Prior to the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was one of the world’s best traveling diplomats – to discuss strategic concerns, to sign cooperation agreements with allies and to rebuke the “golden billion” Western consumers who sell the world’s wealth at the expense of others. .
But Lavrov’s world has shrunk in the last three months. He is a major buyer of Russian oil and weapons in China, for a meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbors, and in India. In early March, he spent a day at a meeting in the Turkish resort of Antalya. On his most extensive tour since the attack, he visited Algeria last week, a longtime Russian partner; To Oman, which plays a neutral role in international disputes; And in Tajikistan for a meeting of Central Asian allies.
Lavrov’s official visit to Moscow was similarly low and in between. The Pakistani foreign minister was in the Russian capital on the day of the attack. The next day, Lavrov received two “ministers” from the territory of eastern Ukraine that Russia had unilaterally recognized as independent countries. Opponents of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates came to talk in March about Iran and oil; Iran’s foreign minister has done the same.
The United Nations and humanitarian agencies have come to Ukraine to apply for humanitarian aid. The Eritrean foreign minister visited last month as part of an Arab League delegation. On Wednesday, Lavrov met with the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an Asian economic and military group, including China, that Russia hopes will be a pillar of Russia’s new determination without Western funding and trade.
With US $ 40 billion in aid, Ukraine’s commitment deepens, NATO expands
Lavrov, 72, a career diplomat, began his career as an expert in Sri Lanka. Foreign Minister since 2004, he has not been considered part of the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is sometimes dismissed by Kremlin scholars as more of an apartheid and mouthpiece than a policymaker.
But he has had the most frequent U.S. conversations with Moscow through the public face of Russian diplomacy and about a dozen U.S. opponents. Prior to taking office, he served as Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations for 10 years.
In a ministry career marked by the ups and downs of US-Russia relations, he is known for his sarcastic and belligerent, sometimes ridiculous and harsh words that are at the heart of Russian grandeur and US cunning.
“She is OK [expletive]An opponent from another country called Lavrov “one of the most influential foreign ministers in the world today,” according to an official in the George W. Bush administration, quoted in his 2013 Foreign Policy Profile.
It was Lavrov who allegedly asked “who [expletive] Will you give me a speech? “When Britain’s foreign secretary blamed him for Russia’s military incursion into Georgia in 2008. And it was Lavrov, a year later, who smiled at the Obama administration’s symbolic” reset “button for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. With pressure.
Clinton’s successor on Syria in 2015, John F. After a long and difficult discussion with Kerry, an impatient Lavrov sat in the basement of a Geneva hotel at midnight when Kerry called President Barack Obama to approve their deal. “I hope we get some news before Washington goes to sleep,” he told reporters gathered in the next room for an announcement.
When apologetic Kerry’s associates handed out piles of pizza to Lavrov and his delegation while they were waiting, Lavrov personally distributed them to reporters, saying they were a gift from the Americans. Minutes later, he returned with a shopping bag full of vodka bottles. “It came from the Russian delegation,” he said with a smile as he turned the camera.
Biden welcomed Nordic’s move to NATO as evidence of unity against Russia
Nowadays his audience may be less, those who agree or think with Putin about Ukraine will not be able to do it, but Lavrov does not seem to have lost his style. The struggle and power to turn a derogatory phrase into an insulting history has at times remained.
“Russia-UK relations leave much to be desired, to put it mildly,” he told a news conference with United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on February 11, one of the European leaders who tried to discourage Moscow in the weeks before the attack. . “I’m disappointed that it was like a conversation between a dumb and deaf person.”
In a May 1 interview with Italian television, for which Putin later apologized to Israel, Lavrov explained that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was Jewish and had nothing to do with what Russia called neo-Nazism in Ukraine.
“I could be wrong, but Adolf Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov said. “It simply means nothing. Intelligent Jews say that the strongest antisemits are usually Jews. “
In an unreleased video posted on Twitter on May 11 of the Russian diplomatic mission in Geneva, Lavrov laughed when he referred to US “hysteria” over Ukraine and advised those who are losing sleep over it to “calm down”. “Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl. Imagine this happening in the Middle East. Imagine Ukraine is Palestinian territory. Imagine Russia is the United States. “
In recent public comments, laughter is rare. Lavrov punished journalists for “brainwashing” by asking repetitive questions about Ukraine and “not listening” to his answers. He reiterated that it was the “Rusophobic” West that threatened Russia’s security by moving closer to its border, and that Ukraine was a Nazi stronghold. He has expressed frustration with Russia’s criticism that the United States has invaded Iraq, leaving behind other countries.
When he visited Muscat, the capital of Oman, last week, Lavrov praised the “warm welcome” he received. But after initial remarks at a news conference with Oman’s foreign minister, Badr al-Busaidi, he quickly and for a long time returned to Ukraine.
“We are not hiding the purpose of the operation,” he said. Russian troops are there to “protect” the inhabitants of eastern Ukraine from “Kiev’s neo-Nazi regime” and to ensure that Russia “does not use Western Ukraine to pose a military threat.”
In its own brief report, Oman’s state news agency said Lavrov had briefed Sultan Haitam bin Tariq al-Said on the “Russian side” of the Ukraine crisis. The Sultan, it said, emphasized the importance of using diplomacy to “adhere to international law” and defend “freedom, sovereignty and peaceful coexistence”.