Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov (Russian: Серге́й Ви́кторович Лавро́в, pronounced [sʲɪrˈɡʲej ˈvʲiktərəvʲɪtɕ lɐˈvrof]; born 21 March 1950) is a Russian diplomat and politician who has served as the Foreign Minister of Russia since 2004. As a member of the United Russia party, he was previously the Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, serving in the role from 1994 to 2004.
Early life and education
Lavrov was born on 21 March 1950 in Moscow, to an Armenian father and a Russian mother from Georgia. His mother worked in the Soviet Ministry for Foreign Trade. Lavrov graduated from high school with a silver medal. Since his favorite class was physics, he planned to enter either the National Research Nuclear University or the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, but he entered the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and graduated in 1972.
During his education at the MGIMO, Lavrov studied international relations. Soon he learned Sinhalese, then the only official language of Sri Lanka, as well as Dhivehi, the official language of the Maldives. Moreover, Lavrov learned English and French, but has stated that he is unable to speak the French language fluently. After he was admitted to the university, Lavrov, along with other students, was sent for a month to a student construction brigade building the Ostankino Tower.
During his summer vacations, Lavrov also worked in his University's student construction brigades Khakassia, Tuva and the Russian Far East. Each semester, Lavrov with his fellow students conducted drama performances, which were later presented on the main stage of the university. During the third year of his studies, Lavrov was married.
Diplomatic career in Sri Lanka
Lavrov graduated in 1972. According to the rules of that time, a graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations had to work for the Foreign Ministry for a certain amount of time. Lavrov was employed in the Soviet embassy in Sri Lanka as an advisor, as he was already a specialist on the country. At the time, the Soviet Union and Sri Lanka had close market and economic cooperation and the Soviet Union launched the production of natural rubber in the country. The Soviet embassy in Sri Lanka also maintained relations with the Maldives. The embassy in Sri Lanka employed only 24 diplomats. Lavrov was given the task of continuously analysing the situation in the country, but he also worked as a translator, personal secretary and assistant to Rafiq Nishonov, who would later become the 12th First Secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbek SSR. In addition, he gained the diplomatic rank of an attaché.
Section of the International Economic Relations and the U.N.
In 1976, Lavrov returned to Moscow. He worked as a third and second secretary in the Section for the International Economic Relations of the USSR. There, he was involved in analytics and his office also worked with various international organizations including the United Nations. In 1981, he was sent as a senior adviser to the Soviet mission at the United Nations in New York City. In 1988, Lavrov returned to Moscow and was named Deputy Chief of the Section of the International Economic Relations of the USSR. Between 1990 and 1992 he worked as Director of the International Organization of the Soviet Foreign Ministry.
In October 1990, Andrey Kozyrev, who led the control of the international organizations at the time, was named Foreign Minister of the Russian SFSR. In that year, the powers of the Soviet Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic were distributed. Until then the Russian SFSR had only a ceremonial role. In October 1991, the foreign ministers of all Soviet republics, except Georgia and the Baltic states, held a meeting where they dealt with the Union of Foreign Ministries. In November 1990, the State Council decided to change its name from the Union of Foreign Ministries to the Foreign Ministry of the Soviet Union and in December that year, the Foreign Ministry of Soviet Russia became the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. In 1992, Lavrov was named director of the Department for International Organizations and Global Issues in the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. In April 1991, he was named deputy foreign minister. Lavrov was asked to oversee the activities of the Human Rights and International Cultural Cooperation and the two departments – for the CIS countries, international organizations and international economic cooperation. Lavrov worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1994 when he returned to work in the United Nations, this time as the Permanent Representative of Russia. While in the latter position, he was the President of the United Nations Security Council in December 1995, June 1997, July 1998, October 1999, December 2000, April 2002, and June 2003.
Lavrov Meets with President George W. Bush
in the Oval Office of the White House, 7 March 2006
Lavrov Meets with President Barack Obama
in the Oval Office of the White House, 7 May 2009
Lavrov with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
, Munich, Germany, on 5 February 2011
On 9 March 2004, President Vladimir Putin appointed Lavrov to the post of minister of foreign affairs. He succeeded Igor Ivanov in the post. On 21 May 2012, Lavrov was reappointed foreign minister to the cabinet led by prime minister Dimitri Medvedev.
