Sergey Lavrov: “The West should wait until this madness subsides… When they think they are ready, they should come to us. We will listen to them and respond, but our reaction will depend…”

21:00 29.06.2024 •

Photo: MFA

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Primakov Readings International Forum, Moscow, June 26, 2024:

“Mr Dynkin,


Your Excellencies,


I am happy to be able to address you at the 10th Primakov Readings forum. Your respected platform traditionally brings together politicians, experts, diplomats, academics and public figures from many countries. This reflects the general demand for a free discussion of current issues and is evidence of deep respect for the late Yevgeny Primakov.

This year, we will mark the 95th birthday anniversary of Yevgeny Primakov. He has left us an invaluable political, academic and diplomatic heritage. His striking sagacity and diverse professional experience helped him forecast the main global development trends for decades ahead. Many people saw the early 1990s as “the end of history” and an irreversible turn to unipolarity. But it was in that period that Yevgeny Primakov formulated and actively promoted the concept of multipolarity, which was absolutely revolutionary.

He also did it when he assumed the post of foreign minister at the beginning of 1996. He not only developed that concept but also started implementing it. Few of our foreign partners were ready to consider, let alone accept that concept. In this connection, I would like to express special gratitude to our Chinese colleagues and friends who shared Primakov’s ideas back then and were thinking in the same vein.

In 1997, the similarity of Russian and Chinese views was formalised in the  Russian-Chinese Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order. These words sound familiar today, but back in 1997 they caused divided reactions. It was the first foreign policy document on multipolarity in history.

The current global situation shows that Yevgeny Primakov was absolutely right. We are witnessing the development of a fairer multipolar and polycentric architecture. This objective process has been accelerated by the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine in 2022.

The rise of multipolarity is based on the nations’ striving to ensure their rights and the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world. It is related to the objective strengthening of economic and geopolitical positions of the Global South and East countries and the Global Majority as a whole.

Those whose business is to analyse international developments cannot disregard the fact that more and more countries in Eurasia, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are trying to pursue a more independent foreign policy. They are working hard, step by step, to get rid of the persisting influence of the Western minority, which continues to uphold its egoistic interests and is trying to live at the expense of other countries, just as it did in the colonial past. The principles of “reginal solutions to reginal problems” is becoming increasingly more topical. More and more countries, regions and organisations have accepted it and have joined their voices in calling for more democratic international relations.

The past few decades in the history of the world proved Yevgeny Primakov’s wisdom. In fact, this history followed its own cycles. Looking back, we can argue that it was natural for international affairs to periodically switch into a multipolar mode. In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia gave rise to a multipolar order of sorts based on the principles of a European equilibrium and state sovereignty. The so-called European Concert of the 19th and early 20th centuries followed the same logic. We must also mention the Yalta-Potsdam system, which resulted from World War II. It also had a multipolar vision at its core. Five winning powers became permanent members of the UN Security Council by undertaking to bear special responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. This was what they signed up to when approving the UN Charter.

If we look at the world history from a different perspective, it teaches us that whenever any country seeks to assert its global hegemony and secure unrivalled military and political dominance, this invariably leads to tragic consequences for the state in question, as well as for its rulers, not to mention the scourges and disasters resulting from the policies to achieve hegemony. We must recall the human costs resulting from the criminal and reckless undertakings by Napoleon’s France and the Nazi regime in Germany. They nurtured the vain hope of ruling Europe and the whole world by subjugating Europe in its entirety and directing it as a single force to fight our country as its primary objective.

Every multipolar era was special and unique in its own way. And the current period is not an exception. The fact that the international system now covers the entire world is what makes all the difference with the preceding periods. There are now centres of power and development outside of Europe and outside of the Western world. This can be viewed as the positive results of the decolonisation process, which started in mid-20th century. The Soviet Union took part in it.

Today, Russia and like-minded countries call for injecting maximum momentum into efforts to complete this process, while also advocating a new strategic initiative to free the developing world from neo-colonialism in its present-day forms.

This was the topic of a forum, which took place in February 2023. Held by the United Russia party together with its partners from the ruling and non-ruling parties representing the countries of the Global Majority, this event resulted in a resolution to establish a movement called For the Freedom of Nations. European capitals and the United States have recognised that the ongoing shifts in the balance of global power have not benefited the West. However, while political observers have been clear-eyed about the ongoing developments, their vision has yet to materialise. In fact, the countries of the collective West are not yet ready to proceed in their relations with other international actors from the principles of equality, mutual benefit and to comply with the international law in general.

There is a feeling that the ruling elite in the United States has not learned the lesson from the multiple foreign policy and military failures it experienced over the past years. It maintains its misguided faith in American exceptionalism and does not spend a day without trying to auto-persuade itself that this is way things are. But this is just an illusion, and we have seen this before many times. There is no doubt that the policy to preserve this hegemony, no matter the cost, will fail. Even if the United States retains the status as one of the global centres of power in the foreseeable future, which is quite possible, this does not mean preserving the US-led world order.

Yevgeny Primakov noted in his book Russia in the Modern World: Past, Present, Future: “The people drafting American foreign policy are not taking into account the distinction between the United States’ special role in a multipolar system and a unipolar world with the United States as the only centre.” This is the distinction between leadership and dictatorship. The trends and aspirations revealed in the Biden administration’s practical policy are nothing new, including their patently unsuccessful idea to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia or their naïve desire to concurrently contain Moscow and Beijing, and now also the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The only novelty, perhaps, is the non-independent, servile position of the leaders of big, respected European states with rich traditions of autonomy in international affairs and awareness of their own national dignity. President of Russia Vladimir Putin said in his address at the Foreign Ministry on June 14: “Sometimes, I get the impression that European politicians and representatives of the European bureaucracy are more afraid of falling out of favour with Washington than losing the trust of their own people.”

The United States is already openly shifting the costs of fighting Russia to its European vassals, enabling its defence companies to make money. They are getting European economies “hooked” on expensive liquefied natural gas from overseas, in fact, forcing European businesses to relocate facilities over there to cut costs. This is already happening on a fairly large scale.

