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Old February 7th, 2019 #1
Alex Him
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Alex Him
Post Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia II

According to the proposal of Ray Allan - https://vnnforum.com/showpost.php?p=...&postcount=557 , I open the second topic about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

You can find the first topic here - https://vnnforum.com/showthread.php?t=519501









Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with Foreign Minister of Japan Taro Kono, Moscow, January 14, 2019



14 January 2019 - 12:28







Mr Minister, colleagues,

We are delighted to welcome you to Moscow once again. First of all, I would like to express our gratitude for Japan’s reaction to the tragedy in Magnitogorsk and for the condolences Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent to President Vladimir Putin, as well as the condolences Mr Kono sent to me.

As per the instructions issued by our leaders following their summit meetings in Singapore in November 2018 and in Buenos Aires in December 2018, today we are beginning talks on a peace treaty.

I would like to say that Russian-Japanese relations have gathered momentum in the past few years and are developing positively in several areas. The heads of our foreign policy and defence departments maintain regular communication, including in the two plus two format and also at the level of the national security councils. Despite the problems created by external factors, our trade and economic cooperation is expanding, in particular within the framework of the Russian priority projects and Shinzo Abe’s eight-point economic cooperation plan.

We are successfully implementing the rich programme of Russian-Japanese cross-years, which is evidence of our people’s sincere desire to deepen our dialogue and bilateral contacts.

At the same time, it is clear that our cooperation resources are truly inexhaustible, in particular in the sphere of security, the economy and investment. We are calling for additional efforts to advance our bilateral relations to a fundamentally new level of trust and real partnership, including in foreign affairs.

We are convinced that this approach meets the interests of both countries and can also promote peace, stability and equal and indivisible security in the Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world.







I would like to emphasise that it is in this spirit that our leaders have formulated the goal of stepping up the efforts to coordinate a peace treaty based on the 1956 Soviet-Japanese Declaration. Of course, we remember that President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed that we must work on a peace treaty professionally, without trying to distort the agreements reached at any intermediary stage and without escalating divisive unilateral rhetoric in the public space. In this context, I would like to once again urge our Japanese colleagues to strictly comply with the agreements reached by our leaders, both in the organisation of our talks and also in the essence of our work on the peace treaty. We inherited this difficult problem from the Second World War, the results of which have been sealed in the UN Charter, as you know, and also in the numerous documents adopted by our allies.

Mr Minister, we have met many times and I believe that we have created an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust in our dialogue, which is vitally important in light of the goals set us by our leaders.

I hope to have an open and constructive discussion. Once again, welcome to Moscow.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3471623






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Japan Taro Kono, Moscow, January 14, 2019



14 January 2019 - 17:20







Ladies and gentlemen,

We have concluded lengthy talks with Foreign Minister of Japan Taro Kono concerning the instructions from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe on expediting the work on a peace treaty based on the 1956 Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration.

As proposed by our Japanese colleagues, we agreed that we will not hold a joint news conference today. And so I thought it necessary to say a few words about what happened today. Foreign Minister Taro Kono will hold a briefing later tonight.

As I have already said, based on the instructions from our leaders, we discussed the work on a peace treaty based on the 1956 Declaration. I do not want to deny that there are substantial differences. Initially, our positions were diametrically opposed, as we have said multiple times. Our leaders’ political will, which is to fully normalise the relationship between Russia and Japan, is prompting us to intensify this dialogue.

Today we have reaffirmed our readiness to work on the basis of the 1956 Declaration, which means, above all, the immutability of the very first step – the full recognition by our Japanese neighbours of the outcome of World War II, including the Russian Federation’s sovereignty over all the islands of the South Kuril Ridge. Moreover, it is codified in the UN Charter and in numerous documents that were signed at the end of World War II, in particular on September 2, 1945 and in a number of subsequent documents. This is our basic position and without a step in this direction it is very difficult to count on any progress on other issues.

We have pointed out to our friends from Japan the fact that sovereignty over the islands is not subject to discussion. This is the territory of the Russian Federation. We also pointed out that in Japan’s legislation; these islands are designated as “northern territories,” which, of course, is unacceptable for the Russian Federation.

We asked a series of questions about how our Japanese colleagues are planning to work toward overcoming this particular problem and how the Japanese domestic legislation issues will be addressed, because in this case, it is not about interfering in internal affairs, but about legislation regulating issues that our Japanese colleagues would like to discuss and, probably, resolve with the Russian Federation. We are at the very beginning of the road.

We have a common understanding that it is necessary to drastically improve the quality of our relations to discuss the most difficult issues. In general, our relations are on the rise – there is development in the trade, economic, investment and cultural spheres. A cross year project is currently underway between Russia and Japan, which arouses a keen and lively interest among our citizens and among the residents of the Japanese islands. About five hundred events have been held, and more are planned. However, one can do immeasurably more than what is being done now in the economy and especially in investment. The agreement reached a couple of years ago between the President of Russia and the Prime Minister of Japan on the organisation of joint economic activity in the South Kuril Islands is being implemented, but on a very unimpressive scale. Five projects are planned, but not anywhere near breakthrough areas. We also pointed this out to our Japanese colleagues today and agreed that more ambitious projects would be worked out through the relevant agencies so that the joint economic activity would be more tangible.

We also touched on a number of major agreements that have been under discussion for many years and have not been implemented still. In particular, there is a need to begin formal negotiations on a preferential agreement on the trade in services and investment; consultations on expanding the scope of the Intergovernmental Agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy; an agreement on the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes; an agreement between the Russian Federation and Japan on social security, and naturally on removing obstacles to visa-free travel.

We told our colleagues that in recent years Russia has offered many initiatives aimed either at liberalising the travel regime for various groups such as business people, tourists, participants in sports and cultural exchanges, or even introducing visa-free travel. This is our global goal. We believe there is no reason why Russia and Japan cannot introduce visa-free travel and begin, for example, with visa-free trips for residents of Sakhalin and Hokkaido.

The third area in which we should seriously upgrade our cooperation is foreign policy, international cooperation.

Today we analysed the positions of our countries on key global and regional issues. We noted that our positions in the UN do not always coincide, or rather do not coincide in most cases. I am referring to Japan’s voting on Russia’s initiatives. This does not reflect the level of trust that President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe want to achieve.

We agreed that our deputies, as envisaged by the agreement of our leaders to step up work on the peace treaty on the basis of the 1956 Declaration, will continue detailed contacts to clarify each other’s positions. By the next meeting of President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which is due later this month, we will report on the implementation of their instructions.

One more important aspect that I must mention concerns security cooperation. The 1956 Declaration was signed when Japan did not have a military alliance treaty with the US. The treaty was signed in 1960, after which our Japanese colleagues departed from the 1956 Declaration. Now that we are resuming talks on the basis of this declaration, we must consider the drastic change that has taken place in Japan’s military alliances since then. At today’s talks we devoted attention to the US efforts to develop a global missile defence system in Japan with a view to militarising that part of the world and also to the actions that the US formally justifies by citing the need to neutralise the North Korean nuclear threat. In reality, these actions are creating security risks for Russia and China.

I tried to give a brief account of the range of issues (we discussed them in much more detail), that our Japanese friends and we should study, clear up and try to reach a mutually acceptable approach on, for each of them. I am sure that such qualitative improvement of our cooperation, reaching the level of a trust-based partnership, will help us achieve the goals set by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Let me recall that they spoke in favour of seeking a solution to the peace treaty problem that will be unanimously supported by the people of our countries. This is a very difficult task but we are patient and willing to move toward a common understanding.







Question:

Did Foreign Minister Taro Kono comment on the recent statement by Katsuyuki Kawai, Special Adviser for Foreign Affairs to President of the Liberal Democratic Party, to the effect that Tokyo is counting on Washington’s support in concluding a peace treaty with Moscow, and Shinzo Abe’s remark that local residents will not have to leave the islands following the transfer of Shikotan to Japan. What is the position of our country?



Sergey Lavrov:

We have already made a corresponding statement regarding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s remarks that Russian citizens will be able to stay on the islands after they are transferred under the sovereignty of Japan. Several days ago, immediately after Mr Abe had made the remarks that you mentioned, the Ambassador of Japan was invited to the Foreign Ministry. We stated how absolutely unacceptable such approaches are and how they completely contradict the understanding and agreements reached between the leaders of Russia and Japan on how to construct our peace treaty-related dialogue in the future.

With regard to Mr Kawai’s statement that the United States should be interested in concluding a treaty between Russia and Japan, as this would “strengthen the bloc” to contain China, as he put it, this is an outrageous statement. Today we stated this openly. Our Japanese colleagues noted that this gentleman does not represent the executive branch, but is an aide to the president of the Liberal Democratic Party. All this is probably true. The problem is that the president of the Liberal Democratic Party is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. We have issued a serious warning about how inappropriate such statements are. We have also inquired more broadly about how independent Japan can be in addressing any issues at all with such heavy dependence on the United States. We were assured that Japan would make decisions based on its national interests. We would like it to be that way.



Question:

My question is about recognising the outcome of World War II. You said that Japan must first recognise it. Are you satisfied with Japan’s answer to this question?



Sergey Lavrov:

I presented our position on the results of World War II in great detail. I noted that in addition to the San Francisco Treaty, other documents and the 1956 Declaration, which, together with the San Francisco Treaty, form a single whole and draw the final line under World War II, there is also an important document known as the UN Charter, Art. 107 of which recognises the outcome of World War II in the form in which it was legally agreed upon by the allies, as inviolable. Today we once again reminded our Japanese colleagues about this in detail. I have not heard any objections to that.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3472147






Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan Ayman Safadi



15 January 2019 - 14:50







On January 15, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Ayman Safadi.

Both foreign ministers discussed the situation in the Middle East Region and focused on the situation in Syria and around it. Mr Lavrov underscored the need for consolidating the efforts of all the parties involved to launch the political process in the Syrian Arab Republic. The earliest possible start of the work of the Constitutional Committee under a UN Security Council resolution and decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress is expected to launch this process. In this context, they noted the work with the Syrian parties, conducted by Russia, Turkey and Iran as guarantor countries of the Astana process, to establish the Constitutional Committee. The ministers expressed hope that there would be productive cooperation with the UN Secretary General’s new Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.

Mr Safadi praised Moscow’s weighty contribution to resolving the conflict in Syria and to creating favourable conditions for the return of Syrian refugees. In this connection, he reaffirmed his country’s interest in continuing joint efforts to dismantle camp Rukban for internally displaced persons on the border with the Syrian Arab Republic.

They also exchanged opinions on the subject of the Middle East peace settlement and noted that there was no alternative to resolving the Palestine-Israeli conflict by political-diplomatic methods on the basis of the generally recognised international legal framework and the Arab Peace Initiative.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3472993






Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Lebanon’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil



15 January 2019 - 15:18







On January 15, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke on the phone with Lebanon’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil.

The ministers exchanged views on the developments in Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East as a whole.

The Russian minister reaffirmed unfailing support for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and stability of friendly Lebanon. Russia’s approach is based on the need to resolve the pressing issues on the Lebanese national agenda in the legal field in accordance with the Constitution, through constructive dialogue between the country's leading political forces where external interference in the country’s internal affairs would be unacceptable, Sergey Lavrov said.

The parties noted the danger of acute regional conflicts, primarily the crisis in Syria, adversely affecting the stability and security in Lebanon and discussed the possibilities of stepping up joint efforts to facilitate the process of Syrian refugees returning home.

The sides also considered several current issues of traditionally friendly Russian-Lebanese relations and noted the overall strong commitment to further deepening and expanding them.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3474645






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, Moscow, January 18, 2019



18 January 2019 - 13:30







Mr Maas, colleagues,

We are delighted to welcome you to Moscow. Mr Maas, first of all I would like to thank you for your condolences over the tragedy that happened in Magnitogorsk on December 31.

We regard the results of our collaboration last year as highly positive. Our contacts have been developing dynamically this year as well. President of Russia Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Russian Seasons festival opened in Berlin on January 7. The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, which is ongoing in Berlin, is being attended by Russian Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev. The Russian-German Working Group on Strategic Cooperation in the Economy and Finance will hold its next meeting in a few months. The Russian-German Cross Year of Research and Educational Partnerships, which we launched in Milan on December 6, is gaining momentum. The fifth meeting of the heads of Russian and German research and educational institutions will be held in Kazan next month.







Our governments, regions and businesses maintain close ties. They are complemented with positive collaboration in foreign policy, which we have discussed today, and we will continue this dialogue now. Our contacts on international and regional issues are becoming increasingly important in light of the fact that Germany will hold a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2019 and 2020.

I hope to be able to discuss all these issues with you today. I am sure that our talks will help promote our relations.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3478072






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions during a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas, Moscow, January 18, 2019



18 January 2019 - 14:37







Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,

We held the first part of our very useful talks, which were constructive and comprehensive.

We stated that despite the differences on certain issues, our cooperation is making headway in many areas. We confirmed a mutual striving to consolidate it. It seemed to me that we share the opinion that given the difficult situation in Europe and the world as a whole, it is particularly important to maintain a close political dialogue between Russia and Germany.

Our assessment of the development of our trade and economic ties was positive. Despite the sanctions pressure that is being initiated by Washington, Germany continues to remain our important trade and economic partner. In January–October 2018, our trade grew 23.4 percent against the same period of 2017, and reached $49.8 billion. We appreciate that the German Government continues supporting the Nord Stream 2 project that it considers to be a commercial initiative aimed at diversifying natural gas supply routes and eventually enhancing energy security in Europe.

We noted with satisfaction the implementation of a number of undertakings covered by the 2018-2020 Russia-Germany Year of Scientific and Education Partnerships, launched in December, which is aimed at promoting ties between universities and academic exchanges. We believe that such undertakings are very useful for building trust, preventing alienation between Russians and Germans and encouraging human contact.

While discussing key international issues we paid much attention to the situation taking shape after the US decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty. Obviously, the abrogation of this treaty is fraught with the most negative consequences for global strategic stability. Following the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, the decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty threatens the entire system of arms control, including the treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive arms, prospects for further nuclear disarmament, and the stability of nuclear non-proliferation. Mr Maas and I discussed this in detail today. On behalf of Russia we confirmed that despite the failure of the consultations between the Russian and American experts in Geneva on January 15, because of the ultimatum-like position of the United States, we are still open to continuing a professional and specific conversation with facts in hand so as to try and save this vital treaty that largely ensures strategic stability. We certainly understand the concern of the Europeans over this situation because today’s politicians and diplomats still remember the crisis that unfolded in Europe following the deployment of US Pershings there in the last century.

We have discussed the situation in Ukraine, based on the understanding that the Minsk Agreements must be consistently implemented, but, unfortunately, so far there has been no progress on them, nor has there been progress on the implementation of the decisions made in the Normandy format, including the summits of the Normandy Four leaders in Paris in 2015 and in Berlin in 2016, where an agreement was reached on a number of steps in the security area and the political process. However, Ukraine’s position has prevented these steps from being taken. We assume that our European colleagues see the Ukrainian authorities’ crude violation of their international commitments – primarily, the commitment to ensure people’s rights and freedom to use their [native] language and educational and religious rights and freedoms – and the dangerous rise of nationalist and neo-Nazi sentiments in that country.

We will speak more about Syria later. Some progress has been made in this area. I expect the agreements that were reached at the Russia-Germany-France-Turkey summit in Istanbul a couple of months ago, primarily, on the need to fast-track the operation of the Constitutional Committee, to be implemented as soon as possible. We told our colleagues that on Monday, Geir Pedersen will start his work as the new UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria. We are interested to hear how he plans to begin the work of this Constitutional Committee, especially after his recent two-day visit to Damascus where he met with Syrian leadership.

In 2019-2020, Germany will be a UN Security Council member. We are ready to cooperate constructively with our German partners in this body. I believe Berlin’s participation in the UN Security Council’s activities will help boost the effectiveness of the actions that are required to implement this body’s decisions.







Question:

How do you regard the fact that Ukraine is not planning to open polling stations on Russian territory? Nor does it plan to include Russian representatives in the OSCE observer mission to the presidential election in Ukraine. What are the prospects for the Normandy format?



Sergey Lavrov:

We regard it negatively. Behind the decision not to open polling stations in the Ukrainian diplomatic missions in Russia, we see the desire to artificially influence the election results in favour of the current authorities. Depriving millions of Ukrainians, who live and work in Russia, of their right to vote is a violation of all norms that apply, must apply, within the OSCE framework, including when holding free and democratic elections. The fact that Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Klimkin explained the decision not to open polling stations in Ukraine’s diplomatic missions in Russia by citing the lack of security conditions here does not stand up to criticism. We regularly host a great number of international events, including the FIFA World Cup that was attended by hundreds of thousands of foreigners, many Ukrainians among them. There was not a single case showing a lack of security conditions in any situations. None that I can recall. There were no complaints. It is a different matter when elections are held in Russia and we open polling stations in our diplomatic institutions, in our embassy in Kiev and our consulates general. On repeated occasions, tough guys from the Right Sector and other neo-Nazis literally surrounded our diplomatic missions on the day of the election, blocking the way for Russian citizens, who live in Ukraine and who want to vote. As such, our Ukrainian colleagues certainly should not be talking about voting security.

As for their refusal to include observers from Russia in the OSCE mission to monitor the voting process in Ukraine, here, in the first place, the OSCE, specifically its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) that coordinates the OSCE election activities, should speak up on the matter.

As regards the prospects for the Normandy format, we discussed this today. As you know, at two Normandy format summits, in October 2015 in Paris and in October 2016 in Berlin, the leaders adopted two concrete decisions. The first one has to do with security and necessitates the implementation of the agreement on the disengagement of forces and assets in three localities: Petrovskoye, Zolotoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya. So far, disengagement in Stanitsa Luganskaya has not even started. The Ukrainian side requires seven days of complete silence in order to do that. The OSCE has already registered 55 weeks during which the ceasefire was observed. But the Ukrainians ignore this and continue to refuse to confirm this agreement and begin disengagement. In the other two localities – Petrovskoye and Zolotoye – disengagement took place fairly quickly. But just a few months later, Ukrainian forces surreptitiously again took up positions in these so-called “grey zones”.

The second agreement that the Ukrainians have been sabotaging is the “Steinmeier formula”. The current President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier was Foreign Minister back then. This formula stipulates that the law on special status for Donbass should take effect on a temporary basis on the day of elections in Donbass and on a permanent basis – on the day when the OSCE releases its final report, provided it confirms the free and democratic character of the elections in Donbass.

Both matters were agreed upon by the Normandy format leaders literally with pencils in hand. Two and a half years have passed since the last summit in Berlin, but Kiev still does not want, either in the Normandy group, or at an expert or ministerial level, or in the Contact Group, to commit these two agreements to paper. I invited our German colleague to speak out together today on the necessity of implementing these two agreements on which there were no differences, but our German colleagues believe that it would be better to discuss this again in the Normandy format.

Our position is simple: if we again leave everything up to Ukraine – and the Ukrainians again resort to their destructive tactics in the event of a regular Normandy summit or contacts in some other format – we will not make any headway. The situation proves a very simple thing, something we have long been saying: the patrons of the Ukrainian regime must force it to fulfil the commitments this regime signs on to. Otherwise, meetings in the Normandy format will be a sheer waste of time.



Question (translated from German):

How do you assess Germany’s mediation in the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis? What is your reaction to the German proposal concerning free passage through the Sea of Azov? Do you believe there can be a shift in the situation before the Ukrainian elections?



Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Heiko Maas):

We believe that the term “mediation” is incorrect when we are talking about the Normandy format. There are the Minsk Agreements formulated by the leaders of the Normandy Four and adopted by the parties to the conflict: the Ukrainian authorities, Donetsk and Lugansk. The signatures under the Minsk Agreements attest to this.

A Declaration was adopted in support of the Minsk Agreements. There are some items there which have not yet been fulfilled. In particular, Germany and France had undertaken to provide mobile banking services in Donbass. They failed. The Ukrainian authorities flatly refuse to cooperate on the issue.

As to whether mediation is appropriate in the Ukrainian situation, the answer is yes. As I have said, we very much hope that the countries providing cover to the Ukrainian government will do more to influence the regime’s behavior, above all on what forms the core of the Minsk Agreements – direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. To this end the Contact Group was set up and, despite attempts to refer to it as tripartite, it is the only format in which the Ukrainian regime and the Donbass territories sit at the same table. But in the Normandy format and in the Contact Group the representatives of the Ukrainian authorities flatly refuse to adopt documents that would put a legal seal on the disengagement of troops and assets as well as the Steinmeier formula. There is no need for mediators here, the Kiev authorities should simply be ordered to do what Ukrainian President Poroshenko had himself agreed to. So far, we do not see that our German and French friends are willing to do so. You may call it what you like – mediation or whatever – but this is a fact.

As regards the Kerch Strait, you have asked me for my reaction to the German proposals. I first saw these proposals during the negotiations, but since you are asking me about them you learnt about them before I did. That is interesting. But I’m not going into details. This is not my secret. This is a proposal we have just received from Germany and we must study it. All I can say is that more than a month ago German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to allow German specialists to come to the Kerch Strait area to see how the passage through this stretch of water takes place considering the need to comply with safety norms: there is the piloting service, etc. Vladimir Putin agreed at once. After a while Angela Merkel asked him to allow French specialists to accompany the German ones. He agreed to that as well. More than a month has passed, but we have yet to see any arrivals.

Today Heiko Maas handed me proposals which “package” this simple agenda as a kind of document to be agreed with Ukraine. We said upfront: if our colleagues are interested in what the Russian President promised the German Chancellor, this can be done at any time. If the intent is to cast it in the form of a political procedure in which Ukraine will make decisions, we risk ending up in a situation similar to that in which the Normandy format and the “Steinmeier formula” have found themselves.

I noted that Heiko Maas has said that there is free passage through the Kerch Strait today. Let me stress that this has always been the case. Ukrainian civilian, fishing and merchant ships have always passed through it unobstructed. In September of last year even Ukrainian naval ships passed through the strait. They did a fine job of it because they followed the rules of passage through this difficult stretch of water.

However, in November, instead of following the established procedure, which they had previously observed, the Ukrainian Navy staged a provocation, and it succeeded. We hope there will be no more provocations although there has been a lot of strident talk coming from Kiev to the effect that they would attempt to break through the Kerch Strait and NATO countries have been invited to take part in it. NATO is silent.

Obviously, all this is designed to stoke tensions and keep voters “engaged” ahead of the Presidential elections on March 31 this year.

I am sure that our colleagues in Germany, France and indeed in other European countries are well aware of what it is all about. But since they have long decided to support Ukraine across the board, there is nothing we can do about it. It remains to hope that in private European colleagues do tell the Ukrainian regime what it needs to do to comply with its obligations, be it under the Minsk Agreements or international conventions on human rights and the freedom of language, religious and ethnic minorities.



Question (addressed to Haike Maas):

What do you think about the statements of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin to the effect that there will be no polling stations in Russia and that Ukraine objects to Russia’s participation in the OSCE observer mission?



Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Mr Maas):

I can add that we received an invitation from the OSCE to send our observers to the mission that will monitor the elections. So we have the invitation.



Question (addressed to Sergey Lavrov):

On January 21, the Council of the European Union will compile the first black list in line with the new policy of imposing sanctions on those that are suspected of being responsible for the production and use of chemical arms. According to media reports, the list will include four Russian citizens that are referred to as GRU officers, including those that are suspected of the attempt on the lives of Sergey and Yulia Skripal. How is the Foreign Ministry going to protect these Russian citizens? Will it demand that they be excluded from this list?

What do you think about the events in the north of Syria, specifically, those related to the explosion in Manbij that coincided in time with the US troop withdrawal and appeals to establish safe zones in the north of the country?



Sergey Lavrov:

I have not heard about the meeting of the EU Council on Monday. But if the media know about it, apparently some announcement was made.

Indeed, some time ago the EU announced that it is creating an entity to punish those involved in using toxic chemicals, chemical weapons. This decision rests on the UN General Assembly resolution adopted by voting – some independent mechanism of investigating the use of chemical weapons. We voted against it together with a big group of states because under the UN Charter the UN General Assembly is not authorised to investigate such cases, to say nothing of establishing guilt. The Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is not authorised to do this, either. It is called the Technical Secretariat. Therefore, when at the Conference of the State Parties our Western colleagues followed in the wake of the Anglo-Saxons and supported (with fewer than half of the votes of the CWC signatory states) the proposal to authorise the Technical Secretariat to establish guilt, they directly encroached on the prerogatives of the UN Security Council.

Now such illegal actions that violate the Chemical Weapons Convention are legalised not through talks but through voting and imposing improper decisions. This applies to the EU decision to establish some rules that conflict with international law by resorting to confrontation in the UN and OPCW. Based on these rules they will receive information (that may be biased, incomplete or even classified), and on the basis of these secret decisions, secret information they will punish someone or other.

The same is happening with the Skripals. When the tragedy in Salisbury took place, the Brits compelled the majority of their then EU partners to join the decisions on expelling Russian diplomats. At that time I asked many of my European colleagues in private whether the Brits presented anything in addition to their public statement that it was “highly likely” that Russia was involved in this. Everyone said they did not but promised to produce something later. Nothing has been presented yet. No one knows the Skripals’ whereabouts. Dozens of our appeals for consular access remain unanswered or we receive a formal answer citing UK security interests.

This is not the first time. This is the English style. When Alexander Litvinenko died in 2006, the trial was also closed and all materials that intelligence services presented to the prosecution were not accessible even to the lawyers who wanted to read them.

Speaking about “highly likely,” we spent a lot of time discussing the INF today. Our colleagues say that it is important to operate based on the facts. We’ve been suggesting that the Americans do exactly this for many years now. For a while, they’ve been simply accusing us of violating the Treaty, without even explaining what the violation was about and what missile was in question. We had to pry out the name of the missile and immediately said that we have it, it was tested and asked them what was wrong with that missile. We were told that we tested it for a greater distance than allowed by the INF Treaty. We asked them to be a little more specific. For several years they did not give us any information and only in the autumn of 2018 they gave us two dates when, according to their assessments, the tests that violated the Treaty took place. We told them that the tests were held, indeed, told them the range (it was permitted under the INF), and asked for more specific evidence. If they are convinced that the range had been broken, they probably can show us some satellite imagery or something else. None of this has ever been provided to us.

We are in favour of full transparency in how Russia and the United States comply with the INF Treaty. This is what we wanted to talk about in Geneva on January 15. We were fairly rudely turned down and were given an ultimatum that only they themselves can decide on the fate of the Treaty, since all that is needed is simply to destroy all these missiles, their launchers and all associated equipment and ensure regular (once every three months) visits by US inspectors, so that they would tour the site and check on things that are of interest to them. It is clear that this was originally designed in order to simply create a pretext for their withdrawal from the Treaty. It’s no secret that when, back in October, President Trump announced that the US was leaving the INF Treaty, our American colleagues – during official contacts on various issues of disarmament and arms control – said that this decision was final and irrevocable. Declarations that the United States will withdraw from the INF Treaty are not “an invitation to dialogue.” This is a quote. So, see for yourself what motives the US was led by and what it really wanted.

As regards Syria, developments not only in the north, but in other parts of the country, including the terrorist attack in Manbij, dictate the need for a more active engagement of those who want to help eradicate the terrorist threat, and of course, the Syrian authorities themselves.

The United States and Turkey have long been discussing joint patrolling of the territories traditionally not inhabited by the Kurds to prevent them from being settled by Kurds. Turkey, as you know, was very worried that the security of its borders might be at risk. So today there are signs of positive trends in the region, partly because the Syrian army has moved up there with the support of the Russian military police. There are signs of certain agreements between the US and Turkey. Next week we will be discussing these buffer zones in detail with our Turkish colleagues. However, we are concerned that in Idlib, contrary to agreements on the creation of the demilitarized zone there, Jabhat al-Nusra, having changed its colours to Hayat Tahrir al Sham, is holding sway and is violating the DMZ’s regime. The terrorists are already occupying 70 percent of that zone. From there they try to shell Syrian army positions, communities and even threaten our Khmeimim air base. This is an urgent problem because it is not possible to allow this last major hotbed of terrorist activity on Syrian territory.

The Americans have announced that they are withdrawing from Syria. But you know how they make these announcements: first the deadline is two months from now, then six months, and then until a final victory, even though victory already seems to have been announced. So it remains to be seen what it will really come to. We have no doubt that the only reliable way of preventing a resurgence of terrorism in Syria is to put these territories under the control of the Syrian government and the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The same holds for the south of Syria, the al-Tanf area, where the Americans have unilaterally and illegally created an area with a radius of 55 km around the al-Rukban refugee camp, which is in an appalling condition. It is impossible to deliver humanitarian relief there because bandits have the run of this enclave. They simply take the humanitarian aid and say they will distribute it themselves. Nobody knows how they distribute it. One convoy got through with the support of the Syrian government. We are again being urged to make up a second convoy together with Damascus. But there can be no agreement until guarantees are offered that these humanitarian goods will reach those for whom they are intended, the refugees. In any case, the Americans are bringing supplies to their military in the enclave where criminals are hiding via Iraq and probably via Jordan. So a delivery route exists; let’s use it for the refugees and not just for American special forces officers.

We are interested in moving forward so that our common positions, as approved at the UN Security Council, on the need to preserve and ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic are implemented on the ground, in all the areas I mentioned and on the country’s territory as a whole.



Question (translated from German):

The INF Treaty will probably become history soon. To what extent does Russia plan to build up its armaments in order to respond to US plans to build up its armaments? Or has this already begun?



Sergey Lavrov:

In my opening remarks, I also expressed concern about the future of the agreements in the sphere of arms control and disarmament, which for decades have been the basis for maintaining global strategic stability. The Americans are now taking another unilateral step as they are about to destroy the INF Treaty following the ABM Treaty.

Let me remind you of what I said when answering the previous question: during the official talks last October, they told us that President Trump’s announcement that the United States would leave the INF Treaty is final and irrevocable and should not be construed as an invitation for dialogue. We have always strived to maintain this treaty. Through all the years that the Americans put forward abstract claims against us, we have been proposing a dialogue with them. January 15 in Geneva was the only time such a meeting effectively took place. I have already explained how the US representatives behaved there.

We realise that Europe is concerned, too. Two years from now, the START Treaty will expire. The NPT Review Conference will be held next year, which provides fertile ground for major growing dissatisfaction with the inability of the West, first of all, to accomplish what was already agreed upon in the 1990s, namely, to begin talks on creating an area free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Now, along with the Arab countries, first and foremost Egypt, we are trying to remedy the situation and prevent the failure of such talks to be used again by those who want to destroy the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

There are lots of questions. Today, we talked about the fact that we support the position of Germany, which says that it is necessary to collectively think about how to further ensure at least some standards of behaviour in the sphere of nuclear weapons in the first place and strategic stability in general. We are ready to take up this work.

As for our practical activities after the eventual “demise” of the INF Treaty, Vladimir Putin, commenting on the situation with these missiles, said when accusing Russia of violating the treaty, they are not taking into account Russia’s stocks of sea-based and air-launched missiles which are not banned under the INF.

We didn’t have them at the time the treaty was signed, but now we have created medium- and short-range air- and sea-based missiles, which are absolutely legal. We do not need to secretly create any land-based missiles. This would be irrational.

We are ready for a dialogue on concrete issues. If this document falls apart, our practical actions will depend on the other countries already possessing such weapons and the United States, which has already begun, in fact, to work on creating medium- and short-range missiles.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3478159






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answer to a question from the Moscow. Kremlin. Putin TV programme, Belgrade, January 20, 2019



20 January 2019 - 15:15




Question:

Has the Japanese side strengthened or weakened its negotiating position?



Sergey Lavrov:

This is for the Japanese side to decide.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480112
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Most personal and non-personal events have not been translated to English.





Personal events:





Speech by Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk Agreements, Vienna, January 17, 2019



18 January 2019 - 12:06




Mr Chairman,

The beginning of the new year 2019 did not bring any significant improvement in the situation in Ukraine. Its leadership has failed to refrain from armed provocations in Donbass and further steps to destabilise the situation across the country.

The New Year–Christmas truce declared in Donbass is not being observed in full. It did help reduce the number of cases of fire being exchanged, but failed to lead to complete silence. Kiev seems to have had no intention from the start to observe the truce, nor does it seem to be willing to do so now. This is borne out by the observations of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), as the day after the truce was declared some Ukrainian servicemen confessed to the mission that they had not been even given any orders to this effect. Already on the first day of the truce, 162 violations of the ceasefire were recorded. Shelling did not cease even on the eve of Orthodox Christmas, a holiday of peace. On January 16, the mechanised unit of the 17th Separate Tank Brigade deployed in Krivoi Rog, Zaporozhye Region, conducted company tactical exercises with live fire to improve offensive skills.

Ukraine keeps ignoring the disengagement of forces and military hardware in the village of Stanitsa Luganskaya. Exchanges of fire resumed in disengagement areas at Petrovskoye and Zolotoe where the Ukrainian Armed Forces have enhanced their positions. The OSCE SMM’s drones were fired upon three times, specifically in the area of Popasnaya village on January 10 and near Chermalyk village on January 12 and 14.

The situation around the Donetsk Filtration Station has remained tense. On January 10, fire was opened on shift workers of the Voda Donbassa enterprise near the village of Krutaya Balka, leaving three men wounded. It is clear that attempts are being made to bring utility services to a standstill, setting the stage for a humanitarian catastrophe. Of no less concern is the situation at the Mironovskoye water reservoir gateway in the Donetsk Region that is being controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, where on January 13 the SMM observers found two boxes with wires attached to them that were connected to the gateway’s metal fence. Speaking to the SMM, a Ukrainian serviceman confirmed that there were explosives at the gateway which may indicate preparations for an act of sabotage. The parties to the conflict should, without delay, coordinate additional de-escalation measures in the Contact Group, including near civilian infrastructure, and prohibit any acts of sabotage.

In total, four civilians were victims of shelling of Donbass by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the past three weeks. Ukrainian security services deliberately work to create new victims and destruction on either side of the contact line. They deploy armaments near civilian sites. Thus the SMM detected an Osa anti-aircraft missile system twice in the courtyard of a residential building in Klinovoye, Bakhmutsky District of the Donetsk Region which is controlled by Ukrainian forces. We expect the SMM to present an analysis of the data on civilian casualties and civilian infrastructure damage and to have it published in a corresponding report.

Martial law appeared to be a dangerous pre-election “toy” of the Kiev regime. The bellicose rhetoric went on after it was formally lifted. In late December, the Ukrainian President’s adviser Biryukov reported that almost the entire “gray zone” was occupied by Ukrainian troops.

Ukraine’s leaders continue to divide society rather than promote national dialogue, and try to sort people into the “right” and “wrong” kind of Ukrainians in terms of their attitude to history, language, religion. They are trying to reset the minds of the Ukrainian people, change their identity, replace values. A course has been charted towards the total revision of history, whitewashing and glorification of Nazi criminals and collaborators, excusing current acts of xenophobia and neo-Nazism.

In late December, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada officially included Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera’s birthday (January 1) in the calendar of holiday commemorative events. The year 2019 was declared “the Year of Stepan Badera” by the local councils of the Lvov and Zhitomir regions and the city of Ternopol. Following the decision of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science, history textbooks are stripped of any mention of Roman Shukhevich’s and Ukrainian ethnic military units’ collaboration with Nazis. As is known, they are notorious for their brutal treatment of Jewish, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian civilians during World War II. Unsurprisingly, Ukraine has been voting down the resolution on fighting glorification of Nazism at the UN General Assembly for four years in a row.

On January 1, militarised radicals held a march along the central streets in Kiev and other cities promising to install “Ukrainian order.” We actually consider it inappropriate for the SMM to label torch-lit marches using neo-Nazi slogans as “peaceful gatherings” in its report. We point out the need to publish a report by the SMM on instances of aggressive nationalism, neo-Nazism and xenophobia in Ukraine.

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine also pointed to the problem. In its 24th report on human rights in that country, it registers growth in radical and extremist sentiments in Ukrainian society, attacks on journalists, civil activists, opposition members. According to the Mission, many related acts of violence occurred with the tacit support of the authorities and law enforcement personnel and remained unprosecuted even despite the fact that the extremists publicly acknowledged their acts. Radicals have apparently teamed up with the authorities – suffice it to recall the operation of various internet resources specialising in searching for “Kremlin agents.” The recent posting of Austrian journalist Christian Wehrschuetz’s personal data surprisingly coincided with Kiev’s refusal to accredit him to work in Donbass.

Obviously, Ukraine is trying to conceal many things from journalists. An article by Marc Bennetts in The Times deserves special mention in this context. He writes about members of Ukrainian national battalions on the contact line. Some of them admitted to him that they underwent special training in ISIS camps in Syria and Iraq.

Many journalists disliked by Kiev remain behind bars, among them Kirill Vyshinsky, director of the RIA Novosti-Ukraine website, a Russian citizen who was arrested last May on far-fetched grounds.

The Ukrainian law enforcement system is increasingly becoming a repressive instrument to counter dissent. This is why there is no progress in the investigation of high-profile crimes, such as shootings on the Kiev Maidan and the burning of people in Odessa in 2014. Apparently, the Ukrainian authorities are more concerned about the forthcoming elections and the task of keeping power in their hands. Obviously, Kiev decided it is a no holds barred struggle.

Everything is being done to prevent Ukrainian citizens that are critical of the current authorities from taking part in the elections. The Central Election Commission made a decision not to open polling stations in Ukraine’s Embassy and consulates general in Russia. On a par with the suppression of voting rights of internally displaced persons, this decision has obvious political aims. Let me recall that according to official information, about 2.5 million Ukrainians reside in Russia today, including over a million refugees from Donbass.

But the election acrobatics of the Ukrainian authorities are not limited to this. Using the slogan of the struggle for independence, they are crudely interfering, for fleeting political interests, in the affairs of a major Church, encouraging a schism in Ukrainian Orthodox religion. These actions violate many of Ukraine’s human rights commitments, including those in the OSCE. The Ukrainian canonical Orthodox Church is being subjected to unprecedented pressure. Secular leaders are actively lobbying for legalisation of the church schism. It is telling that they make political speeches in churches designed for praying.

The Ukrainian authorities are actively drafting legislation to revise the property rights of the Ukrainian canonical Orthodox Church in favour of the church structure they created. The risks of repressive verdicts by the judicial system and attempts to seize churches by force have grown in this context. Over 40 seizures of parishes of the canonical church were carried out from 2014-2016. The number of acts of vandalism against it has sharply grown since the end of the past year. In the middle of December, fire was set to the Church of Michael the Archangel in the city of Belaya Tserkov and the St Trinity Church in Rzhishchev. There were pogroms against churches in the village of Semenovka of the Belgorod-Dniester District of the Odessa Region (December 26) and in the village of Vesyoloye of the Veselovsky District of the Zaporozhye Region (January 4). In Lvov vandals covered the front of the St Vladimir Cathedral and the fence of the St George Cathedral (January 13) in provocative language and posted photos documenting their raids on social media. In Sumy vandals threw paint and scrawled various words on the fence of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour (January 15).

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its clergy are harassed by right-wing radical groups, including the Right Sector and S14. On Christmas Eve radicals attempted to cordon off Ukrainian canonical Orthodox Church cathedrals and churches in Vinnitsa, Chernigov, Borispol, Khmelnitsky, Kamenets-Podolsky, Poltava, Lvov, Sumy, Ternopol, Rovno, Odessa.

More parishes were raided. On January 13, adherents of the new church structure supported by Svoboda nationalists seized three Ukrainian Orthodox churches – St Michael’s Church in Krasnovolya village in the Volyn Region, St Martyr Dmitry of Solun in Puzhaikovo, Odessa Region, and St Nicholas Church in Vorsovka, Zhitomir Region. On January 16, St Ascension Church was seized by S14 radicals in Yelenovka, Chernigov Region. Speculations persist around the major holy shrines – the Kiev Pechersk Lavra and Pochayev Lavra – that undergo all sorts of inspections and inventorying and are threatened with termination of the lease agreements.

We call on the OSCE to exert influence on Kiev, to prevent the authorities from taking it all the way to bloodshed and violence on religious grounds. As is know, the SMM mandate envisages not only monitoring but also supporting human rights and basic liberties. We expect the SMM to closely monitor the situation around the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Mr Chairman,

It has been stated a number of times that the February 12, 2015 Minsk Package of Measures, approved by UNSC Resolution 2202, is the only possible basis for settling the crisis in Ukraine by peaceful means. Meanwhile, the current Ukrainian authorities are trying to indoctrinate the people with the idea that a rapid peace would be surrender. This is fundamentally wrong. However, reaching compromises requires giving up bellicose rhetoric and jumpstarting a full-fledged, direct and honest dialogue with Donbass.

