A Trial of Spiritual Resolve: Sergey Lavrov’s Speech to the Military Academy of the General Staff

Uncle Volodya says, “Hence that general is skilful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skilful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack..”

“Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root… Our military strength is a prerequisite to peace, but let it be clear we maintain this strength in the hope it will never be used, for the ultimate determinant in the struggle that’s now going on in the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas, a trial of spiritual resolve, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, the ideals to which we are dedicated.”

Ronald Reagan, The Quest for Peace, the Cause of Freedom

Ronald Reagan was at the same time one of American history’s most polarizing and most iconic presidents.  Even his enemies would have to concede he was a hell of a public speaker, and although it was questionable in retrospect how much of what he said he actually understood, he had that “This just makes sense” delivery that caused listeners to cheerfully abandon doubt.

And that would be unwise, because Ronald Reagan loved to use American military power, never mind his blarney about we-hope-we’ll-never-have-to-use-it. He bombed Libya because Gaddafi had the temerity to declare Libyan sovereign territory off-limits and because he was publicly anti-Israel, and Reagan drove American policy vis-a-vis Russia to rollback rather than detente. All that notwithstanding, his quote above might have been written for Russia today, and the crossroads at which it stands.

Truly, Russia has had its resolve tested; spiritual, economic, moral and strategic. Sergey Lavrov has been the Russian Federation’s Foreign Minister since 2004, when he was appointed to the post by Putin. Since that time, he has been the point man for Russian international relations, mostly at the direction and behest of Putin. He must live a pretty upright and above-reproach life, because you never see stories such as “Foreign Minister Lavrov falls off metro train in a drunken stupor”, or “Madcap Sergey Lavrov chases hooker through Manhattan streets, dressed only in his underpants”. And if there was a way to rub his nose in the dirt, you know the western media would do it. Because that’s the way it rolls.

Recently Lavrov delivered a speech to the Senior Officers of the Military Academy of the General Staff in Moscow.  Generally speaking, it reflected Russia’s growing confidence on the world stage despite western attempts to miscast it as a demonic pariah. A signature theme was Russia’s determination to hew to the rule of international law despite its declared opponents’ lip service to the concept, as the west continues to use international law as a flag of convenience.

Mr. Lavrov’s speech is reviewed here by our Aussie colleague, Jennifer Hor – who, it should escape nobody’s notice, might have made quite a Foreign Minister herself. Jen?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s Speech to Senior Officers of the Military Academy of General Staff, Moscow (23 March 2017)

On 23 March 2017, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave a speech to senior officers of the Military Academy of General Staff in Moscow. Lavrov chose to focus on Russia’s role in international politics – a not surprising choice, given his position as foreign minister for such a large and varied nation as Russia is. The entire speech is not long – less than 20 minutes – but it is worth examining as it summarises how Russia has come to have the role it has and how its role fits into the new global political order of the early 21st century.

First Lavrov lays out the very specific and essential values and principles that support and influence the role the Russian state plays in international politics. One factor gives Russia a very solid foundation that most other countries can only dream about: sheer physical size that gives the country a variety of physical environments and climates, abundant natural resources and a unique location straddling and uniting both Europe and Asia. This factor is a result of Russia’s expansion across Siberia and central Asia over the centuries, resulting in many different peoples and cultures residing together, suffering together and working together to build the nation. Such experience gives Russia a unique point of view and paradigm that enable it to encourage dialogue among different nations and to form partnerships among nations, civilisations and religions in which all are considered equal.

Given Russia’s history of different peoples, faiths and societies sharing the same space under one government, we should not be surprised that Lavrov emphasises public respect for the state that encompasses all these peoples and provides them with security, stability and a share in the collective wealth they create. This respect enables the state to be strong enough to pursue domestic and foreign policies beholden to no other country. In other words, respect for and trust in a strong government go hand in hand with a secure economy (financial and productive), a cohesive if not homogeneous national culture encompassing a rich history and traditions, and the state’s ability to safeguard all of these and other elements that help to provide and enforce stability. These factors together provide what might be called “soft power” that Russia can project and model to other nations.