Berlin deliberately rejected its mutually beneficial energy cooperation with Russia, which significantly accelerated the process of Germany losing its status as an industrial superpower. This is not my assessment, in fact; it is a quote from Bloomberg’s February 2024 review. This is one of the many signs of Germany’s plunge down the list of the world’s leading economies.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was also being forced to refrain from opening the Nord Stream gas pipelines. The project was nearing completion and some of the lines could already be used to pump gas. But the Americans banned her from doing it. I know from reliable sources that she put up a resistance, telling them that shifting to LNG would be too costly because regasification terminals would have to be built. She was told that she had to make sacrifices for the noble cause of fighting “Russian authoritarianism” – and that was even before the special military operation. They proposed raising taxes, assuring her that German taxpayers were all-enduring.

Under the new conditions, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz went to Washington just a few days after the Nord Stream explosions. After speaking with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, he shamefully ran away from journalists without saying a word, realising he would inevitably be asked for an assessment of that act of (we say “terror,” but they prefer the term “sabotage”). After the start of the special military operation, [journalists] pointed out to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (a representative of the German elite) that raising taxes to help Ukraine wage war would not be taken well in society. She said she knew that her voters were having a hard time but that they had to be patient so that the West could save Ukraine from Russia – and she meant that absolutely seriously. Recently, Olaf Scholz said something in the same vein when he was informed about the declining popularity of Germany’s stance on Ukraine in German society.

We are interested in just one thing: threats to Russian security should stop emanating from the West. Our interest was much broader and more comprehensive, but the West is not ready for mutually beneficial and equitable cooperation. Everyone already comprehends its intractability. When the West has to do something on orders from someone – in this particular case, from Washington – it annuls any agreements and violates international law. After comprehending the extent to which the West is unprepared for honest collaboration and realising that this is currently impossible, we are now interested in just one thing: threats to Russian security should stop emanating from the West. Our neighbours on the western tip of Eurasia could have become a centre of an emerging multipolar world order. Someday, they will change their mind and realise that their line, implemented on orders from Washington, is leading them into a blind alley.

In his remarks at the Russian Foreign Ministry on June 14, 2024, President of Russia Vladimir Putin said: “If Europe wants to continue being an independent centre of global development and a cultural and civilisational pole on our planet, it should definitely maintain good and friendly relations with Russia. Most importantly, we are ready for this.”

I hope that they have heard us. But I repeat, efforts to thwart threats to our security from Europe, dominated by non-Europeans, is our absolute priority at the current stage.

Attempts by the historical West to perpetuate unilateral advantages and to address its problems at the expense of the Global Majority’s states also explain its line aiming to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia in Ukraine and to eliminate a rival. Western countries want to punish Russia, and they want to use our example to intimidate everyone who conducts, or intends to conduct, an independent foreign policy and who prioritises national interests, rather than the whims of former colonial empires.

All these vain attempts have no future and are already yielding a diametrically opposite effect. The West’s inadequate and embittered reaction to Russian efforts aiming to defend its legitimate interests has convinced the international community that no one is immune from the confiscation of assets in Western jurisdictions and from other “cowboy-style” actions if anyone displays even the slightest semblance of independence.

For many decades, the United States and its allies promoted concepts that globalisation benefits everyone, that it allegedly reduces outlays, improves people’s well-being, and that all one has to do is entrust oneself to market forces, fair and scrupulous competition, respect sacred property rights and the presumption of innocence. They tried to convince everyone of this. I recall statements from the White House that the dollar was not US property but rather a common asset, the energy of the global economy, and that everyone was entitled to evenly distributed and equitable profits.

We have seen how these incantations, solemn and pathetic words were sacrificed overnight to the policy of punishing Russia in this case. Anyone, however, may be next. The Global Majority is taking increasingly frequent and active efforts to reduce its dependence on Western currencies. To this end they take practical steps, making new transport corridors and developing mechanisms of foreign trade operations as well as alternative supply chains uncontrolled by the West. They build new infrastructure, including for cooperation in education, culture and sports, because the West has attempted and continues to take these areas under its exclusive control and use them in its neocolonial interests.

If the leading circles of the West continue to destabilise the situation in the world under these circumstances (and that’s what they are doing), then it raises the question: how should all the rest get on? How can dangerous rivalry be avoided to establish a respectful interstate dialogue, above all between the key globally meaningful decision-making centres? We can clearly see this question. I will try to formulate our approaches.

The United Nations and its Security Council have been an indispensable platform for joint work even in the dreariest years of the cold war, based on the principles of international communication enshrined in the UN Charter, including sovereign equality of states, non-interference in the internal affairs, the right of peoples to self-determination, and respect for sovereignty. All these principles are still as relevant today as ever. But they should not be fulfilled selectively choosing what one likes at the moment from the Charter, like from a menu; they should be fulfilled in their entirety and interconnection.

We cannot accept the fact that an absolutely open and transparent expression of Crimean residents’ will was rejected by the Westerners under the pretext that it allegedly violated territorial integrity. In Kosovo, the West decided to declare establishment of an independent state without any expression of the will, thereby destroying the territorial integrity of Serbia. Without blinking they stated that the principle of people’s self-determination can well be applied there. Such examples abound.

Life does not stand still. We need to continue our efforts to reform the United Nations and adapt it to today’s multipolar realities. This is not easy, given that over the years the West has managed to subjugate virtually the entire UN Secretariat. And this is a fact. If we talk about major UN bodies, the balance of power and interests is different today than it was 80 years ago, when the Second World War was coming to an end. The reform of the Security Council has become overdue. It is important to realise that the only step in this reform should be to eliminate historical injustice and expand the presence of Asian, African and Latin American countries in this organisation. The West is already heavily overrepresented there.

We advocate making maximum use of the G20's unifying potential, which includes the G7 countries (which have long since become a less influential club) and dynamically developing world centres, primarily the BRICS countries and their like-minded partners. It is important that this platform (which is not universal, unlike the UN) includes the world’s leading economies and leading countries in terms of political influence. This is also a test for the West to see to what extent it will be able to respectfully and equitably seek a balance of interests in this format, rather than push through its approaches, which are confined in the G20 to blatant attempts to Ukrainianise everything and everyone.

In 2023, the G20 summit adopted New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, which stopped Western attempts and emphasised that there are many conflicts in the world in terms of geopolitics, the vast majority of them unleashed in the interests or with the direct involvement of Western countries. On this basis, let’s talk honestly.

I would like to draw attention to the fact that the BRICS is expanding, enjoying more and more authority and appeal on the part of the World Majority countries. With the accession of five members, our aggregate potential has substantially increased. When discussing world economy problems in the G20, we are ready to solve them on the basis of the specific real weight that the G7 has, on the one hand, and the BRICS countries, on the other.

