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Liberals demanding pro-Western policies from Moscow simply ‘don’t understand Russian genetic code,’ Foreign Minister Lavrov claims

Liberals demanding pro-Western policies from Moscow simply ‘don’t understand Russian genetic code,’ Foreign Minister Lavrov claims
Russian opposition figures who argue the country should prioritize relations with the West and access to luxuries like Italian cheese over sovereignty don’t understand what it means to be Russian, Moscow’s top diplomat has said.

Speaking to veteran journalist Dmitry Kiselyov in an interview aired on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that critics of the Kremlin’s policies had the right to be heard, but were largely out of touch. “Fortunately we have freedom of speech which, I believe, is better protected [in Russia] than in many Western countries, including the US,” he stated.

“All these people have the right to express their view, which is that if we did not argue with the West, we would have access to parmesan and things like this,” Lavrov claimed. Imports of the hard cheese, beloved by fans of Italian cooking, have been banned by Moscow alongside many other EU food products.

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The move came in response to sanctions imposed by Brussels as part of a diplomatic row over the 2014 reabsorption of the Crimean peninsula, which the bloc says was an illegal annexation. Opposition figures, the diplomat said, “do not explain that this was a retaliatory measure.”

“Theirs is such a narrow, one-sided view based entirely on comfort,” Lavrov blasted. “If they consider it essential to perceive the world through American values, then let them remember the words of the greatest, in my opinion, US president, John F. Kennedy. He said ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. This is the radical difference from current liberal views, where only personal wellbeing is of decisive importance.”

The minister insisted that opposition figures who take this view don’t understand Russians’ “genetic code,” and are working to undermine it. For him, “the desire to live well” comes alongside the desire to “be confident in our children’s future… and our national pride.”

However, at the same time, the veteran foreign minister said that sanctions were fundamentally damaging and undermined relations with the US and its allies in Europe. “Recently, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that sanctions will continue and are having their desired effect – their goal is to reduce tensions between America and Russia,” he added.

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“I can’t even comment on this,” Moscow’s top envoy said, claiming that such notions amounted to “schizophrenic” thinking in Washington. “I think that during the Cold War, there were very serious tensions… but there was mutual respect. In my opinion, that is now in short supply.”

Russia and the US no longer have ambassadors stationed in each other’s capitals as a result of a growing diplomatic row. The Kremlin called back its representative, Anatoly Antonov, for crisis talks after an explosive TV interview in which American President Joe Biden agreed that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is a “killer.” Earlier this month, Washington’s man in Moscow, John Sullivan, flew home for a similar summit with colleagues.

Since then, the US has expelled ten Russian diplomats alongside new sanctions unveiled against the country. Biden signed an executive decree imposing the measures, which he said were in response to alleged interference in the 2020 American presidential election and the colossal SolarWinds cyber-espionage breach. Moscow denies involvement in both cases.

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