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11 Feb, 2022 01:16

Russian embassy responds to report on Lavrov’s 'bad manners'

Diplomats says the foreign minister rushed to open a door for his British counterpart and did not “walk out” on her
Russian embassy responds to report on Lavrov’s 'bad manners'

A report suggesting that the meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his British counterpart, Liz Truss in Moscow on Thursday ended with the Russian official unceremoniously walking away from their joint press conference is fake news, Russia’s UK embassy has warned, responding to reporting by a British broadcaster.

Truss “received an icy reception from her Russian counterpart before he walked out of the press conference, leaving her behind at the podium,” British outlet ITN reported on Thursday.

ITN news editor Emma Burrows – formerly a CNN producer based in Russia – tweeted that Lavrov “just briskly walked off, leaving [Truss] on her own at the podium.”

Burrows also quoted Lavrov as saying that speaking with Truss was “like talking to a deaf person,” and that what Russia does in its own territory is “not her business.” Her tweet was accompanied by a still photo of Truss standing at one of the podiums by herself, with her Russian colleague nowhere to be seen.

As ITN’s reports circulated, Lavrov’s “walking off” became “storming off,” as former Tory policy advisor Chris Newton put it

With Burrows’ tweet gaining hundreds of likes, the Russian Embassy in London intervened, accusing the journalist of spreading fake news.

“Lavrov did not ‘just briskly walk off’. The conference ended, both ministers got their things and walked to the doors, Lavrov was simply closer to them. In fact, he opened the doors to Mrs Truss and welcomed her in,” the embassy tweeted, urging Burrows, “please don't spread still frame fakes, not worth it.”

The video featured in ITN’s own post appears to align with the Russian embassy’s version of events. In the video, Lavrov leaves the podium and steps over to the door behind him and to his left, as Truss closes her binder and follows him. 

That is not to say that Truss’ visit to Russia went off without a hitch. Citing diplomatic sources, Moscow daily Kommersant reported that the British official made a major geographical blunder in her talks with Lavrov, and had to be corrected by the UK ambassador. 

After Truss demanded that the Russian military allegedly deployed on Ukraine’s border withdraw, Lavrov asked if the UK recognized Moscow’s sovereignty over the regions of Rostov and Voronezh, locations of the alleged build-up. Truss reportedly said the UK will “never” do so – only for Ambassador Deborah Bronnert to inform her that both regions are actually recognized parts of Russia, and that she likely confused them with Donetsk and Lugansk, the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine that refuse to recognize the post-2014 government in Kiev.

While that report has not been officially corroborated by either side, Truss did address Lavrov’s assessment of the talks as “a conversation between a deaf and a dumb.”

“I certainly wasn’t dumb in our conversation, I clearly articulated the UK’s position on the situation,” Truss told RIA Novosti after the meeting.