Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addresses the 78th U.N. General Assembly in New York on Saturday.EDUARDO MUNOZ (REUTERS)
Relegated to the closing session of the 78th UN General Assembly, meeting this week at the headquarters of the organization in New York, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke on Saturday before the plenary, wedged between the representatives of Azerbaijan and Indonesia. In tenth place in the order of speeches, on the fifth day of sessions, Lavrov's speech focused on pointing out the ongoing conflicts in the world, which he attributed, almost without exception, to the neo-colonialist eagerness of a West "subordinated to the United States". On the hottest international crisis, that of Nagorno-Karabakh, he has proposed confidence-building measures between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including Russian peacekeeping missions in the Armenian separatist enclave, where Baku launched an offensive this week. On the strength of the interposition forces, Lavrov noted that their number "will be decided on the ground."
Although the agenda still includes the intervention of a score of the 193 member countries of NATO, Lavrov's speech has practically put an end to a call lackluster by the absence of the heads of state of the main powers, from the United Kingdom or France to India, and in which the voice of the global south did not resonate with the intensity that was expected. With few references to Ukraine, Lavrov has assured that the formula of peace is "completely unviable" and that the Russian abandonment of the Black Sea agreement, which allows the export of Ukrainian grain, is due "to the breach of promises made to Moscow". "We do not reject the [UN] proposals to resurrect the agreement, we simply believe they are unrealistic," he said. Russia withdrew in July from the pact forged a year earlier by the mediation of the UN and Turkey.
The incombustible Lavrov, who has occupied the Russian Foreign Ministry since 2004, knows the UN very well: he was from 1994 until that year permanent representative of Russia to the multilateral organization. The speaker has denounced the attempts of the "whole of the West" to prevent the emergence of "a new world order" also defined by "the alliance between Russia and China", an idea that he reiterated several times. The West's repeated message to the international community, Lavrov said, amounts to saying "anyone who wants to do things without our permission, will not be able to do it." The attempt to create counterweights in forums such as ASEAN or the BRICS, whose members "defend their right to live in a multipolar architecture", is subjected to the judgment of the Kremlin by the reality of "the pax americana" that they want to impose, "urbi et orbi", the United States and the West, against a multipolar world. "We don't want to live under anyone's yoke," Lavrov said.
In his few allusions to the war in Ukraine, which has already passed the equator of its second year, Lavrov denounced "the more than 170,000 million dollars spent by NATO in supporting Kiev since February 2022", as well as the rejection of the international community – of the "neocolonialist West", in his words – to the Russian proposals of détente in 2021.
After a review of the history of the UN since its founding in 1945, on the ashes of World War II, Lavrov demanded "the immediate end of the bloc to Cuba, the economic harassment of Venezuela and the sanctions imposed on Syria", while congratulating himself on the return of Damascus "to the Arab family", alluding to its re-entry into the Arab League, as well as for the improvement of relations between Turkey and Syria. "But the West wants to Ukrainize the international community," he complained, opting to let conflicts like Israeli-Palestinian or Libya become entrenched. He also criticized the EU's stance pitting Kosovo against Serbia, or Brussels' imposed mediation in the Nagorno-Karabakh standoff.
On this conflict, Lavrov placed special emphasis on the defense of the Russian military mission. The head of Russian diplomacy noted that the time has come to adopt confidence-building measures between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the separatist enclave, and that Moscow's troops will contribute to this. The Russian foreign minister accused the West of trying to impose itself as mediators between the two countries, which, according to him, is not necessary. "Yerevan and Baku have really resolved the situation," Lavrov said.
Hungary, closer to the Kremlin
As he did a year ago, Lavrov met on Friday afternoon with his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjártó, on the sidelines of the Assembly, as confirmed by the latter to the Hungarian public television channel M1. It was a meeting of some political significance, since Hungary has harshly criticized the sanctions against Russia of the European Union, to which it belongs, thus opening a fissure in the closed European support for Ukraine. The bilateral has borne fruit: Szijjártó will visit Moscow in October and during the visit will discuss energy issues with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak. "I will visit Moscow to participate in the Russian Energy Week from October 11 to 13. As you know, we consider energy cooperation as the most important part of our current interaction," the head of Hungarian diplomacy said in an interview with the Russian news agency TASS after his meeting with Lavrov. A visit that will probably cause resentment in Brussels.
The Hungarian foreign minister was not the only one who spoke with Lavrov on the sidelines of the General Assembly. His Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, announced in a statement on Friday that Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani will visit Moscow in the coming weeks. The announcement also followed the bilateral of both.
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