Moscow, 13 February 2022 (TDI): Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, met with the UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, to discuss Russia-UK relations.

The objective of the meeting was to normalize the relations. Both leaders emphasized the need for constructive development.

Status of Russia-UK relations

Along these lines, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated that Russia-UK relations are at low ebb. And, this is not a fault of Russia. Of course, Russia wants constructive and progressive relations.

Relations are based on Equality

Russian Foreign Minister noted that healthy relationships are based on equality. Relations are always a two-way street. Each side must respect the interest of others. He further mentioned that selectivity, threats, and preconditions cannot build constructive relations between countries.

For stable relations, the Russian Foreign Minister said that both states must try to gain value from their contact. He then quoted examples of stable Russia-UK trade relations. In 2021, the trade partnership exceeded $24 billion as compared to the previous year.

Thereafter, Sergey Lavrov noted that the relaunch of the Intergovernmental Steering Committee on Trade and Investment along with the High-Level Energy Dialogue will further strengthen economic relations.

Most importantly, he also highlighted the positive impact of the UK-Russia Year of Music (2019-20). However, the next project will be based on knowledge.

Security Situation of Ukraine

In addition to that, the Russian Foreign Minister told that he discussed varied topics with Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, including Ukraine, Belarus, Iran, and China. But, he emphasized the lack of progress on the Minsk agreement.

However, the Russian Federation is taking steps to convince the Ukrainian President, Vladimir Zelensky, to follow the obligations of the Minsk agreement, Lavrov noted.

In particular, Sergey Lavrov touched Russian initiatives concerning legally binding security guarantees. He then stated that Russia expects a specific response from NATO and Western colleagues.

The stance of Russian President

He also quoted President Vladimir Putin’s stance on the matter. After a meeting with Emmanuel Macron, President Putin stated that further NATO expansion would violate Astana and Istanbul declarations.

Moreover, Sergey Lavrov remarked that Russia has prepared a measured and reciprocal response from the Russian Federation in case of further NATO enlargement.

Invasion of Ukraine

While addressing the media questions, Sergey Lavrov, noted that the invasion of Ukraine is like a talk between a deaf and a mute. Unfortunately, every kind of detailed explanation from the Russian side receives unprepared ground. He then emphasized that troops buildup is happening on the Russian territory.

Russian Foreign Minister then added that Defense Minister of Ukraine Alexey Reznikov has also confirmed a similar stance. In the same vein, the President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, persuade people to not create panic.

Negative impacts on Ukraine

But, western colleagues desire to use the President of Ukraine as a tool to upset Russia. This approach would impact the Ukrainian economy and budget negatively.

Due to negative propaganda, investment is down and embassies are evacuated.

Source of Concern for London

According to UK Foreign Secretary, the Russian armed force is a source of concern for London. In return, the Russian Foreign Minister provided the tiniest detail about them.

He further added that Russian armed forces are different from the British military which is stationed in the Baltic region. Likewise, the UK Foreign secretary stated that if Russian troops are stationed on the territory of Russia then NATO is also deployed on their territory.

Meanwhile, Sergey Lavrov said that the talk was centered on NATO. In this regard, he explained that the OSCE framework which commits the indivisibility principle.

Certainly, each state has the right to choose allies. But, it is also mentioned that no country can strengthen its security at the expense of other countries.

OSCE’s policy of neutrality

As per Lavrov’s remarks, OSCE has recognized the policy of neutrality. Moreover, it also says that no organization or group of countries can dominate the OSCE region. Likewise, the sphere of influence in the European region is also not recognized.

Thereupon, Sergey Lavrov said that the EU tell Russia to not bother the Balkans or African regions. On the other hand, the US ambassador deal election law reforms in Herzegovina and Bosnia. He then remarked that this is all obvious. And, West is not following the policy of neutrality.

