Lavrov slams West in UN speech, calls for multipolar world

By bne IntelliNews September 29, 2014

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Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov lambasted the west in a speech to the UN on September 27, saying its policies were out of touch, and that its  primus inter pares attitude to foreign affairs contradicted the UN Charter's principle of the equality of sovereign states. 

"The US-led Western alliance, while acting as an advocate of democracy, rule of law and human rights in individual countries, is acting in the international arena from the opposite position, rejecting the democratic principle of the sovereign right of states enshrined in the UN Charter and trying to decide for others what is good and what is bad," Lavrov said at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Saturday.

Lavrov slated the implicit hypocrisy in the US' condemnation of Russia's use of military force to get its way in Ukraine, without actually admitting the Kremlin has sent in troops to fight with the rebels in the Donbass. "Washington has openly declared its right to use military force unilaterally and wherever it sees fit in order to protect its own interests," said Lavrov. 

The Russian foreign minister went on to suggest the adoption of a declaration that would stipulate the principle of non-recognition of a coup as a means of changing regime in a country and the inadmissibility of meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign states.

"The United States and the European Union supported the coup in Ukraine, blindly approved any actions taken by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that directed their efforts at violently suppressing the part of the Ukrainian people that rejected the attempts to impose on the country anti-constitutional order and wanted to defend its right to native language, culture and history," Lavrov said.

However, Lavrov reached out to the US saying it was time for new "reset 2.0" in relations with Washington, now the situation in Ukraine was calmer thanks to the Kremlin’s peace initiatives.

"We are absolutely interested in bringing the ties to normal but it was not us who destroyed them. Now they require what the American would probably call a 'reset'," Lavrov said, according to a transcript of an interview given in New York by Lavrov on his ministry's website. "The current US administration is destroying today much of the cooperation structure that it created itself along with us. Most likely, something more will come up — a reset number 2 or a reset 2.0," he said.

Lavrov sells the multipolar view 

Russia has vigorously campaigned for a "multipolar" world to replace the "unipolar" view where the US leads the rest of the world as global policeman. This clash is partly responsible for the showdown in Ukraine, where Russia demands its economic interests be respected, whereas the US has encouraged Ukraine to break with Russia as part of its long-standing policy of containing potential geopolitical rivals. 

Lavrov complained there was an “increasingly obvious contradiction between the need for collective action by partners to produce proper responses to common challenges and some countries' drive for dominance and revival of the archaic bloc mentality based on barrack-like discipline and flawed 'us and them' logic".

Given Russia's overt aggression and use of military force in Ukraine it was a hard sell, but Lavrov stuck to the idea of multipolar solutions in his speech, saying that Russia was ready to cooperate with the West, but only on terms of mutual respect and if the dialogue is “honest, respectful and equal”.

"The policy of ultimatums, the philosophy of superiority and domination,” runs counter to the needs of the 21st century, including the formation of a “polycentric and democratic world order,” Lavrov said, adding, “no one has a monopoly on the truth” and no-one can customise global and regional processes to “suit their needs”.

Lavrov said that despite the Western sanctions, Russia did not feel isolated on the world stage. Moscow has responded to the sanctions by banning imports of most food from Western countries. "We feel no isolation. But, having said that, I want to emphasise in particular that we do not want to go to extremes and abandon the European and American directions in our foreign economic cooperation," Lavrov said.

The Western bloc has taken a course of "vertical structuring of humanity” according to its standards, said Lavrov, describing the latter as “far from harmless”.

“Proclaiming victory in the Cold War and the onset of ‘history’s end’, the US and the EU committed to expanding their geopolitical space without balancing the legitimate interests of all the peoples of Europe.”

Lavrov developed the end of history theme in an interview with a St Petersburg TV station, saying part of the problem today is that the US does not have enough experts on Russia because of the end of the Cold War. If this perception of a new, self-confident Russia has become the reason for the actions we are witnessing now, then probably the West is lacking specialists on this country,” the foreign minister said. “This must be a consequence of the weakening after the collapse of the USSR, where ideas were popular  about the “end of history,” about no future for development, and the claims that the entire world would live according to Western approaches.”

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