If this is how we should approach the activities of international monetary and financial trade institutions, then a reform of the voting system in the International Monetary Fund should have taken place long ago. It is artificially restrained by the United States, which seeks to keep its voting package at a level that allows it to veto any decisions. For the same reasons the United States blocked the operation of the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement body since 2011, when it realised that China was beating its competitor on the American home field according to their rules in economic terms, and naturally appealed to the WTO with relevant complaints. The Americans blocked the appointment of new members to this body. There is no quorum there. Since 2011, the WTO has been helpless with respect to the aggressive protectionism and discriminatory policies of the United States and its allies.

In addition to BRICS as a global association which attracts the leading countries of the Global Majority, the role of regional entities is on the rise as well. We are particularly interested in Eurasia and the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the SCO, the EAEU, the CSTO and the CIS. We have been focusing for a long time now on having these entities interact with one another. Contacts have been established, and joint events are being held in order to harmonise their programmes and projects towards achieving what President Vladimir Putin called the Greater Eurasian Partnership, without imposing anything on anyone. This is a promising economic, macroeconomic and geoeconomic project. Considering the circumstances, with the military and political security high on this list of our priorities, it is important to promote in Eurasia the regional security system that meets the interests of all and relies on the principles of equality where each country’s position is treated with respect.

The European security system which dominated our multilateral approach to international affairs during the past decades, including in the late 1990s after the breakup of the Soviet Union, was built on the Euro-Atlantic logic. For example, the OSCE includes the countries of Europe, the United States and Canada. Everyone is clear that Washington did everything to make the Western European portion of the OSCE obey it and follow in its steps. There was the Russia-NATO Council. Many, including Yevgeny Primakov, who was directly involved in creating it and working out the language of the Russia-NATO Founding Act bet heavily on it. It was built according to the Euro-Atlantic paradigm as well. The Council had mechanisms for combatting terrorism and cooperating on settlement in Afghanistan, and much more.

We had a particularly ramified interaction with the European Union with four common spaces, about 30 sector-specific dialogues, regular meetings, and biannual summits, to name a few. All of this was chopped up overnight. I categorise Russia's erstwhile ties with the EU as part of the Euro-Atlantic security system, because the EU has long since ceased to be independent in the full sense of the word, especially so after the coup in Ukraine, the Crimea residents taking the vote and Donbass making it clear it would not recognise the putschist government. Since then, everything has been torn down, and the EU has largely become a conduit for the US interests.

That is why we are talking about the Eurasian system. Back in February, in his Address to the Federal Assembly, and on June 14 speaking in our Ministry, President Vladimir Putin confirmed the importance of creating a Eurasian collective security, which should be owned by this rich and vast continent - the centre of global growth – but, on the other hand, not fencing off other regions. Not in the sense of letting external players in this system. They will waste no time putting their feet on the table and trying to assume leadership. We are talking about other continents with the African Union, CELAC, ASEAN (part of Eurasia) and other entities. Fully cognisant of the importance of taking their future into their own hands and relying on their own growth models and the interests of their own people, they will work to establish contacts among themselves.

In this sense, BRICS can play the role of an umbrella, which, at the global level, is willing to help harmonise integration processes across different regions. They should be cleansed from the intrigues and reckless schemes concocted by external players. Through its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, NATO claims they still are a defence alliance and serve to protect the territory of its member countries. However, Euro-Atlantic security and, as they say, “Indo-Pacific” security are inseparable and indivisible. Considering this, in order for them to protect the territory of the North Atlantic Alliance, they allegedly need to deploy infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, and embroil some of the ASEAN countries, such as Japan and South Korea, into their blocs (such as AUKUS). In other words, they plan to rule eastern Eurasia again just like they are ruling western Eurasia now.

Our policies are non-confrontational and do not aim to undermine anyone’s interests. We strive to uphold the legitimate interests of all Eurasian countries. This approach is consistent with the global security initiative put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which also relies on the principle of equal and indivisible security.

As the CSTO Chair last year, the Republic of Belarus advanced the initiative of a conference on Eurasian security, during which it was proposed to draft a Eurasian Charter of Diversity and Multipolarity in the 21st Century. It should comprise the framework principles of Eurasian architecture based on the fundamental norms of international law and the UN Charter, and set out the strategic contours of multipolarity and multilateralism that would reflect the new geopolitical realities.

We discussed this in Minsk with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, Foreign Minister Sergey Aleinik and the speakers of the National Assembly of Belarus. As President Putin said at his inauguration ceremony on May 7, 2024, our goal is to continue working together with our partners in Eurasian integration and other sovereign development centres to build a multipolar world and an equal and indivisible security system.

The majority of countries worldwide share this objective. It is based on respect for the right of nations to independently choose their future and on a desire to build international relations on broad and equal international cooperation. The concepts of rivalry between great powers and the artificial division of countries into “democracies” and “autocracies,” which the West is trying to add to the agenda, do not reflect the aspirations of the Global Majority and must be condemned to oblivion.

Question: The agenda of the Primakov Readings forum did not include a panel on European affairs for the first time this year. But you devoted a lot of attention to it. Many years ago, journalists raised the issue of the “Finlandisation” of Europe. Opinions on it may differ, but its meaning is clear. I believe that today we are witnessing the “Estonianisation” of Europe, including in light of the latest appointments in the EU bodies. Would you comment on this?

Sergey Lavrov: I was not speaking so much on European issues as on Eurasian affairs. I tried to explain our previous slant towards the European part of Eurasia, which was, incidentally, quite sincere during the last period of the Soviet Union and the first 15 years in the history of modern Russia.

Why are we no longer satisfied with it? The partners we made in the OSCE bodies, the Russia-NATO Council and the EU turned out to be untrustworthy, unscrupulous and unable to honour agreements. Acting at the snap of their overseas master’s fingers, they did their utmost to undermine our legitimate interests and neglect their commitments.

It was s short explanation of why we are now focused on implementing our development concept together with our neighbours and like-minded countries in the Eurasian context. It does not rule out the involvement of our neighbours in the Western part of the continent when they come to their senses and outgrow their greatness disease.

As for the “Finlandisation” of Europe, I remember that period very well. It was an element of euphoria that developed after the end of the Cold War, when everyone was considered a friend, and ideology was abandoned everywhere. We remember that foreign specialists worked in the majority of our government bodies, including the Central Bank, and how decisions were taken, in particular on privatisation. Not that it was outright humiliation, but we did put the lid on our own desires and suppressed our pride. At that time, the Russian authorities believed that the West would help us out.