The priority implementation of the Normandy format leaders’ agreements in Paris in 2015 and in Berlin in 2016 will significantly promote the settlement process. It is necessary to finally set to paper the “Steinmeier formula” on the entry into force of the law on special status of Donbass, to disengage forces and assets in Stanitsa Luganskaya in accordance with the September 21, 2016 framework agreement, to restore the status quo in the other two disengagement areas in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye. We should insist that Kiev meet its obligations regardless of the election race begun in Ukraine.

Thank you for your attention.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3478004






Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova answers RBC News Agency’s question about the decision of an extraordinary session of the OPCW Executive Council



18 January 2019 - 13:27




Question:

What do you make of the OPCW decision to put Novichok on the list of prohibited substances? What does Russia think about this? Does it support this decision?



Maria Zakharova:

In connection with the adoption by an extraordinary session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), convened by the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, of a decision recommending the inclusion of two new “families” of chemical agents on the checklists of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), we would like to state the following:

We deeply regret that Russia’s proposals to supplement this Western initiative with three more “families” of toxic agents, as well as to systematise approaches to this issue in the interest of strengthening the CWC, were ignored.

The refusal to adopt a system-wide approach promoted by Russia contradicts the Western countries’ claims that their proposal is devoid of a political hidden agenda and is of a purely technical nature. The fact that this is not the case can be seen, among other things, from a statement made by US Permanent Representative to the OPCW Kenneth Ward, who constantly tried to draw a parallel between the two chemical agent families proposed for inclusion on the OPCW lists and the London-inspired “Skripal case” against Russia.

Unfortunately, our repeated calls to the OPCW Technical Secretariat to address the technical aspect of this issue with the utmost responsibility and diligence have also failed. The haste with which the possibility of a package consideration of two complementary proposals was rejected is not conducive to strengthening the Convention.

In general, we would like to note that Russia was the first country to respond to the call of the Director-General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat and presented its detailed plan on expanding the CWC checklists back in May 2018.

We hope that Russia’s proposals will nevertheless be duly reviewed taking into account the relevant provisions of the Convention and approved during the OPCW Executive Council meeting, which is scheduled for late February.

In this context, I would also like to note that a number of Western countries have worked with chemical substances in the Novichok family at various points, and some of them have even patented the results of this research for military use.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3478062






Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov’s briefings for foreign diplomats



18 January 2019 - 17:56



On January 18, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov held briefings for the heads of diplomatic missions and staff of embassies accredited in Russia from the countries of Austria, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, UK, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Denmark, India, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, China, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Finland, France, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia, and South Africa, as well as the Delegation of the European Union to Russia on the issue of Russian-American Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The Russian side emphasised the urgent need to further pursue the world community’s efforts to preserve the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, pointing out the fact that American claims against Russia are unfounded, and that the ultimatums that US is making in order to cover up their violation of the Treaty and their intentions to destroy it altogether, are unacceptable. The officials’ attention was drawn to the fact that the US rejected Russia’s proposal to ensure mutual transparency in order to relieve the existing concerns. It was noted that Washington’s destruction of one of the cornerstones of global stability is fraught with dire consequences for the entire system of international security.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3479829






14 January 2019

Interview of Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU, to the Izvestia newspaper, published on December 27, 2018 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3472007

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the personal representative of the acting duties of the Prime Minister of Lebanon J. Shaaban - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3472069

Meeting of G. Karasin with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Russian Federation V. Semashko - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3472096


15 January 2019

Meeting of A. Grushko with V. Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Conference on Security Policy - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3472809

Meeting of V. Titov with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Portugal to Russia P. Vizeu Pinheiro - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3472901

Meeting of A. Grushko with the Ambassador of Turkey to Russia M. Samsar - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3472915

Meeting of I. Morgulov with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan T. Mori - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3474669

Meeting of G. Karasin with Iranian Ambassador to Russia M. Sanai - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3474716

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the president of the international NGO Brazzaville Foundation, Jean-Yves Olivier - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3474808

Consultations of S. Ryabkov with US Assistant Secretary of State A. Thompson on the INF Treaty - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3474770

Meeting of S. Vershinin with the Ambassador of Syria in Moscow R. Haddad - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3474818


16 January 2019

Meeting of G. Karasin with the Ambassador of Turkmenistan to Russia B.K. Niyazliev - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3476627

Meeting of A. Grushko with the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia in Russia T. Tsar - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3476852

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the representative of the leadership of the Syrian opposition Front for Change and Liberation, the head of the "Moscow Platform" of the Syrian opposition K. Jamil - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3476867

Meeting of G. Karasin with the Ambassador of Uzbekistan in Moscow B. Asadov - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3476890


17 January 2019

Meeting of I. Morgulov with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Vietnam to the Russian Federation Ngo Duc Manem - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3477485

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Israel in Moscow G. Coran - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3477519

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Jordan in Moscow A. Adayle - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3477534

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the chairman of the political bureau of the Palestinian movement Hamas I. Haniyeh - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3477596

Meeting of S. Vershinin with the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Moscow R. Jones-Bos - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3477695


18 January 2019

Meeting of E. Ivanov with the Ambassador of Portugal to Russia P. Vizeu Pinheiro - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3478014

Meeting of I. Morgulov meeting with the Ambassador of India to Russia V. Varma - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3478024

Meeting of O. Syromolotov with the Ambassador of Egypt in Russia I. Nasr - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3478034


19 January 2019

On the working visit of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation A. Grushko to the Hellenic Republic - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3479943


20 January 2019

On the participation of M. Bogdanov in the inauguration of the President of the Republic of Madagascar A. Radzuelyn - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3479953

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the President of the Comoros Islands A. Assoumani - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3479968

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission Hamada Madi - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3479978








Non-personal events:





Comment by the Information and Press Department on the latest US allegations regarding Russia



15 January 2019 - 22:05



We regret to say that the US news and opinion website, The Daily Beast, has again told lies to its readers by writing that Maria Butina, who was arrested in Washington last summer, “had the Kremlin’s blessing” to influence US politics. After the FBI forced Maria to incriminate herself by creating abnormal prison conditions for her and threatening with a harsh sentence, these masters of fake news once again posted allegations about Russian interference.

The conclusions pointing to this alleged interference are based on the fact that the leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA), one of America’s oldest and largest NGOs, visited Moscow a year before the US presidential election. One of those who organised that perfectly normal trip, that was no secret, was Maria Butina, a board member of the Russian Right to Bear Arms NGO who maintained close ties with fellow thinkers abroad.

The Daily Beast highlights the fact that the NRA delegation met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on December 9, 2015. This is true, but meetings arranged at the request of foreign public figures, researchers and business people are part of the Foreign Ministry’s daily routine, and we regularly report such events. For example, at that meeting with the NRA delegation the parties discussed the international situation and bilateral relations, as well as the issue of arms, which interests the American guests.

If the authors of this conspiracy theory went to the Foreign Ministry site, they would have learned that on the very next day, December 10, 2015, Sergey Lavrov met with William Burns, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In keeping with this organisation’s interests, the conversation focused on international affairs as well as prospects for the Russian-US political dialogue.

Moreover, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Moscow three times in the year preceding the US presidential election. Overall, Sergey Lavrov had 18 personal meetings and 70 telephone conversations with John Kerry during that period of time. On February 29, 2016, CIA Director John Brennan visited Moscow.

Since The Daily Beast is worried that the NRA delegation could have meetings in Moscow with sanctioned Russian officials, we will tell you one more “secret.” US ambassadors to Russia kept asking for meetings with such sanctioned officials even after Washington became obsessed with black lists during the Obama administration.

We would like to recommend the none-too-scrupulous American journalists to stop lying to their readers. On the other hand, it is clear that they are working under orders from certain US political quarters.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3474828






Comment by the Information and Press Department on the US’s preparations to launch an information campaign to discredit Russia’s policy related to Afghanistan



16 January 2019 - 17:09



We have recently received information saying that the US security services are preparing a series of bogus stories to be published in the media of Afghanistan and some Western countries, aimed at discrediting Russia’s policy related to Afghanistan. In particular, they plan to accuse our country of assisting ISIS, including in the redeployment of their militants from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan.

The goal of this information diversion is obvious: to detract the attention of the international community from the US’s 17-year-long Afghan campaign, which has seen many failures. The White House has recently announced its intention to partially withdraw troops from Afghanistan, a move which was considered an acknowledgment of its own defeat.

We see one more subtext in the provocation. We have repeatedly pointed out the blatant inactivity of the American side and the NATO leadership regarding the flights by unidentified helicopters that deliver reinforcements and weapons to ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan, mostly in the north of the region. We have asked direct questions about who is delivering weapons to extremists and helping them create a base near the southern borders of the CIS. And now Washington has seemingly decided to shift the blame to Russia rather than answer this question.

At the same time, we point out the continuing evidence of a connection, if not direct then indirect, between the Americans and ISIS. We are referring to the recent statement made by the Taliban about the targeted raid by the US special task force to capture a Taliban prison in the Afghan province of Badghis, where ISIS militants have been held since being captured in northern Afghanistan in August 2018. All of the militants were moved by the special task force to an unknown destination. According to some reports, citizens of Russia and Central Asian countries could be among them.

Such an interest in ISIS militants suggests that the US might have been trying to prevent a leak of information regarding what the ISIS members could reveal about their real sponsors.

We would like to warn the masterminds of the information campaign that is being prepared that they will not be able to deceive the international community and the peoples of Afghanistan who are traditionally friendly towards Russia.

We urge Washington to stop scheming in connection with issues that are sensitive for Afghanistan and its neighbours, and try to help reach a peaceful settlement in this country in the interests of all strata of Afghan society.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3476975






Comment by the Information and Press Department on the new US Missile Defence Review



18 January 2019 - 18:24



A new Missile Defence Review was released by the United States on January 17. The content of this document is bound to evoke serious concern. It is openly confrontational and once again demonstrates Washington’s goal of achieving undivided military supremacy in the world and the ability to conduct with impunity military operations in defence of its interests in any part of the globe. In this context the document continues the policy described in the US National Security Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review, which have been updated already by the Donald Trump administration.

The review confirms Washington’s invariable policy of increasing the destabilising potential of global missile defence that is expected to be reinforced by new technological and financial resources. In so doing the Americans resolutely reject even the hypothetical possibility of any restrictions on their missile defence buildup and announce their intention to preserve complete freedom of action in this area.

It is noteworthy that the US considers legitimate a method of missile defence that provides for the preemptive, that is, pre-launch destruction of “threatening” missiles. In simple terms, this ornate formula which the US wants to sound at least a bit respectable means the mounting of preventive, “disarming” strikes against the countries that the US considers its enemies. We would like to recall that this logic is at the foundation of the large-scale nuclear arms race that has repeatedly taken the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. Despite intensive political and diplomatic efforts over the course of decades, its consequences have not yet been fully dealt with. Now it seems that the American leaders have decided to step on the same rake with the same predictable consequences.

Provisions concerning space-based missile defence are a source of particular concern. Along with upgrading sensors in orbit, the review actually gives the green light to the prospect of deploying missile defence attack weapons that are designed to destroy different types of missiles during the boost phase.

Implementation of these plans is bound to trigger an arms race in space, which will have most negative consequences for international security and stability. We would like to call on the US administration to listen to reason and give up these irresponsible attempts to re-launch the unforgettable star wars programme of the Reagan era on a new technological level.

Contrary to the assertions of the authors of the review, carrying out these plans and approaches will in no way enhance the security of the US, its allies or partners. Any attempts to follow this road will have the opposite effect. They will deal yet another powerful blow to international stability, which is already falling apart due to Washington’s irresponsible actions. Clearly, nobody gains in this scenario.

We consider it necessary to emphasise that the appearance of such documents as the US Missile Defence Review once again demonstrates the need to resume without delay full-scale Russian-US dialogue on all issues of arms control and consolidation of international security and stability. We are ready to discuss this. We submitted to the US our proposals to this effect last July. They still remain unanswered. We are urging the US administration to display political will and finally engage in serious joint search for ways of resolving the accumulated strategic problems before it is too late.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3479839






14 January 2019

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia in connection with the adoption by the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia of amendments to the constitution - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3471933


15 January 2019

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the persistence of the phenomenon of mass statelessness in Estonia - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3474745


16 January 2019

On the exchange of congratulatory telegrams of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3476603

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the terrorist act in Kenya - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3476914


17 January 2019

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the situation with the preparation of the presidential elections in Ukraine - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3477453


18 January 2019

On the issue of non-admission of Russian citizens to the territory of Azerbaijan - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3477958

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the explosion at the Police Academy of the Republic of Colombia - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3478319





This week there was no briefing by Maria Zakharova.
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting with UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, Moscow, January 21, 2019



21 January 2019 - 13:39







Mr Pedersen,

Colleagues,

Welcome to Moscow. I know that you have been to our capital many times, but it is your first time as the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria.

We appreciate the cooperation that has been established between us and the UN, both in the framework of regular bilateral contacts and in the context of the UN interaction with the Astana format guarantors.

I would like to make special mention of your predecessor Staffan de Mistura’s contribution to the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2254. Working together with the UN and with many countries in the region, including in the Astana format, we have achieved considerable results on the ground, including addressing humanitarian issues that are now very acute, especially in the territories freed from terrorists.







We have noticed a growing understanding of the need for greater effort to create conditions for the return of refugees. A few days ago, the participants in the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit supported helping Syria so that refugees could return faster.

We also very much appreciate the Astana format countries’ interaction with the UN in promoting the political process there in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254.

We are counting on continuity and your experience in official agencies in your country and in international organisations, including the UN.

Once again, welcome.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480443






Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's telephone conversation with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry



21 January 2019 - 18:03







On January 21, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Sameh Hassan Shoukry.

Sergey Lavrov and Sameh Hassan Shoukry exchanged views on the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa, including the developments in Syria and Libya, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, and efforts to convene a Conference on WMD Free Zone in the Middle East. They reaffirmed their intention to continue close cooperation based on proximity of interests to resolve crises and ensure peace in the region.

Taking into account the upcoming Egyptian presidency of the African Union, the two ministers discussed preparations for the Russia-African Union summit in Russia in 2019.

They also considered several important aspects concerning bilateral relations.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480912






Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's telephone conversation with Secretary General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit



21 January 2019 - 18:07







On January 21, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by phone with Secretary General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

The Minister and the Secretary General discussed important current affairs concerning the regional agenda focusing on Syria, problems of Middle East peace process and normalisation of inter-Palestinian relations.

Sergey Lavrov and Ahmed Aboul Gheit reaffirmed their intention to further increase constructive multi-disciplinary cooperation between Russia and the Arab League, and the 5th session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum in Moscow in April, which is expected to give an important impetus to cooperation.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480922






Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen



22 January 2019 - 10:28



On January 21, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a meeting with the new UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen.

Sergey Lavrov congratulated the new envoy on his new appointment and expressed hope for the continuation of constructive interaction on all aspects of the Syrian settlement both at bilateral level and within the framework of the Astana format.

The two officials held an in-depth discussion on the current situation in Syria and the goals of routing terrorists completely and restoring peace in Syria based on respect for its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

They also exchanged opinions on the prospects for promoting the political process which the Syrians are conducting themselves with UN assistance and based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254. In this context, the parties pointed out the importance of starting the operation of the Constitutional Committee, which both the Syrian government and the opposition support, as soon as possible.

Sergey Lavrov and Geir Pedersen also talked about humanitarian matters, such as the restoration of basic infrastructure in order to create conditions for a dignified and safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons back home.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481038






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Foreign Minister of Algeria Abdelkader Messahel, Algiers, January 24, 2019



24 January 2019 - 14:05







Mr Minister,

Dear friend,

I would like to return your message of friendship and sincere interest in promoting our relations in all areas.

This is my sixth trip to Algeria. My colleagues, including yourself, always visit Russia, so the intensity of our communication reflects the commitment of our presidents and leadership in Moscow and Algiers to the sustained improvement of our cooperation.







We have a very firm foundation for cooperation: the 2001 Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed during President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s visit to Russia. When Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was in Algeria in October 2017, we heard and shared the intention of our Algerian friends to achieve even closer cooperation.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482508






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria Abdelkader Messahel, Algiers, January 24, 2019



24 January 2019 - 16:11







Mr Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

First, I would like to express my gratitude to our Algerian friends and personally to Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria Abdelkader Messahel for your warm hospitality.

We had very productive talks.

We highly assessed the level of Russian-Algerian relations in the political, economic, military-technical, cultural, scientific and education spheres and outlined specific avenues for further progress towards the goals that were set out in the Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed in 2001 during President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s visit to Russia.

Trade between our countries exceeded $4.5 billion and continues to grow. We are confident that new solutions which will expand the opportunities for our interaction will be considered at a session of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which will begin next week.

A number of Russian companies are already operating in Algeria. Many want to join corresponding projects with their Algerian partners. Today we agreed to encourage regular direct contact between the business circles of our countries.

We also stressed the importance of coordinating our actions in global energy, including as part of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.

We exchanged views on key international and regional issues. Russia and Algeria are consistent supporters of strict observance of the norms and principles of international law and resolving conflicts exclusively through peaceful means. We stand for the central coordinating role of the UN and respect for the natural desire of nations to decide their own future.

We focused particularly on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Sahara-Sahel region. We covered Syria as well. Russia and Algeria are in favour of resolving the ongoing crisis based of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 with unconditional respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria. It is important, in parallel with the completion of the antiterrorist operation against the remaining dispersed militant groups, to focus on improving the humanitarian situation, to create proper conditions for the return of refugees and, of course, to more actively promote the political process. We have informed our Algerian friends about the efforts that Russia is making in this area in conjunction with Turkey and Iran – the guarantor countries of the Astana process – and in close contact with the UN representatives.

When discussing the situation in Libya and Mali, we praised the efforts that Algeria is making to help resolve the crises in these countries. We also considered other crisis situations in this part of the world, in particular, Yemen. Our common position is that, for all these crises, we should not forget about the long-outstanding problems of this region. I mean, first of all, the Middle Eastern settlement and the solution to the Western Sahara problem. In both situations, it is imperative to act on the basis of international law. Such a basis exists, and it is enshrined in UN decisions, primarily in UN Security Council resolutions. We support the implementation of these resolutions.

I’m grateful to my colleague and friend for this opportunity and invite him to Russia for a return visit.







Question:

Given the intensive dialogue between the two countries, are you planning to hold a Russian-Algerian summit any time soon and to simplify visa regulations for holders of civil (not official or diplomatic) foreign travel passports, especially with regard to upcoming contacts between businesspeople?



Sergey Lavrov:

Contacts are maintained at all levels and, of course, will continue. We will agree on specific schedules after the presidential elections are held in Algeria in the near future, and the new government is formed.

With regard to visa regulations, we have consistently advocated making them less complicated by creating the most favourable conditions for our citizens and the citizens of our partners. We are ready to consider these issues with our Algerian colleagues in the most constructive fashion.



Question:

On Wednesday, Juan Guaido, the former leader of the Venezuelan National Assembly, which had earlier been declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Venezuela, declared himself interim President. Several countries, the first of which was the United States, recognised Guaido as president within hours of the announcement. What is Russia’s position on this matter? What would you say about such a prompt positive reaction by a number of countries?



Sergey Lavrov:

The Foreign Ministry made a corresponding statement today which outlines our position in detail. For this audience, I will say that this is another gross interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. As you may be aware, there has been more than one attempt to remove Nicolas Maduro from power, including by way of physical elimination.

The fact that the United States and a number of other countries, primarily in that region, immediately recognised the self-proclaimed “interim president,” is a telltale sign that they are directly involved in the artificial creation of a dual power situation, which is fraught with chaos and a major destabilisation of the internal political situation.

This is another confirmation of the fact that the United States, which is paranoid about someone interfering in its election process, without having any evidence on hand, has once again (this is not the first occurrence in recent months; it’s that this time it is an extremely crude job in Venezuela) tried to act as the rulers of the destinies of other nations and interfered with their domestic affairs. There is no need to create any “Mueller Commission” here.

Of course, the signals that are coming from a number of capitals that an armed intervention from outside cannot be ruled out are of particular concern. We strongly urge abandoning such thoughts.

We call upon the Venezuelan opposition, which, I hope, puts the country’s national interests at the forefront, not to become pawns in someone else’s very dirty and criminal game. It is imperative to stay within the constitutional framework and to respect the rights of the Venezuelans to determine their own future. The international community must help create proper conditions for a national dialogue, in which everyone is entitled to express their opinions. However, this should not be done in an atmosphere of violence or calls for the violent toppling of the legitimate government.

In conjunction with other responsible states, we are ready to help create an environment where the Venezuelans will be able to start a dialogue based on their country’s national interests.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482648






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with Prime Minister of Algeria Ahmed Ouyahia, Algiers, January 24, 2019



24 January 2019 - 17:26






First of all, I would like to convey the best regards from President of Russia Vladimir Putin, who has asked me to confirm his deep respect for President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika.







Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also sends his regards. He has warm memories of his visit to Algeria over a year ago, when you urged him to look for new spheres of practical interaction between our countries. I believe that today we have mapped out ways towards this goal at the talks with my friend and colleague, Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482725






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint press conference following the talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Morocco Nasser Bourita, Rabat, January 25, 2019



25 January 2019 - 23:21







Minister,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my thanks to our Moroccan friends for extending such a hospitable and warm welcome to our delegation. I would like to express my special gratitude to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco for receiving us and for the meaningful trust-based conversation covering all fields of our cooperation.

We noted that both countries are committed to fully implementing the agreements reached by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, including the 2002 Declaration on Strategic Partnership and the Statement on the Extended Strategic Partnership that was adopted as part of His Majesty’s visit to the Russian Federation in 2016.

We noted the progress in trade, economic and investment cooperation, as well as we reviewed the outcome of the regular meeting of the Intergovernmental Mixed Russian-Moroccan Commission on Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation that took place in Rabat in October 2018. We agreed on ways of promoting the effective implementation of decisions reached at this event.

We also discussed the performance under instruments signed as part of the visit by Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev to Morocco in October 2018.

We agreed to continue focusing the efforts of our respective agencies on strengthening the strategic partnership between our countries, since it is the will of both Russia and Morocco for the strategic partnership to actually materialise instead of simply remaining on paper.

During the audience with His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the talks with my colleague and friend Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Morocco Nasser Bourita, we reviewed topical international matters, with a special focus on regional developments. We share the view on the need to respect international law, sovereignty, territorial integrity of all countries and find solutions to crises and conflicts solely through peaceful political and diplomatic means without foreign interference and respecting the rights of the people to choose their destiny by themselves.

We talked at length on settlement processes in Syria and Libya. We believe that, just as in any other conflict, in both cases solutions must result from an inclusive dialogue bringing together all the political forces of these countries.

We stand for strengthening security in the Middle East and North Africa. We strongly believe that this would be impossible without resolving decades-old conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the one unfolding in Western Sahara. Both conflicts need to be resolved in strict compliance with the agreements set forth in the UN Security Council resolutions, including finding mutually acceptable solutions to various crisis situations with the participation of all parties.

As I have already said, we talked about the Syrian settlement. We made a detailed presentation of Russia’s efforts together with Turkey and Iran as guarantor countries in the Astana process and countries that initiated the holding of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi a year ago. We talked about the ongoing efforts to form the Constitutional Committee which is expected to begin its work in Geneva and at the end of the day serve as an important step toward implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2254. What Syria needs is for the international community to step up humanitarian assistance and create conditions for the return of refugees. In this field we also see a lot of potential in terms of carrying out the UN Security Council resolutions. We are interested in Syria restoring its relations with the Arab League and coming back into the fold of the Arab “family.”

All in all, we are quite satisfied with the outcome of these talks. Once again, I would like to thank our Moroccan friends. I hope that my colleague and friend will be able to visit the Russian Federation at a time that would be convenient for both sides. I already transmitted my invitation to this effect.







Question:

You visited Algeria yesterday and Morocco today, and tomorrow you will go to Tunisia. You know the region’s potential, but the region itself has been divided. What can Russia do to improve the situation in the Maghreb?

You said that progressive development is a vital indicator of relations between Morocco and Russia. What is your opinion of Morocco’s role in international and regional affairs?



Sergey Lavrov:

Speaking about the Maghreb region, we would like all the Maghreb countries to have positive relations with each other, of course, especially in light of the numerous unifying factors. These include the problem of international terrorism and these countries’ security.

We have very good relations with all the Maghreb countries. We would like similar ties to exist between the regional countries as well. You asked whether Russia can help remove the obstacles that are hindering the development of such ties. We would be glad to help in any way and form that is acceptable to our colleagues in Morocco, Algeria and other countries. If there is anything they need, we will be delighted to offer our good services, but only if this is in the interests of both sides and only if we are asked to do so.

As for Morocco’s role in international affairs, we highly respect the Moroccan foreign policy. Thanks to the efforts of His Majesty the King, Morocco has maintained stability in a rather turbulent region. We would like such stability also to rein in the other regional countries. Morocco plays an important role in relations with its African partners. It promotes projects that bring African countries together and are designed to help Africa take a befitting place on the international stage.

I would also like to say that we see eye to eye with the Moroccan delegation at the UN. We spoke about this today. We do not support the initiatives that can infringe on the interests of other countries. We never work against one another. We maintain friendly relations, but we do not ally against anyone. We are friends because this is in the interest of each side and so as to move forward in all spheres on the basis of balanced interests.






Question:

An emergency meeting on Venezuela will be held at the UN Security Council tomorrow on the initiative of the US. [US Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo has called on the Security Council members to support the opposition leader in Venezuela in the interests of international security. What are your expectations of this meeting?



Sergey Lavrov:

We know the position of the United States and the countries that try to keep in the wake of the US policy. Their policy on Venezuela, just as on a number of other countries, is destructive and I don’t even have to prove this. Everyone knows about their open encouragement of a state coup. I commented on this subject in Algiers yesterday. We consider this behaviour unacceptable and undermining the principles of the UN Charter and the norms of international relations. We will uphold this position at the UN Security Council if it is decided to hold a meeting on Venezuela.



Question:

President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish colleague, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussed the Adana agreement during their meeting. Do Russia and Turkey plan to sign a final agreement on a security zone in Syria?



Sergey Lavrov:

Speaking about Syria and the talks President Putin and President Erdogan held in Moscow on January 23, we have once again reaffirmed our position, and our Turkish colleagues have unconditionally supported it, that the ultimate goal of all sides is to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

The Adana agreement, which you mentioned, was signed between Turkey and Syria in 1998 to allay Turkish security concerns. The Syrian authorities signed an agreement that stipulates certain commitments. We believe that this agreement remains in force. To the best of my knowledge, the signatory countries think likewise.

As for the current development and discussions on the buffer or security zone, it cannot be a subject of agreement between Russia and Turkey because the Syrian government must take part in such discussions. It is clear to everyone that the Syrian government must ultimately resume control over the entire Syrian territory, including this security zone. I am sure that this would be the best option and a solution to all the regional problems. Foreign interference must be kept to a minimum. This is the underlying principle of our work within the framework of the Astana process. The next Astana meeting will be held in February and will be attended by the three guarantor countries (Russia, Turkey and Iran), delegates from the Syrian government and the opposition, as well as UN and Jordanian observers. I believe that the entire range of subjects will be discussed there, because Astana is the only platform where the Syrian government can talk directly with the opposition. This is what we are trying to ensure. Apart from rooting out terrorism in Syria and tackling humanitarian matters, such as the return of refugees back home and confidence building, we must also move forward on the political track. Thanks to their painstaking work with the Syrian government and the opposition, the guarantor countries of the Astana format have prepared proposals on the format of the Constitutional Committee. We hope that the committee will hold a constituent meeting in the near future.



Question:

What can the international community do towards rapprochement between the Palestinian side and a Palestinian-Israeli settlement?



Sergey Lavrov:

The main thing is to encourage Palestinians to restore their unity. Disunity and deep and growing contradictions between Ramallah and Gaza are hindering the creation of a Palestinian state within the framework of the two-state solution, under which Palestine and Israel will live side by side in safety and as good neighbours.

We appreciate the efforts taken by our Egyptian colleagues to help rebuild Palestinian unity. But we also see a deep divide between Fatah and Hamas. We strongly hope that the external players who can influence the Palestinian sides will act in the interests of Palestinians rather than use differences between Ramallah and Gaza in their own geopolitical interests in this explosion prone region.



Question:

Do you think it expedient to hold a general election in Libya in spring 2019 as planned?



Sergey Lavrov:

Today we held an in-depth discussion on the Libyan crisis at a meeting with His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco and also at the talks held by our delegations. We said more than once that arbitrarily setting a date for anything is counterproductive. The Libyan election was first announced after a meeting in Paris in May 2018. It was set for December, but it turned out later that it was an unrealistic decision.

Like on many other topics, together with our Moroccan colleagues, we share the opinion that the main thing is to ensure that all the political forces in Libya come to an agreement on the need to make a decision. Only when they reach an agreement will the election be held, in one form or another. The most important part is to coordinate the rules of the game before launching a political process. This has not been done so far. Russia is working with all the political forces in Libya, encouraging consensus on the rules of the game and on the principles of life in a unitary state where people have lived for a long time without any sustainable institutions responsible for organising life in the country. It is a difficult task. I don’t think that setting a new date for the election should be a priority at the moment.



Question:

When will a Russia-Africa summit be held?



Sergey Lavrov:

When President Putin took part in the BRICS summit in Johannesburg and an outreach meeting with invited representatives from several African countries, we proposed holding a Russia-Africa summit which is scheduled to be held this autumn. We are discussing this with our African friends. As soon as a decision is taken, the Presidential Executive Office will make a statement to this effect.



Question (retranslated from French):

Some Algerian media outlets have reported that you drew a parallel between the problems of Palestine and Western Sahara. What can you say to that?



Sergey Lavrov:

There is only one parallel between the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the problems of Western Sahara: no solution has been found for them over the past decades. There is nothing else in common between them. I said in Algiers yesterday that we must accelerate the settlement of both conflicts.

The Palestinian problem must be settled on the basis of the UN Security Council and General Assembly decisions, as well as the Arab Peace Initiative. And a solution to the problems of Western Sahara must be based on the UN Security Council decisions taken with regard to this particular region, not any other situation.

We want to find a solution to both these conflicts through an agreement between the sides involved. I believe that we fully agree on this with our Moroccan colleagues.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483534






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia ‎Khemaies Jhinaoui‎, Tunisia, January 26, 2019



26 January 2019 - 14:26







Minister, my dear friend,

We are delighted to see you, one of our closest friends in Tunisia. You have visited Russia many times since 2011 when you completed your mission as the Ambassador of Tunisia to the Russian Federation. I remember how in 2016 we held negotiations and adopted an important anti-terrorist statement.

Tunisia is our reliable partner. We are closely following your Government’s efforts to maintain stability in the country and we can see that the welfare of the people in Tunisia is strengthening.







We are interested in stability to be established everywhere in this region, and all the problems lingering in the Middle East to be resolved. We very much appreciate Tunisia’s balanced approach to what is happening around your country. We value the unanimity or proximity of our two countries’ positions on key issues concerning international relations.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483621






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and the answer to a media question at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Tunisia Khemaies Jhinaoui, Tunis, January 26, 2019



26 January 2019 - 14:44







Minister,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to our Tunisian hosts for the warm welcome and hospitality they have extended to our delegation, as well as for the constructive talks we have held with Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui. We know him very well since he worked as the Tunisian Ambassador to Russia. We consider him a good friend and partner.

We appreciate our interaction with Tunisia, our long-standing international partner, and we are interested in the further development of our relations in all spheres.

Today we started with discussing our bilateral affairs. Considerable growth was reported in trade and economic cooperation, but our Tunisian friends would like to increase their exports to Russia so as to balance our mutual trade. Likewise, we would like to see more agricultural products from Tunisia on the Russian market. We will work towards this goal, including as part of the preparations for the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation, which will be held in Tunisia this year.

We also discussed our cultural cooperation, including our ties in education. There are 3,000 Tunisian students in Russia and this number is growing. It is notable that many Tunisian graduates of Soviet and Russian universities are working in many economic sectors and administrative agencies of Tunisia.

As my colleague has said, we also discussed the expansion of our cultural exchanges. Tourism is a traditional part of our ties. Tunis is one of the most attractive countries for Russian tourists. We are grateful to the Tunisian authorities for their efforts to ensure the safety of Russian citizens in this hospitable country.

As for international matters, we focused on Libya and the many problems it is facing, including the threat of terrorism, which also affects Tunisia. We have agreed to redouble our counterterrorism cooperation within the framework of the UN and also on the bilateral level.

We appreciate our Tunisian friends’ support for the efforts Russia is taking within the framework of the Astana format to promote a settlement in Syria. I am convinced that Tunisia would like the Syrian refugees who have taken shelter in Tunisia to return back home as soon as possible. We are doing our best to create conditions for their return to Syria.

As we said in Algeria and Morocco during the past few days, we would like Tunisia to support the return of the Syrian Arab Republic back into the lap of the Arab family, that is, the League of Arab States, especially considering that Tunis will host the next Arab League summit in March.

We had very fruitful talks, and we will continue to hold more of them. Today I will meet with the President of the Republic of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.

I would like to thank our hosts for their hospitality once again.







Question:

What practical action can Russia take to support the Tunisian economy considering that the bilateral trade is unbalanced?



Sergey Lavrov:

Our relations are based on the principle of mutual benefit. We cannot export anything to Tunisia contrary to the will of our Tunisian partners. We deliver what the Tunisian economy needs. Likewise, we import from Tunisia what the Russian market requires.

I would like to repeat that we would like to export more highly processed products to Tunisia and to import more agricultural goods from Tunisia. This is possible. I am sure that the Russian-Tunisian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation will hold a practical discussion on this matter at its next meeting.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483665






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s commentary following a meeting with President of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisia, January 26, 2019



26 January 2019 - 15:11







We had a very good confidential conversation with President of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi. We are grateful to him for this meeting and also for the opportunity to match our approaches to the development of bilateral relations and to our cooperation in regional and international affairs. We reaffirmed our countries’ focus on the all-round development of cooperation in various fields including trade, economic, investment, cultural, humanitarian and educational projects.

Our Tunisian friends are glad that their hospitable country is one of Russians’ favourite holiday destinations. Last year, 600,000 Russian tourists visited Tunisia.

Regarding the international problems, both Russia and Tunisia are extremely concerned about the persisting threat of terrorism. Tunisia is at risk due to the ongoing crisis in Libya. Today we discussed how we can cooperate more effectively on antiterrorist efforts, both bilaterally and as part of international efforts considering the need to create a truly universal front for the fight against terrorism. We share a common opinion about the need to harmonise the efforts of external mediators on the Libyan settlement. This should be done under the auspices of the UN and with priority consideration of the opinions of the neighbouring countries, primarily Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt.







We see eye to eye on the need to work to prevent undermining Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to facilitate Syria’s return to the Arab family and resumption of its Arab League membership.

President Essebsi shared his vision of the modern world, which is very close to our approach based on the need to ensure a balance on the world stage, avoiding any unilateral confrontational steps, while achieving agreement between the main centres of economic growth and political influence. We agreed to maintain contacts at all levels. I am confident that this will benefit both Russia and Tunisia.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483675






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comment following the meeting with Prime Minister of Tunisia Youssef Chahed, Tunis, January 26, 2019



26 January 2019 - 15:20







We have just had another meeting (with Prime Minister of Tunisia Youssef Chahed) during our visit to Tunisia. The meeting was dedicated to plans for expanding our trade and economic and investment cooperation. We expressed satisfaction with growing trade and agreed to work towards more well-balanced trade patterns. Participants at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, and Scientific and Technical Cooperation, scheduled to be held in Tunisia in the first half of 2019, will discuss these matters.

We also reminded our Tunisian colleagues that last year the Russian Federation suggested signing a programme of bilateral trade, economic, and scientific and technical cooperation for 2019−2021. We requested, and Prime Minister of Tunisia Youssef Chahed promised to do this, to expedite the coordination of this programme, so that it could be approved at the upcoming meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission. We also agreed to expedite the ratification of an intergovernmental cooperation agreement regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy (that was signed earlier) and to more quickly sign a number of other projects and documents for introducing a more lenient visa regime, as well as those regarding cooperation in the field of automobile transport and environmental protection.

Our Tunisian colleagues also informed us about the plans to expand their country’s infrastructure. They would like Russian companies, primarily those building roads and railways, to bid in the relevant tenders. We will motivate our economic operators to respond to such proposals.







We were satisfied to note the expanding cooperation between Tunisia and the Russian regions, including between Tunisia and Tatarstan. President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov visited this country in October 2018, and a business forum involving business managers from Tunisia and Tatarstan took place. We will also encourage such contacts in every possible way.

On the whole, the conversation was specific and detailed, and it allowed us to better understand how to further expand our cooperation in all spheres.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483732






Joint statement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany Heiko Maas on Germany’s humanitarian gesture with regard to survivors of the siege of Leningrad



27 January 2019 - 10:30



Seventy-five years ago, Soviet troops completely lifted the German Wehrmacht’s siege of Leningrad, now St Petersburg. The siege went down in history as an act of atrocity against an entire city and its population. The 872-day siege spelled death, famine and suffering and claimed the lives of over one million people.

We, the ministers of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation and the Federal Republic of Germany praise the decision made by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany to make a voluntary humanitarian gesture with regard to the survivors of the siege of Leningrad and to allocate 12 million euros for overhauling a hospital for war veterans and for establishing in St Petersburg a Russian-German meeting centre for the Russian and German public and for the survivors of the siege of Leningrad. This decision is based on the recognition of responsibility for the crimes committed by Germany during that period.

We are confident that this voluntary humanitarian gesture will improve the quality of life of the survivors of the siege of Leningrad and will serve the cause of historical reconciliation between the peoples of the two countries as a foundation of our bilateral relations in the future.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483923







The following event is not displayed in the English version.


22 January 2019

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic in the Russian Federation B. Otunbayev - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481455
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Most personal and non-personal events have not been translated to English.





Personal events:





Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s participation in the Defence Ministry’s briefing on INF Treaty issues



23 January 2019 - 17:27



On January 23, the Defence Ministry held a briefing [https://vnnforum.com/showpost.php?p=...&postcount=242] for military attaches from a number of countries and a demonstration of Russia’s 9M729 cruise missile at Patriot Park. The US groundlessly claims that the missile was developed in violation of the INF

The events were attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. In his speech he noted Russia’s unprecedented efforts to address both sides’ concerns over the INF Treaty on a reciprocal basis. Mr Ryabkov said that Russia voluntarily offered to present information to the US on the cruise missile that causes the biggest concern, despite being under no obligation to do so, in the form of a briefing and demonstration so as to convincingly refute accusations of Russia’s non-compliance with the treaty.

It was emphasised that Washington did not want to discuss this initiative and categorically rejected the possibility of reciprocal transparency. This unconstructive position illustrates once again how the US is trying to conceal from other members of the international community the truth about its position on the INF Treaty. Washington has made a political decision to dismantle the INF Treaty regardless of Russia’s actions.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482119






Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich’s remarks at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the situation in Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk Agreements, Vienna, January 24, 2019



24 January 2019 - 17:49




Mr Chairperson,

Despite the New Year and Christmas truce, Kiev continues to aggravate military tensions in Donbass and is building up military activities close by to the contact line.

The ceasefire regime is regularly violated. Tension is especially high in the area of Donetsk, Yasinovataya and Avdeyevka, near Svetlodarsk, and in the Zolotoye disengagement zone. Between January 16 and 22, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine reported seeing 87 Ukrainian heavy weapons deployed [there] in violation of the Minsk Package of Measures and another 99 weapons immediately beyond the withdrawal lines. The Ukrainian armed forces are redeploying to the contact-line zone cannon and rocket-launching artillery systems, including 152mm Akatsiya and 122mm Gvozdika and Lyagushka howitzers. Trains were reported to have been used to deliver military equipment to Konstantinovka and Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) in the Donetsk Region.

The armed forces of Ukraine continue preparations for an offensive. During an exercise conducted by the Ukrainian Joint Forces on January 20, an airborne assault unit drilled capture of new positions near Mariupol with air support from attack helicopters.

Ukraine continues to stage provocations in the vicinity of civilian infrastructure facilities. Following the January 10 fire attack on the staff of the Water of Donbass Company, who were ensuring the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station, two civilian cars parked near the Vasilyevskaya Pumping Station in Krutaya Balka came under fire on January 17. Early on January 23, a fire attack on the Vasilyevskaya Pumping Station itself resulted in damage to the entrance checkpoint plus the chlorinator facility and the accumulator room. The personnel had to take refuge in a shelter. Incidentally, five purifying stations that supply running water to 1.3 million people on both sides of the contact line are connected to the Vasilyevskaya Pumping Station. The Ukrainian forces shelled the school in Zolotoye-5, for a third time in the past four weeks. Luckily, no children were injured.

