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FM Lavrov (the lionhearted): Africa visit

To keep continuity and an African focus, I refer to FM Lavrov’s previous visit to Africa.  Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited a number of African countries in July 2022.  That series of meetings I described as a stunning win for diplomacy and Mr Lavrov was treated like a rock star.  He visited Egypt, Congo-Brazzaville, Uganda, and Ethiopia, also meeting the African Union (AU) leadership in Addis Ababa.  Here is his final address to the permanent representatives of the member countries of the African Union and the diplomatic corps, Addis Ababa, July 27, 2022.

His recent visit to  three African states was more subdued but no less important.  South Africa holds the chairmanship of BRICS currently.  Whereas his previous trip was triumphant, this one was more intimate.  This writing contains the most important statements from the press conferences at the four countries that he visited with some comments from me, as I have spent time in two of those countries.

First South Africa, where Sergei Lavrov met with Cyril Ramaphosa, the current president, and with Nalendi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, the equivalent of a foreign minister.  It is commonly said on the street that Ramaphosa is a closet western supporter (if so, it is the money I would guess) but his foreign minister, Nalendi Pandor is a firebrand when issues of imperial control are to be resisted.  A little confusion reigns as I once heard her say at a UN speech that she (and by definition her country) supports multipolarity and the rules-based international order.  Oops!  But the interesting thing is that Ramaphosa’s path and mine have crossed on occasion as I studied advanced negotiation techniques at a South African university.

Segue:  It may be interesting to know that Russia proposed to the UN the end of colonialism.  Back in 1960 at the 15th session of the General Assembly, the Head of the USSR delegation introduced the Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, urging them to put an end to colonial slavery.   Nikita Khrushchev spearheaded this. 

The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 14 December 1960. The deliberate location of the United Nations vote – in the General Assembly rather than in the Security Council where a permanent member’s veto would always be available to any one or more of the three permanent members that still had “colonial” legal ties or associations – was an obvious enough choice for the political activist States sponsoring resolution 1514 (XV).

The reason for this segue is that Mr Lavrov specifically calls out the tendencies toward a neo-colonialist mindset.  The Anglo-Saxons never free their colonies in reality, but they leave behind methods for a grab-back always.  We see this now in the British establishment where they are still harking back to Hong Kong and accusing China of breaking the agreements after the hand-over to Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Following is the complete joint press conference, Sergei Lavrov and Nalendi Pandor in South Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to express our personal gratitude to our African friends, personally President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa Naledi Pandor for the reception they organised for us and for their cordiality and hospitality.

We noted the steady development of Russian-South African relations that rely on an enduring historical foundation. We welcomed the promotion of contacts between different ministries and departments and the expansion of inter-parliamentary and inter-party ties, in part, between the leaders of United Russia and the African National Congress. Our presidents set the tone for these contacts by regularly comparing their positions on issues of mutual interest.

We agreed to step up our efforts in many areas with a view to realising more fully the strong potential of our economic ties. We decided to intensify preparations for holding the regular, 17th Moscow meeting of the Mixed Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation. Ms Naledi Pandor co-chairs it on behalf of South Africa, and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov co-chairs it on Russia’s behalf. Participants in this meeting are expected to focus on cooperation in energy (including nuclear energy), science and technology, transport and other infrastructure, peaceful exploration of space and promotion of humanitarian ties. These ties are much in demand. The people in our countries are interested in developing contacts.

We expressed our willingness to substantially increase the number of federally-funded scholarships for our South African colleagues.

We covered regional and international priorities extensively. Our countries strongly support a fairer, inclusive, democratic and polycentric global architecture relying on respect for the sovereign equality of all states, which is a UN Charter bedrock principle. We advocate increasing the African countries’ role in addressing key issues, including in the context of ongoing discussions on reforming the UN Security Council.

We positively assessed our partnership at the UN, its committees and agencies, the G20, the OPCW and within the Kimberley Process.

We strongly support the African countries’ interest in being represented at the G20 as the African Union in addition to its current members.

We had a substantive discussion on cooperation within BRICS which, in our shared assessment, is an example of a truly multilateral and multipolar diplomacy based on the search for a balance of interests. We share the priorities of the South African chairmanship which began on January 1 and will unfold under the motto “BRICS and Africa: a partnership for accelerated growth, sustainable development and inclusive multilateralism.” We wish our colleagues success in implementing the stated plans and will do our best to help them see these plans through.