From here, Lavrov discusses Russia’s role in international politics, in particular the country’s role as an economic and political centre to which other countries are drawn. He notes the improvement in Russia’s military capabilities and the nation’s determination to use military power in strict compliance with its own laws and with international laws to defend its own interests and to assist other nations that call on it for help. In this, Lavrov cannot help but notice that other major nations use their military to pursue agendas that violate their own laws and international laws, and that infringe on other countries’ sovereignty and overthrow their governments with the intent to occupy their lands and drain them of their resources while the true owners are displaced, forced to serve their occupiers and to live in poverty or are scattered around the planet.

Lavrov sets considerable importance by historical traditions and trends in helping to determine Russia’s role in world politics since the nation became a major European power under Tsar Peter I (1696 – 1725) after defeating Sweden in the Great Northern War in 1721. He observes that efforts on by other countries to shut out and deny Russia (or the Soviet Union) as a major power have ended badly: one might ask Napoleon I or Adolf Hitler for an opinion in this regard. Nevertheless even today Europe and the United States through the EU and NATO have sought to demonise the country and its leaders by painting Russia as a poor, developing (or deteriorating) nation or making false accusations such as invading Ukraine, forcing people in Crimea to vote for “annexation”, helping to shoot down a civilian passenger jet over Ukrainian territory or infiltrating and hacking other countries’ electronic databases for the purpose of throwing elections. In particular Russian President Vladimir Putin is portrayed as an authoritarian and corrupt despot who salts away large sums of money into offshore investment funds owned by personal associates or in expensive palaces and vineyards.

Surveying the world as it is, Lavrov sees that power is definitely shifting away from the North Atlantic region (the US and western Europe) towards the Asia-Pacific region (in particular China) and Eurasia. In addition Latin America and Africa are taking on more importance as regional power blocs in their own right. A multi-polar world that is not dominated by any one nation or power bloc is inevitable. In such a world, a nation that considers itself exceptional, not bound by the lessons of history, and believes it can force its interpretation of democracy (as a cover for its real agenda) onto others will end up bringing instability, chaos and extreme violence instead. In the long term, that nation will also become weak and become unstable. The changes that are bringing about a multi-headed international order demand that countries work together and cooperate in a spirit of mutual respect and equality, and not to compete against one another.

In this, Russia can set an example by pursuing a pragmatic and consistent foreign policy based on its experience and history as a nation of different peoples and cultures living and working together in diverse environments to achieve common goals in relationships of cooperation and mutual respect.

Lavrov’s speech is significant inasmuch as it supports speeches and interviews given by Vladimir Putin that also stress mutual respect among nations and cooperation based on common interests or desires to solve common problems. The speech also demonstrates very clearly that Russia is aware that its approach and foreign policy, even its very existence, are perceived as threats by the United States and its allies in Europe and elsewhere. Russia is aware that the Americans are following an agenda inimical to Russian interests and to global peace and security. Pressure is on Russia then to pursue its interests and to try to uphold international laws and conventions in ways that don’t ratchet up global tensions and give the US an excuse or an outlet to cause war or create the conditions for them. Surprisingly this is not difficult for Russia to do, given that what currently passes for political leadership in the West is mediocre at best.

After the speech Lavrov took questions from his audience on issues such as global media / information and Internet governance (with respect to cyber-security, combating hacking and dealing with propaganda and false media narratives), rescuing and returning Russian prisoners of war in Syria, limiting strategic arms (nuclear and conventional), the use by the United States of staged and managed chaos across North Africa and western Asia, the split between globalist politicians acting on behalf of transnational corporations and “populist” or “nationalist” politicians claiming to represent the voice of their publics, the changing nature of war to include non-violent means of waging war (through control of the Internet and media, for example), and Russia’s interests in the Balkans. The questions show the audience’s concerns and depth of knowledge about what it considers to be the key issues facing Russia in its neighbourhood. Lavrov’s replies reveal a sharp intellect at work, tremendous historical and geopolitical knowledge and a keen interest in contemporary global affairs.

The speech and the Q&A session that follows can be viewed at The Saker. An English-language transcript follows.

