Discover more from karlof1’s Geopolitical Gymnasium
RT Interviews Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sat down with Russia’s RT on 15 November for the following interview.
Question: We are now in the fifth week of the war in Gaza. Thousands of people died. How can the Russian Foreign Ministry contribute to ending the violence?
Sergey Lavrov: There are several aspects of this crisis. The urgent task is to stop hostilities and any military activity and take measures to resolve humanitarian problems. This is a necessary first step.
When Israel responded to the massacres of October 7, we reacted immediately and strongly condemned Hamas's actions, while at the same time calling for a balanced response in full compliance with international humanitarian law and the treatment of hospitals, women, children and other civilians.
As a first step in the UN Security Council, we proposed a draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and cessation of hostilities for humanitarian reasons. He was not supported, first of all, by the United States. At that time, developing member states of the UN Security Council proposed a simplified version of the resolution calling for a humanitarian truce, which was also rejected by Washington. The United States agreed only to humanitarian "pauses," but without any obligation to continue them. A humanitarian pause is not something that Arab and other Muslim countries, as well as the vast majority of UN states, were ready to support.
The issue was referred to the General Assembly, which adopted a resolution calling for a humanitarian truce. But it is not fulfilled either. The current activity in the Security Council shows that there is still interest in the Council taking action, especially after the General Assembly resolution. But so far, the Americans are not ready for anything other than the option of a "humanitarian pause" without obligations to do anything else after such one-time actions. That is the first priority. I believe that it is feasible.
We leave it up to the United Nations and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to decide how to protect their mandates, which are under threat. But the hot phase of the conflict will end with the understanding that terrorism cannot be justified in any form and the response to it must be in accordance with international humanitarian law. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said shortly after the start of the conflict that "the Hamas attack did not take place in a vacuum."
Of course, the cessation of hostilities and violence is of great importance for the civilian population, but there is another important aspect. Historically, the establishment of a Palestinian State is indispensable for a sustainable settlement of the situation. Most of the current discussions about the future of Gaza avoid the need to focus on the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution on the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, coexisting with it, living in peace and security, within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This has never been abolished by the UN.
Question: Both draft resolutions were rejected by the United States. Is it because Washington doesn't agree with their text or with everything that Russia is proposing?
Sergey Lavrov: Both options. Of course, Washington is now heavily ideologized. Any action by Russia is perceived as hostile. But in practical terms, the U.S. does not want to tie Israel's hands. They are working with Tel Aviv to persuade it to be more "accommodating" with regard to the delivery of humanitarian supplies, medicines and other items necessary for the functioning of hospitals, as well as on the departure of foreigners from Gaza. And in general, Washington does not want this to stop in a way that Israel does not like.
Question: We are concerned about the growing risks of the conflict spreading beyond regional borders. Some believe that the U.S. will confront Iran, while Moscow will support Tehran. What do you think about this scenario?
Sergey Lavrov: In fact, the people who put forward such ideas want to provoke a more serious crisis. Perhaps this is what the Americans are counting on.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin recently commented on the international agenda. He cited many examples proving that the Americans, no matter what region of the world they go to, are wreaking havoc that they believe they can control. Their actions lead to civilian casualties. I will not talk about Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria again. The United States wanted to bring "democracy" there. None of these places where they were "building democracy" were better off after they intervened on a flimsy pretext. This happens quite often. And it was, for example, in Iraq.
I believe that neither Iran nor Lebanon wants to participate in this crisis. Of course, there is Hezbollah in Lebanon, an organization that is committed to protecting the Palestinian, Arab people in the Middle East. They come into conflict with the Israelis from time to time. Let me remind you that Resolution 1701 (which defines the situation in Lebanon from the point of view of the military-political system) has been repeatedly violated by both Hezbollah and the Israelis.
Lebanon has no interest in this. As far as I can judge from the recent statement by Hezbollah leader Mahmoud Nasrallah, they have no interest in a "big war" unless it is provoked and the Gaza Strip is no longer seen as a place where Palestinians continue to live. And I don't see any interest in Iran in this.
The Americans say that some pro-Iranian armed groups in Syria and Iraq are trying to attack US military facilities. This is reported by the media. This is nothing new, because these groups consider the presence of the United States in Syria to be completely illegal. This is a statement of fact. The U.S. presence in Iraq also raises many questions. Some time ago, the Iraqi government and parliament decided to terminate the agreement with the American troops stationed on their territory. But the U.S. still keeps about 5,000 people there without any firm agreements.
