Highlights of Lavrov's Big Presser: From West's Colonialist Mindset to Ukraine 'Hybrid War' & Beyond
15:30 GMT 18.01.2023 (Updated: 15:35 GMT 18.01.2023)
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a press conference on January 18 on the results of Russia's foreign policy in 2022. While the West tries to pin the blame for the unfolding global crisis on Russia, the crisis started taking shape long before Moscow began its special military operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine, Lavrov stressed.
"Washington's policy of diktat in international affairs means the following: we are allowed to do whatever we want, wherever we want, at any end of the earth. Everyone else must not do anything without our consent, even if one's safety is threatened," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized during his Wednesday presser.
Sanctions slapped by the West on Russia could soon be used against any state that disobeys Washington's orders, Lavrov said. The foreign minister listed a wide range of tools used by the US-led collective West to thwart its geopolitical competitors - including demonization, blackmail, restrictions, the threat of force, and the destruction of historic ties between former partner nations.
To describe the West's approach to international affairs, Lavrov used the term "colonialism." Colonialism is when one country captures another and lives at its expense, subordinating all the plans and structures to another country, the minister stated.
Remarkably, some members of the western club have adopted a similar approach toward their peers. Lavrov pointed out that the US is solving its economic problems at the EU's expense. The third EU-NATO joint declaration directly puts the Europeans in subjection to the military bloc
in the latter's geopolitical confrontation of Russia and China, according to the minister.
29 December 2022, 04:20 GMT
Russian trust in the West's vows and goodwill has been dramatically shattered: the West not only violated its verbal pledges, said Lavrov, referring to the US and Western Europe's assertions of NATO's non-enlargement, it has repeatedly abused signed agreements, including the legally-binding 2015 Minsk Accords which western states never intended to fulfil.
"Things will never be the same again," Lavrov said. "There will be no more situations when you lie to us, sign documents, and refuse to comply with them, as it was with the OSCE declaration in Astana, the Russia-NATO Council, agreements on regulating the situation in Ukraine signed by Germany, France and Poland, the Minsk agreements - all this time they lied to our face."
"The masks are off," Lavrov underscored.
Ukraine is Forbidden From Negotiating Peace With Russia
Russia is ready to negotiate serious proposals for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine; however, it was the West that forbade Kiev from holding talks with Moscow and stepped up arms supplies instead, according to Lavrov.
"As for the prospects for negotiations, this has been discussed dozens of times," the foreign minister said. "When we supported Ukraine's request for negotiations and the draft agreement offered by Ukraine [in March 2022 – Sputnik], Ukraine got its hands slapped [by the West]. All summer and early autumn, western representatives said that it was too early to move on to negotiations, more weapons should be given [to Kiev]."
"[Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky is putting forward some completely absurd initiatives, a 10-point plan, where everything is piled up: food security, energy security, biological security, the withdrawal of Russian troops from everywhere, repentance of the Russian Federation, a tribunal, conviction, and so on," Lavrov continued, adding that there can be no talks with Zelensky because the Ukrainian president legally banned any negotiations with Russia.
The goals of Russia's special military operation, which was launched on February 24, 2022, are determined by the fundamental security interests of the Russian Federation, emphasized the minister.
"In Ukraine, as in any territory bordering Russia, there should be no military infrastructure that threatens our state, there should be no discrimination, persecution against our compatriots who are citizens of the Ukrainian state, but want to maintain their language, culture, and the opportunity to raise their children in this culture, in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine," said Lavrov.
Instead, Kiev openly pledged to Nazi ideas and engaged in "inadmissible humiliation" of Russian people, he added. Meanwhile, the West is using Ukraine to destroy the security system in the Atlantic and Europe, which was previously built on the principles of mutual dialogue and compromise, according to the foreign minister.
Why Arab World is Dissatisfied With Washington
"No Arab countries have joined the sanctions, despite the unprecedented and most severe pressure from the West. I would even say, the unceremonious and self-humiliating pressure that the West is exerting," Lavrov commented.
Russia is continuing to maintain cooperation with Middle East and North Africa states and is making efforts to solve urgent issues, including the Israeli-Palestine problem, the Libyan crisis, and the situation in Syria.
Meanwhile, the US and its western allies remain preoccupied by the Ukraine conflict and have forgotten about multiple conflicts which are continuing to simmer across the world, according to Lavrov. He pointed out that Russia's Arab partners are dissatisfied and frustrated by the fact that the West is doing nothing on the issue of Palestine, one of the oldest international conflicts.
