Analyzing Lavrov’s Latest Insight Into the Special Operation

The West’s refusal to accept its lost hegemony is what sparked the special operation in the first place.

The International Affairs journal, which is the official journal of Russian Foreign Ministry, published an interview over the weekend with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Apart from sharing some observations about the global systemic transition to multipolarity, including with respect to Africa and his country’s partners in the former Soviet space, he also talked about the special operation. It’s that second dimension of his interview which forms the focus of the present piece.

Lavrov began by implying that the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine was inevitable due to “the Western minority’s never-ending striving for military, political, financial and economic expansion.” In pursuit of that goal, “the Americans and their satellites are trying to slow down the natural evolution of international relations and the formation of a multipolar system, or even reverse the process.” This is driven by their fear that globalization will no longer proceed according to Western templates, he added.

Russia’s top diplomat then reaffirmed his leadership’s conclusion that “the West wants to do away with our country as a serious geopolitical rival. It is for this reason that Washington and Brussels have unleashed a hybrid war against us.” In preparation of that, “they have been cynically transforming our neighbouring country into a hostile military bulwark against Russia by nurturing an entire generation of politicians ready to declare war on our shared past, culture and everything Russian, in general.”

The West’s objective is “to force us to deplete our economic, technological and defence capabilities as much as possible, curtail our sovereignty and force us to renounce our independent foreign and domestic policy” via their proxy war on Russia through Ukraine, which includes sanctions and terrorism. As it stands, Lavrov believes that “the United States has no intention of ending the conflict”, but he also warned that perpetuating the proxy war risks harming its and Ukraine’s own interests:

“The longer the armed clashes last, the less appetite will the Western investors have to contribute to post-conflict recovery in Ukraine, and the weaker their faith in Ukraine’s success on the battlefield, or its ability to preserve its statehood in any form or within any borders. I am not even mentioning whether Kiev would be able to service its government debt. Taxpayers in Western countries will have no choice but to carry the burden of the unpaid debt, causing more inflation and lower living standards.”

Russia envisages ending the conflict via negotiations that ensure those of its interests which were detailed in the security guarantee requests that the Kremlin sent to the US and NATO in late 2021. It will never capitulate to “the notorious Zelensky peace formula”, Lavrov insisted, which is “a pointless ultimatum…that hurts our fundamental security interests” and can lead to more abuses against ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine and Moscow’s new regions.

Regrettably, he assessed that “the prospects for negotiations between Russia and the West are non-existent at this stage”, and that “the Kiev regime’s Western sponsors are constantly pushing them to up the ante.” Lavrov also assessed that “we regard the Westerners’ hypocritical calls for talks as a tactical ploy to buy time once again giving the exhausted Ukrainian troops a respite and the opportunity to regroup, and to send in more weapons and ammunition.”

If the US ever reaches a deal with Russia, however, then it might suddenly dump Kiev:

“The United States does not have the best historical record when it comes to supporting its allies. Suffice to remember its abrupt withdrawal of military aid to South Vietnam in 1973 and to Ashraf Ghani’s regime in Afghanistan in 2021, as well as the fact that these moves immediately caused the downfall of the governments loyal to the United States. Today, Ukraine depends almost entirely on the Western financial allocations and arms deliveries.”

It’s at this point that the present piece will now segue into an analysis of Lavrov’s latest insight.

Beginning with the last-mentioned point and working backwards, President Putin suggested in late June that a political solution to the proxy war is still possible so long as the US cuts off its arms shipments to Kiev, shortly after which Lavrov signaled support for freezing the conflict. Of course, both officials would work tirelessly to ensure that their country’s national security interests are met through political means in that scenario, but the point is that the Russian leadership isn’t crazy for war like the West claims.

To the contrary, it’s the West that’s impeding peace by “pushing [Kiev] to up the ante” and flooding that former Soviet Republic with increasingly high-quality and modern arms, which in turn compels Russia to respond and thus continues the self-sustaining cycle of escalation. That said, the vicious blame game that’s breaking out after the counteroffensive predictably failed could potentially prompt some comparatively more pragmatic Western policymakers to rethink their side’s stance towards this conflict.

In that speculative event, however, they’d have to guarantee that Russia’s national security interests are respected in order for there to be any chance of politically resolving the proxy war. As Lavrov reminded everyone in his latest interview, these concern the elimination of Ukrainian-emanating conventional and unconventional threats as well as the protection of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the region. The prerequisite for this happening is the West accepting that its unipolar hegemony is forever lost.

Absent that tacit admission by its policymakers, or at least whichever faction it is that’s most powerfully influencing policy formulation nowadays, it’s unrealistic to imagine that the West will negotiate with Russia in good faith and agree to respect its national security interests as part of a larger compromise. Therein lies the challenge since this preceding class’ perceptions don’t accurately reflect reality, neither in terms of the proxy war nor the global systemic transition within which the former is being fought.

Lavrov referenced that near the start of his interview when remarking that “The current generation of Western leaders has made no secret of their refusal to accept the logic of historical development, which is evidence of their professional degradation and loss of the ability to correctly analyse current events and anticipate future trends.” This is an appropriate note on which to end the present piece since the West’s refusal to accept its lost hegemony is what sparked the special operation in the first place.

By Andrew Korybko
Source: Andrew Korybko

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