Question: […] When will this whole thing end?
Sergey Lavrov: I cannot say that this is my only concern. […]
At the current stage, we are acting in line with what our Western colleagues said – there must be a victory on the battlefield. These are their words. They renounced talks and compelled the Kiev regime to quit the negotiations in late March 2022, when it was still possible to end it politically.
[…] We all want this to end. But what matters at this point is not the time but the essence, the quality of results we will ensure for our people and those who want to remain part of Russian culture – the Kiev junta, with the West’s encouragement, was depriving them of all things Russian for many years.
Perhaps, here, too, we should apply a Marxist approach and look for the deeper reasons that underlie the unfolding developments. I would recommend going back to at least President Obama’s stint in office and read (it shouldn’t be a problem since the text is readily available) what he had to say about the exceptionalism of the United States. You can go ahead and read similar remarks by former President Trump who said that America was an exceptional nation and there was no other nation like it in the world and that they had an enormous responsibility in that regard. President Biden has promoted this idea on several occasions, and his staff then formalised it. For example, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Americans must implement their leadership and their exceptional ability to lead, because if they don’t, the world would plunge into chaos. To be sure, it’s a humble statement to make. In 2021, having barely assumed office as National Security Adviser to the President of the United States, John Sullivan wrote an article where he discussed US exceptionalism and stated (I think it’s a terrible thing to say) that exceptionalism means that the United States cannot afford to be focused on ethnic or historical identity, but must spread new and free democracy around the world. This means only one thing: everyone else is denied the right to remember their history. The Americans (just as they ran everyone who came to America through the melting pot) also want to melt down the rest of the world for everyone to become, in fact, American.
[…] I believe that the exceptionalism and the absolute conviction in their own infallibility and superiority is the main reason why we are now opposing the countries that are using the Kiev regime to wage a hybrid war against us, although not exactly a hybrid war.
Question: What I infer from what you said is that the goal is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, that is, the West denies the idea of Russia even existing as a state. Russia needs to be either dismembered or divided, now there’s even a new term “refederalisation” for it. The Poles are talking a lot about this, as usual. […]
We must make the truth known and wage a merciless war on false claims. We have a section on our website that is dedicated to these matters. On top of it, we respond live daily to new tricks by those who attempt to distort the real picture. […]
Everyone is looking at the forms that exceptionalism is assuming, like a desire to dominate everyone and to get unilateral economic advantages again so as to prevent an economic crisis in the US, which could be serious because it involves the exploitation of other countries. President Putin has mentioned these actions are fully in line with the colonial philosophy of living at the expense of others.
Question: Turning Ukraine into an “anti-Russia” seemed a successful project in the sense that these aims were attained. What other country from among its entourage may also follow this path? Kyrgyzstan? Kazakhstan?
Sergey Lavrov: Currently, they are “sizing up” Moldova for this role, primarily because they have managed to put at the head of that country – by tailored methods that are far removed from free and democratic ones – a female president who is champing at the bit to join NATO. A citizen of Romania, Maia Sandu is ready to join Romania and eager to do practically anything. It is a revealing fact that, in addition to her pro-NATO and pro-EU drive, the West and Chisinau are refusing to revive the 5 + 2 talks, where there are Chisinau, Tiraspol, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE, and EU and US monitors. The West no longer sees this format as fitting, because it was needed when the Chisinau authorities were still concerned with preserving their country’s territorial integrity and reaching an arrangement with Transnistria. But no negotiating formats are needed after a takeover that brought to power a government prepared to solve the Transnistria problem by force and to insist on the ouster of the Russian peacekeepers and the contingent guarding the ammunition depots at Kolbasna. What is needed in this case is just to support the authorities.
Question: The other day, two former Polish foreign ministers Radoslaw Sikorski and Anna Fotyga spoke in favour of “refederalising” Russia. Former Polish President Lech Walesa said it was time to “finally figure things out” with Russia. What is happening with Poland? Is it playing some special role the same way it did on the eve of World War II? Is our most vicious neighbour pitting everyone against us?
Sergey Lavrov: There are many things to discuss in this regard. Poland has a difficult history with lots of pain in it and no less morbid ambitions clearly showing that a certain portion of the elite is still nurturing expansionist plans (the Three Seas Initiative, allusions to what is now Western Ukraine, Russophobia).
