Question: The big question that most are asking is the reason for this operation, the reason for President Putin to take the country to war at a time when we have seen negotiations and talks taking place. What was the reason? We know that America said that Russia was going to carry out operations. New Delhi certainly was not aware of it. Many countries said that it is not something that is going to happen, but it did happen.
Sergey Lavrov: The real reason is the complacency of most countries of the world after the end of World War II, when our Western colleagues, led by the United States, declared themselves winners and in violation of the promises to the Soviet and Russian leadership started moving NATO eastward. They kept saying: “Don’t worry, this is a defensive alliance, it is not a threat to Russian security.” It was a defensive alliance when there were NATO and the Warsaw Treaty, and there was the Berlin Wall, as you remember, both physical and geopolitical. It was very clear what was the “line of defence” for this “defensive alliance.”
When the opponent disappeared, both the Warsaw Treaty disappeared and the Soviet Union disappeared, they decided that they will move the “line of defence eastward.” They did this five times without explaining against whom they are going to defend themselves, but in the process building up their advanced assault capacities and choosing the former Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, as the springboard against the Russian interests.
As early as 2003, for example, when they had a presidential election in Ukraine, the West was publicly and blatantly demanding Ukrainians: you must choose, are you with Russia or with Europe? Then, of course, they started pulling Ukraine into the European Union Association Agreement. The agreement provided for zero tariffs for Ukrainian goods in Europe, and European goods in Ukraine. We had a free trade area agreement with Ukraine in the context of the Commonwealth of Independent States. So, we told our Ukrainian neighbours: guys, we have zero tariffs with you, but we have protection with the European Union, because we negotiated WTO entry for 18 years. For some time, we did manage to protect some sectors of the Russian economy – agriculture, insurance, banking, and some others – with considerable tariffs. We told them: if you have zero [tariffs] with Europe and zero [tariffs] with us, we are not protected against European goods, which was part of the deal when we entered the WTO.
Then in 2013, when the Ukrainian President understood the problem, he asked the European Union to postpone the signature of the Association Agreement. We suggested that the three of us – Russia, Ukraine, and the EU – could sit together and discuss how to proceed. The European Union in a very arrogant way said that this is none of your business, we do not put our nose in your trade with China or other countries, so this is going to happen. Then the President of Ukraine decided to postpone this ceremony. The next morning, the demonstrators were on Maidan in Kiev.
In February 2014, the European Union helped negotiate a deal between the President and the opposition. Next morning, the signatures of the European Union representatives – France, Germany and Poland – were absolutely ignored by the opposition, who staged a coup and declared that they are creating a “government of the winners,” that they will cancel the special status of the Russian language. They threatened to throw ethnic Russians out of Crimea, they sent armed groups to storm the Crimean parliament. That is how the war started. The Crimeans said: “We don’t want to have anything [to do] with you, leave us alone.” As a I said, there was a threat from armed groups. The eastern areas of Ukraine said: “Guys, we do not support your coup, leave us alone.” They never attacked the rest of Ukraine. The putschists attacked them, having called them terrorists. They called them terrorists for eight long years.
We managed to stop this bloodshed in February 2015 – the so-called Minsk Agreements were signed, providing Eastern Ukraine with some special status, language, the right to have some local police, special economic relations with the adjacent Russian regions. It was basically the same as [the agreement] the European Union negotiated for the north of Kosovo where Serbs live. In both cases, the European Union failed totally to deliver on what was guaranteed by the signatures of its members. For eight long years, the respective governments of Ukraine and Presidents of Ukraine were saying, blatantly and publicly, that they were not going to implement the Minsk agreements, that they will move to Plan B. They continued to shell the territories of these [self-] proclaimed republics during all these years. We warned the Europeans, the Americans, and Ukraine that they are ignoring something which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. To no avail.
People do not want to go back into this history because they prefer to take events on their immediate merit, but these particular events are rooted in the desire of the United States and what we call the collective West, to rule, to dominate the world and just show everybody that there would be no multipolarity. It would be only unipolarity.
And that they can declare Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yugoslavia, located tens of thousands of miles from the United States, threats to their security, and can do whatever they please there, levelling cities, like they did with Mosul in Iraq, and Raqqa in Syria. Russia has been warning all its colleagues that just on our borders you have been creating a springboard against us: you have been pumping arms into Ukraine, you have been totally ignoring the legislation of Ukraine, which prohibited, completely prohibited the Russian language, you have been encouraging neo-Nazi ideologies and practices. The neo-Nazi battalions were very much active against the territories which proclaimed themselves independent and who were promised special status. It’s inside Ukraine.
It was all linked with Ukraine becoming NATO’s springboard, and NATO expansion. They were saying that Ukraine will be in NATO. Nobody can stop Ukraine if it so wishes. Then President Zelensky said that he might think about coming back to possess nuclear weapons. In November last year, my President suggested to the United States and to NATO to sit down, to cool off, and to discuss how we can agree on security guarantees without NATO’s further eastward expansion. They refused. In the process, the Ukrainian army radically intensified the shelling of those republics in violation of all the ceasefire agreements. We didn’t have any other choice but to recognise them, to sign mutual assistance treaties with them, and, in response to their request, to send our troops as part of special operation to protect their lives.
Question: You provided the basics: the history, as well as the present context. But you also said, President Putin himself said, that this is not targeting civilians or the citizens, people of Ukraine. It is to do with the administration. We know that in international foreign policy parlance it is used quite often: not in my backyard. America says it all the time, and many other countries say it. But should an entire people, and entire population be punished for an administration wanting to carry out independent foreign policy?
Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think it’s about any independence. Since 2013, and maybe even earlier, hundreds and hundreds of US, UK, and other Western security and military experts have been openly sitting in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence and the Ukrainian security apparatus. They basically were running the place.
