Moment Sergei Lavrov Is Laughed At After Claiming Ukraine Ignited War—Video

A clip of veteran Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sparking laughter after claiming Ukraine was to blame for Vladimir Putin's invasion has gone viral.

During an event in New Delhi, where he had been taking part in talks among the G20 group of industrialized nations, Lavrov struggled to get to the end of a sentence which gave a different take on the cause of the war than the international consensus that Russia launched an unprovoked invasion in February last year.

In a session that was part of the "Raisina Dialogue 2023" series, Lavrov was asked by one audience member how the war had affected Russia's energy strategy.

"The war which we are trying to stop and which was launched against us," Lavrov said, before laughter rang out among the audience. Lavrov paused briefly and look flustered as he tried to continue. He finished the sentence that it "influenced Russian policy" taking three attempts to say the word "influence" amid the cackles and an audience member shouting "come on."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi on March 2, 2023. There was laughter in the audience at a New Delhi event in which Lavrov claimed that Ukraine was to blame for starting the war that has been raging for more than a year. OLIVIER DOULIERY/Getty Images

India has resisted pressure to criticize Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine and in turn has benefited from increased trade with Russia. Last month, it abstained from a United Nations General Assembly vote condemning Russian aggression, a stance it has also taken following previous U.N. resolutions. The Kremlin will hope that India will maintain its stance, although Delhi has called for negotiations to end the war.

As of Saturday, the video clip had received more than one million views and sparked much comment on social media. "This is hilarious. And embarrassing," tweeted Konstantin Sonin, a Russian-born economist who is professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

"Russian 'diplomats' think that the lies they use to feed Putin's fantasies [to get promoted] could be taken as anything but lies by anyone else," added Sonin.

Journalist and Russia watcher Julia Davis wrote, "laughter that loud had to be heard in Moscow."

"Joker, jester or jerk. A joker is a funny character found in circus while a jester is a person who is employed to entertain his master," tweeted Ukrainian envoy to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, who added, "ignominious jerk!"

Ukrainian internal affairs adviser Anton Geraschchenko tweeted: "Lavrov repeated Russian favorite story in New Delhi —that 'we [Russia] are trying to stop the war which was launched against us'. You can clearly hear the audience laughing at him."

Iuliia Mendel, former spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted, "Lavrov is making international tour with his standup. The audience is sincerely laughing."

Carl Bildt, the co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted the "rather remarkable Lavrov performance, which backfired heavily, will be seen as one of the highlights of the Raisina Dialogue 2023." Newsweek has contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

The incident comes as the head of the Wagner Group of mercenaries fighting for Moscow, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed his troops have surrounded Bakhmut, the Donetsk city at the center of a bitter fight since August. Although Kyiv insists it is still in control of the city in eastern Ukraine, there are reports that Ukraine may stage a withdrawal.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has announced a further $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, which includes high-precision M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars) artillery rockets and howitzers.