Sergey Lavrov: “BRICS countries are driving the global economy in many spheres”

15:36 14.06.2024 •

Photo: MFA

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following the meeting of foreign ministers from BRICS and Global South and Global East countries, Nizhny Novgorod:

“Ladies and gentlemen,

We have just completed our two-day programme. Yesterday, we worked with the BRICS countries, and continued our discussions today with the invited countries which have yet to join BRICS. They expressed their firm commitment to forging closer ties with this association. Apart from the ten BRICS countries, another 12 nations of the Global Majority representing Asia, Africa and Latin America joined us today.

We discussed the most pressing and relevant international issues and challenges which all countries face today, as well as the present-day international environment and the role the Global Majority plays in shaping the global agenda. During the BRICS segment of our meeting and today, in the presence of the invited countries, all delegations spoke out in favour of reforming the existing global governance framework by focusing on enabling the Global South to play a bigger role in it. We noted the need to undertake collective efforts in order to achieve the sustainable development goals, ensure security and foster economic growth.

Most of the delegations emphasised the destructive nature of protectionism in trade. The United States and its allies have been sticking to this destructive policy. We noted that donors have failed to invest in achieving development goals in any meaningful way, which stands in stark contrast with the effort to allocate billions of dollars and euros to the Kiev regime so as to enable it to keep up fighting the Russian Federation. The West has been preparing this war for many years and is now seeking to defeat us on the battlefield, judging by its own words. Not a single BRICS participant or country working with this association spoke out in favour of this attitude.

We pinpointed unilateral restrictive measures and illegitimate sanctions as imposed by the West among the negative factors undermining the right of states to development. Western countries have been proactive in using these approaches as part of their foreign policy toolkit. We share the view that the United States and its allies have been undermining the global financial and economic architecture in their attempt to preserve their dominance by grossly abusing the dollar’s global standing and the Western financial markets while also exploiting what de facto amounts to neo-colonial and unscrupulous methods.

We paid special attention to global security and countering new challenges and threats, primarily terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime, and also discussed crisis situations, in particular in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Eurasia.

All meeting participants without exception paid special attention to the developments in the Gaza Strip where the death toll stands at 37,000, while about 100,000 people were wounded. The military operation continues there, resulting in more and more casualties among innocent people. We emphasised that there is no alternative to undertaking consistent efforts designed to support the emergence of a multipolar world order based on the sovereign equality of states as set forth in the UN Charter, as well as an equitable interstate dialogue free from any hidden agendas and aimed at coming up with collective solutions for addressing the objectives and issues the world faces today.

We share the opinion that BRICS should be proactive in these processes. I would like to remind you that the group’s countries occupy over a third of the world’s land area where 45 percent of the global population live. Their joint GDP exceeds that of the G7 countries. In 2023, when BRICS only had five members, it was over 32 percent of the global GDP.

Everyone has the facts proving that BRICS countries are driving the global economy in many spheres. According to various estimates, the average economic growth figures in BRICS countries this year remain substantially higher than the world average.

The programme of Russia’s chairmanship incudes about 200 events, 70 of which have already been held, including in in priority fields such as nuclear medicine, climate change, sustainable development, peaceful space exploration. We held the BRICS Film Festival in April and the BRICS Academic Forum in May. Today, we will open a meeting of education ministers and tomorrow BRICS Sports Games will kick off in Kazan. These are but a few of the events we will hold within the framework of our BRICS chairmanship.

As per the agreements reached at the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in 2023, we have reviewed the efforts to coordinate the modalities of the new category, BRICS partner countries. It is notable that the number of countries wishing to join in our efforts continues to grow and is now about 30. All our friends in the group understand that we must provide a positive answer to this demand.  We will continue working in this sphere. We will prepare our recommendations for the summit that will be held in Kazan on October 22−24, 2024. We are aware of our partners’ support, and we are ready to continue working to strengthen the entire range of our projects, from security policy to the economy, finance and cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Following the BRICS meeting held yesterday, we have adopted an in-depth and explicit Joint Statement, which reflects the group countries’ stands on current international issues in the spirit of the assessments I have mentioned here. It is highly satisfying that our work in the expanded format went smoothly. All participants tried to reach consensus even on the most complicated issues reflected in the text.

I would recommend all media representatives to due regard to that Joint Statement in their reports from Nizhny Novgorod and the subsequent analysis of the result of our activities.

