Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s New York moment performed the diplomatic equivalent of bringing the house down, writes Pepe Escobar.
Now picture a true gentleman, the foremost diplomat of these troubled times, in total command of the facts and endowed with a delightful sense of humor, taking a perilous walk on the wild side, to quote iconic Lou Reed, and emerging unscathed.
In fact, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s New York moment – as in his two interventions before the UN Security Council on April 24 and 25 – performed the diplomatic equivalent of bringing the house down. At least the sections of the house inhabited by the Global South – or Global Majority.
April 24, during the 9308th meeting of the UNSC under the agenda “Maintenance of international peace and security, effective multilateralism through the protection of the principles of the UN Charter”, was particularly relevant.
Lavrov stressed the symbolism of the meeting happening on the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, deemed quite significant by a 2018 UN General Assembly resolution.
In his preamble, Lavrov noted how “in two weeks, we will celebrate the 78th anniversary of Victory in World War II. The defeat of Nazi Germany, to which my country made a decisive contribution with the support of the Allies, laid the foundation for the post-war international order. The UN Charter has become its legal basis, and our organization itself, embodying true multilateralism, has acquired a central, coordinating role in world politics.”
Well, not really. And that brings us to Lavrov’s true walk on the wild side, pinpointing how multilateralism has been trampled. Way beyond torrents of denigration by the usual suspects, and their attempt to submit him to an ice cold shower in New York, or even confine him to the – geopolitical – freezer, he prevailed. Let’s take a walk with him across the current wasteland. Mr. Lavrov, you’re the star of the show.
Our way or the highway
That “rules-based order”: “The UN-centric system is going through a deep crisis. The root cause was the desire of some members of our organization to replace international law and the UN Charter with a kind of ‘rules-based order.’ No one saw these ‘rules’, they were not the subject of transparent international negotiations. They are invented and used to counteract the natural processes of the formation of new independent centers of development, which are an objective manifestation of multilateralism. They are trying to contain them with illegitimate unilateral measures, including cutting off access to modern technologies and financial services, ousting them from supply chains, confiscating property, destroying competitors’ critical infrastructure, and manipulating universally agreed norms and procedures. As a result, the fragmentation of world trade, the collapse of market mechanisms, the paralysis of the WTO and the final, already without disguise, transformation of the IMF into a tool for achieving the goals of the United States and its allies, including military goals.”
Destroying globalization: “In a desperate attempt to assert its dominance by punishing the disobedient, the United States went on to destroy globalization, which for many years was extolled as the highest good of all mankind, serving the multilateral system of the world economy. Washington and the rest of the West, which has submitted to it, use their ‘rules’ whenever it is necessary to justify illegitimate steps against those who build their policies in accordance with international law and refuse to follow the selfish interests of the ‘golden billion’. Dissenters are blacklisted according to the principle: ‘Whoever is not with us is against us.’ It has long been ‘inconvenient’ for our Western colleagues to negotiate in universal formats, such as the UN. For the ideological justification of the policy of undermining multilateralism, the theme of the unity of ‘democracies’ as opposed to ‘autocracies’ has been introduced. In addition to the ‘summits for democracy’, whose composition is determined by the self-proclaimed Hegemon, other ‘clubs of the elite’ are being created, bypassing the UN.”
“Garden” vs. “Jungle: “Let’s call a spade a spade: no one allowed the Western minority to speak on behalf of all mankind. It is necessary to behave decently and respect all members of the international community. By imposing a ‘rules-based order’, its authors arrogantly reject a key principle of the UN Charter – the sovereign equality of states. The quintessence of the ‘exclusivity complex’ was the ‘proud’ statement by the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, that ‘Europe is the Garden of Eden, and the rest of the world is a jungle.’ I will also quote the NATO-EU Joint Statement of January 10 of this year, which states: the ‘United West’ will use all the economic, financial, political and – I pay special attention – military tools available to NATO and the EU to ensure the interests of ‘our one billion’.