As for the civilians, immediately when this special operation started in response to the request from Donetsk and Lugansk in full compliance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, when it was announced by President Putin, he said that the sole purpose of this operation is to demilitarise and denazify Ukrainians – these two problems of the country are intimately linked. We have been targeting only military infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian army and the so-called nationalist battalions, which are using Nazi insignia, swastikas, which was borrowed from Indian history, but twisted the wrong way, and insignia of Waffen-SS battalions, these people were using and continue to use civilians as human shields. They were placing heavy weapons in the middle of towns and cities, next to schools, next to kindergartens, to hospitals. The internet is full of the testimonies of the people who were living in these places, and who were asking these people not to do this.
Unfortunately, nobody in the West actually pays attention to the facts, which we have been providing. Instead, they are staging some fake situations, like a couple of weeks ago with the place called Bucha. The Russian troops left on March 30, I think, and for three days the city was back in the hands of the Ukrainian administration. The mayor of Bucha Anatoly Fedoruk was publicly saying that the city is back to normal life. Only on the fourth day, they started showing images of dozens of corpses lying in the street, which was only a few days before shown as being back to normal. Then a few days later in the city of Kramatorsk, which was fully in the Ukrainian hands, they summoned people to the railway station, and attacked them with a Tochka-U missile. It was proven beyond any doubt that the missile was fired by the Ukrainian army. That’s why the next morning it was out of the news in the West because everybody understood the obvious nature of this provocation. Now, The New York Times says that they have the proof that cluster bombs were used by the Ukrainian army.
Speaking of civilians and the rules of international humanitarian law, I can once again assure you that our army operates against the military infrastructure and not against civilians.
Question: Mr Lavrov, you said that Russian forces have only targeted military facilities. Even if there were military facilities or tanks that have been placed in civilian areas, Russian forces did not show restraint in taking them down. Hence, there are civilians who have been killed. There has been bloodshed, whether it is the outskirts of Kiev, primarily Mariupol, Volnovakha – absolutely raised to the ground. Some responsibility has to be taken by the Russians also on the bloodshed?
Sergey Lavrov: It is always terrible when military activities bring damage to the civilians and to the civilian sector, to civilian infrastructure. As I said, when people have been killing ethnic Russians, citizens of Ukraine, in the east for eight years, no TV representatives, be it Asian, be it African, be it Latin American, be it European, be it the United States, paid any attention to this. The Russian journalists have been working on the contact line, on the side of the republics, round the clock, showing the atrocities committed by the Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Ukrainian armed forces. And during all those years not a single foreign journalist cared to come to the other part of this line of contact to see what was going on there.
The statistics available from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe indicate that the damage afflicted on the civilians and the civilian infrastructure on the side of the republics, the [self-] proclaimed republics, was five times more and bigger than the same figure for the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government.
This is not to say that we can just ignore the victims and the damage to the civilian infrastructure, but once again I want to emphasise a very important thing. This outcry started only when the Russians decided to protect Russians who are citizens of Ukraine and who were absolutely discriminated. There was no outcry when the city of Raqqa, for example, in Syria was levelled with dozens and hundreds of corpses lying there unattended for weeks and weeks. The American military never had any scruples about achieving their military goals, be it in Syria, be it in Iraq, be it in Afghanistan, for that matter.
This is a tragedy, when people die. But we cannot tolerate the situation when our Western colleagues say that they can do anything they want. They can encourage the government in Kiev to be as Russophobic as it takes. They would not tell them to stop prohibiting the Russian language in education, in media, stop banning all Russian speaking channels, including Ukrainian channels, they would not tell them not to prosecute the opposition, who favours dialogue with Russia, and to stop violating the commitments to give special status to the territories where the Russian speaking population dominates.
Question: You made a very important point because India Today has travelled to Donetsk and we have been putting out these reports. It is very important because it is important to understand the plight of Russian descent and Russian speaking people in Ukraine. There is no taking away from that. We will talk about Donbass. But coming to the allegations against Russia of genocide, of war crimes, and on the fact that chemical weapons have been used by Russian forces, what do you have to say to the visuals? You said that there were no bodies. There were bodies in the basements that have been found much later that would have been found anyway much later. Will there be no investigation that will be carried out? Why just say that it did not happen?
Sergey Lavrov: We are investigating the atrocities of the neo-Nazi battalions of Ukraine and of Ukrainian armed forces. There is a special commission created by the Russian chamber – there is a public organisation which is very experienced. They have been discovering the fakes staged by the so-called White Helmets in Syria, in many other cases. We will not cease our efforts to establish the truth.
We are used to the fact that the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries have a very interesting habit: they just throw in news when they believe this news will work ideologically for their benefit, and then, when it comes to the facts, and when more facts are discovered, putting a big question mark on their assertions, they just lose interest.
2007, London. Poisoning of Mr Litvinenko. Huge outcry. The investigation begins, and after a few weeks a public inquiry is announced, which in the UK means that it is secret. Until now, we cannot get the facts about what had happened to Mr Litvinenko.
2014, Malaysian Airlines Boeing. Shot down over Ukraine. We presented a huge amount of facts. We requested that we be part of the investigation – no way. Ukrainians who did not close their skies during the conflict were invited to this investigation group, Russia was not. Malaysia, as the owner of the plane, was invited only five months later after the Australians, the Dutch. They and the Malaysians agreed among themselves that anything coming out of this room must be subject to consensus, meaning that Ukraine, which did not close the skies, had a veto power on this investigation. We could not get the truth on this one as well.
2019, Salisbury poisoning. The people disappeared. The only proof which was made public is “highly likely,” as Theresa May said. The Brits insisted on the expulsion of Russian diplomats by most of the European countries. When I asked my friends, did they provide proof beyond the public statements about “highly likely” it was Russia, they said “no, but they promised to.” I checked one year later, whether this was done, it was not done. And so on, and so forth.
2020. Our opposition blogger Mr Navalny was poisoned. We asked the Germans. We immediately responded to the German request to let him go to the Berlin hospital. Twenty-four hours after the request he was flown to Berlin. We don’t have any confirmation who was flying with him, where did they get the bottle which is the key element in this investigation. When we asked the Germans to show us the formula which they discovered in his blood, they said this is a military secret.
