Staunton, April 25 – East-West relations are now “harsher” than they were during the Cold War, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says. Then, the two sides were involved in conflicts in third countries but “never on their own borders or directly. Even public rhetoric was softer. Then neither crossed the limits of the permissible. Today, there are no more rules.”
Lavrov’s comments came in the course of an interview with the Russian version of Esquire (ria.ru/politics/20170425/1493035651.html). They are the clearest statement yet of what has been true of Russian policy under Vladimir Putin: the Kremlin leader has been prepared to cross lines thought inviolate and has claimed that he is only doing what the West already has.
Yet another indication of this shift in Moscow’s approach was announced today by Izvestiya. It reported that Lavrov’s ministry has disbanded the office of human rights ombudsman and transferred its functions to a lower-level in the bureaucracy, a downgrading that certainly reflects Putin’s approach (izvestia.ru/news/689414).