What is needed to prevent an escalation is not only an effective monitoring but also measures to supervise and consolidate the truce, including a mechanism to discipline ceasefire violators. This is an urgent problem, as is the need to publish orders prohibiting the use of arms. The SMM has reported that some Ukrainian servicemen did not even know about the New Year and Christmas truce. It is especially important to coordinate and receive a confirmation in writing on additional security guarantees in the area of civilian infrastructure facilities. Regrettably, no progress was made on these matters at the January 17 meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk because of Ukraine’s position.

Ukraine continues to sabotage the implementation of the September 21, 2016 Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to the disengagement of forces and hardware. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are undermining the ceasefire regime and consolidate their positions in the Zolotoye sector. No progress is posted in Petrovskoye, where repeat fire attacks have been recorded since the New Year truce. The Armed Forces of Ukraine stubbornly refuse to disengage forces and hardware in Stanitsa Luganskaya, where, according to the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, the required conditions have been maintained for this since December 2018.

Kiev’s actions make it impossible to stabilise the situation along the contact line. All of this has been impacting the situation at checkpoints, with mostly senior citizens suffering as a result. In the past seven days, three people, including two elderly men, have died while crossing the contact line. This happened in the space of three days (January 18 and 21), immediately after crossing the Armed Forces of Ukraine checkpoint in Stanitsa Luganskaya.

Kiev has also deliberately deadlocked the peaceful resolution of the crisis under the Minsk Package of Measures. Constitutional amendments regarding decentralisation have been shelved indefinitely. The law pardoning participants in the Donbass developments has not entered into force. Contrary to provisions of the Package of Measures, Ukraine has failed to grant permanent status to the law regarding the special status of Donbass; this document expires December 31, 2019. Additionally, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko made an election campaign promise on January 22 that no special statuses whatsoever would be granted in Ukraine. How does this tally with Ukraine’s obligations under the Minsk Agreements?

Today, campaign rhetoric and vying for the sympathies of nationalist radicals, who have become the pillar of the incumbent regime, determine nearly all of Ukrainian leaders’ actions. They continue to incite tensions in society, to crack down on any dissent, to purge the information space, to meddle in church affairs and to drive out the Russian language.

Human rights activists also note an alarming trend. The new annual Human Rights Watch report highlights the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine. The document notes the rampage of nationalist radicals, and Kiev authorities are either unable or unwilling to stop this. Donbass residents are being discriminated against. The report also notes the negative consequences of the region’s blockade imposed by Kiev and the harassment of journalists. There is no progress in investigating high-profile crime cases either. According to human rights activists, those guilty of killing people in Odessa in May 2014 have escaped unpunished.

On January 17, a Kherson court ruled to extend the arrest warrant of Kirill Vyshinsky, editor of the RIA Novosti Ukraine website, until February 16. That same day, authorities searched the office and apartment of his lawyer, Andrei Domansky; the search also continued on January 18. This was obviously done to intimidate the Russian citizen’s lawyer. On January 18, the office of the Kherson-based newspaper Novy Dyen (New Day) was fired upon. Incidentally, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir has already commented on this incident.

More provocations have been staged against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). An unprecedented legislative onslaught on the UOC has been complemented with pressure on its clergy and parishioners. These Ukrainian actions are in violation of a number of Ukrainian international legal commitments, including those assumed within the OSCE framework. They are also at variance with Ukraine’s domestic legislation, in particular Article 35 of the Constitution, which precludes government interference in church affairs or any privileges for religious associations.

On January 17, the Verkhovna Rada adopted fresh amendments to the Law on the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organisations. These amendments will provide the legal basis for a large-scale revision of UOC’s ownership rights. The loosely worded law can lead to new religious conflicts and can be used for the illegal seizure of churches as well as their property. Inspired by this law, radicals attacked the UOC’s Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Sumy on January 18. The evening service had to be discontinued after the extremists tossed a pyrotechnic device inside the building.

More attacks have been reported on UOC parishes. All of these are based on the same scheme: a decision to take over an Orthodox church is taken at a meeting, which is often attended by representatives of the local authorities, following which aggressive people seize the said church. On January 16, aggressive people led by the head of the local government, forced open the doors of an UOC church in the village of Shandrovets in the Lvov Region, making the local priest leave the temple. In the early hours of January 19, when Orthodox Christians were celebrating Epiphany, the archpriest of the Church of St. Trinity in the village of Rostoki, Ternopol Region, was not allowed to conduct the service. On the same day, the head of the local administration g in the town of Brailov, Vinnitsa Region, tried to prevent the priest of the local UOC parish from performing the dedication service over the baptismal font. On January 21, an UOC church was seized in the village of Bronnitsa, Volyn Region. During the same day, armed members of an ultra-nationalist Ukrainian group tried to help take over the UOC church in the village of Vesyoloye, Lugansk Region.

Mr Chairperson,

It is perfectly clear that Kiev has only used the Minsk Agreements to get a tactical respite, build up its military potential and attain short-term political goals. Kiev’s speculations about an alleged “Russian aggression” are only making a peaceful settlement of the crisis even more remote.

Despite Ukraine’s counterproductive policy, we proceed from the assumption that there is no alternative to the Minsk Package of Measures, which was signed on February 12, 2015, and approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2202, as the basis for a settlement. But it is impossible to move forward without the political will of the Ukrainian leaders. Ukraine must be made to abide by its commitments to cease fire, to synchronise the achievement of security goals with progress on the political track and to consistently implement all the provisions of the Minsk Package in their entirety and interconnection.

Thank you.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482830






Remarks by Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the violation of linguistic rights in Ukraine, Vienna, January 24, 2019



25 January 2019 - 11:03




Mr Chairman,

We would like to draw the attention of the Permanent Council’s members to another violation of linguistic rights in Ukraine. The authorities of that country strive to artificially expedite the adoption of a new draft law On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as a State Language. They are planning to complete the procedure already in the first half of February. It appears that they are rushing to accomplish this in the run-up to the Ukrainian presidential election, in order to please the radical circles.

The draft law aims to completely “Ukrainise” all areas of state and social life and to drive out the Russian language, as well as the languages of ethnic minorities, including Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Polish, Greek and other languages. Senior Verkhovna Rada officials do not conceal the fact that they will continue to implement this tough nationalities policy, which essentially boils down to a nationalist policy. We hear no response from the European Union to these harsh measures with regard to the languages of some of its member countries. Or is Brussels hoping to obtain concessions from Kiev during bilateral talks through the discrimination of the Russian language?

To be more specific, we must note the draft law’s Article 17. In effect, its new version reproduces Article 7 of the above-mentioned Law on Education and states expressly that the use of the Ukrainian language in “external independent evaluation or entrance exams” and also “in foreign language courses” is mandatory. The draft law’s Article 15 formalises a monopoly procedure for using the Ukrainian language during electoral processes, and its Article 21 notes the need for publishing Ukrainian language versions of ethnic minorities’ print media. There are many other restrictions. Therefore, this essentially implies an all-out linguistic purge.

Additionally, the draft law contains a number of terms, including “the private communication sphere,” “the public humiliation of the Ukrainian language” and “attempts to introduce an official multi-lingual status in Ukraine” that do not meet the requirements of clear legal definitions. This is also detrimental to the rights and legitimate interests of citizens.

The other day Nikolay Knyazhitsky, chair of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Culture and Spirituality who is responsible for promoting this draft law, said that the draft was unlikely to be seriously amended for the second reading. In other words, he has in fact ignored more than 2,500 amendments that have been submitted to the parliament within the framework of this initiative.

Moreover, he ruled out any possibility of sending the draft law for examination by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, as this was carried out earlier in connection with the controversial Law on Education. The fear that international organisations will again sharply criticise Kiev for neglecting its human rights obligations is clearly stronger than common sense, legal logic and the government’s obligation to work in the interests of the people, not contrary to them. It is noteworthy that the other day President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio confirmed in writing the commission’s negative attitude to the disputable Article 7 of the Law on Education. This may mean that the commission has a similar attitude to Article 17 of the new draft law.

The Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities has major complaints against the Ukrainian authorities.

Indicatively, independent Ukrainian experts have concluded that this draft law is “the most conflict-prone of all the previously proposed laws on languages.”

Let us look at this initiative from the viewpoint of Kiev’s legal and political commitments.

First of all, these initiatives violate the Ukrainian Constitution, in particular Articles 10 and 24, which guarantee the “free development, use, and protection of Russian and other languages of national minorities of Ukraine (…) in Ukraine” and “equal constitutional rights and freedoms” to Ukrainian citizens without any “privileges or restrictions” including those based on “linguistic or other characteristics.”

Second, they contradict Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Ukraine has ratified. This article says: “In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.”

This provision can also be applied in full to the persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, but this is a separate subject.

Third, there are Ukraine’s commitments within the framework of the Council of Europe and also the opinion of the Venice Commission, which I have already mentioned.

Fourth, with regard to the OSCE obligations, we would like to ask about the Ukrainian authorities’ compliance with Clause 35 of the 1990 Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). It says: “The participating States will respect the right of persons belonging to national minorities to effective participation in public affairs, including participation in the affairs relating to the protection and promotion of the identity of such minorities. “

Clause 34 of that document says: “The participating States will endeavour to ensure that persons belonging to national minorities, notwithstanding the need to learn the official language or languages of the State concerned, have adequate opportunities for instruction of their mother tongue or in their mother tongue.”

We would like to hear professional comments rather than implausible excuses and big words from the Ukrainian side.

Overall, we have to say once again that the so-called reforms leave the Russian speakers and other national minorities in Ukraine no hope for a prosperous and equal future. This is why it is imperative that the relevant OSCE agencies, including the current OSCE Chairmanship, the High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, treat this situation as a priority.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482951






22 January 2019

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Australian Ambassador to Moscow P. Tesh - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481278

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the heads of diplomatic missions of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in Moscow - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481361

Meeting of A. Grushko with the Ambassador of Romania in Moscow V. Soare - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481408

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the adviser to the newly elected President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo P. Muan Congo - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481445

Meeting of S. Vershinin with the Commissioner-General of the Middle East Agency for Palestine Refugees Assistance and Works Organization P. Krechenbühl - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481492

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of the State of Palestine in Moscow A.Nofal - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481507

Meeting of S. Vershinin with the Ambassador of Germany in Moscow R. von Fritsch - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481568


23 January 2019

Meeting of A. Grushko with the Deputy of the European Parliament and co-chair of the European green party R. Butikofer - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481790

Speech by S. Ryabkov at an event to show the representatives of the military attaches of foreign countries the modernized Iskander-M missile system with a 9M729 cruise missile in the context of the INF Treaty - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482099


24 January 2019

Consultations of G. Karasin with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey S. Onal - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482345

Consultations A. Grushko with political directors of the Foreign Ministry of the Visegrad Group countries [Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic] - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482671

Meeting of A. Pankin with the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Iran in Moscow M. Sanai - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482840

V. Titov's conversation with political directors of the Foreign Ministry of the Visegrad Group countries - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482882


25 January 2019

Meeting of A. Grushko with the candidate for the post of head of the OSCE SMM in Ukraine Y. Chevik - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483024

Meeting of G. Karasin with the Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to Russia A. Jackshenkulov - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483034

Meeting of S. Vershinin with the Ambassador of China in Moscow, Li Huei - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483079

On the participation of S. Ryabkov in the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483466


26 January 2019

Consultations of I. Morgulov with the special representative of the US State Department for North Korean policy S. Bigan - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483560


27 January 2019

M. Zakharova's comment on the humanitarian gesture of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany towards the currently living participants in the blockade of Leningrad - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483933







Non-personal events:





Comment by the Information and Press Department on developments in Libya



21 January 2019 - 13:30



Moscow continues to closely follow developments in Libya. It is with regret that we report that recently, the situation in that country has again seriously deteriorated.

We are particularly concerned over the resumption of armed clashes in the south of Tripoli and adjacent areas by various armed factions in violation of the truce reached last September with the assistance of the UN Support Mission in Libya. The human toll being reported includes civilians.

Obviously, this outbreak of violence is complicating the continuation of the internal political settlement process in Libya, which is at the important stage of preparations for a national conference in line with the plan of action laid out by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salame.

In this context we strongly urge all Libyan parties to the conflict to renounce attempts to resolve disputes by force, come to the negotiating table and conclude a long-term truce that will make it possible to restore tranquility in the capital and its environs. We are convinced that all problems can and should be resolved only through constructive dialogue.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480533






Comment by the Information and Press Department on the EU decision to add Russian citizens to the sanctions list



21 January 2019 - 18:20



On January 21, the EU Foreign Affairs Council approved restrictions against a number of Russian citizens for their alleged involvement in the Salisbury poisoning in March 2018. By so doing, the EU tested a new mechanism against our compatriots of restrictive measures against the proliferation and use of chemical weapons.

The new accusations against Russia and Russian citizens under the so-called Skripal case do not stand up to scrutiny. The information campaign was launched by the British government over this case for predominantly domestic political purposes. It is indicative that the renewal of this campaign has coincided with the latest crisis in the Brexit talks.

We reaffirm our position of principle on the unacceptability of unilateral restrictive measures adopted without due regard for the opinion of the UN Security Council. We regard the adoption and application of the abovementioned mechanism as evidence of the EU’s disrespect for the Chemical Weapons Convention. It is notable that the first targets of these restrictive EU measures are the citizens of Russia and Syria, the two states which, unlike the United States, have eliminated all their chemical weapons under the OPCW supervision. By adopting these sanctions, Brussels has once again demonstrated its disregard for the collective mechanisms of international cooperation. Their replacement with illegitimate and unilateral “punitive” instruments, such as the assignment of attributive functions to the OPCW Technical Secretariat, can exacerbate arbitrariness in international relations and erode international law.

We reserve the right to take response measures to this unfriendly action.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480944






Comment by the Information and Press Department on the initiative to hold a conference on the Middle East in Warsaw on February 13-14, 2019



22 January 2019 - 13:07



We view with concern the United States’ continued attempts to promote its unilateral geopolitical interests through initiatives that are presented as the opinion of the international community.

The latest political project of this kind is the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, which is scheduled to be held in Warsaw on February 13-14, 2019. Following a thorough analysis of the provisional agenda and programme of this conference provided by the organisers, Russia has decided not to attend it for the following reasons.

Despite the ambitious name, the theme of this conference does not cover the entire range of basic problems ailing the Middle East. In particular, it is not planned to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict and its core element, the Palestinian problem. The preliminary programme includes the fight against terrorism and extremism, maritime and digital security, the situation in Yemen and Syria, as well as Iran’s role in the region, including missile development and proliferation. It is an obvious attempt to bring together as many countries as possible on an anti-Iran platform, to create conditions for the ultimate erosion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action known as the Iran nuclear deal, and to shift the international focus from Syria and Yemen to anti-Iran efforts.

The participants will be unable to influence the forum’s final decisions, which will be formulated as a non-negotiable US-Polish brief, as the forum organisers have announced.

This conference is being arranged hastily and behind closed doors, without due regard for the opinions of influential countries in the Middle East and beyond. The UN is not among the co-sponsors of the conference, which is prepared as a benchmark event. It is unlikely that this approach will help “build consensus” regarding insecurity in the Middle East.

In light of the above, we once again point out that the current US policy of fostering anti-Iran sentiments and creating new dividing lines in the Middle East is unacceptable. We would like to remind everyone about Washington’s declared plans to create the so-called Middle East Strategic Alliance, which experts have dubbed the “Arab NATO.” Another example is the “deal of the century” to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has been discussed for the past two years. This American initiative has produced a lot of speculation at different levels, but its essence has remained obscure to this day. Meanwhile, Washington’s deliberations about its new plans for a Middle East settlement have stymied international efforts to bring a fair and lasting peace to the region.

Instead of promoting unilateral approaches, Moscow has been calling for collective efforts to build a consensus and find compromise solutions so as to ease confrontation and settle all problems through political and diplomatic methods based on international law and with the UN playing the central role.

We have been consistently upholding this approach. On June 25, 2018, the UN Security Council held an Open Debate on Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Comprehensive Review of the Situation in the Middle East and North Africa. The debate was organised at Russia’s initiative to coordinate international efforts to settle all acute crises in that region as a package and to build an architecture of peace and security there, based on the positive potential of previous Russian initiatives, including the initiative on security and confidence-building measures for the Persian Gulf. These initiatives remain valid. We call for continued cooperation in this sphere led by the UN and its Security Council.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481139






Main foreign policy results in 2018



22 January 2019 - 16:56



In 2018, Russia’s diplomacy focused on addressing problems related to creating a safe and favourable external environment for harmonious internal development in Russia.

- The near abroad countries come as a natural priority in Russia's foreign policy. The Priority Development Areas to 2022 and the 2018–2019 Programme for Coordinated Foreign Policy Actions have been approved within the framework of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. The Plan of Joint Actions by Russia and Kazakhstan to 2021 was adopted, which identifies the main areas of state-to-state cooperation. In the wake of the internal political changes in Armenia, our respective countries reiterated their mutual plans to continue allied cooperation. Political as well as trade and economic ties with Kyrgyzstan have been expanding at a rapid pace. A programme for economic cooperation to 2021 was signed with Tajikistan. Work under the Action Plan on Developing Key Areas of Cooperation with Azerbaijan to 2024 has begun. A state visit by the Russian President to Uzbekistan took place in October. In August, the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Russia and Turkmenistan entered into force.

Several meetings between the Russian President and the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia took place as part of political dialogue with these republics. The recognition of their independence by Syria came as an important event.

2018 saw progress across the entire spectrum of the Eurasian integration agenda. Under the Russian chairmanship of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a declaration on the further development of integration processes within the EAEU was adopted, which complements the existing agreements on forming common markets with areas of interaction including education and science, healthcare, tourism, sports and region-to-region trade cooperation. A foundation was laid for launching joint digital projects. Regulations on the status of observer states in the EAEU and the decision to grant such status to Moldova were adopted. In the context of expanding its external relations, the EAEU signed a Memorandum on deepening cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the CIS Executive Committee, which opens the way to harmonising integration initiatives in the post-Soviet space. An interim agreement leading to the creation of a free trade area with Iran and the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation with China, which provides a legal basis for aligning projects under the EAEU and the Chinese One Belt, One Way initiative, were adopted. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the EEC and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was an important step regarding implementing Russia’s initiative to form Greater Eurasian space. The willingness to create a broad partnership in Eurasia was confirmed in the format of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the Heads of State meeting (Qingdao, June) and Heads of Government (Dushanbe, October).

Forty-five decisions were made as part of integration cooperation within the CIS at the heads of state and government levels alone in the trade, economic, cultural and law enforcement spheres, as well as in security. The CIS Convention on Cooperation in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, agreements on implementing joint activities in this area, forming and expanding the intellectual property market, cooperation in combating crimes in information technology, and the Interstate Programme for Joint Measures to Combat Crime for 2019-2023 were all signed. Joint statements were adopted on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (at the heads of state level) and on preventing the erosion of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states (at the foreign ministry level).

Twelve joint statements on the most pressing issues on the international agenda, including on support for the INF Treaty, on the situation in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa, Syria, and the development of cooperation with regional organisations were adopted within the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Joint exercises to improve the military and peacekeeping components of cooperation, and special operations to combat illegal migration and drug trafficking were conducted as planned.

- The signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea at the Fifth Caspian Summit (Aktau, August) was a major achievement. It took over 20 years to work this out. The document gives the coastal countries exclusive rights to this unique body of water, its mineral and other resources. It also establishes a navigation system and procedures for the collective use of the Caspian basin, and guarantees the sea’s peaceful status and the non-presence of armed forces of countries other than the five littoral states. It has created conditions for accelerated development of economic cooperation between the Caspian states and enhanced predictability and stability in one of Eurasia’s most important regions.

- Cooperation with the countries of the Asia-Pacific Region, where the centre of global economic growth has been moving, was substantially enhanced in 2008.

The deepening of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation with China remained one of the important factors of socio-economic development of the two countries. Foreign policy coordination with Beijing, including in the UN, BRICS and the SCO, exerted stabilising influence on world politics. Trade between the two countries exceeded $100 billion for the first time. The Yamal LNG Plant launched regular energy supplies to China; the sides signed a package of inter-government and inter-corporate documents on building additional energy units at the Tianwan Nuclear Power Station and the new, Xudapu Nuclear Power Station; and the bulk of work on the Power of Siberia gas pipeline from Russia to China has been completed. Our joint projects in aviation and outer space have reached a high level of completion.

In the context of specially privileged strategic partnership with India, the contractual foundation of cooperation in the economic, military-technical, trade, space, energy, agricultural, transport and cultural areas has been expanded. The desire to continue consolidating relations was reflected in the joint declaration, “India-Russia: An Enduring Partnership in a Changing World” adopted following a bilateral summit (New Delhi, October).

An unofficial summit in the Russia-India-China format (Buenos Aires, December) was held after a 12 year interval. The three countries reaffirmed their willingness to strengthen the multilateral foundations of the world order and establish an architecture of equal and indivisible security in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Relations with Japan were intensified on a broad range of issues. Dynamics in this process were given by the talks during the official visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to Russia in May and top-level bilateral meetings on the sidelines of different international events in September, November and December. At the November summit in Singapore, the sides agreed to accelerate talks on the issue of concluding a peace treaty based on the 1956 Joint Soviet-Japanese Declaration.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula developed in line with the roadmap for settlement drafted by Russia in cooperation with China. It provided for the solution of the nuclear and other issues based on respect for the legitimate interests of all states in Northeast Asia. Russia’s political dialogue with the Republic of Korea and the DPRK livened up and the discussion of large infrastructure projects was resumed in the trilateral format.

Versatile cooperation with other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines made steady progress.

Decisions meeting Russia’s interests were adopted in the SCO. They were designed to upgrade cooperation between the SCO member countries by promoting regional economic integration and cooperation in countering terrorism, separatism, extremism and drug trafficking. A second meeting of the Moscow format of consultations was held to facilitate the peaceful process in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It was attended by representatives of the Political Office of the Taliban Movement in Doha.

The main result of the Russia-ASEAN summit (Singapore, November) was the consolidation of the strategic partnership with the association as a key instrument of ensuring regional stability and establishing a stable system of security and development in the Asia-Pacific Region.

- Our country has pursued an active foreign policy regarding the Arab and Muslim states. Thanks to Russian Aerospace Forces, most of Syria has been liberated from terrorist groups. The processes of restoring the socio-economic infrastructure, and the returning of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes began. A landmark event, the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, took place in Sochi in January. Based on the decisions made there, the guarantors of the Astana process (Russia, Turkey, and Iran), in cooperation with the UN, Damascus and Syrian opposition groups, have formed the Constitutional Committee, opening up the prospect for a political transformation and a long-term settlement in Syria.

Economic cooperation with Turkey was given a strong impetus: the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant began, and the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline was laid. Military-technical cooperation agreements were systematically implemented. Work continued on major projects with Iran, including major energy and transport projects. An important milestone in cooperation with Egypt was the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation in October. Russian-Saudi and Russian-UAE relations developed, including in the OPEC Plus format, and so did Russian-Qatari ties. Russia maintained a multi-level trust based dialogue with Israel as well as traditionally close contacts with the Palestinians. Russia made an effective contribution to reaching agreements on resolving the situation in Yemen (Stockholm, December), approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2451.

- Russia developed constructive cooperation with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The President of Russia met with the leaders of Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, Panama, and Paraguay. The legal framework for bilateral relations with the region’s countries was expanded. Progress was achieved in the development of promising high-tech joint projects in the energy sector, metallurgy, infrastructure, transport, and biotechnology. Russia was granted observer status with the sub-regional organisation, the Central American Integration System.

- In 2018, the President of Russia met with the leaders of Angola, Gabon, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, the CAR and South Africa. The range of commodities traded with the African countries has expanded. Memorandums of understanding were signed with the Southern African Development Community on the groundwork for relations and cooperation, as well as memorandums of understanding in military technical cooperation. Consultations were launched with the African Union Commission on preparations for an integrated memorandum of cooperation.

- As part of multilateral cooperation in the Arctic the parties have signed an agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the high seas sections of the central Arctic Ocean (in addition to the five coastal states, the agreement was signed by Iceland, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan and the EU). The Intergovernmental Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation came in force. It was drafted under the co-chairmanship of Russia and the US in the Arctic Council and was signed a year earlier.

- In the Euro-Atlantic area the efforts of Russian diplomacy were aimed at preventing the uncontrolled degradation of relations with the US and the EU despite their mounting pressure on Russia. The year of 2018 saw the toughening of sanctions, the provocative Skripal case in Britain, the subsequent expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US and some European countries and the buildup of NATO’s military activities near Russian borders. Contrary to the statements of some European leaders about their striving for greater independence in foreign affairs, the majority of the EU countries followed a tough anti-Russia course even if it ran counter to their economic and security interests. However, the positive dynamics of political dialogue and trade and economic cooperation was maintained with Austria, Finland, Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus. Versatile cooperation with Serbia saw steady progress. The construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline continued on schedule.

The past year did not bring any positive changes in Russia-US relations although Russia displayed a willingness to conduct a dialogue based on the principles of non-interference in internal affairs and respect for each other’s interests.

The reason for this is the ongoing domestic political struggle in the US and its current administration’s course towards eroding the interstate character of international organisations and revising its international commitments, in part, its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on settling the situation around Iran’s nuclear programme (May) and statements on its intention to “suspend” US participation in the INF Treaty. Political dialogue was limited: a bilateral summit was held (Helsinki, July); there were sporadic contacts at the foreign minister level, and cooperation on a number of international issues (arms control, Syria, Afghanistan and the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula). The military maintained smooth communication on preventing armed incidents.

- We used participation in key multilateral structures to improve the instruments of global management and a search for solutions to common problems based on international law and compromise. During the Russian Presidency of the UN Security Council (June), the UNSC passed eight resolutions and coordinated three statements by the President of the UN Security Council, including on Ukraine. The adoption by the UN General Assembly of a number of vital resolutions was ensured, including those on UN cooperation with the CIS and international information security, in part, the Russia-proposed code of conduct for states in the information space and the start in the UN General Assembly of a political discussion on ways of countering information-related crime. The Russian initiative on creating a broad anti-terrorist front received support - about 70 states signed the Code of Conduct Towards Achieving a World Free of Terrorism that determines the objectives of the activities in this area.

The South Africa-chaired 10th BRICS summit (Johannesburg, July) demonstrated progress in cooperation in all key areas – political, economic and humanitarian. The members of the association confirmed the unity or closeness of positions on the majority of global issues and a striving to enhance the role of BRICS in world affairs. The New Development Bank was profitable. Twenty-six investment projects (including six in Russia) worth $6.5 billion are being carried out under its aegis. Work began on the issues of the fourth (digital) industrial revolution to facilitate the adaptation of the socio-economic development of the BRICS countries to current technology.

At the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Russia proposed an initiative on expanding the opportunities and protecting the rights of consumers in the digital economy.

- Working with Russian compatriots abroad, Moscow hosted the Sixth World Congress of Russian Compatriots (October 31–November 1). A comprehensive plan for major events on implementing government policy in this area in 2018-2020 was endorsed. Special attention was paid to the further consolidation of the diaspora and the protection of the rights and lawful interests of compatriots, primarily in Ukraine and the Baltic states. Over 82,000 people moved to Russia in 2018 under the government programme for facilitating voluntary resettlement of compatriots to Russia.

- As part of the efforts to expand Russia’s cultural and humanitarian presence in the world, support was provided for a broad range of events, including cultural cross years and Days of Russia, as well as Russian Seasons. Assistance in training national personnel was rendered to foreign countries. The system of selecting foreign students for education at Russian universities was improved. The diplomatic service made a contribution to the preparation and holding of the first FIFA World Cup in Russia. Hundreds of thousands of foreign fans and tourists visited Russia during this major sporting event.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481435






Foreign Ministry statement on the developments in Venezuela



24 January 2019 - 12:31


The events in Venezuela have reached a dangerous point.

Failing to remove Nicolas Maduro, including physically, the extremist opponents of the legitimate government of Venezuela have opted for a highly confrontational scenario. The United States and several other countries in the region have recognised the opposition leader who has sworn himself in as Venezuela’s interim president. This can only deepen the social divide in Venezuela, aggravate street protests, dramatically destabilise the Venezuelan political community and further escalate the conflict. The deliberate and obviously well orchestrated creation of dual power and an alternative decision-making centre in Venezuela is a direct path towards chaos and erosion of Venezuelan statehood. Several people have already died. We firmly condemn those who are pushing Venezuelan society into the abyss of violent civil discord.

We regard Washington’s unceremonious actions as yet another demonstration of its total disregard for the norms and principles of international law and an attempt to pose as the self-imposed master of another nation’s future. The United States is clearly trying to apply a tried and tested regime change scenario in Venezuela.

We are especially alarmed by the signals we have received from some capitals on the possibility of foreign military interference. We warn that such opportunism can have catastrophic consequences.

We urge the sober-minded Venezuelan politicians standing in opposition to Nicolas Maduro’s legitimate government not to become pawns in other players’ chess game.

We believe that political activity is only acceptable if it is pursued within the constitutional framework and in strict compliance with the national legislation. Of course, the people must be able to freely express their opinions, including through rallies, but only if they do so peacefully in a manner that will not provoke violence or, worse still, endanger public safety.

Venezuelans alone have the right to determine their future. Any destructive foreign interference, especially amid the current tensions, is completely unacceptable. Incitement has nothing in common with a democratic process; it is a direct path towards lawlessness and violence.

It is a mission of the international community to help promote understanding between the political opposition forces in Venezuela that respect national interests. We are ready to cooperate with all countries that share these views.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482366






Comment by the Information and Press Department on space-based elements outlined in the US Missile Defence Review



25 January 2019 - 15:25



We have taken note that in the US Missile Defence Review (MDR) published on January 17, a serious emphasis is placed on the formation of a space-based missile defence group, including missile interceptors. Deployment of such systems in space is ostensibly designed to make it easier to destroy different types of missiles in the boost phase over enemy territory. To achieve this, the US Defence Department has been instructed to study the most advanced technology, as well as draw up a time schedule, costs and personnel requirements.

We consider this to be further evidence (on a par with the decision to create space-based armed forces and the allocation of funds for the development of space-based missile defence) of Washington’s real intention to use outer space for combat operations and ensuring US domination in space in the near future. We are deeply disappointed that instead of developing constructive dialogue on the issues of strategic stability and preventing an arms race in space the US preferred to return to the implementation of yet another version of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars programme.

We again urge Washington to display prudence and give up such irresponsible ventures that could have extremely adverse consequences for the entire international community and the United States itself. Obviously, the appearance of weapons in outer space would run counter to the established practice of international cooperation in space exploration and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

The potential implementation of US military plans in space will deal a blow at the current system of ensuring the security of space activities, which was shaped by the development of international space law. All of Washington’s previous attempts to ensure military supremacy invariably ended in the escalation of tensions and new rounds of the arms race.

Russia gives priority to space exploration and use exclusively for peaceful purposes and, unlike the United States, does not nurture plans to use attack weapons in orbit. This is proved by many initiatives made by Russia with the support of a solid group of like-minded countries on preventing an arms race in space, including elaborating a binding international instrument on keeping outer space free from any types of weapons based on the Russia-China draft treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects. In particular, we intend to continue active work in the Group of Government Experts on the further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space, which was established by UN General Assembly Resolution 72/250. The group’s final session will take place in Geneva on March 18-29.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483332






21 January 2019

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the publication of the conclusions of the Advisory Committee of the framework Convention of the Council of Europe for the protection of national minorities on the implementation by Russia of the Convention in the framework of the fourth monitoring cycle - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480332

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the media question on the opening of the Fund for the Development of Social and Cultural Relations “Transnistria” - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480342

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the official results of the presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3480694


22 January 2019

Answers of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia to questions from Ekho Moskvy radio station - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3481539


25 January 2019

Warning for Russian citizens traveling abroad due to the threat of persecution by the United States - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483014


26 January 2019

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the Situation in Venezuela - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3483909
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Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, January 23, 2019



23 January 2019 - 17:33







Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Tunisian Republic

On January 23-26, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will make a working visit to North Africa, including the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Tunisian Republic.

Meetings are planned with representatives of the top leadership of these states, as are talks with the respective foreign ministers. The agenda of the upcoming contacts includes discussion of bilateral relations and an exchange of views on current regional and international issues.

Algiers, Rabat and Tunis are pursuing an active foreign policy, making a significant contribution to multilateral efforts to respond to new challenges and threats, including global ones. Deepening coordination with them fully meets Russia’s interests.

We attach particular importance to the regular coordination of our approaches to addressing the existing challenges of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Sahara-Sahel zone.

At the same time, we are guided by Russia’s principled position that the peoples living in this region can and should determine their future independently, without any outside intervention, to attain domestic goals through a broad national dialogue. This fully applies to the earliest resolution of the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Mali, and the cessation of the violence and the suffering of the civilian populations in these countries.



Kazakh Foreign Minister Beibut Atamkulov’s visit to Russia

On January 28, Beibut Atamkulov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, will pay an official visit to Moscow for the first time in this capacity.

During Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with Mr Atamkulov the parties will exchange views on a wide range of current issues of Russian-Kazakhstani relations, integration projects of the two countries, cooperation in the CSTO, CIS, SCO, UN and OSCE. They will compare notes on regional and international agendas. Special attention will be paid to regional security issues.

During the visit, plans call for signing a 2019-2020 Action Plan for cooperation between the ministries of foreign affairs of the two states.



Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone Alie Kabba’s visit to Russia

On January 28-30, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Alie Kabba will be in Moscow on a working visit. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with him on January 29. The officials are expected to discuss ways to step up political, trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation between Russia and Sierra Leone, with a focus on promoting business partnerships in geological exploration, the fishing industry and the fuel and energy complex.

The ministers will discuss in detail current issues on the global and regional agenda, such as the settlement of crises and peacekeeping in Africa. They are also expected to pay attention to combating international terrorism and extremism in the context of comprehensive efforts to neutralise these threats in Africa and the Middle East. The two ministers will discuss the prospects of reforming the UN Security Council in light of Sierra Leone’s chairmanship in the African Union Committee of Ten on the UN Security Council Reform.



Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim’s visit to Russia

On January 29-31, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Iraq Mohammed al-Hakim will be in Moscow on a working visit. This is his first trip to Moscow as the Iraqi foreign minister.

During the talks scheduled on January 30, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Hakim are expected to discuss current issues on the global and regional agenda with an emphasis on the situation around Syria and Iraq. They will focus on consolidating efforts to counter international terrorism and religious extremism.

The ministers will also discuss in detail practical tasks in the context of further developing bilateral relations, including the upcoming eighth meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Iraqi Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation co-chaired by Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim, to be held in Baghdad this spring.

We are pleased to note that the Russian-Iraqi political dialogue is regular and constructive, with a high degree of trust and close or shared approaches on key international and Middle East issues.



Update on Syria

Developments in Idlib are a source of serious concern. The situation in the de-escalation zone in this area is rapidly deteriorating. In effect, militants from al-Nusra’s Hayat Tahrir al-Sham have established complete control over the situation by ousting units of the moderate armed opposition. The number of ceasefire violations continues to grow. Over 1,000 cases have been recorded since the signing of the Russia-Turkey Memorandum of September 17, 2018. As a result, 65 people have been killed and over 200 wounded. Thirty ceasefire violations have been recorded in the past four days alone. The continued provocations by terrorists pose a threat to the civilians, Syrian army personnel and the Russian Khmeimim base.

I would like to say a few words about the intention of the US to withdraw its units from Syria. Despite the unequivocal statement by US President Donald Trump on this, no practical steps have been taken. Under the circumstances, the main goal is to prevent an aggravation of the situation and the escalation of tensions in the northeastern regions of Syria.

According to incoming reports, dozens of people including four Americans (among them a civilian employee of the Department of Defence and a member of a private military company) were killed in Manbidj on January 16 by a suicide bomber who detonated a self-made explosive device. Needless to say, this incident should be resolutely denounced.

At the same time it is obvious that US units and their allies from the so-called anti-ISIS coalition in Syria have failed to prevent the movement of terrorists, that were besieged in eastern Syria, to other parts of the country. We would like to note again that to effectively counter the Jihadists and stabilise the territory beyond the Euphrates River as a whole, this territory needs to be placed under the control of the legitimate authorities. This would help Syria and would also make it possible to alleviate the national security concerns of the neighbouring countries. In this context we support the development of dialogue between Damascus and the Kurds, which is designed to promote the consolidation of Syrian society and national reconciliation.

On the political track, we continue working with Iran and Turkey in coordination with Syrian parties and the UN to launch the Constitutional Committee in Geneva. On January 21, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov received the UN Secretary-General’s new Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Pedersen, in Moscow. During the talks the participants reaffirmed their positive attitude towards the promotion of the UN-assisted political process that is being developed and led by the Syrians themselves. Mr Lavrov and Mr Pedersen confirmed their common support for the cooperation of the guarantors of the Astana format and the UN in the interests of a Syrian settlement. Mr Pedersen also had a separate conversation with Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.

Syrian refugees continue returning to their permanent residences. About 110,000 people have returned to Syria since July 18, 2018. The Syrian authorities are taking the necessary measures to protect the rights of the returnees and ensure their security. Thus, under Bashar al-Assad’s executive order on amnesty of October 9, 2018, over 23,000 army deserters and draft evaders settled their status.



Update on the Russian Investigative Committee’s investigation into the criminal case regarding the unlawful arrest of Kirill Vyshinsky and obstruction of his professional activities

In the course of the Russian Investigative Committee’s ongoing investigation of the crimes committed by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies against journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, it was established that, in addition to the officers from the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, Andrey Prosnyak, head of the Investigative Division of the Main Directorate of the Ukrainian Security Service, was also involved in these acts of wrongdoing. It is from him that Mr Vyshinsky received a notice of suspicion of unlawful actions which entail criminal liability for high treason.

In relation to this person, Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under Art. 144(2) and Art. 299(2) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation over obstruction of legitimate professional activities of a journalist and illegal criminal prosecution.

We are hereby once again drawing the attention of the international human rights community to the fact that a journalist repressed by the Kiev regime for performing his professional duties continues to be illegally held in a Ukrainian detention centre. We call on international journalist organisations to come up with a tougher response to official Kiev’s blatant reprisals against a media worker whom they find objectionable. We demand that the Ukrainian authorities immediately release Kirill Vyshinsky.



Reaction of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe to a statement by the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine regarding the Law on Education

On December 6, 2018, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine rejected the amendments to Article 7 of the Law on Education which were introduced in order to bring its provisions in line with the recommendations of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (aka Venice Commission of the Council of Europe) of December 11, 2017. In particular, the issue is about the need to extend the transition period required to translate the education process into Ukrainian for ethnic minorities.

In an attempt to justify such actions of his henchmen, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Andrey Paruby publicly claimed that such a policy was allegedly supported by the Venice Commission experts.

In this regard, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe Ivan Soltanovsky asked President of the Commission Gianni Buquicchio for official comments.

The response letter dated January 17 confirmed the relevance of numerous criticisms of the aforementioned Ukrainian law, which imply the need to amend Article 7. It was noted that the additional law passed by Kiev on receiving education in the official languages ​​of the European Union does not address the concern of the Venice Commission regarding the situation with other languages, primarily, Russian, which is widely spoken in that country.

It turns out that Chairman Paruby is trying to mislead everyone and thus undermine the authority of a respected body of the Council of Europe.

For its part, the Foreign Ministry, including with the assistance of the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe, will continue to push for proper observance by Ukraine of the language rights of all ethnic minorities in the spirit of the expert opinion provided by the Venice Commission with regard to Ukraine’s Law on Education and the relevant provisions of the Council of Europe’s 2018-2021 Action Plan for Ukraine.



Church law adopted by Verkhovna Rada

On January 17, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the draft law On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine (on Subordination of Religious Organisations and the Procedure for Their State Registration as Legal Entities).

At first glance, the document is purely technical. However, if one reads the text carefully and professionally, it is not difficult to notice the political component in it. In fact, an additional legal instrument has been created to continue the pressure on the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which opens up broad opportunities for stripping the church of its property rights and transferring them to the newly created church structure under the auspices of the Constantinople Patriarchate. In particular, the provisions of the new law, which provide for the determination of the membership of a particular religious community to a particular church by a vote of its members, are primarily aimed at this. In addition, the procedure for re-registering statutory documents has changed. It will now be carried out not only by the Department of Religions and Nationalities of the Ministry of Culture, but also by the authorised departments of regional administrations without any reporting on their decisions. This is a novelty in the legal regulation of this sphere.