We discussed settling ongoing conflicts in Africa, including in the Great Lakes Region, the Central African Republic, Mali, South Sudan, and northern Mozambique. We share the view that Africans should be the ones to decide on ways to resolve the problems plaguing their continent. We noted South Africa and its President Cyril Ramaphosa’s prominent role in addressing a number of crisis situations. The international community must support the efforts and approaches to settlement chosen by the African countries themselves, including as part of the African Union and various sub-regional organisations.

Russia will spare no effort in helping to normalise the situation in Africa’s hotbeds, including through strengthening the African countries’ peacekeeping capabilities. We are training African peacekeepers at our training facilities and helping properly equip the African Union and other organisations’ special missions.

We are interested in building up a dialogue on promoting the Russian partnership with the African Union and sub-regional entities, including those with active South African participation.

We reviewed preparations for the second Russia-Africa Summit to be held in St Petersburg in late July 2023. We believe the outcomes will rely on the accomplishments achieved since the first summit was held in Sochi in the autumn of 2019 and will help our relationship break new ground. We understand that our South African friends are deeply interested in seeing this meeting bring about meaningful agreements.

At the request of our colleagues, we covered in detail progress of the special military operation in Ukraine aimed at saving civilians and preventing the creation of direct threats to Russia’s security on its borders, which is what the Americans and their NATO allies have been engaged in for many years now.

We appreciate our South African friends’ independent and balanced position on these matters.

We found the talks to be useful. They confirmed the positive prospects for our relations. I am sure that our acting on the agreements concluded today will help give new impetus to mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries across a variety of areas.

Question (retranslated from Russian): The world wants to hear good news about the end of the conflict in Ukraine. Earlier, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mentioned Russia’s position on talks with Ukraine. I would like to hear about the peace process. What country could act as a mediator to stop the war in Ukraine to avoid more losses on both sides?

Sergey Lavrov: We have repeatedly expressed our views. I am convinced that media representatives all over the world that are interested in the developments in Ukraine, have had every opportunity to readcomments made by the President and the Foreign Minister of Russia.

We agreed immediately to Ukraine’s proposals to start talks in early March 2022. Three rounds took place, in Belarus, plus several rounds via videoconference. We met in Istanbul at the invitation of our Turkish colleagues in late March 2022, where the Ukrainian delegation offered a draft document with principles for a settlement that we supported. Based on that document, and in full conformity with Ukraine’s ideas, we drafted the document in legalese. At that point, Ukraine was receiving signals from Washington, London and Brussels (I do not know from what other countries) to the effect that it was too early to agree with Russia. They basically said that if Russia agreed to talks, then they felt weak and should be pushed.

At the same time, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell announced that Ukraine needed to win “on the battlefield.” I do not remember any foreign journalist that is now interested in peace prospects asking him back then why he talked about a military solution to the conflict rather than diplomacy. Up to this day, nobody has asked our Western colleagues to explain why they regularly announce – via Josep Borrell, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg or a representative of the US administration or the EU – that it is still too early for Ukraine to start negotiations, that it is necessary to seize more in this situation and start talks from a position of strength in order to defeat Russia. They say bluntly that it is necessary to return Russia to its 1991 borders. I am sure that you have read these statements.

Who could mediate? In September 2022, Vladimir Zelensky signed an executive order – an official and legally binding document – that bans any Ukrainian official from talking to Russian representatives. You can ask any mediator what Ukraine thinks about any further developments. We (including President of Russia Vladimir Putin) have said many times that we will not reject talks. Those that do reject them should realise that the longer they do this the more difficult it will be to find a solution.

Question (retranslated from English): This is a question about joint military exercises of Russia, China and South Africa in the Indian Ocean to be held in February. They evoked a mixed reaction. Some people criticised these exercises because of tensions in Ukraine. What is your reaction to criticism that the choice of time for these exercises was wrong?

