In her accolade to Lavrov, von Hall lauded his solid defense of Russia's uncompromising approach to foreign policy, which drove US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton to the verge of hysteria. Foreign statesmen now refer to him as "Mr. No," a moniker he inherited from several predecessors: Soviet Foreign Ministers Vyacheslav Molotov and Andrei Gromyko.
He revealed his uncompromising character in Geneva during the endless negotiations over Syrian chemical weapons, Iran's nuclear weapons and the peace initiative in Syria. More recently, it was seen in his response to US demands that Russia relinquish Crimea.
"Although most of the time, the world sees a gloomy and harsh Lavrov, behind this façade, there is an incredibly competent, witty and talented diplomat. Many rank 63-year-old Lavrov to the most skilled politicians in the world," Gunilla von Hall wrote.
Lavrov's intuition and skills, which he demonstrated in the UN, led to his appointment as Russian Foreign Minister in 2004. Ever since, Lavrov has protected Russian foreign interests, sometimes with a zeal that has been nicknamed "bulldozer diplomacy." Despite the fact that Lavrov is fluent in English and French, he insists upon speaking Russian during official meetings as a matter of principle.
When it comes to principles, Lavrov is not averse to barring his teeth. When former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan introduced a ban on smoking in UN headquarters, Lavrov retorted that he "did not own the building" and continued to smoke when given the opportunity.
Gunilla von Hall described Lavrov as a bon vivant with a taste for earthly delights. Lavrov is known to enjoy top-shelf drinks, poignant jokes and the company of beautiful women. On vacation, though, Lavrov ditches his expensive suits to become a keen paddler and skier. He is also notorious for switching off his mobile phone when he takes time off work.
Last year, Lavrov showed his generous side by "donating" pizzas his US counterpart John Kerry ordered for the Russian delegation to reporters during protracted negotiations on Syria. He also treated the hungry journalists to several bottles of vodka, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zacharova relayed on Facebook.
"That's how he is, the tsar of Russian Foreign Affairs, sometimes charmingly friendly, and sometimes poisonously impudent. A difficult negotiating partner," Gunilla von Hall concluded.
T shirts of the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, (smoking) on sale in Sochi, Russia… pic.twitter.com/1KucxW7aYT— Bryan MacDonald (@27khv) 10 mars 2016
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