It’s better not to be a “more normal country” if that means being as prone to invasions and coups as the United States, top Russian ministers have said, firing back at bizarre remarks by a new Pentagon chief.
It would be “great” if the West “could get Russia to behave like a more normal country,” Mark Esper, the newly appointed defense secretary, was reported to have claimed while visiting Paris this week.
That remark did not go down well with Moscow, however.
“If he said so, he called upon us to act as a normal country [as such] and not like the United States,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press briefing in the Russian capital, where he and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu had a face-to-face meeting with French counterparts.
Otherwise, we should have been acting like the US, bombing Iraq and Libya in blatant violation of international law… We should have supported coups, violent and anti-constitutional, like the US and its closest allies did in February 2014 [in Ukraine].
What's more, if Russia followed Washington’s instructions, then “we would have spent millions on intervening in the affairs of other countries as Congress has done by authorizing $20 million for supporting democracy in Russia,” Lavrov stated.
On his part, Shoigu also said that normalcy has a different meaning for Moscow then.
We will probably remain [an] abnormal [country].
Meanwhile, the visiting French officials advocated coming to terms with Russia.
“The time has come, the time is right, to work towards reducing distrust,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
Defense Minister Florence Parly added that “it is important to talk to each other, to avoid misunderstanding and friction.”
The meeting comes weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in late August at Bregancon, in an attempt to defuse tension and break the ice in Russia-West relations.
On that occasion, Macron vowed to create a “new architecture of security and confidence” between the EU and Russia. He pointed out that Moscow’s contribution is “essential” in helping to solve the crises in and around Iran, Ukraine, and Syria, and to work on nuclear non-proliferation.