LIVE UPDATES: Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said he saw no linkage in president-elect Donald Trump’s offer to remove sanctions if Russia reduced its nuclear weapons.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is holding a press conference in Moscow now. His name is trending on Moscow’s Russian-language Twitter in both Russian and English.
Lavrov said he is looking forward to “more effective cooperation” to achieve a peace settlement in Syria after the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump, Gazeta reported.
NTV’s reporter asked about Lavrov’s attitude toward Trump’s offer to remove sanctions if Russia will reduce nuclear weapons. (NBC later asked the identical question.)
Lavrov said he saw something different in Trump’s offer than the media has reported. Lavrov said he heard Trump to say that he would “think about what to do with sanctions” and that if “mutually-useful things could be done that is good” then “it would be good if Russia reduced its nuclear arsenals.”
In other words, he did not see the cut in arms tied directly to the removal of sanctions, but only as part of a general process without linkage.
But the media reported Trump in this fashion because he indeed seemed to tie the two issues together although the phrases could be read literally as not connected:
“They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia.
For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.”
Lavrov said he hoped to renew “the dialogue on strategic stability” which had been “destroyed” by President Barack Obama, who “broke so many pots”.
Earlier, Lavrov made a number of surprising statements, claiming that US spies would don wigs or dress up as women and often infiltrated anti-government demonstrations.
Translation: I wonder who did the American diplomats dressed up as?
Lavrov also said the US tried to turn a Russian diplomat.
Translation: Lavrov described the attempt by USA intelligence agencies to recruit a Russian diplomat.
Said Lavrov (translation by The Interpreter):
“It was unprecedented, at the level of the second person in the embassy, at the level of an advisor envoy, there was a recruitment attempt with an offer to cooperate.”
Lavrov also claimed that a “high-ranking diplomat” from the US also thrust $10,000 through a car window with an offer to collaborate. Lavrov noted that the target turned the money over and this was was “capitalized by the accounting office” and now “works for the good of the Russian state.”
In talking about the “Great Game” of Russia and other countries’ relations with Central Asia, Lavrov recalled Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard in which he said, “We must not let the barbarians unite.”
“That’s how he characterized us,” said Lavrov, taking umbrage at how the US perceived Russia.
Brzezinski did not specifically reference Russia in this passage, but indeed wrote of “the need to keep the barbarians from coming together”.
The press conference is still under way.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick