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1 Dec, 2023 15:50

Blinken and Borrell ‘chickened out’ of talking to Russia – Lavrov

The two Western officials did not want to discuss the denial of access to international events to Moscow’s diplomats, the foreign minister said
Blinken and Borrell ‘chickened out’ of talking to Russia – Lavrov

Top US and EU diplomats who left the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) early were simply too afraid to engage in a frank and substantive dialogue with Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. 

Speaking at a press conference in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Friday after the OSCE Ministerial Council, Lavrov accused Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited the summit, but left before his arrival, of “fleeing.”

He also suggested that some local newspapers were trying to cast a shadow over Russia by publishing a photo of the summit’s participants with the Russian foreign minister conspicuously absent, in an apparent effort to convince the public that Moscow was isolated over the Ukraine conflict. 

However, Lavrov explained that the picture was taken before the official opening of the summit, stressing that photos published on the next day showed all the participating countries, including Russia, in their rightful places.

The minister went on to point out that neither the Ukrainian foreign minister nor his counterparts from Poland and the Baltic states were present at the meeting: “I believe both Blinken and [top EU diplomat Josep] Borrell left as well. They might say that they are emphasizing their intention to isolate Russia, but I think they are just afraid, scared of an honest conversation with facts at hand.”

Lavrov went on to suggest that his counterparts were trying to avoid talking about Western “shenanigans” aimed at denying Russian diplomats access to various international events, including UN and UNESCO meetings.

The OSCE summit was boycotted by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, arguing in a joint statement that Lavrov’s presence “risks legitimizing aggressor Russia as a rightful member of our community of free nations.” Poland soon joined in, with  Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek saying that Warsaw could not ignore the fact that Lavrov “will be present at the table of the organization that is supposed to build peace and security in Europe.”

Nevertheless, Lavrov had several high-level meetings on the sidelines of the summit. He also delivered an address to the OSCE, warning that the organization is in a “deplorable state” and “on the brink of the abyss” due to “short-sighted” choices by Western states.