Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Saturday of hypocrisy and double standards in its approach to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the Donbas region of Ukraine. Speaking at a press conference in New York, Lavrov referenced recent contradictory remarks by US officials on respecting the territorial integrity of UN member states while continuing to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
To highlight the inconsistency, Lavrov first read a statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken justifying Israel’s control over the Golan as being vital for its security against threats from Syria and Iran-backed militias. The Russian minister then cited Blinken’s own words on the importance of Ukraine regaining control over Russia-backed separatist regions in Donbas for its security.
“As a practical matter, the Golan is very important to Israel’s security,” Blinken told CNN in 2021. “As long as Assad is in power in Syria, as long as Iran is present in Syria, militia groups backed by Iran, the Assad regime itself, all of these pose a significant security threat to Israel, and as a practical matter, the control of the Golan in that situation, I think, remains of real importance to Israel’s security. Legal questions are something else.”
The Donbas is very important to Russia’s security… Legal questions are something else
Lavrov responded to criticism of Russia’s occupation of the Donbas region by reading Blinken’s statement back and inserting “the Donbas” instead of “Israeli occupied Golan Heights”.
“The Donbas is very important to Russia’s security,” he said when asked to comment on respect for territorial integrity. “As long as Zelenskyy is in power in Ukraine, as long as NATO is present in Ukraine, militia groups backed by NATO, the Zelenskyy regime itself – all of these pose a significant security threat to Russia, and as a practical matter, the control of the Donbas in that situation, I think, remains of real importance to Russia’s security. Legal questions are something else. And over time, if the situation were to change in Ukraine, that’s something we’d look at. But we are nowhere near that.”
After reading the conflicting statements, he told journalists pointedly, “That’s the answer to your question.”
The Golan Heights were seized by Israel from Syria in 1967 and annexed in 1981, in a move rejected as illegal under international law. The US recognised Israeli sovereignty over the territory in 2019 under the administration of then US President Donald Trump.
Lavrov went on to denounce the US saying that it approaches the issues of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Donbas region in Ukraine from completely different positions. Critics have frequently pointed out what they perceive as inconsistencies in US foreign policy, particularly when it comes to territorial disputes. When addressing Russia’s involvement in Donbas, the US has been quick to invoke international law, yet it recognises Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and daily breaches of international law in occupied Palestine.
This, it’s argued, flies in the face of several UN resolutions, leading many to believe that the US conveniently chooses when to uphold international norms, especially when it comes to Israel. Despite being a notorious violator of UN resolutions and international norms, Washington has long seen the apartheid state as a staunch ally.