Lavrov is regarded as continuing in the style of his predecessor: a brilliant diplomat but a civil servant rather than a politician. A Russian foreign policy expert at London's pro-Western Chatham House has described him as "a tough, reliable, extremely sophisticated negotiator" but adds that "he's not part of Putin's inner sanctum" and that the toughening of Russian foreign policy has got very little to do with him. Other diplomats have been much more critical in their appraisal of Lavrov, seeing him as emblematic of President Putin's resurgent violent foreign policies. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found that Lavrov treated her poorly during negotiations, like a "jerk." A high-ranking official in the foreign policy apparatus of former US President George W. Bush described Lavrov as a "complete asshole." A Politico profile from 2017 featured assessments from senior Obama administration diplomats of Lavrov as an "anti-diplomat", with one describing him as "uncharismatic, offensive, uncompromising, cruel, unlikeable, brusque, caddish ... nothing redeemable [about Lavrov]."
On 15 January 2020, he resigned as part of the cabinet, after President Vladimir Putin delivered the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, in which he proposed several amendments to the constitution. On 21 January 2020, he maintained his position in Mikhail Mishustin's Cabinet.
Civil war in Syria
In 2012, in the early stages of the Syrian Civil War, a Russian delegation travelled to Syria to affirm Russia's backing of the Syrian government of the President Bashar al-Assad. Lavrov and Mikhail Fradkov, who were part of the delegation, were given a favorable welcome by thousands of pro-Assad supporters. The supporters waved Russian flags in thanks to Russia's veto of a UN resolution calling for tough sanctions on the Syrian government.
In October 2019, Lavrov condemned Donald Trump's decision to send American troops to guard Syria's oil fields and possibly exploit them, saying that any "exploitation of natural resources of a sovereign state without its consent is illegal".
2014 crisis in Ukraine
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
and Lavrov before a bilateral meeting in Moscow, on 24 March 2016
Lavrov Meets with President Donald Trump
in the Oval Office of the White House, 10 May 2017
Lavrov and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas
, on 15 February 2019
After the March 2014 Crimean status referendum, Lavrov proposed that Ukraine should be independent of any bloc, that the Russian language be recognised officially, and that the constitution be organised along federal lines. In an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel, Lavrov said that the zero-sum "either-or" bloc-politics of Ukraine were first suggested in 2004 by Karel De Gucht, then Foreign Minister of Belgium.
When G8 leaders voted to officially suspend Russia's membership on 24 March, Lavrov stated that the G8 was an informal organization and membership was optional for Russia.
In a 30 March interview, he spoke of the 21 February agreement which was signed by Viktor Yanukovich, Vitaly Klitchko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Oleg Tyagnibok as well as the Foreign Ministers of Poland, France and Germany to promote peaceful changes in Ukrainian power. Lavrov stressed federalism as a solution to the constitutional impasse in Ukraine, and deplored the disofficialisation of the Russian language. He noticed the work of the secretariat of the Council of Europe at the Venice Commission to prevent a legitimation of the Crimean referendum, and to expel Russia. Lavrov was "taken aback" when U.S. President Barack Obama called Russia a "regional power". He deplored the misuse of the Schengen Agreement to force Crimeans to visit Kyiv in order to gain a Schengen visa, and noticed that the E.U. proposes a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens. Lavrov stated that the Maidan revolution in Kyiv and the results of the Crimean referendum should both be accepted equally by the West. He reiterated the three-part Russian proposal for the progress of Ukraine:
- Constitutional federalism
- Recognition of linguistic minorities
- That Ukraine be a non-aligned state
The Kyiv government on 30 March denounced Lavrov's proposals as amounting to “the complete capitulation of Ukraine, its dismemberment, and the destruction of Ukrainian statehood.
While Lavrov acknowledged that Russia is in contact with the Ukrainian separatist rebels he denied US and EU allegations that Moscow sponsored the rebellion and accused the United States of aggravating the conflict. "Our American colleagues still prefer to push the Ukrainian leadership toward a confrontational path." He added that chances for settling the Ukrainian crisis would have been higher if it only depended on Russia and Europe. Lavrov said the separatists want to "defend their culture, their traditions, celebrate their holidays rather than anniversaries of Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera.
In June 2016, Lavrov stated that Russia will never attack any NATO country, saying: "I am convinced that all serious and honest politicians know perfectly well than Russia will never attack a member state of NATO. We have no such plans." He also said: "In our security doctrine it is clearly stated that one of the main threats to our safety is the further expansion of NATO to the east."
2017 North Korea crisis
Lavrov likened the war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to a kindergarten fight between two children, saying "Together with China we'll continue to strive for a reasonable approach and not an emotional one like when children in a kindergarten start fighting and no-one can stop them."