Yevgeny Primakov’s appointment to the post of foreign minister and his subsequent work in the Government created a watershed in the public mind. He worked hard to reawaken our society’s understanding of our own identity, history and mission in Eurasia. He promoted the idea of multipolarity and created the Russia-India-China (RIC) troika. It does not meet often, but we are planning to hold a RIC conference. RIC is the progenitor of BRICS, which means that Primakov’s cause lives on.

The “Finlandisation” of Europe did not catch on. Americans prevented Europe from becoming an independent player operating on the principles of neutrality, even though many European countries were NATO members. But at that time the term “Finlandisation” meant that NATO countries should honestly cooperate with Russia, and that the sides should not pose threat to each other. Today, we see the “Estonianisation” of Europe. The most ardent Russophobes have been chosen for leading posts in the EU. This is regrettable. President of France Emmanuel Macron was known for talking about “strategic autonomy,” meaning that they would decide everything themselves and become independent players. This brings a rueful smile to our faces.

Question: My question to you, Sir, is about the future of globalisation. We have seen how globalisation has hit numerous roadblocks. All the vectors of globalisation are under stress. And we have seen particularly how economic globalisation has come to a standstill as a result of the weaponisation of trade and technology in particular. We have seen how political globalisation is snagged in the differences in UN-led multilateral structures, and there is no consensus on anything. We have also seen how cultural civilisation is hitting new roadblocks and there are headwinds because no one is willing to accept the ideas of others. In other words, how would you see globalisation going forward from here? Is there a chance that peace can be restored, that stability can return and that we can return to the path of normal globalisation?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already mentioned this topic in my introductory remarks. The United States engineered the globalisation process and all the others, including our country at the initial stage, believed in this vision, but it has broken down. All its mechanisms, the assumptions it was based on and the holy cows underpinning it – they all fell prey to the efforts to defeat Russia on the battlefield.

You were right to note that other countries also face sanctions as a way to prevent them from getting ahead of America on the technological front. Just look at the way they have been seeking to prevent China from accessing the latest technology. But all they do is kick the can down the road instead of solving anything. What must happen will happen. China will inevitably accomplish all its designs, and so will Russia. I am certain that India can do everything it needs to develop itself if it faces this kind of disgrace. This is quite possible.

Globalisation has entered a period of fragmentation. The focus has shifted to regional cooperation. I mentioned the trends we are witnessing in Eurasia and the core elements forming the Greater Eurasian Partnership, including post-Soviet structures, as well as organisations like the SCO and ASEAN. There is also the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is also part of Eurasia, and its members have been proactive in working with many partners across their Eurasian neighbourhood on economic matters, including in Central Asia and the Russian Federation.

We are witnessing a revival of national identities in Africa and its commitment to move away from its neo-colonial dependence from the West. Speaking at the second Russia-Africa Summit, which took place in 2023 in St Petersburg, President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni offered a vivid description of the present-day neo-colonial practices by using the global coffee market as an example. This market is worth about 450 billion euros, and a large share of coffee beans comes from Africa. However, the continent keeps just 25 billion out of these 450 billion, while Europe and other countries get the rest, even if all they do is buy, roast and grind the beans. This means that Africans have to fight in order to keep this added value to themselves, and have been proactive in their efforts. I expect this momentum to gather even more pace.

The same goes for Latin America and the Caribbean. After winning his election in Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said that CELAC had to create its own currency. Many viewed this idea as too radical, and also challenging from a technical perspective at this stage. However, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also voiced this proposal within the BRICS format, and other participants supported him. Following the last year’s summit, finance ministers and central banks received instructions to draft proposals on alternative payment platforms and to have them ready by the next summit to be held this year. As far as I remember, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi took part in drafting this instruction during the Johannesburg summit.

So much has been said about moving away from the dollar – the dedolarisation process – that I do not feel any need to repeat it. The dollar’s reputation fell to an abysmal low. By the way, Donald Trump noted this during one of his recent appearances when he accused the Joe Biden administration of undermining trust in something which lies at the core of America’s global dominance. That was a telling and sincere way of framing this issue.

Today, India is also focusing on the regional dimension in its various forms and iterations. Our Indian friends have been emphasising that New Delhi is interested in the QUAD, a format formed by the United States, Japan, Australia and India, primarily in terms of its economic, financial and investment aspects. We see attempts to draw the QUAD into various military and political projects, such as military exercises and ensuring safety at sea. And we can see the real purpose behind these security exercises. The United States offers a telling example with its attempts to interfere in the affairs of the region we share by creating all these trilateral and quadrilateral cooperation frameworks. It is now trying to expand AUKUS by having New Zealand and Japan join it. There is also the effort to create a US – South Korea – Japan troika to pursue an openly aggressive agenda regarding the DPRK. President Vladimir Putin talked about all this when he summed up the outcomes of his visit to Pyongyang.

Overall, this amounts to an attempt by the United States and the United Kingdom to play a proactive role in Eurasia by preventing it from developing its home-grown grassroots economic structures. They want to make sure that these natural processes do not spin out of their control. I have already quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and what he said about ensuring the alliance’s security which hinges upon what it does in other regions of the world.

NATO has been shifting its infrastructure to Asia-Pacific. The US and South Korea are holding military exercises which now include conquering territories with nuclear confrontation included in the legends for these drills. They do not want to leave Eurasian countries to their own devices, as the British say, and want to look after them. This is all politics, of course, and geopolitical rivalries are here to stay, just as always. This could well be a never-ending process. However, it is a fact that Eurasian countries are now seeking to offer an alternative to the policy of controlling all these developments from overseas.

During the recent meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers in Nizhny Novgorod, we talked at length about this subject. Deputy Foreign Minister represented India at this meeting. Everyone feels the trends I am trying to describe, and many share and understand the need to carry this momentum forward, reinforce it and help these trends materialise.

Question: Could you tell us about the direction and priorities of further development and integration of China’s Silk Way Economic Belt and the EAEU across the Greater Eurasia?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already listed the structures operating in Eurasia. China’s Belt and Road project is one of the centres of proactive development. China and the EAEU have intergovernmental agreements signed on the integration of the Belt and Road development on the one side and development under the umbrella of the Eurasian Economic Union on the other side.

