Sergei Lavrov mocked as he discusses Ukraine war
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Vladimir Putin’s closest aid in the Kremlin has provoked laughter at a meeting of world leaders in India as he claimed the war in Ukraine was “launched against us”. Speaking at a G20 summit, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who has been in his post since 2004, peddled the now-parodied Russian line that the West was “using Ukrainian people” to stage a war. The international meeting is one of the few that Russia has not been removed from – last year, the G8 became the G7 as Western allies conspired to degrade Putin’s influence on the global economy. But while his line on the war was received with mocking laughter, Lavrov’s comments on Western foreign policy were applauded.
Addressing the Raisina Dialogue, an event in the Indian capital of New Delhi that debates the major challenges facing the world in politics and economics, Lavrov suggested that Russia was trying to stop the war.
The 72-year-old said Russia “would not anymore rely on any partners in the West”, referring to sanctions slapped on Putin’s economy and energy supplies since their invasion of Ukraine.
“The war, which we are trying to stop, which was launched against us using Ukrainian people, of course, influenced the policy of Russia, including energy policy,” he said to a chorus of laughs and groans.
“And the blunt way to describe what changed: we would not anymore rely on any partners in the West.”
Referring to the explosions that caused damage to the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea in September 2022, he added: “We would not allow them to blow the pipelines again.”
But when asked about the “double standards” of Western interventions in sovereign countries, the audience were welcoming, affording the minister a round of applause.
Reaction to his comments reflected a growing cause for concern among Kyiv’s backers that countries around the world are opting out of condemning Russia’s invasion.
“Have you been interested in these years [in] what is going on in Iraq, what is going on in Afghanistan?” he asked his interviewer.
“[You] believe that the United States has the right to declare a threat to its national interest, any place on earth, like they did in Yugoslavia, in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria… and you don’t ask them any questions?”
Speaking in India, a country that has been buying more energy from Russia in light of European Union sanctions and has refrained from taking a stance on the war, Lavrov highlighted a divide among the G20.
Western resolve to support Ukraine may appear to be unabating, at least for now, but countries such as South Africa, which holds strong ties to the US-led West, have improved relations with Russia despite the war.
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It comes as US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Lavrov talked briefly on Thursday at the meeting in the highest-level in-person talks between the two countries since Russia’s invasion.
US officials said Blinken and Lavrov chatted for roughly 10 minutes on the sidelines of the G-20 conference
“Mutual compliance is in the interest of both our countries,” Mr Blinken said he told Lavrov.
He added that ”no matter what else is happening in the world, in our relationship, the United States is always ready to engage and act on strategic arms control, just as the United States and the Soviet Union did even at the height of the Cold War”.
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