The economic fallout of the Ukraine crisis was not created by Russian military campaign and is being fuelled by the western reaction to the evolving situation, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in New Delhi on March 3, 2023.
Speaking at the annual Raisina Dialogue, Mr Lavrov repeatedly highlighted the western campaigns in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan which according to him led to human suffering and argued that Russia “warned the west for more than a decade” before launching the attack against Ukraine.
“The suffering is not related to what we are doing in Ukraine. This suffering is related to policy of blackmail and dictat which the West is promoting,” said Mr Lavrov in response to a question from Sunjoy Joshi, Chairman of Observer Research Foundation (ORF). The Russian minister said, Moscow did not act against Ukraine suddenly and that the military option was exercised after Russia for years witnessed its vital interests being chipped away by the West.
Mr Lavrov blamed Ukrainian President Zelensky for “cancelling” of Russian language in Ukraine, a reference to the Zelensky government’s decision to derecognise the language, where it is one of the several major languages along with Turkish, Ukrainian, and Greek.
He emphatically placed the Russian position before the audience who cheered and clapped as he combatively presented his opinion.
Mr Lavrov highlighted that those asking for an end to the Russian campaign in Ukraine had been silent in the face of US-led attacks in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya. At one point he even asked the interviewer, Mr Joshi about the Raisina Dialogue’s policy to the military campaigns where the western forces have been active asking, “Have you been interested during these years (on) what is going on in Iraq, what is going on in Afghanistan? Have you been asking the United States and NATO of whether they are certain of what they are doing?”.
He singled out French President Macron, German Chancellor Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock for claiming that OSCE Helsinki Final Act 1975 was violated by Russia’s attack on Ukraine and pointed out that the OSCE Helsinki Final Act was also violated during the 1999 bombing of Serbia by NATO that Moscow had strongly opposed. Mr Lavrov argued that the US was not questioned when it launched attack against Iraq, “after Colin Powell showed a vial with some powder”.
“If you believe that the US has the right to declare a threat to its national interest any place on earth, like they did in Yugoslavia, in Iraq, in Syria, Libya - ten thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean and they have the right to do so - And you don’t ask them any questions,” said Mr Lavrov arguing that Russia had warned for “more than ten years” about “very bad” western initiatives in areas (Ukraine) that are vital to Russian national security. Mr Lavrov highlighted that origin of the current war lies in Kyiv’s measures against Russian minority population living in Ukraine for centuries.
“It is the war against everything Russian in Ukraine. Can you imagine, they cancel the English language in Ireland? Or in Finland, they cancel Swedish language? Can you imagine this? Of course not. But no one lifted a finger when the Russian language was totally cancelled in Ukraine,” said Mr Lavrov who revealed that in Thursday’s G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Delhi, western countries demanded Russian withdrawal from Ukraine saying “Russia must, Russia must.”
Mr Lavrov said the western leaders have been “boldly” admitting that defeating Russia is an “existential” matter for them. “If they say, this is existential for them, it is existential for us,” he argued. The senior Russian minister said, President Zelensky had signed a decree last September stating that Ukraine would not negotiate for peace with Moscow as long as President Putin is leading Russia which is a hurdle for a negotiated settlement.