Shoukri and Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday accused the West of fomenting the conflict in Ukraine by supplying Ukraine with weapons, stressing that Russia will not tolerate leaving Ukraine to become a threat to its security.
In a press conference held in Moscow after a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, Lavrov said that “supplying Ukraine with weapons is not conducive to peace in the region.”
Referring to a message from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Shoukri conveyed, which asked Russia to stop action in Ukraine in order for negotiations to succeed, Lavrov described it as an “incomplete” proposal.
However, he added that his country welcomed “any serious proposal for a settlement in Ukraine. I emphasise the word ‘serious’ which means it includes all aspects of the issue,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov expressed his dissatisfaction with the US as well as the West’s stand as reflected in the statement by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during his visit to South Korea on Monday.
He regarded Stoltenberg’s comments that “Russia would have to be defeated in Ukraine and that the West would not allow Ukraine to lose because that would mean that Europe and the whole world lose” as indicating that “NATO has taken on the responsibility of defeating Russia on behalf of the world” and that “the Kyiv regime does not enjoy any independence.”
He praised the “balanced” Egyptian stand on the crisis in Ukraine.
Commenting on the Egyptian stand on Ukraine, Shoukri said that Egypt is in favour of reaching a political and diplomatic agreement to end the military conflict and to deal with the crisis in a way that meets the interests of all parties.
“We will keep following up on the development of the issue in the framework of our bilateral as well as multilateral relationship with the involved parties,” he said.
Shoukri’s visit to Moscow came immediately following his meeting with Blinken on Monday during his two-day visit to Cairo on the first leg of his Middle East tour. The tour took him to the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.
Commenting on the possibility of using the local currencies of the two countries in their trade exchange, Shoukri praised the volume of trade exchange with Russia and said that “we are always after the best mechanisms to make the trade exchange easier and to benefit from it to the utmost. Using the Russian ruble is one of these mechanisms.”
The two chief diplomats also discussed regional issues, including resolving the crises in Libya and Syria and the recent escalation in the occupied Palestinian lands. Both diplomats called for the resumption of peace talks in a way that protects the rights of the Palestinian people.
Shoukri said any settlement on the issue should be based on the two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
They also tackled the importance of improving Russia’s relations with Africa in light of the African-Russian conference due in June this year in St Petersburg.
Lavrov and Shoukri met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2022 when they discussed the implementation of a grain deal.
In July last year, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations struck a deal to provide a humanitarian maritime corridor for ships with food and fertiliser exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 February, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly