“Are you interested in these years? [in] What’s happening in Iraq, what’s happening in Afghanistan?” he asked his interviewer, pausing amid thunderous applause. ,[You] believe that the United States has the right to declare a threat to its national interest, any place on earth, as they did in Yugoslavia, in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria … and you can ask them any questions don’t ask
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However, his assertion that Moscow was the victim, not the aggressor, drew laughter and groans from the audience at the conflict. “The war was started against us using the Ukrainian people,” he said to audible groans and derision.
Lavrov made the remarks during the Raisina Dialogue – one of a dwindling number of major international gatherings that still invites Russian officials following the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Hosted by India’s Observer Research Foundation think tank, it also allowed viewers with a rare mix of allegiances in an increasingly polarized world.
The audience reaction represented the divided views in India and many other parts of the world about the war. On Thursday, foreign ministers of the Group of 20, representing the world’s largest economies, meeting in New Delhi failed to issue a joint agreement on words about the Ukraine war because of protests from China and Russia. Lavrov has traveled extensively in Asia, Africa and the Middle East to garner support for the Russian approach to the conflict.
Notably, India has carved a niche between the two world powers as it also seeks to represent a collective Global South voice on the world stage. With strong historical ties to Russia since its independence, it has increased its imports of Russian crude oil to record levels and maintained its dependence on the Kremlin’s military supplies. India has consistently stayed away from all UN votes demanding an end to Russia’s aggression.
Lavrov’s criticism of what he described as Western hypocrisy and its selective focus on human rights fell on receptive ears in India, where officials also complained of double standards.
In December, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was asked about the lack of condemnation of Russia’s invasion. “I can give you many examples of countries that have violated the sovereignty of another country,” he replied. “If I ask where Europe stands from so many of them, I’m afraid I’ll get a long silence.”
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At the Raisina Dialogue, Lavrov clarified that Russia would no longer depend on Western countries and would instead shift its energy policy towards “reliable” and “reliable” partners such as India and China. He said the world is not affected by Russia’s actions but by the West’s reactions to Russia.
He told his interviewer, Sanjay Joshi, president of the Observer Research Foundation, that he “should have done his homework” before asking questions about the Russian invasion. “You are the head of such a distinguished audience, I fail to understand why you don’t understand,” he said, to the widest laugh in the room.
He made the audience laugh by constantly interrupting Joshi, repeating “Wait a second, wait a second”.
He said this was about the G-20 “what to do with Ukraine”, and he repeatedly asked whether the group was so concerned about events in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.
“Nobody giving a d— about anything except finance and macroeconomic policies, for which the G-20 was formed,” he said. “If this is not a double standard, then I am not a minister.”