The knowledge and quality of ‘western’ leading officials is of serious concern. They are often politicians with no experience in the fields they are supposed to represent.
Liz Truss, currently the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, is a sad example.
It is said that the job of the foreign secretary has something to do with geography. To know where this or that country is and what its surroundings are is supposedly helpful when one wants wage war or peace with or against them.
Liz Truss had failed in this category when, a week ago, she said: “We are offering extra supplies and support into our Baltic allies across the Black Sea.” The Black Sea is some 700 miles away from the Baltic states.
Today Liz Truss endorsed another occasion to fail when she visited Russia to talk about the Russian non-attack on the Ukraine only to get mocked by its very experienced Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
At the meeting Truss seems to have done exactly what Lavrov had publicly warned her not to do before the meeting started:
I have read Boris Johnson’s statement to the House of Commons, in which he said about relations with Russia that they should be improved. Following that, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that you and your colleague the Defence Secretary would travel to Russia to improve our relations.
At least this is what the announcement said. I don’t know if this is really so.
If this is the goal our British colleagues aspire to, we will definitely reciprocate. We cannot be satisfied with our current relations, which are at the lowest ebb in the past years.
Of course, relations can only be normalised through dialogue based on mutual respect and equality, recognition of each other’s legitimate interests and a search for mutually acceptable solutions.
Ideologically charged approaches, ultimatums, threats and moralising is a road to nowhere. Regrettably, many of our Western colleagues are using this form in their public activities. I do not see this as diplomacy.
You will agree, I am sure, that communication between two international subjects should have added value for both sides. Only in this case will it bring positive results.
The meeting did not go well.
Truss also showed a lack of manner when she started to talk (vid) even while the translation of the previous speaker was still ongoing.
Her knowledge was of similar quality. As Kommersant reports in Russian (machine translation):
The British Foreign Secretary told the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry about the need to withdraw Russian armed forces from the Ukrainian border. Sergei Lavrov replied that the military is on the territory of his country. Liz Truss repeated that they should be withdrawn. To this, the Russian minister again objected that the military did not violate anything, since they had the right to conduct any maneuvers on the territory of the Russian Federation.
After that, he himself addressed a question to his British colleague: “Do you recognize the sovereignty of Russia over the Rostov and Voronezh regions?”
“Great Britain will never recognize Russian sovereignty over these regions,” the Foreign Minister replied after a short pause.
British Ambassador to the Russian Federation Deborah Bonnert had to intervene in the situation, who delicately explained to Mrs. Truss that we were really talking about Russian regions.
At the press conference after the meeting Lavrov pilled on:
During an icy press conference after the talks, Lavrov said the two sides had found little common ground and that the talks contained “nothing secret, no trust. Just slogans shouted from the tribunes.”
“I’m honestly disappointed that our conversation turned out like the mute with the deaf. We appear to be listening but we’re not hearing anything. Our detailed explanations fell on unprepared ground,” Lavrov said.
“It’s like when they say that Russia is waiting for the ground to freeze so that tanks can easily enter Ukraine,” he added. “It seems that our British colleagues were on similar ground today, off of which bounced all the facts we presented them.”
It seems that ‘Global Britain‘, as Boris Johnson envisioned it, is represented by a know-nothing dimwit traveling around to lecture real diplomats about issues they had already forgotten more about than Truss will ever know.
That’s not going to end well.
Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.