Sergei Lavrov says 'nazism is flourishing' in ceremony speech
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Russia will focus on deepening ties with China, according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has criticised western countries for developing “Russophobia” since the country invaded Ukraine earlier this year. Moscow has struggled under the weight of global sanctions, particularly from the West, which has largely put the brakes on any trade with the country. Many western-based companies have also ceased operations in Russia, pulling the plug on both cash flow and employment.
Lavrov, speaking at a Q&A session this week, said Russia was now working towards replacing western goods and would look to forge closer links with countries which do not “dance to some other piper’s music”, which, in addition to China, could include India, Vietnam, the Central Asian nations, and Cuba, all of whom have supported Russia in one way or another since the invasion began.
The Russian diplomat has held his current role since 2004, and is seen as a loyal ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Not one to mince his words, in 2008, he repeatedly swore at the then-UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband during a telephone conversation when the Labour man suggested that Russia should engage with then-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Just a month earlier Russia had launched a full-scale invasion of Georgia and began occupying two self-proclaimed republics — 20 percent of Georgia’s geographic landmass — maintaining a great military presence there to this day.
At one point, according to the Evening Standard, Lavrov became so incensed that he reportedly hit back: “Who the f*** are you to lecture me?” when told of the EU’s frustration with the Kremlin.
The publication said he used “full-strength industrial language” to suggest that Mr Miliband knew nothing of Russia’s history, despite the fact that his grandfather Samuel served in the Red Army and his father was a leading Marxist theoretician.
According to one insider, Lavrov used the F-bomb so many times that it was difficult to draft a readable note of the exchange.
A Whitehall source said: “It was effing this and effing that.
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“It was not what you would call diplomatic language. It was rather shocking.”
An insider close to Mr Miliband said he was surprised at the ferocity of the language used by Lavrov.
The tirade was said to have taken place shortly before Mr Miliband travelled to Ukraine to fly the flag of western democracy.
Lavrov’s uncompromising nature has earned him the nickname of Mr Nyet — Mr No — and some former world leaders have had a few choice words of their own for him.
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According to the Daily Telegraph, a former official from George W Bush’s administration once reportedly described him as a “complete a**hole”.
Lavrov was born near Moscow in 1950 and excelled at physics in school, but ended up studying at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, putting him in good stead to land an internship at the Soviet Embassy in Sri Lanka aged 22.
He has walked the corridors of power ever since, spending ten years as Russia’s envoy to the UN before being appointed Foreign Minister in 2004.
In 2015, during a press conference discussing the fight against the Islamic State, Lavrov was heard mumbling “f***ing morons” in response to photographers snapping him moving his glass of water.
Meanwhile, discussing Russia’s plans to move closer to China, he said: “If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not.”
According to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website, he added: “We must cease being dependent in any way on supplies of absolutely everything from the West for ensuring the development of critically important sectors for security, the economy or our homeland’s social sphere.”
He continued: “Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster.
“In addition to direct revenue for the state budget, this is a chance to develop (Russia’s) far east and eastern Siberia.”
He said China has information and communications technologies “that are in no way inferior to the West. A great deal here will ensure mutual benefits”.
Such information technologies, including social media, have been seriously curtailed in Russia since February 24, with many independent journalists facing the law for spreading news about the invasion.
While many are unable to use various social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, the country itself has been accused of spreading disinformation on such platforms through trolling farms in a bid to manipulate public opinion abroad about the war.
On Monday, the UK’s deputy ambassador James Roscoe told a UN Security Council meeting that Russia has carried out cyber-attacks and used “an online troll factory to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion about their war”.
Similarly, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Russian government “intimidate and arrest journalists for reporting the truth about its invasion.”
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