Home » Main » Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the Government Hour in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Moscow, February 15, 2023

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the Government Hour in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Moscow, February 15, 2023

Esteemed Mr Volodin,

Esteemed colleagues,

I am grateful for yet another opportunity to speak to the deputies of the State Duma during these traditional government hours.

The interaction between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation is indeed of a friendly nature. Our regular meetings in different formats allow us to provide legislators with information on the work of the foreign policy service, as well as hear your plans, advice and thoughts. This is particularly important for us at this current historical stage when the efforts to create favourable external conditions for resolving our domestic socio-economic goals and improving the living standards of the Russian people, encounter fierce resistance of those who imagine themselves the masters of the destinies of people. They are trying to interfere with our efforts by pushing us back decades and even to ruin our national development under the slogans of “decolonisation” and “preparations for Russia’s collapse.” In the process, the Anglo-Saxons and the rest of the collective West that have obeyed them without a murmur, are doing all they can to impose their dictate in world affairs. They are doing this to continue controlling the external conditions for the development of all humanity for the sake of their own global domination. They resort to illegal methods including threats, blackmail and outright robbery to punish those that are pursuing independent national-oriented foreign policy.

Therefore, our updated Foreign Policy Concept will stress the need to end the Western monopoly on creating a framework of international life. From now on, this framework will be determined not by the self-centred interests of the West but by the fair universal balance of interests in line with the UN Charter that has fixed the principle of sovereign equality of all states.

Crudely violating this fundamental principle of civilised international communication, the United States and its allies are obsessed with a maniacal striving to restore a neocolonialist unipolar world order and impede the objective process of the formation and rise of new global centres. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin noted in his speech at the Kremlin on September 30, 2022, they are doing all this to continue “to collect an actual tribute from humanity, to extract rent to be paid to the hegemon.” Russia’s deterrence over many years has been a component part of this course, including through NATO’s expansion to our borders and the turning of fraternal Ukraine into an “anti-Russia,” a Russophobic military bridgehead. In the past few years, this policy of Washington and its European satellites has reached a point of no return.

We gave up illusions about the true goals of the Westerners long ago. We remembered how they failed to fulfil their specific political commitments, given to the Soviet leaders, not to expand the North Atlantic Alliance. We remembered how Germany, France and Poland renounced their signatures under the agreement between President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. By doing this, they actually sanctioned the bloody state coup in Kiev in February 2014 under openly Nazi, racist slogans.

During all these years, the Western curators were directly pushing the criminal Kiev regime to the power solution of the Donbass problem, shutting their eyes to inevitable ethnic cleansing and the physical destruction of Russians and Russian-speaking people. It is enough to mention the recent cynical confessions by former Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and ex-President of France Francois Hollande. They admitted that they needed the Minsk Package of Measures approved by the UN Security Council, merely to gain time to allow Kiev to build up its military potential. Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky also admitted this. The public statements by these figures are basically a confession; they actually admitted that they disrupted the Minsk agreements that the Western leaders proclaimed a non-alternative foundation for settlement in Donbass. Simply put, all of them lied to us. They are also lying to us now, concealing the truth about the acts of terrorism at the Nord Stream pipelines.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg joined the chorus of self-incriminating statements. He said in Brussels that the war started in 2014. NATO was preparing for it from the moment of the state coup and the advent of Nazis to power in Kiev with promises to destroy everything Russian in Ukraine and to expel Russians from Crimea. In other words, the goal was to resolve the Russian issue, and the alliance supported it, no matter how hard the successors to those who made previous attempts to do this, tried to reject it.

Until the very last moment, we were doing all we could to reduce tensions and find an equitable and mutually respectful agreement. With this in view, in November 2021, President of Russia Vladimir Putin suggested drafting reciprocal legally binding security guarantees with the West. Washington and the North Atlantic bloc arrogantly rejected this initiative. They did not even feel like discussing our lawful concerns.

All this left us no other choice. A year ago, on the orders of Vladimir Zelensky’s regime, the armed forces of Ukraine, led by the nationalist battalions, began the forceful suppression of Donbass, stepping up the bombing of local towns exponentially. In response to an official appeal from the DPR and LPR, we recognised their independence and provided military assistance under Article 51 of the UN Charter, launching the special military operation.

