Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at a conference on the 10th anniversary of the coup in Ukraine


I am sure that all those present know well how the conditions for the current situation in Ukraine developed, who led this process and what methods were used.

In his interview with Tucker Carlson on February 9, President of Russia Vladimir Putin again got deep into the historical details. Speaking about geopolitical aspects and consequences of the coup in Kiev, I would like first to say that these events were yet another result of the divide-and-rule policy that is aimed at setting countries at loggerheads and provoking interstate conflicts.

The collective West led by the US, or to be more precise the Anglo-Saxons, has long pursued this policy. Britain is playing a more aggressive and devious role in the current events with its provocative assertiveness than that of any other participant, including the US.

When the Americans and their satellites declared victory in the Cold War, they adopted a policy of expanding NATO. They ignored their own promises not to expand the alliance and not to deploy substantial armed forces on the territory of the new members. They made these promises verbally and in writing to Soviet and later Russian leaders. Then came the next stage. The bloc started expanding but we still signed an agreement on establishing a Russia-NATO Council. This was yet another concession on our behalf. We accepted the bloc’s expansion. In response, the alliance assumed a commitment not to deploy substantial armed forces on the territory of the new members. 

Nobody has revoked this Act but look at what is happening now. Increasingly large groups equipped with modern arms are being deployed right on our borders.

The West has regarded Ukraine an anti-Russia bulwark since the moment it gained independence.

In effect, the first coup took place in 2004. It was bloodless but anti-constitutional nonetheless. When Viktor Yanukovych won in the second round, the West compelled the Constitutional Court of Ukraine to rule that a third round not envisaged by the Constitution was required. This is how arms were twisted. What did it come to? They played at democracy but it didn’t help them even under their own rules in 2010 when the people (mostly the votes of southern and southeastern Ukraine) elected Viktor Yanukovych.

Then the West started planning a failsafe coup. It wanted to destroy the opposition there and then. This is what it had been doing for many years since the coup in February 2014.

In the same year, a state coup took place in a country called Yemen, which also frequently appears on the pages of newspapers and on television screens today. President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia. For many years after that, the West unanimously demanded the return of the legally elected Yemeni President to his country, insisting that talks with the opposition would only be launched after that.

In the case of Viktor Yanukovych, we drew the attention of the French, Germans and Poles (who guaranteed the peace agreement that was torn to pieces the following morning) to the need to bring the opposition to reason. What did these countries sign up for? They agreed on an early election and the formation of a national unity government for the period before the elections. But on the morning after the state coup, Arseny Yatsenyuk (one of their activists at the time) came to Maidan Square and congratulated everyone, saying that they had emerged victorious. He declared that they had won and established a “government of the winners.” Doesn’t anyone see the difference between national unity and winners? This implies that there were losers too. You are all aware of how the situation unfolded there afterwards.

Those who refused to accept the outcome of this coup were branded as terrorists and an operation was launched against them. There were brutal episodes in this tragedy, such as the burning of 48 civilians in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa and aerial bombings of Lugansk and other cities in Donbass. The DPR and the LPR declared their independence. Yet, there remained an opportunity for an agreement even at that time.

Some time later, in the second half of 2014, after Kiev launched its “counterterrorist operation,” Geneva hosted a meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia (represented by myself), the US, Ukraine and the European Union.

At that time, Andrey Deshitsa served as the Acting Foreign Minister and had authority from the illegitimate government that had seized power in Kiev. We approved a statement. Unfortunately, it was decided not to publish it because Mr Deshitsa was supposed to confirm it with Kiev. Apart from a clear appeal for de-escalation and cessation of violence, the statement urged the initiation of a nationwide dialogue in Ukraine with the participation of all its regions and with a view to federalisation. Despite our reminders, the meeting participants did not publish this statement later. Instead, Kiev started resolving the Donbass problem (as they phrased it) by force. In effect, they pursued the same objective as Adolf Hitler when he declared the need for “the final solution to the Jewish question.”

