A senior Russian official is being ridiculed after a public appearance in which he blamed Ukraine for the ongoing war.
“You know, the war that we are trying to stop and that has been waged against us with Ukrainian people has of course influenced Russia’s politics, including energy policy,” Lavrov said on Friday at the 2023 Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, India.
Part of the crowd audibly reacted in disbelief to Lavrov’s testimony, even causing him to pause for a second or two after claiming that Ukraine “started” the war against Russia and not the other way around.
“Lavrov repeated a favorite Russian story in New Delhi. … You can clearly hear the audience laughing at him,” tweeted Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister.
His comments came a day after the Russian and US governments fell out after a discussion between Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
After a panel appearance at the conference on Thursday, Blinken told the press he had spoken one-on-one with Lavrov and specifically mentioned the possible release of former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested in Moscow on espionage charges in December 2018 from June 16, 2020 to 16 sentenced to years imprisonment.
The Russian government called Blinken’s description of events a lie.
“Checked in with Sergey Viktorovich [Lavrov] to see if Blinken reached out to Whelan yesterday,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russia’s state media outlet Tass. “It turns out the US Secretary of State didn’t even address it. Everything that was said yesterday at the State Department that Blinken expressed concern about the situation surrounding the US citizen was a lie. Incredible behavior by the US administration.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price responded in kind, saying: “Russia is lying again – plain and simple.”
In addition to blaming Ukraine, Lavrov has repeatedly blamed the West and the United States for the turmoil in Eastern Europe.
Addressing members of Russia’s State Duma last month, he blamed the West for “longstanding containment of Russia” and “transforming fraternal Ukraine into anti-Russia, into a Russophobic military stronghold.”
Another of his complaints concerned the expansion of NATO after the Cold War.
He has also blamed “American exceptionalism” for “why we now face the nations waging a proxy war against us through the Kiev regime,” as he described to Russian state media in early February.
While Lavrov said in October that he was open to peace talks with the West, he said failure to prevent further NATO expansion would be a deal-breaker. He also said the West must “offer us some serious approaches that will help defuse tensions,” but remained vague on details.
It was only in December that Lavrov publicly uttered the word “war” after previously speaking, along with other Russian officials, of a “special military operation.”
news week has asked the Russian Foreign Ministry for an opinion.