Lavrov also said that the United States would not carry out a strike on North Korea because "they know for sure – rather than suspect – that it has atomic bombs." He said the US invaded Iraq "solely because they had 100 percent information that there were no weapons of mass destruction left there."
Lavrov criticized U.S. sanctions against countries like Iran, Turkey and Russia. In August 2018, Lavrov said, "unilateral enforcement measures are illegitimate in international affairs" [...]. "One way to counter these illegitimate barriers and restrictions is we can use national currencies on our bilateral trade". "I strongly believe that abuse of the role the U.S. dollar plays as an international currency will eventually result in its role being undermined".
Businesses involved in Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany have been sanctioned by the United States with the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on 20 December 2019. Lavrov said that U.S. Congress "is literally overwhelmed with the desire to do everything to destroy" the U.S.–Russia relations.
Ukraine's education law
Lavrov condemned Ukraine's 2017 education law, which makes Ukrainian the only language of education in state schools. According to Lavrov, the "reaction of Brussels to the Ukrainian Law on Education is utterly vague although it crudely violates Kyiv’s commitments on linguistic and educational rights." Russia's Foreign Ministry stated that the law is designed to "forcefully establish a mono-ethnic language regime in a multinational state."
Non-citizens in Latvia and Estonia
Lavrov criticized the status of "non-citizens" in Latvia and Estonia, calling the problem of Russian speaking stateless persons "shameful for the EU."
NATO's Defender-Europe 2021
In 2021, Lavrov was critical of a massive NATO-led military exercise called Defender-Europe 21, one of the largest NATO-led military exercises in Europe in decades, which began in March 2021. It included "nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas" in Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania and other countries. He said that Russia's response was inevitable.
In June 2021, Lavrov claimed that children in the Western world are taught that Jesus was bisexual.
Lavrov speaks Russian, English, French, Dhivehi and Sinhala.
Lavrov is a keen sportsman. He likes to watch football games on television, is an ardent fan of the Moscow club Spartak, and a keen amateur footballer in his own right. He has been married since 1971 to Maria Lavrova and they have one daughter and at least 1 grandchild. Their daughter Ekaterina, who lived in the US and London while her father was working for the United Nations, is a graduate of Columbia University. Having stayed in New York City until 2014, and spent a long time outside Russia, she is not fluent in Russian. She is married to Russian businessman Alexander Vinokurov.
Honors and awards
Russian President Vladimir Putin
and Lavrov, awarded with the Order of Service to the Fatherland, 1st class, May 2015
- He is an honorary member of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society.
- Order of Sergius of Radonezh 1st Class (Russia, 2015) – For his political efforts that have benefited the Russian Orthodox Church
- Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 1st class (2015), 2nd class (2010), 3rd class (2005) and 4th class (1998)
- Order of Honour (1996)
- Honoured Worker of the Diplomatic Service of the Russian Federation (2004)
- Order of the Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, 1st class (Russian Orthodox Church, 2010) and 2nd class
- Order of Friendship (Kazakhstan, 2005)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun (Peru, 2007)
- Order of Friendship of Peoples (Belarus, 2006)
- Order of Friendship (Vietnam, 2009)
- Order of Friendship (Laos)
- Medal of Honour (South Ossetia, 19 March 2010) – for his great personal contribution to strengthening international security, peace and stability in the Caucasus, the development of friendly relations between the Republic of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation
- Order of St. Mashtots (Armenia, 19 August 2010) – for outstanding contribution to the consolidation and development of age-old Armenian-Russian friendly relations
- Gold Medal of the Yerevan State University (Armenia, 2007)
- Honorary medal "For participation in the programs of the United Nations" (UN Association of Russia, 2005)
- Honorary Doctorate in Diplomacy from University of Piraeus. (Greece 2016)
- Order of the Serbian Flag, 1st class (Serbia, 2016)
- Order of the Republika Srpska, (Republic of Srpska, 2018)
- Hero of Labour of the Russian Federation (2020)
- ^ "Lavrov Sergey Viktorovich". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- ^ a b c d Dubien, Arnaud (June 2012). "The composition of Russia's new Cabinet and Presidential Administration, and its significance". Policy Department DG External Policies. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- ^ Lyons, Kate (22 April 2015). "Cher, Kim Kardashian and Andre Agassi: Armenia's A-list diaspora". Guardian.
- ^ Waal, Thomas de (2010). The Caucasus: An introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0199750436.
- ^ https://tass.ru/obschestvo/6996034
- ^ a b c d Лавров, Сергей (in Russian). Lenta. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
- ^ "Presidents of the Security Council: 1990–1999", UN.org.
