New Delhi: From asking the host to do “homework” to claiming that the West started the Russia-Ukraine war, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s combative session at the Raisina Dialogue 2023 has been called out for being “rude and disrespectful”.
In Delhi to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting from 1-2 March, after which he made an appearance at the Raisina Dialogue conference in Delhi, hosted by think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the External Affairs Ministry.
At the event, he was interviewed by ORF Chairman Sunjoy Joshi on what was the potential endgame to Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, which has been underway for over a year.
“My friend, you surprise me because if you raise this issue, you should have done some homework,” Lavrov said in response to Joshi’s questions about when Russia will be ready to start peace negotiations with Ukraine.
In another instance, he interrupted the host by saying: “Wait a second. If you ask me a question, that means that you don’t know what I’m telling you now…” He proceeded to laugh along with the audience.
Experts like Tanvi Madan, senior fellow at Brookings Institution, expressed “surprise” at Lavrov’s behaviour towards the host.
“I was surprised about how disrespectful he [Lavrov] was towards the host…if any other foreign official had done so, people would have been outraged (sic),” she remarked.
The Russian foreign minister notably divided the audience at the Raisina Dialogue, and at one pivotal moment drew laughter from the crowd when he claimed that the West started the war in Ukraine.
“The war, which we are trying to stop, was launched against us using the Ukrainian people. Of course, it influenced the policy of Russia,” Lavrov said, which elicited laughter from the audience.
Russian economist Konstantin Sonin, a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, described the statement as “embarrassing”. He further suggested that diplomats like Lavrov use lies to “feed Putin’s fantasies” and get promoted.
During the event, Lavrov accused the US and the West of using groups such as Quad and AUKUS to divide Russia and other countries.
“This is unfortunately what is being tried by some other outside players in the context of so-called Indo-Pacific strategies, in the context of AUKUS, in the context of using Quad, not for economic purposes but trying to militarise Quad,” he said.
He further argued that it is a “shame” that the Ukraine war dominated discussions at the G20, and asked whether the group was ever so concerned about conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.
“Nobody was giving a d**n about anything, except finance and macroeconomic policies, which G20 was formed for,” he said.
In some moments, the Russian foreign minister received applause from the audience. For instance, he asked the host how long the Raisina Dialogue has been held.
“This is the eighth year,” said Joshi.
“Have you been interested in these years, what is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan? Have you been asking the US and NATO whether they are certain of what they are doing?” asked Lavrov to applause from the crowd.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials questioned why the Russian Foreign Minister was invited to the event.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)
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