Interview with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia S.V. Lavrov, Izvestia International Research Center, Moscow, March 28, 2024

Question: We would like to start with a general problem that has affected your department. Let me express my condolences on the death of your employee . Young girl. This shows that this terrorist attack is not local, it has a much more global scale, primarily for our country.

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, this is so. Russian President V.V. Putin gave a succinct and harsh assessment of what happened. He emphasized that all the necessary instructions have been given to the investigative authorities, the Prosecutor General’s Office , and special services. The work is underway actively. She is already showing fairly fast results. This is reported daily. As President V.V. Putin said, everyone who plotted, organized, sponsored, and carried out this terrorist act will suffer a well-deserved punishment.

Question: Immediately after the tragedy, most countries expressed condolences to us, offered their assistance, and some Western countries expressed a number of versions of who might be involved in this tragedy. What did you think of the international reaction immediately after?

S.V. Lavrov: The international reaction was commented on by President V.V. Putin and our other representatives, including the heads of the FSB , the Investigative Committee , and Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation N.P. Patrushev.

The West is actively trying to convince everyone that this is the work of the “Islamic State” and that no one else needs to be suspected, first of all, Ukraine . They speak directly and regularly about this country and its non-involvement. It becomes obsessive.

We have repeatedly said that we do not make any final conclusions until the investigation is fully completed. The investigation is still working on the facts, new circumstances are being revealed. But we simply do not have the right to exclude obvious versions. Moreover, those people who carried out terrorist acts fled to Ukraine when they were detained. The West is suspiciously actively convincing us, not only publicly, but also in contacts through our diplomatic missions, that there is no need to suspect Ukraine. Without explaining why. Although, from the point of view of sound logic, answering the question of who benefits from this (this question is always asked when crimes are committed that have to be solved), we cannot exclude Ukraine.

Yesterday, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, K.A. Budanov, said: “the assertion that the terrorist attack in Crocus was committed by Ukraine is nonsense. Even though Russia is an enemy, I do not approve in principle of terrorist attacks against civilians.” From whose lips could such an assurance be received, but not from this man. In May 2023, he said that “these are people with a modified psyche (meaning Russians) who must be held fairly accountable. Fair responsibility in our understanding is only physical elimination.” This was said on air on the 1+1 TV channel. There are many other statements by Ukrainian officials, including M.M. Podolyak, A.B. Ermak, and former NSDC Secretary A.M. Danilov, including direct calls to destroy the “Russian people”. They say they don’t want Nikolaev and Kharkov to remain Russian cities in any way. And all the rest. There are threats to destroy Russians in Ukraine legally and physically.

I am sure that the investigation has all these materials. Our Western colleagues, to whom we have spoken about this many times, are, of course, aware of these statements, and not only about them. After the coup d’etat, the war of the Kyiv regime against its own people began. It was stopped by the signing of the Minsk agreements . After this, all the past years, the regimes of P.A. Poroshenko and V.A. Zelensky methodically adopted laws that destroyed everything Russian in Ukraine: first higher education, then secondary, then primary, culture, the media and much more. Cities adopted regulations prohibiting any events in Russian and any communication, even in stores and catering establishments. Not once in response to our thousands of appeals on each of these occasions to the Western countries supervising the Kiev regime, which are now shielding Ukraine from all accusations, to organizations such as the Council of Europe , OSCE , to condemn and stop such a line, which directly contradicts Ukraine’s obligations under numerous conventions in protection of the rights of national minorities, no public condemnation of these absolutely illegal actions was made.

Ukrainians have adopted laws and are putting them into practice. They contradict the current Constitution of Ukraine, which directly states that the state guarantees the rights of Russians (highlighted separately) and other national minorities in the field of education, media, and culture. This duplicity of the West, which refuses to admit the obvious (that it is a racist, Nazi regime), is of grave concern. The only explanation: Ukraine is “so,” a part, “the tip of the iceberg,” and the goal declared by the West is “to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia”—this is the main thing. It is confirmed quite regularly. It turns out that those who are ready to try to fulfill this goal for the West with their bodies are allowed everything, including direct support for the theory and practice of Nazism. It is sad.

Question: If I may, I would like to return to the tragedy at Crocus City Hall. Immediately after it happened, Western media remembered that on the eve of March 7 this year. first the American embassy in Moscow, then a number of other embassies, published a warning. The United States says that there are contacts through the intelligence services, through which some warnings were also received. At the same time, we see that our diplomatic missions are being attacked, buildings are being closed, taken away, and so on.

Do we now have any areas where there are real contacts in which we collaborate and cooperate with Western colleagues?

Sergey Lavrov: Practically no.

As for the fact you mentioned, which the Americans emphasize in every possible way, namely that they warned on March 7 of this year. Following them on March 8 this year. The British embassy issued the same warning in English. They addressed these warnings to their citizens who are in Moscow, advising them not to attend mass events.

As for contacts through the intelligence services, they are, as a rule, not advertised. But in a recent interview, Director of the FSB of Russia A.V. Bortnikov said that there were such contacts, a warning was received, but it was of the most general nature. I have nothing to add here.

If we talk about contacts in general. In this case, since we are talking about the fight against terrorism, which in recent decades, after the Russian Federation became the state that it is now, has been considered something that brings us all closer together, both Russia, the West, and the East. The leaders of the United States, Europe, and Britain advocated that this struggle be waged regardless of disagreements that may persist on other political and economic issues. And so it was.