Thus, citing the new law, the authorities once again turned a blind eye to the fundamental constitutional principle of non-interference of the state in the affairs of the church and can easily resort to various kinds of administrative manipulations in order to push their policy to strengthen the positions of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine they established. Such actions are contrary to Ukrainian law, as well as the rights and interests of the majority of believers in the country, and grossly violate Ukraine’s international obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko, with a straight face, offers assurances that this law allegedly guarantees a “peaceful and voluntary transition” of church communities and parishes, and its adoption almost saved Ukraine from “bloody religious conflicts”. In reality, that is not the case at all. The Ukrainian authorities declared their intention to consider this draft law, and alarming signals about the violent seizure of UOC churches by nationalists with the participation of representatives of local administrations immediately began to emerge from different regions of the country. Every day such reports appear on news feeds. And we can guess how many cases remain uncovered by the media. At the same time, the authorities look on with indifference at priests being literally thrown out of churches and parishioners being forced to accept the newly created schismatic “church”. They are only interested in real estate, the UOC parishes. I understand that this is a paradox – the material aspect has become the most important thing. It seems to me that it is quite appropriate that people began to speak about this law as the legalisation of “church raiding”.



Decision by the Council of State of the Netherlands not to publicise official materials on the MH17 crash

A question was asked about Russia’s cooperation with Australia and the Netherlands, which, without waiting for the criminal investigation of the Joint Investigation Group (JIG) to come to an end, are trying to impose responsibility for the MH17 crash on Russia. To reiterate, the issue was about possible trilateral consultations between Russia, on the one hand, and Australia and the Netherlands, on the other hand, which we agreed to hold in the near future, with the understanding that they would focus on the entire range of issues related to the downing of the plane in Ukraine.

I want to stress once again that Russia then agreed to hold consultations with the Netherlands and Australia on this matter. This is a fundamentally important point.

As is known, representatives of these countries have repeatedly tried to groundlessly accuse Russia of refusing to cooperate, although, in reality, our country not only showed its willingness to interact with the Netherlands, Australia and the JIG, but also made a specific contribution to establishing the truth with regard to the tragedy that played out in the skies over Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

I would like to draw your attention to a very detailed and thorough interview that Deputy Prosecutor General of Russia Nikolay Vinnichenko gave to RIA Novosti on Monday.

In his interview, he confirmed that Russia cooperated with the Netherlands through their respective prosecutor general’s offices, provided all available information, responded to all JIG requests and made a vast amount of crucial data available to international investigators. Notably, it includes information on Russian military equipment, which was declassified specifically for this purpose, as well as primary radar data and documents proving the Ukrainian origin of the missile that shot down flight MH17.

What is going on in the Netherlands at this point? While they demand that Russia provide answers to investigators’ questions, which appear to have been fully answered by Russia, the Dutch authorities flatly refuse to divulge their classified information that could be of use to investigators.

Litigation between the three Dutch editions and the government of the Netherlands has lasted since 2015. Journalists have gone to court as they tried to force their authorities to provide the public and the investigators with transcripts of the cabinet meetings on the crash of MH17, as well as meetings with experts who evaluated the work of the Dutch authorities in the days following the disaster.

The government of the Netherlands chose not to do this voluntarily. Last week, the Netherlands Council of State - the highest judicial body vested with the powers of the Constitutional court - put an end to this case by completely siding with the government. According to the Council of State’s decision, these materials can now not be disclosed at all. What about transparency? What about the transparency of the investigation into the Malaysian airliner crash? What about freedom of speech? What about the rights of the journalists and the media to obtain the data, materials and information regarding the tragedy, which brought together a number of countries? Aren’t we witnessing an attempt by the Dutch government to hide everything that does not support the official version of the MH17 crash?



Bizarre information on the Skripal case

Official government information on the Skripal case is subsiding. British officials are almost not commenting on it at all at this point. However, leaks are beginning to reappear.

The British media recently published reports that first aid was rendered to Sergey and Yulia Skripal by 16 year-old Abigail McCourt immediately after their poisoning in Salisbury on March 4, 2018. We have not yet seen an official confirmation or denial of this information. If it is authentic, we would like to give credit to the British school girl and her caring attitude to people, her willingness to help a fellow human being.

The case in Salisbury is becoming even more confusing. Why did the British authorities conceal such a substantive fact for almost a year, emphasising repeatedly the huge efforts of the British police on the incident and reporting almost by the minute on the movements and possible contacts of the Skripals on that fatal day. The British authorities repeatedly praised Salisbury’s citizens for their courage during Russia’s “sneaky attacks” on that city and Britain as a whole. We have read many official comments on the first aid given to the Skripals and how it was administered.

Based on the new information that has not been confirmed or denied by anyone, in what has already become a British tradition, Abigail is the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Alison McCourt, the Army’s most senior ranked nurse, who also happened to be at the accident scene. Indicatively, neither Abigail nor Alison were affected by the chemical used against the Skripals. I would like to remind you of how the British media described Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey who became a national hero and could have allegedly been poisoned after contacting the Skripals at the scene in Salisbury.

So, what does this mean? Bailey almost lost his life saving the Skripals, whereas the teenage girl did not complain of any symptoms at all. According to the media, she was the first to contact the Skripals when they first felt ill. We could endlessly analyse any new information, leaks or fraudulent stories in the British media. As we understood it, the people in Downing Street are excellent at what they do. However, in the end, the world wants to know the truth. Serious accusations were made, a lot was done to destroy the fabric of international law, and global changes took place, including those in the structure of international organisations that specialise on problems of chemical arms. Maybe we will learn the truth on who was the first to help the Skripals? What exactly happened in Salisbury and its suburbs on that day?

London has already released so many statements on the Skripal case that it seems that not only Russia but also the Brits should demand that their government finally provides objective information. As we have repeatedly emphasised, Russian law enforcement bodies are willing to help the Brits with the investigation. I would like this information to be published by the British press because I’m often asked why Russia refuses to cooperate with London. Russia has not denied, even once, help to Britain on the Skripal case. On the contrary, there have been numerous proposals in this regard and not only oral proposals via diplomatic channels but also written offers that were officially sent to Britain.

It is important to know the reliable information about the general condition and location of the Skripals. I would like to recall once again that Russia is still waiting for the implementation of Britain’s international legal commitments on granting consular access to our citizens.

Questions multiply every day but they remain unanswered.



US anti-Russia activities in Norway

Our attention was drawn to reports in Norwegian online media to the effect that the company Mission Essential, registered in Ohio, which renders various services to the US military, intelligence organisations and the Department of State, as well as the governments of “friendly countries,” has announced a position for an expert and translator that speaks Russian and Norwegian “to support extremely covert operations” by the US military in Norway. The requirements for a job applicant are interesting: US citizenship, willingness to travel to “combat areas,” working seven days a week up to 12 hours a day, inconspicuous behaviour and knowledge of “the culture and customs of the country of stay.” In which country is this potential employee to use his talents? The contact is Arendal in the south of Norway with no definite address.

Unfortunately, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, without going into detail, reduced its comments to the usual themes on the US military’s regular exercises in Norway in keeping with its NATO agreements. Norwegian Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen is convinced, from facts known only to himself, that Norway’s US allies “respect Norway’s interests including Oslo’s policy towards Moscow in the fields of defence and security.”

Now I’ll explain the situation in plain language. US recruitment agencies are unceremoniously trying to recruit staff to carry out hostile moves against Russia from Norwegian territory. In this situation, official Oslo has been pushed into playing the role of an obedient subordinate whose task is to unconditionally approve all of its senior ally’s “creative plans.” We wonder if Norway really needs this.



OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir’s review of French laws on the fight against the manipulation of information

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, has finally published a legal review of two French laws on the fight against the manipulation of information, to which we repeatedly attracted his attention since the French Parliament adopted these laws on November 20, 2018.

The laws have extended the authority of the French media regulator, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), to suspend the operation of media outlets that allegedly distribute fake news for up to three months before elections. Internet platforms have been instructed to take measures to prevent the spread of disinformation online and to make annual reports on their performance to the CSA.

We have pointed out more than once that in light of continued discrimination against Russian media in France these laws can be interpreted as the French authorities’ attempt to provide legal grounds for cleansing the media environment of undesirable views under the pretext of fighting disinformation. All our questions, proposals and requests to see the news items that can be regarded as fake news or disinformation, in particular those provided by Russian media outlets, have been in vain. We have not received any information. It is also a fact that these laws have been criticised by some members of the French expert community, the media community and NGOs, in particular, Le Monde and Le Figaro newspapers.

The review of these French laws by OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir has been limited to criticism of minor elements and the conclusion that these laws do not contradict the relevant international obligations of France and are designed exclusively to protect democratic institutions from fake news. Without interfering in the work or questioning the position of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, we would nevertheless like to share our views on this.

The OSCE official’s approach to the new French laws and the time it took for him to formulate this approach (a legal review appeared only two months after the publication of the French laws, which took a long time to prepare and were widely advertised) stand in stark contrast to Mr Désir’s openly negative attitude to the Russian draft laws on liability for the publication of unreliable information and online insults of the state. Although the Russian legal initiative is still in the stage of expert discussion, Mr Désir has not waited for the results but hastened to publicly express his concerns over the possible infringement on the freedom of online media and the encouragement of self-censorship in Russia. Why the double standards? Why did it take two months to provide a response to the French laws, which obviously stipulate all-round restrictions on the operations of the media? Moreover, the review classifies these laws as fully in keeping with international principles on freedom of expression. Why did the reaction to the relevant Russian laws appear immediately, barely an hour after the first news regarding them was published? Why didn’t they wait for the opinion of experts? All this is very strange. We believe that the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media must not be made an instrument of political games, pressure or political blackmail. We would like this institution to operate on the basis of common standards. In our opinion, objectivity must be the main goal for the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media as an individual with a broad authority.

We believe that the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media must operate objectively and without bias regardless of the national origin of media outlets.



British press insinuations about so-called Russian mercenaries’ involvement in suppressing protests in Sudan

Allegations to the effect that so-called Russian mercenaries were involved in suppressing protests in Sudan, which have been published by the British newspaper The Times and disseminated by other media, are yet another spectacular example of an irresponsible approach. Journalists at the said British outlet and the behind the scenes customers, who ordered this umpteenth political provocation, have released facts that are at variance with reality.

We are informed that some employees of Russian private security firms, who have no relation to the Russian government authorities, are indeed working in Sudan. But their functions are limited to personnel training in the interests of the Republic of Sudan’s security agencies.

I would like to say that we have noted an interesting trend: when the British media need something or are instructed to do so by their head offices, we are immediately asked to comment or get requests for an interview or just questions, to which we promptly respond. But why do the stories that are really of fundamental importance fail to reflect the Russian position? Why don’t they send us requests the day before or well in advance? I think this should not even cause questions, because there is a definite order for a certain story. I think that the readers would conceive a totally different attitude to these developments, if the story in question included quotes by Russian representatives that shed light on this subject.



The opening of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society’s office in Jordan

On January 18, the capital of Jordan, Amman, hosted the ceremonial opening of an office of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society (IOPS). The ceremony was attended by deputies of the local parliament, members of the public and representatives of the Jordan-Russia Friendship Society. Speaking at the event, IOPS Chair Sergey Stepashin, leaders of the Jordanian Orthodox community and local MPs focused on the history of Russia’s presence in the Middle East and its traditional support for local Christians.

For more than a century since its foundation in 1882 under the executive order of Emperor Alexander III, IOPS successfully maintains Russia’s spiritual ties with the Holy Land, preserves cultural and historical heritage, implements humanitarian and educational missions in the Middle East, and assists the Orthodox pilgrimage movement. The opening of the IOPS office in Amman is a clear sign of a high level of mutual understanding and trust existing between Russia and Jordan in the field of religious cooperation and spiritual ties. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is one of the most popular destinations for Orthodox pilgrims from Russia, who cherish a dream to visit biblical sites. As is common knowledge, the Almshouse on the Site of the Baptism of the Lord compound was opened near the place of Christ’s Baptism on the Jordan River in 2012. The plot of land for the construction project was donated to Russia by the decision of King Abdullah II for gratuitous and perpetual use.

We hope that the opening of the IOPS office in Amman will also be of help in implementing joint humanitarian and educational projects between Russia and Jordan, such as the construction of a Russian-Jordanian school at Al Husun, which has been agreed in principle.



Volgograd (former Stalingrad) and Coventry: 75 years since the first twin city agreement in history

On February 2, Volgograd will be the venue of festivities marking the 76th anniversary of defeating Nazi German forces in the Battle of Stalingrad, the greatest battle, which changed the pace of the Great Patriotic War and world history.

Head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) Eleonora Mitrofanova will pay a working visit to the city during the events. During her visit, there are plans to sign a cooperation agreement between Rossotrudnichestvo and the Government of the Volgograd Region, including as part of efforts to coordinate cooperation between twin cities. This year marks the 75th anniversary of signing the first ever twin city agreement between Stalingrad in the Soviet Union and Coventry in Great Britain. Remembering the joint struggle against Nazism is what continues to unite our peoples. After the Battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest battle in history, King George VI of England presented the city’s people with the ceremonial Sword of Stalingrad that bears the following inscription: “To the steel-hearted citizens of Stalingrad, the gift of King George VI, in token of the homage of the British people.”

The twin city agreement between Volgograd and Coventry narrates the history of friendship between two cities with a similar military destiny.

On September 16, 1942 when the defenders of Stalingrad were exerting superhuman efforts to stop the enemy advance, Lord Mayor of Coventry Alfred Robert Grindley sent a telegram to Stalingrad. (The original document is stored at the State Historical and Memorial Preserve The Battle of Stalingrad).

According to the document, Coventry, as the most war-torn British city, greets with the greatest admiration the defenders of Stalingrad whose example inspires every honest person to rise against the common enemy.

“The inhabitants of Coventry will never forget the sacrifices which were endured by Stalingrad. They express to you, the people of Stalingrad, their feelings of special sympathy and admiration for your great courage and iron determination to fight until victory.”

I would like to mention another important document sent by the workers from Coventry to Stalingrad in 1942.

The document’s authors realise that the Soviet people’s resistance to the Nazi beast and their innumerable casualties have saved them from the horrors that they had merely anticipated during raids on their city in November 1940. The workers write that they are sending their delegate to the British Parliament in order to demand that their country fulfils its obligations with regard to the USSR. Comparing Russia’s war efforts with those of Great Britain they point to the fact that they should make a greater contribution and act quickly and resolutely.

This document makes you want to cry. On the one hand, it is hard to read these words; on the other hand, this proves once again that it is now necessary to act resolutely in order to protect the history of World War II.

The initiative of UK citizens, inspired by the fortitude of Stalingrad, served as a prologue for establishing official friendly relations between Coventry and Stalingrad that were crowned by the signing of the first twin city agreement in 1944 whose 75th anniversary we are marking this year.

It is to be hoped that the British press and public at large will also write something about this event, and that they will recall it.

I am confident that the current Western political trends dividing our peoples will eventually subside, but it is impossible to erase the historical legacy that brings us together. In any event, we will not allow this to happen.



Afghanistan update

Question:

A week ago, Afghan official sources (the Ministry of Defence of Afghanistan, as well as a member of the Badghis Provincial Council) reported on the liberation of several dozen ISIS prisoners from the Taliban prison by the Afghan army and foreign forces. The prisoners were handed over to law enforcement. What was the point of freeing ISIS militants who were in prison, even in a Taliban prison?



Answer:

Indeed, the goal of the joint operation conducted in January to seize the Taliban prison in the Badghis Province and remove the ISIS militants from it raises questions. Why did the Afghan security officials and the United States need the captive fighters when hundreds more are free and active?

The Russian Foreign Ministry has already commented on this issue, so I can only add that these circumstances once again suggest that some countries’ special services are trying to adapt the activities of terrorists in Afghanistan to meet their own selfish interests.



Question:

How do you assess the results of the shuttle diplomacy by Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the US Department of State Zalmay Khalilzad?



Answer:

We welcome the US resolve to launch a peace process in Afghanistan, but so far Zalmay Khalilzad’s attempts to convince the Taliban to sit down at the negotiating table with the official delegation from Kabul have failed despite the strong pressure exerted on the Taliban Movement by the Americans, several Gulf States and Pakistan. In December in Abu Dhabi, the armed opposition refused to even let the Afghan Government delegation into the meeting room. And the regular round of consultations between the US special envoy and the Taliban emissaries, reportedly just underway, was nearly disrupted by the parties’ disagreements over the agenda.

Therefore, it is clearly premature to talk about the results of the US unilateral effort to launch the peace process in Afghanistan, which reaffirms the need to find a collective solution that would take into account the interests of all the neighbouring countries and main partners of Afghanistan.

We remain confident that the Moscow format is optimal for consultations on Afghanistan. During the most recent meeting the participants achieved greater success than the United States alone.

We also intend to continue holding Moscow meetings together with our partners and look forward to the United States actively joining them as a full participant, to facilitate the early start of a peaceful dialogue between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban Movement.








Answers to media questions:



Question:

It transpired several hours before this briefing that the United States wants to pull out of the INF Treaty. Can you comment on this? Can such actions help strengthen global peace?



Maria Zakharova:

We held a large-scale briefing on the entire range of issues related to the subject you have mentioned. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who is responsible for this area, has outlined Russia’s position in detail, comprehensively and professionally, as well as the current state of affairs and the results of the long-term and lengthy consultations and contacts we have had with American colleagues in various formats. Sergey Ryabkov has said everything there is to say on the subject of the INF Treaty during his briefing. What you have said could relate to the reaction of the US side to that briefing held in Kubinka.

Not only experts but almost everyone knows about Russia’s stand on the INF Treaty. We have used all the available platforms, starting with the UN General Assembly, and all manner of talks held by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and our experts. We worked specifically with the diplomatic corps in Moscow and held meetings with our American colleagues on neutral venues. Russia has used all the available opportunities to preserve this vital element of international stability and security.

There is nothing more to say. I can only add that comprehensive reference material on this subject is available on the Foreign Ministry’s website. I would like to say once again that Sergey Ryabkov’s briefing today was really all-embracing.



Question:

CNN reported yesterday that special counsel Robert Mueller had launched a probe into the Trump campaign’s relationship with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its ties to Russian citizens. We know that Maria Butina is a member of the NRA. Might new charges be brought against her in this connection?

Are you investigating Butina’s operations? She took part in the Bolotnaya Square protest rallies and worked at the Right to Bear Arms public group used for pro-gun lobbying in Russia, which could be interpreted as an attempt to create a market for US gun producers or even as preparation for an armed coup in Russia.

Butina is a complex person. She could have been recruited. We want this matter clarified. At the least, she should not be presented as a hero.



Maria Zakharova:

That is an interesting line of thinking. In other words, you think that she was not working for Russia in the United States but rather someone working for the United States in Russia?

I believe that there are two aspects that must be kept separate: the legal side of the matter and Maria’s personality. I believe that assessing personalities is not our concern. Why should official agencies and media consider people from the viewpoint of their complexity or simplicity?

As for Maria Butina’s arrest in the United States, we can say that she was placed under direct pressure. The reasons for her arrest and the fact that she was held in conditions that are only reserved for hardened criminals prompt the conclusion that she is a political prisoner.

If you as a journalist have found any relevant material or received it from your sources, it could be used in an investigation by the law enforcement agencies. But we are concerned with the facts of Butina’s arrest in the United States, the measures applied against her, her detention conditions and the moral and psychological pressure she has been subjected to. I believe this has nothing to do with the complexity of her personality.

One more thing: over the past years we have seen the United States, or at least a number of US government agencies, exceed the legal framework with regard to Russian citizens. I am referring to the high profile cases of [Viktor] Bout and [Konstantin] Yaroshenko. Have you ever wondered about the complexity or simplicity of their personalities?

We have been working to protect the interests of the Russian citizens who were treated arbitrarily, including in the high profile cases where Russian citizens around the world were captured at the request of the US. The matter of personality is of secondary importance in such cases. These are Russian citizens whose rights must be protected. There are also less conspicuous cases on which we are consulting our American colleagues. Some cases gain broad publicity and others don’t.

Regrettably, the operations of a number of US government agencies demonstrate that there are no legal grounds in many such cases. This is not because a number of US law enforcement agencies suddenly felt a dislike for Russian citizens (although such cases have occurred in the past), but that the overall sentiment is anti-Russia. Russian citizens, no matter how hard their plight is for their families and for us, are seen only as high profile objects of political bias by a large segment of the US political establishment.

Today I mentioned the case of Kirill Vyshinsky. Must we or can we speak about his personality? Or is this a case of unprecedented infringement of civil and media rights and freedoms? Where do his personality, the style of his articles and his talent come into it? The journalist was arrested and is being detained illegally for his professional activities, while the state that has arrested him keeps declaring its commitment to the legal norms it has violated in this particular case.



Question:

There are an increasing number of reports on the Israeli army’s strikes on Syria. Thus, some damage was done to the international airport in Damascus. What are Moscow’s comments on this?



Maria Zakharova:

We do not change our position in this regard. It is based on the principles of international law. The practice of dealing arbitrary strikes on the territory of a sovereign state (Syria in this case) must be ruled out. In our estimations, the escalation of hostilities in the region does not meet long-term national interests of any state in the Middle East, including, of course, Israel. It is necessary to prevent Syria, that has been through so much hardship in the long years of the armed conflict, from turning into an arena of settling geopolitical scores. We urge everyone to ponder over the potential consequences of provoking a new round of chaos in the Middle East.



Question:

Andrea Thompson from the US Department of State said that she may meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov in the next couple of weeks but not to discuss the INF Treaty. What is it about? Can you confirm the information about the forthcoming meeting and what issues will be discussed?



Maria Zakharova:

As soon as next week, January 30-31, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson you’ve just mentioned, who led the interdepartmental delegations at the consultations on the INF Treaty in Geneva on January 15, plan to be in Beijing to take part in a meeting of the so-called Nuclear Five. The agenda of this scheduled event is much broader than INF issues. The participants will discuss a whole variety of issues with a focus on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

However, considering the topicality of the situation surrounding the INF Treaty, Russia is ready to continue a separate conversation with the Americans on this topic. Moreover, in Geneva, Russian diplomats suggested to Ms Thompson, on two occasions, that a separate bilateral meeting be held on the INF Treaty in Beijing, but did not receive a clear answer.

It is regrettable that the United States is dodging a dialogue on the INF Treaty. This attitude makes it clear that the Americans do not see any need for additional discussions because they are determined to wreck the treaty.

Let me repeat the Russian position. Bent on uncontrolled arms buildup, Washington is actually destroying one of the key supports of the current regime of global stability, which is fraught with the most adverse consequences for international security.

Our American partners still have the time for shaping their responsible position. Considering a highly unstable approach of the US to its foreign policy course, which is obvious in many fields, our recommendation is not so much to change its mind (let it “change its mind” on other matters) as to shape a responsible approach to the INF issues. The US could recall the responsibility that leading nuclear powers bear for the preservation of peace. We are aware of such responsibility and are ready for dialogue with the US on the entire range of issues relating to strategic stability, including its vital element – the INF Treaty.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3482133
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Beibut Atamkulov, Moscow, January 28, 2019



28 January 2019 - 12:35







Mr Atamkulov,

Friends,

We are delighted to see you in Moscow. Mr Atamkulov, I would like to congratulate you personally on your appointment as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

I have no doubts, and this has already been confirmed by our short restricted attendance meeting, that together we will continue our energetic work on strengthening the strategic partnership and alliance between our countries in line with the agreements and arrangements determined by the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan.

Last year, our leaders met about ten times and also spoke regularly by phone. Also, seven meetings were held between the prime ministers; in early November of last year, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev paid a visit to Kazakhstan with a very packed agenda including a meeting of the Council of the CIS Heads of Government. On November 8-9, 2018, the CSTO Summit was held in Astana, where our leaders held another bilateral meeting on the sidelines. Later in Petropavlovsk, the 15th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum resulted in the achievement of new far-reaching agreements, including the development of an action plan for further implementation of the cross-border cooperation programme. The year ended with an informal CIS summit in St Petersburg. A meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council was also held there.







Speaking about our foreign policy coordination, I would like to congratulate our Kazakh colleagues on their successful participation in the work of the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member in 2017-2018.

We very much appreciate our friends’ efforts to promote high-level international meetings on Syria. The next meeting is scheduled in Astana for the middle of next month.

We congratulate Kazakhstan on its Aktau being chosen as the venue for signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea after twenty years of negotiations.

Today we will sign an action plan for the next two years for cooperation between the two foreign ministries. Our work continues; we have things to talk about.

Welcome.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3484508






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Beibut Atamkulov, Moscow, January 28, 2019



28 January 2019 - 13:56







Ladies and gentlemen,

We are delighted to welcome a delegation of the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan led by the new minister, Beibut Atamkulov, to Moscow. It is Mr Atamkulov’s first visit to Russia in his new capacity, but we know him very well. He closely cooperated with his Russian colleagues in the previous official positions he held in Kazakhstan. We appreciate Mr Atamkulov’s contribution to the strengthening of our strategic partnership and allied relations.

Today we held very productive talks in the spirit of strategic partnership and alliance, discussing nearly all spheres of Russian-Kazakhstani cooperation. Our relations are traditionally based on the principles of equality and mutual respect in the best interests of each other. We noted with satisfaction the dynamic development of bilateral relations within the framework of the Agreement on Good-Neighbourliness and Alliance, which was signed on November 11, 2013 at the initiative of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

A regular and trust-based dialogue held at the top level is making an invaluable contribution to our common efforts. During the 15th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum held in Petropavlovsk in November 2018, President Vladimir Putin and President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a Joint Action Plan of Russia and Kazakhstan for 2019−2021, which sets out the key priorities for bilateral trade and economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, including in energy, transport and space exploration, as well as in educational, research and technological exchanges. We agreed with Foreign Minister Atamkulov to do our best to implement this fundamental document, which includes the agenda of Russian-Kazakhstani partnership for the next few years.

We highly value cooperation between our foreign ministries, which will be boosted by the Plan of Measures for 2019−2020 we have signed today.

We found out that we hold identical or very close views on current global and regional topics and agreed to strengthen our interaction at the main multilateral venues such as the UN, the CIS, the SCO and the OSCE. We expressed our immense appreciation for Kazakhstan’s efforts to strengthen its international positions, primarily the performance of Kazakhstani diplomats in 2017−2018 when their country held a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Our Kazakhstani friends implemented all the priorities of Kazakhstan’s OSCE Chairmanship last year. In particular, 12 joint statements on crucial international matters were adopted last year.

We spoke at length, of course, on the importance of promoting integration within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). We agree that better use of the huge potential of Eurasian integration can enhance the competitiveness of the EAEU economies and the prosperity of our citizens. We will continue to promote the organisation’s international ties. We also talked about the role the EAEU countries’ foreign ministries and their external offices can play in this regard.

We welcomed the positive development of ties between Central Asian states and their efforts to build up trust and mutual understanding and to resolve the backlog of problems. We see such efforts as a major factor when it comes to regional stability. Today we outlined Russia’s readiness to promote the effectiveness of these efforts.

We held a detailed discussion on Afghanistan, in particular in light of the challenges and threats to security coming from it and our readiness to facilitate a political settlement in this vital member of a neighbouring region.

We noted the effectiveness of the Astana venue created for talks on a Syrian settlement. The guarantor countries’ efforts made in this format in hospitable Kazakhstan have launched a political process that is now growing on the basis of intra-Syrian agreements reached following the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. Preparations are underway for the next meeting in the Astana format, which is scheduled for February.

Overall, I believe that our talks were very fruitful. I am satisfied with our first meeting, which was meaningful and productive.







Question:

As you’ve already said, a meeting on the Syrian settlement process in Astana is scheduled for February. Has an exact date been set? Is it possible to speak about a date for the summit of the Astana Three? Does Moscow tie the holding of this summit to the results of the meetings on Syria in Astana?



Sergey Lavrov:

Preparations are underway for the 12th international meeting on Syria in Astana with the participation of the delegations of the government, the opposition, the three guarantor countries – Russia, Turkey and Iran – as well as observers from the UN and Jordan. As you know we regularly invited US representatives to be observers at such meetings. At first they took part in them but later on left these invitations unanswered, although I am sure that their participation would be obviously useful for the cause.

Now we are finishing up coordinating all technical details. An international meeting on Syria will be held in Astana in the middle of February. There is already an agreement in principle, an understanding that the next summit with the participation of the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran will be held next month. As soon as the details are coordinated we will let you know at once.



Question:

Moscow has repeatedly voiced its concern over the implementation of the agreements with Turkey on Idlib. Does the position of Moscow mean that Ankara will be able to work within the framework of the Adana agreement only after it fulfils its commitments on Idlib?



Sergey Lavrov:

I believe that many important issues have been resolved in the framework of the Syrian settlement process but there are still many other tasks on the negotiating table. I don’t think that preconditions should be attached to any of these tasks. The existence of a terrorist hotbed in Idlib is an obvious fact. Our Syrian colleagues have confirmed their willingness to eliminate it. We are ready to take actions that are envisaged by the Russia-Turkey agreement on Idlib, including provisions on a demilitarised zone. But the fact that al-Nusra and its reincarnation Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham have essentially seized the overwhelming majority of its territory does not correspond to the agreements on the security of Idlib Province. Our Turkish colleagues together with the Russian military are working on ways of overcoming this situation. Everyone understands that the terrorist hotbed cannot remain there permanently.

As for security issues on the Syria-Turkey border, they emerged primarily as a result of the US decision to withdraw its special forces and military advisors from these areas, with units loyal to the US leaving as a consequence. This situation requires urgent action to prevent a vacuum. We think Turkey and Syria could well use the 1998 Adana agreement for these purposes. The Syrian government has recently announced its readiness to work on the basis of this agreement to ensure the security of its borders. Obviously, security should be the only goal of this specific border operation. It will become a step towards the most reliable and stable settlement of the problem on this part of Syrian territory and the restoration of the Syrian government’s control over the relevant areas. This should be done in other parts of Syria as well.

Let me emphasise that it is impossible to give priority to one task over another in Syria because everything is important there. At the same time, it is necessary to eliminate terrorist hotbeds, prevent border security problems, expand humanitarian aid and create conditions for the return of refugees. It is also essential to prevent the initiatives put forward by the Syrian government and the opposition, with the active participation of the guarantor countries (Russia, Turkey and Iran), on starting the work of the Constitutional Committee as soon as possible, from being blocked by those who would like to destroy all progress in the Syrian settlement process and revive ideas that have nothing to do with the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3484564






Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif



28 January 2019 - 15:52







On January 28, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif on the initiative of the Iranian side.

The foreign ministers discussed the current developments in Venezuela and noted their shared readiness to help facilitate mutual understanding between responsible political forces of Venezuela in the interests of maintaining domestic peace and resolving pressing socioeconomic challenges as soon as possible.

The ministers exchanged views on a number of topical matters of bilateral cooperation.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3484749






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone Alie Kabba, Moscow, January 29, 2019



29 January 2019 - 12:37







Mr Minister,

Colleagues,

Welcome to Moscow. We appreciate this opportunity to continue our foreign policy dialogue in accordance with the Consultations Plan signed a year and a half ago.

Our political cooperation is developing very well, both bilaterally and within international organisations, primarily in the UN. The peoples of our countries, our citizens are also interested in humanitarian ties. We are pleased that the business communities of Russia and Sierra Leone are beginning to show mutual interest in joint projects.







I think that, based on our talks today and your other meetings in the Russian capital, we will be able to formulate realistic and meaningful proposals that will benefit our relations in all areas.

Welcome.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3486893






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone Alie Kabba Moscow, January 29, 2019



29 January 2019 - 13:41







Mr Minister,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have had substantive negotiations. Relations between Russia and Sierra Leone are friendly and based on the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests.

In 2018, presidential elections were held in Sierra Leone. In this context, we regard the visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Alie Kabba to Moscow as a confirmation of the African country’s commitment to ensuring continuity under the new leadership, to continuing and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation.

We have a mutual interest in this. It primarily concerns trade, economic and humanitarian components of our relations. We agreed to take additional steps to reach the implementation of promising projects in such areas as mining, energy, and fisheries.

We appreciate that during his stay, Mr Kabba will visit the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, the Federal Agency for Fisheries and the Ministry of Healthcare. I note that last year, we held a training seminar for medical personnel in Sierra Leone. The research centre for epidemiology and prevention of infectious diseases, which has been operating in Guinea with Russia’s assistance since 2017, can extend its programmes to the neighbouring countries, including Sierra Leone, as was discussed today.

We spoke about the importance of improving the quality of our cooperation in the fisheries. There is a special institute in Freetown, and there are opportunities for assistance in organising the educational process and raising the level of skills of local specialists.

We noted the common goal of creating favourable conditions for the Russian business community’s activities in Sierra Leone and for direct contacts between the two countries’ business people.

Russia and Sierra Leone signed an agreement on military technical cooperation; the process of its ratification will be completed in the very near future. This is another area where we have good prospects for expanding cooperation.

We agreed to continue cooperation in the training of Sierra Leonean professionals at Russian universities. More than 2,000 citizens of Sierra Leone are graduates of our universities. Yesterday, right after arriving in Moscow, Mr Kabba met with representatives of Sierra Leonean students at Russian universities.

We discussed the need to promote inter-parliamentary ties. Mr Minister has already met with the leadership of the Federation Council. We welcome such contacts.

We noted that dialogue between our foreign ministries is at a high level. We have a Memorandum of Consultations, which has been in effect for the last couple of years. We reaffirmed the unanimity or similarity of approaches to important international and regional issues. We are firmly committed to the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and respect for the right of peoples to independently determine the models for their political and socio-economic development.

We expressed gratitude to our Sierra Leonean friends for voting in support of Russia’s initiatives at the UN, including on the unacceptable glorification of Nazism and deploying weapons in space, and on international information security.

Sierra Leone heads the African Union Committee of Ten created to promote the African continent’s position on the UN Security Council reform. Today, prospects for reforming this key international body responsible for maintaining global peace and security were discussed in detail. We agreed to strengthen the coordination of actions within the UN, and at other multilateral platforms for the sake of finding the best answers to the challenges and threats of our time, including terrorism, organised crime, and drug trafficking.

We talked at length about the situation in Africa. We have a unanimous position on the need for an integrated approach involving the coordinated actions of Africans themselves with the support of the international community to resolve the many problems that this potentially rich continent is facing today. Russia believes that the world community should be guided by the African problems - African solutions approach to any crises in Africa, without trying to impose any outside recipes, but should rely on the wisdom of the African countries while providing every possible assistance including political, material and peacemaking, to help implement the decisions that Africans will achieve. From this angle we discussed the developments in the Sahara-Sahel region, Mali and the Central African Republic. Russia as a permanent member of the UN Security Council will invariably support these approaches when considering African issues.

Overall, I assume that today, with the new Government of Sierra Leone, we have reaffirmed our commitment to continuing our cooperation in all areas, as well as extending it to new areas that would meet our mutual interests.

I am sincerely grateful to my colleague for these talks.







Question (addressed to Alie Kabba):

Do you regard the African Union countries’ position on reforming the UN Security Council as consolidated?



Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Alie Kabba):

We discussed the reform of the UN Security Council at length today. We respect the position of the African Union and its aspiration to ensure a consensus of its member states on this matter.

I would like to say that consensus or a broad agreement on this issue will be very important in general when the time comes to make a decision at the UN. It would be destructive for the UN to vote on the fundamental issue of reform, as some UN member states propose, in the hope of getting two-thirds of the vote in support of the reform they are advocating. This would split the UN. We must do our best to prevent this. This is why we deeply respect the African countries’ patient and responsible position on the matter.

The main thing at the debates on reform is to reach agreement on the stronger representation of developing countries, from Asia, Africa and Latin America, in the UN Security Council. It is the main condition for a successful reform. Russia will regard this as a priority goal in this sphere.



Question:

Russia has expressed readiness to help promote understanding between responsible forces in Venezuela. Can such talks succeed if the United States is interfering in developments in Venezuela and supporting the opposition?



Sergey Lavrov:

We are deeply distressed by what the United States and its closest allies are doing to Venezuela. They have violated international law by taking the path towards overthrowing the legitimate government in that Latin American country.

We learned about new sanctions today, namely the decision to freeze the foreign reserves of the Central Bank and the government of Venezuela. The United States has used this illegal and wrongful method before, against other countries’ assets. It froze the assets of Iraq, Libya, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua and Panama. In most cases, this amounted to the confiscation of foreign governments’ assets.

The UK authorities have done the same by seizing, in effect confiscating, Venezuela’s gold holdings in in London. Apart from seriously undermining whatever trust there still is in the international financial system based on the domination of the US dollar, this deepens the social crisis in Venezuela and is obviously designed to encourage the illegal activities of the opposition. According to the available information, the opposition leaders who have declared dual power, have received instructions from Washington to reject any compromises until the Venezuelan government cedes power, in one way or another.

It was reported today that sanctions have been imposed on the Venezuelan oil and gas company PDVSA and its US subsidiary Citgo. At the same time, these sanctions do not affect US companies in Venezuela, which gives rise to cynicism. They want to change the Venezuelan government and also to profit from this.

As it is said, the United States has taken the bit between its teeth and is openly working to overthrow a legitimate government. But this does not mean we can stop using any means available to uphold international law. We will work together with all the other responsible members of the international community to support the efforts of the legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro to protect Venezuela’s Constitution and to find a constitutional solution to the crisis.



Question:

During the telephone conversation with your Iranian colleague, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the sides reaffirmed their willingness to facilitate mutual understanding between the political forces of Venezuela. What practical steps does this imply?



Sergey Lavrov:

As for opportunities for international assistance to settling the crisis in Venezuela, in my reply to the previous question I mentioned some very serious obstacles that the US and its closest allies are putting in their path.

I’ve just read a report about yesterday’s news conference by US National Security Advisor John Bolton. According to the media, he carelessly left his notepad in view of the cameras. The notepad had the words “5,000 troops to Colombia” written on it. This gives one food for thought, especially considering that the appeals to use Venezuela’s neighbours for direct intervention under the pretext of the grievous humanitarian situation are openly made in the US and some other countries.

Yet, we noted that despite ultimatums to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro by a number of EU members, the statement made by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini on behalf of the EU is more reserved and suggests establishing a contact group. Now we are trying to clear up what our European colleagues have in mind and how they plan to implement this idea, if at all.

In addition, member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are also seriously concerned about the developments in Venezuela and the plans of some aggressive outside players regarding that country. They are also trying to find opportunities for international mediation.

As you know, President Maduro and his representatives, in particular, Foreign Minister Jorge Alberto Arreaza Montserrat, have repeatedly spoken out in favour of talks with the opposition. Judging by its reaction, the opposition is under heavy pressure from those who prohibit it from establishing contract with the legitimate government. Nevertheless, considering the signals from the EU, the interest of the Caribbean countries and the striving of India and China to prevent disastrous developments, we would like to try and understand what the international community can do to prevent yet another crude violation of international law and regime change by force and steer the developments into the constitutional framework. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and I discussed this yesterday. Just like us, he would like to find opportunities for external players to be useful to the Venezuelan people. They should encourage all responsible Venezuelan leaders to conduct dialogue rather than instigate riots and violent confrontation.



Question:

Foreign Minister of Denmark Anders Samuelsen urged the EU countries to introduce sanctions against Russia because of its actions in the Sea of Azov. What does Moscow think of such statements?



Sergey Lavrov:

Denmark called for sanctions in connection with the events in the Kerch Strait. This was indeed a crude violation of the rules and norms of navigation by Ukrainian ships. So, if the intention was to punish the Ukrainians, they deserve it.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3486977






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim, Moscow, January 30, 2019



30 January 2019 - 12:41







Mr Minister,

Colleagues, friends,

We are glad to welcome you to Moscow.

We know that this visit to Russia is one of your first foreign visits after taking office. We regard this as a confirmation of the advanced nature of our relations and your interest in their further development on the basis of continuity.

Today you have talks scheduled with Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov as co-chairs of the Russian-Iraqi Intergovernmental Commission. As a result of your visit, we will be able to consider in detail all aspects of our interaction – in the trade, economic and political spheres. We are also interested in your assessment of the developments in Iraq, Syria and other countries in the region in the context of the fight against terrorism.







We note with satisfaction the substantial stabilisation in Iraq after ISIS was largely defeated, although the terrorist presence has not yet been completely eliminated in some regions. We are interested in actively helping you tackle this challenge. Let us discuss all these matters.

Once again, I am very glad to see you.

Welcome!