Today, the United States and its satellites are waging a comprehensive hybrid war against us that they have been preparing for many years, using Ukrainian radical nationalists as a battering ram. They are not hiding their goals – not only to defeat our country on the battlefield and destroy the Russian economy, but also to surround us with a cordon sanitaire, making Russia a kind of a “rogue state.” For that, they are using their entire toolkit, from direct military support for the neo-Nazis (US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin directly called for this yesterday, citing the need to provide the Armed Forces of Ukraine with high-precision weapons and to train Ukrainian personnel to ensure the success of the regime’s new counteroffensives, which are allegedly being prepared) to unprecedented illegal sanctions and outright lies in an attempt to demonise Russia.

It came to the point where French Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre accused Russia on February 2 of pursuing a “neo-colonial policy in Africa.” That is, Paris, which, together with other major European powers, has committed numerous bloody crimes in African and continues to openly consider the continent its “backyard,” is making such accusations against Moscow, which has played a decisive role in freeing the African nations from colonial oppression, in promoting the formation of their statehood, and laying the foundation for their economies and defence capabilities. That’s a mental case, the pot calling the kettle black. No comment.

Their attempts to isolate Russia have failed. Our enemies had to admit this. The foreign policy adopted by President Vladimir Putin to firmly defend Russia’s national interests while at the same time being open to broad and equal international cooperation has proved effective. Our long-term planning consistently relies on the modern world being multipolar, where the countries of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, which constitute the world majority, do not want to live by a Western-centric “rules-based order” invented by the West. Washington, Brussels and London have written those “rules” to suit themselves, and they continue to re-write them as they please.

As was predictable in this context, three-quarters of the world’s states have not joined the anti-Russia sanctions. All of them have taken a balanced stance on the situation in Ukraine, rightly considering it in the context of the European security crisis that has long been brewing due to NATO’s aggressive policy, rather than as an isolated conflict. As President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping said, we need to ensure indivisible security on a global scale.

Amid this situation, Russian diplomacy has intensified its work in those areas where multipolarity and a fairer world order are gaining status, and where our partners are ready for honest and mutually beneficial cooperation. Among our unconditional priorities is the strengthening of association formats with our friends, allies and like-minded nations in Eurasia. Integration is expanding in the Eurasian Economic Union, where Russia is presiding in 2023, and the number of countries and international organisations (there are several dozens of them) interested in establishing ties and possibly signing free trade deals with the EAEU is growing, too.

Integration processes are getting stronger in the Union State, where most of the 28 integration programmes have been implemented; foreign policy coordination is being strengthened and cooperation within the CIS is being promoted. The CIS has declared 2023 the Year of the Russian Language as a Language of Interethnic Communication. Cooperation as part of the CSTO remains an integral factor of regional security and stability.

Together with our Chinese friends, we are working vigorously to strengthen our bilateral strategic partnership, which has reached a historical high and an unprecedented level of trust. The foreign policy link between Moscow and Beijing has cemented the foundation for the emerging polycentric architecture, serving as a balancing and stabilising factor in global affairs.

Russia and India are steadily deepening their special and privileged strategic partnership (that’s the official term). Russia’s ties with Brazil, Iran, the UAE, Egypt, Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and many other friendly countries on all continents are growing stronger. The second Russia-Africa Summit to be held in St Petersburg in July 2023 is expected to raise our partnership with our African friends to a new level. We highly value our diverse cooperation with the countries of Latin America and with their integration associations. Russia’s relations with some of them have reached a truly strategic level.

We continue to be active on multilateral platforms, primarily the United Nations, where Russia and a number of like-minded nations (more than 20) have set up the Group of Friends in Defence of the UN Charter; we defend the basic norms of international law and the inclusion of the aforementioned principle of respect for the sovereign equality of all countries without exception and non-interference in their internal affairs. These principles are directly enshrined in the UN Charter.