In our contacts with the People’s Republic of China on Eurasian development, we are not limited to these aspects. China is a member of the SCO and has its own relations with other integration associations, including ASEAN. As concerns Eurasian infrastructure, we cooperate with China and India on boosting the effectiveness of the Northern Sea Route. There are plenty of projects in Eurasia thanks to which the countries in the region can use their own natural, God-given and geographically granted, competitive advantages. Attempts are made to lead us off this track and to compete with us from afar. This is life.

Question: The Middle East is a region in which Russia has many interests over the years. But also Russia, I think, in many ways has a unique position in the sense that it has good relations with the Arabs, with the Israelis, with the Turks and with the Iranians. With the situation in Gaza and what appears to be an escalation in southern Lebanon, how do you see this developing and how do you see Russia’s role in that respect? And going beyond that, Russia has always had a vision for regional security. Given what has happened in Gaza, has that influenced your future thinking about what could be a regional security system in the Middle East?

Sergey Lavrov: What is happening in Gaza and on the territory of the Palestinian National Authority in general is a tragedy. We immediately condemned the terrorist attack on October 7, 2023. I believe everybody did. We also spoke out strongly against the methods that the Israeli leadership has been using to combat the terrorists – that is, by violating all existing rules of international humanitarian law.

You are right. We do have good relations with Israel. We have always supported Israel’s security needs in any situations that occurred and developed in the region in the context of implementing the UN’s decisions regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state. But it surely grated on me to hear the Israeli officials, the Defence Minister, the Security Council Secretary and other government members say that these methods are fully justified. Responding to the global community calling for mercy on civilians in Gaza, one Israeli military commander said that there were no civilians in Gaza and that everybody from the age of three and up were terrorists. These are horrible words and we reacted to them.

Condemning the October 7 terrorist attack, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres allowed himself a remark: we must not forget that the terrorist attack did not happen in vacuum. He was referring to the long decades during which the Palestinians’ right to their own state, declared multiple times by the UN General Assembly, has been blocked and ignored while the territory allocated for a Palestinian state has been shrinking like shagreen skin. Now, if you look at what Palestine actually controls, it is hard to imagine how one can build a state on these shreds of land.

They tried to persuade us that Israel cannot commit criminal acts. The mere fact that they are Israelis and Israel is a Jewish state proves that, as victims of the Holocaust, they are fighting for the right cause. We have heard such statements.

I had a telephone conversation with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz. It was an extensive and frank conversation. I hope they will listen to the voice of the Global Majority and what it thinks about the Israeli leaders’ demand that nobody even dare to object to Israel’s actions. They want to crush Hamas, which means destroying Gaza and creating a buffer zone. It means asking Egypt and several other Arab states to deploy over there a multinational crew.

The double standards we see right now are quite indicative. Long before the special military operation, when we continued, with our allies, strategic partners in the UN and at other multilateral platforms, to defend the principles underlying our initiatives (the resolution prohibiting glorification of Nazism), somebody asked Israeli Ambassador in Kiev Michael Brodsky at a news conference what he thought of Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevich and other leaders of the UPA and OUN. He said that Israel condemns them but understands the reasons behind Ukrainians’ attitude to them. We requested comments from Tel Aviv. The answer was, Michael Brodsky “almost spoke for himself.” But what he said was not a lie.

I quote statistics, including during our contacts with the Israelis. The operation in Gaza has continued for eight months. For comparison, approximately 35,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed over the six months of the operation in Gaza – and even more by now. More than twice as many have been wounded over the six months. The number of civilian casualties in Donbass over ten years on both sides, i.e. the Donbass militia and the Ukrainian armed forces, is one-third lower than the number of the Palestinians killed over six months.

Our Western colleagues aim to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia. They want to stop Russia and have us retreat to the 1991 borders claiming this would mean the end of the war. This is what serious adults are saying. It’s ridiculous. Try saying something about creating the Palestinian state. If this issue is still on the agenda of the international community (it should be, because there are decisions to be acted upon), look at the situation on the ground. What territories are currently under the Palestinian National Authority’s control in the West Bank?

Even a shy attempt supported by Egypt and Russia to pass a UN Security Council resolution declaring Palestine’s full UN membership was thwarted by the United States. President Biden said Palestine should eventually become a UN member, but this decision cannot be adopted unilaterally. What is this about? Does it mean that someone else out there should authorise it at a time when the vast majority of UN countries have voted for it? Is there someone out there thinking there should be some kind of a parallel move? That’s the double standards right there.

Russia has been advocating Palestinian unity long before the ongoing tragedy broke out. Over the past 10 years, we have more than once brought together Palestinian groups in Moscow and tried to talk them into uniting their efforts and harmonising positions and speaking with one voice in their talks with Israel. The negotiations must be direct. They must be resumed. They were unable to overcome the differences between Fatah, on one side, and Hamas, on the other side. The remaining smaller groups were undecided.

Last year, to follow up on our policy to restore the Palestinian unity which must be restored if only to rebut the argument that we often hear that peace talks are out of question, because the Palestinians do not speak with one voice), we invited Arab countries, as well as Iran and Türkiye, to join in the collaborative effort. Countries that have an influence with various Palestinian groups do so in different ways. We suggested that these outside sponsors of Palestinian organisations develop a single and unequivocal position without any nuance and tell the Palestinians that everyone supports them and no one wants them to play the game of nuanced approaches, meaning that nuance-free approaches are now available so the Palestinians should unite.

Within the context of this idea, the Palestinian groups were convened again in February and, for the first time ever, they adopted a joint statement to the effect that they were willing to unite on the basis of the Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Shortly after this happened, the Western countries, which are also trying to play a role in this process (not always an honourable one), immediately started thinking for the Palestinians about how they should arrange their life in the Gaza Strip once the hostilities are over. Again, they want to decide everything for the Palestinians.

You’re absolutely correct. There is a risk of violence spreading to Lebanon. The Israeli leadership stated this and a number of demands have been put forward. I hope that the international community, including Israel’s key allies, will come to understand the extremely destructive nature of this approach. Initially, the Israeli operation focused on the Gaza Strip. However, the crackdown on the Palestinians in the West Bank was no less violent, including acts of violence by the Israelis who had moved to the settlements. The situation is bad. It is time to sit down and talk about the future of the Palestinian State, see who has violated what resolutions over the past decades, and how the situation on the ground has changed. This is a complex process which calls for all parties, primarily, the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as the UN Security Council (its permanent members) showing good will. We will continue to push for justice, primarily, the cessation of hostilities.

