Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov faced criticism from Western diplomats while participating in international security talks in Skopje, North Macedonia. He pointed to NATO’s expansion to the East as a cause of war returning to Europe. Lavrov arrived in Skopje for meetings hosted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, but diplomats from several OSCE member nations boycotted the event due to his presence amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Lavrov spoke briefly before walking out, blaming Western tolerance of what he described as the “ruling neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv” for the conflict that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Western ministers at the OSCE meeting criticized Lavrov’s remarks, with Denmark’s Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen calling Russia’s attempt to blame others for its choices transparent.
The OSCE, an intergovernmental organization based in Vienna focused on promoting security and cooperation, continued its meeting despite Lavrov’s departure. Russia’s route to Skopje was reportedly extended after Bulgaria blocked its airspace, preventing a direct flight.
Lavrov’s arrival in Skopje coincided with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s brief stop in the city, and tensions were evident as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James O’Brien accused Russia of trying to undermine the work of the OSCE. North Macedonia’s foreign minister, Bujar Osmani, emphasized the organization’s endurance despite Russia’s actions in Ukraine, highlighting the devastating impact of war on ordinary people.
In conclusion, Lavrov’s visit to Skopje amplified tensions stemming from Russia’s role in the conflict in Ukraine, resulting in a diplomatic showdown during the OSCE meeting.