Sergey Lavrov: the Moscow. Kremlin. Putin TV show
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to questions from the Moscow. Kremlin. Putin TV show, September 11, 2022
Question: People feel worried. Where, in your opinion, is the world heading? Where are all of us going?
Sergey Lavrov: You are asking philosophical questions right from the start. I think speakers at the Eastern Economic Forum will have a lot to say on this subject in addition to what has already been said by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We have provided a reliable analysis and the overwhelming majority of world countries share it. Far from all of them are able to say so in public, but we feel their understanding and support in contacts with them.
Where is the world heading? I think it is heading towards a fairer, multipolar world order. The West is frantically attempting, by hook or by crook, to preserve and strengthen its domination. NATO has announced its global ambitions, officially declaring the “Indo-Pacific region” a zone of its responsibility. But far from all are happy with this.
The Americans and their allies are attempting to split decades-old multilateral entities based on mutual respect, consensus, and compromises, such as ASEAN. The West is openly seeking to split this association in order to include at least part of its members in a military political bloc, AUKUS, which they have established. Countries in the region are increasingly discontent with this high-handed, brazen policy.
Our consistent position has never changed. We are in favour of an equitable dialogue and resolution of all problems based on a balance of interests of all world states. This is fully in accord with a key principle of the UN Charter, which commands respect for the sovereign equality of states – large, medium-sized, small, whatever. The truth is on our side and it will make its way. It is not likely to be precipitous, this process will take a certain historical epoch. But it is irreversible.
Question: Russia has repeatedly made it clear that it is not against talks with Vladimir Zelensky, but we hear the kind of statements that are made by the Ukrainian president, statements that are increasingly rude and peremptory. He even says that Crimea should prepare for hostilities. Do we have anything to discuss with this leader after statements of that sort?
Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin explained our position at a meeting with the State Duma leadership and the heads of factions. Addressing the participants, the President said this about the Ukrainian “story,” “At the same time, we are not rejecting peace talks, but those who are rejecting them should know that the longer it goes on, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.”
Here is a fresh historical example for you. An understanding was reached in Istanbul in late March of this year, based on the proposals submitted by the Ukrainian delegation. We supported this approach, but later the Ukrainians renounced it. In two days time, a provocation was staged in Bucha. We still cannot obtain the data we are requesting from our Western colleagues. Those vocal in stating their indignation and eager to put the blame on the Russian Federation are still unable to answer the question as to whether we can have at least the names of the people, who, according to their allegations, were “snuffed” by the Russian army. They would shy away from answering our legitimate questions about the whereabouts of the Skripals, or why they have failed to provide any proof of their accusations. Where is the proof of what they say happened to Navalny? They even withheld the tests they had made, although this is a direct violation of the principles underlying the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Regarding the talks, they [the Ukrainians] have made their point amply clear. They say the talks can only be held after Ukraine’s victory. Later, when “Russia leaves the Ukrainian lands,” they will be ready to talk, imposing their terms on us. London, Washington, and Brussels are actively supporting and even conniving with them in this. If this is their choice, we know how to reach the objectives set by President of Russia Vladimir Putin within the framework of the special military operation.
Question: Some time ago, you were working stoically at the G20 ministerial meeting. The atmosphere was, on the one hand, difficult, but friendly, on the other. As you see it, what will it be like at the G20 Summit? How should we work there?
Sergey Lavrov: I felt comfortable. We have clear approaches to all items on the agenda, as we do some utterly coherent positions on the Ukrainian issue, which the West, with or without cause, attempts to plant in all discussions. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has a lot of experience and an ability to see the gist of any talks. I don’t see any problem in his playing a worthwhile role in the upcoming events, including the G20 summit. Top-level meetings are also scheduled at events organised by ASEAN and the East Asia Summit. We never evade contacts. Whoever wants to continue a dialogue with us, can always do so. Western leaders’ applications for contacts with President Vladimir Putin invariably meet with understanding and consent. It is not we who are avoiding a dialogue.
Whatever is done by the West is explained by the fear of competition. Sanctions, for example, are clearly aimed at removing strong rivals, and not only Russia and China. The United States is pursuing this same aim and would like to drag Europe into its sanction games. The Europeans are suffering from those restrictions to much greater extent than the Americans.
Take sports. They get rid of rivals by preventing Russian athletes from participating in international competitions, which is a gross violation of the Olympic Charter. Or take healthcare. The foot-dragging over registering the Russian Sputnik V vaccine began long before the Ukrainian events. It is still unregistered [in the West], although it was the first anti-Covid medication to prove its high efficiency in practice. The same applies to the attempts to restrict Russian participation in international discussions, including at the UN and its specialised agencies.
All of this reflects fear of an honest discussion. After all, our arguments are incontestable, whereas whatever is offered by the West is sheer trickery.
Question: You are still without a US visa to the UN General Assembly, aren’t you?
Sergey Lavrov: We still have time left. I asked my colleagues not to continue to remind the US about this. The Americans have their obligations and the UN Secretary-General has a duty to ensure that all delegations participate in the UN events, including the General Assembly. We’ll wait and see.
Question: Is the format of President Putin’s participation in the G20 Summit still unclear?
Sergey Lavrov: The presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has commented on this. I can add nothing.
Question: We have here your former counterpart, Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl. She is quite frank in saying that, in her view, European politicians are behaving like “teenagers” rather than “grown-up” people. This is her estimate. What does it feel like to work with your colleagues from Europe?
Sergey Lavrov: Long before the current situation, I always stressed, in commenting on my colleagues’ actions, initiatives, or statements, that we would like to do business with them in an adult way.