MOSCOW (AP) — As Russia’s high diplomat in the course of the invasion of Ukraine, International Minister Sergey Lavrov is embodying the Kremlin’s defiant posture with a mix of toughness and sarcasm.
Whereas President Vladimir Putin single-handedly shapes the nation’s overseas coverage, Lavrov delivers Moscow’s message with a bluntness uncharacteristic of a diplomat.
Within the function for almost 18 years, the 71-year-old Lavrov has seen relations with the West shift from near-friendly to overtly hostile, plummeting to a catastrophic new low with Russia’s conflict in opposition to Ukraine. The invasion prompted the European Union to freeze the belongings of each Putin and Lavrov, amongst others — an unprecedented blow to Moscow’s delight.
Lavrov’s tenure as overseas minister is second solely to that of Soviet International Minister Andrei Gromyko, who was in workplace for 28 years. Like Gromyko, who was nicknamed Mr. Nyet (Mr. No), Lavrov has come to symbolize the uncompromising face of Kremlin overseas coverage vis a vis the West.
He doesn’t mince phrases when defending what he sees as Moscow’s pursuits, and that type should attraction to the tough-talking Russian president.
In 2008, Lavrov famously responded to a reprimand from then British International Secretary David Miliband by snapping: “Who’re you to (expletive) lecture me?”
Like his boss, Lavrov has tapped into broad public nostalgia for the nation’s Soviet-era clout. He has vented anger on the West, depicting the U.S. as smug, immodest, treacherous and decided to dominate the world. He has contemptuously dismissed Western allies as stooges obediently toeing Washington’s line to discourage Russia.
Standing subsequent to British International Secretary Liz Truss after their assembly final month, a grim-faced Lavrov snapped that their talks have been like a “dialog between deaf and dumb.”
After a lifelong diplomatic profession, Lavrov seems to be visibly bored by each day routine. When he seems earlier than the media, he doesn’t trouble to cover his irritation at a naive or provocative query, typically responding with an air of contempt or plain mockery.
When a CNN reporter in a video name from the Ukrainian capital requested Lavrov whether or not Moscow desires to topple the Ukrainian management, the aide who managed Friday’s briefing interrupted and mentioned it wasn’t his flip to place a query. The reporter continued, and an offended Lavrov weighed in: “He’s discourteous. He’s working in Ukraine now. He’s acquired contaminated with discourtesy.”
Lavrov has explicit distaste for photographers, exhibiting annoyance on the clacking of digicam shutters.
At one information convention, he muttered an expletive into the microphone in obvious anger at disorderly reporters; the expression grew to become a meme, broadly adopted in T-shirt designs for the patriotic viewers.
Lavrov has weathered limitless waves of hypothesis that he was on the verge of retirement. As a substitute, he has develop into one of many longest-lasting members of Putin’s Cupboard and a perennial determine amongst a altering kaleidoscope of overseas counterparts.
Earlier than changing into overseas minister, he served as Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations for 10 years and appreciated to have casual chats with journalists, buying and selling information and jokes over a cigarette within the U.N. corridors. He writes poetry, sings songs on guitar with pals, and eagerly took half in skits with different diplomats at worldwide occasions when Russia’s ties with the West have been much less rancorous.
However his smiles and straightforward methods are a factor of the previous now that Lavrov launches each day, offended diatribes in opposition to the West over Ukraine, the biggest floor battle Europe has seen since World Struggle II.
On Tuesday, he was barred from flying to Geneva to attend a U.N. convention after European Union members banned Russian planes from their skies as a part of bruising sanctions in opposition to Moscow.
Lavrov denounced what he known as the “outrageous” transfer in a video handle to the U.N. session, charging that “the EU international locations try to keep away from a candid face-to-face dialogue or direct contacts designed to assist determine political options to urgent worldwide points.”
“The West clearly has misplaced self-control in venting anger in opposition to Russia and has destroyed its personal guidelines and establishments, together with respect for personal property,” Lavrov mentioned. “It’s obligatory to place an finish to the smug Western philosophy of self-superiority, exclusivity and whole permissiveness.”
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