It was difficult with the European Union . French President E. Macron said that although Russia is an aggressor and wants to conquer them, they can think about collaborating with us in the fight against terrorism. We need to “learn the material part” when people make such statements. Because for many years we have been convincing the European Union to form a mechanism that will deal with the exchange of information. This was only possible in 2018. The last meeting took place in 2019. After that, they also lost any interest.

Their actual refusal to interact with us on specific issues of the fight against terrorism occurred long before the start of the special military operation . Now they are blaming all their mistakes on her and trying to disguise their true intentions, which have led to the fact that we have no other choice but to stop the war that has already started against us by deciding to conduct a special military operation.

Question: You said recently that we are not interested in Interpol’s offer of cooperation, but it’s clear why.

From which countries did we receive real, and not unfounded, offers to help in the investigation of the terrorist attack through diplomacy? And did you receive it? Are they really ready to provide us with support in the investigation of the terrorist attack?

Sergey Lavrov: I heard the recent speech of the President of Belarus A.G. Lukashenko. He said that (everyone knows) Belarusian and Russian special services and other law enforcement agencies cooperate closely on an ongoing basis. A.G. Lukashenko emphasized that he is ready to continue. He discussed, according to him, this situation with President V.V. Putin. They stay in contact. So there are such opportunities through Russian-Belarusian cooperation. Moreover, Belarus is closely monitoring the development of the situation in Ukraine. The Ukrainian group stands on the border with Belarus, constantly projecting a threat to the security of this country. The West is also doing its best to gather troops closer to the borders of both Russia and Belarus. I am not aware of any other proposals for cooperation.

If something was done through the channels of the special services and passed on to us, it remained unannounced. I sincerely doubt that anyone will offer their cooperation.

You mentioned Interpol. This is a unique situation. I specifically double-checked my words that Interpol had never before offered to investigate high-profile crimes. The way it is. This has never happened: neither in the case of Nord Streams, nor in the terrorist attacks that took place on Russian territory in the early 2000s. Interpol has never shown such zeal.

And then suddenly, literally a few hours after the Americans and Europeans declared that Ukraine “had nothing to do with it,” Interpol offered its services. We can handle it ourselves. Unfortunately, international structures designed to be neutral and impartial in all types of human activity (forensics, law enforcement, sports, culture and much more) are becoming increasingly “privatized” by Western employees of their secretariats.

The same problem is observed in the UN . There is an Advisory Committee of Experts on Administrative and Budgetary Issues. In their latest annual report, they specifically emphasized the unacceptability of the dominance of Western citizens in the structures of the Secretariat. This is a trend that must not only be taken into account, but must be fought against. And we are doing this.

Question: It turns out that we find ourselves on the verge of a threat no less global than the third world war, in the absence of interaction between countries, when terrorism acts much more generally than the world community.

Sergey Lavrov: Many people talk about this. The term “World War III” is directly mentioned. Russian President V.V. Putin has repeatedly responded to these Western statements. Our position was stated very clearly. We are ready for negotiations if they are serious and will be based on an awareness of the reality and legitimate security interests of the Russian Federation and other countries “drawn” into this. Our President stated this very clearly.

Remember how this topic has evolved, in particular with the North Atlantic Alliance . At first, before the special military operation and immediately after it began, the West unanimously called for urgent admission of Ukraine to NATO, because Russia would never attack a member of the alliance. After time had passed, they changed the “plate”. Now they are saying that Russia cannot be allowed to win in Ukraine, because as soon as our country wins, it will immediately attack NATO countries. There is no logic at all.

Just yesterday, speaking in the Tver region, President V.V. Putin once again called all speculation that we are harboring some kind of aggressive plans nonsense. These statements have the only goal – to force parliaments and the population to come to terms with the fact that the European Union and the European Commission want to continue pumping weapons into Ukraine. Although Europe is one of the main victims in this conflict.

If you take statistics on how the EU and US economies look now over the past year, you can immediately see who is living at whose expense and who is profiting from the policies imposed on Europe from Washington. The United States is generally receding into the background, letting the European Union come to the forefront.

Question: If we return to the question of our contacts with the Americans. You said that there is practically no area where we communicate.

What about the issue of prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States? During the meeting between US President J. Biden and Russian President V.V. Putin in Geneva, it was stated that this process will continue, and one can hope for the exchange of our prisoners. Recently K.V. Yaroshenko and V.A. But were returned. Do you think this dialogue will continue? Is there still a chance to bring our Russians back?

Sergey Lavrov: We always act in accordance with the agreements that are reached with our partners, especially since this happens at the highest level.

The agreement you mentioned was concluded in June 2021 in Geneva. It consisted in the fact that a channel was created between the special services, and it was agreed that it would work confidentially. We did not bring this topic into the public sphere. On our part, it was commented on only when the specific agreements reached were being implemented. The Americans constantly make statements that they have agreed, but Russia is not “cooperating.” These are unscrupulous methods that contradict the agreements of the presidents. We are committed to them and are ready to continue the dialogue in exactly the same way and in the form as agreed by Russian President V.V. Putin and US President George Biden.

Question: During his visit to Torzhok, Vladimir Putin spoke with our helicopter pilots. He, in particular, stated that if the F-16s are delivered to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but airfields outside of Ukraine are used for deployment, then they will become legitimate targets. Before this, Moscow repeatedly made it clear that if NATO personnel were sent to Ukraine, they would also be legitimate targets.

And all this on the “wave” started by French President E. Macron. He posed for a photo in a fighting pose and said that French troops could be in Ukraine. In connection with this question. Do you think the French or any other NATO countries will decide to send their personnel units to Ukraine? Or not?

By analogy with the “Doomsday Clock,” how long is left before a direct possible collision between the Russian army and NATO countries – 5-10 minutes, one hour?

Sergey Lavrov: I won’t speculate on this topic. In general, I think that this is not a very correct and useful idea with the “Doomsday Clock”. There is a stir in the public consciousness at a time when we need to calm down and act wisely.

As for Makron’s ideas. His performance was clearly impromptu. Then he and his retinue “played back” back. However, a few days later, E. Macron again repeated this idea. And he also said that he would create a coalition with the participation of countries that would be ready for this. In response, NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg and a number of leaders of the alliance members carefully reminded him that in the bloc decisions are made collegially and collectively. They said he didn’t consult. It seems to me that French activity on this “front” is intended solely to provide PR for the president in a situation where he has unimportant affairs “at home” and it is necessary to create some kind of distraction in the form of calls to “finish off Russia.”

Recently, E. Macron, in the same context, made a series of statements that President V.V. Putin is famous for not respecting agreements and obligations, so he cannot be trusted and one must continue to rely on “Russia’s strategic defeat on the battlefield.” From the mouth of E. Macron and the Frenchman in general, the leader of France, the accusation against V.V. Putin that he does not comply with the agreement sounds very original. This is said by the president of the country, whose foreign minister in February 2014, together with colleagues from Germany and Poland , guaranteed an agreement between the President of Ukraine V.F. Yanukovych and the opposition. The next morning she was trampled. All administrative buildings were seized and, contrary to the creation of a government of national unity to prepare early elections, the creation of a “government of winners” was announced. That’s when a “wedge” was driven into Ukrainian society.

We called Paris, Berlin, Warsaw and said that their representatives guaranteed this agreement. They called on us to influence the opposition so that it would respect what they all signed up for. They began to answer us in a very unarticulated manner. The point was that sometimes democratic processes take on a non-standard dimension.

The fact that we are not capable of agreement was said by the president of the country, which in February 2015 signed the Minsk agreements only for the author of this signature, President F. Hollande, to later declare that they were not going to implement any decisions regarding “ Minsk-2″. The same thing was later said by former Federal Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel and former President of Ukraine P. A. Poroshenko. This was also said by French President E. Macron, who personally convened the “Normandy format” in December 2019. German Chancellor A. Merkel, Russian President V.V. Putin and Ukrainian President V.A. Zelensky came there. After much bickering and wrangling, the document was agreed upon. It spoke of the need to urgently determine the special status of Donbass (as required by the Minsk agreements), to consolidate it legislatively, like the well-known “F.-W. Steinmeier formula.” She was already a compromise and believed that this special status would come into force only after the results of the elections in the territories of the DPR and LPR were summed up.

If we talk about other “achievements” of France, we can remember a lot. As part of the EU, she promoted many decisions on conflict resolution, which then no one was going to implement. And they tell us about inability to negotiate. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Affairs J. Borrell says that Russian President V.V. Putin cannot be trusted. He also said that if they don’t “defeat” Russia now in Ukraine, the European Union will lose confidence in itself.

The examples given speak specifically about the diplomatic “successes” and manners of the European Union. You can add 2013. Then, with the help of the EU, an agreement was reached between Belgrade and Pristina on the creation of the Community of Serbian Municipalities of Kosovo. It was loudly and triumphantly presented as the greatest diplomatic victory. Then the Kosovars and Albanians told the European Union that they would not do anything. And the European Union “washed itself”.

If we talk about the ability to negotiate or who has what authority, then, probably, not the French or other members of the European Union, who were involved in these “affairs” and then simply proved their helplessness.

Question: The latest statement by France, Germany and most EU countries following the election results is that they will not recognize the results of the elections in Russia, they say, this is illegitimate, etc. Isn’t it, from your point of view, that Europe is driving itself into a diplomatic “dead end” similar to the one that V.A. Zelensky drove himself into by forbidding himself to negotiate with Russia? If the same Paris or Berlin do not recognize the legitimacy of the results of the presidential elections in Russia, then what comes next? Who are they going to talk to? And we will have to talk.

Sergey Lavrov: It is now difficult for me to analyze the background of the actions taken by Europe. There is no logic or focus on the long term. Now, as in other recent historical moments, everyone is not concerned with the prospects for development in the interests of their peoples, the world and the solution of global problems that are truly common to all of us. They are concerned with electoral cycles. Before the elections, they definitely need to say something that can then be “sold” to the voter. They are counting on liberal voters. This is a liberal discourse, a narrative that dominates in Europe among Christian Democrats and Social Democrats in their various guises.

They will probably retain a majority in the European Parliament, elections to which are due to take place in June of this year. But there will probably increase the number of parties speaking from national positions. They do not like Brussels’ persistent, intrusive course of usurping all powers in the European Union, and not just those that have been legally delegated to the European Commission by member states. We can see such a movement to preserve national identity and defend our sovereignty within the EU. These parties will receive additional votes in the European Parliament.

As for the recognition of our elections. It was the European Parliament that said even before they were held that it did not recognize the results. But the European Parliament does not determine the policy of the European Union. His decisions have no legal force. EU member states warned that elections in the new territories and Crimea were elections on “sovereign Ukrainian territory.” This was their reasoning.

After the elections, the Germans made their “famous”, infamous statement that from now on, when talking about Russian President V.V. Putin, they will use his last name without calling him president. No one except them has ever declared anything even close to this.

We were talking about Novorossiya, Donbass, Crimea. But when in Washington, the National Security Adviser to the US President J. Sullivan said that V.V. Putin’s presidency in Russia is a reality, and they will work with this reality, all of Europe fell silent.

Question: Was he in Kiev during this?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, he was in Kiev. “The owner” said, and everyone took “their salute.” Europe, unfortunately, does not exist as an independent player.