Sergey Lavrov: There is nothing even to comment. Three sovereign countries conduct exercises without violating any norms of international law. I do not understand who can have a mixed reaction to this. Probably, our American colleagues. They believe that they alone can hold exercises all over the world and that they can do this not only at their more than 200 military bases abroad but at any point on the globe. Now they are conducting intensive naval exercises in line with their Indo-Pacific strategies around the PRC, in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. This has not caused any mixed reaction from anyone. At least, I haven’t heard any serious media interest in what America was doing 10,000 or even more miles from its shores. Our exercises are transparent. In cooperation with our South African and Chinese partners, we presented all the necessary information. It is available.

White House representatives were asked at a briefing some time ago about Washington’s attitude to a trip of a Russian delegation to Nicaragua. The answer was straightforward – they are concerned over relations between Russia and Nicaragua.  Here’s the reaction. There are some forces that usurped or are trying to usurp power in international relations. They are openly declaring that the US cannot have any competitors. Russia was announced to be the biggest threat and China a long-term challenge that must be parried. This mentality has nothing to do with the universally accepted norms of international law.

As you know, instead of international law, the Americans, along with their satellites from Europe, are pushing the concept of a “rules-based world order.” Despite my requests over many years, none of my Western colleagues has ever explained to me what these rules are and where I can see them. They do not exist. What matters is what Washington decides and London and Brussels enthusiastically support. This is a problem and a crude violation of the fundamental principle of the UN Charter about the sovereign equality of states. We do not want scandals and confrontation. We believe every country should have its rights in the international system in line with the UN Charter. We are developing our cooperation, including in BRICS, on this foundation, a foundation of equality, consensus and seeking to balance interests rather than attempting to issue dictates or impose decisions on other states.

Question: How can our countries pursue economic cooperation at a time where the West is essentially pursuing a neo-colonial policy with regard to the African countries? President Putin has on numerous occasions made it clear that eras have changed, but that the Western mindset has not. How does this circumstance impact bilateral projects? What is their status?

Sergey Lavrov: Speaking about the current international situation, President Putin has indeed mentioned the revival of neo-colonial policy, or rather, not revival, since this policy never went away. The collective West is pursuing this not only with regard to the developing world. Things that are being done with regard to the Russian Federation represent an attempt to introduce elements of a neo-colonial policy. The same applies to other major countries, which the Americans never stop to create problems for by imposing illegitimate sanctions.

As you may be aware, a string of sanctions has been imposed on China. They are threatening everyone. The Department of State and White House officials have repeatedly said in the years prior to the special military operation that any country (be it India, Türkiye or Egypt) should think twice before strengthening relations with the Russian Federation. What is that other than an attempt at diktat and a complete lack of basic, not even diplomatic, but simply human ethics?

Our relations, including with South Africa, involve illegitimate sanctions. It reflects a mindset which Naledi Pandor has spoken about whereby they believe they are entitled to do whatever they want and to decide if others can do what they feel like doing.

Life goes on. The governments and the businesses from the two countries are interested in maintaining their joint projects in the field of natural resources and energy (I mentioned South Africa’s plans to develop nuclear energy, where we can be useful to each other on a mutually beneficial basis), peaceful outer space exploration, infrastructure, high technology, and smart cities. During the talks today, Ms Pandor said South Africa is interested in Russia’s track record in this area.

All of that goes hand in hand with supply chains and financial services. We are working hard to create innovative mechanisms and tools that do not depend on our Western colleagues’ whims and arbitrariness. These are actual projects. We have teamed up with all of our partners who wish to engage in honest cooperation and are not willing to become victims of unfair competition and blatant abuse of the globalisation mechanisms, which our Western colleagues who had created them were so proud of.

Question (retranslated from English): The Russian military are attacking civilian infrastructure and civilians in Ukraine with missiles and drones that are destroying energy facilities, for example, substations. These actions are disrupting energy distribution to the people in the middle of winter and are aimed at undermining the moral spirit of Ukrainians and forcing them to surrender. When Russia launched its special military operation, the Foreign Ministry of South Africa urged immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and settlement of the problems through peaceful means so as not to endanger the world order because South Africa recognises the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries. Ms Pandor, can you repeat this statement or explain why not if you cannot do this?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not striking at civilian infrastructure. There are many confirmations of this. All damage done to the civilian infrastructure in Ukraine is due to the criminal actions of the Kiev regime that has been purposefully deploying heavy weapons and air defence systems in residential neighbourhoods for months.