We again started looking for ways to overcome the crisis by concerted efforts. We convinced Donbass not to reject the talks. President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke about this in detail.

As a result, the Minsk agreements were signed in the Belarusian capital a year after the coup, in February 2015. You know the rest. Later on, President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of France Francois Hollande, who signed these agreements with Vladimir Putin, cynically and even proudly stated that they had never had any intention of fulfilling them. They needed more time to arm Ukraine against Russia. This is a striking admission – it is essentially a confession.  This stems from the fact that the West is using Ukraine to deter Russia in every possible way. It wants to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia and prevent it from playing the international role that rightly belongs to it.

As a result, Ukraine, which inherited a vast industrial potential from the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire, has become Europe’s poorest economy and a territory that is, without exaggeration, dying out. The Kiev government is an internationally recognised beggar. Ukraine has no independence left whatsoever. Even before the February 2014 coup, starting with the Maidan, or even earlier, it had US and British advisers sitting in most of its agencies (including the Security Service of Ukraine). This has become standard practice that surprises no one. They sit there making sure money does not get stolen, although no one will ever be able to stop the thievery. How can the West demand that Ukraine not steal the money that it gives it, if it steals money from us? It is already openly discussing better ways to go about it, so as not to break their “moral” principles and not to create a precedent.

This is a striking example of the consequences of “dallying” with the West and thoughtless desire to conform to its political and economic approaches at any cost. There is no doubt that the West has declared war on us. They are not hiding it. Even though they are saying they are only sending weapons to Ukraine, which does all the fighting. Everyone knows it’s a lie. Western instructors oversee the planning carried out by the Ukrainian General Staff, help with targeting the strikes (we are 100-percent certain of that) and do much more. According to our data, the European External Action Service has drawn up recommendations for Ukraine, which rely on the assumption that winning by the methods Ukraine is using now is impossible, and it will lose. In light of this, more long-range weapons should be made available to Ukraine for it to be able to target the “heart” of Russia (as the EU puts it) and thus sow confusion and panic, and undermine the trust of the people. Isn't that direct participation in the war? Of course, it is. Strategy is what matters most in any war, and strategy is decided far away from Kiev.

In an effort to do something as soon as possible in order to end this drama and defeat Russia, Europe is essentially serving the interests of the United States, oblivious to its own interests. Look at the economic numbers, negative growth, and recession in the leading European economies. President Putin spoke about it in detail. Everything will come to light eventually. All of that is accepted submissively and without a murmur. No objections are raised. Remember when, after the explosions at the Nord Stream pipeline, which were announced in advance by President Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz went to Washington, where, apparently, he was told to keep quiet, and he went back home without even holding a news conference.

I would like to say that they are now trying to woo (for lack of a better word) all Global Majority countries, including the ones we have here (we are happy to see you), and haul them into supporting Zelensky's absolutely dead-end “peace formula,” which comes down to Russia’s capitulation, withdrawal to the 1991 borders, a tribunal for the Russian leadership and reparations. Everyone realises that it’s a dud and an unwise initiative, to say the least.

But in order to lure in countries of good standing that are fully aware of what is going on, in addition to the points that I mentioned, they threw in a bunch of supposedly neutral provisions such as food security, energy security, nuclear security, prisoner exchange and humanitarian issues. In total, the formula has 10 points, and half of them are supposedly neutral.

Clearly, this is seen as a package. When they lure in the countries of the Global South and the Global East to attend the “meetings” that they set up to promote the “peace formula,” they tell these countries they sympathise with them and understand that it doesn’t sit well with them and understand their position that discussing anything without Russia is pointless, but they still should support food security and sign off on just “one” provision. We call such people shell game artists and first-rate fraudsters (there is no better way to put it).

Davos hosted another Zelensky-formula gathering, the primary purpose of which was to take a group photo. This is indeed the case. This is what the EU recommends to Ukraine: do not push it too far, and do not force neutral participants, whom they are drawing into this process, to condemn Russia. Most importantly, “take a photo.” I’m not joking.

