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‘Minister No’: Lavrov embodies Moscow’s steely posture


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MOSCOW — As Russia’s leading diplomat throughout the invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is embodying the Kremlin’s defiant posture with a combination of toughness and sarcasm.

Although President Vladimir Putin one-handedly designs the country’s international coverage, Lavrov delivers Moscow’s message with a bluntness uncharacteristic of a diplomat.

In the function for just about 18 a long time, the 71-calendar year-previous Lavrov has noticed relations with the West change from around-friendly to brazenly hostile, plummeting to a catastrophic new very low with Russia’s war from Ukraine. The invasion prompted the European Union to freeze the assets of both equally Putin and Lavrov, amongst some others — an unprecedented blow to Moscow’s pleasure.

Lavrov’s tenure as foreign minister is 2nd only to that of Soviet International Minister Andrei Gromyko, who was in business office for 28 several years. Like Gromyko, who was nicknamed Mr. Nyet (Mr. No), Lavrov has occur to represent the uncompromising face of Kremlin foreign policy vis a vis the West.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on as he gives an annual press conference on Russian diplomacy in 2021, in Moscow on January 14, 2022.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on as he presents an once-a-year push conference on Russian diplomacy in 2021, in Moscow on January 14, 2022.
(Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP through Getty Pictures)

He does not mince words when defending what he sees as Moscow’s pursuits, and that type will have to enchantment to the rough-chatting Russian president.

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In 2008, Lavrov famously responded to a reprimand from then British International Secretary David Miliband by snapping: “Who are you to (expletive) lecture me?”

Like his manager, Lavrov has tapped into wide community nostalgia for the country’s Soviet-period clout. He has vented anger at the West, depicting the U.S. as arrogant, conceited, treacherous and identified to dominate the entire world. He has contemptuously dismissed Western allies as stooges obediently toeing Washington’s line to discourage Russia.

Standing upcoming to British International Secretary Liz Truss soon after their conference previous thirty day period, a grim-faced Lavrov snapped that their talks were being like a “conversation amongst deaf and dumb.”

Soon after a lifelong diplomatic vocation, Lavrov appears visibly bored by each day plan. When he seems prior to the media, he doesn’t hassle to cover his irritation at a naive or provocative dilemma, frequently responding with an air of contempt or simple mockery.

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When a CNN reporter in a movie simply call from the Ukrainian funds questioned Lavrov irrespective of whether Moscow wants to topple the Ukrainian management, the aide who managed Friday’s briefing interrupted and mentioned it wasn’t his switch to set a question. The reporter continued, and an indignant Lavrov weighed in: “He’s discourteous. He’s working in Ukraine now. He’s received infected with discourtesy.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gestures during a press conference following talks with his Italian counterpart in Moscow, on February 17, 2022. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gestures all through a press meeting adhering to talks with his Italian counterpart in Moscow, on February 17, 2022. 
(Picture by SHAMIL ZHUMATOV/POOL/AFP through Getty Photos)

Lavrov has unique distaste for photographers, displaying annoyance at the clacking of digital camera shutters.

At 1 news conference, he muttered an expletive into the microphone in evident anger at disorderly reporters the expression turned a meme, commonly adopted in T-shirt designs for the patriotic viewers.

Lavrov has weathered limitless waves of speculation that he was on the verge of retirement. Rather, he has grow to be just one of the longest-long lasting customers of Putin’s Cabinet and a perennial figure between a switching kaleidoscope of overseas counterparts.

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Right before turning into overseas minister, he served as Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations for 10 many years and favored to have informal chats with journalists, trading news and jokes more than a cigarette in the U.N. corridors. He writes poetry, sings tunes on guitar with close friends, and eagerly took component in skits with other diplomats at global occasions when Russia’s ties with the West were being a lot less rancorous.

US President Joe Biden (L), Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) pose for press prior to the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021.

US President Joe Biden (L), Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) pose for press prior to the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021.
(Photograph by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP by way of Getty Photographs)

But his smiles and quick methods are a factor of the previous now that Lavrov launches each day, angry diatribes in opposition to the West above Ukraine, the biggest ground conflict Europe has found considering the fact that World War II.

On Tuesday, he was barred from flying to Geneva to show up at a U.N. meeting soon after European Union customers banned Russian planes from their skies as portion of bruising sanctions towards Moscow.

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Lavrov denounced what he termed the “outrageous” transfer in a video clip deal with to the U.N. session, charging that “the EU nations around the world are making an attempt to stay away from a candid confront-to-face dialogue or direct contacts made to assist detect political answers to pressing international troubles.”

“The West obviously has shed self-management in venting anger in opposition to Russia and has destroyed its own policies and institutions, which include respect for personal house,” Lavrov claimed. “It is required to put an conclusion to the arrogant Western philosophy of self-superiority, exclusivity and whole permissiveness.”

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