Sergey Lavrov: “There can be no return to the old order”

11:59 14.03.2023 •

Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has made some principal points in an interview with Channel One’s "The Great Game" television program. Moscow, March 10, 2023:

- As regards the consequences and possible global aspects of the Ukrainian crisis, the word “demolition” is quite fitting. In my remarks, I have repeatedly mentioned an emerging multipolar world order. This transition is not something that will come to an end quickly – rather, it will take an entire historical era. I am convinced of this.

- The West’s global positions have considerably weakened – yet its influence in the economic, technological, and military spheres remains strong. They are making attempts to compensate for their relatively weakened positions by amplifying their aggressive efforts, particularly in the military and political areas, and suppressing their competitors through illegitimate methods.

- I am referring to the “rules” that the West wants to use as the basis of a world order where they dominate. In Georgia, protesters can do anything they want – whereas in Moldova, nothing is permitted. The Iranian school poisonings have been the subject of an international investigation, while the Nord Stream explosions are considered nonsense and being ignored. Iranian warships docking in a Brazilian port is seen as a bad thing – but sovereign countries have the right to choose their partners. Why not apply this principle to relations between India, Russia and other countries?

- This is why we ask our American, European and British colleagues a question: can we see those rules of the “rules-based world order” that they mention everywhere?.. With such orders and rules, you “cannot go on like that”, as they said in the final days of the Soviet Union’s existence.

- There can be no return to the old order. The West also says that ‘business as usual’ is out of the question. There is no need to persuade us of that. We drew all the conclusions quite a while ago. The world has learned nothing from a period of history between the two world wars in the 20th century.

- We, our leaders have never, directly or indirectly, called into question at the official level the alliance that made it possible to defeat Adolf Hitler. True, there were numerous studies; scientists, politicians, opposition figures wrote that the [US] lend-lease plan had not been of much help for us and that [the Allies] had opened the Second Front when it became clear that the Soviet Union would win single-handedly. It was recalled that France and England were negotiating a non-aggression arrangement with Hitler even before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, sought to get him to strike east, and much else. Historians are studying this.

- We have never – not in any speech by our leaders (including the Victory Day addresses by the President of Russia on Red Square) – allowed ourselves to cast a shadow of a doubt on the alliance that had rallied us in the fight against Hitler. But our Western colleagues began doing just that at the official level long before the Ukraine events, putting equal blame on the Soviet Union and Hitler. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact allegedly “triggered” World War II. They do not even mention the fact that Paris and London signed the same pact with Hitler a year earlier. The Munich Betrayal and Poland’s role in it is a taboo subject. History textbooks have long interpreted the opening of the Second Front as a turning point in World War II.

- To mark the 75th anniversary of Victory, which was celebrated in 2020, the United States issued a commemorative coin (perhaps you’ve seen it) dedicated to the victory over Nazism. There were three flags – American, British, and French – engraved on it. There was neither the Soviet, nor Russian flag. Neither is there an inscription saying that someone else fought Hitler apart from those three countries.

- Recalling all this in retrospect, we realise that these were not just isolated episodes. The demolition of monuments, processions in honour of Waffen-SS veterans in the Baltic states, the openly neo-Nazi and Nazi units with Nazi insignia in Ukraine… All our appeals to the public to look at this, condemn this, and prevent the revival of Nazism were totally disregarded.

- Our conclusion is that we should inevitably consider the version to the effect that Europe needs Nazism once again so as to either direct it against us, or as a means of containing Russia and preventing it from becoming a force in its own right.

- I do not know what the new world order will be like. We sincerely signed the documents that spelled out principles, to which we have been committed until now. But the West has trampled them underfoot. I am referring to indivisibility of security, unacceptability of attempts to strengthen one’s security by impinging on the security of others, and the inadmissibility of the situation where a country or an organisation lays claim to international domination. All of this was specified in OSCE documents signed in 1999. Later this was spat upon, trampled underfoot, and described as “political commitments.” OK, but they were signed by presidents, chancellors and prime ministers.

- The indivisibility of security is synonymous with a balance of interests: you come to an agreement on a modus vivendi, without forcing anyone to report to you each month on who you trade with or making them provide evidence that they have not breached any prohibitions while working within the unified global system of commerce.

- Speaking of a new world order and architecture, I hear the voices at home, saying: “What on earth are we doing at the WTO?” We spent 17 years in negotiations and managed to “extort,” by sweat and blood, a measure of protection for our as yet underdeveloped industries and services sector. Today, they tell us that by WTO rules we have the right to trade, sell and buy, but there is a clause to the effect that if a country regards a certain situation as a security threat, it can do whatever it wants. So, it is useless to go to court.

- We and our colleagues from the Government and the economic and financial agencies are assessing a similar situation with regard to the Bretton Woods institutions, also a US “creation.” After the demise of the Soviet Union, when we were rethinking our position in the world and planning our future, one of our tasks was to fit into the fabric of civilised society. Today, this society in the person of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank has frozen our contributions and shareholdings. Our attempts to figure out what further steps we can take regarding them have not been much of a success. Perhaps, we would be ready to use these funds for a noble cause, especially as the World Bank has numerous aid programmes designed for developing countries. But in their current “frozen” state, these Russian WB funds cannot be used even for these purposes. So much for their justice and fairness.

- Notice the comments by the Chinese leaders a year after the start of the special military operation. China is for peace. We appreciate its calls to respect the UN Charter. We keep to the same position. We interpret the Charter in its entirety rather than selectively, including the provision that it is inadmissible to violate the right of peoples to self-determination.

- In recent years, China has come to underscore the principle of indivisibility of security in application to the global landscape and not only to Europe, as it was proclaimed in 1999. I think that in philosophical terms this tallies in full with our approach. With our Chinese friends, we will promote our coordination in the international scene, proceeding from the premise that indivisibility of security should be enshrined in legally binding documents. In principle, this document does exist. I am referring to the UN Charter, which has formalised the sovereign equality of states. But its practical implementation is inadequate.

- In this connection, we should work to induce all countries to return to the sources incorporated in the goals and principles of the UN Charter and have the UN itself in the person of its Secretariat, special bodies, foundations and programmes reflect the realities of the multipolar world rather than be subject to excessive influence in its steps and work by the “golden billion,” or the global minority.


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