NEW DELHI: Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday questioned the focus on the Ukraine conflict in the G-20 grouping, including the foreign ministers’ meeting that was held on Thursday, and asked why the group had never discussed the situation in previous years in countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya, especially on occasions such as when the United States attacked Iraq in 2003. He noted that the G-20 always used to discuss only financial issues ever since its formation.
Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue here Friday afternoon, the Russian foreign minister also flagged the “double standards”, wherein the “United Sates has the right to declare a threat to itself from any place on earth”, while Russia is accused of protecting its interests. Saying Russia had excellent relations with both China and India, he also attacked the efforts to “militarise” the four-nation Quad (of which India is a part).
Mr Lavrov accused Western delegates at the G-20 session of “shouting” at Russia at the meeting on Thursday and said the policy that nothing except Ukraine was of consequence to the G-20 “will fail”. The Russian minister also said that countries around the world are affected not by the Russian actions in Ukraine but by the reaction of the West. He accused the West of wanting the strategic defeat of Russia.
The Russian minister also criticized the efforts in the Indo-Pacific region towards “trying to militarise” the four-nation Quad and accused the United States of plotting an “Asean plus Quad” scenario so that Russia and China are excluded from the East Asia Summit.
It may be noted that the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting on Thursday had ended without a joint communique after Russia and China objected to two paragraphs on Ukraine that both nations had previously agreed to at the G-20 Bali summit joint declaration.
Slamming the West during a session “in conversation” with think tank Observer Research Foundation chairman Sunjoy Joshi, the Russian foreign minister noted how the West had attacked Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other nations and was now lecturing Russia. “If these are not double standards, then I am not the foreign minister,” he said. “The war that was launched against us, using the great Ukrainian people, influenced the policy of Russia, including our energy policy.
Russia’s energy policy will be oriented towards reliable credible partners like India and China,” he added.
Asked about Russian grievances, Mr Lavrov alleged that there “was a taboo on the right to use the Russian language” in Ukraine. Referring to the West and Nato, the Russian foreign minister said no one has the right to increase their own security at the expense of others. Asked whether Russia was willing to end the conflict in Ukraine by stopping the fighting, Mr Lavrov alleged that it was Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who had said it would be a “criminal offence” to negotiate with Russia as long as President Vladimir Putin was the Russian President.
On ties between Russia and China, Mr Lavrov said Moscow enjoys close ties with both Beijing and New Delhi and that Russia “never makes friends against anyone”. He said ties between Moscow and Bejing have been the best ever, adding that Russia was interested that both India and China “be friends” and that the two neighbours “must make additional common ground”. In this context, he mentioned the Russia, India, China (RIC) trilateral grouping and other groupings such as the Brics and SCO for cooperation.