Remember, a resolution was adopted for the first time in the spring that called for a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan. It was the first time the Americans did not use their veto. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said they had abstained and let that resolution pass, adding that the resolution was non-binding. Few comments are available on this remark, but Article 25 of the Charter says the Security Council resolutions must be honoured by everyone. That applies to any resolution, not just Chapter 7 resolutions. The fact that Ms Thomas-Greenfield floated this idea will, I think, backfire many times when the United States will demand compliance with UN resolutions.

The United States lost that right altogether when Donald Trump said he would not implement Resolution 2231, which approved the JCPOA. He just wouldn’t, end of story, even though it took them years to put this resolution and this plan together. Whenever you hear the United States claim that Russia is violating resolutions, think about how they treat the resolution on Iran and resolutions on the Palestinian issue which I mentioned earlier. Those who are still willing to continue to paint themselves as a model of democracy and a member of the international community that is capable of reaching and honouring agreements should proceed with caution when it comes to matters of this kind.

Question: India’s Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi is coming to Moscow in a few days’ time, on July 8. And I was wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about that visit. How important is it for Russia?

I also hear around, here at the Primakov Readings as well as elsewhere in Moscow, that you believe, that Russia believes that India is leaning much more towards the United States. So, I want to hear what you have to say on that front. And also, while I also hear, and you yourself, a few minutes ago, spoke about Russia and China and your very close partnership with China, I have a thought that comes to my head, which is that in the last few years, the US-China economic relationship has actually gone up. Trade between the US and China, trade between China and the European Union has only increased, especially as you come off the pandemic. Now, what does this mean for the relationship between Russia and China? Are you aware that – well, of course you are, but – how do you look at this increasing partnership between China and their partners in the West?

Sergey Lavrov: You’re asking me to share our view of the situation in the Russia-India-China triangle.

Indian President Narendra Modi’s visit perfectly fits into our strategic foreign policy line. India is one of our priority partners, and our relationship is qualified accordingly in official bilateral documents. Initially documented as a strategic partnership, it was later redefined as a privileged strategic partnership in response to our Indian friends’ proposal. Later still, also at New Delhi’s initiative, bilateral relations have been elevated to the level of a special and privileged strategic partnership. We would like this term, this formula to continue to describe the essence of our joint work and interaction.

India is one of our oldest strategic partners. Established when the country gained independence, our interaction continued as Russia helped develop the Indian state, economy, and armed forces, and made every effort to help alleviate tensions between India and Pakistan.

I have mentioned today that, if we take a more recent period, it was actually Yevgeny Primakov’s idea that the Russia, India and China (RIC) triangle should become the symbol of the multipolar world, and its core. However, there was little mention of RIC after BRICS was inaugurated, because BRICS is certainly a much more impressive entity. But, strange as it might seem, the RIC architecture of exchanges continued to work, including the foreign ministers’ meetings. In fact, we have met about 20 times, but our joint work has slowed down a bit in recent time – first due to the coronavirus situation, and later, the well-known problems on the India-China border.

We still find it much more useful to talk to each other in such tense moments. About a year ago, we proposed creating a RIC trilateral format. Recently, we revisited the idea again. But so far, our Indian friends believe that the border situation has to be fully resolved first. We understand. Anyway, both Beijing and New Delhi are showing a clear interest in preserving the trilateral cooperation format. I am sure that each of the three will benefit from working out shared approaches and taking aligned stances on key issues on the Eurasian and global agenda.

I bluntly point out that the West wants exactly the opposite to happen. The West seeks to prevent RIC from strengthening its solidarity and negotiating from a shared position. The West wants us at variance because it can take advantage of this.

You mentioned that China is increasing trade with the West, with the United States. In fact, China is now gradually reducing its dollar-denominated foreign exchange reserves. These are technicalities though. We can discuss them separately later. It is also obvious that the United States is trying to drag India into its anti-China project. Everyone knows what I am referring to.

I have spoken a lot with my Indian colleague and friend, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. He has been repeatedly asked by journalists why India is now buying several times more oil and other goods from Russia than it did before the war in Ukraine. He always publicly replied that, dear friends, you had better count the money in your own pockets, and watch how much Russian oil you are buying. Allow me to answer for my country. It is important to do what is best for our economy. If everyone on this planet took this approach, I think that Washington’s pressure would never achieve the results that it sometimes does.

With regard to China’s trade, both China and India (let’s face it) want to see the global economic situation settle down, but are not willing to question the globalisation foundations and mechanisms that were laid down by the Americans, or the role of the dollar, which many out there are still willing to rely on. Payments covering 90 percent of our trade with China are made in roubles or yuans. About 60 percent of trade with India is settled in national currencies. This is a serious choice. Both the People’s Republic of China and India are much more deeply involved in the Western system of globalisation in terms of the volume of financial, investment, and trade agreements and many other things. But the fact is that just like us, the People’s Republic of China and India are fully aware of the discriminatory nature of what the West is doing.

I cited examples of how you, the Chinese, or other BRICS members are not allowed to assume positions at the IMF that would reflect the actual economic and financial weight of your respective countries, and how the WTO has been blocking for 13 years the operation of a body that was created specifically to adjudicate disputes and hand down fair rulings.

I have no doubt that, just like most other countries, China and India are fully aware of this. We are not asking India to revise its foreign policy priorities. That country wants to achieve mutually beneficial results in its contacts with all countries. We want that, too. We were once brought into this system. Then, in response to our long-standing warnings about the fallacious and tragic policy seeking to expand NATO and embroil Ukraine in it. We were left with no other choice but to start a special military operation to ensure our security, our core interests and the security of the people whose ancestors had lived in Donbass and Novorossiya for centuries, as they developed these lands and built cities, factories, ports, and ships. Someone out there wanted to erase all of that.

I’d be remiss not to wrap up the discussion of the Ukraine issue with what the West is now saying about everything it has come up with recently, including the Swiss conference, and then another conference. Several Arab countries are trying to make arrangements for hosting a new “khural.” Go ahead and read what they have to say about everyone respecting international rights, the UN Charter and Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Why only territorial integrity? I discussed the right of nations to self-determination earlier. There was a discussion a long time ago about harmonising the principles of territorial integrity and the right of a nation to self-determination. In 1970, after years of talks, the General Assembly unanimously adopted the Declaration on Friendly Relations, a multi-page document. The part in question says that all countries have the duty to respect the territorial integrity of the countries whose governments respect the principle of self-determination of peoples and represent the whole people belonging to the territory.

