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Andrei Kozyrev, who served as Russia’s foreign minister from 1990 to 1996, said that the West and Russia will remain at odds until “Russian rulers start to behave within the international norms.”
“I think when Russia comes back to honoring the international norms, and Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity is part of those norms … until they prove they are able to observe those norms, both inside – I mean minimum of human rights, respect for freedom of press – and in their foreign policy… until that, there is no understanding, and the sanctions should stand,” he said.
Kozyrev cautioned that Russia’s aims include the whole of Eastern Europe, with intent to “attack, to pressure, to intimidate other countries, including members of NATO.”
And talks with Russia will also prove difficult as Russia practices what Kozyrev called “diplomacy of deception.”
“It’s a talk of lies, you know,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Kozyrev spoke at length about his working relationship with his then-deputy and now-current Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who took office in 2004 and “changed drastically” from his earlier days in the ministry.
“He was, you know, my brother in the endeavor,” he said, accusing Lavrov of moral and professional “degradation.” “He was sharing my views –otherwise, I wouldn’t have put him in this position and worked together.”
“I don’t know why he’s doing this,” Kozyrev added. “He was a good diplomat and a good person … he was my friend.”
“I tried my best to establish best relations where Russia belongs – with Europe and the United States, most developed and democratic countries. I wanted to be in that club.”
He lamented that Russia “lost the initiative” pursuing democracy, which he stressed, “must be defended every day.”
Kozyrev largely blamed President Vladimir Putin, whom he said has “no idea of the world outside of his office in the Kremlin” or “his bunker under the ground where he hides from COVID and probably now nuclear bombs.”
“He has no idea,” Kozyrev said with a laugh. “He underestimated Ukraine, he thought there was no nation like Ukraine, and of course they will not stand against Russian aggression. He thought there was no unity in the West … he underestimated Europe the same way.”