By Guy Faulconbridge
LONDON (Reuters) – Russia has lost any illusions about ever relying on the West and Moscow will never accept a world order dominated by the United States, which is acting like a sheriff seeking to call all the shots in a saloon bar, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Western nations have imposed sweeping sanctions across Russia’s financial and corporate sectors in response to Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, plunging Russia’s economy into its gravest crisis since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
Lavrov, President Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister since 2004, said the West’s reaction to what Moscow has called a “special military operation” had illustrated that the West was completely dominated by the United States and that the European Union was largely powerless.
“If there was any illusion that we could one day rely on our Western partners, this illusion is no longer there,” Lavrov told Russian state-funded RT in English.
Russia would look eastwards, he said.
“What the Americans want is a unipolar world which would not be like a global village but like an American village – or maybe like a saloon where you know the strongest calls the shots,” Lavrov said.
He added that many countries such as China, India and Brazil did not want to be ordered around by “Uncle Sam” acting like a sheriff.
Russia’s invasion has killed thousands of people, displaced more than 3 million and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States, the world’s two biggest nuclear powers.
Lavrov’s defiant response to the West’s effort to isolate his country echoed that of Putin, who has indicated in recent days that the post-1991 era of Russian history has drawn to a close and that from now on Moscow will look to China, India and, increasingly, inwards.
“We will now have to rely only on ourselves and on our allies who stay with us,” Lavrov said. “We are not closing the door on the West – they are doing so.”
As the Soviet Union crumbled and the Cold War ended, many in both Russia and the West hoped that the confrontations which had divided the post-World War Two world would recede or even be bridged.
Putin says Moscow’s actions in Ukraine were necessary because NATO’s enlargement threatened Russia, and that Moscow needed to save Russian-speaking people in Ukraine from oppression.
Ukraine casts the invasion as a Russian imperial-style land grab.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Frances Kerry)