Lavrov and Russia Outplay the European Union Yet Again

16 Feb 2021 11:34 AM


Sergei Lavrov’s threat to sever ties with the European Union shows how much more focused and forward-thinking Russia’s diplomacy is than that of the EU.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has been outsmarting most of his counterparts around the world for more than 17 years. He can do it without breaking a sweat, although rumours have long circulated that he wants out. Presumably, he does his job so well in his boss’s eyes – not making Russian foreign policy but pushing it out – he is not allowed to leave.

The most recent humiliation was inflicted on EU foreign policy high representative Josep Borrell when he travelled to Russia to enquire whether Moscow was interested in closer relations with the EU while Russia was in the middle of its most repressive protest-quelling this century, only to find – to no-one’s surprise but his – that it was not.

His trip coincided with the release of videos of alleged EU police brutality and a further shot across the bows in the form of diplomatic expulsions by Russia. But perhaps Borrell can take solace in the knowledge he is far from the first to ‘discover that hubris and misplaced belief in their own competence don’t outweigh the combined experience of centuries of dealing with Russia’ as my colleague Keir Giles commented on this episode.

Click here to continue reading the full version of this Expert Comment on the Chatham House website.