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For Russia's Lavrov, Old Wounds Resurface at UN Press Conference

United Nations: On September 22nd, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a press conference to address journalists at the UN on the sidelines of the General Assembly. Mr. Lavrov was asked about a wide-range of pressing issues such as Syria, North Korea, Ukraine, and U.S.-Russian relations.

In his address to the General Assembly yesterday, the minister highlighted Russia’s willingness to work with partners who showed readiness to cooperate. When asked about relations and cooperation with the United States during the press conference, however, old wounds were scraped open. “U.S.-Russian relations are suffering”, said the Minister, “Not from the fact that there are conflicts but rather because the previous administration was small-hearted,” said Lavrov. The Foreign Minister continued to reference Obama’s role in the worsened tensions, “I did not expect this from a nobel peace-prize winner”, Lavrov said at Friday’s press conference,“and we can still see the ramifications.”

U.S.- Russian diplomatic spats and tensions have been on the rise during both the Obama and Trump administrations. In August, the Kremlin required cutting American diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people. A resulting tit-for-tat diplomatic face-off ensued and the U.S. Embassy in Russia stopped issuing visas to Russians in retaliation.

On Counter terrorism operations, Sergey Lavrov highlighted the need for coordination with U.S. forces but expressed concern for American legislative restrictions, “In order to eliminate terrorists we need coordination but the U.S. military is prohibited due to budgetary limitations.”

When asked about Syria, the Foreign Minister highlighted the need for a “national reconciliation process” in addition to constructing de-escalation zones. Earlier this week, however,announcements from the Russian Ministry of Defense on Syrian government troops crossing East of the Euphrates River using Russian equipment, a move likely to be divisive and prohibitive to progress. The move across the Euphrates by Syrian forces was criticized by those who argued that the Euphrates river can serve as a viable

de-confliction line. Lavrov added that Russia “cannot allow for partition”, adding that it would only bring about additional instability to the region and benefit only those that seek to cause havoc across the region.

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