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3488367






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions during a joint press conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Moscow, January 30, 2019



30 January 2019 - 14:19







Ladies and gentlemen,

During our talks, we considered in detail the state of [our] bilateral cooperation. We welcomed its onward development in various fields, primarily in the fuel and energy sector as well as in the military-technical sphere. We confirmed our intention to further build it up. In this connection, we noted the need for a more active use of the mechanism of the Russian-Iraqi Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which is to meet soon in Baghdad. Today, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq Mohamed Ali Alhakim will talk about this at his meeting with the Commission’s co-chair, Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov.

We confirmed our goal of intensifying cooperation in the area of education. Currently, there are nearly 4,000 Iraqi citizens enrolled in Russian universities. Dozens of diplomats from Iraq are taking special courses at the Diplomatic Academy of the Foreign Ministry of Russia.

While discussing topical international and regional problems, we stated that we share identical views when it comes to the necessity to respect and abide by international law in all its aspects.

We have the same opinion on ways of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on the settlement of the Syria crisis, including the elimination of what remains of the terrorist groups in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

We gave a high appraisal of the activities of the Baghdad Information Centre co-sponsored by Russia, Iraq, Syria and Iran.

We informed our Iraqi partners about work conducted in the “Astana format” with an eye to the soonest possible launch of the Constitutional Committee and implementation of political reforms in Syria.

We also talked about the tasks involved in providing security on the Iraqi-Syrian border, including with regard to the US intention to pull out its military contingent from Syria.

We discussed the situation emerging after Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programme. We also spoke about a Palestinian-Israeli settlement that, regrettably, remains deadlocked to this day.

We confirmed our commitment to the existing international legal framework of a Middle East settlement. We expressed our serious concern over the continuing attempts to undermine this framework as well as other international legal instruments that define states’ cooperation in a number of fileds.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim was so kind as to invite me to come to Iraq on a return visit. I will do this with pleasure.







Question:

Russia and Iraq have enjoyed friendly relations for a long time. How is it possible to use their potential to establish closer security cooperation in the Middle East region, including Syria? Iraq plays a major role in talks on the future of the Syrian Arab Republic. Do Russia and Iraq have similar positions on Syria? What economic projects do Moscow and Baghdad plan to cooperate on?



Sergey Lavrov:

Indeed, we are extremely interested in expanding our trade, economic and investment ties. We are posting very good results in investment, primarily the hydrocarbons sector. Lukoil, Gazpromneft and Soyuzneftegaz are already operating in Iraq, and Rosneft is interested in implementing projects there. This sector has already received investment worth over $10 billion.

We also want to expand projects in other areas. Today, we discussed the power industry, agriculture, manufacturing and transport. All of this will be reviewed in the context of preparations for another meeting of the Russian-Iraqi Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

I would like to thank the Iraqi leaders for their invariably attentive attitude towards the work of Russian companies in their country.

Regarding cooperation in regional security, we have long-time traditions of military-technical cooperation, which aims to boost Iraq’s defensive capability and its ability to counter terrorist threats.

The Baghdad Information Centre, which has already been mentioned today, conducts very important and useful work. Russia, Iraq, Iran and Syria coordinate their actions, primarily counter-terrorism operations, within its framework.



Question:

Does the US military presence in Iraq worry Russia?



Sergey Lavrov:

We respect the sovereign right of Iraq and any other country to choose the best way to ensure their security. Since the United States deployed troops in Iraq by agreement with the Iraqi government, the conditions stipulated in international law have been fully met.

We hope that the US military presence in Iraq will pursue the stated goals, that is, that US troops will be used to fight terrorism and help the Iraqi government stabilise the country, rather than to achieve the United States’ unilateral geopolitical goals in the region. I do not doubt that this is also the Iraqi authorities’ understanding of the matter.



Question:

The United States has announced that it has begun making a new W76-2 nuclear warhead and that the first batch will be delivered by the end of the year. What is Moscow’s attitude to this? How can this influence the global balance of power?



Sergey Lavrov:

Speaking about the US announcement of launching the production of a new, low-yield nuclear warhead, the issue was included in Washington’s nuclear posture review last year. Back then, we expressed our concern, saying that the production of such low-yield warheads would lower the nuclear threshold and increase the risk of a nuclear conflict. Scientists in Russia, the United States, Europe and other parts of the world pointed this out as well. This concept has become practical actions now, which will not strengthen global security, of course.

It would be interesting to see the role the United States will assign to the Europeans and which role they would be prepared to play, considering that Europe wittingly or unwittingly supported and played along with the previous unilateral US actions. I am referring to the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and the deployment of global BMD systems, including in the European NATO countries. I am also referring to the US decision to destroy the INF Treaty, which the NATO countries have supported. We will see how Europe reacts to the latest unilateral US actions that will undermine strategic stability.

For our part, we would like to repeat that we have more than once invited Washington to resume dialogue on absolutely all aspects of strategic stability. This proposal is still on the table, but regrettably, no negotiations have begun so far.



Question:

In a recent interview with RIA Novosti Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the issue of international mediation on Venezuela may be resolved in a matter of hours. Has Caracas asked Moscow to play the role of a mediator?

Could you comment on Maduro’s statement to the effect that he relies on Beijing and Moscow’s support in his country’s economic development? Is Moscow discussing the possibility of writing off Venezuela’s debt to Russia?



Sergey Lavrov:

As for the economic aspect, China and Russia are indeed Venezuela’s leading partners. Our economic cooperation with Caracas is based on intergovernmental agreements that are carried out in full. Replying to a similar question the other day, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that all payments that are due to the Russian Federation are made on time and in full.

Many countries and associations suggest mediation. In particular, a proposal to establish a contact group was made by Brussels on behalf of the European Union. Proposals to this effect were also made by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Uruguay and Mexico have some ideas. The Non-Aligned Movement should probably have its say, all the more so that Venezuela chairs it now. However, for the time being all these initiatives to start dialogue have been bluntly rejected by the opposition leaders. We can see how their Western sponsors are publicly encouraging them to adopt such a destructive position.

We sincerely wish to help create conditions for the start of dialogue between the Government and the opposition. We are talking about this with our Venezuelan partners, China, Latin American countries, and the Europeans. We are ready to take part in the relevant international efforts in the formats that will suit the Venezuelan parties.

Needless to say, all mediation initiatives should be unbiased and their future format should be balanced. On the contrary, it should represent a broad range of international players that can influence the Government and the opposition. Of course, it is necessary to understand from the very start what goal is pursued by a potential mediation format. We are convinced that its only goal should be to create the conditions that will prompt the Venezuelan parties to come to terms. If mediation initiatives are initially designed to foreclose such talks, the mediation format will be hardly useful and welcome. I am referring to the issue that we would like to analyse during our contacts with the EU. In particular, it concerns the initiative to establish a contact group for mediation, in parallel with which some EU countries, including influential ones, forced an ultimatum on the Venezuelan Government. We would like to understand as soon as possible who is talking and about what. However, such opportunities exist and I believe the said initiative can be rather useful if unbiased. We welcome the Venezuelan President’s readiness to accept international efforts.

We urge the opposition to display a similar constructive approach, give up ultimatums and act independently, relying primarily on the interests of the Venezuelan people.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3488472






Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian



31 January 2019 - 13:15







On January 31, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a telephone conversation with Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian at the initiative of the French side.

The ministers discussed in detail developments in and around Syria with an emphasis on prospects for launching the Constitutional Committee. Mr Lavrov informed Mr Le Drian about Russian efforts to stabilise the SAR, including by rendering humanitarian assistance, and underscored Russia’s commitment to promoting the political process based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and resolutions approved by the Syrian National Congress in Sochi.

Mr Le Drian called for establishing contacts between the Astana Format and the so-called Small Group on Syria with a view to “looking for common denominators.” The Russian party confirmed its readiness for cooperation to promote the Syrian settlement without attempts to artificially hamper the UN functions in the political process.

They also discussed matters linked to the need to facilitate the normalisation in Venezuela via a dialogue involving all political forces in the country and prevent a collapse of international legal instruments designed to maintain strategic stability, overcome the crisis in the Council of Europe, and assist a further development of bilateral Russian-French cooperation, including through the resumption of the “two plus two” meetings of foreign and defence ministers.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3491112






Vladimir Putin holds a working meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu



2 February 2019 - 12:29







President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, please provide an update on the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, and the disarmament dossier in general. What is going on in terms of limitation of offensive arms?



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov:

Mr President,

Regarding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as you know, it has been in force since 1988. It had an indefinite term. According to the information at our disposal, the United States has been violating the Treaty since 1999, when it started testing combat unmanned aerial vehicles that have the same characteristics as land-based cruise missiles banned by the Treaty.

The United States went on to use ballistic target missiles for testing their missile defence system, and in 2014 they began the deployment in their missile defence system positioning areas in Europe of Mk 41 vertical launching systems. These launchers are fully suitable as they are for Tomahawk intermediate-range attack missiles.



Vladimir Putin:

And this is an outright violation of the Treaty.



Sergey Lavrov:

This is an outright violation of the Treaty. Launchers of this kind have already been deployed in Romania, and preparations are underway to deploy them in Poland, as well as Japan.

Another matter of concern for us is that only recently, just a year ago, the United States in its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review set the task of developing low-yield nuclear weapons, and it is probable that intermediate-range missiles will serve as a means of delivery for these weapons. It was also announced only recently that this provision of the US nuclear doctrine is beginning to materialise with missiles of this kind entering production.

In October 2018, the United States officially declared its intention to withdraw from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles. We did everything we could to save the Treaty considering its importance in terms of sustaining strategic stability in Europe, as well as globally. The last attempt of this kind was undertaken on January 15, when the US finally agreed to our request for holding consultations in Geneva.

In coordination with the Defence Ministry, we proposed unprecedented transparency measures that went far beyond our obligations under the INF Treaty in order to persuade the US that Russia was not in violation of this essential instrument. However, the US torpedoed these proposals. Instead, the US presented yet another ultimatum. It is obvious that we cannot accept it since it contradicts the INF Treaty in both letter and spirit.

The US announced that it was suspending its participation in the INF Treaty, launched the official withdrawal from it, and said that it will no longer consider itself restricted by the INF Treaty. As far as we can see, this means that the US will make missiles in addition to engaging in research and development activities that have already been factored into the current budget.

There is no doubt that these developments make things worse overall in the sphere of nuclear disarmament and strategic stability. It all started with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, when the US decided to withdraw from it in 2002, as you know all too well. This was done despite numerous initiatives by the Russian Federation at the UN General Assembly to save the ABM Treaty. The UN General Assembly passed a number of resolutions supporting the ABM Treaty. However, this did not stop the United States from withdrawing from it.

As a partial replacement for the ABM Treaty, the US and Russia signed a joint declaration that same year, 2002, on new strategic relations with a promise to settle all issues related to the so-called third positioning area of the missile-defence system being deployed in Europe at the time. The declaration provided for holding consultations as a way to reach common ground. This did not happen due to the unwillingness of the United States to take up Russia’s concerns in earnest.

In 2007, we made another gesture of good will at your instructions by coming forward with an initiative that consisted of working together to resolve the problems related to US missile defence system’s third positioning area in Europe. Once again, the US backed out of this proposal.

However, at the Russia-NATO Summit in Lisbon in 2010, we once again called for Russia, the US and Europe to work together on a continental missile-defence system. This call was not heeded. Nevertheless, two years later, in 2012, at the NATO Summit in Chicago it was NATO that called for dialogue with Russia on missile defence. However, all this good will boiled down to the US insisting that we simply come to terms with their missile defence approach, despite all the obvious risks and threats to our security posed by this approach.

Let me remind you that in 2013 Russia once again called on the US Department of State to open consultations, and came forward with concrete proposals. There was no reply. And in 2014, the United States brought the dialogue on missile defence to a halt and declared the intention to deploy its positioning areas in Europe and Asia, while also strengthening other systems, including in Alaska and on the east coast.

Talking about other essential international security and strategic stability instruments, the approach adopted by the United States to performing its commitments under the universal Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has been a matter of concern for Russia. In fact, despite numerous reminders on our part, the United States commits serious violations of the Treaty in its actions within NATO. The Treaty commits nuclear powers to refrain from transferring the corresponding nuclear technologies.

Despite these provisions, NATO engages in so-called joint nuclear missions whereby the United States together with five NATO countries where US nuclear weapons are deployed conduct nuclear weapons drills with countries that are not part of the five nuclear-weapons states. This is a direct violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Another treaty that had a special role in removing the threat of nuclear war, or, to be more precise, whose preparation was a source of hope for addressing these threats, was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty [CTBT]. The United States did not ratify it even though doing so was among Barack Obama’s campaign promises when he ran for president.

Right now, this instrument is completely off the radar, since the United States has lost all interest in any consultations on joining this Treaty. Being a party to the CTBT and acting in good faith, Russia holds special events at the UN General Assembly every year in order to promote the Treaty and mobilise public opinion in favour of its entry into force, which requires the United States to join it, among other things.

Apart from the INF Treaty, there is the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty [START] that remains in force. It is also essential for preserving at least some measure of strategic stability and global parity. It is also under threat, since its effective functioning has come into question after the recent move by the United States to remove from accountability under the treaty 56 submarine based Trident launchers and 41 heavy bombers by declaring them converted into nun-nuclear.

This is possible under the treaty, but the other party has the right to make sure that once converted these weapons cannot be reconverted back into nuclear arsenals.



Vladimir Putin:

An inspection has to be carried out.



Sergey Lavrov:

Yes, an inspection. And there have to be technical means to persuade us that these systems cannot be reconverted and returned into the nuclear arsenal.

We have been holding talks since 2015 to make sure that the United States complies with its obligations on this matter. So far, there have been no results. The technical solutions we have been offered so far cannot persuade us that more than 1,200 warheads, which is an enormous amount, cannot be returned to the nuclear arsenal. Unfortunately, repeated proposals by Russia to launch talks on extending the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty beyond 2021, when its first term is set to expire, have fallen on deaf ears in the United States. All we hear is that the decision on the New START has yet to be taken.

All in all, the situation is quite alarming. Let me reiterate that the decision taken by the United States on the INF Treaty is of course a matter of serious concern for the entire world, especially for Europe. Nevertheless, the Europeans followed in the footsteps of the United States with all NATO members speaking out in explicit support of the position adopted by the United States to refrain from any discussions on mutual concerns. All we hear are groundless ultimatums requiring us to take unilateral measures without any evidence to support unfounded accusations.



Vladimir Putin:

Thank you.

Mr Shoigu, what is the Defence Ministry’s view on the current situation? And what do you propose in this regard?



Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu:

Mr President, it is obvious to us, despite the murky language that we hear, that apart from openly conducting research and development on the production of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, there have been actual violations of the INF Treaty, and this has been going on for several years. To put it simply, the United States has started producing missiles of this kind.

In this connection, we have the following proposals regarding retaliatory measures.

First, we propose launching in the coming months research and development, as well as development and engineering with a view to creating land-based modifications of the sea-based Kalibr launching systems.

Second, we propose launching research and development, followed by development and engineering to create land-based launchers for hypersonic intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

We ask you to support these proposals.



Vladimir Putin:

I agree. This is what we will do. Our response will be symmetrical. Our US partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the INF Treaty, and we are suspending it too. They said that they are engaged in research, development and design work, and we will do the same.

I agree with the Defence Ministry’s proposals to create a land-based version of the Kalibr launchers and work on a new project to develop a land-based hypersonic intermediate-range missile.

At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must not and will not let ourselves be drawn into an expensive arms race. I wanted to ask you, would it be possible to finance these initiatives using the existing budget allocations to the Defence Ministry for 2019 and the following years?



Sergey Shoigu:

Mr President, we closely studied this matter, and will propose adjustments to the 2019 budget in order to be able to carry out these initiatives within the limits set by the state armaments programme and the defence procurement orders for 2019 without going over budget.



Vladimir Putin:

This should not entail any increases in the Defence Ministry’s budget.



Sergey Shoigu:

Yes.



Vladimir Putin:

Good.

In this connection, there is one more thing I wanted to ask you. Every six months we hold meetings in Sochi to discuss the implementation of the state defence order with the commanders of the Armed Forces and the defence sector representatives.

Starting this year, I propose modifying this format. I want to see how efforts to deploy our systems are progressing. This refers to the Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile, the Peresvet combat laser weapon, which has already been delivered to the army, and the Avangard system, which is now in serial production, having completed the test phase. I want to see how the production of the Sarmat missile is advancing alongside preparations for placing it on combat duty.

Several days ago, you reported to me on the completion of a key stage in testing the Poseidon multipurpose strategic unmanned underwater vehicle. We have to look at how these efforts are advancing.

We are aware of the plans by some countries to deploy weapons in outer space. I want to hear a report on how this threat can be neutralised.

There is another important topic I wanted to raise with both the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry.

For many years, we have been calling on numerous occasions for holding meaningful disarmament talks on almost all aspects of this matter. In recent years, we have seen that our partners have not been supportive of our initiatives. On the contrary, they always find pretexts to further dismantle the existing international security architecture.

In this connection, I would like to highlight the following considerations, and I expect the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry to use them as guidance. All our proposals in this area remain on the table just as before. We are open to negotiations. At the same time, I ask both ministries not to initiate talks on these matters in the future. I suggest that we wait until our partners are ready to engage in equal and meaningful dialogue on this subject that is essential for us, as well as for our partners and the entire world.

Another important consideration I would like to share with the senior officials of both ministries. We proceed from the premise that Russia will not deploy intermediate-range or shorter-range weapons, if we develop weapons of this kind – neither in Europe nor anywhere else until US weapons of this kind are deployed to the corresponding regions of the world.

I ask the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry to closely monitor developments and promptly submit proposals on ways to respond.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3495751







The following events are not displayed in the English version.


28 January 2019

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the leadership of the Pugwash movement of scientists - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3486559


29 January 2019

Opening remarks by S. Lavrov during negotiations with the Acting Governor of the Astrakhan Region S. Morozov, Moscow, January 29, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3486883


30 January 2019

Working meeting of S. Lavrov with Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation V. Volodin and the leadership of the lower house of parliament - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3490671


1 February 2019

Meeting of S. Lavrov with heads of diplomatic missions of Central Asian states - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493654
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Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit?
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Old February 15th, 2019 #7
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Most personal and non-personal events have not been translated to English.





Personal events:


28 January 2019

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the delegation of the "Progressive Arab Front" led by the leader of the Lebanese party "Movement of the People" Nadjah Wakim - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3484641

Telephone conversation of G. Karasin with the special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia Z. Abashidze - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3484651

Meeting of S. Ryabkov with the leadership of the Pugwash movement of scientists - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3484848


29 January 2019

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States A. Aboul Gheit - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3487453

Meeting of A. Grushko with the President of the Association of Italian Industrialists in Russia “Confindustria Russia” E. Ferlengi - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3487563

Meeting of I. Morgulov with the delegation of the DPRK MFA - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3487704

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt S. Shukri - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3487741


30 January 2019

Meeting of A. Grushko with the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Russia M. Ederer - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3488399

Working trip to Armenia of G. Karasin - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3488413


31 January 2019

On the participation of S. Ryabkov in the Conference of the countries of the nuclear "five" - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3492922

Meeting of S. Ryabkov with US Under-Secretary of State A. Thompson - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3492932

Meeting of S. Ryabkov with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Zhang Jun - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3492942

Speech by A. Lukashevich at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in response to the report of the head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Y. Brotou, Vienna, January 31, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493110


1 February 2019

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Egypt in Moscow I. Nasr - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493687

On the reception on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia I. Morgulov on the occasion of the New Year on the lunar calendar - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493721


2 February 2019

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Syria in Moscow R. Haddad - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3495773

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Palestine in Moscow A. Nofal - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3495783

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Qatar in Moscow F. Al-Attiey - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3495806






Non-personal events:





Press release on the Outcome of the Russia-South Korea Inter-Agency Consultations on International Information Security, Seoul, January 31, 2019



1 February 2019 - 12:15



Unofficial translation



The third round of the Russia-South Korea inter-agency consultations on international information security (IIS) was held in Seoul on January 31, 2019.

The Russian delegation was headed by Andrey Krutskikh, Ambassador-at-Large and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cooperation on Information Security; the delegation of the host country was led by Kim Gun, Ambassador for International Security Affairs of the Republic of Korea. The Russian delegation comprised representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Federal Guard Service and the Security Council. The South Korean delegation included experts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Science and ICT, Supreme Prosecutor's office, Korean National Police Agency and Korea Internet and Security Agency.

Both sides exchanged views on the full spectrum of IIS-related issues of mutual interest. They expressed general concerns about threats in the field of the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The sides held a substantive discussion of the issues of countering the use of ICTs for terrorist and other criminal purposes.

The Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea stressed the importance of continued cooperation in ensuring the IIS with the UN playing the coordinating role. They noted the need for the earliest elaboration of rules of responsible behavior of States in the information space under the UN auspices, as well as for initiating the work of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on IIS in 2019, and the open-ended UN working group on IIS. The sides also discussed their interaction within other international organizations and forums, including the ASEAN Regional Forum on security.

The Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea pointed out the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation and agreed to maintain regular bilateral dialogue on these matters.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493467






Foreign Ministry statement on the remarks by US representatives on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation



1 February 2019 - 22:17



The Foreign Ministry took note of the new upsurge in groundless critical comments coming from the United States on Russia’s alleged failure to comply with its obligations on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

In making these unfounded and unconcerned statements, Washington ignores the custom of conducting interstate communications in a civilised manner and settling issues that may arise through negotiations. It is highly regrettable that it has already become a tradition for the US to adopt this expressly mentoring tone and arranging its arguments in such a freewheeling manner. It seems that in doing so Washington seeks to provide at least some kind of a foundation for its claims to having an “exclusive right” when it comes to judging and punishing those “at fault.”

The Russian Federation is unwavering, consistent and unequivocal in its commitment to honouring its obligations on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. We firmly reject the methods and means employed by Washington. The Foreign Ministry views these American “tricks” as mere propaganda used by the US to persuade the international community that its actions, allegedly designed to strengthen peace and security, can be justified. We do not agree with this vision.

Furthermore, we have every reason to believe that the true cause behind actions of this kind is the actual and substantial weakening of the international standing of the US and the ensuing fear for Washington to be accused and exposed for its attempts to dismantle the international norms and impose a certain rules-based order shaped to its momentary foreign policy needs.

The following facts, as well as actions by Washington are a matter of special concern for us:

– withdrawing from the ABM Treaty;

– breaking up of efforts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention and the spread of Pentagon’s biolabs across the world;

– failing to eliminate its chemical weapons for more than 10 years, since the US committed itself under the Chemical Weapons Convention to finish this process by April 2007, and attempts to transform OPCW, a technical body by design, into a tool for exerting political pressure on countries Washington disfavours;

– refusing to ratify the adapted version of the CFE Treaty, undermining arms control in Europe;

– halting CTBT ratification procedures and keeping the nuclear arsenal on standby so as to be able to promptly resume full-scale nuclear tests;

– continuing nuclear sharing missions with NATO members that are not nuclear powers, thereby violating the foundations of the NPT (Articles 1 and 2);

– withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, and thus committing a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, even though initiated by Washington;

– determination to deploy arms into outer space and transform the near-Earth orbit into an arena of armed stand-off with all the catastrophic consequences for humanity.

Unfortunately, all these matters are not far-fetched grievances accompanied by the infamous “highly likely” wording. This is the sad reality of the erratic world we live in.

The Russian Federation remains committed to firmly opposing destructive initiatives regarding arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation by seeking to consolidate the international community around a constructive agenda to strengthen the existing international norms. All the initiatives we promote are firmly rooted in international law and are designed to ensure equal and indivisible security for all countries.

We are open to close coordination and full-fledged cooperation with likeminded countries for enhancing strategic stability and international security.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3495741






Foreign Ministry statement



2 February 2019 - 19:44



On February 2, the US Department of State issued a press statement officially notifying the Russian Federation that the United States had suspended its obligations under the 1987 Soviet-US Treaty on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) and had launched the procedure of withdrawing from it. At the same time, the Americans announced that they no longer consider themselves to be bound by the treaty obligations, which means that they can openly design, produce and deploy the weapon systems prohibited under the treaty.

By doing this, Washington, whose compliance with the INF Treaty we questioned for many years, has entered the path towards destroying the treaty, thereby delivering yet another crushing blow at the arms control system that took decades of painstaking efforts to create. This move will certainly have dramatic and far-flung consequences for the entire architecture of international security and strategic stability, primarily in Europe. Responsibility for this will rest fully and squarely with the United States.

Russia has done its best to preserve the treaty. We tried many times to engage the Americans in a professional discussion and proposed practical initiatives that could help settle mutual complaints. Showing goodwill, we adopted unprecedented transparency measures that went beyond the framework of the treaty obligations. However, all our attempts were disregarded or blocked by the United States, which has long opted for destroying the INF Treaty so as to remove any restrictions that hindered the build-up of its missile potential.

In light of the new threats created by Washington, we will have to take the necessary measures to ensure our national security. Russia reserves the right to reciprocate by launching the design, production and deployment of ground-launched intermediate- and shorter-range missiles.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin said on February 2 that Russia, aware of its role in preserving international peace and security, would not deploy intermediate- or shorter-range weapons in Europe or anywhere else until US weapons of this kind are deployed to the corresponding regions of the world. If Washington revises its destructive policy and resumes its obligations under the INF Treaty, we will be ready to conduct a meaningful dialogue on the treaty or any other subjects of strategic stability based on mutual consideration and respect for one another’s interests, as well as the interests of the international community.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3495846






29 January 2019

On the opening of the International Year of Indigenous Languages at UNESCO - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3487427


30 January 2019

On the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Principality of Liechtenstein - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3488079

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the death of civilians as a result of the erroneous airstrikes of the US military on targets in Afghanistan - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3488746

On the meetings of Russian representatives in Israel and Palestine - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3488849

On the release of the Russian sailors of the ship "Mandi" in Nigeria - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3490661


31 January 2019

About the opening ceremony of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements-2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3492973


1 February 2019

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the completion of the formation of a Government in Lebanon - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493523

On the Russian-Turkish consultations on Syria in Ankara - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493664

Meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry with the heads of diplomatic missions of Latin American and Caribbean countries - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493706

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the report of the US intelligence services - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493731

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia in connection with the restriction of broadcasting in Latvia by the RTR-Planeta channel - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493916

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry in connection with the consideration in the US Congress of the “G. Rodchenkov Law” - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3493971

On the entry into force of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the United Arab Emirates on the mutual cancellation of visa requirements for Russian citizens and citizens of the United Arab Emirates - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3494000


3 February 2019

Russia-Iran Consultations on Syria in Tehran - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3495861
__________________
Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit?
Piglet said that the best place would be somewhere where a Heffalump was, just before he fell into it, only about a foot farther on.
(c) Alan Alexander Miln
 
Old February 16th, 2019 #8
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Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, January 31, 2019



31 January 2019 - 14:06







Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the Kyrgyz Republic

On February 3−4, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will pay an official visit to Bishkek, where he will meet with President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov. He will also hold talks with Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Chingiz Aidarbekov. The sides will focus on preparations for the state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Kyrgyzstan in 2019.

In addition, they will exchange opinions on key aspects of Russia-Kyrgyzstan cooperation and the sides’ participation in Eurasian integration associations, including in the context of Kyrgyzstan’s chairmanship of the CSTO and the SCO in 2019. There are also plans to discuss items of the international agenda, including cooperation at the UN.



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the Republic of Tajikistan

On February 4−5, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will pay an official visit to the Republic of Tajikistan. He will meet with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon and will also hold talks with Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirodjidin Aslov.

The sides will discuss preparations for bilateral top-level and high-level meetings that are planned to take place in 2019. Considering Tajikistan’s important role as a member of the CSTO that has the longest border with Afghanistan, the discussion will focus on matters of maintaining regional security and helping Russia’s ally strengthen its defence capability and guard the southern sector of the CIS border. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterpart will sign a programme of cooperation between the two countries’ foreign ministries in 2019.



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Turkmenistan

On February 5−6, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Ashgabat. While there, he will have talks with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov.

The sides will review the main items of the bilateral agenda, a number of international and regional matters, touching upon the interests of Caspian littoral states. They will focus on intra-CIS cooperation, with due consideration for priorities of Turkmenistan’s chairmanship of this organisation in 2019. A programme of cooperation between foreign ministries of Russia and Turkmenistan in 2019−2020 will be signed during the visit.



Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand Don Pramudwinai to pay a working visit to Russia

On February 7−8, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand Don Pramudwinai will pay a working visit to Russia. He will hold talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as have a working meeting with Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, who chairs the Russian section of the Joint Russia-Thailand Commission on Bilateral Cooperation.

The sides will discuss the current state of bilateral political, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation in great detail, focusing on the implementation of top-level agreements that have been reached over the past two years, as well as approaches to pressing international and regional matters.

After the talks, the sides will sign a plan of consultations between the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Thai Foreign Ministry for 2019−2021.



Diplomats’ Day events

On February 10, the Russian Foreign Ministry will celebrate its professional holiday. The main events will be held the day before, on Friday, February 8.

To mark the Diplomats’ Day, a flower laying ceremony will be held at the memorial plaques in the Russian Foreign Ministry to pay tribute to the memory of the ministry workers who died in the Great Patriotic War while doing their duty, as well as victims of political repressions.

At the Novodevichye cemetery, flowers will be laid at the burial sites of prominent Russian diplomats: former foreign ministers, extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassadors of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.

According to the established practice, representatives of the ministry’s leadership, former and current employees as well as young diplomats will take part in the ceremony.

A historical exhibition devoted to anniversaries of prominent Soviet and Russian diplomats marked in 2019 will open in the lobby of the Foreign Ministry building.

A traditional ceremonial meeting will be held to mark the Diplomats’ Day.

At 7 pm on February 7, the Council of Young Diplomats of the Foreign Ministry and the Association of International Tchaikovsky Competition Prize Winners will hold the first official meeting with young members of the Moscow diplomatic corps and the Young Talents - Peace Ambassadors project presentation at the Main Administration for Service to the Diplomatic Corps (GlavUpDK) cultural centre.

For accreditation to the event, please contact the Information Service of the Council of Young Diplomats at 7(916)487 4354.

The festive events will be held at all Russian foreign missions.



Syria update

Tension persists around the Idlib de-escalation zone. Militants from the al-Nusra alliance known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) shell the neighbouring towns and villages on a daily basis and are also building up forces on the line of contact with the Syrian government troops.

We are alarmed by the reports that the terrorists continue to stage sham chemical weapons attacks against civilians. According to the information available to us, active members of the pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets group have accumulated equipment for shooting footage of such provocations in several Idlib hospitals.

We have taken note of the odious item published by The New York Times on January 26, according to which the HTS is allegedly running the province almost liberally. A leading American newspaper is presenting the terrorists as a constructive force allegedly capable of restoring order and reducing the level of violence in Idlib. It is notable, though, that the author of the article does not mention the regular shelling of the Syrian government positions. We provided the relevant figures at last week’s briefing, but I am willing to repeat them. Over the past five months, the terrorists in the Idlib de-escalation zones have violated the ceasefire over 1,000 times. I would like to remind American journalists and their audiences that the HTS is on the UN Security Council’s list of terrorist organisations and that it has been also recognised as such in the United States.

The UN Security Council resolutions encourage all members of the international community to work together to eradicate terrorists. Unfortunately, there are no coordinated efforts in this area or a broad counterterrorism front, which Russia has been advocating. Meanwhile, the jihadists continue to kill innocent civilians in Syria. Between December 21, 2018 and January 21, 2019, at least 10 people have died, including two children, and dozens have been wounded in terrorist attacks around Syria.

I would like to say a few things about the humanitarian situation in Syria.

First, UN data point out a positive trend on the humanitarian track. According to this worldwide organisation, humanitarian access in Syria has greatly improved over the past year. As of January 2019, about one million Syrians were living in difficult to access regions. This represents a decrease of nearly two thirds compared with the figures reported by the UN in late 2017 (nearly 3 million).

Second, we would like to remind the world about the plight of the people in the Rukban camp for the internally displaced persons that is located within the 55-km security area around Al-Tanf. Responsibility for the deplorable situation at the camp rests squarely with the United States, which has illegally taken over that area for a military base and has organised regular logistic support to it. At the same time, the Americans are not doing anything to facilitate the delivery of food and medicine to those in the Rukban camp. Emergency measures must be taken to relocate these people. Until this is done, we will continue to believe that the US is responsible for creating normal living conditions at the camp. We urge Washington to withdraw its troops from the Al-Tanf area without delay and to hand over control over it to the Syrian government, which will take care of the Syrian citizens.

The UN is preparing to send a second humanitarian convoy to Rukban. The parameters of this operation are being coordinated with the Syrian government. We hope that the UN’s humanitarian aid agencies will preclude a repetition of the mistakes made when they sent the first convoy in November 2018. More precisely, we hope that they will ensure a safe route and transparent delivery and distribution of aid. It should be said in this context that Russia has not changed its principled position on dealing with the humanitarian problems of the Rukban camp.

In light of a rapid normalisation around Syria, the number of Syrian refugees willing to return back home has increased considerably. The largest groups of returning Syrians are moving from Lebanon and Jordan. Since July 2018, when Russia launched the initiative to help Syrians’ repatriation, some 120,000 people have returned home.



Developments in Venezuela

The situation in Venezuela remains extremely tense. To be fair, the latest protest rallies were much more modest. Still, they showed that the opposition is unwilling to engage in dialogue, while the official government is ready to do so. Instead, The New York Times opened its pages to the current leader of the Venezuelan opposition with his calls to overthrow the legitimate government. He is openly inciting the Venezuelan armed forces to carry out a government coup. The fact that he uses a US newspaper to issue these calls is intriguing in itself. Anyone who ever tried to publish an op-ed piece in this US newspaper knows that this is quite challenging, but there is always a page for the right people to squeeze in their message.

We see Western sponsors publicly encourage this destructive stance by all possible means. It seems that there are no boundaries for Washington anymore, neither national, nor economic, nor moral.

Unfortunately, the threat of a large-scale military conflict is still there. The note by White House National Security Adviser John Bolton on sending 5,000 US troops to a country neighbouring Venezuela was extensively covered by the media. It provides direct evidence that all options remain on the table, including direct foreign interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country. Judging by the reaction from the government of the country mentioned in the note, this matter was not even discussed with them. At least this country commented on this situation, unlike the US officials. The international community cannot get the US to answer a direct question concerning what is going on with these 5,000 troops who are to be deployed or placed on combat alert in some other way in a country that neighbours Venezuela. Washington is evading this specific question. In my opinion, what this means is that all Washington’s decisions in recent years resulted from court intrigues rather than democratic procedures.

We welcome the firm resolve by regional countries not to follow in the wake of the US militarist policy. We call each and every partner of Russia in Latin America and the Caribbean to consider very seriously what the actual role is that Washington wants them to play in preparing and unleashing a scenario in the region based on using military power, as had already been the case in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. What will be the scale of the humanitarian and migration crisis if these plans are executed? If the concept that is being imposed on the world materialises at the end of the day, in a year or two you will be reporting from international conferences on saving Venezuela. Unfortunately, our forecasts on matters of this kind often come true. The international community will be looking for sponsors and donors to restore this country and its statehood, including through UN resources and in other international formats. Regional countries will be asking global powers questions like: What is there to be done? How can this fire be put out? All this will happen if the scenario backed by the US triumphs yet again today. Over the past years it has not triumphed everywhere, as you know. If this time what is being presented to the entire international community as the only option for Venezuela is implemented again, there will be immediate consequences.

We see that not everyone is ready to blindly follow the so-called recipes for settlement in Venezuela, as promoted by Washington. A considerable number of countries stand firm in their commitment to independence and national sovereignty, and strictly abide by the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of this country. They stand for a peaceful resolution and promoting dialogue between the legitimate government and the opposition as a way of preventing further escalation of the crisis.

The UN Security Council meeting on January 26 was telling in this respect, since it marked the failure of Washington’s attempt to convert the Security Council meeting into a rigged trial against the legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro. It is worth noting the position adopted by participating countries that are part of the Non-Alignment Movement. They made it clear that interference into Venezuela’s domestic affairs was unacceptable.

Examples of a balanced approach of this kind include the joint declaration by the heads of government of the CARICOM member states adopted on January 25, as well as the January 28 statement by the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (PARLATINO) published on its official website, and the joint initiative by Mexico and Uruguay on the need for all forces within the country to engage in a dialogue.

Despite the questionable ultimatums put forward by some European countries, the rejection by the EU of the infamous Monroe Doctrine is apparent. The US administration has been very vocal lately about resuscitating this doctrine. All reasonable political forces understand very well that a broad dialogue within the Venezuelan society is the only way out of the crisis. As far as Russia is concerned, we are ready to contribute to the mediation efforts or offer advice for overcoming the crisis. We welcome the fact the President of Venezuela is ready to engage in such a dialogue.

Let me say a few words about a new package of US sanctions as yet another part of the plan by the White House to bring about a government coup in Venezuela. It could be that the effect from these sanctions will be felt far beyond the Venezuelan borders. We urge the international community and especially Latin American and Caribbean countries to be mindful of the possible consequences of this move. This is not just an act of intimidation against the free people of Venezuela who have chosen their own path of development and faced political and economic aggression for doing so. We often hear about the country’s performance, including economic, financial and social statistics, while invariably failing to mention the external impact on this country and where it comes from. This has a direct bearing on the country’s economy, among other things. If adopted, the proposed package will be a direct path to a catastrophe, including an environmental disaster that could cause irreparable harm to the people in other regional countries and their development.

You can ask experts what will happen if downstream operations are brought to a sudden stop, whether this is possible or not, what needs to be done to carry out this plan and what will be the consequences? Very soon oil that Washington does not want anyone to buy from the Maduro government could just begin spilling into the sea. Has anyone asked this question? Did anyone come up with any technological options? While pursuing its political objectives and momentary ambitions, Washington has been unable to take into consideration even the most basic consequences that are obvious to anyone more or less aware of how petrochemicals are made. All this appears to be a large-scale sabotage effort that covers not only the political dimension but is also damaging for international relations and, in particular, has direct environmental consequences for an entire region.

It has to be said that the “voices of reason” are increasingly making themselves heard even in the United States. The Washington Post quotes Rohit Khanna, a Democratic Congressman from California, who said that the White House policy on Venezuela shows that there is no respect for the UN Charter. I am aware of the fact that the publication of articles of this kind is underpinned, among other things, by domestic politics in the US. But maybe this time the opponents should be heard?

We call on all reasonable forces both within and outside Venezuela to use their efforts to promote de-escalation in this country.



Historical parallels related to states refraining from interference in each other’s internal affairs

In the early 1860s, two countries with very different political systems, the Russian Empire and the United States, found themselves facing grave domestic and external challenges caused, among other things, by mounting pressure from foreign powers.

Russia was suffering from the consequences of the Crimean War, while the United States, gripped by internal conflict, was on the verge of disintegration, which resulted in the Civil War. The leading West European powers were not averse to taking advantage of the situation in order to strengthen their own positions in the Western Hemisphere.

Chancellor Alexander Gorchakov’s June 28/July 10, 1861 dispatch to the charge d’affairs of the Russian embassy in the US, Eduard de Stoeckl, which was endorsed by Emperor Alexander II (it has “So Be It” written on it by the Emperor), clearly expressed Russia’s stance that consisted of keeping the United States united and supporting the legitimately elected President, Abraham Lincoln. Gorchakov instructed Eduard de Stoeckl to communicate the message to Lincoln and, if possible, have it published in the local press. President Lincoln was deeply moved by the document and asked the charge d’affairs to convey his sincere gratitude to the Emperor.

To compare: today’s closest US allies, the British and the French, did just the opposite. While formally remaining neutral, they were seriously considering whether they could recognise the Confederacy and intervene on its side, although they eventually gave up this idea.

In 1863, US Secretary of State William Henry Seward remarked in a conversation with de Stoeckl that his government had declined any intervention in their internal strife and therefore had no right to intervene in other states’ affairs. The Russian charge d’affairs reported this to Gorchakov in his letter of April 29/May 11, 1863. Alexander II wrote on the document: “Bravo!”

Lincoln said that both countries’ identical interests, namely the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, were in agreement again. This principle formed the basis of the North’s national policy and, despite the crisis they were experiencing at the time, they decided to abide by that principle.

These are golden words. Why can’t the Americans remember these words today? It would not be a bad thing if they recalled what was said by one of the recognised fathers of democracy, the 16th US President, the winner in the war between the North and the South, and a man revered in US history.

