Top Russian Diplomat’s Joke About ‘Suffering’ at UN Summit Flops

Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov openly joked about how isolated Russia is at the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York City.

“Everything is fine, we are only suffering from isolation,” Lavrov said during a meeting with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Abu al-Gheit, in response to a question at the UN confab about how he was doing, according to RBC.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, however, took a different tune, claiming that Russia still has allies at the United Nations interested in conducting diplomacy with Moscow.

The Secretary General, al-Gheit, said “there is a queue to the Russian negotiation room,” Zakharova claimed, according to RBC.

The gap between their interpretations of Russia’s status on the global stage could suggest a possible breakdown in communications at the Foreign Ministry while Russia continues to attack Ukraine on a daily basis.

The apparent confusion comes after Moscow has sought to project multiple different narratives about Russian diplomacy to the public, with the Kremlin seeking to chart a path forward even as it is shunned on the world stage.

Last year, Lavrov leaned into the idea that Russia ought to end diplomacy with western countries, including in Europe.

“There is neither point nor desire to maintain the previous presence in Western states,” he said at the time. “Most importantly, there’s no work to do since Europe decided to shut off from us and sever any economic cooperation. You can’t force love.”

‘You Can’t Force Love’: Russian Diplomats Told to Kiss the West Goodbye

The Kremlin still maintains hopes of conducting diplomacy with friendly countries, however. Lavrov said Russia would focus more on relations with Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Russian President Vladimir Putin noted in April this year that Russia has no desire to “self-isolate.”

Russia has become a pariah on the world stage since Putin decided to invade Ukraine last year, with western nations levying sanctions on the president himself in addition to measures aimed at crippling Russia’s economy and ability to wage war.

Lavrov’s reported isolation at the UNGA comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for western allies to stand against what he called Russian “genocide” in Ukraine, referring to the way Russians have allegedly abducted Ukrainian children throughout the war. Zelensky, repeating claims U.S. officials have made as well, accused Russia of weaponizing its blockade of Ukrainian grain, and threatening world food security.

Even allies of Russia have grown wary of conducting diplomacy with Russia in person, in part due to allegations that Putin himself has been involved in abducting children from Ukraine.

Putin didn’t attend the BRICS summit in South Africa earlier this year after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him for his alleged involvement in the abductions. Officials in Austria, which has tried to remain neutral during the war, and in Armenia, which is a member of a Russian military alliance, have said they want to go after Putin if he steps foot in their country as well.

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