Question: Returning to the solution to the situation in Ukraine. While Europe is pumping Kiev with weapons, China is actively promoting peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. At the same time, he insists that Russia’s interests be respected. Do we have any conditions for going to these peace talks?

Sergey Lavrov: China is saying sensible things. When China published a 12-point plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine in February 2023 , we reacted positively to this document. In contrast to V.A. Zelensky’s “formula,” which was insane from the point of view of diplomatic prospects, this Chinese document was based on an analysis of the causes of what was happening and the need to eliminate them.

This plan is built according to the logic “from general to specific.” It states “disorder” in the security sphere in Europe and in the world, and also that the reason for this disorder is the failure to comply with the UN Charter (this is also our position). Moreover, in the entirety of its principles, and not just by “pulling out” one provision of the Charter to the detriment of others.

The Chinese document says that unilateral sanctions, which the West began to actively resort to long before the start of the special military operation , are also an irritant that must be eliminated. On this basis, it is necessary to agree to ensure (this was the key expression) equal security for all participants in the process. This is our position. How to put these principles into practice can only be understood by sitting down at the negotiating table. But not on the terms of the “peace formula”, which V.A. Zelensky and his “masters” in Europe, London and the United States have long repeated as an ultimatum, but on the basis of a serious analysis of existing problems in the security sphere, recognition of the realities on earth and guarantees of the legitimate security interests of the Russian Federation. For our part, we are ready to guarantee the legitimate security interests of other participants in the process.

The realities “on the ground” are known to everyone. Firstly, this is the situation on the battlefield, and secondly, the legitimate, from all points of view (including international) interests of the population who live in Novorossiya and the Donbass. Their rights related to education, the media, the use of the Russian language, the preservation of their history and memory of the Great Patriotic War were trampled underfoot by the Kyiv regime. It is impossible not to acknowledge these realities.

Question: There have been reports in the Ukrainian segment of the Internet that Ankara recently proposed to President V.A. Zelensky to hold “Istanbul-2,” which would not only resolve the conflict, but also move on to negotiations on strategic security. Is this a fake or did Ankara really offer V.A. Zelensky a new version of the agreement, but he again refused, now under pressure from Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: There were such conversations. Have you heard about them? UN Secretary General A. Guterres mentioned this. Russia explained that we are ready to consider these proposals on terms of reciprocity.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Russian Federation and the United Nations Secretariat , which should be valid for another year and a half, is not being implemented in any of its parts. This Memorandum guarantees that the Secretary General will seek from the West the lifting of sanctions on Russian exports of fertilizer and grain. It is not executed. Our position is well known. There were reports and public statements from both the Turkish leadership and the UN. Without going into details, I will say that they led nowhere.

Question: Clarification about the negotiations. As you know, V.A. Zelensky forbade himself from negotiating with Moscow. Therefore, even if he really wants to or is allowed to start them, he must first allow it legally. But there is very little time for this.

Speaking at the UN, Russian permanent representative to the UN Security Council V.A. Nebenzya said that the single decision of the Ukrainian leader not to conduct a presidential campaign makes him illegitimate from May 21 of this year. It turns out that from May 21 this year. are we going to treat it like this?

S.V. Lavrov: Regarding V.A. Zelensky’s decree banning negotiations with the government of V.V. Putin. Our President has repeatedly spoken about our readiness to enter into serious negotiations. But in order to make sure that this will be a truly serious process (or at least that there is hope that it will be a serious process), he told the Western patrons of the V.A. Zelensky regime that he must first cancel this decree. This topic has already appeared.

As for May 21 this year. Let’s live until then. There may not be any need to admit anything.

Question: Question regarding negotiations with the United States on strategic stability. Some time ago there was a feeling that Washington was sending a fairly clear signal that they wanted to start negotiations at least on this topic. We responded that we could not separate security issues from the conflict in Ukraine. This is a complex of problems. Are we receiving new signals? Or did this process, after we clearly defined our position, slow down completely? Now we are waiting for the end of the US presidential elections to understand what to do next?

Sergey Lavrov: In the fall of 2023, the United States sent us these signals, as always, unable to resist leaking this information to the media. This was an informal document to which we responded in February of this year. They explained that it is impossible to talk about strategic stability in a situation where we are declared a strategic enemy who needs to be inflicted a “strategic defeat.”

The same US Secretary of Defense L. Austin more than once called us the enemy. This is surrealism. Russia has explained in detail under what circumstances we will be ready to resume dialogue on strategic stability: when mutual respect, equality and movement towards finding a balance of interests are ensured. Americans think differently.

In conditions when war has been declared on us, they are helping the Ukrainians aim modern types of long-range weapons at our civilian and infrastructure facilities and at the same time they say, let them shoot at each other, and we will sit down to talk. That’s funny. This does not honor those people who are involved in foreign policy in the administration in Washington. They have generally lost the skills of diplomacy, as far as I can understand. They were corrupted by the submission that they felt primarily on the part of Europeans, as well as other countries, ready to “bend under” American dictates, threats of sanctions, ultimatums, and blackmail.

The United States now has sanctions everywhere you look. Washington begins to discuss Venezuela , saying they are ready to allow Venezuela to resume oil exports, but demand that it conduct elections the way the United States told it to. And if Venezuela refuses, the United States will again ban its oil exports. They don’t have any other tools.

