Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov responded to American suggestions that President Vladimir Putin is pursuing a Cold War–style “rivalry” by saying that he believes such conflicts “never disappeared” from the foreign-policy landscape.
“When we support the free will of the people of Crimea in full compliance with its right to self-determination, we are being called a revenge-seeking power trying to bring geopolitical rivalry back to international relations,” Lavrov told the Russian Council for Foreign Affairs. “In reality, geopolitics never disappeared. There was simply an attempt to pretend that it was a prerogative of only a group of chosen countries capable of changing the situation around the world according to its own patterns.”
Last month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested that Putin wanted to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. ”Mr. Putin has made no secret and he said it publicly on more than one occasion over the years that the demise of the Soviet Union was a terrific mistake, it shouldn’t have happened, it was bad for the Russian people,” Hagel told PBS’s Charlie Rose. “Now, I think that’s a premise that he truly believes and I think that’s where he starts.”
Lavrov made the comments Wednesday, on the eve of a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry. Before that meeting took place, Kerry reiterated that the United States wanted Russia to stop using Ukraine as a “pawn in a tug-of-war between other nations.”
Lavrov countered by suggesting that the United States is using Iraq, Syria, and Libya as pawns. “And the Russian–American agenda is much broader than just Ukraine,” he said. “We would like to see other countries like Iraq, Libya, Syria, many others, also to be in peace, not to be used as a pawn, and I hope that we can discuss all these things with the secretary here today.”