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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Moscow open to talks with the West, not threats – Lavrov

Current diplomatic contacts show that Washington and its allies lack “common sense,” the Russian foreign minister has said

Moscow is always willing to engage in diplomacy but has no patience for threats, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in South Africa on Thursday.

At a press conference following the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, Lavrov was asked what needs to happen for Western countries to change their policies and move away from confrontation.

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“We see no glimmers of common sense” when talking to Western diplomats, Lavrov replied, adding that their approach amounts to “you must, you need to.” 

“We are always open to discussions, but we are not going to answer calls for discussions which involve boorish ultimatums, extortion, and threats against us,” the Russian foreign minister said. He argued that the West has abandoned meaningful negotiations in favor of belligerent attitudes.

The minister accused Western countries, including many in the EU, of acting as “obedient agents of Washington” on the world stage, to the detriment of their own citizens and economies.

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Asked about French President Emmanuel Macron’s desire to attend the BRICS Summit, while also arming Ukraine and offering himself as a mediator in the conflict, Lavrov called it empty posturing.

“I presume that if someone wants to contribute to the search for a settlement, this is done not through a microphone, but through the appropriate channels. Everyone knows this,” he said.

France was a mediator in Ukraine in the past, Lavrov noted, pointing to the role of Paris in the 2014-15 Minsk peace accords, endorsed by the UN Security Council – and the admission by former French President Francois Hollande last year that the process was merely intended to buy time to arm Ukraine against Russia.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on peace initiatives by several BRICS members, in an interview with the Brazilian outlet Brasil de Fato.

“Unlike the Kiev regime, which broke off and then banned talks with Russia, we have always been open to a diplomatic solution to the crisis and are ready to respond to proposals that are actually serious,” Zakharova said.

While Moscow has voiced agreement with elements of the proposals floated by China, South Africa, and Brazil, Kiev has insisted solely on its own “peace formula,” which Russia has rejected outright.

Many Western countries have openly sided with Kiev in its conflict with Moscow, imposing sweeping sanctions on Russia and supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons, including tanks and artillery.