I noticed an interesting point when I was talking with my friends in New York at the events of the General Assembly and the UN Security Council . In January of this year was at the UN Security Council meeting when it considered Palestine . My comrades, with whom we have worked together since the 1980s, explained why they are sometimes forced to vote on Ukrainian and other important issues “out of conscience.” The explanation is as follows: an American diplomat, without any “scrupulousness,” approaches the ambassador of the corresponding country and demands that he vote as the United States says. The same demarches are being made in the capitals. My comrades explained that they would never join the sanctions, but in order to “blow off steam” a little, they are sometimes forced to vote differently from what they consider correct.

I asked whether these demands from Americans to vote one way or another were followed by any explanation of what would happen if they did not listen. They told me that there would be sanctions and punishments. He asked, if they do as the United States asks, what will they get in return? In response, as the Americans said, they will not punish these countries.

Question: A strange kindergarten at the level of big politics.

Sergey Lavrov: Unfortunately, we have what we have. This irreparable confidence of the United States in its own rightness, omnipotence, and impunity has led to the fact that US foreign policy is now led by people who do not know how to engage in diplomacy.

Question: In your interview , you said that the Americans do not have specialists in Russia, those who know our mentality, people and culture. How can they declare us their enemies if they know nothing about our country?

Sergey Lavrov: They are not interested in this at all. In the United States, diplomacy has been lost as a method of establishing contacts, confidentially discussing problematic issues and finding ways to compromise. Not necessarily Russianologists, Europeanologists, azeologists, Africanists – I don’t see serious people there.

They are used to demanding from others. They even stooped to such rudeness as publicly dictating to China what it should do. Recently there was a report about a telephone conversation between Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu and US First Deputy Secretary of State C. Campbell. The American said that Washington is unhappy that Beijing supports Moscow. Like this? Say that to the great power China. What is the reputation of the Americans themselves?

There is also a statement by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Jean Borrell. I can’t get enough of his quotes. He said that the West (through Ukraine) must definitely win. And if Russia wins, it will mean that henceforth no one will be able to rely on US help. Afghanistan , Iraq , Vietnam , Syria (where they will supposedly leave) involuntarily come to mind . They will also supposedly leave Iraq, they have fled from Afghanistan.

If we talk about the help of the United States, then they have a small country nearby, Haiti , which they have been involved in for more than a hundred years. Even before the creation of the UN, they “patronized” and raised dictators, then replaced them and installed new ones. But the Americans are powerless to prevent banditry, rampant theft and embezzlement in this state, which is probably the poorest on the globe. It would not be difficult for the United States to “break off a small pinch” of the Ukrainian “pie” and solve at least this problem. No, they have again come to the UN Security Council and are trying to lure someone from African countries to ensure law and order in Haiti (an American fiefdom). Let them sort it out at home first, in their own “backyard.” More precisely, in a small “particle” of it.

It’s sad that the psychology of global dominance and the need to maintain hegemony at any cost has never yet manifested itself anywhere as proving the ability of the United States to resolve any issues “on the ground.”

Question: I would like to ask about two countries at once about two countries that are now being actively imposed Western assistance – Moldova and Armenia . Chisinau wants to hold a referendum on joining the EU in the fall, but not on the territory of Transnistria. What will happen to the PMR in such a situation?

What is happening now in relations between Moscow and Yerevan? We saw that NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg came to Armenia. They greeted him warmly and made some plans.

Sergey Lavrov: In Moldova, President M. G. Sandu openly set a course for breaking relations with the Russian Federation. Whatever they say to the contrary, they say they want to be friends, but, they say, Moscow oppresses them – this is not true. M.G. Sandu has been turned into an instrument for the development of geopolitical space by the European Union, and in the future by NATO. Everything is heading towards this, although the Constitution of Moldova contains a neutral status.

It’s sad that they don’t draw any conclusions from what has happened in recent years. The alliance has already made Ukraine an instrument of its aggression. Now they want the same with Moldova. If Chisinau holds elections, then the Europeans (as the main “guardians” of this country) must ensure fair, equal participation of all political forces. It will not happen. It is already known that certain parties that advocate maintaining normal relations with Russia will be deprived of participation in the elections. The process is already happening.

Apparently, Moldova decided to “abandon” Transnistria. They rejected numerous proposals from the Pridnestrovians and the Russian Federation to resume negotiations in the “5+2” format. M.G. Sandu stated that they will hold a referendum on joining the European Union without Transnistria. There is probably a desire to quickly unite with Romania and through this gain some additional opportunities. Maybe they are counting on a military solution to the Transnistrian problem. This would be reckless for the Moldovan leadership. I think they should understand this. Or you need to explain it clearly to them.

I have already commented on the current situation in Armenia. She doesn’t inspire optimism. The Armenian leadership, under far-fetched pretexts, distorting the history of the last three and a half years, is deliberately leading to the collapse of relations with the Russian Federation. To the “defamation” of our military personnel (who serve at the 102nd military base ), border guards and the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a whole .

It is not mentioned that it was the CSTO that repeatedly defended the interests of Armenia in difficult situations. In 2021, she was ready to send a peacekeeping mission to this country in order to reduce the tension in relations between Yerevan and Baku. Moreover, the mission’s mandate was fully agreed upon at a ministerial meeting in the capital of Armenia in the fall of 2021. We sat until the night, getting everything approved. In the morning, when the presidents and prime ministers met, N.V. Pashinyan said that there was no consensus.

A few days later, he invited the same peacekeeping mission of the European Union. He promised Azerbaijan that this would only be for two months. And two months later, ignoring Baku, the European Union doubled the number of personnel. Now more troops from Norway , Canada and the United States are being sent there, turning the EU mission into a North Atlantic Alliance mission.

