On December 28, 2023, Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti conducted a comprehensive interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Ministry of International Affairs of the Russian Federation (MID), December 28, 2023). The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the broader context of global politics have brought the need for a thorough reevaluation of the West’s understanding and response to Russian actions and strategies into sharp focus. Analyzing Lavrov’s recent statements provides critical insights into Russia’s projected goals and perceived strengths. These insights reveal the necessity for the West to recalibrate its approach toward Russia and counter Moscow’s aggressive revisionist narrative.
Lavrov’s narrative is woven around themes that serve the Kremlin’s strategic interests while undermining the Western response. His emphasis on “demilitarization and denazification” in Ukraine is a clear sign that Moscow’s goals in the war against Ukraine have not changed. As Russia sees it, a free and independent Ukraine cannot exist. This reality must be fully understood by Western populations and politicians, who still seem to be falling for the false narratives that the war is a “local, regional land dispute” and that Russian President Vladimir Putin can somehow be satisfied with only a portion of Ukrainian territory. The recent bombardment and air strikes on Ukrainian cities clearly show Moscow’s resolve to eradicate whoever stands in the way of the Kremlin, including Putin and his loyal esquire Lavrov (CurrentTime, January 2; Kolezev, January 3). They will stop at nothing to get what they want: a total military victory over Ukraine and, consequently, the West itself.
Lavrov also discussed the expansion of the BRICS format (originally a loose grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). He mentioned that many countries, especially in the developing world, have yet to support Western policy toward Russia, specifically economic and personal sanctions. The foreign minister presented this as a shared global perception of the situation that underlines a reluctance to align with the West against Russia.
In the interview, Lavrov used the term “World Majority” in reference to countries that have not “publicly declared [Russia] as an enemy” (MID, December 28, 2023). This marks a significant rhetorical shift. By framing the BRICS format as a representation of the global majority, Moscow hopes to project an image of widespread international support for its actions. This portrayal is a calculated move to counter the perception of Russia’s global isolation and challenge the legitimacy of Western responses to the Ukraine crisis. The term “World Majority” can become a substitute for “Global South,” as it flatters the ambitions and self-assessments of many emerging economies and developing nations. These new rhetoric subtleties should not be overlooked.
Lavrov’s discourse on expanding BRICS encapsulates a broader vision that the Kremlin promotes: a significant shift from a Western-dominated world order to a more multipolar global structure (MID, December 28, 2023). Lavrov’s remarks about BRICS and the global movement away from Western dominance reflect a strategic narrative aimed at challenging the current geopolitical status quo. In his view, BRICS represents an economic alliance and a geopolitical counterweight to Western influence. He perceives this group as a cornerstone of the emerging multipolar world, suggesting that the influence and dominance of Western countries are waning.
Lavrov’s promotion of BRICS expansion connects to the broader goal of limiting Western economic dominance, particularly the global financial system’s shift away from reliance on the US dollar (MID, December 28, 2023). The Russian foreign minister sees BRICS as a pivotal part of this shift, advocating for the development of alternative financial mechanisms and institutions that could counterbalance the Western-dominated global financial system. This push for “de-dollarization” aligns with Russia’s efforts to insulate itself from Western economic sanctions and encourage other nations to follow suit (see EDM, September 27, December 13, 2022). This narrative resonates with countries that feel marginalized or constrained by the largely unipolar nature of the current global order, offering an alternative alignment that promises greater autonomy and influence. By framing BRICS as a champion for a more equitable global order, Russia positions itself as a leader in reshaping global power dynamics.
The discussion then turned to the direction of the war in Ukraine. Lavrov suggested a possible shift in Western tactics, given that the goal of causing Russia’s “strategic defeat” has failed in his mind. He insinuates that the West is looking for a face-saving way out of the conflict while still claiming a victory for Ukraine. Additionally, Lavrov mentioned the Copenhagen format, a diplomatic initiative excluding Russia that is aimed at rallying international support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan (Lenta.Ru, October 26, 2023). Lavrov dismisses this as unrealistic and indicative of the West’s failed strategies.
Lavrov’s confident assertion that the West’s goal to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia has failed highlights a perceived weakness in Western policy. This perception stems from the lack of a clear, long-term strategic vision regarding Ukraine and broader Russian aggression. The absence of articulated strategic goals gives the impression of a tactical rather than strategic response, which Moscow interprets as a lack of Western resolve.
Given these insights, the West must adopt a more cohesive and strategic approach. This would involve moving beyond reactive measures such as sanctions and military support to develop a more cohesive long-term strategy. The renewed approach should articulate clear objectives, not only for the immediate resolution of the Ukraine conflict but also for a future European security framework that addresses the Kremlin’s revisionist policies.
The lack of a convincing response to Putin’s aggression will eventually lead many countries to seriously rethink their alliances with the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They may also revive their interest in developing nuclear weapons, which seem to be the only working deterrent in today’s global landscape.
The conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s broader geopolitical maneuvers call for a reevaluation of Western strategy. At a minimum, a clear, well-defined strategy is necessary. In the words of Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca, “If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.”