The story with Russia’s representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov, who, in violation of the rules of diplomatic rhetoric, switched to an "ty" form in Russian from the formal “vy” in his address to his British counterpart Matthew Rycroft during a meeting of the Security Council, has two elements into it: a general one, concerning Russian foreign policy as a whole, and an emotional one. The latter is a reflection of where Putin has brought Russia in the international arena, that is, to a dead end.
This whole story is a sign of the impasse, where Russian foreign policy has found itself, and this quasi-diplomat embodies this impasse. Even with a vivid political imagination, it’s hard to count more than five allies Russia really has today. At the same time, this country claims a world power status, dreaming about ruling the world.
This whole story is a sign of the impasse, where Russian foreign policy has found itself, and this quasi-diplomat embodies this impasse
Of course, they can go further and just start swearing, as the top Russian diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, does on public occasionally. But it is also a sign of the degradation of the Russian state. That’s because diplomacy is a face of the state.
Back in the day, Mikhail Gorbachev said that "a face should be washed." But now, in the face of Russian diplomacy is as dirty as the Russian state.
But in this situation, I see nothing extraordinary. This is the traditional line of conduct for Russia when it gets itself in a hopeless situation. This is something that has happened more than once. For some, fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest catastrophe of the XX century. I think that for many, similar events in Russia in the XXI century will be as much a disaster. Only the naïve could count that such a foreign policy can yield any positive results.
This is the traditional line of conduct for Russia when it gets itself in a hopeless situation. This is something that has happened more than once
How can British diplomats respond to the Russian arrogance in the UN Security Council? In a good company, it would be a bad tone to respond to rudeness with rudeness. It is traditional to raise an eyebrow and ignore rudeness, saying that no one is going to fall to such lows. This is the only way to respond. Unless, maybe, in one of the follow-up statements, a British envoy to the UN, in the best traditions of British diplomacy, in sharp English humor, will try to make a bit of fun of the incident, but nothing more than that. Because really, resorting to rude language would mean becoming part of this rudeness.
Therefore, Vladimir Safronkov will remain an envoy to the UN Security Council, despite his behavior. It is the sovereign right of each country to be represented in the UN Security Council by someone it sees fit. And since Russia chooses to keep isolating itself, it does not matter to them whether anyone will communicate with their envoy or not. Under such conditions, a standard Russian scheme will be applied: Moscow will order him to somehow communicate with some of Safronkov’s counterparts, and he will try, and then he will report "mission accomplished."
Volodymyr Ohryzko is a diplomat, Head of Russia Research Center, former Foreign Minister of Ukraine