The history of the last few years is being distorted by N.V. Pashinyan, his employees and the leadership of the Armenian parliament. When he was in opposition and headed the movement he created (everyone knew that he had connections with the George Soros Foundation), he declared his withdrawal from the CSTO and the EAEU . Under this slogan he gathered crowds in the streets and demanded the election of a prime minister (they had elections in parliament). At the same time, he stated that if they end up electing someone other than him, he will “raise” the people. Democracy at its highest.

After N.V. Pashinyan became prime minister, Russian President V.V. Putin met with him several times. He emphasized in every possible way that we will be guided not by some previous statements, but by how specifically the Armenian leadership will build relations with the Russian Federation. In response, it was stated that the CSTO and the EAEU are structures that are fundamentally important for the security of Armenia, the development of the country’s economy and the prevention of its isolation in the South Caucasus.

It was in this direction that relations developed all the years before the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia flared up in 2020. Then N.V. Pashinyan addressed Russian President V.V. Putin as an ally of Russia and a member of the CSTO. At night, our President, tirelessly and effortlessly, negotiated with the leaders of Yerevan and Baku to stop this war. Then there were tripartite agreements ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ) on delimiting the border, resuming economic ties, unblocking transport communications, and normalizing relations in general (including the conclusion of a peace treaty). All this was agreed upon with our active proactive role.

At the same time, the European Union “dragged” the Armenians and Azerbaijanis to join them. N.V. Pashinyan was the main supporter of the idea of ​​​​working on the platform of the EU and the USA. They regularly traveled there to the detriment of meetings that were planned on the territory of the Russian Federation. In 2022 in Prague, at the summit of the “European political community” (an idea of ​​French President E. Macron), he and the President of Azerbaijan I.G. Aliyev, in the presence of the Chairman of the European Council Charles Michel, signed a document stating that Karabakh is Azerbaijan. Nobody informed us. At the next meeting, Russian President V.V. Putin told the Prime Minister of Armenia that we were surprised by their decision.

There was no explanation. N.V. Pashinyan has always asked us not to forget that in parallel with all our efforts of the last three years, it is imperative to resolve the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. We did this. But when he himself signed that this territory is part of Azerbaijan in accordance with the administrative boundaries of the USSR, the question of status disappeared.

When the Karabakh residents began to leave Karabakh, N.V. Pashinyan asked Russian President V.V. Putin why he abandoned them to their fate. V.V. Putin replied that it was the Prime Minister of Armenia who decided that they were no longer citizens or were claiming some other citizenship other than Azerbaijan.

I also talked with N.V. Pashinyan when I went to various meetings in Yerevan. It seemed to me that he still understood the benefits for Armenia from continuing allied relations with the Russian Federation, from interaction within the CSTO and the EAEU. But now Armenian officials both in the Security Council of Armenia and in the Parliament of Armenia are directly saying that they need to rely more on the European Union, that the CSTO is allegedly not fulfilling its obligations to Armenia. That is, in essence, the circle is “closed.” The Armenian leadership is beginning to express ideas similar to those with which N.V. Pashinyan formed his “Exit” movement. I am sure that this does not meet the interests of the Armenian people. This does not meet our interests from the point of view of historical friendly ties with the Armenians, with the huge Armenian diaspora living in Russia, and from the point of view of stability in the South Caucasus.

The goal of those who are now luring the Armenian leadership to the side of the West is simple – to prevent stability in the South Caucasus, and to try to turn this region into a zone of their dominance. Just as the West is trying to do this in Central Asia, and in many other parts of our common continent.

Question: The other day, Politico published five mechanisms for US action. There is one scenario, but five mechanisms. One of them is to isolate Russia within its own borders, then begin internal destruction through inter-ethnic strife and even terrorism. It is obvious that the pressure with centrifugal forces will increase. What can we do to counter this?

As for the same Armenia. Leaving go?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not make such predictions. We honestly presented all our assessments to the Armenian leadership. They know very well that we remain true to our commitments, that we are ready to continue to contribute to the normalization of their relations with Azerbaijan and to bring this process to full completion. They know that against the backdrop of our sincere interest in stabilizing the situation and restoring relations between Yerevan and Baku, the European Union and NATO are taking steps that complicate this process.

Recently, the Azerbaijani leadership protested against some actions and statements, including those related to the expansion of the functions and composition of the EU mission in Armenia. It’s up to them to decide.

We never give up our agreements. But lately they haven’t contacted us. The last time I spoke with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia A.S. Mirzoyan was in November 2023 at the OSCE ministerial meeting in the capital of Macedonia, Skopje. We suggested the meeting. They didn’t ask for it, but I once again confirmed to my colleague A.S. Mirzoyan everything that we are talking about now. They know our position. Our Ambassador S.P. Kopyrkin regularly reminds us of this position.

As for Politico, what was the script?

Question: Isolate Russia within its own borders. Cut off the entire post-Soviet space.

Sergey Lavrov: This is considered a “generous” scenario. There are many scenarios for the decolonization of Russia.

Question: This is the next stage.

S.V. Lavrov: “Dreaming is not harmful,” as our people say.

I drew attention to another Politico material, which concerned an analysis of the foreign policy of the United States and the international operations undertaken by it. Based on what will happen to Ukraine and how events will develop now in the conditions when the issue of financing Ukraine is being slowed down in the US Congress. Europe, therefore, remains alone at the forefront of this task of inflicting a “strategic defeat” on Moscow. Politico wrote that in all past conflicts in which the United States was involved, its participation ended as American businesses squeezed everything they needed out of the region. This was said in connection with discussions on the future of the Ukrainian economy and the food problem.

