Europeans Laugh as Lavrov Talks Ukraine In Munich. (English)

Comments of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference on February 7 2015 about his country’s role in Ukraine were so absurd that the audience laughed at and then booed him.

In the span of 45 minutes today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rewrote the history of the Cold War, accused the West of fomenting a coup in Ukraine and declared himself a champion of the United Nations Charter.

The crowd took that in stride, but then burst out laughing when Lavrov said that the annexation of Crimea, which was invaded by unmarked Russian troops, was an example of international legal norms working well.

“What happened in Crimea was the people invoking the right of self-determination.” he said. “You’ve got to read the UN Charter. Territorial integrity and sovereignty must be respected. “

As chuckles filled the ballroom of the elegant Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Lavrov shrugged it off: “You may find it funny. I also found many things you said funny.”

But the laughter turned to scorn when Lavrov made a muddled comparison of the Ukraine crisis with the division of Germany in the Cold War. “Germany got reunited without a referendum and we were an active supporter of that process after the Second World War," he said. "You will remember that it was the Soviet Union that was against splitting Germany."

He was trying to make the point that Russia supports popular votes to end internal wars -- such as the referendums in Crimea and the eastern Ukrainian area of Donetsk -- while the West does not.

But that was the moment at which any remaining respect for Lavrov among the largely German audience vanished. Apparently, they didn't remember the Soviet Union’s actions as particularly helpful in bringing about reunification. There was, for example, the Berlin Wall.

The booing of the crowd was amplified on Twitter by several participants, including former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt: “Lavrov accuses EU of “supporting coup d’etat” in Kiev. I hope he feels somewhat ashamed of having to market such rubbish.”

Actually, it was funny, but not because the fate of Ukraine should be trivialized. The entire episode made it obvious that any notion that the West and Russia can have a discussion on Ukraine, based on a shared vision of reality, is absurd.