Lavrov: “The Future of the World Order is Being Decided Today”

Address by Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, at the General Policy Debate of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly</strong

Dear Madam President

Dear colleagues

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are meeting at a difficult and dramatic time. Crisis phenomena are mounting and the international security situation is rapidly deteriorating.

Instead of honest dialogue and searching for compromises, we have to deal with disinformation, crude staging and provocations. The West’s line undermines trust in international institutions as organs of reconciliation of interests and in international law as a guarantee of justice and protection of the weak against arbitrariness. Negative trends in concentrated form can be seen within the walls of the UN, which emerged from the wreckage of German fascism and Japanese militarism and was created to promote friendly relations between its members and to prevent conflicts between them.

What is at stake today is the future of the world order – that is clear to any unbiased observer. The question is whether it will be an order with one hegemon forcing everyone to live by his notorious “rules” that benefit only him. Or will it be a democratic, fair world – without blackmail and intimidation of the unwanted, without neo-Nazism and neocolonialism. Russia firmly chooses the second option. Together with our allies, partners and like-minded people, we call upon ourselves to work towards its implementation.

Gone is the unipolar model of world development that served the interests of the “golden billion”, whose super-consumption for centuries was ensured by the resources of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Today, the formation of sovereign states, ready to defend national interests, leads to the formation of an equitable, socially oriented and sustainable multipolar architecture. However, objective geopolitical processes are perceived by Washington and the ruling elites of Western countries that are fully subordinate to it as a threat to their dominant position.

The U.S. and its allies want to stop the flywheel of history. Once, by declaring victory in the Cold War, Washington elevated itself to the rank of a messenger of God on earth, who has no obligations, but only “sacred” rights to act with impunity – as and wherever. Any state can be declared a zone of such actions – especially if it did not please the self-proclaimed “masters of the world”. We all remember how the wars of aggression were launched against Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya, far from American shores, under far-fetched pretexts, which took many hundreds of thousands of civilian lives. Were any of these countries really affected by the legitimate interests of the West? Were English or the languages of other NATO member states, Western media and culture banned there? Have the Anglo-Saxons been declared “subhumans” and used heavy weapons against them? What are the results of U.S. adventures in the Middle East? An improvement in human rights and the rule of law? Stabilization of the socio-political situation? An increase in the welfare of the population? Name a country where Washington has intervened forcefully and where life has improved as a result.

Trying to revive a unipolar model under the slogan of “rule-based order”, the West is planting “dividing lines” everywhere in the spirit of bloc confrontation: “either with us or against us”. There is no third option, no compromise. Continuing the thoughtless policy of expanding NATO eastward and bringing the bloc’s military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders, the United States has now set the task of subjugating Asian spaces. At the NATO summit in Madrid in June, this, as it calls itself, “defensive” alliance proclaimed “the indivisibility of the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions”. Under the slogan of Indo-Pacific strategies, closed formats are being created that undermine the entire open and inclusive regional architecture that had been forming around ASEAN for decades. In addition, they are playing with fire around Taiwan, promising it military support.

It is obvious that the notorious “Monroe Doctrine” is taking on a global scope. Washington is trying to turn the entire globe into its “backyard. The instrument of coercion of dissenters is illegal unilateral sanctions, which for years have been adopted in violation of the UN Charter and used as an instrument of political blackmail. The cynicism of this practice is obvious. Restrictions hit civilians by preventing access to essential goods, including medicines, vaccines and food. A blatant example is the U.S. embargo on Cuba, which has lasted for more than 60 years. The UN General Assembly has long insisted overwhelmingly that it be lifted immediately. The Secretary-General, whose responsibility it is to promote the implementation of the decisions of the General Assembly, must pay particular attention to this problem. He also has a special role to play in mobilizing efforts to solve the food and energy crises that have erupted due to the uncontrolled emission of money in the U.S. and the EU during the pandemic and the irresponsible, unprofessional actions of the European Union on the hydrocarbon markets. Contrary to elementary common sense, Washington and Brussels exacerbated the crisis situation by declaring an economic war against Russia. The result was a rise in world prices for food, fertilizers, oil, and gas. We welcome the efforts of the Secretary General, which contributed to the conclusion of the Istanbul agreements of July 22. However, these agreements should be implemented. In the meantime, ships with Ukrainian grain are not mostly going to the poorest countries, and the financial and logistical obstacles created by the USA and the EU on the way of Russian grain and fertilizer exports have not been fully removed. We have been reminding for weeks that 300 thousand tons of fertilizers have been held up in European ports. We have long offered to transfer them free of charge to the needy countries in Africa, but the European Union does not react.

Official Russophobia has acquired an unprecedented, grotesque scale in the West. They are no longer shy about openly declaring their intention not only to inflict a military defeat on our country, but also to destroy and dismember Russia. In other words, to make Russia disappear from the political map of the world as a geopolitical entity.

