Leading Russians Rebuff Obama's Posturing

January 22, 2015

Yesterday's annual year-in-review press conference by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a lengthy interview with President Vladimir Putin's press secretary, Dmitri Peskov, were timed in such a way, that each could respond to Barack Obama's nasty bluster against Russia during his State of the Union, January 20th. Each of these Russian officials counterposed to Obama's delusions of power, the reality of the rising strength and influence of the Eurasian nations and the BRICS alliance.

This is what Obama said:

"We're upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small—by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine's democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin's aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters."

Peskov, in an interview to the nationally circulated Argumenty i Fakty newspaper, reiterated what Putin himself said last month, that
"it is not a matter of Crimea or Ukraine; if it had not been Crimea, they would have come up with another pretext" for "being on Russia's case."

Peskov charged that people in the West were

"trying to portray Putin as a party to the [internal Ukrainian] conflict, to isolate him in international politics, to suffocate Russia economically in their own interests, and to get Putin overthrown, while at the same time demanding that he settle the crisis in a neighboring country."

Asked about a recent remark by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that Putin would not be invited to this year's G-7 summit, Peskov noted that Putin was not expecting that. "On the other hand," he added,
"one could ask what the point of the G-7 is, anyway; what decisions can it take without the participation of Russia, India, and China?"

Lavrov took up Russian-American relations several times in his two-hour press conference, stating in his opening remarks:
"We hear a lot of statements by our Western partners, about the need to isolate Russia further. U.S. President Obama found it appropriate to state this yesterday in his State of the Union message."

But, countered Lavrov,
"Such attempts are fruitless. Russia will never take the road of self-isolation, suspiciousness, and looking for enemies."

As examples of Russia's foreign policy outreach, Lavrov cited, besides Moscow's diplomatic efforts related to Ukraine, its engagement in multilateral formats such as the G20, the BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. As host of the summits of the latter two organizations this summer in Ufa, Lavrov said that Russia would seek to animate their operations.
"In the BRICS framework, this means above all the coordination of economic documents such as an economic partnership strategy and a road map for investment cooperation."

Lavrov went on to discuss Russia's engagement with other nations of the Asia-Pacific Region, China in particular, as well as the offers from the new Eurasian Economic Union for free-trade relations with the European Union.

Returning to the problem of Obama, in answer to a question about Russia-U.S. ties, Lavrov said:

"The Americans have taken the pathway toward confrontation, and are not in the least critical in evaluating their own actions. Yesterday's speech by President Obama shows a philosophy centered on just one thing: 'we're number one, and everyone else should recognize this,' which is slightly old-fashioned and out of whack with today's realities. The foreign policy philosophy of the USA is even more aggressive: it wants to be not merely primus inter pares, but to dominate the world."

Lavrov said he thought that reality was already forcing Washington to realize that this doesn't work, because international cooperation really is required on a whole range of matters. Furthermore, he said, returning to the theme of the rest of the world's development,
"the objective development of the world and the appearance of powerful centers of economic growth and financial influence, and also centers of political influence, is an objective process and cannot be left out of account."