When I attended the UN Security Council meetings on Palestine in New York on January 23, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis requested a meeting and suggested that Switzerland be a venue for a peace conference. During our meeting, he emphasised several times that at a news conference following the “peace formula” meeting in Davos he stated that these issues need to be addressed with Russia’s participation. I told him that since he said this to me, he must be certain of it, so why did they hold this meeting without Russia?

This is not a serious approach from the perspective of diplomacy of any country. The West’s saying that this is the only way forward is a disgrace. In his comments on the outcomes of his contacts with Tucker Carlson and during his conversation with him, President Putin made it clear that the West must admit the fact that it adopted the wrong course, one that ultimately failed. Let the West look for a way out of the situation without losing face. President Putin underscored that the West must return to the art of diplomacy. Just like the art of politics, the art of diplomacy is the art of compromise.

Clearly, all this presumes that the legitimacy of our demands must be recognised, a non-bloc status, that the expansion of NATO and the militarisation of Ukraine as a threat to the Russian Federation should be renounced, and that the Nazi policy of legislative and physical extermination of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens in Ukraine be put to rest.

Remember, back in November 2021, before the decision to start the special military operation was taken, and before the West rejected our European security initiative, a reporter asked Vladimir Zelensky how he felt about the people living in Donbass, on the other side of the contact line. Zelensky paused and said, in a theatrical manner, that there are humans, and there are “specimens.” Before that, he said that anyone living in Ukraine and feeling a connection to Russian culture and civilisation should “buzz off” to Russia for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

This was something said by a president who was elected under the banner of, first, a peaceful settlement, and second, protecting the Russian language in Ukraine. He called for just “letting the Russians be” and allowing them to speak their native language in Ukraine, as they had been doing for centuries. That’s how much his views had already changed in 2021.

Finally, he stated that he would never fulfill the Minsk agreements. Clearly, they were stalling. No positive shifts took place from February 2015 to 2019, just bombardment of Donbass in violation of every provision of this document. In December 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky met in Paris at the initiative of France and Germany who supported us and urged the parties to “reaffirm” the Minsk agreements, primarily in terms of the importance of establishing a direct dialogue between Minsk (Kiev?), Donetsk, and Lugansk and, second (no less important), to enshrine their special status on a permanent basis in the Constitution of Ukraine. President Zelensky signed off on this. After some time, with the February 2022 events underway, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andrey Yermak said Zelensky “meant nothing” by signing it, and did so just to get everyone off his back. He didn’t plan to act on it. They just betrayed us to buy some time for themselves. That’s all you need to know about the “characters” who are running Ukraine and on whom the West is betting on in its attempt to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia. If you want to take it to the battlefield, you are welcome to do so.

Question: You know that there are many mercenaries from Latin America on Kiev’s side now. Are they a threat to democracy in those regions? Do you maintain a security dialogue with the Latin American countries, from which they’ve come?

Sergey Lavrov: This topic has relevance not only for Ukraine.

It is common knowledge that mercenaries, including mercenaries from Middle East countries, are actively used in the African region, among others. In Ukraine, they are also involved in the fighting. A portion of them are members of terrorist organisations, such as ISIS.

The United States is providing support to ISIS and its members at the Al-Tanf base in eastern Syria, which it illegally occupies. Everyone is well aware of this. ISIS itself emerged following America’s attack on Iraq, which it invaded under a false pretext. Later the United States assumed administrative control over Iraq. They sent down a Gauleiter or a Governor-General (whatever you call him), Paul Bremer, who dissolved all the organisations of the Baath party. He just dissolved them. These structures were based on Sunni Islam. The core of ISIS was made up of officers of Saddam Hussein’s army, who had lost all their means of subsistence. And it was the United States that created this situation. It is of interest to see what the Americans have achieved in Iraq. All the goals they have set for themselves are a total failure. The Government of Iraq has repeatedly asked them to pull out their troops, but the United States is reluctant to do that. That’s how it goes with the great US democrats.