When US officials tell us about the reasons for their decision to grossly interfere in Venezuela’s affairs, they usually claim that they want to restore democracy, that a considerable portion of its people do not accept the country’s course and the policies conducted by the legitimate president, that people are unhappy because they cannot be heard, etc. Does this remind you of anything? I mean the current situation in the United States, where a considerable portion of the people do not accept their president’s course and are unhappy with the changes and the policies he is pursuing at home. Do you remember the situation in the US right after the 2016 election? As a reminder, the candidate who lost the race actually won the majority of the vote. I think a pretext could have been found to support the majority of the Americans who refused to agree with the election results. Why wasn’t this done? Isn’t democracy about constitutional law and a resolve to follow the dictates of the constitutional system that prevails over the opinion of the many? I understand that the two situations differ greatly, but they also have much in common.



Delay in issuing US visas to Viktor Bout’s family

We are outraged by the six-month long delay in issuing US visas to the family of Viktor Bout convicted in the United States on a dubious charge: his wife Alla Bout and their daughter Yelizaveta. They planned to see their husband and father for the first time since 2012. Let me remind you that Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 at Washington’s request and extradited to the United States, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison after he refused to plead guilty.

Alla and Yelizaveta filed documents with the US Embassy in Moscow back in July and had an interview in September 2018. However, no progress has been made since then. As an explanation US diplomats have given their traditional excuse that the visa application is undergoing “further administrative processing.” I don’t understand – are they “processing” the purpose of the Bout family’s visit to the United States? In view of this, the Foreign Ministry sent a relevant note last week demanding that the matter is settled.

So what we have is that first Viktor Bout was charged with arms trafficking and sentenced to a huge prison term without any clear evidence, in fact on the basis of agent-provocateurs’ testimony alone, an now he is denied meeting with his family after seven years of separation.

This situation vividly demonstrates the unprecedentedly bad situation with obtaining US visas in Russia when Russian citizens’ travels for business, cultural, humanitarian, scientific and sports purposes are disrupted because of Washington’s actions.

I would like to hope that US authorities will stop severing links between our countries and peoples and harming their own people and citizens of both countries. I remind that many people have passports and residence permits of both countries. They have relatives who want to visit them and to continue to live normally.

We hope that even though they have been holding our citizen Viktor Bout for over ten years, they will at least give his wife and daughter an opportunity to visit him.



Events involving Russian media in Germany

We note an increase in the campaign in the German press to discredit the Russian and Russian language media in Germany.

The RT Deutsch TV Channel and the Sputnik Germany agency are the hardest hit. They broadcast in German and enjoy no small popularity among the local audience. Recently, the publication Bild, that has long made Russophobia part of its editorial policy, staged a fit of hysteria over the RT Deutsch plan to receive a licence to broadcast on cable networks. The German tabloid subjected former MDR Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Kenntemich to harassment when he was offered the opportunity to join the channel’s consultative council. He was branded a “lobbyist for the Kremlin’s propaganda machine.”

Bild was joined by the German Journalists’ Union (DJV). The union’s head, Frank Überall, publicly urged the authorities not to issue RT Deutsch a licence. He said in a press release that the channel was a “propaganda tool of the Kremlin” and that it spreads disinformation. What if we produce a copy of this press release but with German journalists working in the Russian Federation?

In December last year, the DJV refused to talk to Sputnik about the scandal involving the infamous journalist of Der Spiegel, Claas-Hendrik Relotius, who was caught inventing his materials. DJV spokesman Hendrik Zorner said that his organisation exists “for journalists whose mission is to inform and educate the public rather than propagandists working for authoritarian states that harass independent journalists and eliminated freedom of speech at home.” Have you heard anything like this from non-Germans on the situation in Ukraine? Everything he said applies to the situation in Ukraine – journalists are barred from entering the country, freedom of speech has been eliminated; there is no alternative view, and mass disinformation is published regularly.

To clear up the situation for the German colleagues who work at home and do not often visit Moscow, I would like to say that German journalists in Russia enjoy all the advantages of freedom of speech. If you doubt this, you are welcome to come and see for yourself.

Nationally funded Deutsche Welle has also been making peremptory assertions as regards the Russian media. At a recent media conference, its head, Peter Limbourg, devoted his entire speech to the problem of “Russian disinformation” and the loss of trust in authoritative German media, and urged law enforcement and the Prosecutor’s Office to more thoroughly monitor compliance with the law in social media.

Recently, we have seen attempts to defame different associations of our compatriots and the Russian language press in Germany. Thus, a major German news website «T-online.de», notorious for its fake exposures of RT Deutsch and Sputnik Germany, and the ARD state TV Channel produced a series of totally unfounded pseudo-investigations into the activities of some compatriot organisations and the Russian language website Russkoye Pole, accusing them of imposing “alien values” on Germans and representing a “diverse network used for Moscow’s influence.”

I would like to say that we intend to forward all materials in this campaign to the OSCE as soon as possible, because the OSCE is interested in countering fraudulent news stories. The above will be sent as an example of disinformation in Germany by the German media, a number of which are sponsored by the German state.

We see that a large-scale attack on Russian news resources is being conducted in Germany and not without state participation. This is an obviously well-orchestrated campaign aimed at discrediting the Russian press. As we see it, the motivation behind this is the establishment’s demand to suppress the voice of the Russian media. Once again, we will report this situation in Germany to the relevant international organisations.



Ineffective and counterproductive Western sanctions on Russia

Since at least 1974 until now, there has not been a single day when some kind of US restrictions weren’t imposed on our country. Clearly, for decades our country has been considered by the US establishment as a state that is normal to impose sanctions on.

In 1974, the United States adopted the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which prohibited the provision of the most-favoured-nation trade status, government loans or loan guarantees to the Soviet Union.

In 1980, it was the boycott of the Olympic Games by more than 60 countries, including the United States and other Western states, which was a way to show the West’s disapproval of the Soviet Union sending troops to Afghanistan. No one has ever asked: What happened next? Why did the United States not impose sanctions on itself? It would be interesting to know, though.

In 1981, there was the blockade of the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod gas pipeline's construction, which led to an embargo on supplying high-tech US-made equipment to the Soviet Union.

Then, there was a short pause, which absolutely didn’t mean that previous sanctions were lifted – it was just that no additional sanctions were imposed during that period in history. It was in the late 1980s-early 1990s. Now, in retrospect, we know what this respite was due to.

In 1998, there was the research-related black list of organisations that allegedly violated anti-Iran sanctions (i.e., sanctions for sanctions).

In 2012, the Magnitsky Act was adopted.

The era of sanctions associated with the Ukraine crisis began in 2014, and the sanctions over the Skripal poisoning, which we have discussed with you on many occasions, were imposed in 2018.

To date, the number of waves of US sanctions has reached 65. Were our US colleagues successful in achieving their goals? No.

This is not the most interesting aspect of it, though. It turns out that sanctions hurt the international trading positions of their initiators. Here are objective figures: in 2013-2017, EU exports to Russia decreased by almost $50 billion, which, according to the European Parliament’s estimates, led to a loss of about 400,000 jobs in Europe. The funny part is that this damage is asymmetric in nature, because US exports to Russia decreased by only $4 billion over the same period of time. The Europeans have to pay a high price for delegating the right to determine their foreign policy goals to their North American colleagues. Perhaps, they can afford doing so.

However, sanctions are also harmful to the United States, mainly because of the deteriorating long-term prospects for US companies in Russia. According to the US Chamber of Commerce in Russia, 84% of such companies noted a negative impact, one in four froze their new Russian projects, and more than a third said that the sanctions had created an unlevelled playing field for them as compared with companies from other countries. A couple of years of pursuing an energetic sanctions policy which banned the US companies from operating on the Russian market, they took note of China’s fantastic growth rates, including in its business with Russia. Now, they are imposing sanctions on China to stop this growth.

Clearly, the sanctions, coupled with the trade wars started by the United States, have a significant impact on the global economic system and undermine the foundations of the international economic order. In essence, international economic relations have departed from the legal framework. Instead, the United States is taking a heavy-handed approach to resolving economic issues that involves aggressive protectionism and pushing its own interests. We can see in the media the US ambassadors’ correspondence with the public in the countries they are posted to. It involves direct threats to major, medium- and small-sized businesses and, as a matter of fact, to the people. Blackmail is now being widely used to resolve issues arising from the sanctions imposed by the United States.

Despite the political meandering of their states, Western business circles remain interested in contacts with Russian businesses. Realistically assessing the prospects for developing their business with their Russian partners, companies from many European countries continue to participate in international exhibitions held in Russia. For example, a 550-strong business delegation from the United States attended the SPIEF-2018 (St Petersburg International Economic Forum), and was again one of the largest at the forum.

Investment cooperation between Russia and foreign countries is going from strength to strength. Direct investment amounted to nearly $28 billion as of the end of 2017.








Answers to media questions:



Question:

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro recently said that there is an assassination plot against him and if he gets killed US President Donald Trump will be to blame. What is Russia’s reaction?

Is there a possibility of international mediation support to resolve the crisis in Venezuela?



Maria Zakharova:

Today I spoke about Russia’s ability and intention to participate as a consultant and intermediary in the dialogue between the opposing domestic political actors in Venezuela. Russia can only play this role if both parties agree to it.

As concerns our stance that it is unacceptable to not only interfere with but, at this point, to moderate the internal Venezuelan crisis and coup, we have been making very active efforts in this regard at the international platform of the UN Security Council and in bilateral contacts. These efforts will be continued very soon.

We are also very positive about the regional countries’ attempts to help resolve the situation, attempts to develop an analytical basis and provide assistance to Venezuela on behalf of regional actors who are acting not under Washington’s pressure but understand that they will be the first to reap the outcome of the Venezuelan crisis and nobody will help them find a way out of their own problems. We see examples in the Middle East and North Africa. It is all the same. It started with the so-called Arab Spring, “fighting for democracy” and helping the population to “gain freedom” – and ended with many years of stubbornly searching for the answer: what to do with Libya, for example? And it is not so much Libya that is searching for this answer and even not its neighbours as it is Italy that has been holding conference after conference and raising the issue at all international platforms. This experience is not two hundred but only a few years old. It has not been a decade since the situation in Libya unfolded when they were looking for democracy there and trying to bring freedom back to the people. Eventually, both democracy and freedom were taken away from them. Now the Libyans have nothing but misery and a lack of prospects for the future.

Regarding Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s statement about his fears for his own safety, what else could it be if representatives of US security services have officially and directly stated that he must be ousted and they do not recognise him as the president of Venezuela and do not recognise his immunity, status and decisions. People are being sent an unambiguous signal that he is no longer the president of the country. And since he is not the president he has nothing, no immunity and no security. How else can this be interpreted?

Moreover, we can see that Washington is staking almost everything to force through its own solution to the Venezuelan issue. Considering that the United States is not enjoying foreign policy success in other parts of the world, perhaps this is yet another attempt to distract us from the failures in other problematic areas.

Let me remind you that the United States promised to achieve a lot in the Middle East. We are still waiting for the “deal of the century” which nobody understands or knows about. We are still waiting for the promised “total defeat” of ISIS, promised global solutions, for example, to the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Nothing globally positive is happening anywhere.

Perhaps the situation is similar to what happened in Cuba when a huge contingent of American businesses under former US President Barack Obama’s flags landed in Cuba and a great number of agreements were drafted (to solve, among others, the “Cuban problem”) – in order for the United States to score foreign policy points for its irreplaceable efforts in the international arena. And then everything turned out to be bluffing and deceit. Maybe this is something similar and we really do not want this situation to repeat itself.



Question:

There has been much speculation concerning the statements made by Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov about the deployment of ISIS fighters on the Afghan-Pakistani border. Would you comment on this?



Maria Zakharova:

We have seen these reports. I believe it was just a common slip of the tongue. The movement of ISIS fighters has been reported in Afghanistan, as we have already said many times. This is what was meant, I think.

As for Pakistan, we have developed close interaction with our colleagues there in the sphere of counterterrorism and Afghanistan. The strengthening of ISIS in Afghanistan and foreign encouragement of the group’s expansion are matters of concern for Russia and Pakistan.

Overall, our allies at the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and our partners at the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) are working together to bring down the level of threat created by the crisis in Afghanistan as much as possible. We regularly monitor and analyse the factors and risks which our countries must not underestimate. We are doing this in the interests of our nations.

Russia is resolved to carry on joint efforts in this area so as to preclude any attempts to destabilise Central Asia and the CIS countries.

I would like to once again point out the great contribution of the countries that directly border on Afghanistan. Working in the spirit of strategic partnership with each of them, Russia has provided and is willing to increase its support in security and border protection. It should be said in particular that the CSTO and the CIS are working to support the efforts of Tajikistan, which is our main partner in border security. It is for this purpose that we maintain the 201st military base in Dushanbe and the Kant Air Base [in Kyrgyzstan]. These facilities operate in the interests of all CSTO countries to guarantee security and stability in the region.



Question:

Director of US National Intelligence Daniel Coats said the other day that “neither the Afghan government nor the Taliban will be able to gain a strategic military advantage in the Afghan war in the coming war year, even if coalition support remains at current levels.” Has the US finally admitted the impossibility of a military victory over the Taliban?



Maria Zakharova:

When I hear people use the words “final,” “the US” and “Afghanistan” in one sentence, I always reply that, regrettably, Washington’s decisions on this track cannot be described as consistent or strategic in terms of concepts and forward-looking analysis. The US has been recently changing its strategy every 18 months or thereabout. Therefore, I recommend caution regarding the words “finally admitted” when applied to Washington’s operations in this area.

I believe that at this point in time Mr Coats’s statement should be regarded as a private opinion.



Question:

Your Chinese colleague Geng Shuang has said that the United States is responsible for the disastrous plight of the people of Venezuela. In 2007, Juan Guaido studied at Andres Bello Catholic University [in Caracas] and George Washington University in the United States. Mikheil Saakashvili also studied at American universities. It appears that the United States runs a centre for training opposition leaders. Could the Foreign Ministry organise a conference to study and discuss this matter in greater detail?



Maria Zakharova:

Much has been written on this subject. Actually, there is nothing to study here. It was possible to study and collect some data and facts before the internet era. Today, we know everything down to the smallest detail, with photos. This is not the issue. The issue is that although everyone knows everything, some people and political forces in Venezuela don’t understand that this beautifully wrapped offer is alien to their country, and no one cares about what lies in store for this country. Quite possibly, it is human nature not to be able to learn from past mistakes and look at things objectively, and to be taken in by nice words and promises, for the most part. It is hard to say. In this particular case, there is nothing new about the political leader you mentioned. Everything is well-known, clear and obvious.



Question:

What actions does the Foreign Ministry plan to take to officially support Nicolas Maduro, as part of its functions?



Maria Zakharova:

We have already discussed this matter. This includes support for the constitutional system of Venezuela, this state’s sovereignty, actions at international venues ranging from the UN Security Council to bilateral and multilateral contacts, as well as our statements. Believe me, this is quite a lot. We have done a lot to help Venezuela resolve this situation (which is not about a domestic standoff, but endless outside support for the opposition and efforts to aggravate a domestic crisis), so that this situation would not deteriorate as quickly as had been expected. It appears that the United States wanted long ago to change the situation in Venezuela very quickly. But for domestic resistance, but for the principled rejection of this plan by major players and powers and their resistance, the situation would have escalated in a negative direction long ago.



Question:

Ilham Aliyev said three days ago that Azerbaijan was equipping its army with the latest weapons because the country is in a state of war. What preparations for peace can one talk about? Don’t you think that it is impossible to achieve success in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, unless Artsakh residents are directly involved in the talks?



Maria Zakharova:

Our position on this matter remains the same and has not changed. The first part of your question certainly should not be addressed to Russia.

We conscientiously fulfill our mediatory function in a high-quality manner. We praise the latest political contacts between Baku and Yerevan at various levels. We have heard constructive assessments made by both capitals on this matter. We believe this is the right way to move forward.



Question:

Can you comment on the disappearance of Vladimir Gorbenko, captain of Russian vessel Nord, in Ukraine? Could the Ukrainian Security Service be involved?



Maria Zakharova:

At this stage I can only say that the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Ukraine are looking into all the circumstances of that situation. As you know, cases where Russian citizens find themselves in a difficult situation abroad always receive priority attention.



Question:

A meeting between the Russian and Japanese foreign ministers is expected to take place on the margins of the Munich Security Conference in mid-February 2019. In what phase are the preparations for the meeting now?



Maria Zakharova:

Regarding your first question about possible contacts: as you know, pursuant to the understanding reached at the meeting between President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe in Moscow on January 22, 2019, the possibility of further meetings between the foreign ministers is being considered. Indeed, one such possibility is the upcoming Munich conference. Such contacts may take place if the conference is attended by both countries’ delegations at the level of foreign ministers. But formally we have yet to announce the Foreign Minister’s participation in the conference, which is also being considered.



Question:

Japanese media, citing government sources, reported several days ago that Sergey Lavrov may travel to Japan in March or April. Is Russia contemplating such a visit?

As for the subject of negotiations: the Russian side, in particular Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, is insisting after meeting his Japanese opposite number that Japan still has to recognise the outcome of WWII in full, including Russia’s sovereignty over South Kuril islands. Japan cannot accept this demand for a variety of reasons.



Maria Zakharova:

It seems to me that Russia has a consolidated position. It really reflects the opinion held by the executive authorities, the public, the academic community and historians, and is based on clear-cut principles. There are no diverging interpretations.

As for Japan, I would be more nuanced and I understand that Japan has different “schools of thought.” In this case I simply had to correct you.



Question:

Nevertheless, it looks like negotiations are stuck. What is the way out, in your opinion? Are compromises possible? Can Russia somehow alter or soften its position?



Maria Zakharova:

As for your question on Japanese media reports about a possible visit by Sergey Lavrov to Japan, including dates even, at this stage such a visit is not on the agenda. In case of any changes I will keep you informed.

As for the idea that negotiations have stalled: I do not share this point of view at all. The work continues. We explained what we are not happy about in that work, specifically those public statements which are at odds with the negotiations and understandings reached at the top level and which were rather undiplomatic and provocative. It looks like the Japanese side has understood us.



Question:

You have said many times that NATO controls the airspace over Afghanistan. Are there really unidentified helicopters flying around there and who is controlling them?



Maria Zakharova:

Who is stationed in Afghanistan? Who has, for many years, been conducting operations in Afghanistan, authorised by the UN Security Council without reporting to it? They are in charge. These movements are indeed happening. We talk about them. We understand that, one way or another, there is a connection with the militants. Nobody can say clearly what helicopters these are, where they fly and what they are related to.

But this is not Russia’s issue but an issue that Russia has been raising, including publicly.



Question:

It was mentioned here that an intra-Venezuelan dialogue, as Russia believes and as common sense advises, would be the most efficient way out of the crisis. But the opposition stubbornly refuses to participate in a dialogue. In your opinion, why are the self-proclaimed leader and the people surrounding him so categorical? Why are they not at all interested in a dialogue and openly demonstrate this position?

The Russian Foreign Ministry has already stated that it is willing to be an intermediary, but under the current circumstances a dialogue seems “highly unlikely.” Is Moscow considering alternative ways to assist in overcoming this crisis?



Maria Zakharova:

Regarding why, as you said, this self-proclaimed leader is not ready for negotiations, it is because he is not self-proclaimed but “proclaimed” as such by outside powers. This endeavor is receiving full support – financial, technical, moral and political.

I would like to remind you that earlier stakes were made on another opposition leader who, for some reason, did not justify expectations. Now all the support is given to this political leader. It is all very simple: orders from abroad must be followed.

There is no doubt that Venezuela has its problems that need to be resolved. As there is no doubt that the scenario to prevent an internal consolidated dialogue is coming from outside. These are two components of a classic scheme. If you take any country – big or small, developed or developing, with long-standing traditions of democracy or a monarchy – it will have its own problems. And any problem can be resolved through an internal dialogue or stalled and kept unsolvable.

This scenario was going to be carried out in Syria, for example. As we have repeatedly said, it has been carried out in many other countries as well. This is why the leaders who were trained abroad (as was just mentioned) and who are leading the protest movement now, were banned from participating in any internal dialogue, in order to prevent any opportunity for Venezuela to overcome its own problems with its own resources.

As concerns Russia’s alternative approaches, I represent Russia’s Foreign Ministry and I offer my comments within the scope of my competence. If you have questions regarding other departments, perhaps you should address them.

We believe that the possibilities for diplomatic assistance to Venezuela in resolving a very complicated crisis (because it has drawn the attention of foreign states) have not been exhausted. As we understand it, the countries in the region share this opinion. This is exactly why several countries have declared the necessity to urgently convene an international conference.



Question:

You said Russia could act as a mediator on Venezuela. A mediator must have good relations with those whom it plans to reconcile. Does the Russian Foreign Ministry have enough resources to ensure a dialogue between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido? Is it in contact with Uruguay and Mexico as regards their proposal?



Maria Zakharova:

As for the second question, this proposal was made yesterday. Diplomats will still have to discuss and specify the parameters.

As for your first question, it doesn’t matter whether we have good relations with the parties to the conflict. What matters is that one side of the conflict is banned from saying or doing anything that is aimed at a dialogue with the other side. This is the root of the problem. The leader and the representatives of the opposition are simply prohibited from conducting a domestic dialogue. In addition, as you see (we are seeing this together), many Western powers have started proclaiming the opposition leader as ostensibly the lawful head of state. If this is being done, if these countries and their leaders are publicly saying this, what domestic dialogue can we talk about? The conditions and the rules of the game that prevent the opposition leader from conducting a domestic dialogue have been created. In addition, now external circumstances are being created to make this dialogue altogether impossible.

Russia has potential and experience. Look at the Syrian crisis – communication with different representatives from the political field (let’s call it that). There are many such examples but let’s talk about Syria only. We had wonderful relations with representatives of the authorities and we maintained a very important dialogue – one of the most valuable contributions to the launch of the political process involving both the domestic Syrian opposition and the opposition abroad. Isn’t this a graphic example of Russia’s experience and ability to work on developing an internal dialogue? Meanwhile, Syria is a very complicated entity because of the variety of its political forces, as well as religious and ethnic views. Even holding exclusively political views that are different or similar in nature, political associations inside Syria and beyond sometimes occupied diametrically opposite positions. But they were eventually united. An unprecedented example of our potential in this area was the holding of a forum of different Syrian political forces in Sochi. Everyone told us it was impossible, that it would go nowhere. Why not? Everything was done, everything worked out. Here’s an example of potential for you. The point is, just like with Syria, if dialogue is prohibited and the political forces in Venezuela are motivated to separate rather than seek a domestic way out, a dialogue will certainly become impossible. But again, we have been through this in Syria.



Question:

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed certain doubts as to the legitimacy of the Prespan agreement. Do you still have these doubts? Will you recognise North Macedonia? Will this issue be discussed at the UN Security Council?



Maria Zakharova:

The Foreign Ministry has repeatedly expressed its opinion on the Prespan agreement and published its comments on its website. They are all current. As you know, Russia recognised the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name. Moscow has always believed and continues to believe that the disputed issue on the name of this country should be settled in a way that is acceptable both for Skopje and Athens.

We have to state, with regret, once again that serious violations of domestic law by one of the sides and of international legal standards were made under strong outside pressure in the process of approving the agreement.

We believe no one should have any doubts that the Western countries were motivated by the geopolitical interests of involving Skopje in NATO as soon as possible rather than by a striving to facilitate the settlement of what is essentially a bilateral dispute.



Question:

Are there any developments concerning the detention of Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik in Greece?



Maria Zakharova:

We are monitoring the situation with Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik, who was arrested in Greece in July 2017 on a warrant of the US Justice Department. Since late November 2018, Vinnik has been on a hunger strike, which is obviously cause for serious concern.

Russian diplomatic representatives in Greece are insisting that the detained Russian citizen’s personal safety and his legal rights are ensured. In our contacts with the Greek side at every level we always point out that we expect the Greek authorities to extradite the citizen to his country of nationality, which is Russia.



Question:

The UN Security Council voted to renew the mandate of the Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. There is an attempt to revive the negotiations. Will the Foreign Ministry support this attempt?



Maria Zakharova:

Let me check and get back to you.



Question:

This February, apart from the meeting between the Russian and Japanese foreign ministers, there also will be a meeting between these two countries’ special representatives. Do you have the meetings’ dates and locations yet?



Maria Zakharova:

This question is currently under consideration, too.



Question:

How are the Russian sailors released in Nigeria doing?



Maria Zakharova:

A message concerning them was posted to the Foreign Ministry’s official website. We congratulate them on their successful return to their homeland. I do not have any additional information on the topic.

I cannot but recall that back in early January, a week after these dramatic events took place, numerous so-called specialists gave us recommendations that included the options of bombing, sending troops and taking military action. Thank you all very much for the advice. We address similar situations based on our own experience and assessment of the situation on the ground, the conditions and circumstances. I would like to assure you that each and every situation like this is under the Foreign Ministry leadership’s direct supervision.



Question:

This week, there have been reports of empty Russian planes flying to Venezuela. Please comment.



Maria Zakharova:

I already did while answering questions received in the normal course of business. I cannot comment on flights carried out with any other than official purposes. The only thing to say is that this has nothing to do with the evacuation of Russian diplomats, their families, Russian citizens or employees of foreign institutions or companies; I can say that for sure. But when it comes to flights, please address these questions to those who charter and direct these planes, pay for them, and so forth.



Question:

Tomorrow we will mark the 10th anniversary of the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill. Is religion and foreign policy linked in the Russian Federation?



Maria Zakharova:

This will take five hours if I keep it brief. This is a historical question. Politics and the state in its executive capacity should not interfere in the affairs of the Church, unless there is an appropriate format for it such as international or interaction platforms. The state has no right to shape or moderate the affairs of the Church. If we talk globally about foreign policy and church affairs, this is a big subject. Maybe later you can somehow detail your question – what exactly do you want to hear?



Question:

We have seen a publication by the UNIAN information agency that Russia is starving and hungering for delicious cheese.



Maria Zakharova:

It was a publication by an UNIAN correspondent in another media outlet. Whether he expressed his own personal opinion or the opinion of UNIAN – you need to check with him. Indeed, he said that we have nothing to eat in Moscow and in Russia. He did say this, but I see you are not starving.



Question:

You spoke about the growing tension in Idlib. Turkey, one of the three guarantor countries in the Astana process, took on the responsibility for the stability of that province and was expected to establish stability back in October. But, as you noted, tension there has become even more threatening. Is a military operation being prepared that had been planned prior to the agreement on the de-escalation zone? Will Russia support such an operation launched by the Syrian Government?

Having failed to ensure stability in Idlib, Turkey is preparing for another operation to create a de-escalation zone in northern Syria. Will Russia support this initiative?

Today a delegation of the Turkish Ministry of Defence is arriving in Moscow. Will these issues be discussed during the talks?



Maria Zakharova:

The entire series of your questions should be addressed to our military specialists. Political evaluations were made after President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The heads of state discussed this issue in detail. The Russian side has publicly presented its views. They are also reflected in the numerous comments by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. I have nothing to add here.

As for aspects of military operations, they are the competence of the Russian Ministry of Defence.



Question:

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said Europe benefits from the INF Treaty. She expressed the hope that there is still a way to preserve it and fully abide by it. Considering the EU’s position, will the attempts to preserve the treaty have a chance to succeed?



Maria Zakharova:

A wonderful statement but the problem is that nobody listens to Europe in the US. We are doing all we can to emphasise the need to preserve the treaty. Recall Russia’s initiatives in the UN General Assembly and look at whether Brussels supported them. This will answer your question on what practical steps the EU is taking to preserve the INF Treaty. One of the ways of doing this is to work actively in the UN General Assembly.



Question:

Last Sunday, January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was observed. During his official visit to Israel several days earlier, Ukraine's President Poroshenko visited Yad Vashem, the National Memorial of the Holocaust and Heroism. At the same time, a bas-relief to Semyon Petlyura, the head of Ukrainian nationalists during the Civil War and the initiator of the barbarous Jewish pogroms, was unveiled in Kiev. What could you say about this?



Maria Zakharova:

I think this is a medical diagnosis. Assessing this politically, I can say that this is a very strange position based on the desire to please everyone at once. Nobody has ever succeeded in doing this and it has always led to very sad consequences. After all, people who do not simply engage in political activities, but run a country and have at least declared their intention to settle a very difficult crisis that is rooted in history, should take a principled position on matters of principle.

World War II – the Great Patriotic War – is a matter of principle and therefore, compromise assessments are unacceptable in this respect. It is necessary to proceed from positions of principle and the search for ways of the state existence on the basis of a unifying agenda. There is a difference between “compromise” and “unifying.”

In Ukraine everything went exactly opposite: there were no principled assessments but rather compromise-based manoeuvres, while positions of principle were not maintained. This has never ended well.



Question:

What could you say about reports that Russian hackers gained access to data of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s interference in US affairs and published this data to discredit his inquiry?



Maria Zakharova:

This sounds a bit absurd. I think that since this is the investigation by the Special Counsel, a high-ranking US official, which captivates public attention not only in the US but in the rest of the world, it would be appropriate to establish who these hackers are and their names, as well as the dates and materials instead of leaking again some anonymised information with an obvious political agenda. I think it is time to put to rest the Russian hackers meme and cite specific names, passwords and secret addresses.



Question:

A report by US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was published on January 29. We noted an interesting phrase that sounds like an announcement of the escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. It was also suggested that Russia will step up its military, political and other pressure during the presidential elections in Ukraine. Could this be an information campaign for a future provocation?



Maria Zakharova:

I haven’t seen any materials from this report. Regardless of whether this report was published or not, we can affirm that the presidential election campaign in Ukraine has started. Indicatively, it started not with some politicians declaring their candidacies but with provocations, including those at the geographical points you mentioned. Provocations are designed to influence a certain segment of the population with Russophobic motives. We also noted that these activities enjoyed broad support and were largely organised (at least the prerequisites) abroad.



Question:

At what stage is the dialogue between Damascus and the Kurds?



Maria Zakharova:

At all stages of the events in Syria we spoke about the need to involve representatives of Kurdish groups in all settlement processes. We conducted this work not only with Damascus but also with other world powers.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3492764
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Bishkek, February 4, 2019



4 February 2019 - 10:00







Mr President,

I would like to thank you very much for this possibility to meet with you as part of our official visit. As you pointed out, the agenda will be mostly devoted to the preparations for the upcoming state visit by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. A major part of the preparations will be a meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission, which is scheduled to be held on March 1.







We appreciate our allied relations and strategic partnership, our close bilateral ties and also cooperation within the framework of organisations of which Russia and Kyrgyzstan are members, namely the CSTO, the EAEU, the CIS, the SCO, the UN and the OSCE. We have developed a way to closely coordinate our positions on a majority of subjects.

During the talks with my Kyrgyzstani colleague today, we will discuss the foreign policy goals formulated by President Vladimir Putin and you in order to ensure sustainable and steady work in all spheres.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3499365






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, Bishkek, February 4, 2019



4 February 2019 - 11:29







Mr Nifadyev,

Friends,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to once again visit the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, one of Kyrgyzstan’s leading institutions that is also highly respected across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Last year President of Russia Vladimir Putin sent a message of appreciation to the faculty and staff of the university to mark its 25th anniversary, as a sign of gratitude for their major contribution to preserving and promoting the Russian language and culture in Kyrgyzstan and across Central Asia.

Today’s meeting testifies to the high level of mutual understanding between the two countries. Russia and Kyrgyzstan are reliable allies as well as strategic partners. Our relations are underpinned by the principles of equality, mutual benefit and consideration of each other’s interests, and are immune to momentary shifts and fluctuations on the international arena. Maintaining regular, trust-based dialogue at the top level is decisive for ensuring steady progress in our relations. Preparing President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s state visit to the Kyrgyz Republic in the spring of 2019 is on today’s agenda.

Moscow is Bishkek’s leading trade and economic partner. Mutual trade is expanding steadily, having increased by more than 30 per cent in the first eleven months of 2018. Major Russian companies such as Gazprom, Russian Railways, Rosneft, Rosatom and more than 680 joint ventures operate effectively in Kyrgyzstan. Of course, inter-regional ties play an important role with more than 40 Russian regions maintaining contacts in this framework.

There is also momentum in cultural and educational ties. We are delighted by the fact that more and more people in Kyrgyzstan want to learn Russian, and your university exemplifies this trend. More than 16,000 students from Kyrgyzstan currently study in Russia. As many as 350 state scholarships were allocated to the citizens of Kyrgyzstan for the current academic year alone.

I have just had a meeting with President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov, who reaffirmed the commitment by the country’s leadership to promote Russian as a means of interethnic communication and an official language.

Last year we marked the 90th birthday of a remarkable writer and public figure Chinghiz Aitmatov, whose creative career was inseparable from the Russian language, as well as diplomacy, as we all know. On December 6, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin unveiled a monument to this great son of the Kyrgyz people.

Maintaining an intense dialogue on foreign policy matters is an essential factor of Russia-Kyrgyzstan allied relations. Our two countries are committed to a peaceful, neighbourly policy based on the single principles and norms enshrined in the UN Charter. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia goes to great lengths to strengthen global and regional stability, facilitating the emergence of an architecture based on equal and indivisible security. We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to working together with all foreign partners, in all fields and formats, but based on international law, mutual respect and a balance of interests.

Our absolute priorities include efforts to further strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation with countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Kyrgyzstan is an active member of the CIS and leads the way in the number of signed CIS documents. We praise the joint efforts to further unlock the large-scale potential of the CIS.

The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) is making a substantial contribution to maintaining Eurasian security. The Russian air base in Kyrgyzstan is an inalienable component of the Organisation’s collective rapid response forces and reliably shields the entire region from external threats. The CSTO’s operations Channel and Illegal Immigrant to counter illegal drug trafficking and illegal migration have received broad international acclaim, including on the part of the UN. Kyrgyzstan presides over the CSTO this year. Bishkek’s stated priorities meet the interests of all CSTO member states; and we also discussed this with President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov today.

I would like to single out our cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. From the very beginning, Russia has provided financial and technical support to Kyrgyzstan for adapting its economy to the Eurasian Economic Union’s environment as soon as possible, and it continues to provide such assistance.

Today, the Union which functions in line with WTO principles has a total GDP of $2.2 trillion and over 182 million consumers. It is an organic factor of global politics and economics. Common commodity, service, capital and workforce markets have been established and function successfully. The Eurasian Economic Union’s Customs Code was approved and enacted in January last year.

Last year, when Russia presided in this integration association, we mostly aimed to boost practical results of its activities for business circles and ordinary citizens of our countries. In the first three quarters of 2018, trade within the Union increased by 12 per cent and reached $44 billion. They totaled $55 billion in January-November 2018. Trade with external partners soared by 21 per cent, to reach $548 billion, mostly by boosting exports of Union member countries.

The EAEU continues to strengthen its external contacts. A free trade area with Vietnam functions successfully. Talks are underway to sign similar agreements with Israel, Serbia and Singapore. A temporary agreement, signed with Iran, is a step towards establishing a free trade area. There are plans to hold the relevant consultations with Egypt and India. In all, various countries and associations have submitted about 50 proposals on establishing partner ties with the EAEU.

Regulations on the status of the Union’s observer state were passed last year. This allows states that are interested in Eurasian integration to directly evaluate the benefits of such cooperation. The Republic of Moldova has already obtained the relevant status.

The EAEU’s expanded external ties fit nicely into broader efforts to streamline the Eurasian infrastructure. Work is underway to merge our Union’s plans with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In May 2018, the EAEU and the People’s Republic of China signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement. Russia and China are drafting an agreement that will be open for signing by other interested countries. We are discussing prospects for merging Eurasian infrastructure projects with the Northern Sea Route.

Harmonising two integration initiatives lays the foundation for forming a progressive model of economic cooperation in Eurasia that is based on the UN Charter, the WTO regulations, mutually complementary national growth strategies and shared potential of multilateral projects.

This is exactly the vector proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to create the Greater Eurasian Partnership, a space free from various barriers, for extensive cooperation involving member states of the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN.

Important documents were adopted in favour of this approach following a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on December 6, 2018 in St Petersburg, the summit in Qingdao last June, and the Russia-ASEAN summit in November 2018 in Singapore where a memorandum was signed between the Eurasian Economic Commission and ASEAN.

We are interested in engaging EU countries in these processes, which would objectively facilitate forming a common economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok based on the common continental architecture of equal and indivisible security.

Most importantly, we need to finally abandon the zero-sum game logic according to which our Western colleagues try to force an artificial choice on former Soviet states: Russia or the West. We must not allow the “strategists” promoting this logic to continue this potentially explosive neocolonial course which has already resulted in an extremely serious crisis in Ukraine.

We support improving contacts between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the European Commission, between the CIS and the European Union, between the CSTO and NATO. We can see that our Western colleagues are not willing to communicate in these formats on equal terms. We are taking this easy. The arrogance and the feeling of superiority never served anybody well. Time will come and life will set things straight.

We expect that the OSCE will make its contribution to harmonising the economic, military, political and humanitarian processes across the Euroatlantic region since it was initially created to eliminate the old and to prevent any new dividing lines.

Colleagues,

Friends,

The tasks for our countries and for the organisations in which Moscow and Bishkek are involved are indeed ambitious. We can only succeed together. I would like to quote the words of Chinghiz Aitmatov: “We have lived side by side with the Russian people for over 100 years. There is nothing that could divide us. On the contrary, we are united in everything, in labour, in fighting and in our dreams.” I believe that Chinghiz Aitmatov’s words of wisdom are just as relevant in the current historical circumstances. We can overcome even the most complicated problems, as long as the friendship between the fraternal peoples of Russia and the Kyrgyz Republic remains unshakable.

Thank you. I am ready to take your questions.







Question:

Please comment on the statement by newly appointed Kyrgyz Ambassador to Russia Alikbek Jekshenkulov about the possible opening of a new Russian military base here.



Sergey Lavrov:

Mr Jekshenkulov is here and can answer this question himself. It was not Russia’s initiative, and this is the first time we are hearing about it. We are always ready to discuss ideas related to security and the economy that our Kyrgyz friends have.



Question:

We always think of Russian-Kyrgyz cooperation when we speak about the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University. But the abbreviation also contains the letter S, for “Slavic” university. What are the prospects for involving other Slavic countries to improve the university’s educational activity? For instance, Belarus could also be part of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University.



Sergey Lavrov:

It is a bit awkward to comment on a question for the Belarusian party or other Slavic countries. I can only say that this is not the only Slavic university. There are similar ones in Tajikistan and Armenia. If their leaders and teaching staff see added value in it, then coordination and exchange of experience between them would be quite useful.

As for the financial side, the university does not lack funding. We are interested in its efficiency, and as co-founders, we will ensure that it remains well funded. If there are other countries involved that are able to co-finance this project, we would appreciate it. If you have concrete proposals, we are ready to discuss them.



Question:

Is there any progress within the international community in restoring infrastructure in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa and securing funding to this effect from Western countries?



Sergey Lavrov:

There is little I can add regarding the policy carried out by the leading Western countries in the Middle East and North Africa: in Iraq, Syria, Libya and a number of other countries. Of course, this policy is irresponsible and destructive. President of the United States Donald Trump said yesterday that the invasion of Iraq was one of the greatest mistakes. Nevertheless, they persist with their policy of invading countries ruled by regimes the US disfavours. Restoring a single cohesive state has been extremely challenging in Iraq, and major problems have yet to be resolved there. The US occupiers assumed the control over the entire country, dissolved Baath, a Sunni party, and disbanded the country’s security forces and the army, where Sunnis had almost all the command posts. Now we have to face the consequences of this US-sponsored outrage along ethnic lines. The Shias were placed at the helm following the occupation and the war, and now they face the extremely challenging task of establishing ties with the Sunnis. In addition to this, Sunni officers who were expelled from the security forces, the army and the police have become one of the most effective elements of the so-called Islamic State, and all this just because they lost their jobs. These people are not driven by ideology, they are not religious fanatics, but they have to earn a living. Everyone who works on these matters recognises that it is the former officers from Saddam Hussein’s army who were behind almost all the successful operations by ISIS. This does not mean that the fight against ISIS is over. Its backbone has been broken, but sparse units are still out there, and we must prevent them from uniting; they must be destroyed.

