Russia a victim of propaganda
There was nothing particularly noteworthy about Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's first meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Germany.
They spoke briefly about pushing for a political settlement in Syria, as well as finding resolutions to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Nothing out of the ordinary.
But there was a moment after the meeting which highlighted the quintessential difference in how the U.S. and Russia approach foreign affairs.
Asked by a reporter about the "turmoil" in Washington, and how it could impact U.S.-Russia relations, Lavrov replied:
Well, you should know that we don't interfere in other nations' domestic affairs.
Lavrov is absolutely correct. This is truly the fundamental different between the United States and Russia, and how they conduct themselves on the world stage.
Let's take a moment and address some common misconceptions about "Russian aggression".
Despite being labeled as the first major warning sign of "Russian aggression", Russia's extremely brief war with Georgia perfectly exemplifies Moscow's policy of reacting to, and not preempting, conflict. A European Union report on the war made it clear that Georgia was responsible for starting the conflict. Russia simply ended it. And quickly.
If Ukraine was under the complete control of Putin and his sinister FSB friends, why was Maidan allowed to happen? The popular myth that Yanukovych was a Kremlin stooge is simply inaccurate. He was a Ukrainian nationalist who understood that Russia played a crucial role in Ukraine's economic and political stability. That's not because of Russian "meddling" — it's because of shared geography, language, culture, religion, industries, history — we can go on and on. Russia didn't interfere to stop the coup in Kiev — it responded to a criminal war of extermination in the East.
Unlike the United States, Russia was actually invited by the sovereign government of Syria to assist in military operations to restore stability and peace to the region. Although we guess you can argue that Russia "interfered" in the domestic affairs of terrorists in Aleppo. We can't deny that.
And how many overseas military bases does Russia currently operate? By our count: less than five.
Now compare to the United States.
Hundreds of overseas military bases; the proud owner of a "defensive" alliance that has bombed and invaded defenseless countries in three different continents; a policy of overthrowing governments that are not conducive to U.S. business interests; decades upon decades of war for profit and crimes committed against sovereign states.
The United States claims it is exceptional, that it can act unilaterally impose its will wherever it chooses and for whatever reasons. It is the "exceptional" nation that has fine-tuned the art of interfering in the internal affairs of every nation on this earth.
A simple difference. But a fundamental difference.