Russian FM criticizes west, downplays Ukraine in brief UN speech


Russia’s top diplomat denounced the United States and the West on Saturday as self-interested defenders of a fading international power structure, but he didn’t discuss his country’s war in Ukraine in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

“They’re doing everything they can to prevent the formation of a genuine multipolar world order,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. “They are trying to force the world to play according to their own self-centered rules,” he said.

As for the 19-month war in Ukraine, he recapped some historical complaints going back to the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, and alluded to the billions of dollars that the US and Western allies have spent in supporting Ukraine. But he didn’t delve into the current fighting. For a second year in a row, the General Assembly is taking place with no end to the war in sight.

A three-month-long Ukrainian counteroffensive has gone slower than Kyiv hoped, making modest advances but no major breakthroughs. Ukraine’s seats in the assembly hall were empty for at least part of Lavrov’s speech.

An American diplomat wrote on a notepad in her country’s section of the audience during Lavrov’s speech. The speech accused the US of, among other things, “whipping up hysteria on the Korean Peninsula.” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare foray out of his country last week by train to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, an unsettling development for South Korea and allies including the United States. Later, in a press conference, Lavrov said the U.S. was “effectively engaged in hostilities with us, using the Ukrainians as fodder.”