In Libya, UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was grossly violated. The resolution provided for the creation of a no-fly zone in Libya in order to prevent Muammar Qaddafi’s air force from shelling civilians. After its adoption there were no planes in the Libyan air space. However, NATO decided that it would be a good pretext for doing away with this government. Muammar Qaddafi and his government were literally wiped out. We can now see what came out of it. Libya has become a black hole. Unlike Iraq, the state was destroyed almost entirely, and efforts to piece it back together again have been unsuccessful so far. Criminals, terrorists and arms and drug dealers are heading south through the Libyan territory. Terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko-Haram, Al-Shabab and other terrorist groups have begun establishing contacts with each other. They are now coordinating their operations very effectively across a vast territory from North Africa to the Sahara-Sahel Region. South-north migrant waves are heading to Europe through Libyan territory, and have already caused a serious crisis in Europe, becoming an apple of discord within the European Union. It is unclear how all this can be regulated at this stage. I fully agree with you that those who “broke pots” as “bulls in a china shop” must also piece these pots back together. When last year the international community had to agree on migration-related problems, and the Global Compact on Migration was adopted to this effect, our Western colleagues focused their efforts on inserting into the document the note that “all countries share responsibility for the consequences of the migration crisis.” We strongly opposed this notion of “shared responsibility.” We were not the ones who intervened in Libya, destroyed the state and created problems that I have just mentioned. We will not agree to attempts to shift the blame on someone else.

You are also aware of how Syria was also on the brink of finding itself in the same situation as Iraq and Libya. Russia supported the legitimate government, and it is this support that paved the way to disrupting the terrorist core. There are still things to be done, including to defeat a terrorist hotbed in Idlib and ensure that the legitimate government restores control over the Euphrates’ eastern bank, while also agreeing on measures to ensure safety on the Syria-Iraq border, as well as measures that would not only ensure humanitarian access to Syria, but also help restore infrastructure and prepare it for the return of refugees and internally displaced people.

There is also a political track in these efforts whereby Russia, Turkey and Iran came forward with the initiative to establish a Constitutional Committee based on the resolutions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress that took place in Sochi one year ago. This work is almost complete. The Syrian settlement will be reviewed in all its aspects in ten-days-time at the regular summit meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents in Sochi.



Question:

Will Russia take any radical measures in case of military interference in Venezuela?



Sergey Lavrov:

Speaking about Venezuela, the United States makes no secret of its intention to replace its government at all costs. President Donald Trump said in his comments yesterday that the option of sending US military to Venezuela was still on the table. I believe it is clear to everyone that this policy is undermining the very foundations of international law. But it is surprising that the EU has promptly lined up and is emulating the United States by advancing ultimatums and claiming that the election of Nicolas Maduro for a second presidential term was illegitimate. Let us look at the matter from the viewpoint of common logic. The election was held in May 2018. As per the Venezuelan tradition, the elected president should be inaugurated on January 10, 2019. Why have they declared Maduro’s election illegitimate only now? Why didn’t they do this in May 2018? The current situation was clearly inspired and orchestrated. We will continue to uphold international law and the initiatives some Latin American countries, for example, Mexico and Uruguay, have advanced. These initiatives aim to create conditions for an inclusive national dialogue among all political forces in Venezuela.

We have taken note, with satisfaction, that President Nicolas Maduro has said more than once that he is ready for a dialogue without any ultimatums or preconditions. Regrettably, the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaido has rejected Maduro’s offer and has issued an ultimatum to the president to step down and cede his powers to the opposition. This is not a dialogue but the enforcement of one’s will on the other side. That this is being done with direct incitement from Washington and, recently, Europe is evidence of our Western colleagues’ values in the sphere of international politics.

I have mentioned the initiative advanced by Uruguay and Mexico, which have offered to act as mediators between all Venezuela’s political forces. I also said that we support this idea. Unfortunately, Europe, not Latin America, is peddling a different form of international mediation. The EU has proposed establishing a contact group comprising eight EU member countries and eight Latin American countries. The criteria for the choice of group members are perfectly obscure. Russia, China and the United States have not been invited to join this group. What makes the EU think that it has the right to dictate the terms of international mediation? I don’t know. I think it would be more civilised and more effective if all those who want to find a solution to the Venezuelan crisis got together to discuss ways to help the country before announcing any decisions.

The EU’s claim to the role of the leading mediator invites questions, because the idea of mediation has been advanced by the countries from the contact group the majority of which, if not all of them, support the ultimatum that expires today. Eight days ago they demanded that Nicolas Maduro call a new presidential election. This means that today these intermediaries will recognise his opponent as the new legitimate acting president. This is not what mediation is about. This is an ultimatum, not an attempt to find a common denominator.



Question:

Many graduates of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University would like to get established in Russia, but they face problems. They say that our diplomas are not recognised in Russia. I would like to hear from you if it is really so?



Sergey Lavrov:

I haven’t heard about any employment problems of a systemic nature. Life is life. Most probably it did happen that someone could not get the job that he wanted. But it does not mean that everything should be attributed to an inferiority of education or diploma.

Just today my Kyrgyz colleagues and I discussed a situation that arose at the University in the medical sphere. As a result of educational reform in Kyrgyzstan medical residency will develop here differently than in Russia. It was decided at once to set up a working group to find a solution which would deal with the problem. So I do not see any serious issues in the question you just asked me.



Question:

Several years ago Vesti FM broadcasting was cancelled in Kyrgyzstan under the pretext that half of broadcasting should be in Russian and half in Kyrgyz. Does it seem to you that the Russian Federation made a mistake because it lost a platform for advancing its political positions?



Sergey Lavrov:

You know, it wasn’t our decision. Probably, the more sources of information, the wider is the choice for those interested in politics and life in the neighbouring countries. I don’t know the reasons. They were probably financial. Still I do not think that the authorities in Kyrgyzstan are interested in curtailing the Russian-language space.

Today at our meeting with President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov he stated clearly that the Russian language was an asset to the Kyrgyz people and represented an additional employment opportunity in the CIS. The President has reaffirmed his interest in consolidating and expanding the Russian-language space. We have agreed on some measures.

When a certain situation arises, the relevant agencies should come to terms with each other. Hopefully, this won’t affect the possibility for communicating information about Russia to Kyrgyz citizens.



Question:

What steps will Russia take on the Kuril Islands?



Sergey Lavrov:

And what should Russia do? We want our Japanese colleagues to clearly recognise the obvious, that is, the results of World War II, including full recognition of and respect for the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, including the Kuril Islands you mentioned. We will not be able to start any conversation without this.



Question:

Your Ministry has a wonderful literary association called Otdushina (Release). Does it have your books in it?



Sergey Lavrov:

No, but it publishes almanacs that include my verse.



Question:

Is your poem “Embassy” the anthem of your literary association or the Ministry?



Sergey Lavrov:

It was not designed to be an anthem of anything. It was written for the 200th anniversary of the Russian Foreign Ministry.



Question:

The prospect of a cold war in the current conditions has again become topical due to the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty. What could you say about this?



Sergey Lavrov:

There were plenty of comments on this. President of Russia Vladimir Putin also commented on this situation.

I don’t think the stakes are a cold war, as you said. We have entered a new era where the US has embarked on a course towards destroying the entire arms control system, including the limitation of strategic offensive weapons. This is unfortunate. Experts on the US are already predicting the end of the last treaty in this area – the 2010 Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) that expires in 2021.

We do not seek the arms race that characterised the Cold War era. President of Russia Vladimir Putin made a very clear statement in this regard. Needless to say, we will take military-technical measures to counter the threats created by the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty and the US plans to develop low-yield nuclear warheads that, in the unanimous estimate of experts from the West, Russia and other countries, will sharply lower the threshold for the use of nuclear arms and make a nuclear conflict more likely. We will carry out these measures using funds already included in the Defence Ministry budget.

Another important point that many noted but I would like to emphasise again – there is no shortage of initiatives covering problems related to arms, production of new types of weapons and strategic stability in the modern world. In the past few years the Russian Federation has repeatedly put forward such initiatives, inviting the US to start talking about these issues and to discuss these topics in NATO. The last time these proposals were made was during the meeting between Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in Helsinki in July 2018. We suggested an incremental approach to setting up new arms limitation talks, starting, for instance, with a joint Russian-US declaration on the unacceptability of nuclear war. All of our proposals were either rejected or ignored. As you probably know, President Vladimir Putin announced on Saturday that these initiatives are still on the table but we are not going to rush to remind our Western partners about them. When they come to realise their responsibility for the problems created by US policy we will welcome them – the doors are open. Come and we will talk as equals, taking into account each other's lawful interests rather than far-fetched ones. For example, the US said it does not want to have opponents with comparable capabilities but this is a dictatorial rather than legitimate interest.

We are always open to talk as equals based on the security concerns of the relevant countries and the rest of humankind.



Question:

I did not plan on turning this into an Aytysh poetic battle, but my two questions are actually rhymed. Since you are interested in poetry, allow me to speak poetically to you. Our road often lies across thin ice; we move not knowing how we could achieve compliance with all the laws and rules adopted in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. But this disaster is becoming graver and spreading by the hour. I have been ordered by my faculty to tell you we consider sadly this dark cleft where we are to fall inevitably, perhaps in months or in another year. But, if this school is truly interstate, can there be a chance that you would find it proper to give us rights to modestly decide which model to comply with? While being so fed up with this predicament, we’re humbly asking for an official document that could help us.

My second question concerns our military department. There’s no impediment to military medicine in Kyrgyzstan; but Russia, we hear, has cancelled it. What is there to do? We deem it reasonable when a doctor could join the service, and not shy away from being invited to serve in Kyrgyzstan or Russia.



Sergey Lavrov:

I have one answer to both questions. Unlike what I have heard so far, if there really are difficulties with the legal registration of education in this institution, which I greatly respect, then send them to us.

It is not the Foreign Ministry’s job but we will definitely figure this out, involving the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Healthcare, the Ministry of Defence, and find the reasons for the problems you formulated.

Today, a young man asked me why employers refuse to hire people with degrees from the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University. I have not heard of such situations. I admit that they could happen. But surely, there were many cases when employers refused people with degrees from MGIMO University of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Moscow State University. It depends on the person, whether they did not just get a formal paper, but meet the requirements for the position they seek in the public service or in the private sector. If there are problems, and we start talking about all of them now, the time will run out.

I am not a professional in this matter. Please, send your proposals to Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kyrgyz Republic Andrey Krutko. I presume that the Rector should also see them. If there are actually any things there that require changing the intergovernmental agreement, we will definitely do it and see what can be done.



Vladimir Nifadyev (rector of KRSU):

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Andrey Krutko, for giving his time and making the effort to figure out our complex problems and personally addressing them.



Question:

As far as diplomacy is concerned, Japan and Korea are closer to the United States. How is trade carried out between Russia and the EAEU, on the one hand, and Korea and Japan, on the other hand, in particular for companies like RUSAL? Are they allowed to trade at full scale? For example, if a Korean company orders delivery of one tonne or ten tonnes of products, and Russia is unable to carry out…



Sergey Lavrov:

What do you mean Russia is unable to do something? For what reason?



Question:

RUSAL has faced this problem recently.



Sergey Lavrov:

RUSAL is interested in higher sales, and has said so publicly. It is true that there were issues with deliveries when the company was targeted by the US and faced unacceptable measures that undermined the entire aluminium market. However, it was not that RUSAL did not want to make money in Japan or South Korea.



Question:

So there are no bans there and everything is possible?



Sergey Lavrov:

I have not heard about any bans. A company cannot face any bans by definition when trading with partners from any country. The Russian government did not introduce any bans to this effect. We seek to encourage business activity instead of undermining it, unlike the US.



Question:

You work in a very responsible position. How does it feel every time you have to take big decisions?



Sergey Lavrov:

I have never thought about it. But since you are asking, I can thank you for your compassion.



Question:

How effective is Russia’s soft power in Central Asia in general and in Kyrgyzstan in particular?



Sergey Lavrov:

It is not up to us to judge the effectiveness of Russia’s soft power. It is up to those who want to be friends with Russia, who live in this region and aspire to good, close and friendly relations.

To put some numbers to this matter, investment in this region has been in the billions of US dollars over the past years. In addition, we are creating channels for providing financial grants. For Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and partly Uzbekistan, we are talking about several hundred million dollars over the past ten years. But that is far from all.

Russian media outlets work here despite some specific cases when some of them decided to scale down their operations. Media interchange is a more or less established channel of communication.

There is also the mechanism offered by the Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation within the EAEU. Russia contributes just under $600 million to this fund, which is another important source for obtaining loans.

Some 50,000 students from Central Asia are currently enrolled in Russian universities, and many of them benefit from scholarships financed from the state budget.



Question:

Four Central Asian countries are about to adopt Latin script. What is the future for the Russian language in this region?



Sergey Lavrov:

During our meeting today, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov assured me that the country’s leadership is interested in preserving, expanding and developing the Russian-language space. Neighbouring Tajikistan has some experience in this field, since it has been running a skills upgrade programme for Russian language teachers by sending them to take training courses in Russian universities, as well as having experienced teachers come to Tajikistan from Russia. I had the impression that President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov expressed interest in an initiative of this kind. If Kyrgyzstan is really interested, we will definitely develop a programme of this kind. I know that the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University does a great deal in this regard. However, this is much broader in scope, and could be designed to reach remote mountain areas where teachers are in short supply.



Question:

There have been reports about political re-education camps in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Can you confirm these reports or are they inaccurate?



Sergey Lavrov:

I am not aware of this. I read only recently that the US has been actively raising this issue, including through its embassy in Beijing. We do not interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries and do not try to look for stumbling blocks in our relations with China that have never been as good as they are at this point in time. We maintain a mutually respectful dialogue.

We are aware of the fact that there is a sense of urgency to deal with extremism in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. We also know that several hundred or even a thousand extremists from this region joined the ranks of ISIS and other terrorist organisations in Syria and other countries in the Middle East. We are interested in coordinating our actions in this sphere not just between Russia and China, but also with other CSTO and SCO countries so as to deal in a more effective manner with the issue of terrorists coming to the Middle East from Central Asia, Russia and China. As they are pushed out of the Middle East, what remains of these groups seek to return to their countries of origin or reach third countries. It is essential that we prevent travel of this kind.



Question:

The EAEU is becoming an increasingly important factor in the global economy with other countries beginning to notice and show interest in it. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are the two Central Asian countries that are part of this integration association. Could other Central Asian countries join this union?



Sergey Lavrov:

We would certainly welcome it. One of the options is to become an EAEU observer, as Moldova did. We are interested in having Central Asian countries and other CIS members that are not part of the EAEU become observers in order to get a better insight into how this association operates and what benefits it offers. Based on this information they can decide on whether joining the EAEU makes sense for them.



Question:

Would it be possible to create a summer exchange programme for medical students?



Sergey Lavrov:

Promoting exchanges is always a good idea. If you were to ask me whether an exchange programme could be created for diplomats, I would say that we are ready to arrange internships of this kind.

As for medical students, all exchanges are beneficial, but it is not up to me to decide whether this is possible.



Question:

What opportunities does Russia offer in Central Asia in terms of education?



Sergey Lavrov:

There are two universities: one in Bishkek, and the other in Dushanbe. A Russian school named after Alexander Pushkin opened in Ashgabat, and its curriculum is based on Russian educational standards. Many people are learning Russian there, just like here or in Tajikistan. We would like Russian schools offering Russian educational standards to operate not only in each country in Central Asia, but also in the CIS in order to expand educational opportunities. Graduates will have two diplomas, and this interoperability and complementarity are very important.

In education, our options include faculty exchanges, internships and Russian language courses. We see how this corresponds with the interests of Kyrgyzstan’s leadership.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3499736






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic Chingiz Aidarbekov, Bishkek, February 4, 2019



4 February 2019 - 12:13







Mr Aidarbekov,

I would like to thank you for your hospitality and for organising this top level official visit of the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation to Kyrgyzstan. I would once again like to ask you to convey our special gratitude to President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov for the extremely warm reception and conversation that has reaffirmed the desire of our countries’ leaders to ensure the all-round development of allied ties and relations of strategic partnership.

This morning, we had a meeting with President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov and discussed the main aspects of expanding bilateral economic, military-technical, military-political, humanitarian and educational collaboration, as well as our cooperation at international organisations, including the UN, the OSCE, the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU and the SCO. This reaffirms our desire to obtain maximum possible results during the state visit of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to the Kyrgyz Republic, scheduled to be held in the spring of 2019.







I hope that, today, in addition to discussing key bilateral matters, including the preparations for a regular meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Humanitarian Cooperation, we will be able to pay special attention to our foreign policy coordination, as agreed by our presidents.

Thank you very much for your hospitality once again. I value our relations.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3499912






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Chingiz Aidarbekov, Bishkek, February 4, 2019



4 February 2019 - 14:45







Mr Aidarbekov,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to our hosts for their hospitality and arrangements, especially for the intensive and important conversation with President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

During today’s meaningful talks with my colleague, Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Chingiz Aidarbekov, we discussed specific matters in the company of our respective delegations. We reaffirmed the commitment of our countries to strengthening allied relations and strategic partnership in all areas and expanding trade, economic and investment cooperation both bilaterally and within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the CIS.

We reaffirmed our commitments within the CSTO as Bishkek prepares to host the summit and foreign ministers’ meeting of this organisation this year. We received information on our Kyrgyz friends’ preparations for these major events.

We also discussed humanitarian contacts that are very relevant for both people in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. We could see this with our own eyes when I was invited to speak to students from the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University.

We spoke about the importance of the Russian language in promoting our ties within a single educational space in the interests of labour migrants and for many other purposes.

We noted that Chinghiz Aitmatov, whose 90th birthday we celebrated last year, made a major contribution to promoting relations between our two countries and friendship. In December 2018, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin unveiled a monument to this great son of the Kyrgyz people.

We expect positive outcomes from the upcoming meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Humanitarian Cooperation on March 1. We outlined items that will be on the agenda of that meeting in order to facilitate the adoption of mutually acceptable decisions as part of Vladimir Putin’s visit, scheduled to take place in the spring of 2019.

We also discussed at length military-technical cooperation, as well as international cooperation.

Our interests converge on many matters, and we share many positions within the UN, OSCE, CSTO, CIS, EAEU and the SCO. Today, we reviewed objectives related to ensuring mutual support for our respective initiatives within these bodies, as well as practical steps to promote our cooperation at the level of ambassadors and permanent representatives in various international structures.

We paid special attention to Central Asia, agreeing to further work together for better security in this essential region and to combine our efforts in countering terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of crime.

All in all, I believe that we have made substantial progress on all these matters in the interests of our countries and their people.

Let me once again thank you for arranging this visit. I hope that its outcome will help strengthen Russia-Kyrgyztan cooperation.







Question (addressed to both ministers):

Did you talk about Afghanistan in light of the possible withdrawal of foreign troops next year? Did you discuss the idea of a second Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan?



Sergey Lavrov:

Concerning your second question, I can tell you that we did not discuss that subject. I received the same question after I delivered my remarks at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University. We have not received any official initiatives regarding this.

As for Afghanistan, when we speak about Central Asia, we primarily have in mind the threats coming from that country. These are the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and overall instability that is being fuelled by the continued infiltration of terrorists from Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. The terrorists prefer Afghanistan’s northern regions located in direct proximity to the borders of our Central Asian partners. This certainly means we must give priority attention to security matters, including the operation of the joint Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan. We discussed this in detail today. We also considered ways to strengthen this base as the CSTO stronghold against the threats facing Central Asian countries. We appreciate the attention which President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov paid today to the importance of dealing with these issues as soon as possible.

Speaking about Afghanistan in broader terms, we must not only think about security but also about a political settlement. You know that Russia has been actively advocating an intra-Afghan dialogue involving both the government and the Taliban, which are part of Afghan society; there is no denying this.

We have also reaffirmed the importance of the so-called Moscow format, where five Central Asian states – Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran – are represented. The United States is regularly invited to participate, but it prefers narrower formats. The Moscow format is unique because it brings together all countries that can influence different political forces in Afghanistan in one way or another. Afghanistan is taking part in the Moscow format, of course. For the first time ever, Taliban representatives attended the autumn meeting alongside delegates from the Afghanistan High Peace Council. It is common knowledge that a dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban cannot be avoided. However, some countries, for example, the United States, have been trying to seize control of this dialogue so as to hold it behind closed doors. US representatives have met with the Taliban in Qatar. By doing this, our American partners are keeping the regional countries, which care about Afghanistan’s future, in the dark about their plans. Regrettably, the United States has done this not only in Afghanistan. This unilateral and egoistical approach to foreign policy initiatives is typical of the current foreign policy officials in the US administration.



Question (addressed to Chingiz Aidarbekov):

You have made a number of foreign visits since you became Foreign Minister. Your first visit was to Russia. Then you went to Kazakhstan and held talks in Beijing. It looks like your foreign policy priorities are set. We have an active dialogue with Russia, which is borne out by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit and President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to Kyrgyzstan. At the same time, anti-Chinese rallies took place last December and January. How can such protests influence cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and China?



Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Chingiz Aidarbekov):

I will add a few words. This is not a unique case where someone, generally from the outside, tries to make friends with Central Asia not for the sake of friendship but to undermine relations of Central Asian states with other foreign partners. This is done as regards not only the People’s Republic of China but also the Russian Federation.

We are sure that our Central Asian partners that are developing relations with many foreign players in the 5+1 format can differentiate between those who are truly interested in carrying out mutually beneficial projects and those who use such formats solely to undercut the influence of traditional allies of Central Asian states, including the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation.



Question (for both ministers):

Kyrgyzstan is taking part in several major energy projects, including the aforementioned joint project with Dushanbe CASA-1000, and the revival of the Soviet project of a common energy grid in Central Asia. Will Russia support these projects with consulting and funding? Has the Kyrgyz Government made any requests in this regard?



Sergey Lavrov:

I know that in the early stages of this project and the TAPI project that is also fairly interesting in terms of energy, our companies said they were willing to join if the relevant countries – four in each case – were interested in this. As far as I know, this was as far as it went. However, whenever large and interesting business projects are proposed, our companies are ready to see what terms are offered for potential cooperation.



Question:

Recently, there have been a lot of reports in the media about Russia signing and carrying out major trade, economic and other projects worth billions of dollars with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Is Russia planning to implement large- scale investment projects in Kyrgyzstan?



Sergey Lavrov:

There is no need to discuss this in terms of reporting in the media because there is open access to all information on our projects with Central Asian countries.

Today, we have discussed the projects that are already being successfully carried out by the Russian Federation and the Kyrgyz Republic. In particular, the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund has been established, which has already invested over $300 million in more than 1,600 projects, primarily, small and medium-sized companies, which is creating a very stable foundation for developing the corresponding production facilities. Alongside this, we have projects aimed at investing (also somewhere on the order of $200 million) in Kyrgyzstan’s border infrastructure as part of its membership in the EAEU and adaptation to the union's terms.

More broadly, you know the projects that have already been carried out, such as the Sangtuda 1 Hydroelectric Power Plant. The Kyrgyz leaders are willing to return to the Verkhne-Narynsky cascade of hydroelectric power plants project under the new terms. Experts are reviewing the corresponding address describing how to develop energy cooperation under the new terms, to reiterate, including hydroelectric energy, which is very promising for your country. Today we agreed that our departments will work on this. The main goal is to find mutually acceptable approaches to such projects. I think the motivation is there, and so the chances of reaching an agreement are fairly high.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3500115
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, Dushanbe, February 5, 2019



5 February 2019 - 09:50







Mr President,

Friends,

Mr President, first of all, I would like to convey the best regards and warm wishes from President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We look forward to your official visit to Russia, which is scheduled to take place in a few months. We will use today’s talks with my Tajikistani colleague and, of course, with you, Mr President, to coordinate the preparations for this very important top-level event.







Last year was very good for our cooperation in all spheres. President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Tajikistan. In May 2018 we marked 25 years of our Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance. We believe it was a major event.

We are satisfied with the steady growth of our bilateral trade and investment cooperation. Over 300 companies with Russian capital operate in Tajikistan. We are strengthening our interaction in culture and education, and we also coordinate our foreign policy approaches at all organisations.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3500423






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during expanded-format talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Dushanbe, February 5, 2019



5 February 2019 - 10:14







Mr Minister,

Colleagues, friends,

We very much appreciate the attention President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon devoted to our delegation; we spent over an hour in a very substantive conversation, discussing and considering all aspects of our bilateral relations in the context of the agreements reached at the top level.







Today, here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, we have the opportunity to discuss in detail our foreign policy cooperation, which is developing progressively. The CIS institutions include the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), in which, I hope, Tajikistan will eventually receive observer status, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). In addition, we also work closely on global platforms including the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). All these formats help us to regularly compare our approaches and promote initiatives and solutions that meet the interests of both Russia and Tajikistan, the interests of security in the region and in the world.

Thank you.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3500471






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during restricted attendance talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin in Dushanbe, February 5, 2019



5 February 2019 - 10:16










Thank you very much. It is very flattering for me that President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon devoted so much personal time and attention to our delegation. The discussion covered all aspects of our bilateral relations and regional problems. We had a confidential and candid dialogue between allies, fully consistent with the tone of our relations set by our Presidents.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3500481






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Dushanbe, February 5, 2019



5 February 2019 - 12:26







Ladies and gentlemen,

Today's long conversation with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and the talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave us all a chance to discuss, thoroughly, in detail and in a result-oriented manner, all areas of our cooperation being implemented in accordance with the agreements reached at the top level between presidents Vladimir Putin and Emomali Rahmon.

We are allies and strategic partners. This is the spirit in which we conducted our discussion of bilateral relations and interaction in international affairs.

We noted a steady growth in mutual trade, which rose by almost one-third last year, approaching $1 billion. The Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation plays an important role in the development of our economic and investment ties; its next meeting is planned within the next few months. We agreed to continue working on creating a favourable environment for Russian economic operators in Tajikistan and Tajik companies in Russia.

We also talked about our energy cooperation plans, including our largest joint venture, the Sangtuda Hydroelectric Power Plant. We are as interested as our Tajik friends in getting the maximum output from its work. Today we reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to participate in other infrastructure projects, including in hydropower generation by supplying equipment for the construction and upgrade of power generation facilities in Tajikistan. We agreed to continue to ensure the effective and efficient operation of the Sangtuda Hydroelectric Power Plant, which has indeed greatly improved performance in the past two years. We welcome that.

We have very close cultural and humanitarian ties. We agreed to continue the practice started a couple of years ago of sending Russian teachers to work at schools in Tajikistan. We noted with satisfaction the completion of the preparation of documents that will allow us to begin the construction of five schools with instruction in Russian in this country. We are certainly pleased that the standards of Russian education enjoy high demand among undergraduate and graduate students in Tajikistan. This year, we provided 629 state grants from the Russian budget to citizens of Tajikistan. Overall, about 28,000 Tajik students are enrolled at Russian universities, including 8,000 in their own country – at the local branches of Moscow State University, MPEI and MISiS.







As my colleague and friend already said, we also spoke about migration issues. We are putting a lot of effort into further improving the situation of Tajik and other Central Asian nationals living in Russia. The citizens of Tajikistan enjoy very wide preferences. To make this work even more effective, and to make these people feel even more protected, we asked our Tajik colleagues to speed up the work on draft agreements on organised recruitment of labour migrants, on their readmission, pensions and legal status of the offices of Russian migration agencies in Tajikistan and Tajik agencies in Russia.

We are ready and have already started work on helping our Tajik friends in the re-equipment of their armed forces and securing the state border, especially amid the persisting threats from the territory of Afghanistan.

We are pleased about the level of cooperation that has been achieved between our foreign ministries, including at multilateral venues. Today we talked about our cooperation within in the CIS, which Dushanbe very effectively chaired last year, as well as in the CSTO, SCO, UN, and OSCE. We closely cooperate with our Tajik allies and strategic partners at all these platforms. The 2019 Foreign Ministries Cooperation Programme we signed today provides a further development impetus to it.

We proposed a lot of interesting ideas on how to approach the development of cooperation in Central Asia to most effectively address the existing problems and promote the harmonious development of all countries in the region. Russia is ready to contribute to these processes, relying on our historical ties, our common economic foundation created during the Soviet period, as well as our common interest in ensuring the security of the region where our allies and friends are located. We talked about the role that the 201st Russian military base plays in this context. It is an important factor of Tajikistan’s security and of the common tasks the CSTO performs.

In general, I believe we did a good job and I am grateful to my colleague. I invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, Sirojiddin Muhriddin, to make a regular visit the Russian Federation.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3501036






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and replies to questions in the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University, Dushanbe, February 5, 2019



5 February 2019 - 13:25







Mr Salikhov, friends,

First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak again at your university that is rightly considered the flagship of bilateral cooperation in science and education. Congratulations on moving into your new premises. I have not visited this new place since you moved in. So, I wish you all the best!

This is not our first meeting in this format. Open communications without any formalities reflects the strategic character of our partnership and the allied relations between the Russian Federation and Tajikistan. Today, it would be no exaggeration to say that our bilateral cooperation is growing on both sides. This was confirmed today by a very open conversation our delegation had with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon. It again revealed the desire of Russia and Tajikistan to carry out all agreements we reach, primarily for maintaining a top level dialogue. This dialogue is regular. During the past two years, President of Russia Vladimir Putin visited your country twice. Last year, Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko visited your country.

Today we certainly acknowledged very good dynamics when it comes to our trade and economic ties. Our trade increased by almost one third last year. We have formed a solid contractual foundation for economic, investment and other cooperation, and continue improving it.

I would like to make a special mention of the intensive character of our humanitarian cooperation. Its steady development is facilitated by your university, the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Dushanbe and its subsidiary in Khujand, and Russky Mir (Russian World) Foundation’s affiliates in the leading universities of your republic, as well as Russian language study centres.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Rector Nurali Salikhov for his encouraging words in support of the Russian language and education. Indeed, we do appreciate it.

We also appreciate the desire of many Tajik citizens to receive a Russian education. About 28,000 Tajiks study on Russian programmes. Out of this number some 8,000 study in the RTSU and affiliates of the MSU, MPEI and MISiS.

We welcome the invariable support of the Tajik leaders who are interested in the Russian language and Russian culture. The agreement of our presidents on joint educational projects is being carried out. Starting in September 2017, Russian teachers started working in schools and presidential lyceums. Over 50 teachers have already received such jobs. We hope this trend will be backed by a relevant intergovernmental agreement. In addition to this, this year we would like to start building five schools where instruction will be given in the Russian language in line with the latest standards.

We are expanding our cultural contacts. Days of Culture of the Republic of Tajikistan and cross days of twin cities – St Petersburg and Dushanbe – were a great success recently.

Foreign policy cooperation and coordination of steps in the international arena have become an inalienable part of our strategic partnership. We are working closely both in the bilateral format and in different multilateral structures, such as the CSTO, CIS, SCO, UN, and OSCE. We are grateful to our Tajik friends for their support of Russian initiatives at various international venues. I would like to make a special mention of the resolution that we adopt in the UN every year. It is devoted to the inadmissibility of the glorification of Nazism. Today this is a very important issue, considering the attempts to resuscitate neo-Nazis and justify criminals. In neighbouring Ukraine, streets and squares are named after such criminals while their birthdays are proclaimed memorable dates.

We welcome an adamant desire of our Tajik friends to continue promoting dialogue in the CIS that was chaired by Tajikistan last year. Its actions in this position facilitated further consolidation of our CIS cooperation. A number of documents were signed to deepen cooperation in a wide range of spheres from the economy to countering security threats. I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate you on the decision to make Dushanbe the CIS cultural capital in the year 2021.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is playing an increasingly important role in our common space. It unites about 182 million consumers and its trade is approaching $60 billion. It has established common markets of goods, services, capitals and workforce.

Membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) objectively contributes to the continued growth of the national economies of the participating countries and helps them better protect their interests amid complex developments in international politics and the global economy. The EAEU is energetically building on its international contacts.

We are aware that our Tajik friends are studying the processes of Eurasian integration with great interest. Today, we discussed this during the talks at the Foreign Ministry. We suggested studying the experience of the EAEU, including through the prism of Kyrgyzstan’s successful accession to the Union. As you may be aware, last year the EAEU introduced the status of observer state. It was granted to Moldova last year.

Of course, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation is the main tool of our military-political alliance. The collective forces of the Organisation have repeatedly demonstrated their readiness and ability to respond effectively to all kinds of threats. The CSTO Kanal and Nelegal operations to counter drug trafficking and illegal migration were recognised by the UN. Tajikistan, which is home to the 201st Russian military base, is making a special contribution to strengthening regional security on the southern flank of the CIS. We are doing our best to ensure that our military base is fully functional, including by supplying it with all the necessities. I am pleased to welcome the officers who, as I understand, are serving at this site of the Russian Federation in Tajikistan.

Combining efforts in the name of security and stability is especially needed today as the international situation remains very tense. This is a direct consequence of unilateral, often violent, actions of a number of Western states led by the United States, which seeks to retain, at any cost, its dominance in the international arena and which is stubbornly clinging to the unviable concept of a unipolar world. We see how the foundation of the international security architecture formed after World War II is being systematically eroded, and the critical strategic stability treaties are being destroyed. Everyone is aware of the latest such development, which is the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty under the far-fetched and unsubstantiated pretext of Russia's alleged violation of this treaty. Not a single fact was provided, as President Putin said. Those who are interested in this subject are aware of it.

The Washington’s policy of scrapping all arms control treaties is accompanied by disregard for the fundamental principles of interstate relations, such as non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign states, non-use of force or threat of force. This destructive policy has already led to the collapse or undermining of statehood in a number of countries, primarily, the Middle East and North Africa, which was immediately taken advantage of by numerous terrorists and radicals, who continue to wreak havoc not only in this region, but also in Central Africa.

Despite significant successes in fighting ISIL and other extremist groups, which are largely due to the vigorous efforts of the Russian military and diplomats in Syria, terrorists continue to pose a major threat to the entire global community, Russia and Central Asia. They have adapted to new realities. Their ties with the drug trafficking business and organised crime are getting stronger. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the international community has so far been unable to unite in order to wage an uncompromising war on terrorism based on international law in accordance with the well-known initiative advanced by President Putin. Geopolitical ambitions and double standards, as well as the frequent use of radical groups to achieve self-serving geopolitical goals, continue to block the way to joining efforts in order to fight terrorism.

The situation in neighbouring Afghanistan remains disquieting. Of particular concern are the attempts by ISIS to establish a foothold there and to take control of sections of the northern Afghan border, including on the border with Tajikistan. We believe that the Moscow consultations on Afghanistan are the best platform for international promotion of the peace process, which should be pursued in parallel with the ongoing fight against terrorism. Represented in this format are all the main players, including, of course, Afghanistan itself, the five Central Asian countries, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran. The United States is regularly invited to join this format, but it has instead embarked on a path of unilateral and non-transparent actions, which, unlike the Moscow format, does not involve all external players which can have an influence on Afghanistan. As such, their interests are not reflected. We held a Moscow format meeting in November 2018 with the participation of our Tajik friends, which we used to lay the groundwork for establishing a direct dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Notably, the OSCE Conference on Countering Terrorism and Extremism held in Dushanbe in May 2018 is yet another contribution by your country to overcoming international challenges.

Russia and Tajikistan closely and fruitfully cooperate in the fight against new challenges and threats. We regularly hold joint military exercises, and specialised security agencies have streamlined their mutual dialogue. We focus on illegal drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan and efforts to prevent the infiltration of illegal paramilitary units from Afghanistan. This is a high-priority aspect of our bilateral dialogue and CSTO activities, and this also considerably reflects SCO activities in the context of a special declaration on combating extremism that was passed a year ago. This highly important and up-to-date document was circulated at the UN and aroused great interest.

Russia continues to help strengthen the combat potential of Tajikistan’s Armed Forces. We are re-equipping the Armed Forces of Tajikistan under the current modernisation programme. We deliver modern weapons and military equipment. Today, about 600 Tajik cadets study at the Russian Defence Ministry’s higher education institutions. To date, 2,370 Tajik service personnel have been trained in Russia during the entire period of our defence cooperation project.

Friends,

There is such a saying in Tajikistan: “The heart, rather than the tongue, will help the partner understand us better.” We need the tongue, no matter what, and when the tongue speaks what is deep inside your heart, then, to my mind, this is the greatest manifestation of sincerity and friendship. I wish you all the very best.

I am ready to answer your questions.







Question:

What is the Russian side doing to resolve the matter concerning the Kuril Islands in the context of the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty?



Sergey Lavrov:

Certainly, there is a link between the INF Treaty and the Kuril Islands. Current security problems in relations with our Japanese neighbours include the deployment of launchers in Japan under the US global missile defence programme. These launchers are similar to US launchers that have already been deployed in Romania and that will also be deployed in Poland. This implies the MK41 launcher which is being officially deployed to fire defensive interceptor missiles and to therefore implement US missile-defence plans. But the very same launcher can also fire Tomahawk ground-launched cruise missiles in direct violation of the INF Treaty.

We did warn our Japanese colleagues when they entered into this agreement with the United States that this would violate the INF Treaty.

Regarding the matter of the South Kuril Islands in relations with Japan, our leaders instructed the concerned officials to expedite talks on the peace treaty. We have been prepared to discuss the matter this way for a long time. Unfortunately, it is Tokyo, rather than Moscow, that should take the first step. It should unconditionally recognise the results of World War II, including the Russian Federation’s sovereignty over all the Kuril Islands, the South Kuril archipelago included. We are waiting for our Japanese colleagues to think this situation over. Japan is the only country that has failed to recognise the results of World War II, although it joined the UN and ratified the UN Charter stating expressly that such results are final and not subject to revision.



Question:

What is the Russian Government doing to prevent the outflow of its intellectual resources abroad?



Sergey Lavrov:

The Russian Constitution does not restrict our citizens’ movement or the right to choose the country of residence. Our citizens have this right and they exercise it. It is hard to tell if someone is creating this problem artificially. People have every right to fulfil their potential in the spheres that they believe to be in most demand abroad. Of course, we are interested in solving demographic issues, too. This involves working to increase the birth rate, decrease the death rate, and creating a good environment for people to be able to fulfil as much of their potential in the Russian Federation as possible, while preserving their right to choose the country of residence.

The work carried out by our leadership as directed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin in line with the plans developed by the Russian Government is aimed at making life in Russia better, fuller and more interesting. I see no other answer to this question. There is no magic recipe; we cannot issue a ruling so that people will instantly start coming back – it does not work that way. But the work underway in Russia yields results, too. Many people have started coming back, including young people working in information and communication technology – including those working in Silicon Valley. Russia is creating new centres to stimulate young people’s interest in modern technology. Such centres can be found in Sochi and the Moscow Region; there, one can also find various programmes for young leaders that thousands of young people participate in. All of this allows our citizens to explore their own country and make life in it convenient and comfortable not only for them, but also for their family and friends.



Question:

Anything that happens in Afghanistan has a direct bearing on the national interests of Tajikistan and Russia. What can we expect from the meeting of representatives of the Afghan opposition as part of the intra-Afghan dialogue that is scheduled to take place in Moscow this month?



Sergey Lavrov:

I had an opportunity to comment on this matter only a few days ago. It is not the Russian government that organises this meeting, but the Afghan diaspora in Russia, a consolidated community that, understandably, cares about its homeland. There is much speculation and manoeuvring going on regarding the elections in Afghanistan. The vote was postponed for three months, although the reasons for doing so or choosing to delay the election for this period of time are not clear, and the decision was taken with hardly any consultations. You are absolutely right that Afghanistan is an essential security matter for Tajikistan. All Central Asian countries must be involved in devising approaches to promoting a settlement in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The meeting will be held by the Afghan diaspora in February, and we support their initiative in terms of logistics and granting visas to those who will attend. We believe that this meeting will be useful. Not only the opposition, but also political figures who do not have any official status in Afghanistan but want the country to get out of the crisis spiral and place it on a trajectory of steady development, will be present at the meeting. I know that former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been invited to attend the meeting, alongside former foreign ministers Zalmai Rassoul and Rangin Spanta, former Presidential National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and head of Hezb-e-Islami party Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. We believe that this meeting will help promote a settlement in Afghanistan, since it has long become an international problem that has to be addressed in a transparent manner with input from all the Afghan political forces and taking into consideration the interests of all neighbouring countries.



Question:

There are four Slavic universities in various republics with their own currencies and funding arrangements. In Russia, there are three types of institutions for higher education affiliated with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education: budget-funded, autonomous or public institutions. But our Slavic universities do not fall into any of these categories. Would it make sense, in your opinion, to create a special interstate status for our universities? This would help at the beginning of the year as we wait for funding to come from Russia. Since we do not fall into any of these three categories, the allocation of funds takes longer. A new year has begun, bringing with it worries about whether salaries will be paid.



Sergey Lavrov:

There should be other ways of resolving the problems with salaries. I had a similar question yesterday at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University in Bishkek. We cannot simply extend the Russian jurisdiction to all operations related to Slavic universities be it here in Tajikistan, in Kyrgyzstan or in Armenia.