It is possible that some groups and militants in Syria, in Iraq, some members of Hezbollah are unhappy with the way the Palestinians are being treated. Undoubtedly, they will continue to "bite" Americans and Israelis here and there. But I don't see any willingness or interest on the part of Iran or any other Arab country in a "big war" in the region. But if this restraint is seen as weakness and as a green light for action in the Gaza Strip, it will be a big mistake.
Question: As the conflict develops, different states have different approaches to relations with Israel. For example, some have ended the relationship, others are developing cooperation. What is Moscow's attitude to this?
Sergey Lavrov: Over the past 30 years, we have never tried to underestimate the importance of good relations with Israel and their Arab neighbours. We promoted peace in the region on the basis of a final solution to the Middle East problem in accordance with UN resolutions and decisions. We have been a member of the Quartet of international mediators since the very beginning of its functioning. Let me remind you that this is the only body officially recognised by the UN Security Council and has a mandate for mediation.
We co-sponsored the road map developed by the Quartet in 2003 and unanimously endorsed by the Security Council, which called for concrete steps to establish a viable and secure Palestinian state (in 15 months or so), but it was never implemented. That resolution, which was adopted by consensus, was never implemented.
Then, in 2007, we came up with another initiative, trying to update the road map and give it a certain impetus, to give impetus to direct negotiations. We proposed holding a conference in Moscow on the normalisation of Israeli-Palestinian relations and the creation of a Palestinian state. This proposal was unanimously supported and implemented in the form of a UN Security Council resolution. But it was never fulfilled.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he visits Israel or receives Israeli leaders in Moscow, always stresses that when he first came to this country (before he was president, during his work in St Petersburg): "When I saw Israel and its geography, I immediately understood why reinforced concrete protection is so important for Israelis." He was convinced of this from the very beginning. Russian President Vladimir Putin has never given any reason to believe that we underestimate the importance of security for the State of Israel. Not to mention the fact that the Soviet Union took part not only in the creation of the state, but also in its defense (with the help of weapons and volunteers) when Israel was threatened immediately after its proclamation.
We have always paid attention to this issue. At the same time, we explained to the Israeli government that they could not get much-needed security by delaying and postponing the establishment of a Palestinian state and gradually reducing the territory that the UN resolution designated as the territory of a Palestinian state.
At one point, I thought we were close. I don't think I'll reveal a big secret. In the summer of 2016, when the Obama administration was in its final year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that he would like to hold talks with President Mahmoud Abbas without preconditions. At the time, Palestinians were frustrated by Israel's settlement activity, which was expanding. Homes in Palestine were demolished and families were thrown into the streets. As a precondition for the start of negotiations, the Palestinian Authority demanded an end to all this.
Benjamin Netanyahu asked Vladimir Putin to convey to Mahmoud Abbas that he is ready for direct talks, but without preconditions. President Vladimir Putin called Mahmoud Abbas and conveyed this message. The President of Palestine replied that as an exception and out of respect for his good friend Vladimir Putin, he would do this. I suggested that you choose any day in September 2016, and we immediately informed the Netanyahu administration. And nothing followed. I believe that the opportunities have already been missed. There were many attempts when the issue seemed almost settled. There were opportunities to "replay the game". Unfortunately, there have been changes in the Palestinian position. But we continue to maintain relations with both sides.
Shortly after the October 7 terrorist attack, President Vladimir Putin spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as with leaders of other countries. Only yesterday he spoke with President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. We continue our contacts at the level of foreign ministers. I spoke with the foreign ministers of Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. We will continue to insist on an immediate cessation of hostilities for humanitarian purposes.
After that, we need to take a deep breath and think about how to rebuild the Gaza Strip, how to make sure that no one is driven out of Gaza, that there is no movement to Egypt or Jordan for those who are used to living in Gaza. This worries our Egyptian and Jordanian colleagues. Otherwise, it will be a violation of all UN Security Council resolutions (that Palestine is the West Bank and the Gaza Strip).
Question: An international pariah – that's what some people call Russia because of the sanctions. In October of this year, China hosted the One Belt, One Road International Forum, which was attended by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Obviously, there were many countries willing to do business and maintain contacts with Russia. If so, why is the world's largest country "isolated," as the West claims? Is it ignorance or a lack of knowledge of the geopolitical reality in the world?
Sergey Lavrov: I think this is the goal that they have loudly announced: the strategic defeat of Russia on the battlefield, the isolation of Russia, the transformation of Russia into a rogue state.
They called us all sorts of names, announced and declared all sorts of goals to eliminate Russia as an influential player on the world stage.