I’m sick and tired of bringing this matter up at numerous public events. Those who came to power following the coup said the Russian language would be abolished and declared the residents of Crimea and Donbass terrorists. Considering this, did the Ukrainian “government” formed by the putschists represent the interests of the people of eastern Ukraine? Of course, it didn’t. Let’s keep in mind the fact that since then Ukraine has passed laws that banned everything that is Russian, including education and media in the Russian language. Cultural events were outlawed. Even in an everyday situation of you doing shopping, a sales assistant, if they choose to, can turn you in if you speak Russian to them. I’m saying this to drive home the point that all those schemers swarming around Ukraine are calling on everyone to respect the UN Charter, but focus exclusively on territorial integrity, leaving out matters that I just mentioned. They also fail to include Article 1of the Charter about human rights, which is so cherished by those who are spearheading these get-togethers on Ukraine.

This is being said in a context which they find absolutely unacceptable. It says that all countries have the duty to respect human rights, regardless of race, gender, language, or religion. This is also part of the UN Charter. Few people think about it. Matters of language and religion are like a knife in the throat for the West. Occasionally, we have informal contacts with political scientists. They tried to sell us the idea of stopping the war and exploring the Korean scenario. Our political scientists asked them what would happen if a compromise on ending hostilities were to be reached in theory. What would you do about the laws in Ukraine mandating the destruction of everything that is Russian and glorifying the Nazis? Their answer was quite telling. They said they were not going to interfere in the internal affairs of the Ukrainian state meaning the Nazis would be licensed to continue to destroy everything about Russia.

That means that the countries that are invited, or rather lured, to attend such gatherings should be asking such questions. Many of our friends are there. Some are attending just in order to get the organisers off their backs and not be asked to impose sanctions on Russia, which they are not willing to do and will never do. Others go there out of a sincere desire to get the process back on track. They say they won’t adopt anything without Russia and refuse to sign anything. All of that shows the weighty nature of the ongoing developments and the fact that the Global Majority understands that this is a matter of principle.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to go there next time they invite you, but ask them these questions about the principles of the UN Charter, which the West and, for obvious reasons, the Kiev Nazi junta are blatantly ignoring.

Question:  Mr Minister, last time that we spoke was about two years ago at the Eastern Economic Forum. At that time, we discussed with Mr Miller the potential opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. When I brought back these messages to Berlin, the Chancellor rejected it and two weeks later, we saw the pipelines explode. You mentioned Yalta and Potsdam today. So, would you agree that we actually need a new order, also for Germany to be included in a peace treaty whereas the 2+4 treaty was violated by Germany by sending arms into the conflict zone in Ukraine. I would pledge that we would have a new relationship between Germany and Russia at the time when such a peace treaty would be found. I would ask you kindly to comment on this.

Sergey Lavrov: Since the era of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Americans have asserted that Ukraine must not be part of Russia, as Russia with Ukraine is a great power, whereas without Ukraine, Russia is “easy prey.” Similarly, for even longer, Anglo-Saxons have opposed Russia and Germany’s cooperation, fearing the combination of Russia’s vast resources and German technology. This stance has now reached its zenith.

The target of Ukrainian aggression, besides using Ukraine to attack the Russian Federation so as to weaken Russia and incite a revolution, was also to suppress Europe’s competitiveness against the US. The impact on the German and French economies is evident. Almost a year ago French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire complained that electricity costs for businesses in France were four times higher than in the United States. You know how the rest is done.

Let me remind you of the psychological aspects of Russian-German relations. Russia has never harbored ill will toward Germany. After the war, when columns of captured Germans were marched through cities and villages, Russian grandmothers who had lost their children, grandchildren, and husbands would come out to offer them bread and water. As our great poet said, “asked clemency for those who fall.” This reflects a part of the Russian soul – showing no malice towards former enemies. After the war ended and Germany was defeated, the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany (“2+4”) was signed. I won’t dwell on the meeting between Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev, which surprised the Germans when Gorbachev asked fifteen times less money than what was allocated for German reunification. There were many other decisions. These mistakes were influenced by the belief that “history is over,” with all people being friends united by universal human values. In hindsight, this was naive, but it is now part of history.

I recall the 2015 Munich Security Conference, which took place after Crimea reunited with Russia. A German Bundestag member asked me to comment on the “aggressive seizure” of Crimea. I responded that the people of Crimea wished to reunite with Russia, a desire as natural as the German people’s wish for reunification. Although there were complexities, particularly with East Germany, the fundamental aspiration for unity was clear. We were strong advocates for German reunification, even as the Anglo-Saxons had reservations. I explained that we understood the German people’s aspirations and hoped they would understand the Russian people’s desires. In response, this German deputy stood up, broke out laughing, and shouted that such a comparison was unacceptable. This reaction indicated that not everyone in Germany grasped the complex yet glorious history that had linked our nations for centuries.

Today, we find it offensive to hear accusations from the current “traffic light” coalition that believes it is its duty to accuse Russia of everything all the time. In April 2024 when economic troubles, including those of Europe and Germany, were discussed, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said they knew that anti-Russia sanctions were impacting businesses, but that they had to support Ukraine. First, it is necessary to defend the world order, he said; second, Russia, rather than we, stopped delivering gas. I could not help but write down his statement. How can he humiliate himself like that? I have already said that Olaf Scholz was in Washington when these explosions took place. He made no public statements, he did not have the courage to face the press, to explain what had happened, and what he was thinking about this. When we asked to participate in the investigation because this was Russian property, they (Denmark, Sweden and Germany) replied that they would resolve the situation themselves and there would be national investigation. Denmark and Sweden already said that they have completed the investigation. What is the outcome? None. Germany is keeping silent after receiving yet another official Russian note requesting nformation. Our requests in the UN Security Council to create some kind of transparent procedure because this was an attack on global energy security (everyone realises this) yield no results.

On the whole, the West likes to be “naughty,” to stage a provocation and to place it under the carpet after they have obtained all propaganda benefits. So far, we are unable to understand what happened to Alexander Litvinenko in 2007 in a hospital in London. The investigation of his poisoning and demise was classified. So far, nobody is showing any documents to anyone. One can say the same about a poisoning case involving Sergey Skripal and Yulia Skripal. British officials are showing nothing to us.

