USA under Obama learning to treat other states as equals – Russia’s Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, 10 February) The USA needs to be inured to conducting business on the basis of equality and respect for mutual interests, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

“The USA will not change overnight. It has to be inured to the fact that business can only be conducted on the basis of equality, the balance of interests and mutual respect,” he said on the air of the “Sunday Night with Solovyev” programme.

“I cannot yet give you spectacular examples of this ‘inurement’. Obama did however say that they can achieve nothing on their own. In effect, his words were wrapped in beautiful phrases but the essence was that they cannot, nor will they be able to, achieve anything on their own,” he said.

According to Lavrov, “getting used to a change in the imperial status is a long and gradual process”.

At the same time, the minister drew attention to the difference between the attitudes of the previous administration of George (W.) Bush and Barack Obama’s administration. “Under Barack Obama’s administration, the recently elected Vice-President (Joe) Biden put forward in early 2009 the term ‘reset’, which we took to mean that the new democratic team in the White House understood that attitude to interaction with Russia of the previous Bush administration had been counterproductive. The practical steps that followed from Washington confirmed that our perception had been correct,” he said.

“We no longer see arrogant actions which go directly against Russia’s legitimate interests both in our immediate neighbourhood and in other areas of the world. This does not at all mean that the new US administration has given up promoting its interests (as it sees them) in Central Asia, the Transcaucasus and, in principle, all around the Russian Federation. This does not mean that the new US administration (though it is no longer new but ‘new old’) has given up its missile defence plans. The tone and the style of conducting negotiations and dialogue did however change significantly with Obama’s arrival. This is always a good thing. In addition to the tone, the practical returns of these discussions have changed too,” the head of Russian diplomacy said.

“It (the USA – Interfax) is no longer physically capable of resolving a single problem, though it remains the biggest and the mightiest military, economic and financial power. It was not for nothing that, addressing the Congress in late January, Obama said that the USA will definitely try to resolve any problems in cooperation with international partners,” Lavrov said.

He said that the USA have been and still are unable to do anything at all in Afghanistan on its own. “Admittedly, even as part of a coalition they can do little: the terrorist threat has not gone anywhere, while the drug threat has increased drastically, if not exponentially. They cannot resolve problems of the spread of terrorism, WMD, drug trafficking and organized crime,” he added.

Talking about the problem of drug trafficking from Afghanistan, Lavrov said: “I have seen reports that Americans are illegally involved in these processes, unbeknown to their command. Not only do we always note all things of this kind, we also examine them in detail and work on them. In those situations when information about anyone’s involvement in drug trafficking is confirmed, we tackle these issues fairly and squarely, without trying to ‘sweep’ them under the carpet.”