It is us who until now insist on the truth about Litvinenko, about the Skripals, about Malaysian Boeing, and about Navalny. The stories that they stage in Ukraine these days are of the same nature.
Question: Going back to the investigations, you are saying that that Azov battalion is absolutely shameful, yes, they should be investigated. They are neo-Nazis, and they should not have been incorporated or integrated into any military regime in any country. But if you introspect and look at your own people as well, is there any instance of denying and rejecting claims? Will there be investigations against your own people if they have done wrong? Will they be held accountable?
Sergey Lavrov: We have a law that prohibits the military to do anything which is not allowed under international humanitarian law. Any violations are registered and investigated.
On Azov, it is interesting that you mentioned it. Azov was listed in the United States in 2014 or 2015 as a group that cannot be supported, that cannot legitimately operate, and it was prohibited by Congress to provide any assistance to this battalion. Everybody forgot about this or rather they certainly remember what this group is about, and they decided to put their money on this group.
In Japan, as you know, they passed a special decree by the government that Azov is no longer a neo-Nazi group, and the Japanese government apologises for listing Azov as such. And of course when President Zelensky in his camouflage was asked about Azov by some journalists, who felt that something was wrong with these neo-Nazi trends, Zelensky said quietly: Azov, they are what they are, we have many groups like this. They are part of our army.
You, I mean the media, started asking questions about Azov only when the military operation was launched. For eight long years, nobody lifted a finger, nobody bothered about what was being groomed in Ukraine, as a continuation, or rather a resurrection, of what was boiling in Europe in 1930s.
Question: President Zelensky said that Russia plans to use tactical nuclear weapons.
Sergey Lavrov: He says many things. Depends on what he drinks and what he smokes. He says many things.
Question: Do you think it was a strategic miscalculation by President Zelensky to take on Russia when there was no certain assurance from NATO and the European Union that they would actually back Ukraine?
Sergey Lavrov: President Zelensky came to power with the promise of peace. He said that he will reach peace on the basis of the Minsk Agreements. A few months later, he said he cannot implement the Minsk Agreements because the Minsk Agreements are “unimplementable.”
Question: It was the Russian forces, the DPR.
Sergey Lavrov: No, he never said that it was because of the military situation on the ground. He said that it is unthinkable for Ukraine to give special status to any part of his territory. But it was very “thinkable,” if I may say so, when Ukraine was created, to put together the territories which now (those in the west) never celebrate Victory Day, May 9, and the eastern territories, which would never celebrate the heroes honoured in the west: those who collaborated with Hitler. With this difficult composition of territories, to say that Ukraine can only be a unitary state, and that it would not give special status to these people even if the Security Council demands so, I believe that this was not very far-sighted.
Had he cooperated as he promised to his electorate when he was elected, had he cooperated in implementing the Minsk Agreements, the crisis would have been over long ago.
Question: Did the West betray Zelensky?
Sergey Lavrov: No, I think the West played Zelensky against Russia and did everything to strengthen the desire to ignore the Minsk Agreements.
The “West” is a broad notion. It’s the United States and the Brits. The rest of the West, including the European Union, is just an obedient servant.
Question: Tactical nuclear weapons. Will Russia ever use them?
Sergey Lavrov: Ask Mr Zelensky. We never mentioned this. He mentioned this. So, his intelligence must have provided him some news. I cannot comment something which a not very adequate person pronounces.
Question: As a P5 member, as a nuclear power, will nuclear be an option at all, on the table at all?
Sergey Lavrov: When the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987, Gorbachev and Reagan, decided that they have special responsibility for peace on this planet, they signed the solemn declaration that there could be no winners in a nuclear war, and therefore a nuclear war must never be launched.
After the Trump administration came to office, we have been telling them, because tensions were aggravated: “Why don’t we try to send a positive political message to the entire universe and to reiterate what Gorbachev and Reagan pronounced?” During all the four years of the administration, they refused to do so.
But we were really encouraged when President Biden was inaugurated. Five days after his inauguration, we repeated this offer, he first agreed to extend the [New] START treaty without any preconditions. In June 2021, when they met with President Putin in Geneva, they issued this declaration. This declaration was issued on our initiative. After the Americans and the Russians said that there must be no nuclear war, that they won’t think about it, we started to promote the same commitment in the context of the P5. Not the United States, not UK, not France – Russia. Eventually, earlier this year, in January this year, the P5, at the level of presidents and heads of government, issued the statement which we initiated and which we were pushing through for all these years.
Question: So nuclear is off the table?
Sergey Lavrov: This statement, both the Russian-American statement, and the P5 summit statement, were issued on the strong insistence of the Russian Federation.
Question: Coming back to the Donbass region, DPR, LPR. The independence of these republics is non-negotiable for Russia when you talk to Ukraine. What happens if the negotiations succeed between Ukraine and Russia and should there be a settlement, will Russia withdraw from other areas: Sumy, Kharkov, Zaporozhye, Kherson, Nikolayev?
Sergey Lavrov: I thought you are a journalist, but you can be a spy. I am not discussing the military operation, for obvious reasons it is never the case.
On the territorial situation, we recognise DPR and LPR within the administrative boundaries of the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Minsk agreements were signed when these two territories were split roughly half and half. Now the militias of these republics are fighting to get their territory back.
When they had a referendum in 2014, it was held on the entire territories of the former regions. But then the coup leaders started the war, which they called an anti-terrorist operation, and they took a considerable chunk of both regions. So, yes, we recognise LPR and DPR within their declared territories as a result of the referendum.
Question: Which in fact includes Mariupol and Volnovakha, as part of Donetsk.
Sergey Lavrov: Yes.
Question: My question is, if there is a settlement between the two sides, and they recognise, which President Zelensky said he would not, he said that they are going to fight for Donbass to the very end, so where are the red lines?
Sergey Lavrov: I cannot intelligently discuss what President Zelensky says because he always changes his mind diametrically.