I am ready to answer your questions. However, before we start the interactive part of our conversation, I would like to once again express gratitude to the administration of the Nizhny Novgorod Region and the city of Nizhny Novgorod, as well as personally to the region’s governor for a warm welcome and assistance in the brilliant organisation of the meeting. Everyone pointed this out in their statements today.”

Question: Foreign Minister of Hungary Peter Szijjarto said in his eloquent address at the Baku Energy Forum that the current conflicts around the world provoked the creation of confronting blocs. We previously spoke about the departure of global hegemony, but we see that the world is moving from a unipolar to a bipolar world order. Is this possible today? What should be done to preserve the principle of multipolarity, including in BRICS?

Sergey Lavrov: Multipolarity does not depend on the desire of one country or a group of countries. Multipolarity or polycentrism, as we call it, is an objective historical process that cannot be stopped, even though the West is using every trick in the book to slow it down so as to prolong its hegemony, which has been declared the main goal of the United States and its allies. They have no scruples to say that the world order dominated by America, NATO and the EU must not be allowed to change. It is a blatantly neo-colonial mentality. You can see it in all actions of the collective West, which is trying to divide the world into blocs. You may remember that in the past few years the Americans convened special summits for democracy to which they invited carefully chosen participants. The only criterion for receiving invitations is loyalty to the United States or more precisely, to the Democratic administration of Joe Biden. All other countries were marked as autocracies. Another example of the division of the world into blocs is the infamous statement by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell that Europe is a garden and the rest of the world is a jungle. Neither will we forget a statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said that if you are not at the table in the international system [ that is, if you do not choose “democratic values”], you’re going to be on the menu. I do not remember hearing a more racist and neo-colonial statement. In other words, BRICS is not separating itself from the world. Quite the contrary, it has developed as a group of countries that are concerned about justice on the international stage.

BRICS is not pretending to be a pole. There will be many more poles in the polycentric world. Today, we spoke about the integration processes unfolding primarily in Eurasia as the fastest growing continent. I am referring to the SCO, EAEU, ASEAN, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the CIS, and a number of other integration associations. They have established ties between themselves and are starting to harmonise their moves on concurring agendas.  

We see similar processes on the African continent, where the African Union is acquiring increasingly more powers to organise life across the continent and in the member countries. In Latin America, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is getting its second wind, particularly with account taken of the pro-active role played by President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.  There are also a number of subregional integration organisations that prioritise self-reliance and are unwilling to depend on whims and double standards used by the West within the framework of its decades-old global architecture. I am referring to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organisation. The West has been abusing these mechanisms to achieve its selfish aims, including by using double standards. Everyone is unwilling to become dependent on this US-controlled mechanism. The Americans are grossly misusing it by introducing sanctions, threatening recalcitrants, forcing everyone to join illegal sanctions, and much else. The globalisation processes, which seemed to unite the world not so long ago, are being fragmented into regional processes, which make it possible to protect and securitise participating countries’ trade, economic, financial, or investment projects from the free-wheeling, negative and subversive interference from the outside.     

This is an objective process. BRICS, which includes countries from all regions of the Global Majority, has every opportunity to assist these regional integration unions in structuring their projects and programmes, while gradually harmonising their work. At the global level, our association may well play the role of a mild integrator that does not dictate its approaches and seeks to pool natural projects and procedures in various parts of the world. This does not mean that BRICS is isolating itself from the West. We are still able to communicate at the UN, although even there the Americans and their allies are trying in every way to substitute certain ideas they formulate in their narrow circle for collective work. Later, they would attempt to impose those ideas on others through the secretariats of international organisations that are heavily dependent on them. But, I repeat, we do have a venue in case the West realises that its efforts to keep its hegemony by blackmail, illegal sanctions, ultimatums, and even military force are doomed to fail. I hope this will happen sometime in the future, although I do not expect it soon.  But if that takes place after all and the West becomes aware of the need to have an equitable dialogue with the rest of the world, I assure you that both the BRICS members and other Global Majority countries will be ready to reciprocate. Of course, it will be necessary to coordinate terms, on which this dialogue will have to be held.   Yet, we do not need to invent anything. There is the UN Charter, which says that the United Nations is based on the principle of sovereign equality of states.   It is only this that will enable the West to become a law-abiding member of the international community. In the meantime, countries that are ready for equitable work are involved in it within their own circle.

Question: There were some reports about Iran-Russia comprehensive cooperation agreement that has been suspended. The Iranian authorities have reiterated that Iran-Russia ties and relations will not change, and we know that the late Iranian President did a lot to strengthen the ties. I want to know what your comment on that is?

