Russia doesn’t have a vice-president, however it seems that its international minister, Sergey Lavrov, is taking up the same position — at the very least the place international coverage is anxious. On the G20 summit in India this weekend (September 9—10), Russia will probably be represented not by President Vladimir Putin however by his chief diplomat. Lavrov additionally deputized for the Russian chief on the BRICS summit in South Africa a couple of weeks in the past.
Observers suspect the principle motive Putin didn’t fly to South Africa was that he was afraid he can be arrested. In March of this yr, the Worldwide Prison Courtroom (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for the Russian chief on suspicion of organizing the unlawful deportation of youngsters in Russia’s conflict in opposition to Ukraine.
The Kremlin rejects these accusations, and doesn’t acknowledge the ICC’s jurisdiction. South Africa does, nonetheless, which means that it’s obliged to arrest and extradite anybody on its territory for whom an ICC warrant has been issued.
‘India is classed as not protected’
In an interview with DW, Felix Riefer, a Russia knowledgeable and the creator of a ebook about Russian international coverage, additionally cited the ICC arrest warrant as the principle motive why Putin had declined to journey to South Africa. This doesn’t essentially clarify his absence from the G20 summit, although, as India has not acknowledged the jurisdiction of the court docket in The Hague.
And but: “India is classed [by Russia] as not protected,” Riefer stated.
He explains that, though Russia has had good relations with India going again to Soviet occasions, the federal government in New Delhi additionally cooperates “with the West, together with with the US and on the provision of arms.”
South Africa and India should not the one international locations President Putin has not wished to journey to in current months. It was reported within the media that he was anticipated to go to Turkey in August, however the assembly together with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, finally befell elsewhere: Putin obtained him at dwelling within the Russian metropolis of Sochi.
With this in thoughts, some observers imagine that safety considerations stands out as the motive why the Russian president has not wished to fly to international locations he might think about unsafe.
Some hyperlink this to the current demise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the top of the Wagner mercenary group, in a aircraft crash in Russia. Felix Riefer regards this as “hypothesis.” Nonetheless, he factors out that the one nation Putin is outwardly planning to go to within the close to future is China, in October.
The final time Putin attended the BRICS and G20 summits in particular person was in 2019, earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. His final face-to-face assembly with US President Joe Biden was in June 2021, in Geneva. Within the autumn of 2021, each Putin and the Chinese language head of state, Xi Jinping, solely attended the G20 summit by videolink. Each are actually absent from the summit in India.
‘Lavrov is Putin’s government assistant’
Does Putin’s self-isolation, whether or not enforced or voluntary, imply that the position of Overseas Minister Lavrov on the worldwide stage has been strengthened?
73-year-old Lavrov is certainly one of Putin’s closest allies. In 2024 he’ll have fun his 20-year anniversary as international minister — a file for any minister below Putin.
John Sullivan, a former US ambassador to Russia, instructed Overseas Coverage journal in January 2023 that Putin valued Lavrov as a result of he was so “efficient […] very, very polished, extraordinarily good, very skilled.”
Riefer feedback that, previous to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Lavrov was additionally appreciated by the West. Nonetheless, he sees the Russian international minister as having “compromised” his repute by defending “the Russian regime’s politics of realignment.”
Riefer doesn’t imagine that Lavrov is being assigned the position of Putin’s deputy on international coverage.
“Lavrov has completely no say in Russian international coverage; he has to attend for directives from Putin,” he says. There is not going to be an “impartial Russian international coverage.”
In accordance with Riefer, Lavrov was not aware of the plans for the conflict on Ukraine. Researchers for the Monetary Instances newspaper have been instructed that the Russian international minister was knowledgeable just a few hours earlier than the beginning of the invasion on February 24, 2022.
Rüdiger von Fritsch, a former German ambassador to Moscow, makes the same evaluation of the international minister’s position.
“Lavrov was and stays Putin’s administrative assistant,” the diplomat instructed DW. “Proficient, intelligent, however missing the stature of somebody like Gromyko [foreign minister of the USSR from 1957 to 1985].”
Russia knowledgeable Riefer believes Putin’s abstinence with regard to international journeys will certainly have detrimental penalties for Russian international coverage.
“This isolates Russia additional nonetheless, and it’ll rely on how a lot scope Lavrov is given in negotiations,” he says.
Total, Riefer describes it as a “signal of the weak point” of Russian management — and in addition of the affect exerted by worldwide establishments just like the ICC in The Hague, which have historically been seen as “comparatively powerless.”
This text has been translated from German.