Lavrov’s interview with India Today was particularly interesting because observers could see exactly what he wanted to emphasize for this enormous non-Western audience. This interaction provided a glimpse into Russia’s evolving strategic communications policy towards the Global South, which is expected to continue being fine-tuned to the point of perfection seeing as how this massive swath of the world is the true cognitive battleground of the New Cold War.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov gave a wide-ranging interview with India Today earlier this week. He reiterated his country’s position on several important issues while sharing new insight on others that this top diplomat hadn’t talked all that much about before. It’s significant to point out that his interlocutor represents one of the most popular media outlets in one of the world’s most populous countries, which shows that Russia is redirecting its strategic communications towards the Global South after having its efforts censored all across the West over the past two months. The purpose of this piece is to draw attention to the highlights of his speech and then summarize its significance.
The first part concerned a recap of Russia’s reasons for commencing its ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, including the role that the EU played in the sequence of events that led up to that fateful decision. Lavrov earlier elaborated on that second point in a prior interview but felt it necessary to inform his Indian audience about it since they might not have been earlier aware. He also told them how the US-led West’s concerns about the humanitarian consequences of the Ukrainian Conflict are insincere since they never said anything about Kiev’s eight-year-long offensive against Donbass, nor about the US’ literal leveling of Mosul and Raqqa, among other examples.
Russia’s top diplomat shared his views about the US-led West’s information warfare against his civilization-state too. He identified a discernable trend between a chain of scandals that he said shows that there’s more to these situations than initially meets the eye. These are the 2007 poisoning of UK-based former Russian spy Litvinenko, the 2014 MH17 incident over Eastern Ukraine, the 2019 Salisbury one, and the 2020 poisoning of Navalny. The US-led West’s conclusions that Russia was responsible for each one without presenting any indisputable evidence to this end strongly suggests that something else might have really happened but that they still find it politically convenient to blame Moscow.
An intriguing part of the interview came when Lavrov expressed confusion about Ukrainian President Zelensky’s claims that Russia will resort to nuclear weapons, responding that “He says many things. Depends on what he drinks and what he smokes. He says many things.” He shortly thereafter built upon this observation by saying that “I cannot intelligently discuss what President Zelensky says because he always changes his mind diametrically” when answering a question about why Ukraine’s position towards peace talks has suddenly changed. Lavrov is known for being a highly informed world-class diplomat, not a twitter troll, so there might be some credence to his innuendo that Zelensky is an addict.
Something else that was interesting was when Lavrov described reports about some areas of Ukraine planning to hold independence referendums as “the outmost democracy”, which hints that Lenin’s unnatural mini-empire might continue crumbling after losing Crimea and Donbass due to the seemingly irreversible centrifugal forces unleashed by that country’s ethno-fascist Color Revolution in 2014. He later added that “We want the people to be free. To decide how they want to live in Ukraine” when discussing the reason why Moscow supports the human rights of Ukraine’s Russian minority that have been brutally suppressed by Kiev since its US-backed regime change eight years ago.
On the topic of democracy, it was amusing to read that Lavrov revealed that Western officials are against Russia’s proposal to democratize international relations along the same line that those figures are attempting to democratize other countries per their subjective understanding of this socio-political concept. That adds further credence to Moscow’s criticism that the US-led West’s so-called “rules-based order” is nothing but a euphemism for selectively imposing double standards in pursuit of their elite’s self-interested political agenda. Lavrov also condemned this civilizational bloc for aggressively imposing its demands upon the ancient civilizations represented by India, China, Turkey, and Egypt, et al.
Regarding his interlocutor’s civilization-state, Russia’s top diplomat praised its brave practice of principled neutrality towards the Ukrainian Conflict and its continued resistance to the US’ unprecedented pressure campaign against it. Lavrov also described his counterpart External Affairs Minister Jaishankar as “a real patriot of his country” and reaffirmed the globally unique role of the “especially privileged strategic partnership” between Russia and India. He also reminded everyone how Russia supports his partner’s Make In India policies and raised awareness of the comprehensive ways in which India has enhanced its engagement with Russia since the onset of the special operation.
It's also worthwhile highlighting that Lavrov said that Russia supports all efforts to improve the troubled ties between China and India. Moscow regards them as among its closest partners anywhere in the world and wants to see everyone working more closely through the RIC and SCO frameworks. This was a direct response to prior US claims that Russia allegedly isn’t a reliable ally for India, even though the reality is that it’s the US itself that’s unreliable as proven by its infowar campaign against New Delhi that’s waged as punishment for its principled neutrality, not to mention its CAATSA sanctions threats. The contrast is clear: Russia will always support India, while the US will never unconditionally do so.
Wrapping it all up, Lavrov warned that the US-led West’s anti-Russian sanctions are backfiring against them by worsening the living standards of their own people. He condemned their theft of his country’s foreign assets but confirmed that President Putin’s new decree demanding rubles for gas will help Russia regain some of its losses. That geo-economic judo move took the US-led West off guard, which is in turn exacerbating the counterproductive sequence of events set into motion by the EU’s compliance with America’s demands to “do more” to help its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. In other words, the EU ultimately only hurt itself instead of its intended Russian target, which serves the US’ cynical interests.
Altogether, Lavrov’s interview with India Today was particularly interesting because observers could see exactly what he wanted to emphasize for this enormous non-Western audience. This interaction provided a glimpse into Russia’s evolving strategic communications policy towards the Global South, which is expected to continue being fine-tuned to the point of perfection seeing as how this massive swath of the world is the true cognitive battleground of the New Cold War. The US-led West is incapable of effectively competing with Russia for hearts and minds in those societies since its foreign policy track record there is abysmal and its narratives aren’t deemed credible after regularly being exposed as lies.