The former advisor to the Office of President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky, Alexey Arestovich, said honestly (when you saw what happened on a video from Dnepropetrovsk) that these were the actions of Ukraine’s air defence in the city’s residential areas – it downed a Russian missile flying over it. Nobody who wants to observe international humanitarian law acts like this. There are isolated cases where the Western media have accused Russia of the deliberate use of armed forces against civilian infrastructure, as you said, as if stating facts. But each and every case is being used for days and weeks of lamenting about the “bad Russians.” I don’t recall the Daily Mirror or any other dominant media outlet being concerned about what has been happening in Donbass since 2014, after the state coup in Ukraine. It would be interesting to see how you covered the tragedy in Odessa on May 2, 2014 (maybe this is available in the archives) when militants burned almost 50 people alive in the House of Trade Unions. These militants were not even trying to hide but were posing for the cameras. In the meantime, snipers around this building were shooting those who tried to jump out the windows to save themselves. I don’t recall this situation causing much concern in the Western media or in Western politics as a whole. I don’t recall the West being alarmed over the regular, almost daily shelling of Donbass just because it refused to recognise the state coup.

Then, the Minsk agreements were signed, in accordance with which Ukraine was bound to directly negotiate the special status of Donbass with Donbass, primarily the right to speak Russian, have local police and consult with Donbass when appointing prosecutors and judges. Not much really. This approach was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council.

Those who signed the Minsk agreements (with the exception of President Putin), former President of Ukraine Poroshenko, former President of France Hollande, and former Chancellor of Germany Merkel confessed and, I think, even took pride in doing so, that they did not give a hoot about the Minsk agreements. They signed them just to buy time for flooding Ukraine with weapons so that it could project a threat against the Russian Federation ‒ next to our borders. It is not like our US colleagues once decided that Yugoslavia, Iraq or Libya posed threat to them across the Atlantic Ocean and proceeded to act aggressively laying entire countries to waste. In our case, we have been issuing warnings over many years saying that the Minsk agreements must be fulfilled.

If the English language were to be outlawed in Ireland, what would the Great Britain, the only country that has the word “great” in its name, do? (I think there was also Libya, the Jamahiriya). What would France do if the French language was banned in Belgium? Or Sweden if Swedish was banned in Finland? Examples abound. No one is even thinking about it. In Ukraine, though, “everything is fine.” Former President Poroshenko and incumbent President Zelensky were elected under the banner of establishing peace, but turned into presidents of war and Russophobic presidents the moment they took office. The newly adopted laws banned education in Russian and outlawed media outlets, including Ukrainian outlets, that used Russian. Using Russian in daily life, books by Russian classics, and cultural contacts which, one way or another, involved the use of the Russian language were outlawed. The West is supporting these developments the way it supports regular neo-Nazi marches with swastikas and insignia of SS and divisions that were recognised as criminal and outlawed by the Nuremberg trials.

The developments in Ukraine are no longer a hybrid war, but almost a real one. The West has been plotting the war against Russia for a long time now seeking to destroy everything, including language and culture, that is Russian and that has been part of Ukraine for centuries and telling people not to speak their native language. Vladimir Zelensky is now speaking at all kinds of events ranging from the Emmy Awards to the Davos forum and others (including sports events). When asked what he thought about the residents of Donbass, he publicly stated in November 2021, before the start of the special military operation, that there were humans and there were creatures. Even before that, the “top democrat of Europe” Zelensky said that if any citizen of Ukraine identifies as part of the Russian culture or the Russian world, they, for the sake of their children and grandchildren, should “get out and go to Russia.” As I just said, what would happen if something like that were said to French-speaking residents of Belgium or English-speaking residents of Ireland or Scotland? In theory, this kind of nationalist situation in these countries is not a too far-fetched leap of imagination, is it? Nobody is talking about this. All they saw was what you refer to as an “invasion.” No one cares about the fact that for eight years now, we have been demanding to have the increasingly Nazi regime in Kiev comply with the unanimously approved UN Security Council resolution.

