Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the general meeting of the Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow, December 8, 2020
Esteemed Mr Ivanov,
We continue working despite the coronavirus restrictions.
The international agenda has been packed with crises and conflicts. As if this was not enough, COVID-19 appeared and has done tangible damage to the global economy. State borders are still closed or subject to different restrictions. Human contact has been disrupted in all spheres without exceptions. It is only possible to counter this virus through a concerted effort if we really want to put an end to it. We and the majority of other countries are willing to do this. But our Western partners have, egoistically, tried to exploit the predicament to maximise their own profits, as they have done for many years. In effect, they are trying to maintain the model of a unipolar world order.
Judging by everything we see, the European Union (EU) has given up its claims to its role as a pole in the multipolar system that is taking shape for objective reasons, and is following in the wake of the US. Germany’s recent policy on many issues convinces us that this is exactly what Berlin wants to do, preserving its claims to full leadership in the EU. France has a somewhat different position. The trend towards the EU’s renunciation of its ambitions to be a pole in a multipolar system appears to prevail. If France wants to claim this role, we will have to wait and see what happens.
Intellectually, the West justifies its policies by the notorious concept of a “rules-based order.” These rules are invented on the go, at various get-togethers. The EU has just earned praise from US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that approved a “generic” mechanism for introducing sanctions for human rights abuse following the adoption of the mechanisms of sanctions for alleged chemical and cyber-hacking violations. The EU is creating these in a narrow circle without bothering to address universal bodies under the UN. The UN is going through hard times now and the West is doing everything it can to discredit them or cow them into submission by privatising their secretariats, as we see in the OPCW’s case. When this fails, they take these issues outside UN structures and universal conventions and impose on others convenient decisions as the ultimate truth, the only correct version of a multilateral approach.
This is the gist of the concept of a “rules-based order’ and the fake multilateralism invented by the Germans and the French. They are promoting these concepts by presenting the EU’s positions and initiatives to the entire world as the only correct ones, as a model for others to follow. We do not agree with this approach. We are convinced that no matter how difficult it may be to work within universal organisations where the entire spectrum of opinions, sometimes opposite opinions, is being presented, the only sustainable agreements are those that have been agreed upon by all states without exception, including irreconcilable opponents. After all, the parties agreed on Iran’s nuclear programme although their positions were “volatile.”
Now the West thinks this is no longer necessary. Obviously, it is trying to restore the unipolar model of world order. “Poles” like Russia and China are unlikely to be subordinate to it. However, India is currently an object of the Western countries’ persistent, aggressive and devious policy as they are trying to engage it in anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies, the so-called “Quad” while at the same time the West is attempting to undermine our close partnership and privileged relations with India. This is the goal of the US’ very tough pressure on New Delhi in the MTC area.
Rejecting the objective trends towards the formation of a multipolar world, the US-led West has launched a “game.” It has postponed Russia and China for later and is trying to draw all others into a unipolar world by any means possible. For our part, we will promote a unifying agenda. The G20 is the only mechanism outside the UN Security Council where it is still possible to come to terms based on a balance of interests. It represents the so-called G7, the BRICS countries and the states that sooner share the philosophy of BRICS than that of the G7 (Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia and Egypt). The G20 is a venue where there is still hope for promoting more balanced approaches that can then be used in formal international legal structures. Our official contacts with the West have been frozen by the West (I will not explain why since this is common knowledge). This is the line towards the prevalence of the unipolar approach. They believe that “arrogant Russia” has been “isolated” and “punished.”
Under the circumstances, the role of contacts between the political scientists and expert communities is becoming much more important. We value the efforts of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), in part, its support for our foreign policy and diplomatic work. The stable trend towards a regular dialogue with our Chinese and Indian colleagues is growing stronger. In addition, we have established fairly serious contacts with our African partners.
There are two interesting reports: “Alternative Futures of EU-Russia Relations in 2030” and “US-Russia Relations at a Crossroads” prepared jointly by the RIAC and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The RIAC’s continuous line towards the development of partnerships between foreign and Russian colleagues deserves encouragement and support. I would also like to mention the report “Electronic Internationalisation: English Internet Resources of Russian Universities (2020).” This concept is interesting and it is generally insightful.
I hope the RIAC will continue its vigorous work next year regardless of what happens with the coronavirus.