The course of Coercive Diplomacy

On a question about coercive diplomacy, Sergey Lavrov answered that Russia has no plan to coerce anyone. He added that Russia has followed the path of diplomacy and the 2010 Astana Declaration along with the 1999 Istanbul Charter for European Security is the by-products of this path.

Obligations of OSCE

Thereafter, the Russian Foreign Minister said that Russia has fulfilled all the obligations of OSCE which include a ceasefire, amnesty, special status of Donbas, constitutional reforms, elections, and an agreement with Lugansk and Donetsk.

But when it comes to OSCE, West focuses on a part of a package so that Kyiv gains control over the border. Meanwhile, he stated that this approach will not work.

In this regard, the Russian Foreign Minister stated that Russia doesn’t want to threaten anyone. He then said that Russia prefers an atmosphere of compromise, cooperation, equality, respect, and balance of interests.

Assurances on NATO Expansion

Afterward, a question was asked whether Foreign Secretary Truss provide any assurances or concessions over NATO expansion. In this regard, the Russian Foreign Minister said that he doesn’t get any such response.

Subsequently, he mentioned that a defensive alliance was comprehensible when there was a pact-like ‘Warsaw Treaty’. Besides, Berlin Wall was also there. Now, both the Warsaw treaty and the berlin wall do not exist. But, NATO is still performing its defensive role and expanding day by day.

Budapest Memorandum

Similarly, UK Foreign Secretary asked about the Budapest Memorandum which was concluded between Great Britain, Russia, and the US. For this, Sergey Lavrov pointed out that Budapest Memorandum provided standard security guarantees to the non-nuclear Ukraine. Afterward, this memorandum doesn’t put obligations on Russia.

The memorandum followed a Declaration that included Ukraine, France, Russia, the US, and UK’s affirmation. The declaration also confirmed that participants can not violate the OSCE principles.

Russia Foreign Policy

In the same vein, Russia’s Foreign Secretary said that no one can compel Russia to recognize unconstitutional regimes and acts. Russia will also not tolerate discrimination against ethnic minorities and Russian-speaking people. But, due to the support of Vladimir Zelensky, such acts happen every day.

According to Sergey Lavrov, Ukrainian President, Vladimir Zelensky, and his Head of the defense and Security Council have publicly announced to disregard the commitments of the Minsk agreement. Likewise, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmitry Kuleba, has stated that no dialogue will take place in the context of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Belarus Exercises

Thereafter, Sergey Lavrov commented on the recent Belarus exercises. He said that troops return to their barracks after the completion of military drills. Besides, it is the sovereign right of each state to determine the duration of exercises.

But, the troops stationed at the Baltic States or littoral states of the Black sea never return to their barracks. In return, UK Foreign Secretary commented that this shouldn’t be the concern of dialogue.

On the question of whether Russia is ready to diffuse the situation or not. He replied that the world must prove that Russia escalated the situation. He then asked did Russia do something that doesn’t relate to the sovereignty of Russia. He also quoted examples of Litvinenko, Navalny, and Skripals who are facing the western accusation as well.

Regrettably, Sergey Lavrov stated that their fact-based explanation always goes unnoticed. At the moment, he reiterated, exercises are conducted on the territory of Belarus. However, the main concern of the UK Foreign Secretary is the war in Ukraine.

Electioneering Metaphor

He further stated that Russian forces always come back home after exercises. However, he pointed to Canadian media sources which read that Western politicians are using Ukraine to improve their rating. However, Lavrov called it an interesting metaphor.

Nevertheless, he predicted that after some time western states will confirm the end of Russian-Belarusian exercises. They will also exclaim that Russian forces have returned their territory. In that way, the west will take all the credit for the de-escalation process. But, Sergey Lavrov said that this approach is like ‘dealing in hot air.’

Lastly, Sergey Lavrov hoped that security matters of Europe, Ukraine, Russia, and NATO require serious attention. Accordingly, political leaders must not engage in propaganda to secure ground for elections.