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Lavrov Defended Russia’s Special Operation During India’s Annual Raisina Dialogue
Considering the Raisina Dialogue’s extremely high profile among experts, influencers, and policymakers, this means that some of the most important people in the world were exposed to to the fact-based rebuttals that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made in response to the skeptical questions asked about his country’s special operation by the event’s liberal-globalist host.
The Raisina Dialogue is India’s premier conference on International Relations, which brings together experts and policymakers from dozens of countries to discuss the most pressing issues of the year. It’s no surprise then that the latest one focused on the Ukrainian Conflict, during which time Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov explained his country’s rationale for its ongoing special operation there. The present piece will summarize his main points before putting them into their appropriate context.
The first impression that one gets from reading the official transcript of his remarks that was published by the Russian Foreign Ministry is that his interlocutor was operating under the influence of the West’s narrative about this conflict. This is evidenced from his skeptical questions about Russia’s intentions, the first of which was to wonder why Moscow initiated its special operation in the first place. Lavrov politely responded by reminding him that it was forced to resort to military means for defending its interests.
He brought up NATO’s gradual expansion eastward, this anti-Russian bloc’s refusal to respect the OSCE’s commitments to not enhance its members’ security and other’s expense, and their self-admitted exploitation of the Minsk Accords to arm Kiev ahead of a preplanned final offensive in Donbass. In response, Lavrov’s interlocutor continued challenging him as to why Russia employed military means if it truly wanted to win hearts and minds in Ukraine, which prompted a harsh response from that diplomat.
Russia’s Foreign Minister asked him why he hadn’t expended such time and effort discussing the US’ various wars across the world during his platform’s prior events over the years. Lavrov then added after yet another question about whether Russia’s military means will succeed in ensuring its interests where the US’ prior related ones failed that Moscow couldn’t remain on the sidelines when Kiev was literally cancelling everything related to Russia’s cultural identity and refused to reverse course.
The intensity of their dialogue was upped yet another notch after his interlocutor implied that Russia was at least partially responsible for the conflict’s far-reaching consequences that ultimately threatened the Global South’s food and fuel security. Lavrov immediately corrected him by clarifying that the knock-off effects from his country’s special operation are purely due to the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US-led West’s Golden Billion, which were illegally promulgated outside the UNSC.
He continued by asking why his opponents nowadays demand that the G20’s joint statements include criticism of the Ukrainian Conflict when this global body previously didn’t criticize other foreign conflicts like the West’s ones in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Lavrov’s interlocutor still wasn’t satisfied and questioned whether Russia had any endgame in mind, to which that top diplomat reacted sarcastically since he realized that there was no convincing him on this issue.
The first words out of his mouth in response were to say that “you would be an ideal propagandist of the Soviet Union style: calling for peace, calling against the war”, after which he then mentioned that he’s well aware of the ways in which the US is pressuring many countries to take its side against Russia. According to Lavrov, “The arguments were very straight. Do not forget that you have a bank account in such and such a bank and do not forget that your kids go to Stanford. Bluntly.”
The next exchange between him and his interlocutor saw Lavrov reaffirming that Moscow has always been ready to negotiate with Kiev but that Zelensky literally signed an executive order making such talks illegal. That’s why he first exclaimed in response to being asked about Russia’s readiness to negotiate that “you surprised me, because if you raise this issue, you should have done some homework”, especially since the preceding fact was widely published in the Western press when it happened.
The discussion finally began to move beyond Russia’s special operation and towards Sino-Indo relations, during which time Lavrov said that he encourages his country’s top two partners to continue holding dialogues with one another, including via the RIC and other formats where Russia is present. The last part of the Foreign Ministry’s official transcript then saw Lavrov confirm that those two are Russia’s priority partners nowadays when it comes to the energy trade.
Reviewing everything that transpired during his participation at this year’s Raisina Dialogue, it’s abundantly obvious that Lavrov’s interlocutor reflected the attitude of the Indian intelligentsia, which is mostly liberal-globalist and US-friendly in its outlook. There’s nothing wrong about this and no value judgement is being made about that prestigious host nor those who share his views, but it’s important to understand the political context within which the analyzed conversation took place.
In hindsight, it was arguably a good thing that his interlocutor took such an approach to Russia’s special operation since it served as the pretext for Lavrov to debunk every point that was made. Considering the Raisina Dialogue’s extremely high profile among experts, influencers, and policymakers, this therefore means that some of the most important people in the world were exposed to Lavrov’s fact-based rebuttals, which therefore greatly advanced Russia’s soft power interests in the New Cold War.