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'Foreign Policy' Can't Seem To Locate Sergei Lavrov

Mark Galeotti laments the fictional demise of our grumpy uncle, Sergei Lavrov

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Remember when Vladimir Putin “disappeared”? Well, much like the daytime soap opera that is Western Russia analysis, Foreign Policy is trying to recycle that plot. Mark Galeotti had every opportunity to tell Business Insider at that time that Putin had not, in fact, disappeared, but he chose instead to stir the pot.

Undaunted, Galeotti has now decided that, not content with oppressing, well, everyone, Vladimir Putin is now, like, being a total jerk to his bro, Sergei Lavrov. 

<figcaption>Where's Sergei? Oh, that's right. He's working</figcaption>
Where's Sergei? Oh, that's right. He's working last weekend’s Munich Security Summit, the usually commanding Lavrov was visibly uncomfortable. He even faced boos and mocking laughter as he tried to sell the world on Russian policy in Ukraine.

Yes, a few NATO kindergartners felt compelled to heckle Lavrov during his speech at Munich. Lavrov, however, remained cool and composed, and reminded those assembled that they were responsible for illegally bombing Yugoslavia and Libya. Funny stuff! Read Lavrov’s hilarious speech at Munich here.

Visibly uncomfortable
Probably isolated also (probably)
This isn’t the first time Lavrov has been treated like a punchline: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s chief Russia analyst Brian Whitmore scornfully suggested in January that, given the direction his foreign service career appears to be headed, Lavrov always has a second career as a comedian or a fiction writer ahead of him. (As it so happens, Lavrov actually writes poetry, and apparently has even done some improv comedy.)

Whitmore has been taken to task by formidable Russia expert Gordon Hahn for his, quite frankly, neurotic and inconsistent Russia analysis.  And Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is, as we all know, funded by the U.S. government. What happened to Galeotti's past thoughtful analyses? Anyone who watched the Munich conference could clearly see Lavrov was at the top of his game. 

On the one hand, Lavrov is simply another casualty of the Kremlin’s current attitude toward professionals in government. Since his return to the presidency in 2012, Vladimir Putin has surrounded himself with a tighter and tighter circle of friends and cronies, while marginalizing those who’ve spent years running the country.

Or perhaps Lavrov is too busy to bother with entertaining FP and is concerned with, I don’t know, serious stuff. Like North Korea:

Moscow unconvinced North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb - Lavrov

Russia says Sergei Lavrov discussed North Korea Rocket Launch with Japan’s Fumio Kishida

Lavrov to pay official visit to Japan in mid-April

And Syria:

A telephone conversation between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri took place on February 17 at the Egyptian minister’s initiative.

The ministers exchanged opinions on the progress of the Syrian settlement in keeping with decisions adopted at the International Syria Support Group meeting in Munich on February 11. They stressed that they remain focused on ensuring that the task forces formed by the International Syria Support Group in Geneva continue their work in the interests of a ceasefire and the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Syria.

I guess nuclear proliferation and the Syrian settlement aren’t serious enough topics for the best darn news team ever over there at Foreign Policy. Or maybe they don’t have Google. Or access to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Twitter account.  Maybe ISIS can hook them up with some internets.

Since Lavrov seems to still be employed (phew!), let’s haul out some established Putin fan fiction:

He has even physically withdrawn, increasingly governing not from the Kremlin, but from his palace at Odintsovo, outside Moscow. (Read: secret lair with underground villain retreat)

There was that whole meeting with the Hungarian prime minister where they discussed full-on Hydra stuff, like fighting terrorism, and peace in Syria and Ukraine. But, who cares what Putin is actually accomplishing? If he’s not sitting in a straightjacket somewhere foaming at the mouth, Western Russia commenters aren’t interested. I mean, Putin’s crazy and isolated, right? That’s why he conducts phone calls with the American president.  And quite correctly calls out the EU on its Russia sanctions.

Long story short: Putin and Lavrov are both still working, so fear not, Mark! I'm sure Uncle Sergei will be back soon to tell those damn kids to get off his lawn.

Maybe it would be easier for these helicopter-parenting Western journos to keep better track of these two if they had them microchipped.


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