Veteran Diplomat Fond of Cigars, Whiskey and Outfoxing U.S. – NYTimes.com

Who is Ambassador Sergey V. Lavrov and what does he want?  In an April 2013 interview, he conveys Russia’s interests to engage with the US and the world. In another interview, “Minister Nyet” tells Susan Glasser essentially that “Russia is not sulking, and she is just about done composing herself”–to cite Alexander Gorchakov, a previous foreign minister from the mid-19th century.

In many ways, Mr. Lavrov’s work over the next six days represented the apex of a career largely spent trying to body-block what the Kremlin has long viewed as dangerous American unilateralism. It is a job he has done so effectively that it has earned him the nickname “Minister Nyet,” and senior American officials, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, have said they often found it infuriating to deal with him.

As the diplomatic technician for his boss, President Vladimir V. Putin, Mr. Lavrov maneuvered to hem in the United States, averting a unilateral military strike and reasserting Russia’s role — all while Russia was continuing to provide weapons to Mr. Assad and diplomatic cover for his effort to suppress an uprising.

More broadly, though, Mr. Lavrov has sought to force the United States into a conversation that the Kremlin hopes will set a precedent, establishing Russia’s role in world affairs based not on the dated cold war paradigm but rather on its own outlook, which favors state sovereignty and status quo stability over the spread of Western-style democracy.

via Veteran Diplomat Fond of Cigars, Whiskey and Outfoxing U.S. – NYTimes.com.

To see evidence that Lavrov has been working on this angle for a long time, see the translation of an interview with him on Lebanese Television from 13 May 2013.

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5 thoughts on “Veteran Diplomat Fond of Cigars, Whiskey and Outfoxing U.S. – NYTimes.com

  1. jmmorgan242 says:

    As an impartial observer to the situation, I have to admire the way that Russia is dealing with the Crisis in Syria. As an American, of course, I have to act affronted, and slightly embarrassed at the powerful way they have turned the situation to suit their own agenda, but you have to respect the diplomatic hand that Putin and Lavrov have played. However, I think it’s important to remember that the game is not over yet. The chemical weapons are still in the hands of the Syrians, and until they change hands, the Russians haven’t proved themselves the diplomatic victors in this situation. I also find it a bit disconcerting that the Syrian government was so eager to jump on the “hand over our chemical weapons” bandwagon. How will we be assured that all weapons have been turned over? Can’t they just get more? Where will they go once they’ve been turned over? Into the hands of the Russians? While I’m glad that this plan, if it comes to fruition, will prevent a unilateral US strike on Syria, I can’t help but feel that it is not actually solving the problem, just delaying more serious international intervention.

  2. alexechu1 says:

    A fascinating read into the life of a longtime diplomat. I wonder why it would say that the plan was Putin’s brainchild when I am sure that Lavrov had considerable influence and input, and was one of the key executors of it. Russia certainly has handled the Syria situation well, having achieved a fair few of its own aims while improving its new global image in the process, one evidence at least of which is this article praising Lavrov’s diplomatic maneuvers.

  3. Another one of Russia’s prominent male political leaders is a macho man. So what else is new? It’s not surprising that Putin, who is well known for his rough, chauvinistic attitude, would have a man like unto himself  as his foreign minister. What does seem surprising to many people is how well Russia seems to be dealing with the Syrian crisis, willing to work diplomatically with the US as well as with Syria. If President al-Assad acts according to plan by submitting his arsenal of chemical weapons to Russian custody, Mr. Lavrov’s plan—if indeed, the plan was originally his—just might be the answer that we’ve been looking for. While President Obama still deliberates over whether he should send help to the rebel forces, in the meanwhile Lavrov seems to be capably on top of things. Surprising or not, right now that is good news.

  4. kttoolson says:

    This was an interesting article regarding Mr. Lavrov and his foreign political strategies. It seems to me that time and time again, the defining characteristic of influential leaders has been confidence and purpose. We rarely get these kinds of profiles for key leaders in the United Nations, which can give us an idea of why policies have been passed. I have to commend Mr. Lavrov for this persona that he has given off over the years of playing hardball and then when it comes to completely cooperating with the United States, he acts on a deal to deal with the issues in Syria. This was enlightening because it made me wonder about all of the other agendas being played out in the United Nations that we simply cannot see yet.

  5. heartleeharman says:

    It is interesting to read about Mr. Lavrov and his style of diplomacy compared to our new ambassador, Samantha Powers (A New U.S. Player, Put on World Stage by Syria – NYTimes.com.). Both will have a very big part not only in the Syrian crisis, but on global security issues. To have to go up against a veteran diplomat who has had the career and has the connections like Mr. Lavrev has, makes Ms. Powers’ job even harder. How she handles this Syrian crisis will be the defining point in her career.

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