NATO’s “line of defense”: “At last year’s summit in Madrid, NATO, which has always convinced everyone of its ‘peacefulness’ and the exclusively defensive nature of its military programs, declared ‘global responsibility’, the ‘indivisibility of security’ in the Euro-Atlantic region and in the so-called Indo-Pacific region. That is, now the ‘line of defense’ of NATO (as a defensive Alliance) is shifting to the western shores of the Pacific Ocean. Bloc approaches that undermine ASEAN-centric multilateralism are manifested in the creation of the AUKUS military alliance, into which Tokyo, Seoul and a number of ASEAN countries are being pushed. Under the auspices of the United States, mechanisms are being created to intervene in maritime security issues with an eye to ensuring the unilateral interests of the West in the South China Sea. Josep Borrell, whom I have already quoted today, promised yesterday to send EU naval forces to the region. It is not hidden that the goal of the ‘Indo-Pacific strategies’ is to contain the PRC and isolate Russia. This is how our Western colleagues understand ‘effective multilateralism’ in the Asia-Pacific region.”
“Promoting democracy”: “Since World War II, there have been dozens of criminal military adventures by Washington – without any attempt to gain multilateral legitimacy. Why, if there are ‘rules’ unknown to anyone? The shameful invasion of Iraq by the U.S.-led coalition in 2003 was carried out in violation of the UN Charter, as was the aggression against Libya in 2011. A gross violation of the UN Charter was U.S. interference in the affairs of post-Soviet states. ‘Color revolutions’ were organized in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, a bloody coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014, and attempts to seize power by force in Belarus in 2020. The Anglo-Saxons, who confidently led the entire West, not only justify all these criminal adventures, but also flaunt their line of ‘promoting democracy.’ But again, according to its ‘rules’: Kosovo – to recognize independence without any referendum; Crimea – not to recognize (although there was a referendum); Do not touch the Falklands/Malvinas, because there was a referendum there (as British Foreign Secretary John Cleverly said recently). That’s funny.”
The geopolitics of the “Ukrainian issue”: “Today, everyone understands, although not everyone talks about it out loud: this is not about Ukraine at all, but about how international relations will be built further: through the formation of a stable consensus based on a balance of interests – or through the aggressive and explosive promotion of hegemony. It is impossible to consider the ‘Ukrainian issue’ in isolation from the geopolitical context. Multilateralism presupposes respect for the UN Charter in all the interconnectedness of its principles, as mentioned above. Russia has clearly explained the tasks that it pursues as part of a special military operation: to eliminate the threats to our security created by NATO members directly on our borders and to protect people who have been deprived of their rights proclaimed by multilateral conventions, to protect them from the direct threats of extermination and expulsion from the territories where their ancestors lived for centuries publicly declared by the Kyiv regime. We honestly said what and for whom we are fighting.”
The Global South fights back: “True multilateralism at the present stage requires the UN to adapt to the objective trends in the formation of a multipolar architecture of international relations. The reform of the Security Council must be accelerated by increasing the representation of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The West’s current outrageous overrepresentation in this main UN organ undermines multilateralism. At the initiative of Venezuela, the Group of Friends in Defense of the UN Charter was created. We call on all States that respect the Charter to join it. It is also important to use the constructive potential of BRICS and the SCO. The EAEU, the CIS, and the CSTO are ready to contribute. We are in favor of using the initiative of the positions of regional associations of the countries of the Global South. The Group of Twenty can also play a useful role in maintaining multilateralism if Western participants stop distracting their colleagues from topical issues on its agenda in the hope of muffling the topic of their responsibility for the accumulation of crisis phenomena in the world economy.”
So who’s breaking the law?
After this concise tour de force, it would be immensely enlightening to track what Lavrov has been telling the world since February 2022, in consistent, excruciating detail: the serial international law breakers, in contemporary history, have been the Hegemon and its sorry gaggle of vassals. Not Russia.
So Moscow was completely within its rights to launch the SMO – as it had no alternative. And that operation will be brought to its logical conclusion – inbuilt in the new Russian Foreign Policy Concept published on March 31st. Whatever may be unleashed by the Collective West will be simply ignored by Russia, as it regards the entire combo to be acting outside the norms of international law laid down in the UN Charter.