The SCO and BRICS have a special place in our foreign policy priorities. We consider these associations as the consummate example of multipolar diplomacy in the 21st century, aimed at promoting jointly developed collective approaches to global affairs. Today, an increasing number of states are striving to establish ties with the SCO and BRICS and become full members. This once again proves both format’s growing relevance in the context of the evolution of global governance mechanisms. Within the democratisation of these mechanisms being long overdue, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to establish the Greater Eurasian Partnership including the EAEU, the SCO, ASEAN and other Eurasian states and associations is growing all the more important. Interaction between the EAEU and the Chinese Belt and Road project is increasing in this context as well. Integration platforms from other developing regions – the African Union, the Arab League, the GCC, CELAC and many others – are increasingly declaring their independent roles in global affairs. We have established systematic interaction with each of them, as all of them are true pillars of the emerging global multipolarity. In the end, it is they, and not the West, who will determine the external conditions for the development of all countries on our planet.

Fighting the falsification of history, primarily the history of the Great Patriotic War, and the spread of Nazi ideology in all its forms and manifestations remain in our focus. The Global Majority, which regularly supports the resolution on the inadmissibility of glorifying Nazism that we introduce annually at UN General Assembly sessions, stands in solidarity with us. However, this year we became deeply concerned with the fact that Germany, Italy and Japan voted against this document for the first time ever. This casts doubt on the sincerity of their repentance for the mass crimes against humanity committed during World War II.

The Great Victory gave a powerful impetus to the liberation of the colonial countries and peoples. Our country provided decisive and, more often than not, free support to former colonies. Today we stand in solidarity with the calls to bring the decolonisation process to a fair conclusion. In particular, Paris, which I mentioned earlier, still retains its sovereignty and control over the island of Mayotte, which was annexed from the Union of the Comoros. This state of affairs continues unchanged despite multiple UN General Assembly resolutions calling on France to return this territory. The same applies to the Chagos Islands, which London took from Mauritius. About half a century ago, the British, in defiance of UN decisions, actually banished the locals in order to create a military base there, which has remained operational to this day.

We welcome the efforts of non-governmental and parliamentary diplomacy to assert the truth and to restore justice. The Ministry will provide every necessary support to the United Russia Party’s initiative to hold an International Forum of Supporters for the Fight against Modern Neo-Colonialist Practices. I know that all other State Duma parliamentary parties are part of this work as well.

In addition, we are working with the State Duma and the Federation Council to ensure transparency in the Pentagon’s military biological activities at its secret laboratories scattered around the world, far beyond the borders of the United States, in violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction.

Our top priorities include protection of the legitimate rights of Russian citizens residing abroad, consolidation of the multiethnic and multi-religious Russian world, and the strengthening of ties with our compatriots living abroad.

We continue to make the most of economic diplomacy levers. In the face of the mayhem perpetrated by the West, we help build up trade and investment ties with friendly states, convert transactions with them to national currencies, and form financial and logistical mechanisms that offer an alternative to Western mechanisms.

We focus in particular on strengthening the position of the Russian language and Russian culture. The Ministry’s freshly created Department for Multilateral Humanitarian Cooperation and Cultural Relations will work to address these issues and to promote an objective and unbiased image of our country. We spare no effort to help the implementation of President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s initiative on creating an international organisation to support and to promote the Russian language around the world. The organisation is created under the auspices of the CIS, but will be open to all countries and regions without exception. This work is under way in practical terms.


The foreign policy approved by President of Russia Vladimir Putin is a long-term strategic course. Unlike in Western “democracies,” it is not tethered to electoral cycles and even less so to anyone’s whims. Importantly, it enjoys nationwide support which imparts strength, predictability and stability to our steps in the international arena. All assignments issued by the head of state to the Foreign Ministry will be fulfilled.

We will continue to work, employing all modern forms of diplomatic activities, including parliamentary, governmental, scientific, as well as cultural and sports diplomacy. Amid the all-out hybrid war that is being waged against us in all these areas, the pooling of efforts and the daily coordination of our specific initiatives and practical actions is an absolute necessity.

I appreciate your focus on Foreign Ministry activities. Let us hear what you think about us. I am ready to participate in an interactive discussion.

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