Sergey Lavrov: To answer your question on the state cooperation agreement between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran, so far, we have yet to reach a point where it can be signed, even if we have already coordinated its text in its entirety. However, in order for us to submit it for approval and signing by our presidents, the Islamic Republic of Iran must carry out several procedural and legislative initiatives on matters which have already been set forth in this treaty. Iran has yet to fulfil this task.

During the meeting with Acting Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Bagheri Kani, we reaffirmed our commitment to this document. It aims to elevate the Russia-Iran relations to a new level. We can achieve this objective as soon as our Iranian colleagues attend to the procedural matters, as I have just mentioned.

Question: You mentioned Palestine and the international security. What do you think that the BRICS group can do specifically in order to strengthen international security and to stop the war in Gaza? Of course, you mentioned that it has left nearly more than 37,000 Palestinians dead, and which is currently the world’s most important security issue.

Sergey Lavrov: As I have already said in my opening remarks, we paid special attention to the tragedy unfolding in the Gaza Strip when discussing international matters. In fact, we condemned the October 7, 2023, terrorist attack, and immediately followed up by speaking out against the methods Israel has been using in response to Hamas’ actions. These methods are unacceptable.

You have mentioned the 37,000 Palestinians who have lost their lives, with women and children accounting for over a half of this figure. About 100,000 people were wounded. It goes without saying that this is unacceptable.

We proceed from the premise that this operation must stop immediately by ensuring a ceasefire, while taking prompt action to address severe humanitarian issues. After that, there must be an immediate push without any delays to start implementing UN decisions to establish a Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel and its other neighbours in peace and security.

Russia was the first to submit a draft resolution along these lines to the UN Security Council. Arab and African countries have made similar attempts. But all these attempts were blocked, with the only exception of a resolution calling for a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan. At least we managed to adopt it after the US refrained from exercising its veto power. However, they said that it would be a non-binding resolution.

Only yesterday, the Security Council adopted another resolution, drafted by the United States and alleging that Hamas and Israel have reached a deal to start by declaring a ceasefire for a specific period, while also freeing hostages in exchange for releasing Palestinians from Israeli prisons. The resolution also describes the second and subsequent steps, and also contains provisions dealing with humanitarian matters.

We tried to make sure that this agreement is real, only to be told that the resolution stipulates that Hamas and Israel agree on this point. However, when the UN Security Council met to adopt this resolution, the Israeli delegation did not mention any kind of agreement in its remarks. The Israeli delegate said that Israel would not take part in endless and futile talks while sticking with the Prime Minister’s goal of destroying Hamas. What a sad turn of events.

Yesterday and today, the BRICS countries spoke out in a single voice in favour of taking immediate action to pressure Israel to stop the bloodshed which has evolved into a major tragedy. We remain committed to this vision. The international community must use all political and legal tools at its disposal to achieve this aim.

Question: At yesterday’s meeting, Mr Wang Yi referred to BRICS as a “big golden brick,” translated literally. We see how the West often “throws bricks” at the emerging centres of the future multipolar world and uses bricks to construct sanction walls. Despite this, there are shared interests between our countries and the West, particularly in addressing global challenges. How can we use our bricks to build a bridge to encourage Western countries to move toward cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe you are well aware that we are not the ones isolating ourselves from the West or building walls, both figuratively and literally, as is currently being done along the borders with the Russian Federation by several North Atlantic Alliance members. We are not the ones dividing the world into blocs or declaring that those who disagree with us will face consequences. All of this is occurring at the initiative of our Western colleagues.

I won’t reiterate, but this behaviour seems ingrained in their nature. After 500 years of global dominance and a long history of showing complete disrespect for the great civilisations that existed before the West took control – such as the Ottoman, Chinese, Indian, and Arab civilisations – our Western colleagues are not interested in building any bridges. They use bricks solely to construct walls and, as you mentioned, to hit those who do not comply with their dictates.

As I have mentioned, we are not isolating ourselves from the West. However, the West must realise that its current behaviour will only lead to ongoing confrontation. Presently, within the BRICS framework and other integration associations, processes are underway that will shield the rest of the world from the excesses and aggression of the Western powers that still dominate the international market.

The People’s Republic of China and we were constructing a bridge across the Amur River, each of us building our respective half. For the construction to commence, the same process needs to begin on the other side. Building your half in the hope that it might eventually benefit someone, however, seems to be an unproductive use of physical and mental energy.

The West has built a wall separating itself from the rest of the world. If it chooses, it can tear down this wall and explain to us the terms under which it is willing to rejoin the civilised world and engage in civilised communication. Then we will see.