In what reality have Russia’s actions over the past decades infringed on the interests of its opponents? Maybe they can’t forgive us for allowing the military-strategic “détente” of 1980-1990 thanks to our country’s position? That we voluntarily dissolved the Warsaw Pact Organization, depriving NATO of its raison d’être? That we supported the reunification of Germany without any conditions and against the position of London and Paris? Withdraw military forces from Europe, Asia and Latin America. Recognized the independence of the former Soviet republics. Trusting Western leaders’ promises not to expand NATO “one inch” eastward and, when we did, agreeing to give it true legitimacy by signing the NATO-Russia Founding Act? Could it be that we violated Western interests by warning the West against the unacceptability of a threatening military infrastructure coming close to our borders?

The arrogance of the West, of American exceptionalism, has become particularly destructive since the end of the Cold War. Back in 1991, Pentagon deputy chief P. Wolfowitz, speaking to W. Clark, commander of the joint NATO forces in Europe, frankly admitted that after the end of the Cold War they could use their military without fear of punishment … And that they had five, perhaps ten years to purge these surrogate Soviet regimes like Iraq and Syria, until a new superpower could challenge them. I am sure that someday we will learn from someone else’s memoirs how America’s strategy toward Ukraine was also being worked out. However, Washington’s plans are already obvious.

Perhaps we can never forgive the fact that at the request of the U.S. and the EU, we supported the agreements of then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych with the opposition to resolve the crisis in February 2014? The agreements, which were guaranteed by Germany, France and Poland, were trampled on the next morning by the leaders of the bloody coup that humiliated the European mediators. The West just threw up its hands and watched in silence as the coup plotters bombed eastern Ukraine, where they refused to recognize the results of the coup, and as its organizers elevated Nazi henchmen, involved in the brutal ethnic cleansing of Russians, Poles and Jews during World War II, to the rank of national heroes. Were we supposed to put up with Kiev’s policy of a total ban on the Russian language, education, Russian media, and culture, the demands to expel Russians from Crimea, and the declaration of war against Donbass, whose residents were proclaimed by both the then and current Kiev authorities to be “beings,” rather than humans, by their top leadership?

Could it be that Russia violated Western interests by playing a key role in stopping the hostilities unleashed by Kiev’s neo-Nazis in eastern Ukraine and then demanding implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures, which was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council in February 2015, but was buried by Kiev with the direct involvement of the US and EU?

We have repeatedly over the years proposed to agree on the rules of coexistence in Europe based on the principle of equal and indivisible security established at the highest level in the OSCE documents. According to this principle, no one would strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others. We made the last proposal to make these arrangements legally binding in December 2021 and received an arrogant rejection.

The incompetence of Western countries and the Kiev regime’s continued war against its own people left us no choice but to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and launch a special military operation to protect Russians and other residents of Donbass and eliminate the threats to our security that NATO has consistently created on Ukrainian territory, in fact, on our borders. The operation is in fulfillment of treaties of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between Russia and these republics based on Article 51 of the UN Charter. I am sure that any sovereign, self-respecting state that is aware of its responsibility to its own people would do the same in our place.

Now the West is hysterical because of the referendums in Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions of Ukraine, but the people living there are only reacting to what the head of the Kiev regime, V.A. Zelensky, recommended them in one of his interviews in August 2021. At that time, he advised everyone who feels Russian to “go” to Russia for the good of their children and grandchildren. Residents of the regions mentioned above are doing so now, taking with them their land where their ancestors lived for centuries.

It is abundantly clear to any unbiased observer: for the Anglo-Saxons, who have completely subjugated Europe, Ukraine is just expendable material in the fight against Russia. NATO declared our country an immediate threat on the way to the total domination of the U.S., and as a long-term strategic challenge it defined the PRC. At the same time, the “collective West” led by Washington is sending all other countries, without exception, an intimidating signal – anyone who dares to disobey can be next.

One of the consequences of the “crusade” declared by the West against the unwanted is the progressive decay of multilateral institutions, which are turned by the USA and its allies into instruments of realization of their selfish interests. This line is being implanted in the UN, the Organization’s Human Rights Council, UNESCO and other multilateral structures. In fact, the OPCW has been privatized. Fierce attempts are being made to prevent the creation within the BWC of a transparency mechanism for hundreds of Pentagon military-biological programs around the world, including the perimeter of Russia’s borders and throughout Eurasia. That these programs are by no means harmless is evidenced by the inexorable facts revealed in Ukraine.

We see an assertive line to privatize the UN Secretariat, to introduce into its work a neoliberal discourse that ignores the cultural and civilizational diversity of the modern world. In this context, we call for attention to be paid, as required by the UN Charter, to ensuring equitable geographical representation of member states in the structures of the Secretariat, avoiding the dominance of one group of countries.

An intolerable situation has developed around Washington’s failure to fulfill its obligations under the Agreement between the Secretariat and the U.S. government concerning the obligations of the “host country” of the United Nations headquarters to ensure normal conditions for participation of all member states in the work of the UN. The Secretary General also has responsibilities in this agreement. Inertia is not acceptable.