Everyone knows that the three largest American companies bought up the lion’s share of Ukraine’s fertile lands. Now there is quite a heated skirmish within the EU. When some food producing countries demand a ban on dumping Ukrainian grain into the European Union, we must remember that this is American grain. How do you prohibit the owner from selling goods that were taken for use and which should bring some profit?

About the future of Russia. I think that after the elections, their results and, most importantly, after the turnout for these elections, which proved that Russians have not become apolitical at all, but on the contrary, they want to defend their identity, culture, history, civilization, and that this determination has been noticed in the world (not just noticed, she is perceived with increasing respect). It seems to me that fantasies about Russia’s isolation were already scattered to the winds when we held the Future Games and the World Youth Festival . What isolation there!

Question: I can’t help but ask about the Middle East. The war between the Gaza Strip and Israel has been going on there for almost six months , people are dying, and now there is a threat to the operation in Rafah. Against this background, the United States is radically changing its position; the UN Security Council has even adopted a resolution stating that there must be an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. But given that with each new administration in the United States this foreign rhetoric towards Israel may change dramatically, what is the likelihood that a unified Palestinian state can be created, and what should be done about those illegal Jewish settlements that interfere with this?

Sergey Lavrov: The creation of the state of Palestine is the only way to solve this problem in a sustainable manner for many years to come. Moreover, it was the creation of the state of Palestine, as it was conceived in the Security Council resolutions within the borders of 1967, with the understanding that there could be some equivalent exchanges, the capital being East Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees. Everything is written in these resolutions.

If you look at the map, it is clear that we are extremely far from that configuration. Every day, by the way, we are getting even further. Just recently, the Israeli cabinet approved the creation of, I think, three thousand more settlements in the West Bank. It is already quite difficult to create a state there that will be logistically connected. The reason for this is that after the adoption of the relevant resolutions, the United States sabotaged their implementation for many years. Instead of working within the “quartet” of mediators (Russia, the USA, the European Union, the UN), they tried to monopolize the peace process. Then replace all the principles on which this process should be built, and instead of the well-known Arab Peace Initiative, supported by everyone in the UN, and implying recognition of Israel by the Arabs after the creation of a Palestinian state, the Americans turned everything “upside down” and began to promote the “Abraham Accords” . Their meaning was that let the Arabs conclude agreements on diplomatic relations with Israel, and then somehow think about Palestine. Those Arabs who agreed to this agreement ( UAE , Morocco ) constantly emphasized that they would normalize relations with Israel, but do so solely on the basis that the creation of a Palestinian state based on the principles stated by the UN Security Council is inevitable and you can’t do without it. All these promises turned out to be false.

The United States now understands that Israel’s response to the terrorist attack of October 7, 2023, carried out by Hamas (we categorically condemned it ) is completely disproportionate (to put it mildly) and constitutes “collective punishment” of the Palestinian people prohibited by international law: the completely deliberate bombing of civilians objects, indiscriminate use of lethal weapons. Almost 35 thousand people have already died. More than half of them are women and children. These are Palestinian civilians. There are already about 80 thousand wounded. Let me remind you that this is five months from the beginning of this situation that developed after October 7, 2023. This is already more than all the civilian casualties on both sides in the Donbass and now in Ukraine from 2014 to the present. Compare: 5 months and 10 years. We share these figures with our Western colleagues at the UN and OSCE. They cowardly look away. Amazing duplicity and double standards.

The main thing now is to stop the bloodshed. It is good that this resolution was adopted. But the Americans missed it, realizing that if they vetoed this one, which was significantly weakened, but at least calling for a ceasefire, then they would generally “lose face” in relations with the World Majority. But immediately, having passed this resolution, the US representative to the UN stated that this resolution was not binding. That is, the “carte blanche” was extended by this “package”. Resolution – yes, but it is not binding. There is an urgent need to stop the bloodshed, resolve humanitarian issues and immediately begin the process of creating a Palestinian state.

The Americans want to cheat here too. We know that they are now seriously discussing the option of submitting a resolution to the Security Council and the UN General Assembly on the admission of Palestine as a full member of the Organization. Now they are observers there. That is, they want to formally proclaim the creation of a Palestinian state, but not change anything on the “ground”. These “tricks” are known to us; nothing can be ruled out. I hope that the main stakeholders, primarily Arab countries and other countries of the Global South, understand the deceit of such forms.

It is a pity that we cannot resume the work of the Quartet (Russia, USA, UN, European Union). At some stage, it seemed to us that we were able to bring the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table, to begin a serious conversation, during which the final positions, the possibilities of reaching agreement, and a balance of interests would become clear.

Question: How can we negotiate with them after you talked about these intricacies, secret thoughts, betrayals. You have been heading Russian diplomacy for twenty years. What has changed during this time? Have any new diplomatic technologies emerged?

S.V. Lavrov: Answering a similar question, Russian President V.V. Putin said in an interview with D.K. Kiselev that he does not trust anyone. We are ready to talk, but not on the basis of some “formula” of V.A. Zelensky. How can a serious politician in Washington, Brussels, London, Paris, Berlin declare that there is no alternative? Its essence is that Russia must capitulate, leave Crimea, Donbass, and Novorossiya. Russia must pay indemnities. The Russian leadership must come to The Hague and “surrender” to the tribunal. Russia must voluntarily agree to limit its weapons at least in areas neighboring Europe. And is this serious? People without a smile, “with a blue eye”, declare that this is the only “formula”.

