Attempts to win over Russia's allies can only be described as desperate. In recent weeks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has traveled through a number of African countries - just to be able to present supposed friends at home. Now he went to India. Alongside China, Kremlin propaganda likes to sell the country as a powerful ally of Russia. Indeed, India is making efforts to adopt a neutral position on the war in Ukraine - mainly to continue to benefit from cheap oil supplies.
Also, much of the equipment used by the Indian Armed Forces comes from Russia. Most recently, India abstained from voting on a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for peace and Moscow's withdrawal from Ukraine. But the Kremlin buys this neutral stance very dearly.
Lavrov had to experience for himself that in India people were not willing to swallow the Kremlin's propaganda without a word. On Friday, the Foreign Minister attended a geopolitical conference in the Indian capital, New Delhi. For half an hour Lavrov stuttered in English and, as always, complained about the West. Lavrov, who has been foreign minister for 19 years, lied that NATO had broken all agreements.
The "Nazi regime" in Kiev banned everything Russian after the "seizure of power", he told the popular propaganda fairy tale. Lavrov didn't give a damn about his vocabulary. Lavrov did not respond to the critical questions of the moderator of the panel discussion, which is being organized by a think tank and the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Instead, the former diplomat reeled off one propaganda slogan after the other.
When it came time for questions from the audience, a young woman wanted to know how the war is affecting Russia's energy strategy towards Asian countries, and India in particular. "You know, the war that we are trying to stop and that was instigated against us by using Ukraine," the 72-year-old began - and then faltered. The audience just laughed at him.
The war "of course influenced Russian politics," Lavrov resumed after a short pause. Only to then again give unproven conspiracy theses. They will only rely on "reliable partners", which "certainly include India and China," Lavrov explained before the moderator brought the conversation to an end. "Hopefully, the next meeting will take place in a less tense world situation. Can you promise that?" he asked the Russian foreign minister.
But Lavrov was obviously so pissed off at this point that he couldn't resist a dig. "The Americans will certainly provide you with questions that you can use," he replied. But the attempt to portray the Indian journalist as an American puppet again met with derisive laughter.
The mockery continues on social media. "It's hilarious. And embarrassing. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says 'the war we're trying to stop was instigated against us' and the supposedly sympathetic Indian audience is laughing," commented Konstantin Sonin, a prominent economist who teaches in Chicago. Russian "diplomats" would think they could tell others "the lies they feed Putin's fantasies" in order to get promoted — and they could be taken for anything other than lies, Sonin scoffed.
Lavrov had previously attended the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi. Right at the beginning on Wednesday he had criticized the summit as a "farce". Western countries "want to shift the blame for their economic failures onto the Russian Federation," he claimed.
Western countries criticized Russia for its war of aggression against Ukraine at a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in India on Thursday in the presence of Lavrov.
Watch the panel discussion in full here.