“What a man says – a man does,” was the message Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had for the United States in an interview with Russian state TV network Russia Today on Feb. 18 – a saying straight out of 1990s Russian gangster culture.
The statement was intended to describe Lavrov’s hopes for further talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We will insist on everything being done honestly,” said Lavrov.
Lavrov’s expression is more usually associated with individuals involved inorganized crime – such as the mafia gangs prevalent in 1990s St. Petersburg, Russia, with whom Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to have had extensive dealings with during his time in municipal government there.
“I don’t want to turn to slang, but we do have the notion that ‘what a man says – a man does’: At least (some) notions should be adhered to internationally,” Lavrov said.
During a U.N. Security Council meeting, Blinken said he had requested to meet Lavrov in Europe next week, to continue looking for a way to de-escalate the current Russia crisis.
Blinken and Lavrov last spoke on Feb. 15 – the same day Russia announced some of its troops would be drawn down from the Ukrainian border, a claim disputed by the U.S. and UK intelligence communities.
Russia has been building up its military presence along Ukrainian borders since the end of October 2021. On Feb. 16, CNN, citing Ukrainian intelligence, reported that there were more than 148,000 Russian forces on the Ukrainian border, including more than 126,000 ground troops – but not enough for a full-scale invasion.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Feb. 17 that he sees the threat of a new Russian invasion of Ukraine to be “very high” in the near future. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Russia plans to manufacture a pretext for its attack.
Meanwhile, Russian proxies in the Donbas conflict zone have escalated their attacks on Ukrainian positions, with 47 separate attacks conducted across the entire contact line on Feb. 17.
Some of the attacks damaged civilian structures, including a kindergarten.