June 10, 2022

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after meeting of Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, says West is ‘breakdancing alone’

The CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting has come to an end. The participants adopted an important statement on international security, in which they fixed, for the first time in the CSTO format, the principle of indivisibility of security – the need to ensure equal and indivisible security where not a single country will enhance its security at the expense of the security of any other state. The OSCE declared this principle as a political commitment long ago, but our Western colleagues are bluntly refusing to fulfil it in practice. They demanded legal security guarantees exclusively within NATO.

Today, we reaffirmed our commitment to this principle not only within the OSCE but also with regard to the international situation. The principle of the indivisibility of security obviously applies to the Indo-Pacific Region today.

Our Chinese strategic partners emphasise the need to use this principle in a global context.

The second document signed at the meeting was an intensive plan for consultations between our foreign ministries and defence ministries. It provides for coordinating actions in the Euro-Atlantic Region (the OSCE space), approaches to the UN General Assembly agenda and consultations on various regional crises and conflicts. A number of meetings will address coordinating positions on international information security and cybercrime. The members will also hold consultations on military issues, military-technical cooperation and the development of collective air forces and a number of other issues, including the training of CSTO peacekeeping contingents for UN peace missions.

A separate section in the plan calls for regular consultations through our foreign ministry press services.

Question: You said in a recent interview that the CSTO must become the decisive factor in ensuring security in the entire Euro-Atlantic Region as a counterbalance to NATO. NATO has 30 members and will soon have another two. The CSTO has only six members. How do you intend to resolve these tasks? Will the CSTO expand? What role will Russia play in that?

Sergey Lavrov: We have never talked in terms of the CSTO taking a leading role. We have always emphasised our commitment to the OSCE decisions that announced any attempt by any country or organisation to claim a dominant position in the Euro-Atlantic Region as unacceptable, while NATO is heavily involved in such attempts. Therefore, the CSTO is acting as a counter-balance to the actions that NATO is taking illegitimately for the most part.  

As for numerical strength, there is quantity, but there is also quality, both from the point of view of the states themselves that are members of this or that military-political alliance and in terms of existing defence capabilities. We have repeatedly suggested to our NATO colleagues on CSTO’s behalf (we did this many years ago for the first time at the level of heads of state and foreign ministers) that we needed to start a dialogue and create mechanisms for cooperation and consultations. NATO members arrogantly turned down our proposals. I think it is clear to everyone now that they cannot decide the destiny of Europe.

Question: Yesterday, President Zelensky imposed sanctions on the Russian leadership, including President Vladimir Putin and you. Will Moscow respond?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think this deserves any specific response on our part. “However this child wants to amuse himself…”

Question: A DPR court sentenced three foreign nationals to death who took part in the hostilities on the Ukrainian side. Denis Pushilin said a tribunal over those who left Azovstal would be held before the end of summer. Concurrently, DPR Prime Minister Vitaly Khotsenko said that the republic’s integration with the Russian Federation is underway and unification of its legislation with Russian legislation is among its goals. Does the Azovstal tribunal mean that the people who left there are also facing death penalty? Given that a moratorium on the death penalty is in effect in Russia, can we expect that this punishment will be abolished in the DPR soon?

Sergey Lavrov: At the moment, the processes that you mentioned are unfolding under DPR law. The crimes in question were committed in the republic. Everything else is fodder for speculation. I’m not going to step into the work of the judicial law enforcement system of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Question: I would like to draw your attention to the Polish president’s most recent remarks. He said a lot of things. In his most egregious statement, in which he drew a parallel between President Putin and Hitler, he also said that in no case should the leaders of France and Germany have direct contact with the Russian authorities in addressing the Ukraine issue. What can you say to that? Does this mean that Poland has completely dropped the idea of resolving the issue through diplomacy?

Sergey Lavrov: Do they compare me with anyone? Ribbentrop?

I find it difficult to comment on the statements made by many European politicians, including Ukrainian. Poland and its leaders, who make such remarks, are better advised to study their own history and the underlying events. We see that our Polish colleagues are using talk of the unacceptability of a dialogue with Russia to actively develop Ukrainian territory. Corresponding decisions made by President Zelensky and the Verkhovna Rada on the special rights of Poles who are essentially being equated to Ukrainians in everything except the right to vote; the recent announcement that Poland is creating some kind of parallel oversight system for the Ukrainian tax service – all of that speaks volumes.

With regard to someone saying that neither Great Britain, nor France should talk to Russia, I have heard other assessments, including from Paris and Berlin. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron once expressed their major disappointment with the actions of the EU Russophobes who blocked France and Germany’s initiative to hold an EU summit with President Putin. They are reasonable politicians who understood the importance of looking for a way out of the crisis that had been underway for years and was aggravated by Zelensky’s vehement refusal to implement the Minsk agreements. You are aware of this.

We remain open to dialogue, but it takes two to tango. Our Western partners are breakdancing alone so far.

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