Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Russia's Lavrov Met With Hoots, Indignation At Testy Munich Talk

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addresses the 51st Munich Security Conference in Munich on February 7.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addresses the 51st Munich Security Conference in Munich on February 7.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sparked derisive laughter and indignation among the audience at a security conference in Munich by defending Moscow's actions in the Ukraine conflict and accusing the West of fomenting unrest in the crisis.

In a testy question-and-answer session following his February 7 speech at the conference, Lavrov elicited scattered howls from an audience that included Western officials by claiming that Ukraine's Crimea territory willingly joined Russia in line with the United Nations Charter.

"I guess it's funny. I also found many things [said here] funny as well, but I controlled myself," Lavrov, who spoke in Russian throughout, said in response to the laughter.

The United States and the European Union (EU) accuse Russia of illegally annexing Crimea in March following a self-styled "referendum" held on the peninsula after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Kremlin ally, fled the country amid antigovernment protests.

Shortly after Russia annexed Crimea in March, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to "affirm its commitment" to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, calling the vote held in Crimea "invalid."

Western governments and Kyiv also accuse the Kremlin of backing pro-Russian separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed more than 5,350 people since April.

Canada's delegation to NATO wrote on its Twitter feed that Lavrov's comments were a "sad attempt to dress up Russia's grab of Crimea with UN language."

Lavrov was also subjected to scorn after expressing support for the principles of territorial integrity and nonintervention spelled out in the Helsinki Final Act, a treaty signed in 1975 by 35 states, including the Soviet Union.

The Helsinki principles "were long ago torn up by the actions of the United States and its allies in Yugoslavia, which they bombed, in Iraq, in Libya, and by expanding NATO eastward and creating new dividing lines," Lavrov said.

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia who was in the audience, accused the Russian foreign minister of hypocrisy.

"Russia violates all Helsinki principles, yet FM Lavrov calls for reaffirming them. Interesting logic," Vershbow tweeted.

In another February 7 tweet, Vershbow said Lavrov was engaging in "blame shifting" and perpetuating "mostly fabrications and half-truths."

Marketing 'Rubbish'

Lavrov also accused the United States and the EU of escalating the crisis in Ukraine "at every step" after street protests erupted in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities following Yanukovych's sudden decision in November 2013 to reject a trade and political deal with the EU.

"After that, there was direct support for a coup," Lavrov said, repeating Moscow's long-stated view of the events.

Western officials repeatedly note that Yanukovych fled Kyiv after signing an EU-brokered deal with then-Ukrainian opposition leaders that called for a unity government and early presidential election.

Ukrainian lawmakers then voted to remove Yanukovych, who later fled to Russia, from office on the grounds that he was unable to fulfill his duties as president. This cleared the way for a pro-Western government to assume power in Kyiv.

Former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, criticized Lavrov's portrayal of the circumstances surrounding the transition of power in Ukraine as disingenuous.

"Lavrov accuses EU of 'supporting [a] coup d'etat' in [Kyiv]. I hope he feels somewhat ashamed of having to market such rubbish," Bildt wrote on Twitter.

'No Laughing Matter'

Arguably the most tense exchange during Lavrov's appearance was prompted by a question from Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament, who told the Russian minister that his "description of the situation in Ukraine is not correct."

"It was not a coup," said Brok, who received applause from the audience.

Lavrov replied that the German official's question will "make for good television" and accused Brok of double standards.

"It's one thing if you want to give angry speeches that will bolster your position in politics and the European Parliament," Lavrov said. "If you want to talk, then let's sit down and reaffirm all of the Helsinki principles and see why you think they were violated in some cases and not in others."

It was in response to Brok that Lavrov sparked hoots of derision for his defense of Russia's annexation of Crimea as in accordance with the UN Charter.

The Russian Foreign Ministry's website published a transcript later on February 7 that excluded Lavrov's immediate response to the laughter in the auditorium but included his reference to the commotion in his concluding comments.

"We can discuss all of this if you truly want to know our position and our motivations," Lavrov said. "[Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin has said this repeatedly. You can laugh at it, of course. But then someone just gets some satisfaction from this. They say laughter prolongs life."

The moderator, Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the United States and the chairman of the Munich conference, wrapped up the discussion by saying: "The issues we are discussing here, I think, are no laughing matter from any side."