Question: What is Moscow’s opinion of the recent Israeli raid to free hostages from Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp, which claimed at least 250 Palestinian lives?

Is Russia preparing new proposals on a settlement in the Middle East? You recently mentioned plans for a meeting with five Arab colleagues in Moscow soon.

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the first part of the question, our reaction is the same as to the October 7, 2023 terrorist attack and the methods Israel used in response to it. I consider it unacceptable when hundreds of innocent lives are sacrificed to save people.

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan have taken part in the talks of various formats on liberating hostages. We took part in these efforts too, not only on behalf of Russian citizens but also the citizens of other countries. These efforts have produced certain results. This group of what can be described as intermediaries between Hamas and Israel probably knows better than many others what problems should be solved for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

We have put forth our position on numerus occasions, including in draft UN Security Council resolutions. It boils down to an immediate ceasefire and a cessation of hostilities without any time limits, the liberation of all Palestinians held in Israel, addressing all immediate humanitarian problems, and the unconditional resumption of talks on the establishment of a Palestinian state.

We have held intra-Palestinian meetings in Moscow. We did it several times, the last time in late February and early March 2024. All Palestinian groups attended them, including Hamas and Fatah. The first meeting was crowned with the signing of a joint statement in which all parties, including Hamas, expressed readiness to unite all Palestinians on the basis of the platform of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. This never happened before.

We advance our initiatives on restoring Palestinian unity because only united Palestine can be a party at the talks aimed at achieving the best possible result. This will hardly be possible when Palestinians remain disunited. Ideas about the future of Gaza have been expressed without Palestinians. They provide for creating a protectorate of Arab countries, deploying peacekeeping forces, or declaring that these territories are governed by the Palestinian National Authority. These initiatives are being promoted by external players. The Palestinians themselves are disunited and depend on external sponsors.

Our idea was to bring together all external sponsors, all counties that influence in any way, finance or help various Palestinian groups to coordinate an agreement and eliminate differences between these external players, so that they would unite and urge Palestinians to stop playing on nuances in the external players’ positions but to join forces at talks and to work towards the recognition of their rights at the UN.

We are ready to continue doing this. But the current focus in on stopping the tragedy. As soon as this goal is achieved, the crucial element of our long-term line in this area will be supporting the movement for the creation of a Palestinian state in full compliance with UN resolutions.

Question: Earlier you said that Moscow regards NATO’s nuclear weapons as a single arsenal aimed at the Russian Federation. Is it possible to imagine a situation where the West will have to take into account the joint nuclear potential of Russia, China and North Korea?

Sergey Lavrov: At a certain stage, the United States, that has undermined all the basic preconditions that had made New START possible, wanted to make us believe that the war it is carrying out against Russia by the hands of the Ukrainians must not be an obstacle to resuming the dialogue on strategic stability.

When we were explaining to our American colleagues that in a situation when Russia has been declared the target of the entire North Atlantic Alliance, an enemy that needs to be strategically defeated on the battlefield, we said that after the entire NATO have united against us, we will not be able to ignore the nuclear arsenals of France and Britain, which are in the forefront of NATO members in anti-Russia actions, when it comes to resuming talks about strategic stability, though it is not going to happen soon.

As for the arsenals of China and North Korea, as well as Russia’s strategic arsenal, we are by no means a union. The only thing we have in common is that all the three countries have been declared targets of the United States and its allies’ aggressive policy. As for Russia, this goes without saying. We also see how tensions around Taiwan in the South China Sea are escalating, and how China is literally being provoked into making sudden movements on the Korean Peninsula.

We can see an alliance being formed between the US, South Korea, and Japan. They conduct exercises, adding more and more nuclear components into these maneuvers. The situations are not identical. But the fact that we are strictly against playing the card of nuclear provocations was convincingly stated by President Vladimir Putin at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Question: In what context was Ukraine discussed at the Foreign Ministers Meeting? You have already noted the organisation of the event here, in the capital of the Volga Region. What did you manage to see outside of the business programme? Our region has strong and warm relations with the BRICS countries as part of our trade relations and, of course, social and cultural contacts. All Nizhny Novgorod residents would like to ask you to come and visit us more often.

Sergey Lavrov: You have so many temptations outside the business programme that I cannot list them all. The city and the people are amazing. There was such a kind and hospitable atmosphere wherever we went – on the streets and embankments – that all our foreign guests without exception fell in love with the city, its people, its beautiful landscapes and with how you keep it so attractive.

