining between the leaders of EU countries. The argument that they are elected officials and hence have the authority to select members for the European Commission is inappropriate. According to their rules, everything is divided equally, like under communism. This is why each EU member state must have a European commissioner. This leads to bargaining, coalitions, compromises and deals, as the result of which some mediocre people get seats on the European Commission.

When the top post at that body is given to an authoritarian person like Ursula von der Leyen, who announces many decisions without consulting anyone, this leads to internal contradictions and protests. It also exacerbates the problems faced by the EU, which already has enough issues to deal with, first of all economic problems, caused by the Americans’ policy and the sanctions against Russia, let alone all their infighting, which will only escalate.

Dmitry Kiselev: Our time is running out, but we have not yet talked about a crucial issue: the Gaza Strip. Israel has announced that the war will go on for months and that they are supposedly destroying Hamas, although the Americans have been flirting with them.

A year ago, you wrote an article for Izvestia about possible scenarios. What has happened as a result? Was the Hamas attack on Israel a false flag operation? How can we assess it? Some people even think that the destruction of Gaza is a special operation aimed at building a parallel Suez Canal from Eilat across the Negev Desert. The route is 300 kilometres long, which is not difficult to accomplish with modern technology and money. What is it? What is the essence of this geopolitical process?

Sergey Lavrov: There are many conspiracy theories.

The other day, our television and social media again reprinted a report posted in a Western media outlet by Western investigative journalists (I believe that Seymour Hersh posted it too), according to which intelligence services warned the Israeli authorities about plans for a major terrorist attack a year before October 7, 2023.

If this is true, I find it hard to believe that no preventive measures were taken, especially since I know that the Israeli army and security forces have the know-how and are always ready to launch preventive strikes.

This reminded me of another conspiracy theory, when terrorists attacked the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, following which a war was launched in Afghanistan and the Greater Middle East project was initiated.

There were other less bloody conspiracy theories, like the Moon landing, which still has not been laid to rest, although many people should have been aware of the real events in all three cases. However, these issues remained unresolved. This is strange.

I do not want to assume that normal people would be willing to sacrifice hundreds of their own citizens to create a pretext for destroying a terrorist organisation they hate and want to eliminate or to gain some economic or logistical benefits.

You said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Hamas must be destroyed as a whole and as a military force. It sounds like demilitarisation. He also said that extremism must be eliminated in Gaza. It sounds like denazification. However, I do not understand the reaction of the previous Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid (he was foreign minister before becoming prime minister), to our special military operation. His reaction surprised me. He said that Russia had no right to use force against civilians or to annex Ukrainian territories.

This was unfair. We discussed this with him. I do not know what he thinks and how he describes the current developments, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not criticised Russia despite the numerous critical statements [about his actions] made around the world and the fact that he is in a serious predicament. He has had two telephone conversations with President Vladimir Putin (12). Just like Egypt, Israel helped us evacuate our citizens who were held captive or wanted to leave Gaza.

We should be very careful about our shared history with Israel, particularly our history of fighting Nazism. This is the main element that unifies us in terms of history. It is a fundamental element of our genetic code, so to speak.

The Holocaust and the extermination of the multinational Soviet people are comparable, but the numbers are different: six million people killed during the Holocaust and over 20 million Soviet people were killed during World War II.

A year ago, during a news conference on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Israeli ambassador in Kiev did not say anything when he was asked about the glorification of Bandera, Shukhevich and other Nazis in Ukraine and the use of Nazi symbols. When asked about Israel’s attitude towards this, he answered that it had not changed and added that Israelis still considered them to be Nazis and that this perspective would never change. However, he acknowledged that Ukraine had a complicated history, and said that he understands Ukrainians’ connection to these individuals and political organisations. This is truly alarming.

Dmitry Kiselev: What are the key present-day international development trends?

Sergey Lavrov: The emerging multipolar world order is one such trend. Some prefer the term “polycentric world.” There is nothing new about this concept since it was coined by Yevgeny Primakov when Russia, India and China formed the RIC group. It evolved into BRIC when Brazil joined the club, and became BRICS with the addition of South Africa. Today, this association is about to expand its ranks so that it will have 10 participants. Another 27 countries are on the waiting list and aspire to acquire partner status at the very least. After all, we cannot multiply the number of participants by five within such a short period. We will move gradually in our efforts to introduce the BRICS culture into global politics.

There was much debate about the multipolar world order during the preceding stages of our development. Many researchers and experts, including those from Russia, have argued that without a bipolar world order and its rigid and negative, yet real, stability, and without a unipolar world order, which tried but failed to replace the bipolar one after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the multipolar world resulting from the emergence of new centres of economic growth, military power and political influence would bring chaos while failing to create a viable structure. I think that these fears were unfounded.

The American-style globalisation project came apart, with the pandemic delivering the first blow by disrupting supply chains, followed by the anti-Russian campaign and sanctions which dismantled what used to be a single global economy. This paved the way for regionalisation, which is a natural process. We have the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN. These three organisations have already established partnership ties which provide an outline for a continental cooperation framework across Eurasia. We are also seeking to discuss security matters on the CSTO, the SCO and the CIS agenda from an economic perspective. There is also Belt and Road Initiative and an agreement with the EAEU.

Other regions have the African Union and Africa’s sub-regional structures. Latin America has CELAC, which unites all Latin American countries. There are sub-reginal structures there too, such as ALBA, formed by Venezuela, the Central American Integration System and MERCOSUR.

These are the structures which assume the task of developing their regions and seek to coordinate their external relations. Their development can also be seen as a desire to reduce their excessive dependence on the dollar. This is what the concept of a multipolar world means. It implies that not only and not so much countries but also associations of smaller, mid-size and even small nations constitute centres of gravity, even if Brazil, India, China and Russia will always remain independent actors,. This regional trend rhymes well with the expansion of BRICS, which provides a matrix connecting sub-regional and regional processes. This process will not end this year.

Dmitry Kiselev: The first trend is the emergence of a polycentric world. And dedollarisation is the second trend.

Sergey Lavrov: They go hand in hand.

Dmitry Kiselev: What about an indiscriminate arms race? Is this a trend? It is actually underway.

Sergey Lavrov: If you look at the Americans and their aspirations, the latest data from their defence budgets, as well as the preparations in and around the Taiwan Strait, you can see that they are not giving up on using force as a method for resolving the issues they have.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that they will promote dialogue with China and act from the position of strength in order to balance their rivalry. They are always talking about acting from the position of strength.

But since we mentioned Asia and the South China Sea, the Americans are doing everything possible to undermine dialogue between China and ASEAN and create new frameworks that they can control. This amounts to sticking their noses where they do not belong. China and the United States have been arranging meetings lately. I think that their military leaders had a meeting.

China continues to voice its concerns about what the Americans have been doing with Taiwan. Only recently, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that if the Americans accept the One China policy, supplying weapons to a state that does not exist – Taiwan – is unacceptable.

The United States also has a very interesting and cunning position: they accept the One China policy, while also focusing on maintaining the status quo. This explains it all. Their status quo is precisely what China refers to as the unacceptable way of treating Taiwan as an independent state. Our Western colleagues have always excelled in this deceitful language.

We always seek to speak the truth and be candid, which is of special importance today when everyone must know who is who, what everyone is worth and what our aspirations are. What we want is to comply with the core principle set forth by the UN Charter, which calls for respecting the sovereign equality of states.

Source: Mid

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