The foreign minister stressed that there is positive dynamic in the political settlement of the Syrian crisis, despite the West's attempts to hinder the process. In particular, Lavrov cited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement that he may sit down with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to foster peace and stability in the region. The Russian foreign minister also referred to the fact that Middle Eastern states are either re-opening or continuing to maintain their embassies in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Asia: Russo-China Ties Strengthening, US Creates Hostile Blocs
The current Russia-China relations are the best in the nation's history, according to Lavrov. Moscow and Beijing significantly boosted their trade and cooperation in various spheres. The countries are also integrating in various international organizations, including the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS, the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, as well as joint exercises and projects.
The West sees this, and has described Russia and China as "threats" in the strategies adopted by the United States in the declaration between NATO and the EU, the minister noted. According to the US, Russia poses an "immediate" threat to its interests, while China remains the greatest long-term challenge, Lavrov pointed out, adding that Washington's schemes to force other countries to isolate Moscow and Beijing are detached from reality.
In addition to sanctions and trade restrictions, Washington is trying to poke China on a wide range of issues including Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong, the minister continued, adding that Beijing clearly understands it's risky to remain dependent on the West and operate within the western-led system.
While trying to take on Russia and China simultaneously, the US is trying to mobilize the whole "western camp" including the EU, Canada, and Japan, and are trying to engage Indonesia and South Korea, too, according to Lavrov. The minister noted that Washington is striving to form new blocs in the Asia-Pacific aimed against China and Russia and undermine the existing one, such as ASEAN. Washington is beefing up AUKUS, a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States and pushing Japan to the path of further militarization
, according to Lavrov.
"[Bolstering of] Japan's military potential is hardly a positive development," the Russian foreign minister said. "Of course, it's said that this is all because of North Korea, but it is clear that this [development] is directed against Russia and China, there is a program to revise the constitution so that the Japanese authorities will lose the remnants of the pacifism; this hardly reflects Japan's willingness to normalize relations with Russia."
Latin America: Russia Doesn't Have a Monroe Doctrine
Moscow enjoys good relations with Latin America and Caribbean with most of the countries of the region rejecting anti-Russian sanctions and continuing to maintain cooperation with Russia, Lavrov underscored.
Lavrov pointed out that there are countries with which Russia has been cooperating for a long time, such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
"We really appreciate the history of our relations, we value solidarity on most issues of world politics," he said. "We always support each other in voting in the UN General Assembly. In addition to developing relations with our long-term partners, we are interested in making other countries of Latin America our priority. We do not have any 'Monroe Doctrine' and when we go to the region, we do not carry any risks and threats with us, we are not interested in subordinating this or that country to our interests or advancing some political force to power in this or that country."
Lavrov underscored that Moscow maintained working relations with all countries of South America regardless of the political affiliation of their governments. The minister noted, in particular, that in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Brazilian left-leaning presidential candidate Lula de Silva on his victory and expressed gratitude to former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for a productive Russo-Brazilian partnership.
The minister also referred to Moscow's relations with Buenos Aires and Argentina's intention to join BRICS, an acronym for five leading emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The countries have agreed to cooperate within the BRICS+ format for the time being, while actively working on the criteria by which countries can join the BRICS for joint work, Lavrov explained.
US Bill to Counter “Malign” Russian Activities to Harm Africans
Lavrov also addressed Russia's expanding relationships with African nations. Last year the foreign minister described Moscow's strategic cooperation with the continent
as one of its priorities.
During the Wednesday presser, the foreign minister was asked about the US' Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act. The bill was passed by the US House of Representatives on April 27, 2022. The legislation was aimed at sanctioning African nations over cooperating with Moscow
. It was later referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations by the US Senate and appears to be on hold.
Earlier in the day, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor argued in an interview with Sputnik that the bill needs to be trashed because it violates international law.
Lavrov pointed out that the US bill seeking to sanction African countries for doing business with Russia harms Africans and represents "a colonial mentality." "Not every African country can make its position so clear," the Russian foreign minister said, citing Pretoria's criticism of the US legislation.
The Russian foreign minister reiterated Moscow's interest in enhancing cooperation with African nations. He highlighted that the Russian government is planning a summit of African countries in St. Petersburg. It would be a business forum, including preparations for the transition to settlements in national currencies, the foreign minister concluded.