When Alexey Navalny showed up in Germany in 2020, they examined him at a civilian hospital and found nothing. Doctors at a city hospital in Omsk also found nothing. Specialists at a Bundeswehr hospital found something and told us that certain substances from the Novichok family had poisoned him. We requested information about specific anti-Russia accusations. They replied that they would show us nothing, and that they would send their findings to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). We contacted the OPCW. Its Director-General Fernando Arias who has gained notoriety for following in the wake of Western interests said they could not show us anything. He claimed the Germans had already forbidden them to do this and noted that this data was for the Washington-controlled OPCW alone. No one has shown us anything so far. There was an uproar when Alexey Navalny died in early 2024. We told them to show us their findings, if they were so concerned about Navalny’s health. They refused.

Now about Bucha. April 2022. For two days the city is in the hands of the Ukrainian army. Russian units pulled out from there. President of Russia Vladimir Putin repeatedly discussed this issue. Two days after Ukrainian authorities re-established control of the city, its mayor all of a sudden shows a BBC camera crew an extremely wide main street heaped up (or lined, to be more exact) with dead bodies and claims that the Russians have committed this crime. The European Union immediately introduces another package of anti-Russia sanctions. We hear American philippics and angry accusations. Since then, we still cannot make them give us the names of people whose bodies the BBC, which calls itself the most objective media outlet, showed to the world. Nobody knows names. I raised this issue twice at the UN Security Council, while looking in the eyes of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. They groundlessly accused us of this war crime, without providing any facts. I asked the UN Secretary-General to request the names of these people from the Ukrainian leadership. Nothing is happening. Staging provocations is a widely-used instrument of Western foreign policy. Unfortunately, the global public still believes these unsophisticated tricks.

We will have to re-establish normal relations with Germany in the future. However, everything will depend on Germany. We will no longer chase anybody. We had all the opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, while enriching each other in every sense; however, these opportunities were cancelled overnight. This is sad, but this is a fact, and we are proceeding from there.

Question: What should be the role of people’s diplomacy at such associations as BRCS, the SCO and the EU?

Sergey Lavrov: The EU has stopped working together with us, opting instead for ultimatums, blackmail, sanctions and threats. Diplomacy as such has disappeared from the Western arsenal of foreign policy instruments.

In this context, it is important to use people’s diplomacy to maintain contacts with reasonable and decent members of the Western public, including political parties, movements and municipal authorities. As I have said, it would be wrong to say that we view some countries as unfriendly. The term refers to countries with unfriendly governments. We have not designated whole nations unfriendly or said that we do not want to associate with members of their political parties, parliaments or other organisations. This is not so.

Therefore, we should not only promote people's diplomacy within BRICS and the SCO but also use their joint projects in the field of people’s diplomacy. We must keep in mind the external direction and these organisations’ interaction with colleagues in the countries that are not members of BRICS, the SCO or the EAEU. We will always welcome such relations. We regularly meet with NGOs. The Foreign Ministry will be happy to take part in your next forum.

Question: You spoke about Europe losing its economic potential, including because it has stopped using our oil, gas and other energy resources. Will the reduction of Europe’s economic potential influence its politics and social sphere? Could this encourage it to resume its economic cooperation with Russia? This would certainly benefit the people and their interests. This would also benefit us because Europe is the closest market for our pipeline gas. When could these relations resume, and what should be done to bring this about?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already spoken on this issue. It was not we who initiated the severance of our relations. In principle, Western behaviour is unprecedented. There were many situations in history when conflicts acquired a global dimension, and it could not be explained by the national interests of those who inspired these conflicts, like US conflicts with Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya or Syria located tens of thousands of miles away from America. Did they have any connection with US security interests? None at all. Those were bloody conflicts, with many more people killed and wounded than in the Ukraine conflict. Germany and France condemned the Anglo-Saxons’ operations in Iraq, but they did not halt economic cooperation with them. Nobody shot themselves in the leg in the financial sphere. Nobody even considered doing that. And nobody called for boycotting US commodities or Hollywood films, not at all.

What interest did the Americans have in attacking Iraq or Yugoslavia? It was the same we can see now in the US and NATO proliferation into East Asia. They just wanted to be there, throw their weight around and create situations that would allow them to fish in troubled waters. We are aware of this. Did anyone prohibit the English language in Iraq or Yugoslavia? Did they cancel education in the English language as this was done with regard to Russian in Ukraine? They did not.

I once asked what the British would have done if English was prohibited in Ireland. It would have had the same effect on public mentality as the prohibition of the Russian language in Ukraine. Nobody even considered that. Or imagine that German or French were prohibited in Switzerland. That’s a different thing, they say. Why can this be done to the Russian language then?

We asked them if they would demand that their “clients” restore the rights of the Russian language after the end of the conflict. They replied that they did not interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and would not do it. In short, Europe has been forced to toe the line. I am not going to predict when or how this could end.

We are certainly open to dialogue based on the recognition of realities, primarily territorial, those that have been sealed in the Constitution of the Russian Federation; non-discrimination of everything Russian in Ukraine, the prohibition of glorification of Nazis, and the transformation of Ukraine into a normal secular state. These are feasible requirements, which I would not describe as excessive. These are basic requirements that should ensure Ukraine’s normalcy and safety, as well as security of the European region as a whole. President Putin said that we were open to dialogue. But first, Zelensky himself has prohibited this dialogue. And second, Europe has joined hands around Zelensky’s hopeless and unconditional “peace formula.” It stipulates for our withdrawal to Ukraine’s 1991 borders, so that they can kill Russians after seizing Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine. Yesterday, Zelensky’s adviser Mikhail Podolyak twitted that “all Crimeans are civilian invaders.” In other words, Russians who had lived in Crimea for years have been declared invaders simply because they decided to part ways with the Nazi regime and to reunite with Russia.

The West should wait until this madness subsides. I am not sure that I have correctly described its current state. The West should see that it has its own interests and that it should not be an instrument in Washington’s hands. As for Ukraine, its current regime deserves to be used as Washington’s instrument. But this is humiliating for Europe. When they think they are ready, they should come to us. We will listen to them and respond, but our reaction will depend on the progress of Eurasian integration, which, I am sure, will be developing rapidly and deeply, and on our own economic interests.”


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