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The Daily Vertical: Lavrov's Straight-Faced Charade (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

You've really got to hand it to Sergei Lavrov for being able to say the things he says with a straight face.

The Russian foreign minister says Moscow is "seriously concerned" about the escalating violence in the Donbas.

And as Lavrov was expressing his concern, Russia-backed separatists continued to escalate the violence in the Donbas, attacking Ukrainian positions with Grad rockets and heavy artillery.

And as Lavrov was expressing his concern, Moscow continued to escalate tensions with Kyiv on another front -- moving troops and long convoys of heavy weapons to the north of the occupied Crimean Peninsula near the Ukrainian mainland.

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Lavrov's concern about the escalation in Ukraine amid Russia's escalation in Ukraine illustrates one of the fundamental flaws in the Minsk peace process.

Moscow has been allowed to pretend that it is a mediator in a conflict in Ukraine in which it is, in fact, the aggressor.

The Kremlin is able to express concern over violence that it is, in fact, perpetrating itself.

It's a game Russia has played before -- in Abkhazia, in South Ossetia, and in Transdniester.

In fact, it's the same playbook Moscow used in the run-up to its 2008 invasion of Georgia.

And it's a game the Kremlin will continue to play, as long as everybody keeps going along with the charade.

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