Russia is framing itself as a counterweight to U.S. power around the world as the Russian foreign minister takes his turn Friday at the annual U.N. General Assembly.

Russia has been maneuvering in talks at the U.N. this week to shape the future of Syria, influence nonproliferation negotiations with North Korea and bolster Venezuela’s embattled president.

Syria is Russia’s No. 1 priority for now. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the General Assembly on Friday right after meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Moallem at the U.N.

Russia is rebuilding up trade and military ties with Syria as it looks to a post-war future. While tensions linger over the last rebel stronghold of Idlib, Russia is determined to keep Syria solidly anchored in its sphere of influence over the long term, as a foothold in the Middle East and as a warning to the U.S. and its allies against future interference.

Russia’s relations with the U.S. are at a post-Cold War low, and many Russian policies are directly aimed at countering American influence.

Lavrov’s speech Friday is expected to lobby for strengthening the United Nations instead of the go-it-alone doctrine that U.S. President Donald Trump laid out in his General Assembly speech earlier this week, slamming the U.N.’s central tenet of multilateralism from inside its halls.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, gestures to Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia as he attends a meeting of the United Nations Security Council during the 73rd session of the U.N. General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Lavrov hasn’t said anything publicly this week about Trump, or addressed the extensive, ongoing accusations of Russian meddling in U.S. elections. However, Lavrov lashed out at Norway for arresting a Russian suspected of espionage, and derided Britain’s prime minister for new accusations against Russia over a nerve agent attack in Britain earlier this year.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped this year’s U.N. gathering, Lavrov has made sure Russia’s voice was heard, holding more than 20 meetings with world leaders and top diplomats already this week.

Among them: the presidents of Venezuela, Iran and Turkey, the chiefs of NATO, the UN and EU, and North Korea’s foreign minister.

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Source: The Associated Press

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