I have already met twice with the ambassadors of the World Majority in Moscow. Another meeting will be in early April. We explain to them our assessment of how the situation around Ukraine is developing. The last time we talked was about two months ago, we discussed this “formula” of V.A. Zelensky. They asked us questions. I tell them, let’s take only one aspect of this “formula” – Russia must liberate Crimea, Donbass and Novorossiya (1991 borders). Firstly, in 1991, the Ukrainian SSR left the Soviet Union on the basis of the Declaration of Independence, which stated that Ukraine is a neutral, non-aligned state, lives in good neighborliness with all former republics, respects human rights and the rights of national minorities. There is none of this left.

Secondly, let’s hypothetically imagine that Ukraine has returned to the borders of 1991. Look on the Internet what Ukrainian politicians and parliamentarians are saying about what will be the fate of those people who now live in Crimea, in the Lugansk and Donetsk republics, in Zaporozhye, in Kherson region. They say that there will not even be a “cleaning”. There is a lady in the Verkhovna Rada who said that twenty-five thousand people in Crimea should be executed for show. If this is the meaning of the “formula,” then it is an “invitation” to genocide. Our colleagues from Africa, Asia, and Latin America must understand where they are being invited.

Now the Swiss are starting regular “get-togethers” within the framework of the “Copenhagen format”, where they invite everyone and force them to agree with V.A. Zelensky’s “formula”, support it, or at least declare their readiness to discuss one part of it.

In addition to what I said, there is also food security, energy security, nuclear security. This is all for the entourage, in order to lure people under the pretext of the innocence of these specific provisions.

Met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland I. Cassis in New York in January of this year. He told me that they understand that nothing can be solved without Russia, it’s unfair, our country must participate. He said that they would convene another meeting in Switzerland with the invitation of Ukraine, the West and as many countries of the South as possible, to which we would not be invited, but there they would finally bring to fruition the “formula” of V.A. Zelensky, they would strive to it somehow changed and became more acceptable. More – in what sense? Is it that Russia needs to leave not tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow? When they finally agree on it, when it becomes a “collective product,” then, they say, they will be happy to invite us to the next meeting and present it. This is said by a serious, adult man. This is the minister, former President of Switzerland. People with such experience should understand what they say and do.

Question: You said that modern American diplomacy is dead. Given what’s going on, does diplomacy even exist anymore?

Sergey Lavrov: If we take our relations with the West, then no. On that side there is no desire at all to resume equal cooperation. The goal is to punish us, to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia and “isolate us along the perimeter.”

Now all diplomacy with the West is as follows: we still have embassies there, they have embassies in Russia, these embassies and consulates general need to function. Issues of financing the activities of diplomatic missions, purchasing items, vehicles, and equipment necessary for their activities are discussed. These questions now form the main content of our contacts, in particular with the Americans. Because of the sanctions, our embassies found themselves under financial and economic siege.

There are no positive agendas with Europe at all. You know about the refusal of European ambassadors to come to a meeting with me. We invited them on the eve of the elections to outline our vision of relations, to say that we proceed from the fact that they will not unilaterally interfere with the conduct of the election campaign or distort it in their actions. This is their choice. They are here and do not want to communicate with the Foreign Minister. We notified them that from now on, at any level, be it an ambassador, an attaché, or everyone “in between,” if they have an interest in communicating with the Russian authorities, we will consider each such request separately and decide whether to agree to such contact or not.

But diplomacy is alive. It is now rapidly developing in our relations with the World Majority. We have a huge number of partners and, most importantly, bilateral and multilateral partnerships that are of significantly higher quality.

For obvious reasons, we pay special attention to our common Eurasian continent. Here are the CSTO , the EAEU , and the SCO . These structures establish partnerships with other organizations in this space. This includes ASEAN, the League of Arab States, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, and other structures.

In parallel, relations with the African Union and various subregional structures on the African continent are developing. We are observers at the African Union and participate in its work. We have relations with the Southern African Development Community at the level of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and this structure on the basis of relationships and cooperation. A number of other formations operating on the African continent.

It’s the same in Latin America. Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC), Venezuela-initiated Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), MERCOSUR, Central American Integration System (CAIS), Caribbean Community (CARICOM). We have many partners there.

All these regional and subregional processes fit harmoniously into the position, concept, philosophy that BRICS (where Russia chairs this year ) is promoting at the global level.

Of course, when preparing for the summit in Kazan this fall, we will invite to the meeting not only full-fledged BRICS members (of which there are now ten), but also our partners in the BRICS+ format. In parallel, a decision is being prepared for the summit to introduce a new category of “partner country”. There are about thirty countries in the queue. The association has truly acquired a global dimension, not only in its agenda and geography (almost all major regions are represented), but also in the number of countries. Diplomacy is now developing in such a paradigm.

Globalization, which the Americans imposed on everyone according to their own rules, has proven that one cannot hope and rely on it. At any moment they can use the dollar, loans as a weapon, refuse fair competition, break or force others to break contracts, ignoring the presumption of innocence and the inviolability of property.

Now there is a process of regionalization of world development. Each region and country wants to rely on its neighbors, to see what can be done among themselves, “in their own circle,” so that it does not depend on logistics, financial and other instruments still controlled by the West.

In parallel with these regional processes, the planetary process will inevitably return. Here BRICS can play a harmonizing, unifying role. Of course, to “marry” all this requires diplomatic art.

Let me add right away that all these assessments do not exclude the resumption of interaction with the West. When he comes to his senses and understands that it is impossible to continue doing business as a colonialist and neo-colonizer, that the world has changed and new centers of power, economic development and financial power have emerged that must be respected, then he may well join these processes on the basis of equality and respect for each other , mutual benefit, finding a balance of interests. For these purposes, we will always have contacts with the West within the UN. We will work there with those who are ready for this on an equal basis.

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