Our proposal to strengthen security guarantees in Europe fell on deaf ears. That was in the autumn of 2021. On an earlier occasion, they refused to listen to our proposal in 2008 to sign a European security treaty.

You can rip out an episode from any story and make a career out of it working for the benefit of your government, but we try to approach events honestly. Honest researchers are well aware of what led to the current situation in Ukraine.

Question (retranslated from English): US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the failure to supply food products is a matter of great concern for African countries.

The US Government is persistently increasing pressure on African countries for their cooperation with Russia. Washington has also accused Russia of weaponising humanitarian problems in Africa. How would you comment on that? Can other countries put pressure on Africa and influence its foreign policy? Can Russia help Africa surmount this pressure?

Sergey Lavrov: As for Ms Yellen’s statements, I find it difficult to comment on them. We have many times presented facts in the UN, at various news conferences, in various countries, in Moscow and abroad. These facts are conclusively verified by statistics provided by the UN World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and they show that the food markets had found themselves under pressure long before the beginning of the special military operation.

Everyone knows that after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Western colleagues in Washington and Europe printed trillions of dollars and euros and started buying up food products as they were frantically worried about a food crisis that the pandemic might lead to. Following that, the crisis did break out, largely due to the uncontrolled currency issue. Another factor was the totally uncontrolled, politicised and uncompromising transition to the green economy. Our European partners refused at the time to enter into long-term contracts.

As for long-term contracts for natural gas supplies now, Europe, seeking an alternative to Russian natural gas, has, in particular, approached Qatar, as well as Americans, who were happy to offer their liquefied natural gas, which is more expensive than Russian natural gas from the pipelines, which is considered to be relatively cheap. Judging by reports of experts who keep tabs on this issue, both Qatar and the United States have suggested signing long-term contracts with the Europeans. The same long-term contracts which many years ago caused Europeans to try to put conditions on developing cooperation with us.

There are quite a few people who contributed to creating the current situation. Ms Yellen – I am sure she is very professional – is well aware of this. We allegedly weaponise everything, be it grain, natural gas or oil. We even manage to weaponise sport because we dare to win against someone who represents the golden billion.

Today, I handed over to our colleagues an updated text detailing the situation on international food markets. You asked me what we can do to help the developing countries. As soon as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres came up with his grain initiative, we supported it. Before that, we opened safe corridors from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea to the Bosporus Strait and the Dardanelles starting in late March 2022. Ukraine refused to let these ships sail through the minefields that they themselves had created.

Things that we had been talking about since the spring of 2022 materialised into two agreements only in late July 2022, namely, the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Russian Federation and the Secretariat of the United Nations on promoting Russian food products and fertilisers on the world markets.

The “Ukrainian deal” is being more of less acted upon even though far less than 10 percent is going to the poorest countries, and the bulk (almost half of it) is going to the EU and about the same amount is going to well-off developing countries. The poorest countries are getting just a sliver of it, although Antonio Guterres promoted his initiative with precisely these countries in mind.

No amount of UN efforts has prompted the EU or the United States to lift barriers to our exports of grain and fertilisers. Washington and Brussels keep saying that no sanctions on food or fertilisers have been imposed. Indeed, the adopted decisions do not mention “food” or “fertilisers.” There is a provision, though, that bans Russian ships from entering Mediterranean ports, a provision that bans foreign ships from entering Russian ports, and there is also a restriction imposed on our main agricultural bank, Rosselkhozbank, cutting it off from the SWIFT system. There is a problem with freight and insurance. Antonio Guterres must be credited with highlighting these issues publicly. But things have not budged an inch. The West continues to insist that food and fertilisers have not been sanctioned. It is just like Janet Yellen saying that the Russians are to blame for everything and they have weaponised food. There is a catchphrase that is being constantly thrown into the information space, but the specific issues that Antonio Guterres proposes addressing (and we strongly support him in that) simply remain on the sidelines. Just like our free offer of to deliver the fertilisers that are stranded at European ports (about 280,000 tonnes). After this cargo had been arrested at the European ports, the Russian owners of these fertilisers said they wanted to have these fertilisers sent for free to the poorest countries so as not to waste the product which loses its potency over time.

