Lavrov on Syria, Ukraine and Terrorism
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article called him a world class diplomat. He shames his US and EU counterparts.
He deplores war. He champions peace. He goes all-out to achieve it. He's polar opposite Western war hawks.
He's concerned about Obama's Middle East agenda. He fears he plans attacking Syria's army to weaken it. More on this below.
Russia repeatedly warned Western countries about terrorism threats. "We have called on the UN to resolutely condemn (them) by Islamists in Syria," said Lavrov.
"But we were told that it was Bashar Assad's politics that gave rise to terrorism, and that denouncing such acts was possible only alongside with the demand for his resignation."
These type comments justify terrorism, Lavrov believes. They represent "double standard" hypocrisy.
"With regard to a broader approach towards combating terrorism, we have said many times that in order to be successful we need to get rid of double standards and stop distinguishing between good and bad terrorists and supporting terrorists opportunistically when plans for a regime change in one country coincide with the interests of the terrorists, as was the case in Libya."
Obama declared open-ended Middle East war. ISIS/ISIL/the Islamic State (IS) is the pretext.
He'll seek coalition partners. Russia, Iran and Syria are excluded.
Lavrov said "(n)o country can have separate plans on such issues. Plans can only be common."
"Only collective and absolutely unambiguous action can bring about a result."
"There are rumors…that the Iraqi government has been asked to approve US strikes in the areas controlled by the Islamic State, but that it is unnecessary to request such permission from Syria because the Assad government should be toppled."
"It is thought that strikes could be targeted in Syria not only at the areas controlled by the Islamic State militants but also, surreptitiously, at the government troops in order to weaken the positions of Bashar Assad's army."
"This would be a step towards a large-scale escalation of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa."
"We strongly urge all parties involved to comply fully with international law so that such actions are only undertaken with the agreement of the legitimate government of the states in question."
"(T)here can be no differences of interpretation when common interests are at stake."
"It is in the common interests of the West, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and other regional countries, Russia and all other states that are operating in the region, in one way or another, via their diplomatic missions and economic interests, to liquidate the terrorist threat and terrorist groups."
Obama's planned coalition of the willing is flawed, Lavrov believes.
"An alliance…based only based on the interests of one group of countries and that is only interested in neutralizing the threat in one part (of the region), and which is also largely based on ideological and pro-confrontation concepts, cannot succeed," he stressed.
The Syrian "drama" is far from over. "(W)e persistently (urge) the Americans and the Europeans to address this issue before the problem spill(s) over into neighboring countries."
World leaders need to support "the legitimate Syrian government in its struggle with militants. There is no place for them in the existing system."
"In reply we heard: do not exaggerate." Militants calling themselves ISIL/ISIS/the Islamic State (IS) appeared.
Russia's attempt to declare it a terrorist organization failed. Washington objected. Only when it captured large parts of northern Iraq did Obama react.
He's bombing them in Iraq. He's supporting them in Syria. He's doing so "because they are fighting against Assad whom the United States wants to overthrow."
Lavrov considers US policy duplicitious double standard logic. Bad terrorists oppose US interests. Good ones "bring grist to the proper geopolitical mill."
Lavrov calls the Ukrainian issue most important for Russia. Conditions remain fluid. Conflict resolution is more fantasy than real.
Things could heat up any time for any reason. Lavrov is concerned about "reports regarding the concentration of the Ukrainian forces' heavy weaponry near Debaltsevo."
"To all appearances, this could mean that a strike group is being created there," he said.
"We, as well as the Lugansk and Donetsk self-defence forces, have informed the Kiev government about this concern."
"Kiev assures us that it has no intention to disrupt the ceasefire. But assurances are tested by practice."
"We will monitor the situation most closely. We have no interest in preventing the implementation of the agreements reached in Minsk."
"As for talks on the status of the southeastern regions of Ukraine, the Minsk protocol sets out the necessary steps towards this."
"We hope the talks will begin very soon. Their format is obvious: the talks should be held between the Ukrainian government and the heads of the Lugansk and Donetsk people's republics who signed the Minsk protocol on 5 September."
"We urge the sides to honor this document."
"It is essential not to forget about the nationwide constitutional process in Ukraine, which the Kiev government promised to launch immediately months ago."
"We will continue to press for the implementation of this undertaking. It is unacceptable for the West to give Kiev the freedom to act at its own discretion for months, forgetting that compliance with agreements is one of the key conditions for a lasting settlement in any conflict."
Separately, Lavrov told Itar Tass to expect "no calm in foreign politics for a long time." He's committed to handling things responsibly.