-- Carl Schreck

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Anonymous
February 07, 2015 22:14
Full speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWsR_nkxfAY

by: Giambattista Vico from: Vladivostok RU
February 07, 2015 22:14
Russian and shame are terms that cancel each other out.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
February 08, 2015 02:27
Sure Lavrov's, Putin's and other's from Russia statements
are ridiculous!
But Biden makes me almost as sick.
Is he a German, from old maniacal dream to expand Great
Reigh of the Fuhrer?
His personal input contributed to Yugoslavia and E. Europe being pushed into "German-Austrian Sphere", now he try to do
same to Ukraine!
Is Biden acting for 1954 secret pact to resurrect Russian, German and Austrian colonial empires?
Freedom of Ukraine and other E. European countries is in
interests of USA, NATO, CIS, and whole Civilized World.
USA and NATO cannot take-in all nations.
It is like old times, strongest kingdoms are fortresses,
their friends and keens use it for protection in bad times,
other kingdoms in between are free and help prosper the
Worlds on both flanks.
What if Biden would drag them all in?
As part of new German-Austrian Reigh, deviding World
with new Russian Empire?
Where USA will go?
Be colony of British Empire?
Or British would have to go too?

by: Mark from: Sweden
February 08, 2015 05:16
LOL And what Russians doing when all of mass media and trolls fear them. Olimpic games fantastic! and why they think Putin this conflict needed? Look at our leaders they do nothing bla-bla, fat showmakers. Excellent, true speech!
With love from United States of Europe!
In Response

by: Elias from: Finland
February 09, 2015 09:21
Putin troll? I doubt a Swede would consider himself from 'United States of Europe'. We Nordics don't really label ourselves with the US...
Yeah, you're definitely not a Swede. You guys speak English a LOT better.
In Response

by: Robert from: US
February 11, 2015 11:12
I think his meaning. that europe is not independent and listen that say obama. nonetheless us more aggresive, look at history facts how many wars we make in past years. i'm sad.

by: Pawel from: USA
February 08, 2015 08:30
Mr. Lavrov starts having problems keeping a straight face defending Mr. Putin's exploits. He realizes that he sounds like Dr. Goebbels....

by: Arkadij from: Russia
February 08, 2015 13:25

by: Sasc from: CA
February 08, 2015 17:52
Hypocrisy can be contagious. I'm watching a lot of CNN coverage of the situation, and very often not just chuckling, but laughing out loud. What Lavrov said makes perfect sense, like it or not.
Sorry, I stopped listening Ukrainian officials' speeches. The beat Seinfeld.
In Response

by: Old Fart from: Stockholm
February 09, 2015 06:14
What sense would that be?

by: Racquel from: USA
February 08, 2015 23:08
As Putin has finally been revealed as "nothing more than a common criminal dressed up as a head of state," this once skilled sophist has been reduced to a used car salesman with his desparate and absurd attempts to justify and/or deny Russia's invasion of Crimea and Ukraine. He was actually able to exact unanimity among the Europeans and Americans today in their complete scorn of this man and everything and everyone he represents.

by: TheSaucyMugwump from: saucymugwump.blogspot.com
February 08, 2015 23:25
It's one thing for Russia to annex Crimea which is largely Russian, but it's another thing entirely for Russian-supplied separatists to send rockets into Mariupol, with it being a city of mostly Ukrainians, killing dozens in a terror attack. Russia's intent is now clear: it intends to join Transdniester, Crimea, and southern and eastern Ukraine in the land bridge known as Новороссия (New Russia).

Not to mention the 298 innocents who fell from the sky after a Russian-supplied BUK missile perforated their plane, with Putin refusing to secure the crash site so international teams could return the dead to their families.

Enough appeasement. Supply Ukraine with counter-battery radars, hand-held anti-tank weapons, missile-firing drones, and rocket systems similar to Russia's Grads so Ukrainians can fight a fair fight. Putin won't start a nuclear war over it.

by: Laguna Beach Fogey from: admiralcod@outlook.com
February 09, 2015 00:03
So many lies, fabrications, rudeness, and propaganda coming from the EU and US. These Western mofos need to be taught some manners.
In Response

by: sandy miller from: usa
February 10, 2015 00:04
Laguna Beach Fogey...So many lies, fabrications, rudeness and propaganda coming from EU and US??? Really? It's obvious fogey that you're another Putler troll who doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. In fact the audience sat too nice to Lavrov They should have thrown tomatoes at him for his shameless lies.
Comments page of 2

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