About six months ago, President Putin brought this initiative into view of the international community. Over that time, out of 280,000 tonnes only 20,000 went from the Netherlands to Malawi. The agreement was reached three months ago, but the cargo sailed only recently. Other ports, primarily in Latvia, show no sign of the free fertilisers going the way of the poorest countries.

With regard to naval exercises and whether they reflect the desire to develop military cooperation, we maintain military cooperation with the China and South Africa. Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of South Africa Thandi Modise attended the events held by our Defence Ministry in Russia in August 2022, including the Army-2022 military technology forum. Trilateral military exercises are nothing new. We had naval exercises with the participation of China and India that were primarily anti-terrorist in nature. It is puzzling to see our Western colleagues making a fuss about something that is absolutely common in the practice of maritime powers, all the more so in a situation where the West conducts such exercises with openly aggressive legends far more often than our countries.

In addition to African countries, the United States is exerting pressure on Asian and Latin American countries. They constantly and publicly declare that those who cooperate with Russia will regret it. They are issuing threats to major countries that are great thousands-years-old civilisations and absolutely ignore the fact that these nations have their national pride. Perhaps not all Western nations practice this approach, but this does not relieve them of the obligation to study history and behave decently in diplomacy, not the way it is happening now.

I repeatedly stated that by issuing threats and exerting pressure, the United States and the United Kingdom are crossing every red line there is. They are now issuing threats to the effect that some politicians in a particular country have accounts with US banks or that their children study at American universities. They stop at nothing. This is a perfect example of what Washington and Brussels really think about democracy.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said already that Europe is a blooming garden, while the rest of the world is a jungle, which Europe should fence off from but at the same time keep watch over. This assessment and this mentality are regularly shown by one or another Western speaker who are constantly calling themselves beacons of democracy. Not only them, but Vladimir Zelensky too, of course. When you talk to them about democracy, you see that the only thing they are interested in is to install their order in other countries where they want to be present under the pretext of democracy. If our Western colleagues are such true democrats, let us talk about democracy in international relations. But that is taboo. Nobody should talk about it, or even think about it. International law is not about democracy as it is outlined in the UN Charter. But they have “rules” which mean only one thing: “Do as I say.”

The approach to the Ukrainian crisis, the constant skittering of American, European and British emissaries around the world with these threats, demands and calls not to cooperate with Russia, to join sanctions, condemn, etc. If you are a democrat and respect the sovereignty of other countries, respect what Russia is doing and why it is doing it. The West condemned it, simply refusing to respond to the arguments provided by President Vladimir Putin to explain our special military operation, and focuses only on the date February 24, 2022 and everything that followed. Nobody remembers anymore how this crisis was a festering abscess that first appeared with direct connivance of these countries. They cancelled the history and everything that preceded February 24, 2022: the coup, the tragedy in Odessa and Lugansk, the shelling of residential neighbourhoods (which is still ongoing). The West knows perfectly well that the Ukrainian regime deliberately shells cities with Western weapons. It is not that someone destroyed the attacking Ukrainian missile and it accidentally fell on civilian infrastructure. They deliberately pick the targets to terrorise civilians.

We explained what we are doing as part of the special military operation and why we did not have any alternative after having waited for years for the Minsk agreements to be implemented. The West condemned it. If you respect other countries, then wait until everyone takes their stance, do not run after them, threaten them and demand to join your assessment. It is simply disrespectful. The West has its own peculiar understanding of democracy. It does not want any democracy in international affairs. The garden and the jungle – that is their democracy.

The next visit, on the list, was to the Kingdom of Eswatini, previously known as Swaziland, and it is as Swaziland that I visited frequently with my father for business.  The roads were mainly dirt and we ate a type of cornmeal mush, something similar to Italian Polenta with our hands from a 3-legged traditional black pot.  The simplicity at the time was divine, although I did not know it.  It is a small mountainous country and stunningly beautiful.  The speeches were short and Mr.Lavrov did not say anything more than during his visit to South Africa.  But this visit to the little small, mountainous, landlocked country, with its fertile plains and ample water, explains multipolarity, where respect is paid to all equally.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting with Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini Cleopas Dlamini

Mbabane, January 24, 2023

Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister, for the attention you have been giving to our delegation. We consider our bilateral relations as friendly and promising from the point of view of promoting mutually beneficial projects in the interests of our people and countries.

