© Reuters. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addresses the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 23, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
By Michelle Nichols and Gabriela Baczynska
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday dismissed the West as an “empire of lies” and said the latest U.N. proposals to revive the Black Sea (NYSE:) grain initiative would not fly because they do not deliver on promises made to Moscow.
Lavrov spoke after a week of intense global diplomacy at the annual gathering of world leaders at U.N. headquarters in New York where Ukraine and its Western allies sought to drum up support for Kyiv as it fights against Russia’s invasion.
In a letter to Lavrov last month, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlined four measures the U.N. could facilitate to improve Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports in a bid to convince Moscow to return to the Black Sea deal, which allowed Ukraine to export grain through the corridor and helped address a global food shortage.
“We explained to the Secretary General why his proposals won’t work. We don’t reject them. They’re simply not realistic. They cannot be implemented,” Lavrov said.
He said a 10-point peace plan promoted by Kyiv was “completely not feasible” and that the conflict would be resolved on the battlefield if Ukraine and the West stuck to it.
Lavrov added that Moscow left the Black Sea grain initiative because promises made to Russia – including on removing sanctions on a Russian bank and reconnecting it to the global SWIFT system – had not been met.
“EMPIRE OF LIES”
Russia quit the deal in July, a year after it was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey to combat a global food crisis that the U.N. said was worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – both leading global grain exporters.
Ukraine exported nearly 33 million metric tons of grains under the pact, which the U.N. said benefited poor states by helping lower food prices more than 20% globally.
Lavrov did not cross paths with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy who appeared in person at the U.N. Security Council earlier in the week for the first time since Russia’s invasion to appeal for support against Moscow.
Asked if Russia would send more peace-keepers to Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan, Lavrov said that would be decided on the ground.
Lavrov said he would visit Pyongyang next month to continue negotiations with his counterpart there off the back of recent agreements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Moscow.
Lavrov accused the West of a neo-colonial mindset in its overtures to the Global South to win backing for Ukraine in the war. Instead, Lavrov spoke of a “global majority” that was being duped by the West, which he described as an “empire of lies”.