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Lavrov warns West must negotiate with Russia or risk losing its power

Sergei Lavrov greets Wang Yi at SCO meeting in Uzbekistan

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Ukraine and the West will have to negotiate with Russia “whether it wants to or not”, the nation’s foreign minister has warned, otherwise it risks a “very serious reduction” in its global influence. In a bizarre rant by Sergei Lavrov, Putin’s long-serving right-hand man, the West was told it would lose its ability to “steer the world economy” as it forces Russia to strengthen ties with eastern nations such as China, India and Iran. His comments on Monday came as his Ukrainian counterpart Dymtro Kuleba said they were aiming to host a peace summit in February in time for the anniversary of the invasion. 

In comments reported by the Russian state media outlet TASS, Mr Lavrov said: “In the near future we will see a reduction in the West’s opportunities, a very serious reduction in opportunities to steer the world economy the way it wants, and whether it wants it or not, we will have to negotiate.”

He said that Russia was “not going to run after the West” in light of their increased sanctions, before suggesting that such actions had merely strengthened their geopolitical rivals and their ties to each other. 

He added: “We will focus on those who have never let us down and with whom we have sometimes achieved very difficult compromises. 

“But when they were achieved, no one ever deceived anyone. With the West, everything is exactly the opposite.” 

Anti-Western sentiment has been a staple of Russian rhetoric well before the invasion of Ukraine on February 24. 

But increased sanctions this year have exaggerated this narrative among Kremlin officials and Russian commentators.

In October, President Putin addressed a conference of the Valdai Discussion Club, a Russian think tank, held to discuss “a post-hegemonic world”. 

He claimed the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union led to a Western dominated world order where “only its will, its culture, its interests had the right to exist”. 

He claimed that the “historic age of the West’s absolute supremacy in global affairs is ending” and the “unipolar world is receding into the past”. 

China and India have become Russia’s main buyers of oil and gas since the invasion of Ukraine. In March, less than a month after Putin’s soldiers stepped into neighbouring territory, combined oil imports by China and India from Russia overtook those from the 27 EU member states that had formerly relied so heavily upon Putin.

China, under the leadership of autocratic President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, is now largely viewed as the single greatest threat to the hegemony of the USA. 

By proxy, the ascension of the CCP, militarily and in terms of its global exporting power, threatens the West as well. 

While Russia no longer looks like such a formidable threat, struggling in the face of a NATO-backed Ukrainian Army, China, bolstered by the supply of Russian oil and gas at discounted prices, may well pose a threat. It is likely that Lavrov’s comments are alluding to this growing threat. 

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Peace negotiations, however, are already being discussed by Ukrainian officials and their Western backers. 

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday that they were planning to hold a peace summit in February, hosted by the United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres. 

He said: “Every war ends in a diplomatic way. Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.

“The United Nations could be the best venue for holding this summit, because this is not about doing a favour to a certain country. This is really about bringing everyone on board.”

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