Recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov made a statement on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Russia’s accession to the Council of Europe. However, Russia, which joined this international organisation 25 years ago, is long gone. Back then, the country sought to become a part of Western civilisation, to share the values of human rights, free elections and free economic activity. Russia, which joined the Council of Europe 25 years ago, was seized by Putin’s mafia “cooperators,” was driven into the opposition or killed as Politkovskaya, Nemtsov and Estemirov. A new Russia emerged: an empire of wars and territorial conquests, a country of lies and state theft, hatred for freedom and democratic values. The present-day Russia is a country that craves the revenge of a country with the ingrained Soviet mentality, the revenge of the bloody past of the Soviet era.
It is on behalf of such a Russia that Lavrov addresses Europe. Modern Kremlin-led Russia does not like modern democratic Europe. And Europe is just tired of modern Russia. Europe is tired of Kremlin’s painful ambitions and aggressive behaviour.
The KGB country
The West understands that Putin’s pseudo-empire has long since lost its prospects of the 1990s as Russia is an economically weak state, and its political model has degraded to the level of a second-rate dictatorship. The path of Russia’s history goes into a downward spiral.
Twenty-one years ago, with the arrival of the year 2000, Vladimir Putin became acting president of Russia. A man with the habits of a KGB officer found himself at the head of a nuclear state and enthusiastically embarked on its foreign policy. A new epoch began in the history of Russia – a very long one, although nobody guessed it then. The Putin era has changed a lot, both in Russia itself and in the country’s relations with the rest of the world, especially Europe, the United States and its immediate neighbours. Foreign policy has always resonated with Vladimir Putin, much more than the “boring” issues of economic reform or social policy. Putin as a politician: this factor largely determines Russia’s neurasthenic relations with the rest of the world.
Lavrov, being an accomplice in Putin’s crimes in the international arena, does not like the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and demands that “the ECHR’s activities be free from political and ideological preferences.” This statement is made by the minister of the country, in which the lawsuits against the “disobedient” have long since turned into an ideological farce, the country, in which Putin has turned foreign policy into his personal special operation. This is not surprising, given his first and major profession. In general, the secret services have always overshadowed Russia’s international affairs. Over Putin’s two-decade-long rule, the tradition has gone too far and a seemingly vanished practice has revived. The security officers started to kill undesirable people, both inside and outside Russia.
Lavrov is not satisfied with the European approach to freedom, European and Atlantic unity. He is “convinced that the future of the Council of Europe depends on its ability to maintain independence and a truly European character, not to become hostage to bloc approaches and thinking…”
The Kremlin does not invite anyone anywhere, so the bloc approach on the foreign policy horizon could be possible only with African rulers and banana republics. Even the pompously proclaimed “union state” with Belarus turned out to be nothing more than a fake in real life, because joining Russia on Moscow’s terms – which was originally sought by the Kremlin – was never seriously considered in Minsk. This, in fact, was confirmed by Putin’s recent meetings with Lukashenka.
Attempts to drive a wedge between Europe and the United States, as well as between individual European countries, have become a foreign policy credo of Putin’s Kremlin and the main weapon used in various years with greater or lesser efficiency. And the desire to do harm to inappeasable and unattainable Americans at any cost has turned into a kind of fixed idea.
Lavrov also does not much like the position of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. He urges to “refrain from imposing non-consensus documents.” Of course, in the Kremlin’s view, European supporters of human rights and freedoms must have an undeniable consensus with the Kremlin’s villains: to turn a blind eye to the lawlessness waged by the ruling mafia in Russia.
A statement by Lavrov as the leader of the Kremlin’s international diplomacy is full of discontent and illusory insults. Everything irritates the Kremlin. Europe and the democratic world are to blame for the fact that Russia has turned from a majestic state, at least in terms of territory, into a situational unification of separate underdeveloped territories, linked together with bogus bonds. Neither Putin, nor the Kremlin, nor, moreover, Lavrov, see this as their fault.
The chief diplomat’s statement has no words about the return of annexed Crimea, the cessation of aggression in eastern Ukraine and the investigation into Kremlin’s crimes committed there, the recognition of responsibility for the downing of MH17 flight by Russian invaders, the poisoning of Skripal by Putin’s agents in Britain, the assassination of Khangoshvili in Germany, the poisoning of Navalny. No apology for the brazen statements of the Russian Foreign Ministry against Germany in connection with the same poisoning of Navalny. The Kremlin never admits its involvement in international crimes, never admits its guilt.
Such an international policy is a loss of the future for Russia. Not only the “lifelong” president but the whole country is already perceived by a large part of the world as a sick and nutty unpredictable neighbour that can pull a stunt any moment. The deep distrust of Russia, which has always been on the West’s subconscious level, has rooted firmly and for a long time, thanks to Putin’s “diplomacy.”
Yuri Fedorenko, analyst, public relations expert
The author’s opinion does not always coincide with the opinion of the editorial staff