He was the initiator of the negotiations, which we accepted. At some point we were disappointed because they were changing their mind every time, coming late, leaving early, but then in Istanbul, about one month ago, it was on March 29, they brought a paper, saying that we are not going to be a member of any military alliance, that they will be neutral. In return, they asked for security guarantees, preferably P5, maybe some others, and it was written and initialled by the head of the heads of delegations. The security guarantees they were asking for would not cover Crimea and the territories in the east of Ukraine.
It was not our language, it was their language. Now President Zelensky says “no way.” They started backtracking even earlier. But this is a paper with the signature of the head of the Ukrainian delegation. So, before we can intelligently discuss what he says one day or another, we need to have clarity about the credibility of this person and about his team.
Question: Was there any understanding in Istanbul on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kiev, as well?
Sergey Lavrov: We changed the configuration of our presence. This was announced immediately after Istanbul that since we believed that they brought something which could serve as a basis [of an agreement], we made a goodwill gesture, and we changed the configuration in the Kiev and Chernigov areas.
This was not appreciated at all. Instead, this Bucha thing was immediately staged and played, like Skripals were played in Salisbury, like the Malaysian Boeing, like Navalny, played, but immediately put aside when the hard facts were presented which they cannot challenge.
Question: There are mayors who have been appointed now by Russia in Berdyansk and Melitopol, and they are saying that they will hold a referendum, that they are not going to go back. Is that the plan?
Sergey Lavrov: That’s the outmost democracy, right? A referendum – people saying what they want.
Question: Which means that you are securing your land boundary in Sumy and Kharkov, but also the waters, if you look at Zaporozhye, Nikolayev.
Sergey Lavrov: People have been suffering in all these places for eight long years, when neo-Nazis were prohibiting them to speak their own language, prohibiting them to commemorate the heroes of World War II, of the Great Patriotic War, prohibiting to have parades and to have any events to commemorate the fallen, the parents, the grandparents of these people.
Now when they have thrown away these neo-Nazis, and say that now we will decide who will be running the place – this is our mayor, this is our legislature, I believe that this is a manifestation of democracy after so many years of oppression.
Question: It seems that Ukraine has lost more land than it would have gained by negotiating on Donbass.
Sergey Lavrov: It’s the decision of those who have been running Ukraine, of those who have been sabotaging the Minsk agreements, in spite of the UN Security Council decision. We are not up for regime change in Ukraine. We have said this repeatedly. We want the Ukrainians themselves to decide how they want to live further in a way, which would not repeat the Minsk agreements, when they did decide that they did not want to do anything with the coup leaders, who immediately said that they are against anything Russian: culture, language, everything what these people cherish. Then they were promised something by the European Union and cheated.
We want the people to be free. To decide how they want to live in Ukraine.
Question: Russia is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. How long can you sustain?
Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think we are thinking in the context of sustaining. Sustaining means, you know, you sustain, you take some hardships, and hope that, sooner or later, this would be over.
Russia has been under sanctions all along – Jackson–Vanik, then it was repealed, but Magnitsky Act was introduced, then we were punished for the free vote of the Crimeans, we were punished for supporting those who were in favour of keeping the Minsk agreements, but the Ukrainian government did not want them to get what they promised, and so on and so forth.
So, now we have come to a very straightforward conclusion. We cannot rely on our Western colleagues in any part of our life, which has strategic significance, be it food security, which we managed to ensure ourselves after 2014, be it, of course, defence, and be it some strategic sectors where high-tech is developing and indicating the future of the mankind. We did not have time to achieve self-sufficiency in all these areas, but in most cases, we resolved this issue. Of course, we are open to cooperation with all other countries who do not use illegal, illegitimate unilateral measures in violation of the UN Charter.
India is among those. We cooperate bilaterally. I visited a couple of months ago, and we cooperate in many international organisations.
Question: Speaking of India, India is under immense pressure to sever ties, to cut down imports of energy, of fuel, but India has stood its ground. In terms of reliability, is there a concern that India should have with regards to the kind of defence cooperation both countries have? Could there be delays in deliveries of critical weapons systems that India is buying from Russia, such as the S-400s? What is the conversation you have been having with New Delhi on this ground?
Sergey Lavrov: India is our very old friend. We called our relationship a long time ago a strategic partnership. Then, about 20 years ago, the Indian friends said: why don’t we call it a “privileged strategic partnership?” Sometime later, they said that this was not enough. Let’s call it “especially privileged strategic partnership.” This is a unique description of the bilateral relations between India and Russia.
With India, long before all this became such a hot potato, we supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s concept “Make in India” and we started substituting simple trade with local production, shifting production of the goods needed by India on your territory. It was for quite a number of years already that we have been promoting the use of our national currencies in settlements between the governments of the two countries.
We promoted national information systems, transmission systems, like SWIFT. You have your own, we have our won. They are being used more and more. Payment cards: we have MIR, you have RuPay. They are mutually supportive. It is not, you know, a huge percentage, of the overall volume of trade, but it is steadily growing. On defence, we can provide anything India wants. Technology transfers in the context of defence cooperation are absolutely unprecedented for any of India’s outside partners.
Question: We have got away with a waiver from the United States for the S-400s, but future collaborations, could they become difficult?
Sergey Lavrov: You know, when the Americans say that they are in favour of democracy all over the world, they mean only a very specific thing – that it is up to them to decide who is democracy, and who deserves to have some good attitude on behalf of Washington. When they convened this summit of democracies, you only need to look through the list of invitees, to understand that it is not about real democracies, it is about something else. The Americans now run all over the world, their ambassadors have priority number one to go to the foreign ministry, to the government of the country where they serve and say: “You must stop talking to Russia, you must join sanctions against Russia.”
Well, long before this crisis, I have been talking to the Americans, to the Europeans, I told them: when you say democracy, democracy, and at the conferences you always want this language on rule of law and democracy, I asked them about adding that apart from the national level, we want democracy and the rule of law internationally. They don’t like it. When they push everybody in this anti-Russian camp, when they go to India, when they go to China, to Turkey, to Egypt, countries with their own thousands years of history of civilization, of culture, and when they are not even ashamed to publicly tell you what to do, I believe something is wrong not only with manners, which always has been the case, but something is wrong with the mentality.
When Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, says publicly: “We, the United States, has not yet decided whether to introduce sanctions against India for the S-400s,” they have not decided what is good for you. His under-secretary Wendy Sherman later said: “We must help India understand what is important for its security.” How about that?
Question: I suppose your counterpart gave them a befitting reply on how to conduct one’s foreign policy?
Sergey Lavrov: Absolutely. I respect Subrahmanyam Jaishankar very much. He is a seasoned diplomat, and he is a real patriot of his country. He said that we will be taking the decisions on the basis of what India believes it needs for its development, for its security. It’s respectful. Not too many countries can say something like this.
Question: You mentioned China. For us, the China factor is very important. Russia has a unique relationship when it comes to ties with China and ties with India. You mentioned the United States of America, so again, I am going to go back to the US. Recently, in one of the visits, deputy national security advisor said that should India continue ties with Russia, there will be consequences. If, he said, there is another incident at the LAC, then the US will not come to India’s rescue. The statement is flawed, because there are two points. One is that he said “should there be another incident,” not recognising that the Chinese are still on Indian soil. Secondly, he said that they will not come to India’s rescue, but they did not come in the first place. But where does Russia stand?
Sergey Lavrov: We stand in favour of resolving any conflicts on the basis of arrangements negotiated directly between the parties, like, just like it was in Ukraine, when the two parties, the rebels, as they are called, the separatists, as they are called, for us they are self-proclaimed republics, on the one side, and the government, which came to power as a result of the coup, on the other side had a deal, negotiated and endorsed by the Security Council. It is another matter that the government, with the instigation of the West, failed to deliver, but the method is the one which we believe should be applied everywhere.
After those incidents on the border, we welcomed the resumption of the discussions between the military of India and China, the discussions between the politicians, at the level of the foreign ministers, and we hope that this would be resolved. We cannot use those threats, which are absolutely normal for the Americans, who say “or else, there would be consequences.” It is their favourite statement.
What we would like to do, as Russia, we would like to promote the formats where India, Russia, and China participate together. It started in 1996-1997, when Russia’s Foreign Minister at that time, Yevgeny Primakov, suggested the RIC format – the troika formed by Russia, India, and China. It happened, and we continue to convene in this format. I think, last November there was probably the 20th ministerial meeting. Not only foreign ministers, but also ministers of economy, ministers of trade, political scientists meet, which may not be very much publicised, but it is a very useful format.
We were very much in favour, even we were the leading force in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to promote this, of the full membership of India, together with Pakistan, in this organisation. This is another premise for China and India to be together in the company of their neighbours, and to build more confidence.
Question: Finally, before I let you go, sir, Europe is looking to halt gas from Russia. Come summer, policies might get harsher. But you are looking for the dedollarisation of the global energy market by dealing in roubles. How do you propose to do that, should they start halting?
Sergey Lavrov: There will be no change for the Europeans and other countries who buy our gas. The reason for this decision was very simple and obvious. When they froze the Russian assets in dollars, euro, yens, and the pound sterling for the amount of more than 300 billion euros or dollars, those were mostly the money kept in Western banks after we received payments from them, from the Western countries, for our gas deliveries.
In other words, they paid us, and they stole the money from us because those were the currencies which are linked to the Western banking system. So what we told them to do: they would not be paying directly to Gazprom’s accounts abroad, but they would be paying to a bank called Gazprombank. It is an independent entity. They would be paying the same amount which they have to pay under the existing contracts, but they will pay these amounts to a special account which they have to open with this bank. There would be a parallel account in roubles. So they pay euros, and then inside this bank these euros are transferred to the rouble account, and from this account Gazprom receives roubles.
Question: So you are not running losses at all on the money Russia is to receive from Europe? There is no money that has been stopped?
Sergey Lavrov: Exactly. As of now, they would not be able to keep the money in their banks, the money that they not even owe us, but which they paid to us already. I believe this is something which does not contradict contracts. They would still be paying in euros or dollars or whatever was the currency of the contract, but we will have insurance that this robbery would not happen again.
Question: Finally, sir, before I let you go, I have to go back to that question on eastern Ukraine. Intensification of war efforts now in eastern Ukraine – is the trigger the flagship warship Moskva that sunk. What really happened there? Is that one of the triggers now why we see more intensification against Ukraine?
Sergey Lavrov: No, this operation in the east of Ukraine is aimed, as was announced from the very beginning, to fully liberate the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. This operation will continue. Another stage of this operation is beginning. I am sure that this will be a very important moment of this entire special operation.
Question: What happened to the warship?
Sergey Lavrov: It is for the Ministry of Defence. They explained what happened and I cannot add anything to this.
Question: On that note, many thanks for joining us here on India Today. It was indeed a pleasure, sir.
Sergey Lavrov: Thank you very much.
Question: That was the Foreign Minister of Russia speaking exclusively to India Today.
Notes on information availability from the Russian Federation:
The best video is on Telegram: https://t.me/MFARussia/12362
This is the first complete address from the Russian MFA that they posted on Telegram since the attack on the availability of Russian information started. It is also a complete interview in English and without translators.
The Indian interviewer is smart and respectful. Mr. Lavrov is patient and clear.
It is still a hit-and-miss exercise to get complete information from Russian professional sources. You can see these interviews live on Ruptly but there is no playback. The videos and transcripts are on the Russian Foreign Ministry site, but frequently there is no playback. In copying this transcript just a while ago, the Russian MFA site went down again.
It is important to see or read these completely in order to find nuance and context. It seems to be a fashionable journalistic method to report on one or two snippets only. In that, the Russian media sources are not helping us to help them. Here is an example. Mr. Lavrov’s takeaway quote on being asked about Zelenski, is: “He says many things, depending on what he drinks or what he smokes.” RT decided to shorten that, and said: “He says many things, depending on what he drinks.” Incorrectly reporting even direct quotes does not serve the Russian cause.