We highly appreciate the personal interest in the relations with the Russian Federation of His Majesty King Mswati III. He attended the first Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in October 2019 and met with the Russian leadership. President Putin asked me to convey to His Majesty his best wishes and expressed hope that the second Russia-Africa summit, which will take place in St Petersburg in July 2023, will be attended by His Majesty. We are planning quite a considerable and specific agenda of interest to our African friends, including food security, energy security, health and technological development, all these issues being highlighted as priorities for our African colleagues. We certainly will make sure that this summit is a success.

Today, with our colleagues from Eswatini, we are discussing several specific areas of cooperation which were raised in the past, including the economy, security, humanitarian and educational contacts, not to forget tourism. And we will certainly be very eager to have your advice on how to best proceed.

From there, Mr.Lavrov was off to Luanda, Angola, 25 January and after the relatively rural welcome in Eswatini, this was back to business.  In the years of the USSR, Angola was one of those places where the proxy wars between the USSR and the west happened.  In addition, Angola was the jewel in the crown of Portugese colonies and besides shaking off the colonial pressures, even soldiers from Cuba fought in Angola.  It is an interesting and brutal history, but for another time.

Sergei Lavrov was welcomed by Angola’s Minister of External Relations Tete Antonio.  The welcome ceremony was followed by a meeting, during which the Ministers spoke Russian.

Summary of talks with Minister of External Relations of Angola Téte António

Sergey Lavrov: Relations between Russia and Angola are of a historical nature — not subject to the geopolitical situation and go back to the national liberation struggle of your nation. These relations are based on a spirit of solidarity and mutual support. We appreciate it.

During their meetings, the Presidents of Russia and Angola set a strategic goal: to make our relations those of a strategic partnership. We are confidently moving towards this goal.

Our delegations closely cooperate in the UN. We appreciate Angola’s balanced, measured and responsible approach to many resolutions, including those that cause division in the international community. I mean the situation around Ukraine.

The Angolan people know the price of independence and the opportunity to exercise their cultural and political rights and follow their traditions. You also actively contribute to the just settlement of various conflicts in your region, both through the African Union and within sub-regional associations, making a significant contribution to the settlement of crises and the peacekeeping efforts of African countries.

We discussed at length the international situation in the context of the West’s course on using Ukraine to promote Nazism in theory and in practice and to wage a hybrid war against our country.

We shared our assessments that are based on our contacts with other countries and they confirmed the unprecedented pressure exerted by the Western countries on the developing economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pointed out that the West is using the same colonial methods it used before to exploit the developing continents and continues to use them in order to plunder other countries and to use resources of global importance for its own gain.

The West’s actions prove that it can trample over the values and the globalisation mechanisms that it created and promoted, including inviolability of property, fair competition, or the presumption of innocence at any time, and can betray its allies at any time as well. This can be seen in the practice of the fairly recent events in Afghanistan, Iraq and the 2011 Arab Spring.

The next major Russia / African initiative will be the second Russia-Africa summit planned for July in St.Petersburg.

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1 month ago

thank you, amarynth, for this. one of life’s great delights is spending an hour listening in rapt attention to lavrov. we are blessed indeed he graces our world our time.

Col...'the farmer from NZ'
Col...'the farmer from NZ'
1 month ago
Reply to  emersonreturn

His patience is absolutely astonishing @emersonreturn, especially when you consider the dreadful procession of western imbecilic FMs he has to try to work with. I take my hat off to him.

1 month ago

absolutely, my hat as well. & now (according to rt) biden is claiming the russians have not been in compliance with the start treaty. yet the foreign ministry & putin continue to act with calm reason.

1 month ago

Excellent press briefing by Lavrov on the results of negotiations with the President of Eritrea Afewerki 

In August of last year, just after Lavrov’s African tour, US Sec of State Blinken attempted to steal his thunder.. Nalendi Pandor memorablely chided the entire West.

1 month ago

Re: “We expressed our willingness to substantially increase the number of federally-funded scholarships for our South African colleagues.” This was a repeated theme during his travels. He mentioned 150 Eritrean students were also doubled, for example. These exchanges are extremely important. Much of the soft-power of USSR was lost during… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by AHH