The efforts of some countries to undermine the prerogatives of the Security Council are worrisome. Undoubtedly, the Council and the United Nations as a whole must be adapted to modern realities. We see prospects for democratizing the work of the Security Council exclusively – I want to emphasize this – through the increased representation of countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America. We particularly note India and Brazil as key international players and worthy candidates for permanent membership in the Council, while necessarily raising the profile of Africa.

It is now more important than ever that all member states unequivocally, without reservation, reaffirm their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as the first necessary step toward restoring collective responsibility for the fate of humanity.

It is for this purpose that the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter, co-founded by Russia and already comprising some two dozen countries, was established in July 2021. The Group aims to ensure strict adherence to universal norms of international law as opposed to harmful unilateral approaches. We call on all those who share that position to join. In that context, the Non-Aligned Movement, BRICS, the SCO and ASEAN have considerable positive potential.

Our Western colleagues, while aggressively imposing their understanding of democracy as a model of social organization on all countries, categorically do not want to be guided by democratic norms in international affairs. A fresh example is the situation around Ukraine. Russia has substantiated its position in detail, and has been doing so for several years). The West proclaimed its disagreement with it. It would seem that it is up to the rest of the world community to decide what position to take: for some, for others, or neutrality. This seems to be what democracies are supposed to do when politicians opposing each other defend their point of view and agitate the population, but the U.S. and its allies do not give anyone the freedom to choose. They threaten and twist the arms of anyone who dares to think for themselves. They demand to join the anti-Russian sanctions. They are bad at it, but it is obvious that this kind of action by the United States and its satellites is not democracy at all, but pure dictatorship, at least an attempt to impose a dictatorship.

There is the persistent impression that Washington and subjugated Europe are trying to preserve their elusive hegemony solely by prohibited methods. Diplomacy is repeatedly replaced by illegitimate sanctions against strong competitors in the economy, sports, information space, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people contacts in general. Take the problem of visas for delegates to international events in New York, Geneva, Vienna, Paris – this is also a desire to eliminate competitors, to prevent alternative points of view in multilateral discussions.

I am convinced of the need to protect the UN, to cleanse the World Organization of all confrontational and extraneous, to restore its reputation as a platform for honest discussions to find a balance between the interests of all member states. This is the approach that guides us in promoting our national initiatives at the UN.

It is fundamentally important to achieve a comprehensive ban on the placement of weapons in outer space, which is the goal of the Russian-Chinese draft international treaty currently under consideration by the UN Conference on Disarmament.

Special attention should be paid to the tasks of protecting cyberspace, including reaching agreement in the Open Working Group of the General Assembly on ways to ensure international information security, as well as developing a universal convention on combating the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes within the framework of the Ad Hoc Committee.

We will continue to support the Office for Counter-Terrorism and other United Nations counter-terrorism bodies.

We will continue to promote dynamic development of the UN’s relations with the CSTO, the CIS and the EAEU in order to combine efforts in the Greater Eurasia area.

Russia calls for stepping up the work to settle regional conflicts. We consider it a priority to overcome the deadlock in the creation of an independent Palestinian state, restore the statehood of Iraq and Libya destroyed by NATO aggression, neutralize threats to Syrian sovereignty, establish a sustainable national reconciliation process in Yemen and overcome the heavy NATO legacy in Afghanistan. We are seeking to revive the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, to ensure a fair and comprehensive settlement of the problems of the Korean Peninsula. The numerous conflict situations in Africa call for resisting the temptation to make them the subject of geopolitical “zero sum games” and for consolidating external players to support the initiatives of the African Union. The situation in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the United States and the EU are stubbornly working to destroy the international legal framework embodied in UNSCR 1244 and the Dayton Peace Agreement, is cause for concern.

Madam President,

In times of change, it is human nature to seek support and solace in the wisdom of predecessors, who have been equally tested. In the apt words of former UN Secretary-General James Hammarskjöld, who remembered the horrors of World War II: “The UN was created not to lead humanity to heaven, but to save it from hell. These words are more relevant than ever. They call for all of us to realize our individual and collective responsibility to create the conditions for the safe and harmonious development of future generations. To do this, it is necessary for all to show political will.

We are ready for this honest work and convinced that the sustainability of the world order can only be ensured through a return to the roots of United Nations diplomacy based on the key Charter principle of true democracy – respect for the sovereign equality of States.

Madam President,

In times of change, it is human nature to seek support and solace in the wisdom of predecessors, who have been equally tested. In the apt words of former UN Secretary-General James Hammarskjöld, who remembered the horrors of World War II: “The UN was created not to lead humanity to heaven, but to save it from hell. These words are more relevant than ever. They call for all of us to realize our individual and collective responsibility to create the conditions for the safe and harmonious development of future generations. To do this, it is necessary for all to show political will.

We are ready for this honest work and convinced that the sustainability of the world order can only be ensured through a return to the roots of United Nations diplomacy based on the key Charter principle of true democracy – respect for the sovereign equality of States.

Statement by Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, at the UN Security Council Meeting on Ukraine