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1,780 Responses to A Trial of Spiritual Resolve: Sergey Lavrov’s Speech to the Military Academy of the General Staff

  1. Moscow Exile says:

    Украинцы выстроились в очередь в Крым
    Погранпереход «Чонгар» все майские праздники переживает небывалую пробку – жители Украины «голосуют ногами» за Россию

    Ukrainians form a queue so as to get into the Crimea
    At the “Chongar” border crossing there has been an unprecedented traffic jam during the whole of the May holidays: residents of the Ukraine “are voting with their feet” for Russia

    [May 1 is a holiday in Russia, as is May 9. Last weekend was a long, 3-day one and this weekend will be a 4-day one so as to include Victory Day on May 9 — ME]


    A queue of Ukrainian vehicles at the border with the Crimea is more eloquent than any of the Kiev propaganda about there being in the Peninsula “hunger and occupation”. Photo: facebook.com

    There have now gathered at the border crossing into the Crimea from the Ukraine at least three hundred vehicles (5 – 7 times more than usual), patiently waiting for dozens of hours for their turn. Families with children that have not the strength to wait with their fathers sitting behind the wheel make their way into the Crimea on foot or by means of Tatar taxis.

    The unprecedented traffic jams and long waits are being made out by the “state” border guards to be the fault of their Russian colleagues: “The Russians are only slowly allowing them in”. In fact, during the last May holidays, the Ukrainian security service tried to prevent tourists from their country from holidaying in the Crimea. This is the official position that has been in force for more than one year.

    The article goes on to describe how the Ukraine border guards have presented obstacles to their countrymen entering the “occupied” Crimea. Nevertheless, it reports that “the flow of Ukrainians seeking to enter the Crimea is still growing”.

    However, this year tourists from the Ukraine have changed the purpose of their visit: they are going to the Crimea in order to celebrate May 9 with portraits of their relatives in “the Immortal Regiment”. Doing this is dangerous in the Ukraine: you might run into militant nationalists. About every third car has portraits of veterans. The Ukrainian border guards usually take these portraits out of their frames, or just spoil them by tearing them off their plywood bases, allegedly looking for drugs. These relatives of veterans are entered into a list, allegedly for transmission to the SBU….

    Not coincidentally, the second most popular reason for travelling to the Crimea is that Ukrainians (according to the surveys in social networks) want to spend at least one week in a normal society and not in an inverted one, where there is a constant propaganda war on TV, hysterical cries of “Glory to the Ukraine!” torchlight marches, demonstrations, requirements in shops and cafés that only Ukrainian be spoken, and beggars, who have supposedly been crippled in battle with the “separatists” in the Donbass. People are longing for a calm, serene, good-natured atmosphere.

    And this ordering that the tourists be bottled up at the Crimean border like pickles in a jar is just a gut instinct of the Kiev authorities..

    To prevent something from happening is always easier than changing something in their country.

    • kirill says:

      Russia should be extremely wary of these migrants. They are more than likely to be Trojan horse banderites. After 1991 there was a mass migration of Galician and other western “Ukrainian” lunatics to central and eastern Ukraine. These vermin form the basis of the power exertion by the current Kiev regime. I can see a ploy where Kiev dispatches “civilians” (the presence of women and children proves squat since the jihadis in Syria also had their families in tow) to Crimea to from a basis for insurrection or even just strife. This serves Kiev’s interests and “proves” that Russia is repressing “Crimeans”.

      These days nothing is straightforward and even innocent looking activity can have a malicious hand orchestrating it for future gain.

  2. Moscow Exile says:

    See the dimwit shit comments from rabid russophobic British shitwits that appear below the above Russian Embassy Tweet.

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    Власти Таджикистана объяснили отказ от акции «Бессмертный полк»

    The Tajik authorities have explained its refusal to hold an “Immortal Regiment” event

    An “Immortal Regiment” event has not been included in plans approved by the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, for Victory Day on May 9, according to the state news Agency of Tajikistan “Khovar”. The report said that the event is contrary to Islamic values, because according to Islamic traditions, Muslims are not to appear on the streets with portraits of the dead.

    In addition, the Agency States that owing to hostilities in the border areas of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, the republic authorities are unable to hold additional events apart from those already scheduled for May 9.

    On April 27, the organizers of the event in Tajikistan reported that an “Immortal Regiment” parade will be held in the Republic at the state level, reports “Interfax”. Tajikistan and Dushanbe councils of war and labour veterans then urged citizens to join the action.

    Next thing you know, they’ll be writing Tadjik in Latin letters.

    Russia — weak!

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