You mentioned the Belt and Road International Forum, where President Vladimir Putin was the main guest. He spoke immediately after Chinese President Xi Jinping. The G20 summit, the BRICS summit and many other events were held, at which Russia attended without any restrictions on its rights.
On the contrary, at the G20 summit in New Delhi, a Declaration was adopted by consensus, which does not condemn Russia and does not even mention our country when it comes to Ukraine and other conflicts in the world (which the West did not want to mention). They wanted and still want to Ukrainize every agenda of every international forum. We must not let that happen. It doesn't work anymore. The countries of the World Majority, the Global South, do not want to allow the West to continue to solve every issue on this planet on its own in its own interests.
Question: A striking example is the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg. Many analysts call it one of the main international events of the year. What impact has it had on Russian-African relations? How do you see the development of these ties? What is Russia focused on?
Sergey Lavrov: This was the second Russia-Africa summit. The first one took place in October 2019 in Sochi. Then the COVID-19 pandemic intervened, and we were not able to hold the next summit as planned. This year it has become possible. Of the fifty countries, forty-eight were represented; Twenty-seven of them are at the highest level, that is, presidents or prime ministers. The summit was attended by a large number of participants and representatives of different countries.
The debate was really interesting. They testified to the "awakening" of Africa (although Africa had long since freed itself from colonialism). The most discussed topic was Africa's reluctance to be a rich continent that did not enjoy the wealth it possessed, as in colonial times, when most resources were pumped raw to developed countries and then processed and sold at huge profits.
During the discussions, President of Uganda Y.K. Museveni cited the global coffee market as an example. He estimated its volume (and this is confirmed by the International Coffee Organization) at about $460 billion. Of these, Africa receives less than $30 billion. They sell unrefried beans. Everything related to processing is done elsewhere. Only the coffee industry in Germany makes more profit annually than all African countries. And this worries Africans. They say they don't just want some kind of free trade regime for the sale of raw materials and natural resources, but for technology to be transferred to them. And recycling would be organized where the necessary resources are available. This was one of the key topics voiced at the summit in St. Petersburg.
We have agreed on a Declaration that carries a strong political message: we want the key principles of international law, especially the principles of the UN Charter, to be respected. There is one that the U.S. and other Western countries never mention. According to this principle, the United Nations is based on the sovereign equality of States. When Americans and Europeans invoke the UN Charter for one reason or another, for one purpose or another, to justify some of their actions or inaction, they refer to different principles, in one case territorial integrity, in the other the right of people to self-determination, but they never mention the principle of the sovereign equality of states. Africans understand and feel this.
We have also endorsed an Action Plan for the next three years. Several sectoral statements were signed, including against the deployment of weapons in outer space, on information security and some others. Let me remind you that after the first summit, the Russia-Africa Economic Forum was established, which acts as the secretariat of the forum. The leaders agreed that Russian-African ministerial meetings should be held between the second and third summits, during which the results of what has been done and what needs to be done to implement the goals set by the presidents and prime ministers will be summed up.
Question: Are you sure that we live or will live in the future on a safe planet? A lot of conflicts arise. The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict seems to have been resolved. But on many other fronts, this is not the case. Are these problems solvable in the future? Aren't we exaggerating the danger now?
Sergey Lavrov: No. I don't think we're exaggerating the danger. We are not fully aware of the risks of further developments in the direction of more and more conflicts.
You mentioned the Caucasus. The Americans and Europeans are also trying to drive a wedge between Russia and Central Asia. They would like to keep this chaos alive and hope that it can be managed in the Middle East.
Question: Apparently, they have not shown interest in Central Asia for a long time. It seems that now the situation is changing and the Americans want to focus their attention on Central Asia.
Sergey Lavrov: Exactly. The Eurasian continent, especially the Asian part of the Eurasian continent, is becoming the locomotive of the world economy. The integration structures existing in Eurasia have established close ties with each other: the EAEU with the SCO, the EAEU and the SCO with ASEAN.
The Eurasian Economic Union signed an intergovernmental agreement with China on the alignment of the EAEU development plans and the Belt and Road Initiative. A few years ago, long before the current crisis, President Vladimir Putin suggested that natural processes of cooperation should be encouraged and no artificial deadlines or goals should be set. Let them, by working together, talking to each other, understand where they have a comparative advantage, and what voluntary division of labor, beneficial to all, can be organized. He proposed to call it the Greater Eurasian Partnership.