Al Qaeda came into being after the Afghan saga, which also ended in a lamentable and disgraceful failure. Jabhat al-Nusra (later Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), in turn, was created after the invasion of Syria.

They are mercenaries, whatever else you call them. ISIS members are sent to fight in various flashpoint areas for a fee of several thousand dollars.

It is clear that these practices are fraught with danger. Eventually, on completing their mission in a country, they will have to retire to some asylum. But they have no skills other than to stage terrorist attacks, handle firearms, and kill people. 

If people from Columbia and other Latin American countries are sent there, they will sooner or later experience a revelation. Many US and UK mercenaries already went on record as saying on camera that they were totally disillusioned as to what was going on there as part of the effort to achieve the lofty “democratic” goals proclaimed by the Kiev regime and its Western sponsors. Some of them go back to their countries.

But there are still people who remain in the war that the West is waging against us. They go through a military stage in their life and it is quite likely that they will go back to it. In Columbia, after all, there are always ongoing controversies and rivalries. 

We hope that Columbia’s leaders are well aware of this, as are the leaders of other countries. What is the core of the problem? In many respects, this process is linked to the gross violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by Ukraine’s embassies. It is an outrage that their websites carry recruiting notices inviting volunteers to go to war. We have numerous times urged the Western masters of the Kiev regime to put some sense in them. Nothing happens. For a short period it subsides before the recruiting is once again resumed.

Everyone must understand that a neutral position and calls for a settlement are a good thing. We appreciate this. This is the position of the Global Majority (with rare exceptions). No one is joining anti-Russian sanctions. But when they are trying to cheat the Global Majority countries by convening meetings to discuss Vladimir Zelensky’s “peace formula” presented as a no-alternative approach to settlement, these countries must at the very least show that they can see through it and that they do not want to play this game.

Mercenaryism is part of this problem. We must fight this. There were thousands of mercenaries in Ukraine. According to the Russian military, their number has dwindled by more than a half. Others have either left or met with an ignominious end.

Question: President Vladimir Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson is helping the Republicans in the US to boost their ratings. People in the West are revising their views on Russia. Earlier, they were ignorant about developments in this country due to a lack of media coverage. What is your vision regarding the prospects for restoring relations with the West if a regime change occurs there, particularly in the United States, where Donald Trump might be reelected? Will they recognise our new territories? Will cooperation be resumed?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the Republicans’ position and the “stroke of insight” the US public received after President Vladimir Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson, the main takeaway for me was that US citizens, as it turns out, live in a situation of complete information blockade. They are being fed an internal narrative, primarily that of the Democratic Party. Fox News is the only Republican mouthpiece, but it also changed its tone after Mr Carlson quit.    

So, in fact, there is no freedom of expression, although the US Constitution demands that there be access to any information. In addition, there are obligations under the OSCE Charter that was adopted in Moscow in 1991. The West had it written in black and white (and the USSR subscribed to these demands) that each OSCE member country should ensure free and unrestricted access to information, particularly information that has its source both from within and outside the country in question. This is a direct requirement.

Our friends from the diplomatic corps and all people in Russia see in the news that there is this “good half”, which covers how the United States, the UK, France, Germany, or the EU views events unfolding in Ukraine or any other international event.  The Russian public is familiar with the West’s point of view. To be sure, it is criticised in most cases, but everyone is free to make his or her own conclusions. We do not censor what they say in the West. The stories are shown, with political scientists later discussing them.

Where reviving relations is concerned, President Vladimir Putin also mentioned this subject in his interview. He explained that the West should recognise its mistake and find a convenient way out, with the understanding that the problem of Ukraine, as we have outlined it, must be solved.  He added that relations would be restored one day, but exactly when this would take place does not depend on us. It is their problem. President Putin recalled that Russia has made numerous concessions and goodwill gestures, but has now reached its ceiling. The West’s only response to our good deeds was a telltale gesture involving one hand. 


To be continued...