The Strategic Chessboard: Lavrov’s Take on US Threats, China Ties and Ukraine’s Direction

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In a comprehensive interview, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed several critical issues, including the potential threat posed by US missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the expansion of military cooperation with China, the progress of the special military operation in Ukraine, and the legitimacy of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after the end of his term. Lavrov’s remarks provide insight into Russia’s strategic thinking and its response to evolving global security dynamics.

The Threat of US Missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific

Lavrov articulated serious concerns about the deployment of American ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles (INF) in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. He emphasized that such actions by the US represent a direct threat to Russia’s national security and to international stability. This concern is shared by China, as highlighted in a joint statement following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing.

The potential deployment of these missiles would inevitably lead to a reassessment of Russia’s strategic posture. Lavrov suggested that Russia might abandon the unilateral self-imposed restrictions it had adopted after the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty. He indicated that additional steps in nuclear deterrence could be taken to counter the threat posed by forward-deployed American missiles targeting Russian command posts and nuclear forces. The decision to implement such measures would rest with President Putin, reflecting the gravity of the situation.

Expanding Military Cooperation with China

Lavrov underscored the high level of mutual trust underpinning Russia’s military cooperation with China. This collaboration is framed as a stabilizing force for international security, conducted in strict accordance with international law. Despite not being directed against third countries, the joint efforts of Russia and China are a response to the negative military-political trends in the Asia-Pacific region.

The enhancement of defense cooperation was affirmed in the joint statement from President Putin’s visit to China, which called for expanding joint exercises, combat training, naval and aerial patrols, and developing joint response capabilities. This strategic alignment between Moscow and Beijing serves as a counterbalance to perceived US aggression and instability in the region.

The Legitimacy of Zelensky and the Special Military Operation in Ukraine

Addressing the situation in Ukraine, Lavrov criticized the ruling authorities in Kiev as the “party of war,” unwilling to engage in peace negotiations. The Ukrainian government’s legal ban on negotiations with Russia, enacted since September 2022, complicates any potential dialogue. Lavrov pointed out that President Zelensky’s term legally ended on May 20, and any negotiations would require the emergence of political forces in Ukraine that prioritize the interests of the people over rhetoric of battlefield victory.

Lavrov reiterated Russia’s commitment to the goals of the special military operation, suggesting that a continuation of hostilities was inevitable under the current Ukrainian leadership. He expressed hope that more pragmatic political forces might eventually rise in Ukraine to facilitate peace.

Accelerating a Political Settlement in Ukraine

The possibility of a quicker political resolution to the conflict hinges on the cessation of Western arms supplies to Ukraine and an end to hostilities by Kiev. Lavrov stressed that Russia remains open to negotiations but emphasized the need for a comprehensive peace rather than a temporary ceasefire. The principle of indivisible security and the realities on the ground must form the basis of any meaningful dialogue.

The Crisis in the OSCE

Lavrov critiqued the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), attributing its deep crisis to the West’s violation of foundational principles. The OSCE’s agenda, heavily influenced by the Ukrainian conflict, has undermined its traditional areas of activity. Despite this, Russia continues to participate in the OSCE to articulate its position and to use the organization’s consensus rule to block proposals from unfriendly countries.

The Implications of NATO’s F-16 Fighters in Ukraine

The potential deployment of F-16 fighters to Ukraine by NATO countries was another point of concern for Lavrov. He noted that these aircraft are seen by Moscow as potential carriers of nuclear weapons, given their role in NATO’s nuclear missions. Lavrov warned that the delivery of such advanced weaponry signals NATO’s readiness to escalate the conflict, but he reassured that these fighters would be targeted and destroyed like other Western-supplied weapons.

US Arms Supplies and Double Standards

Lavrov criticized the US for its inconsistent stance on arms supplies, particularly in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict compared to Ukraine. He accused Washington of fueling conflicts while publicly professing a commitment to just solutions. Lavrov highlighted the recent US legislative moves that effectively support continued arms supplies to Israel, contrasting this with the lack of US response to Ukrainian attacks on Russian cities.

China’s Role in Peace Efforts

Lavrov praised China’s constructive approach to the Ukrainian crisis, noting Beijing’s understanding of the situation’s complexities. He acknowledged China’s peace initiatives, including a proposed international peace conference to address the root causes of the conflict. Lavrov emphasized the importance of ensuring the legitimate interests of all parties and respecting the realities on the ground as part of any peace effort.

In conclusion, Sergey Lavrov’s interview provides a detailed look at Russia’s stance on key international security issues. From the potential threats posed by US missile deployments to the evolving military cooperation with China and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Lavrov’s remarks underscore the complexities of global geopolitics. As Russia navigates these challenges, its strategic decisions will continue to shape the international security landscape. The interview reflects Russia’s readiness to take decisive measures in response to perceived threats, its commitment to strategic partnerships, and its approach to conflict resolution, all of which have significant implications for global stability.


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