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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared Tuesday that there is no need to maintain a diplomatic presence in western countries, in the latest sign that Russia may be toying with the idea of completely severing diplomatic ties with western countries as its war in Ukraine nears the nine month mark.
“There is neither point nor desire to maintain the previous presence in Western states. Our people work there in conditions that can hardly be called human,” Lavrov said, according to TASS. “Problems are being created constantly for them; they face threats of physical assaults.”
Lavrov, speaking to a group of graduates admitted to the diplomatic service, lamented that there is limited work available for Russians abroad.
“Most importantly, there’s no work to do since Europe decided to shut off from us and sever any economic cooperation. You can’t force love,” Lavrov said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Russia had immediate plans to sever diplomatic relations with western nations.
But it’s not the first time that Russia has threatened to dissolve diplomatic links with the west since invading Ukraine and facing off with western sanctions. Russia threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Bulgaria this summer, after Bulgaria expelled 70 Russian diplomats.
Russia has suggested before that its relations with the west could be discarded with little effect. In March, the Kremlin provided the United States a “note of protest,” which included a threat to sever relations, following President Joe Biden’s comments about the war in Ukraine. In August, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said if the United States were to sever relations with Russia, Russia would “get over it.”
“They should know: we are prepared for any development of the situation. And if Washington opts to halt any contacts with Moscow, we will get over it,” Zakharova said at the time.
Russia’s current plan is to shift its diplomatic focus to other countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
“Under these conditions, we will shift the ‘center of gravity’ to countries that are ready to cooperate with us on an equal and mutually beneficial terms and look for promising joint projects,” Lavrov said. “Many plans are being agreed at the highest and high levels that require diplomatic support, including business, joint cultural, humanitarian educational projects.”
The announcement comes just hours after Ukraine’s foreign minister announced he would be proposing that Ukraine sever diplomatic ties with Iran over its decision to supply Russia with Iranian-made drones for the war effort. Russia has attacked Ukraine in recent days with the drones, hitting civilian infrastructure, civilians, and energy resources.