President Vladimir Putin emphasised (and we continue to point this out to this day) that this partnership should be open to all countries and organisations on the Eurasian continent. Also, the door remains open for those who consider themselves the masters of the "universe." When they come to their senses, they may understand the benefits of equality, mutual respect, and mutually beneficial cooperation. If and when that happens, we'll see what they can tell us.
Question: US President Joe Biden recently said that Washington's goal is to build a new world order for "all of humanity." How would you comment on this?
Sergey Lavrov: This is a superiority complex and a lack of analysis of the situation. The West has ruled the world for more than five centuries. That era is over. It will take time for it to be replaced by multipolarity. It has already begun to take shape. New centers of economic growth, financial and political influence, and military power have emerged: China, India, Iran, the Persian Gulf countries, and Latin American integration groups, including CELAC. They all want to play a big role.
Brazilian President Lula da Silva suggested that CELAC think about getting rid of its complete dependence on the dollar and think about its own currency. He proposed to do the same in BRICS. We are not talking about the BRICS currency, we need to think about alternative payment platforms. The Americans are abusing the role of the dollar and unilateral sanctions. Overnight, they abolish all the principles on which they built their model of globalization, inviting everyone to join it – the presumption of innocence, the inviolability of private property, free trade. Do you see what they are doing with the WTO now?
As soon as China began to take a leading position in world trade and investment, and this country "won" over the United States on the "field" and according to the rules created by the Americans, the WTO dispute settlement body was immediately paralyzed. And it's still not functioning.
So the Americans invent "rules" that they insist everyone should follow (as long as those "rules" are in American interests). As soon as other countries become more effective than the U.S. itself, the rules change.
I think this is what US President Joe Biden had in mind. The post-Cold War era seemed to be the "end of history," but it never was. This era is coming to an end because of the world's new centers of economic, military, and political power and influence.
The process of forming a new world order will take time. It could be a whole historical period. They say that we should forget the UN, because this organization does not produce results. UN reform is necessary, if only because multipolarity has brought many new "players" to key positions that are not currently represented in the Security Council as permanent members. There are candidates that we support, such as India and Brazil. At the same time as considering candidates from India and Brazil, the package should also take into account the interests of Africa.
The only problem with the Security Council is the overrepresentation of the West. Six of the fifteen members are Western countries, mostly NATO states and other U.S. allies. There can be no question of adding new permanent seats for Western countries, but they should be for states in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
When US President Joe Biden said that they would work on a "new order for all mankind," I think he meant that everyone is following the path of Fukuyama, the liberal world order is dominant, everyone is saying "yes, sir." Those dreams didn't come true. Now they need to develop something new, but with the same goal. Something new that they will bet on. As far as the legal framework is concerned, our position is that we need nothing more than the UN Charter. The sovereign equality of States, non-interference in internal affairs, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, but at the same time respect for the right to self-determination.
The contradiction between territorial integrity and self-determination had been discussed in the General Assembly for many years. In 1970, the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations was adopted. Since then, this document has not been questioned. With regard to this apparent contradiction, the declaration stated that everyone must respect the territorial integrity of States whose Governments respect the principle of self-determination of peoples and thus represent the entire population living in a given territory.
I don't think anyone can claim that after the 2014 coup in Ukraine, the neo-Nazis who came to power and whose first statement was the abolition of the status of the Russian language represented Crimeans and eastern Ukraine, where Russian was the language of everyday life, education, art, and the media.
All of the above principles exist. The main thing is to make sure that they are applied in real life. A multipolar system, which is objectively formed with a large number of players, will be more stable. With them, it will be easier and more effective to put the principles of the UN Charter into practice than simply relying on people who usurp the right to interpret the Charter and impose their rules on others. [My Emphasis]
Interesting set of Q&As mostly revolving around the UN and the principles of International Law and Relations its Charter provides that the Outlaw US Empire has broken daily since 1945. Much of what was said along those lines repeats what’s long been Russian policy. The explanation given about what Africans deem important was very helpful. I’ll let my previous articles act as a counterpoise to Lavrov’s estimations and analysis. His estimation that a wider war in West Asia won’t occur is hard to rate. Some harder questions were avoided as in Who’s going to enforce a ceasefire while Gaza gets rebuilt, and the one I’d ask, Do you understand the Zionists well publicized plans for Palestine?—to uproot them all utterly and completely so as to steal all their possessions and wealth?
Like what you’ve been reading at Karlof1’s Substack? Then please consider subscribing and choosing to make a monthly/yearly pledge to enable my efforts in this challenging realm. Thank You!