We spoke a lot with Nizhny Novgorod Region Governor Gleb Nikitin. It is clear that he is devoted to the city and the region and that he and his team are doing a lot for the city and the region to prosper.

In the final communique on Ukraine, all the participants confirmed their positions presented, for example, during the discussion of the matter at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. There is nothing else there. In their remarks, some of the countries (not the majority) mentioned Ukraine exclusively in the context of departing from any unilateral initiatives and instead promoting settlement by means other than holding exclusive get-togethers like the one which will open in Switzerland in a few days. It has been announced that the event will focus on discussing a completely futile and worthless dead-end Zelensky peace formula, with no other alternative.

Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi and Foreign Minister of Brazil Mauro Vieira noted that it is important to find a new basis for promoting a settlement, a basis that would be acceptable to the parties involved. Clearly, without the permission of the United States, Vladimir Zelensky’s regime will do nothing. It simply has no right to do anything.

We talked about this during bilateral meetings with our Chinese and Brazilian colleagues. We value the initiatives that have been proposed by the People’s Republic of China, Brazil, the South African Republic and the League of Arab States. A special delegation from the League of Arab States visited us soon after the launch of the special military operation. We can see that their initiatives are a sincere expression of goodwill and willingness to help find a pathway to achieving a fair settlement.

I have already noted that in China’s ideas last year, the ideas as put forth by China and Brazil, a fair amount of attention was paid to the primary causes of the deep security crisis in the Euro-Atlantic Region – and to removing these causes. It was also stressed that it is unacceptable to divide the world into blocs – this is a reference to the first question during the news conference today. Neither political nor economic blocs bring anything good. In its proposals, China emphasised the need to find a solution based on actually implementing the principle of indivisible security for all the interested parties.

We often hear calls for talks, including from our colleagues in Asia, Africa and Latin America. President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly commented on the matter. Not only were we ready for talks, we completed them in April 2022 in Istanbul. We initialled a document that would end the hostilities. As you know, the Ukrainian participants admitted that the English, the Americans and other puppeteers – let’s call them what they are – did not let them sign the document.

I would ask those, who are currently promoting negotiation initiatives, to consider two key points. First, in September 2022, Vladimir Zelensky signed an order banning all Ukrainian officials from negotiating with Vladimir Putin’s government. Additionally, in early May 2024, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine issued an official statement declaring that Ukraine does not recognise Vladimir Putin as a democratically elected legitimate president. Secondly, those advocating initiatives and emphasising the indivisibility of security, the inadmissibility of creating blocs, and the importance of understanding root causes must fully consider that in Ukraine, the Russian language is completely banned by law. This ban flagrantly violates all conceivable international conventions on the rights of national minorities. The Russian language is banned in education, media, culture, and even in everyday communication. Speaking Russian to a vendor or a waiter there can lead to serious trouble.

Another related point is the legislative endorsement and practical implementation of Nazi ideology, including the glorification of individuals condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Our colleagues in various countries sincerely advocate for initiating negotiation processes, by just halting the hostilities and beginning dialogue. Is it some artificial precondition to demand respect for the rights of such a significant national minority as Russians in Ukraine? I don’t believe so. It is crucial to bring the Ukrainian regime back into the legal framework adhered to by all responsible and decent members of the global community. President Vladimir Putin has also addressed this issue on multiple occasions.

I believe that simply ignoring this situation and returning to the negotiating table as if nothing has happened would be wrong. Furthermore, in our discreet contacts that had, we have observed that no one in the West wants to acknowledge the Nazi and Russophobic sentiments and practices of this regime. Not only does the West fail to acknowledge these issues, but it actively encourages the Ukrainian state to maintain this stance, potentially exploiting the Kiev regime further in the war with Russia.

In essence, the goal is akin to that of Adolf Hitler and, before him, Napoleon – to unify all of Europe and consequently defeat the Russian people and state. I came across an intriguing idea yesterday. Mr John Kirby, White House National Security Communications Advisor, mentioned in a recent interview that, as President Biden has emphasised, they are committed to providing Ukraine with the necessary capabilities for self-defence. Moreover, crucially, the United States is not seeking a third world war, given the severe implications it would have for the European continent.

Here is how the United States perceives Europe: the US believes that if it provokes a nuclear war (which they are actively doing), only Europe will suffer. Historically, as in the first and second world wars, they expect to emerge as the victor. This mindset reflects the philosophy and mentality of current US policymakers, and consequently, those who lead Ukraine.


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