Russian Foreign Minister Segeï Lavrov during a meeting with his Arab League counterparts on November 21, 2023 in Moscow. EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA / AP
For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine, Sergei Lavrov will set foot in Europe again, in a member country of the Atlantic Alliance. The Russian Foreign Minister is expected, Thursday, November 30 and Friday, December 1, in Skopje, North Macedonia, for the ministerial council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an institution inherited from the cold war and whose functioning has been paralyzed since the conflict in Ukraine.
Sparking embarrassment among Westerners, the confirmation of Russian participation triggered the anger of Ukraine, which said in a statement that it “will only aggravate the crisis into which Russia has plunged the OSCE.” . After Vladimir Putin’s remote participation in a mini-video summit of the G20, on November 22 at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Ukrainian representatives fear a form of “legitimation” of Russian leaders, despite the continuation of fighting on their territory. The head of the Kremlin took advantage of this recent forum to criticize the attitude of the West in the war between Israel and Hamas, in order to widen the gap with the countries of the South, who refuse to choose their side between Kiev and Moscow.
In retaliation, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba decided to boycott the OSCE meeting, as did representatives of the three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. “The fact is that while the OSCE meeting is taking place in Skopje, the Russian war machine is attacking innocent Ukrainians and deporting children without batting an eyelid,” commented the head of Estonian diplomacy, Margus Tsahkna: “The place of Mr. Lavrov is before a special court, not at the OSCE table. »
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This body operates on the principle of unanimity, but Russia has blocked most of its decisions since 2014, and the unilateral annexation of Ukrainian Crimea by Moscow. According to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, the OSCE is, to this day, a “brain dead” organization due to Russia’s systematic obstruction. One of the challenges of the Skopje meeting nevertheless remains to ratify various appointments to maintain a semblance of functioning of this organization based in Vienna, Austria, and which notably carries out operations to defend human rights in several European countries. and Central Asia.
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