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West tries to ‘lay down the law’ in international relations - Lavrov

Russia stands accused of adopting an ‘aggressive posture’ in a number of regions, Russian Foreign Minister said

MOSCOW, June 28. /TASS/. Western countries using their rules to replace the existing instruments of international law shows that they are striving to "lay down the law" on the world stage, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wrote in his article published in Kommersant and Russia in Global Affairs on Monday.

"The beauty of these Western ‘rules’ lies precisely in the fact that they lack any specific content. When someone acts against the will of the West, it immediately responds with a groundless claim that ‘the rules have been broken’ (without bothering to present any evidence) and declares its ‘right to hold the perpetrators accountable’. The less specific they get, the freer their hand to carry on with the arbitrary practice of employing dirty tactics as a way to pressure competitors. During the so-called ‘wild 1990s’ in Russia, we used to refer to such practices as laying down the law," Lavrov said.

The minister added that the West deliberately shies away from spelling out the rules it purports to follow, just as it refrains from explaining why they are needed. "After all, there are already thousands of universal international legal instruments setting out clear national commitments and transparent verification mechanisms," he said.

Relations with Russia

The statements of Western countries about their readiness to normalize relations with Russia if it "comes to its senses and makes the required concessions" have lost any meaning, Russian Foreign Minister wrote.

"As for Russia, it is high time that everyone understands that we have drawn a definitive line under any attempts to play a one-way game with us. All the mantras we hear from the Western capitals on their readiness to put their relations with Moscow back on track, as long as it repents and changes its tack, are meaningless. Still, many persist, as if by inertia, in presenting us with unilateral demands, which does little, if any, credit to how realistic they are." Lavrov said.

The minister noted that Russia develops on its own, independently and protecting national interests while remaining open to reaching agreements with foreign partners on an equal basis, has long been at the core of all its position papers on foreign policy, national security, and defense.

"However, judging by the practical steps taken over the recent years by the West, they probably thought that Russia did not really mean what it preached as if it did not intend to follow through on these principles. This includes the hysterical response to Moscow’s efforts to stand up for the rights of Russians in the aftermath of the bloody 2014 government coup in Ukraine, supported by the United States, NATO, and the EU. They thought that if they applied some more pressure on the elites and targeted their interests while expanding personal, financial, and other sectoral sanctions, Moscow would come to its senses and realize that it would face mounting challenges on its development path, as long as it did not ‘change its behavior’, which implies obeying the West," he added.

Russia, according to Lavrov, made it clear that it will view the policy by the United States and Europe as a new reality and will proceed on economic and other matters from the premise that we cannot depend on unreliable partners. However, the West persisted in believing that, at the end of the day, "Moscow ‘will come to its senses’ and will make the required concessions for the sake of financial reward."

"Let me emphasize what President Vladimir Putin has said on multiple occasions: there have been no unilateral concessions since the late 1990s and there never will be. If you want to work with us, recover lost profits and business reputations, let us sit down and agree on ways we can meet each other halfway in order to find fair solutions and compromises," Lavrov said.

‘Aggressive posture’

Western countries dislike the fact that Moscow stands up for states that have become victims of Western gambles and "have been attacked by international terrorists", Sergey Lavrov wrote.

"Russia stands accused of adopting an ‘aggressive posture’ in a number of regions. This is the way they treat Moscow’s policy aimed at countering ultra-radical and neo-Nazi aspirations in its immediate neighborhood, where the rights of Russians, as well as other ethnic minorities, are being suppressed, and the Russian language, education and culture rooted out. They also dislike the fact that Moscow stands up for countries that became victims to Western gambles, were attacked by international terrorists, and risked losing their statehood, as was the case with Syria," Lavrov said.

According to the minister, Russia and China have been designated as the main obstacles to delivering on the agenda set out at the June summits, labeled as ‘authoritarian powers’. "From a general perspective, they face two groups of grievances, loosely defined as external and internal. In terms of international affairs, Beijing is accused of being too assertive in pursuing its economic interests (the Belt and Road initiative), as well as expanding its military and, in general, technological might with a view to increasing its influence," he wrote.

"Still, the West reserved its biggest words to the inner workings of the "non-democratic" countries and its commitment to reshape them to fit into the Western mold. This entails bringing society in compliance with the vision of democracy as preached by Washington and Brussels," Lavrov said.

The minister added that this lies at the root of the demands that Moscow and Beijing, as well as all others, to "follow the Western prescriptions on human rights, civil society, opposition treatment, the media, governance and the interaction between the branches of power".

Russia’s tradition

Lavrov believes that the Russian tradition to "hold one’s word" is unlikely to take hold in the West, he wrote. The minister noted that the West has been justifying NATO’s "unreserved eastward expansion" towards the Russian border. "When we point to the assurances provided to the Soviet Union that this would not happen, we hear that these were merely spoken promises, and there were no documents signed to this effect. There is a centuries-old tradition in Russia of making handshake deals without signing anything and holding one’s word as sacrosanct, but it seems unlikely to ever take hold in the West," he said.

Discussing how Western countries are trying to replace existing norms of international law with a rules-based world order, Lavrov noted "Make no mistake: there is nothing wrong with the rules per se. On the contrary, the UN Charter is a set of rules, but these rules were approved by all countries of the world, rather than by a closed group at a cozy get-together".

"An interesting detail: in Russian, the words ‘law’ and ‘rule’ share a single root. To us, a rule that is genuine and just is inseparable from the law. This is not the case for Western languages. For instance, in English, the words ‘law’ and ‘rule’ do not share any resemblance. See the difference? ‘Rule’ is not so much about the law, in the sense of generally accepted laws, as it is about the decisions taken by the one who rules or governs," the minister said.

According to him, "It is also worth noting that ‘rule’ shares a single root with ‘ruler’, with the latter’s meanings including the commonplace device for measuring and drawing straight lines. It can be inferred that through its concept of "rules" the West seeks to align everyone around its vision or apply the same yardstick to everybody so that everyone falls into a single file".