“Incorrectly reporting even direct quotes does not serve the Russian cause.„
A long time ago someone said that if you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, but if you do read it you are misinformed.
The newspapers prefer to have you argue about who said it, and have published many articles on the subject, rather than what was said.
This is not a new problem, and the media as a whole has a lot to answer for.
The British media will not broadcast anything that Lavrov says in English and you can see why. He scares the shit out of them. The formost diplomat of the World, bar none, would run rings round most politicians from the UK or US. Well done India in getting this interview in English from Lavrov. At least, hopefully, Indians will get to see it and understand, and arguably India is more important, strategically and economically than Britain.
Britain really dipped out after the wall came down.
If we had engaged with the Russians, and helped them into the Anglo dominated part of the world, with joint technical ventures etc, we could have scored big.
I’ve looked at the Russians “playing” and being themselves on youtube, and they would have been good friends to have for our impoverished (financially, culturally, spiritually) country.
We, as a nation, have lost so much self respect since WW2 we could do with buddying up to a country that has some!
@ Amarynth? Or whoever worked with this transcription and posted India Today’s interview with Lavrov. I posted his statement during this interview re: Phase 2 in Ukraine, and made a request for the Vineyard to post the interview in full. I thank you for that.
“He says many things, depending on what he drinks or what he smokes.”
Coming from Sergei Lavrov, a dignified diplomat, it shows a repulsive level of contempt for the vile beast that is the Zec. I saw this quote, meant to post it, it fell through the cracks of the mountain of info, glad you got it out in the open for everyone to see. Besides this quote, the interview is a masterful dissertation on Russian foreign policy, with India and beyond.
Lavrov’s laudatory words on India’s foreign minister show his qualities as a diplomat, and the high priority Russia assigns to her relationship with India. Lavrov covers all aspects of that relationship, marketing included, at a point where India has shown to be a crucial ally in the struggle against the Empire of Lies. Assuring India Russia can supply all it needs for its defense, while at the same time using this interview to announce the beginning of Phase 2 in Ukraine, speaks volumes about Lavrov’s prominent position in Russia’s power structure.
Sergei Lavrov, as a diplomat, might be the last statesman alive, bar none.
All we have left with is a bunch of imbeciles, Blinken, la Truss, a political and otherwise whore whose head Lavrov cut to show the world it was empty, la Baerbock, yet another political whore, all they have in common is their Russophobia and their low level IQ, or as A. Martyanov puts it, “a thermometer IQ.”
How could one forget van der Leyen?
All these are in-sync and changing from Celcius to Fahrenheit to appear much smarter, even as smart as Joe!
Well, thank you.
How could I forget la Von der Leyen, another political whore whose family connections allowed her the rise to prominence in Eurostan’s political zoo.
And while we are at it, how about Borrell, another “thermometer IQ” and armchair general, advocating a “military solution” for the Ukraine conflict, while a “diplomat” for the EU?
This is what Lavrov had to say about Borrell’s utterly stupid braying (no insult to the donkeys, very smart beings.)
Borrell’s statement about military solution in Ukraine “extraordinary”: Lavrov
European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s remarks to the effect a military solution in Ukraine has no alternatives are extraordinary and considerably change the rules of the game, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Rossiya-24 round-the-clock television news channel in an interview, TASS reports.
“When the chief diplomat of an individual country or some organization – in this particular case Josep Borrell represents the diplomacy of the European Union – says outright that a certain conflict can be resolved exclusively by military means, this means that he has committed a slip of the tongue or a blunder and said something nobody had empowered him to say. Anyway, this statement is something out of the ordinary, of course,” Lavrov agreed.
“The very fact that Borrell said this against an unprecedented, aggressive background, in fact considerably changes the rules of the game, if you wish. The European Union has not acted as a military organization ever before,” Lavrov said, adding that the Foreign Ministry would analyze these statements within two days and make an official comment.
Lavrov recalled that the EU was currently discussing its first defense strategy Strategic Compass, envisaging a considerable increase in military spending and creation of a collective military structure. He said that Germany for the first time in postwar history provided an extra 100 billion euros for building up military muscle, which heralds a qualitative change, too.
“The end result of all this independence is zero, because everything that is being done is totally controlled by the United States. The European Union has no independent role of its own, including the efforts being exerted within the European Union,” Lavrov said. He stressed that Brussels was under control through the position of Poland, the Baltic countries and Denmark, “which will not let the EU drift away from NATO; on the contrary, they will be pushing the EU into NATO’s web.”
That says it all.
Hi Lone Wolf,
Yes, it is frustrating to have to wait for the formal versions of these most important speeches. And sometimes, I just drink in the sense of them, because there is so little of it. An enjoyable part of my job, to get these and post them – and I get to read them or listen first!. But it has become a thankless and time-consuming process, just to find it and in a state that it can be posted.
I’ll go over to the Cafe and tell my Ruptly story :-).
“Sergei Lavrov, as a diplomat, might be the last statesman alive, bar none.”
He is much more than that – it is always a self-obfuscation to be limited within the opponents’ divisions of labour.
As Mr Stalin remarked in respect of Mr Kalinin – You don’t need to wear the badge to be one of the sherrifs.
Explanation for those without experience of the Soviet Union..
Mr. Kalinin was head of state of the Soviet Union, whilst Mr. Stalin was only the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
I wish you would show a little respect toward whores.
You don’t need to compare whores to Blinken, Truss, Baerbock. The latter chose their professions, and the conditions of their employment.
Whores, on the other hand, are deceived, forced by economic necessecity (usually enhanced by deception), drugged, sometimes simply captured and dragged in chains. And they rarely get to choose the conditions of their employment.
Whores’ lives are miserable enough, without being tarred by comparisons to bureaucrats and politicians.
In several regions of Ukraine, the people are taking back control of their country from the nazi regime.