Russia consistently presses for respecting international law, he said.
"We have urged compliance with the achieved agreements and creation of new instruments facilitating proper response to the modern challenges."
"Our proposals f(all) on deaf ears," he explained. US-led NATO wants all post-Soviet countries drawn "into the alliance and this (brings) the division lines closer to our borders."
"Experience has shown that this a vicious logic and it leads to a dead end. Ukraine has demonstrated this to the full extent."
"Everybody knows the root causes of the crisis. We were not being listened to."
Western manipulated Maidan protests ousted Viktor Yanukovych's government. Neo-Nazi-infested fascists replaced them.
Some Western countries use Ukraine to contain and isolate Russia, he explained. "(A)nd thereby tighten their looser grip on the international system."
"Today the West is acting in concert - with the United States and Britain demonstrating particular zeal - to unilaterally support the current regime in Kiev."
"They are claiming that peace in Ukraine will be possible only when those whom they call separatists and terrorists in the southeast have been suppressed."
Despite huge obstacles to overcome, Lavrov remains hopeful the Minisk protocol will succeed.
A national Southeastern Ukraine/Kiev dialogue "was launched after many months of (central government) refusal," he said.
It's far from perfect. It may fail. Russia forthrightly supports it. Kiev responds to Washington's wishes.
It "keeps saying that everything in Donbass would (be) calm and bright but for Russia, which should pull out its regular troops and armaments."
"What troops? Where from?" People with Russian passports are certainly there. So are others with European ones and "unmistakable US accent(s)."
"I read an interview with General Ruban in the Ukrainian press. He said outright: in Donetsk and Lugansk, the Kiev authorities are fighting a war with their own people."
General Ruban is a negotiator. He's arranging prisoner exchanges. He knows the situation on the ground.
His goal is ending war and saving lives. Kiev authorities refuse to realize they must negotiate with their own citizens.
EU nations want everyone endorsing Poroshenko's woefully inadequate peace plan.
What about Geneva's four-party consensus, asked Lavrov? What about what Kiev agreed to and then spurned?
Putin's 7-point peace plan paved the road to Minsk. Its September 5 protocol followed. Making it stick is another matter entirely.
Given events so far, it takes a giant leap of faith to believe it.
"As for NATO, we are deeply convinced that the alliance has lost the meaning of its existence and is feverishly looking for a new one," said Lavrov.
"After Afghanistan, it became clear that this theme no longer consolidates the alliance, so Brussels happily jumped at the opportunity to play the Russian card and to portray us as a threat."
"Now this idea is being fueled, including at the latest NATO summit in Newport (Wales)."
Russia repeatedly asks Western nations why it's necessary to expand NATO, said Lavrov.
They claim "Baltic countries have some phobias after being part of the USSR."
Right-wing Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian presidents ludicrously claim Russia threatens their security. It's at war with Europe.
They want increased US-led NATO presence in their countries. They border Russia. They have large Russian populations.
They're the only former Russian republics with EU and NATO membership.
Washington and rogue EU allies decided years ago to isolate Russia, said Lavrov.
"(A)ttempting to drive a wedge between our peoples will fail," he added. At the same time, "by and large (it's their) chief aim."
Itar Tass and Lavrov covered lots more ground. The futility of sanctions wars. The frustration of dealing with Western counterparts.
The professional challenge of handling discomfort in his work. Tense periods in international relations.
They're inevitable, he said. So is acclimating to the reality that one-world polarity is ending. In the meantime, we'll have "relapses and muscle flexing," he said.
Classic Cold War alliances ran their course. NATO "waver(s) in search of (a) reason for existence."
US strong-arming gets other members to go along. Today's world is "multi-faceted and multi-vector," said Lavrov.
Russia doesn't seek to ban anyone from having" different problem-solving approaches. "(A)nd we surely don't strong-arm or blackmail anyone," Lavrov stressed.
He called Moscow's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin his old friend. They both held earlier deputy foreign minister posts. They worked together in the Balkans. They've known each other for years.
Lavrov first met Putin in Moscow in November 1999. He was head of government at the time. Lavrov was permanent UN envoy.
In March 2004, then Presidential Administration head Dmitry Medvedev invited Lavrov to Moscow. The next day, Putin offered him the post of Minister.
Since then, they maintain "permanent working contact, practically on a daily basis." Handling Russia's foreign relations requires it.
Especially at times of East/West confrontation. Lavrov is effectively up to the task. He's a world class diplomat.
Putin chose well. Russia is fortunate having him.
Both men have consummate skills. They represent humanity's best hope for world peace. It'll take their best efforts to achieve it and then some.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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