In a fiery and provocative address at the 78th United Nations General Assembly, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proclaimed the emergence of a new world order characterised by a relentless struggle between a neocolonial minority and a “global majority” determined to break free from decades of Western dominance. Lavrov spared no criticism in his denunciation of the United States and the West, accusing them of obstructing the formation of a genuine multipolar world order.
Lavrov’s speech, delivered on Saturday, depicted a world in flux, with power slipping through the grasp of the old order led by Washington, which he claimed had long rejected the principle of equality. He asserted that Americans and Europeans consistently made promises but failed to fulfil them, creating an atmosphere of distrust on the international stage.
Quoting President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov characterised the West as “truly an empire of lies,” even suggesting that during World War II, Western powers had plotted against their Soviet allies. Lavrov contended that Soviet and Russian leaders had been deceived by “concrete political assurances” regarding the non-expansion of the NATO military alliance to the East.
Furthermore, Lavrov argued that Washington and Brussels had relentlessly sought to expand their interests and alliances to dominate the Global South and East, disregarding Russia’s quest for mutual security guarantees. He claimed that the West had engaged in a “hybrid war” against Russia, encompassing military, outer space, and online domains, with the ultimate goal of strategically defeating Russia.
The West’s Geopolitical Ambitions
Notably, Lavrov asserted that the West’s creation of subordinate alliances was targeted against Russia and China, intending to undermine more inclusive regional forums. He emphasised that the “global majority,” comprised of anti-colonial nations, had grown weary of Western influence, which infringed upon their cultures, religions, traditional values, and sovereignty.
In Lavrov’s perspective, Russia and China stood as the defenders of a new multipolar world order, while the West vigorously worked to obstruct it. He decried the use of unilateral sanctions and “coercive measures” by the United States and its allies, expressing solidarity with countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria.
The Russian Foreign Minister also called for a comprehensive reform of the global governance architecture, advocating for including Asia, Africa, and Latin America in the United Nations Security Council. Lavrov’s vision of reform revolved around achieving a balanced consensus, highlighting the example of the BRICS bloc of economic powers, which is expanding beyond its original membership.
The West’s Response: A Different Perspective
It is important to note that the Western perspective on these issues differs significantly from the viewpoint presented by Sergey Lavrov and the Russian government. Western leaders have consistently argued that their actions, including NATO expansion, are driven by a commitment to democracy, human rights, and the principle of collective defence.
From the Western perspective, NATO’s enlargement was not a deliberate provocation of Russia but an extension of security guarantees to nations that sought membership and had, in some cases, experienced firsthand the consequences of Soviet domination.
The sanctions imposed on Russia have been framed as a response to its actions in Ukraine, seen as a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and an affront to the post-World War II order that prohibits the acquisition of territory by force.
The Path Forward: A Call for Dialogue and Compromise
Sergey Lavrov’s address highlights that the divide between Russia and the West remains vast, with both sides firmly entrenched in their positions. The challenges of finding common ground and rebuilding trust in this strained relationship are formidable.
However, the call for dialogue and compromise has been introduced previously. International diplomacy has often required adversaries to engage in tough negotiations and seek areas of convergence amid their differences. As a forum for diplomatic engagement, the United Nations embodies the potential for peaceful resolution of conflicts and the pursuit of global cooperation.
Lavrov’s appeal for a “fair balance of interests” and a more inclusive approach to global governance should not be dismissed outright. The world has evolved significantly since the end of the Cold War, with new power centres emerging and a multipolar reality taking shape.
The BRICS Bloc: A Multipolar Alternative
One of the notable elements of Lavrov’s address was his reference to the BRICS bloc—a coalition of emerging economies comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. This group has sought to challenge the dominance of Western nations in global affairs and advocate for a more equitable distribution of power and resources.
The invitation extended to Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to join BRICS next year reflects a desire to expand the bloc’s influence and present a unified front on issues of global importance. While the practical impact of BRICS remains debatable, it indicates the broader trend toward a multipolar world order.
A Shared Responsibility for a Complex World
In closing, Sergey Lavrov’s address at the 78th UN General Assembly provides a vivid snapshot of the current state of global geopolitics. It underscores the deep-seated divisions between Russia and the West, fueled by historical grievances, differing perspectives on key issues, and a struggle for influence.