“From the city of Skadovsk, Kherson region, information comes that Russian tricolors appeared in the central part of the city. It is reported that Russian flags are hoisted on the building of the Skadov City Council, as well as on the central flagpole. According to the latest data, a new administration is being formed in the city”.
Earlier, Russian tricolors were raised over a number of other cities and villages, including Berdyansk, Melitopol, Henichesk, Kherson, Tokmak, Rozovka, etc.
“The people’s gathering of one of the districts of the Zaporozhye region turned to the head of the DPR with an initiative to admit him to the republic”
“Recall that about 2 weeks ago, the Russian tricolor was raised over the building of the Rozovsky district administration of the Zaporozhye region. The banner of Victory was also hoisted”
To International Neocons there is no East and West.
Just their puppets – or their opponents: We, the rest!
Let’s pray Russia will prevail against the evil West. It’s unbelievable that the UN chief isn’t taking any notice on how the Azov extremist militants use civilians as their human shield at Azovstal against the Russian mission in Mariupol. This is a technique often used by US-paid Daesh terrorists in the Middle East. Why not let the civilians free with the presence of the Red Cross and monitoring the situation by some observers from the UN? That’s not very hard to do. If Azov militants really like to fight till the end they could do that on their own without taking advantage of unarmed civilians. For sure, majority of Ukrainians understand what’s happening now that the Western-paid neonazis don’t care a bit about the country only serving Zioglobalist agendas.
“It’s unbelievable that the UN chief isn’t taking any notice on how …”
You obviously don’t understand the primary function of the “United Nations”, or what are “The United States of America” and how they are facilitated, or how “UN indians” have been chosen since the mid-1960’s.
The UN chief is a catholic bigot, not a big surprise he’s russophobic. Not exactly friendly with russian orthodox church.
“The UN chief is a catholic bigot, not a big surprise he’s russophobic. Not exactly friendly with russian orthodox church.”
Religion is not a criteria, malleability is – hence the assassinations of Mr. Hammarskjöld and Mr. Palme and the “ascensions” of others.
In geopolitics religion is primarily a tool, including of framing, to sustain we-the-people-hold-these-truths-to-be-self-evidentness.
“Mr. Lavrov’s takeaway quote on being asked about Zelenski, is: “He says many things, depending on what he drinks or what he smokes.” RT decided to shorten that, and said: “He says many things, depending on what he drinks.” Incorrectly reporting even direct quotes does not serve the Russian cause.”
I was very happy top read that, having expressed dissatisfaction before with the fact that Russian officials respond to the false accusations by the “West” with detailed refutations which (1) fall in deaf ears: and (2) end up looking defensive.
I very much prefer that Russia separately report facts and, when asked by reporters or Western officials to respond to the made-up idiocies, respond briefly with the deserved contempt, exactly as Mr Lavrov did.
RT has had problems for quite a while now with its strange adoption of American style of journalism and vocabulary. For example, even when something has already been proved as a FACT, RT would say “Russia CLAIMS” instead of “Russia asserts.” They also truncate quotes –as above– and go drunk of the word “allegedly” without justification.
WHY???? RT has already been forced to register as “foreign agent” and, furthermore, has been banned in most Western-controlled countries. What do they hope to gain by this abject submissive behavior?
If it wasn’t for the Communist USSR Germany and Japan would have won WW2. Yes the American Capitalist Pigs provide us with:-
500,000 Troop Trucks
1,000,000 field telephones
Ammunition and clothing
But it was all to save American lives! On D-Day Germany had 196 divisions facing the Communist USSR and only 65 Divisions defending France and Italy!
God Bless the Communist USSR
“But it was all to save American lives! ”
No primarily the purpose was to kill the maximum of Russians, Germans and their assorted “allies including other allies such as “The British Empire”.
In Ukraine it is to kill the maximum of Ukrainians, mercenaries (social cleansing), members of the Russian Federation and their associates.
Saving American lives was a by product but not a pre-requisite in both these instances but a useful narrative for useful foolery.
It has always been about sustaining the self-misrepresented “The United States of America”, a club which “citizens” are not necessarily members, including by facilitating the maximum deaths and subjugation of potential opponents, and non-opponents just in case – one of the reasons for shock and awe.
“Capitalist Pigs provide us with:-
500,000 Troop Trucks
1,000,000 field telephones
Ammunition and clothing”
Your numbers are wrong if they refer solely to “the Soviet Union”, but irrespective of numbers these were achieved earning opportunites, the purposes of which were as above – maximum death and subjugation of potential opponents and the sustaining the self-misrepresented “The United States of America of which presently NATO is a component”.
During World War 2, “The United States of America” supplied all sides, whereas in Ukraine it appears that “The United States of America of which NATO is presently a component” only supplies some of the sides as far as they can track them, since its an inconvenience to ask for a receipt in a war zone – since as some believe – its the thought that counts.
> its an inconvenience to ask for a receipt in a war zone
right on. and cue this up
The US government is scrambling to trace large quantities of “lethal aid” transferred to Ukraine’s armed forces in recent months, officials have allegedly leaked to CNN, noting that intelligence agencies have “almost zero” ability to follow the shipments to their final end-users.
“noting that intelligence agencies have “almost zero” ability to follow the shipments to their final end-users.”
Some conflate a reason with the reason – in a striptease show spectators watch the stripper whilst the wise watch the audience.
One possible hypothesis to test would likely be – Oh that would be a good way of preparing dumps for afters.
To be thought stupid is often an advantage.
If anyone really wants to know what is going on, then one must read the source material, i. e. transcripts of talks by important leaders. Then and only then does one get the unfiltered picture, both of the reasonableness of the Russian side and the unreasonableness, even madness of some of the Western leaders. Good for the Indians for interviewing Mr. Lawrow and the Saker for providing the transcript. How much suffering could have been avoided if Western leaders had done this!
“He says many things, depending on what he drinks or what he smokes.”
