Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned against high expectations about the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden, scheduled for 16 June in Geneva.
Hailing the upcoming summit as very important, Lavrov emphasised that the Kremlin is interested in pragmatic relations with the West, as he addressed the Primakov Readings forum.
"And I want to emphasise that despite what the West is trying to attribute to us, we are invariably interested in pragmatic mutually beneficial relations with everyone, including the West itself, be it the United States, or its NATO allies, or the European Union," said Lavrov.
Russia does not seek to spread its agenda around the world, underscored the Foreign Minister on Wednesday.
"By the way, we do not have superpower ambitions, no matter how someone convinces themselves and everyone else in the opposite. We do not have that messianic desire with which our Western colleagues are trying to spread their democratic value agenda throughout the planet," said the Russian Foreign Minister.
West Dodging ‘Honest Conversation’
Lavrov went on to say that Moscow hopes Washington will review past mistakes ahead of the Putin-Biden summit.
"I hope that in the preparation of the summit ... those who are now in the Biden administration are engaged with Russia, will assess the actions, interests, position of Russia, our red lines and will, if you like, work on the mistakes of past years and refuse to conduct a dialogue exclusively with the position of claim to hegemony in world affairs," said Lavrov.
The top Russian diplomat also deplored the fact that the west persisted in rejecting a frank dialogue with Russia on the moratorium of intermediate and shorter-range missiles deployment in Europe.
"After the Americans destroyed many of the treaties, for example, the Treaty on Shorter and Medium-Range Missiles, we proposed organising a voluntary moratorium on their deployment, at least in Europe. But despite the mechanisms we have proposed for verifying such a moratorium, the West is still moving away from an honest conversation," Lavrov said at the forum.
The foreign minister added that during the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, Russia will use the opportunity to remind the US about the proposal on moratorium.
"Our proposal remains effective, and I believe that we will definitely recall it at the summit in Geneva on June 16, let's see the reaction," said Lavrov.
MH17 Plane Crash
The Russian diplomat addressed the issue of the MH17 plane crash in Donbass, as he reminded those gathered that Washington had still not been forthcoming with sharing crucial facts related to 2014 disaster.
Specifically, the US has held off on providing satellite imagery of the accident.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed on 17 July 2014, in eastern Ukraine while on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people aboard, mostly Dutch citizens.
Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in Ukraine's east have exchanged blame for downing the plane. Subsequently, the Netherlands set up a Joint Investigative Team (JIT) to inquire into the MH17 case.
"The Americans still stubbornly refuse to provide satellite images, which were taken in July 2014, when the Malaysian Boeing crash occurred. A few days ago, a Dutch court directly announced that there was no longer any hope that the Americans would provide these images, and the issue was closed for the court. Facts of colossal importance are withheld," said Lavrov at the Primakov Readings forum.
On 7 June, prosecutors made opening statements in the trial of four people - Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko - charged with the downing of flight MH17.
This marked the end of procedural hearings that had started in March 2020.
Russia was never part of the investigation, although it provided radar data, BUK missile manufacturer specifications and test results, as well as other technical information. In May last year, Russian diplomats also criticised the Dutch authorities for a lack of transparency, as, according to Moscow, the Hague concealed important information, which may shed light on the circumstances surrounding the MH17 crash.
Lavrov also added that Russia expects a US response to the proposal on cyber security at the upcoming Putin-Biden summit.
Moscow has faced numerous allegations of cyber-attacks that resulted in multiple sanctions and the expulsion of its diplomats. The Kremlin was also accused of purportedly carrying out disinformation campaigns to sway elections in the West.
Moscow has always denied any involvement and accused the West of waging a disinformation war on Russia, while repeatedly pledged its desire to cooperate in the cybersphere.
Ahead of the 2020 US presidential election, Vladimir Putin proposed a pact of electoral non-interference and a global agreement against the misuse of communication technologies, citing the “risk of large-scale confrontation in the digital sphere.”
Sergei Lavrov weighed in on the speculations surrounding the possibility of Russia being disconnected from the interbank transfer system SWIFT, that began in 2014 in the wake of the Ukraine crisis sparked by the US and EU-backed coup d’état in Kiev.
“None of the Western officials have ever demanded, in my memory, to block SWIFT for Russia, for China or for anyone else. Certain politicians call for this, but this has never been confirmed either in the statements, I emphasise once again, by the official representatives of the leading Western countries, or in the statements of the representatives of the SWIFT system itself,” said Lavrov.
Discussions about the possible disconnect spiralled again in April after the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to the effect that a “Russian invasion of Ukraine” should lead to the "immediate exclusion of Russia from SWIFT”.
However, European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell later stated that it was not within the EU’s purview to make a decision on cutting Russia off from the Belgium-headquartered cooperative society.