- ^ "Presidents of the Security Council : 2000–", UN.org.
- ^ a b Jackson, Patrick (29 June 2007). "Profile: Putin's foreign minister Lavrov". Bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 August 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- ^ Isikoff, Michael; Corn, David (13 March 2018). Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. New York City: Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 9781538728758.
- ^ Glasser, Susan B. (29 April 2013). "Minister No". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
- ^ https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/05/10/james-comey-firing-trump-lavrov-putin-215124
- ^ Carroll, Oliver (15 January 2020). "Russian PM resigns in shock move as Putin announces dramatic constitutional shake-up". The Independent. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
- ^ "Foreign, Defense and Energy Ministers Keep Their Position in New Russian Cabinet". The Moscow Times. 21 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
- ^ "Lavrov in Syria to Strongly Back Assad – News". Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- ^ "Iran, Russia take aim at U.S. military presence near Syrian oilfields". Reuters. 29 October 2019.
- ^ "Crimea referendum: What does the ballot paper say?". BBC News. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- ^ Acosta, Jim (25 March 2014). "U.S., other powers kick Russia out of G8". CNN. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- ^ "Ukraine crisis: Russia 'withdrawing troops from border', Putin tells Merkel". The Daily Telegraph. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- ^ "Sergei Lavrov accuses US of fuelling Ukraine crisis". The Guardian. 28 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- ^ Answers to questions of the mass media by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, summarising the results of his negotiations with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Paris, 5 June 2014. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia
- ^ a b "Russia Will Never Attack Any NATO Member: Lavrov". Newsweek. 7 June 2016.
- ^ "Russia says war of words between Donald Trump and North Korea is 'a fight between two children'". The Independent. 23 September 2017.
- ^ "North Korea’s A-Bomb Is Deterring U.S. First Strike, Russia Says". Bloomberg. 24 September 2017.
- ^ Wallace, Charles (14 August 2018). "Are Russia And China Trying To Kill The Dollar?". Forbes. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
- ^ "Nord Stream 2: Trump approves sanctions on Russia gas pipeline". BBC News. 21 December 2019.
- ^ "Germany, EU decry US Nord Stream sanctions". Deutsche Welle. 21 December 2019.
- ^ "Ukraine and Russia look to strike new gas deal amid US sanctions threat". CNBC. 16 December 2019.
- ^ a b "Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at the 24th OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting - Vienna, December 7, 2017". www.osce.org. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
- ^ "Ukrainian Language Bill Facing Barrage Of Criticism From Minorities, Foreign Capitals". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 24 September 2017.
- ^ "Lavrov Blasts Estonia, Latvia on Non-Citizens Issue". Estonian World Review. 1 March 2011.
- ^ Aliide Naylor, The Shadow in the East: Vladimir Putin and the New Baltic Front (2020).
- ^ a b "Ukraine: purpose of upcoming Defender Europe 2021 exercise is to practice for war with Russia". UAWire. 4 April 2021.
- ^ "Massive, Army-led NATO exercise Defender Europe kicks off". Army Times. 15 March 2021.
- ^ "Germany Says Russia Seeking To 'Provoke' With Troop Buildup At Ukraine's Border". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 14 April 2021.
- ^ "'He loves everyone in the world' Journalists trace Sergey Lavrov's complaint about Western schools to viral TikTok about Jesus being 'bi and non-binary'". Meduza. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
- ^ Hayes, Rupert Wingfield (15 December 2007). "Russia's deep suspicion of the West". Bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 16 December 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- ^ "Interview of S.V. Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, to Channel One on 90th Anniversary of FC Spartak". The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Russian Federation. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- ^ Berry, Lynn (4 December 2012). "Russia's leaders battered by 'sports injuries'". Associated Press. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- ^ «Сейчас элита принимает решение — на чьей она стороне..» Министр Лавров перевез свою дочь из Нью-Йорка в Москву. Кто следующий?. URA.ru (in Russian). 17 September 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- ^ "Daughter of Sergey Lavrov: "I wanted to connect life with a Russian"" (in Russian). Starhit. 25 February 2017.
- ^ Комитет почетных членов ИППО [Committee of honorary members of the IOPS] (in Russian). The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- ^ "Lavrov will discuss trade and economic cooperation on visit to Greece". TASS. 2 November 2016.
- ^ Written at Sarajevo. "Russia backs Bosnia's integrity amid Serb calls for secession". London: Reuters. 21 September 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2020.