Ah Mr. Lavrov is likely remembering his youth – The Rolling Stones – Satisfaction (because he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me), as well as Mr. Zelenski’s cocaine habit rendered more diplomatic, since some may connotate smoke as crack, whilst others may connotate smoke as marijuana.
Here is the full video on Rumble
Please dont be influenced by the interviewer’s supposed neutral stance. It is all a game, and no one knows this more than Lavrov. Mainstream media in India is severely corrupted by the Media cabal, and they are the primary financiers of these private media companies. Lavrov is just using them to share his narrative, via pre arrangement with Indian government and a pre negotiated set of questions. The media in India is in synch with the West, promoting narratives that demonize Russia. The good thing is that there’s so much mistrust of media, and so much genuine appreciation of Russia within the masses, that almost everyone here ignores the daily 24/7 demonetization of Russia, in as many as 20 different channels, BBC, CNN, France today, DW etc and a dozen Indian channels.
On the Modi Government, it too is not without my skepticism. Past 8 year, it has steadily strengthened its embrace of the Davos, GEF, NWO agenda. Plus its traditional instinct to not rock the boat, its support for the rich business oligarchy, its support and reliance on the over 3 million Indians that form the wealthiest expat block in the US and in UK, its software exports and its huge investment in western assets, both sovereign and private, and its entrenchment into the ‘rules based world order’ and its institutions means that if it came to the choice, its likely that India would turn out to be a turncoat, from a Russian’s perspective. Perhaps Russia is alone, as even China, as the primary economic benefactor of the current global system, would not want anything other than a soft, controlled transition into the new systems….
you may be right, but they may be practical in what they do
today’s world is neither black and white, nor linear
one has to work their way through till they can stand on their own legs. India’s main goal is to deliver prosperity to its masses, not taking sides out of passion for a dogma
that said, sincerity can only be faked so much and Mr Lavrov aint’ no fool. the west invests in India, everyone gets something in return and that tap cannot be shut off… Russia and China for a long time have been only sellers, not investors like the West
however Modi knows this very well. if he sanctions Russia, he will be out of power in the next election cycle
for a durable Russia – India relationship, Russia should be an investor and an investee. They have to stop looking for enemies under their beds
This world is back and white. The west is black meaning dark and the rest is white meaning clear. In-between you have grey’s, which are controlled by the West (dark), and they include many countries all over the world, bought , suppressed and controlled.
Pakistan, Turkey, parts of central Asia, Africa,south America etc are all grey countries. The smaller ones do not matter, except to join in a cohersed UN vote. ANU (above) describes India exactly, for it is beholden to to their “wannabe white” oligarchs who wield the power, much like the Pakistan and Turkish army etc…
India was always an admirer of the white man, even when the British enslaved them: read V.S. Naipaul- a passage to India. The Indians have been friends with Russia for decades, but can change their mind. Blinken went there, USA keeps threatening them, and now Zion Boris and Van urselen to follow with the same threats. It might work to the detriment of the 90% poor that is India.
To say that Russia and China are only sellers is absurd to the highest degree. America is a seller country, of which weapons is the only item or maybe you can think of other things, but manufacturing cannot be one of them. That is all outsourced. That is the investment that you so proclaim, but when you have been going around the world bombing countries around this world, China is all over the world investing, and building everything.
They even have billions of dollars invested in America, and own so many factories and enterprises. They will lose it all as the west will thief it like they have done to Russia recently, and so many more in the past. That is why they sit on the fence for now. But when push comes to shove; you will find out something you never ever contemplated. Z might mean the beginning, but it can also mean the end!
Apparently at certain times this website have moderators that turn off certain things. It would be better if they simply say this comment was not allowed. ANU is correct in the above regarding India, and China and Russia being only sellers is simply wrong.
Most of America’s corporations are outsourced and China has been all over the world investing in countries, while you bomb the world. The money that America invests do not come back to Americans for it is parked off-shore.
Russia or China do not need to look for enemies under their bed; it is their in plain sight for all to see.
Mr Lavrov is the greatest Foreign Minister of both the 20th and 21st Centuries. I would be greatly honoured to shine his shoes. As a sailor, I would spit polish them until they had a mirror finish. The man is brilliant, and has a cutting sense of humour.
I generally do not care for politicians of any stripe, but I have to say this guy is a class act and the very personification of the successful 19th century old school diplomat. It is a shame that the United Kingdom evolved the way it did, because this mode of diplomacy would have meshed perfectly with the late 19th century school of British diplomacy. You can almost imagine a world where Britain and Russia served as the stewards of the two ends of Europe, with Germany and the Hapsburg Empire as the central ballast of the whole arrangment.
Alas, that is not the world we live in. Hopefully his impact on the Global South is such that he can replicate that vision with Rusia and China as the stewards of the two ends of Eurasia, with India as the central ballast of the whole arrangment.
From later on in the interview (it’s now completed at the source):
“… Question: President Zelensky said that Russia plans to use tactical nuclear weapons.
“Sergey Lavrov: He says many things. Depends on what he drinks and what he smokes. He says many things. …”
Lavrov has *certainly* got Zelenzky’s number! ;^)
Very important interview given by Lavrov. Regarding the gas issue, the ‘unfriendly’ countries have to open accounts with Gazprombank for them to receive gas from Russia. This is very simple and easy to grasp.
The EU is just posturing around this issue, making declarations that look good for the european public.
If I read between the lines, Russia will also implement this platform for other energy exports. They want to do it in stages. But why the delay ? Whose interests are they protecting here ? This is not obvious to me. Maybe, internally, they already made the decision and are planning for it. It is just not announced to us officially.
This kind of interview gives us the context of the major decisions made by Russia’s leadership. This is appreciated.
Also, when Lavrov says ‘it won’t happen to us again’, regarding the foreign reserves being stolen by the west, Russia will have to address this issue (US dollars and Euros) financially and make write-offs.
These revenues appear in the books of Gazprom or other Russian organisations. They will have to restate these income statements. I know it is an accounting issue, however this might have implications on Russia’s capacity to support public services in the long run. Usually, shareholder’s equity is wiped out…