There is a proposal by Anna Fotyga and a statement by Lech Walesa that Russia must be (they even coined a term) “decolonised.” They keep talking about some unpleasant and obscure representatives of the Nogai ethnic groups who want to create an independent state in the Astrakhan Region. The Leningrad Region now has some “indigenous” residents as well. This is the way to embolden certain small peoples by presenting a picture where they are discriminated against in Russia even though everything is the other way round. They can speak their languages, and they don’t live on reservations like in the United States or Canada (where they, as it turned out, used to be brutally killed).
At the same time, it is being said that we are simply “too large.” They quoted Madeleine Albright as saying that “Russia is large,” but then they refuted it. She may not have said this, but it’s a fact that there are many people in the United States and Europe who are thinking this and are, in one way or another, sending this message out. It’s a shame. We had an extensive mechanism of ties with Poland.
There’s one more thing, because they need to finally “deal with Russia.” What is this other than a call to finally solve the Russian question? I recently quoted the masterminds from Hitler’s Germany who engaged in the efforts to finally solve the Jewish question. Almost all of US-led Europe is being gathered against us and various slogans are being advanced, but the meaning remains the same and it is to solve the Russian question within the lifetime of the current generation. Maybe not in gas chambers, but still make sure that Russia ceases to exist as a great power, move it into the background and degrade its economy.
Question: The EU will hold a summit in early February. Russia is not a EU member state, but we are neighbours on the continent and the agenda they will discuss is not a matter of indifference for us. What agenda items would you suggest as a good neighbour?
Sergey Lavrov: I no longer follow the EU summits.
Question: They will get together and again ask themselves: Who are we, what is to be done, and where are we going?
Sergey Lavrov: The Europeans are cannibalising themselves. It has been announced who will take the decision. They have signed the Joint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation, under which they are committed to supplying NATO with whatever it will want, including the territory of non-NATO countries, if it needs to redeploy weapons of any type closer to Russian borders. All of this is in black and white.
Olaf Scholz went on record as saying the other day that Europe’s security depended on the United States alone. It makes no sense for the EU to make any pleas to Washington for it to spare the European economy and industries or be magnanimous with regard to business subsidies in US territory.
As the French Economic Minister Bruno Le Maire said rather long ago, the current cost of electricity for businesses in Europe was four times higher than in the United States. President Emmanuel Macron declared that they would urge Washington to make adjustments and provide discounts or exclusions. They will, I think.
Question: He was already there with hat in hand. They did nothing.
Sergey Lavrov: This is why I am not particularly interested in what the EU is discussing. I hear they are planning to invite Vladimir Zelensky. I don’t know whether this will be via videoconference or live. They will tell us later.
They took the decision long ago and are now in the process of making Zelensky a symbol of democracy’s fight against autocracy. This is the very same black-and-white picture of the world being promoted by the Americans, among others.
The second Summit for Democracy they are convening in late March of this year will formulate a simple task: All democrats must fight against all autocrats, with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela to be branded as autocrats. These are all countries refusing to obey the West’s demands. If you look at the list of invitees to the first summit, you will see a rather interesting picture. There are countries on it (I don’t want to offend anyone), which the Americans themselves had never marked down as democratic before.
Currently, this “revolutionary” team, which is convening the summit of “democracies,” is seeking, as far as we know, to submit a draft decision promoting the democracies vs. autocracies philosophy and intended to make it work in practice. The idea, at least at this stage, is, as far as we know, to have democracies formulate their demands to autocracies plus rights of their own to communicate these as a leverage of assistance above the head of the autocratic governments to the nations “oppressed” by these governments.
I wouldn’t have believed this a year or even two years ago. Today, it is being discussed in earnest. Roughly, their plan is to arrogate the same rights they would like to obtain, pushing through UN organs, by hook or by crook, in violation of the rules of procedure, the idea of establishing a tribunal against Russia and getting reparations from Russia. All of this represents a gross violation of international law. But they are no strangers to it. They have discarded all their principles at the snap of a finger, principles like the inviolability of private property, presumption of innocence, good-faith competition, market mechanisms, etc., which they were cultivating and imposing on others for decades as part of the globalisation package. All of that was crossed out, when it became necessary to punish the Russian Federation.
Question: A question about China. Relations with Beijing are making rapid headway. We are building a new world order with the PRC. What points of contacts can we have? Or maybe there are even some risks? It is always dangerous to dance with a giant. He may step on your feet. Are relations with China fraught with some risks?
Sergey Lavrov: “Points of contact” is a very modest description of our bilateral relations. Our declarations say that although we are not going to establish a military alliance, these relations are above military alliances in the classic sense of this word because they do not have any restrictions, limits or taboo subjects. They are the best in the entire history of the USSR, the PRC and the Russian Federation.
Our common interest is primarily in being allowed to develop in line with our national plans, in accordance with the norms of international trade (in part, the WTO norms) and the West-created system: the Bretton-Woods institutions, the IMF and the World Bank. When we joined them there were certain rules that we accepted. It took us 17 years to enter the WTO. We accepted the rules that guaranteed fair competition.
Now all this is destroyed as well. The WTO has blocked the work of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) because China is “outplaying” America on its field and according to its rules. China has every right to demand compensation and the DSB would surely decide this case in its favour if the United States allowed this body to function. The Americans are simply blocking the appointment of new members of the body for the available vacancies. There is no quorum. This is a purely bureaucratic approach, a “Soviet party approach” in the worst sense. This has been going on for many years. It is because China was winning all disputes against the US that they came up with the WTO reform, having announced in public that it should rely on US and EU interests. Very simple. Others will be shown their place and told how to behave.
The same is taking place in the International Monetary Fund. If you apply the criteria on which the IMF and the World Bank were founded, today the BRICS countries can claim a bigger number of shares and votes that will upset the current situation when the US can block any decisions single-handed (this situation actually took shape several years ago).
If everything were fair, we would listen more attentively to the heads of our economic bloc who spoke about positive features of globalisation. These features do not exist anymore. We realised this earlier because we were the first to “take a hit” in connection with what the US had been planning against us via Ukraine.
Moreover, we are not so deeply involved in this system as China in terms of trade. China has bought $1.5 trillion worth of US securities. The depth of China’s immersion in the current system cannot be compared with ours. China is bound to take steps to reduce this dependence. I have no doubts about that. It has already started taking these steps. There is plenty of evidence of this. Beijing will need more time to create parallel instruments and mechanisms to protect itself against arbitrary rule of the US as the main manager of the world currency, financial and trade system at this stage. However, these mechanisms and instruments should not appear overnight. Otherwise they may trigger serious economic upheavals considering how interconnected the US and Chinese economies are, with trillions of dollars at stake. This issue is not just discussed. There is an ongoing search for ways of creating new mechanisms. This process is leading to the fragmentation of global mechanisms. For the time being, these mechanisms are still associated with the US and its satellites. However, they are no longer global and serve one group of states.
Question: But what about the risks? There is a widespread opinion that China is so big and we are so small. Something may change and we will face something insurmountable. How justified are such fears?
Sergey Lavrov: We are also accused of being big and offending everyone around us. It is alleged that former Soviet republics are not given their due respect. Many will come up with such accusations. And there are many who want to scare us with China as well. In my opinion, this is a game based on wanting to prevent us from cooperating and coordinating our positions in the economy or international affairs. There is no doubt that the plans signed by Russia and the PRC meet the interests of both Moscow and Beijing. They do not define the role of our country as subordinate. These plans are mutually beneficial. They are far from being limited to energy supplies to China. They also cover outer space, nuclear power engineering and many other high-tech areas.
I would like to recall that the West has called Russia and China autarchies and the main threats. Our country poses immediate danger that must be somehow nipped in the bud at once. The fight against China will take a long time.
The West wants China to abstain from providing military aid to us. This is a routine accusation of the DPRK, Iran and others all over the world. Our defence industry is working. Everything will be fine.
Question: Did you have a chance to try Russian whiskey as part of import substitution?
Sergey Lavrov: I was presented with it. If I am correct this whiskey brand is called Praskoveiskoye. But I think the place of honour belongs to the bottle with the words “Kyrgyz whiskey.”
Question: Are you for peace?
Sergey Lavrov: I am for peace – unequivocally. I do not remember but someone said in ancient times, if you want peace, prepare for war. I do not share this philosophy.
I would put it this way: If you want peace, be always ready to defend yourself.
I think we will come out stronger from the current geopolitical situation and will be able to defend ourselves even better in any situation.
“Ich bin also nicht verpflichtet, alle die Schwierigkeiten aufzulösen, die ich mache. Meine Gedanken mögen immer sich weniger zu verbinden, ja wohl gar sich zu widersprechen scheinen: wenn es denn nur Gedanken sind, bei welchen sie Stoff finden, selbst zu denken. Hier will ich nichts als Fermenta cognitionis ausstreuen.”
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing – Hamburgische Dramaturgie
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