Decisions to establish these universities were taken collectively by the corresponding agencies and senior government officials in Russia and other countries. I do not think that the need for universities to work with currencies of their respective countries should get in the way of the running of these establishments. You have pointed out certain challenges, including salaries. However, you can raise this matter with the university’s rector or use other channels to bring these concerns to the attention of Russian and Tajikistani governments, considering the attention and support that your institution enjoys from President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon. I have no doubt any objective can be achieved as long as it is clearly articulated.



Question:

Our university is doing everything to improve the level of proficiency in the Russian language and to expand the vocabulary of our students, and also to elevate their cultural level. There used to be a good tradition of sending second-year students to various universities in Russia where they would not only get to know the Russian culture and traditions, but also find themselves in a Russian-speaking environment. Unfortunately, this tradition no longer exists. Is there a way of bringing it back, considering how vital it is in this day and age?



Sergey Lavrov:

This question is not for me but rather for the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education. As for exchanging delegations, post and undergraduate students, I can say that we have exchange programmes for diplomats, mostly young ones, who get internships abroad, while the countries they go to send their diplomats to Russia. I do not see why the tradition when it comes to education cannot be put once again in place.



Nurali Salikhov, Rector of RTSU:

The Russian-Tajik Slavic University’s development programme includes the Academic Mobility clause; this year, we sent 95 students to study abroad, including to Russia.



Sergey Lavrov:

I understand that this is not so much about studying as about language practice. Again, this is another ministry’s job. But I have no doubt that such exchanges are useful, just based on the experience of our diplomatic exchange programmes.



Question:

One of the most prestigious areas of study at Russian-Tajik Slavic University is international relations. As a professional, what would you like to say to future Tajik diplomats?



Sergey Lavrov:

First, I will quote a classic: “Learn, learn and learn.” My second hope is for good luck, creativity and imagination, as they will need those too. Sometimes it is important to come up with something that no one expects, but it could work unexpectedly.



Question:

What are you guided by in your life? What is your motto? What motivates you?



Sergey Lavrov:

It is difficult to answer your question. Probably people who are busy doing things have too little time to think about what they are guided by. I would say that is something philosophers do. Our job is simple: perform the tasks the Russian President and leadership have set in foreign policy, and do it honestly, efficiently and effectively. This is a very trite answer, but that’s what it is.



Question:

As you know, politics is a condensed manifestation of the economy. In the context of Eurasian integration, is there a plan to adopt a single currency in the CIS?



Sergey Lavrov:

In the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), there is a supranational body established by the member states – the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission. It has supranational authority. Yes, there is a range of plans; common capital, labour, workforce and services markets have already been formed. We are planning on establishing a common energy market by 2025.

I have not heard about any such goals in the sphere of currency relations. I cannot say if this is being discussed or not – at least I don’t know anything about it.



Question:

My question is about personnel training.

You noted today that the existing world order is about to change a lot. The next decade could be dominated by a struggle to create a new multi-centre world order, that is, there will be several centres of global governance. Most likely, the new order will rely on integration associations, like the EAEU and the CSTO for Russia. To pursue a unified and coordinated policy within the Union, we will need qualified personnel with good understanding in these fields. Will Russia further deepen international cooperation in the training of qualified personnel while paying attention not only to the quantitative, but also to the qualitative part of the matter? Is it possible for RTSU students to enroll with the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry?



Sergey Lavrov:

As far as I understand, your question about the attention to personnel training concerns not only diplomatic staff, but personnel in general. Russia is certainly interested in developing a quality education system, without throwing out all the good things achieved during the Soviet era, while keeping them in demand in today’s conditions. Of course, we are interested in our partners, our allies, especially those cooperating with us in education, also working for these goals. Mobility programmes, faculty and graduate student exchanges, scholarships – all of that is aimed at making education as coordinated and high quality as possible.

As for enrolling with the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are admission rules, and anyone can apply if they have a university degree and are interested in earning another one. But the Diplomatic Academy also offers regular higher education – bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. Therefore, anyone without a university degree can apply at the Diplomatic Academy after high school. University graduates can enroll with its graduate school or advanced professional training programmes. There are various options. By the way, the Academy is actively pursuing the exchange and mobility programmes I mentioned.



Question:

In September, the representatives from Tajikistan attending an inter-parliamentary session at the Federation Council discussed constitutional and legislative breaks for citizens of Tajikistan, who come to Russia as seasonal labour. Specifically, they mentioned patents and pensions for migrant workers. Did you discuss this subject during the talks? Can we expect a migration amnesty at some point in the future?



Sergey Lavrov:

To be honest, there was an amnesty, and not just once. It is quite important to work with migrants before they head off to Russia so that they avoid any shady arrangements and know for certain exactly who their employers are going to be and that the contracts they will get will be legal. They must also be sure that their passports are not taken away from them and that they get their wages on a regular basis and do not get paid under the table. We suggest that Tajikistan and Russia sign additional agreements that will guarantee migrant workers’ rights. Specifically, we need to sign an agreement on pensions. This is one of the documents lying on the negotiating table. It is necessary to sign an agreement on an organised recruitment of migrants here in Tajikistan before their departure to Russia (as I have just mentioned), an agreement on readmission, that is, on Tajikistan’s commitment to accept back those migrants who violate Russian laws. We have signed a similar readmission agreement with the EU and this works well. No need to be afraid of this.

We have representatives from the migration services operating in Tajikistan and we have your migration staff working in Russia. We need to define their status by a relevant agreement. Having said what is yet to be done, let me mention the fact that Tajikistan is, if I am not mistaken, the only EAEU country that enjoys the full range of preferences with regard to its citizens taking jobs in Russia. For example, they can stay without requiring to register for 15 days instead of seven. It makes a difference. A patent is issued for three years. This is also a thing of no small importance. Certainly, one would like the timeframes for issuing patents to be shorter and documents to cost less. But this is something that should be negotiated.

To reiterate: a package of documents is on the table and they are needed to finally lead this sphere out of the shadows so that it becomes fully legal and comfortable for the migrants themselves and there are no security risks either for Russia or for Tajikistan. Today we said that it should be signed as soon as possible.



Question:

What is your opinion of the developments in Venezuela? Where might they be headed?



Sergey Lavrov:

We believe the situation is alarming and see it as the result of a flagrant violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. I believe it is outrageous that a foreign country should declare that Venezuela has a new interim president. It is also alarming that the initiatives aimed at launching a national dialogue, which we see as the only solution to internal problems, have been rejected in favour of other ideas, the goal of which is to effect regime change.

Mexico and Uruguay have called for a conference involving all the political forces in Venezuela to be held in Montevideo (it was to be held this week). You probably know that President Nicolas Maduro has expressed willingness more than once to enter into such a dialogue, but the opposition leader who was designated the interim president has categorically rejected the idea. Some of our colleagues, including in the EU, have advanced a mediation initiative and have created a contact group to which they invited a dozen EU countries and as many Latin American states. At the same time, the leading EU countries have declared the incumbent president illegitimate and the interim president legitimate, and issued an ultimatum that a new presidential election be called without any dialogue.

You can see that a constructive approach with an inclusive national dialogue and the coordination of a mutually acceptable agenda has been replaced with formats that are based on the logic of ultimatums and dictate. I think that this is a misguided approach. Moreover, it is surprising that our readiness to help find a format that would allow the Venezuelan sides to come to an agreement, as well as China’s concerns have not been taken into account. We still believe that this crisis can be settled only if the Venezuelan government and the opposition begin talks. The only other option is regime change, something the West has engaged in many times before. Not a single country where this happened has benefitted from the change.



Question:

Does Russia see China as a rival in Central Asia, and if so, in which sphere?



Sergey Lavrov:

We do not see China as a rival. Russia and China are strategic partners. Overall, their plans for Central Asia and Greater Eurasia are in agreement. Several years ago, President Vladimir Putin proposed promoting practical cooperation towards a major Eurasian project involving EAEU, SCO and ASEAN nations, with these processes open to all the Eurasian states.

China put forth the Belt and Road initiative. President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and President of Russia Vladimir Putin attended a conference devoted to this topic in 2017. Another such conference will be held this year. Major events took place in the past two years. In particular, we have coordinated the approach of the EAEU countries and the Belt and Road initiative to transport infrastructure and, in general, routes for the transit of goods between Asia and Europe by land and also via the Northern Sea Route. We have certain opportunities in this respect, which our partners can use. I believe that the document signed by the EAEU and China to harmonise these processes is a major decision that can prevent Central Asia from becoming an area of unfair competition where some seek to force out their competitors.

We see the growth of interest in Central Asia. We have been allies for many years, and we share centuries of a common history, including as parts of the same state. We cannot be indifferent to the foreign relations of our Central Asian friends.

The United States, the EU, Japan, South Korea and India have taken an interest in Central Asia. The 5+1 format between the five Central Asian states and one of the above countries is a fact of life. We believe that Russia could use this format as well, in addition to the other formats where we closely cooperate with Central Asian countries, such as the SCO, the CIS and the CSTO. We had a common economy back in the Soviet era. These are not mere words. The water and energy problems of the region can be easily streamlined if we apply the experience gained in the Soviet era. We are ready to share this experience. I think this would also be in the interests of our Central Asian friends.



Question:

The Immortal Regiment action launched in Russia has enjoyed support practically throughout the world owing to the support of embassies. Do you think efforts to instill patriotic values should be continued?



Sergey Lavrov:

Much is being done in this respect. There are actions like the Immortal Regiment and St George’s Ribbon. The Defence Ministry is promoting many initiatives, such as the Era Centre for Talented Children and the quite popular Yunarmiya project.

You called it instilling patriotic values but it is possible to describe it in simpler terms – knowledge of history and preventing its rewriting. We discussed how we cooperate with Tajikistan and the OSCE, in part, by promoting the resolution on countering the glorification of Nazism and neo-Nazism. We also adopted a decision on the unacceptability of mocking monuments to the heroes who liberated Europe and many other related aspects. It is very easy to con people who are oblivious to anything to do with their roots and pull them in an entirely wrong direction.

When we see neo-Nazi marches in EU capitals, when the same Ukraine that positions itself as “the main European hope” decides to celebrate the birthdays of Nazi criminals and collaborators like Bandera and Shukhevich, when the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) is also marked as a national holiday instead of Armed Forces Day, we understand that certain forces want to rewrite history.

I don’t even want to mention the Church. The decision on it is absolutely illegitimate by all canons of non-interference of the state in church life and Russian Orthodox canons because the 1686 Constantinople verdict on the transfer of the Church under the aegis of the Moscow Patriarchate is irrevocable (it is fairly easy to read it). Therefore, mockery of history with a view to setting Russia and Ukraine against each other and preventing their friendship is a crime against compatriots.

At the same time I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that this Nazi virus has deep roots in Ukraine. Militants bearing Right Sector logos destroyed another church literally yesterday. The leader of the clearly neo-Nazi Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh (who is now a respectable deputy) said two days after the unconstitutional coup d’etat that took place in February 2014 contrary to all guarantees given to President Viktor Yanukovych by the opposition and European countries, including France, Germany and Poland, that a Russian will never understand a Ukrainian, speak Ukrainian or revere Ukrainian heroes whom I mentioned as neo-Nazis. So, according to him, “a Russian should be either eliminated or ousted from Crimea.” When we recall this statement for our European friends who imposed sanctions on Russia because the Crimeans voted for reunification with Russia, and ask them how they would react to the threat of elimination if they lived in Crimea and why they don’t simply understand the position and respect the right of the Crimeans in this context, they just avert their eyes in embarrassment.

This virus is also contaminating respectable international agencies. There is the European Court of Human Rights in the Council of Europe. It operates on the principle of subsidiarity that means that it performs only those tasks that cannot be handled at a more local level. Only when all courts at home reject a case it is possible to take it to the Court of Human Rights.

I don’t remember what city it was but in Ukraine a woman cooked eggs on the Eternal Flame. She was arrested and given a suspended sentence of two years for insulting the memory of the dead (there is a relevant article in the Criminal Code). She took the trouble of going through courts of all levels in Ukraine. Her case was rejected everywhere and she turned to to the European Court of Human Rights, which took her side and said that the Ukrainian authorities (this was under President Viktor Yanukovych) must pay her, I think, 3,000 euros for ignoring her right to the freedom of expression. How can the court issue such verdicts to justify cooking eggs on the Eternal Flame?!

So, I am all for it. We could organise joint work of historians in the CIS. Russia has joint commissions of historians even with such countries as Poland (this commission is operating), Germany and Lithuania. Together with the Poles we are finishing and probably have already finished work on a common textbook on the 20th century. Most articles in it were written jointly but when it comes to the events on which views diverge, two parallel articles by Russian and Polish scholars are presented. We have a joint commission with Kazakhstan as well. I think a commission of CIS historians would be much in demand today.

I’m glad that you raised this issue. We will ask universities, including yours, for help if this idea catches on.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3501226
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Old February 17th, 2019 #11
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Now that Heather Nauert is going to be U.N. ambassador, who will I use to look stupid compared to Mrs. Zakharova?
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Old February 17th, 2019 #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Allan View Post
Now that Heather Nauert is going to be U.N. ambassador, who will I use to look stupid compared to Mrs. Zakharova?
Why is the question addressed to me?

Do you think that all appointments to posts in the United States are consequences of decisions taking place in Russia?
__________________
Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit?
Piglet said that the best place would be somewhere where a Heffalump was, just before he fell into it, only about a foot farther on.
(c) Alan Alexander Miln
 
Old February 17th, 2019 #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Him View Post
Why is the question addressed to me?

Do you think that all appointments to posts in the United States are a consequence of decisions taking place in Russia?
The question is rhetorical. My strange American humor.
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Old February 17th, 2019 #14
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the meeting with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Ashgabat, February 6, 2019



6 February 2019 - 10:57







Thank you very much.

Mr Berdimuhamedov,

The President of Russia has warm memories of his contacts with you. Just a little over a year ago he visited Ashgabat. A number of documents were signed, and, even more importantly, they are now being implemented. I fully agree with you that the strategic partnership opens broad opportunities. We are interested in making full use of the existing potential. The Intergovernmental Commission is scheduled to hold a meeting in the first quarter of 2019, and we want this meeting to be meaningful and adopt decisions that are as explicit as possible.

There is positive momentum in our bilateral relations in the energy sector, and we support this trend. We want the Eurasian Economic Union to offer an intelligible and convenient framework to all our partners outside the EAEU. There are plans to coordinate the work of the Central Asian Power System, in which Turkmenistan plays an essential role, with the common energy market that is expected to be created within the Eurasian Economic Union by 2025. This is a promising and large-scale project.







Speaking of other areas of cooperation between our countries, Russia proactively supports Turkmenistan’s CIS chairmanship. We strongly believe that it will be carried out at the highest level. We support your plans to step up cooperation within the Caspian region. The city of Turkmenbashi will host its first ever economic forum on August 12. Once the heads of state decide on the timeline for taking stock of their achievements they will hold a summit during which new documents are expected to be signed. When the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea was signed in Aktau, Kazakhstan, in August 2018 two documents were adopted at your initiative relating to the economy and transport. There are new areas of cooperation, and for this reason we are committed to expanding the treaty framework on cooperation among Caspian states. It is important that the principle enshrined in the convention whereby all matters related to the Caspian region are decided by the five Caspian countries themselves remains at the core of all our undertakings.

We had a meaningful conversation with Rashid Meredov yesterday. As you have said, Mr President, our countries cooperate effectively in the United Nations. We outlined new plans that Mr Meredov and I will carry out with your approval.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3501844






Press point with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following talks with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Ashgabat, February 6, 2019



6 February 2019 - 11:13







I have had a lengthy conversation with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. On behalf of President Vladimir Putin, I conveyed his warmest greetings and wishes for success in his work as head of Turkmenistan and reaffirmed Russia’s firm commitment to all agreements that were reached at the highest level, including during the Russian President’s visit to Turkmenistan over a year ago.

The Strategic Partnership Treaty has entered into force. It is the foundation of all our plans and activities in most different fields, from economy to education, and our dialogue on security issues. The subject of the Caspian Sea certainly has a special place. Mr Berdimuhamedov paid special attention to this matter. In 2002, it was here, in Ashgabat, that the series of summit meetings between the leaders of the five Caspian states began. Last year, it ended with the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. Along with that, two documents were adopted on cooperation in the field of the economy and transport initiated by the President of Turkmenistan. This year, for the first time in history, Turkmenistan is hosting an economic forum of the Caspian states, scheduled for August. The next, the sixth, summit of the Caspian leaders will also be held in Turkmenistan.

We have on the whole very good groundwork for cooperation, including in the humanitarian sphere. Today, the President of Turkmenistan underscored his full support for our cooperation in the field of education: 30,000 citizens of Turkmenistan are enrolled in Russian universities; Russian is taught at many educational institutions of Turkmenistan. A school named after Alexander Pushkin is considered the best in the region, according to professionals. Humanitarian and cultural affairs will be one of the priorities of Turkmenistan’s CIS Presidency in 2019. So we have a lot of plans, and there will be a lot of events dedicated to the CIS and cooperation within the Caspian Five. In the foreseeable future, actually I hope in the very near future, a regular meeting of the bilateral Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation will be held.

All these plans have been approved by the Presidents of Russia and Turkmenistan. My colleague, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Raşit Meredow, and I will coordinate the work of all agencies in the two countries so that all agreements are fully implemented for the benefit of our countries and peoples.



Question:

Would it be possible for you to say a few words about bilateral cooperation in the oil and gas sector?



Sergey Lavrov:

Our representatives leading the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation will take care of this. They are currently working out the dates for its implementation. During our conversation, the President of Turkmenistan expressed satisfaction with the way the matter of gas is being addressed in our current dialogue – with a view to reaching new ambitious and large-scale agreements.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3501882






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov, Ashgabat, February 6, 2019



6 February 2019 - 11:19







Mr Meredov,

Thank you very much for your cordial reception. As you have said, a very important conversation with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took place. We appreciated the attention accorded to the Russian delegation by the leader of Turkmenistan and the atmosphere that was clearly manifested during this conversation, that is, to further strengthen our strategic partnership under a treaty signed just over a year ago during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Turkmenistan.







We also value our foreign policy cooperation. This year, it will assume special significance in the context of Turkmenistan’s presidency of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and in the light of the fact that your country will host the first economic forum of Caspian littoral states in history.

We greatly value our entire cooperation which is always partner-like and open. We would like such collaboration to continue in the future. Today’s conversation will allow us to move along this road.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3501930






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov, Ashgabat, February 6, 2019



6 February 2019 - 13:15







We had very fruitful and concrete talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov.

We discussed practical areas of our cooperation based on the results of our meeting today with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

We reaffirmed our resolve to implement the agreements reached by our presidents, including the documents signed during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Ashgabat in 2017. I am referring to the Agreement on Strategic Partnership. We pointed out at our meeting with President Berdimuhamedov and the talks with my Turkmen colleague today that this agreement is the epitome of relations between Russia and Turkmenistan.

When speaking about our bilateral relations, we focused on the preparations for the next meeting of the Russian-Turkmen Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation. We expressed appreciation for the performance of the High-Level Working Group on Trade and Investment, which has been set up at the commission. We share the opinion that we should highlight joint strategic investment projects, without neglecting mutual trade. Many Russian companies, including Kamaz and Tatneft, are working in Turkmenistan and have earned a solid reputation. We are grateful to our Turkmen friends for creating comfortable conditions for the operations of Russian businesses.

We also exchanged positive views on our humanitarian and cultural exchanges. Over 30,000 students from Turkmenistan are studying in Russia. President Berdimuhamedov personally makes sure that support is provided to the Russian language at all stages of education. The Alexander Pushkin Russian-Turkmen secondary school, which was established at the president’s initiative, is probably the best school of this kind in the region. At the least, it has a very good reputation.

As for other topics, we also discussed Central Asia and cooperation in the Caspian region. This year Turkmenistan will host the first ever forum of the Caspian countries. We have coordinated practical areas for the joint preparations of this major event.

We have reaffirmed the significance of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, which concluded 20 years of hard work by the five Caspian states. We noted that the convention assigns responsibility for dealing with any problems pertaining to the Caspian Sea to the five Caspian states.

As for the international agenda, we discussed our cooperation within the framework of the CIS, where Turkmenistan is presiding this year. We also talked about preparations for the next meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers, which is scheduled to take place in Moscow on April 5.

A large part of our talks was devoted to our interaction within the framework of the UN. We are grateful to Turkmenistan for supporting and co-authoring a great number of Russian initiatives. In particular, we talked about our joint involvement in the open-ended UN working group on international cyber security, which the UN General Assembly decided to establish two months ago.

This is all we discussed today. I have given you the gist of our talks. I would like to wholeheartedly thank our Turkmen friends for their hospitality and a warm reception, as well as for our practical, concrete and meaningful talks.






Question:

Did you discuss the possibility of visa-free travel between Russia and Turkmenistan, considering a potential rise in tourism in the Caspian region? Can this be accomplished in the future?

In his address to Congress, US President Donald Trump mentioned the INF Treaty and said it was possible to negotiate a new treaty and to expand the number of participants. How would you comment on this initiative?



Sergey Lavrov:

Regarding agreements between the five Caspian states, we did not discuss the tourism industry today. But no one is putting up any barriers between the citizens of our countries who want to communicate with each other. Perhaps it would also be possible to review tourism projects in the format of five countries, but our Turkmen colleagues have advanced a short-term initiative that builds upon the documents of the five Caspian states which have already been adopted in line with their proposals. In 2018, agreements dealing with economic and transport cooperation were approved at Turkmenistan’s initiative. Work is now underway to review several other proposals of Turkmenistan, and we would like to focus on a very useful idea to draft an international legal framework for science cooperation between Caspian states. I think it will be possible to discuss such matters as tourism and other humanitarian exchanges in the future.

Regarding the INF Treaty, we have said everything there is to say in response to groundless accusations by the United States. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has set out the Russian position: Russia will respond symmetrically. The Americans have suspended their participation in the Treaty, and we have done the same. Therefore, it will become null and void six months after we receive an official US note on withdrawing from the Treaty. Regarding further talks on this or any other subjects dealing with strategic stability and arms control, President Putin has also clearly set out our position. There is no shortage of initiatives that we have submitted to our colleagues in the United States, NATO and the West generally. We have repeatedly mentioned them, calling for launching talks that should not be delayed. For example, this concerns matters linked with the possible extension of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), due to expire in 2021. Our Western colleagues, including US colleagues, did not respond in any way. Therefore, as you know, President Putin instructed Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and me not to raise these matters any more but to wait calmly until (and if) our Western partners respond to our proposals on the entire range of strategic stability matters that were submitted long ago.



Question:

In late 2018, Gazprom held talks with the Turkmen side on resuming gas deliveries and on resolving a dispute at a commercial court. Did you discuss this subject today? There have been no reports since early 2019, although the Turkmen side said it is expecting gas deliveries. Could you clarify?



Sergey Lavrov:

Of course, these matters are within the remit of the Intergovernmental Russian-Turkmen Commission on Economic Cooperation, whose meeting is being prepared. I can say that when he was speaking about the state of our relations today, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted with satisfaction the continued contacts with Gazprom.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502059






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and replies to questions at the Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry’s Institute of International Relations, Ashgabad, February 6, 2019



6 February 2019 - 14:25







Mr Meredov,

Lecturers, colleagues and friends,

First of all I’d like to thank you for the invitation to speak at the Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry’s Institute of International Relations, the nurturing place of the diplomatic corps of your country. It is also educating highly qualified experts in the field of international relations in anything from the economy to law. I am pleased to say that your institute maintains close partnership with counterpart foreign educational centres, including my alma mater – MGIMO (U).

Today’s meeting once again confirms the high level of trust and mutual understanding between Russia and Turkmenistan. Our relations have reached the level of strategic partnership, which is stipulated in the relevant agreement which was signed during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Ashgabad in October 2017. We have developed sustainable inter-parliamentary, inter-departmental and inter-regional exchanges. We are steadily promoting our trade and economic cooperation including in such fields as energy, transport, construction and agriculture. Today, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov spoke in detail about his assessment of the achievements of our cooperation in these and other spheres. Naturally, he stressed the need to move further and build up joint strategic projects, primarily in areas like investment and innovation which we fully agree with.

President Berdimuhamedov laid special emphasis on the fact that over 28,000 students from Turkmenistan study in Russia. We are aware that the Alexander Pushkin Russian-Turkmen Secondary School has been operating in Ashgabad since 2002. Its graduates continue their education in leading universities of Russia and Turkmenistan. I would like to mention that the Days of Culture of Turkmenistan were successfully held in Moscow and St Petersburg in October 2018.

We continue our dialogue on security issues. As a follow-up to the agreements between our leaders reached during President Vladimir Putin’s visit in October 2017, the two countries held consultations on dealing with cyberspace threats in May 2018.

The world is undergoing rapid changes. New centres of economic power and related political influence are emerging. Guided by their national interests they are striving to pursue an independent foreign policy. In practical terms, this trend is embodied in the ongoing development of a new, more fair and democratic world order.

There is hardly any need to prove that a more complicated international life should have long taught everyone to come to terms and to jointly develop mechanisms of global management meeting the requirements of the 21st century. In this regard, diplomats bear special responsibility for elaborating optimal decisions in the most diverse areas that will suit all participants in the international community without any exception. Only by pooling efforts is it possible to find effective answers to large-scale challenges and threats to the entire humankind: terrorism, drug trafficking, dissemination of weapons of mass destruction, and climate change, to name just a few.

Recent events have shown that collective actions based on international law and buttressed by relevant UN Security Council resolutions are capable of resolving even the most intricate problems. Thus, owing to productive cooperation of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Astana format and in strict conformity with UN Security Council Resolution 2254, international terrorism was significantly eradicated in Syria, its statehood was preserved and conditions were created for economic recovery and the return of refugees. That said, there is still a lot to do there. The Syrian National Dialogue Congress held in Sochi in January 2018 was a great diplomatic success. It was attended by the delegations of the Syrian Government, the opposition, representatives of the guarantors of the Astana process – Russia, Turkey and Iran, observers from a number of the region’s countries, including Jordan and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria.

Positive, albeit fragile, trends were also noted on the Korean Peninsula, where the situation is unfolding along the lines of the Russian-Chinese settlement roadmap, which provides for reciprocal moves by the protagonists in denuclearising the Korean Peninsula and encouraging North Korea to cooperate by easing the sanctions.

The results are deplorable in situations where the stakes on force and hegemony prevail, and diplomacy is pushed aside. The weakening and even collapse of statehood in vast swathes of territories in the Middle East and North Africa is a direct consequence of one-sided actions by a number of US-led Western countries, seeking to forcibly impose ultra-liberal values ​​and developmental models everywhere and on everyone. This has led to an unprecedented surge in international terrorism, an increase in drug trafficking, organised crime and illegal migration. More globally, there is a major lack of mutual trust and a dangerous militarisation of foreign-policy thinking. Unfortunately, the western capitals didn’t learn the tragic lessons of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. This geopolitical engineering is being energetically, or rather, aggressively and shamelessly, used in Venezuela.

The US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programme could undermine the global non-proliferation regime and lead to uncontrolled growth in regional and international tensions. All of this is being done in a situation where Tehran is strictly adhering to its commitments under the JCPOA, which was regularly confirmed by the IAEA.

Russia is unequivocally in favour of cooperation. We do not impose anything on anyone, or tell others how to go about their lives. We consistently believe it is important to respect the cultural and civilisational identity of the peoples of the world, their desire to determine their future and choose a foreign policy without instructions or pressure from outside. For a long time now and quite persistently we have been pushing for strict observance of the fundamental principles of international life as outlined in the UN Charter, such as the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their internal affairs and peaceful resolution of disputes. Of course, the well-known initiative of President Putin to create a global anti-terrorism front under UN auspices without any hidden agendas and double standards and without trying to use radical or extremist groups for vested geopolitical interests remains on the table.

We deeply respect the policy of permanent positive neutrality pursued by the Turkmen leadership. We see it as an important contribution to stability and sustainable development in the Central Asian region. Twice - in 1995 and 2015 - Russia co-sponsored the corresponding resolutions of the UN General Assembly, which Foreign Minister Rasit Meredow mentioned with gratitude today during the talks. We reiterate the non-opportunistic and principled nature of our position in support of the neutrality of Turkmenistan.

The peace-loving foreign policy of Moscow and Ashgabat, the identical or close approaches to key international and regional issues allow us to cooperate productively at various multilateral platforms. Russia has repeatedly co-authored such relevant to Turkmenistan UNGA resolutions as The Reliable and Stable Transit of Energy Resources and its Role in Ensuring Sustainable Development and International Cooperation, and The Role of Transport and Transit Corridors in Ensuring International Cooperation for Sustainable Development. We are grateful to our Turkmen partners for co-authoring a number of Russia’s initiatives, including our traditional draft UNGA resolution, Combating glorification of Nazism. This is especially important given that the peoples of the former Soviet Union made the decisive contribution to liberating Europe and the world from the horrors of the brown plague.

We are also cooperating productively within the Commonwealth of Independent States. Since January 1, Turkmenistan has served as Chair of the CIS. We support the priorities outlined in the Chairmanship Concept, in particular, improving political and diplomatic cooperation within the CIS, increasing the level of cooperation of the CIS with international organisations, strengthening practical cooperation in energy, transport, communications and utilities. We also support Turkmenistan’s commitment to expanding cultural, scientific, educational and sports exchanges within the CIS.

I want to particularly point out our productive cooperation on the Caspian Sea. The wellbeing and prosperity of our peoples to a large extent depends on the developments in the Caspian region. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea that was signed during the fifth Caspian Summit last August. The convention secures the littoral states’ exclusive rights to this unique sea, its mineral wealth and other resources. This document guarantees that the sea will only be used for peaceful purposes and that no armed forces of any non-regional power will be present there. We see the signing of this convention as a vivid example of the culture of diplomacy, the ability to reach agreements based on a calibrated balance of interests.

Regulating the Caspian Sea’s legal status creates conditions for a new qualitative level of cooperation among the Caspian Five. The regulatory basis for this cooperation was secured, among other things, by the industry-specific agreements signed during the summit in Aktau. These agreements, which among other things, concern the economy and transport, were developed at the initiative of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. I believe that enactment will facilitate the inflow of foreign investment and the further realisation of the region’s massive economic, transport and transit potential.

Today we discussed preparations for yet another historical event, the first ever Caspian Economic Forum that will convene at the initiative of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in your country next August.

Additionally, Turkmenistan continues to actively support an expansion of the legal framework of cooperation between the five Caspian littoral states. Among the new initiatives that we also discussed today was a very promising proposal to develop an international legal framework for cooperation between the five littoral states in science and education.

Colleagues,

We will continue to further strengthen the strategic partnership between Russia and Turkmenistan. Therefore, I cannot help but quote the words of Magtymguly, a great son of the Turkmen people: “Here, brotherhood is a custom and friendship is a law.” I am certain that we must follow these wise words in our daily cooperation.

Thank you. I will take your questions now.







Question:

Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation are linked by relations of strategic partnership. This implies a special nature of bilateral cooperation. What are the results of your visit to Turkmenistan in this context?



Sergey Lavrov:

I will sum up the results with my colleague, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashit Meredow. My sense is that the visit was quite useful.

We have praised the attention accorded the Russian delegation by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov who spoke in great detail on all aspects of our cooperation and who underscored prospects for our future work in the economic, investment, cultural-humanitarian and other areas.

Another important result is that we have reached consensus on the need to conduct high-quality preparations for a regular meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation. We completely share the desire of our Turkmenistan partners to focus on major strategic long-term investment projects, including investment-oriented projects as a priority, while continuing to maintain our trade ties. We share this approach completely.

I would like to single out the second aspect, namely, an appreciation of the unique value of our educational ties. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov himself focuses on support for the Russian language and Russian-language education at all stages in Turkmenistan; this reflects our proximity and strategic partnership in the cultural sphere, not to mention the fact that our cultural agencies are planning many events. Quite recently, Moscow and St Petersburg have hosted Days of Turkmenistan’s Culture.

Speaking of a result directly linked with foreign policy activities, I would like to single out a plan of cooperation between our ministries over the next two years, signed by Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashit Meredow and myself. The plan stipulates consultations on all key matters of regional life and international relations. This is a good tradition when we compare all our joint approaches during such traditional consultations in line with cooperation programmes that have been signed.

We have coordinated a number of matters that should be addressed immediately in our foreign policy contacts. This concerns cooperation and the creation of a mechanism of consultations on regional security matters, exchanging assessments of developments in Afghanistan and comparing approaches and efforts aimed at creating favourable conditions for inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue, so that the people of Afghanistan themselves, supported by external players (primarily regional countries), could resolve their longtime problems.

I have also said that it is very important for us to expand cooperation in the Caspian region today. We fully support the initiative of convening an economic forum that I have already mentioned. This is an innovative approach. Turkmenistan is one of the main initiators of consolidating the contractual-legal framework in the Caspian region. An agreement that we should conduct this work actively and quickly is another result of this visit. This is a brief summary.



Question:

President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov endorsed the foreign policy concept of neutral Turkmenistan for 2017-2023. For many years, Russia has firmly and invariably supported Turkmenistan’s neutral status. I would like to hear your opinion on how Turkmenistan uses this status internationally.



Sergey Lavrov:

I can confirm that. I have just said in my opening remarks that our support for Turkmenistan’s neutrality is not opportunistic. It is our consistent position. As today’s discussion of regional and international issues has shown, Turkmenistan is primarily striving to create conditions for dialogue on all issues that trouble the countries of the region or all members of the international community. I believe that this is a position that commands respect, deserves all manner of support and should be an example for all others – not to get drawn into any disputes or conflicts, to say nothing of siding with one of their parties. To the contrary, it is necessary to create conditions and promote initiatives that help gather all parties at the negotiating table. It is in this vein that we discussed issues of Afghanistan today.



Question:

Last January Turkmenistan assumed the CIS Presidency. In this context, it drafted a concept and plan of action for 2019. Turkmenistan placed special emphasis on the cultural and humanitarian aspect of our cooperation in the CIS. In this context, next May Ashgabad will host the 14th CIS Forum of Creative and Scientific Intelligentsia. What do you think about the development of CIS partnership in culture, science, education and art?



Sergey Lavrov:

We fully support the concept for its CIS Presidency disseminated by Turkmenistan among the CIS members. We share the outlined priorities. Much attention is devoted to cultural ties, including the CIS Forum of Creative and Scientific Intelligentsia you mentioned. But much attention there is also devoted to the economy, investment, modern technology and innovations. In general, this concept is a very well balanced and comprehensive document that, as we believe, will allow the CIS to achieve new practical results. In early April, Moscow will host a meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers at which we will discuss preparations for different events during Turkmenistan’s CIS Presidency and encourage all CIS member states to take an active part in this work.

I would also like to say that a three-year programme for invigorating cooperation between the foreign ministries of the CIS countries is being drafted at Turkmenistan’s initiative. Until now we only had annual plans of consultations in the CIS format and now it has been suggested – the programme has basically been compiled and we’ll soon announce its adoption – to extend its term to three years, which will help our ministries to better plan their daily work.



Question:

As you’ve already mentioned, Caspian issues occupy an important place of our cooperation. The first Caspian summit took place in Ashgabad 17 years ago, in April 2002. Since then a new political impetus has been given to the negotiating process on the Caspian Sea. On August 12, 2018 the presidents of the five Caspian states signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in Aktau, which opened up vast new opportunities for cooperation. The first Caspian Economic Forum will be held in Turkmenistan this year to tap this potential to the utmost. What do you think about pan-Caspian economic cooperation?



Sergey Lavrov:

We agree with the conceptual approaches suggested by Turkmenistan’s initiators of the forum. Today, I discussed this in detail with Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rashit Meredow. This forum is supposed to cover several aspects, starting from scientific and economic discussions and ending in business cooperation, up to and including the signing of deals. They cited the example of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum where annual discussions of the conceptual problems of the world economy and finances are supplemented with meetings between entrepreneurs, many of which are capped by the signing of agreements. In the same way, our friends from Turkmenistan want the Caspian Forum to help find promising, mutually beneficial multilateral projects.

We agree with this approach and share the view that it is important to discuss economic issues on a permanent rather than an ad hoc basis. Several years ago we discussed a possibility of establishing a Caspian economic cooperation organisation. This idea was based on the importance of regular annual meetings and discussions on the entire range of issues. I think the first Caspian Economic Forum will be quite successful.



Question:

International efforts to promote sustainable transport are among the priorities for Turkmenistan’s diplomacy. The Russian Federation has been a consistent supporter of initiatives put forward by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in this area. What do you think about the prospects for bilateral cooperation between our countries in the transport sector?



Sergey Lavrov:

I think professionals could answer this question better. There is no doubt that these matters are very important.

Today, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov spoke in detail about the goals for the transport and logistics sectors, including matters related to the North-South international transport corridor that will include Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. We also discussed the need for a broader, continental approach to coordinating the work of various integration and transport-related initiatives, including as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In fact, the People’s Republic of China and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) are already moving in this direction. The EAEU is also promoting logistics and transport corridors.

As you know, the Russian Federation offers extensive opportunities in terms of expanding cooperation on land and sea transport. Having the EAEU and China coordinate their approaches does not mean that all other countries cannot be involved in the discussion. Several years ago, President of Russia Vladimir Putin came forward with the initiative of a Greater Eurasian Partnership for all countries in the EAEU, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) and all other Eurasian countries, including our EU colleagues. We must grasp the comparative advantages of being part of a single continent, and mitigate economic, financial or other barriers. We must do everything it takes to liberalise our ties, and transport routes that are in the pipeline can play an essential role in this.



Question:

You are touring Central Asian countries currently. To step up regional cooperation, some countries of the region suggested partnership in the 5+1 format. What do you think about this form of multilateral cooperation?



Sergey Lavrov:

I think that any multilateral cooperation primarily has the potential to produce mutually beneficial agreements. We certainly welcome this format. We think that any form of multilateral cooperation should be positively oriented rather than be directed against someone. We are friends with others for our own good and theirs, not to be against someone else.

We discussed the C5+1 format that is now making rapid headway. For our part, we are interested in such dialogue with our Central Asian neighbours. We have many venues: the CIS, the SCO and the EAEU where we cooperate with Central Asian countries. But there are issues that could be discussed more effectively in the Central Asia + Russia format. We will think of how to go about this.



Question:

Do you consider international efforts to restore the socioeconomic infrastructure of Afghanistan to be the main factor in reaching a settlement in that country?



Sergey Lavrov:

I consider this as one of the inextricable factors. In parallel with completing the fight against the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking, it is necessary to launch a political process, while economic stability is the best guarantee against the repetition of crises and conflicts. We are paying much attention to this, helping the Afghans restore infrastructure for normal life. Over 150 large enterprises have been established in Afghanistan since Soviet times. A number of them still continue to operate and we are helping Afghanistan to restore as many of them as possible.

Incidentally, the principle of restoring conditions for normal life is applicable to any conflict. For example, in Syria we are actively working not only on humanitarian aid for people who are going through hard times. We are trying to create basic medical, energy and educational conditions that will help refugees return, giving them confidence that they will not be returning to smoldering ruins.

Regrettably, some of our Western partners consider this approach wrong because they don’t want to restore infrastructure for the return of refugees on the territories that are controlled by the legitimate Syrian Government. This is pure idealisation and politicisation of humanitarian issues. At the same time, they are helping to organise life and rebuild socioeconomic infrastructure on opposition-controlled territories, especially on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. We are seeing a double standard pure and simple, and it is unfortunate.



Question:

What do you think about the Aral Sea problem?



Sergey Lavrov:

I spoke about this with Mr Meredov both today and during our previous meetings. Russia is interested in resolving the Aral’s problems. UN members have repeatedly supported this idea but final say belongs to the countries of the region. Since we lived in the same state not so long ago – the USSR that devoted much attention to this problem – Russia requested observer status in the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. We are grateful to Turkmenistan for its active support of this request. We hope that the other members of the fund will make the same decision and Russia will be able to take part in the efforts to save the Aral Sea.



Question:

Do you find any time for recreation in your busy schedule? If you do, what are your priorities – sports, artistic pursuits or family?



Sergey Lavrov:

Spending time with grandchildren, and I have three of them, is always great. I also enjoy sports since it’s a diversion from various concerns. I play football at least once a week and in summer I like to go river rafting in Siberia. This is really a diversion. You don’t think about anything but staying alive.



Question:

What advice can you offer to future experts in international affairs?



Sergey Lavrov:

There are no secrets. It is necessary to be a good student and learn languages, the history of the world and diplomacy. No electronic means of conducting negotiations will replace direct communication. It is very important to be sociable. Some people are sociable by nature, can convince others and find solutions with their colleagues, and this is great. But nature is not always so generous. So, if you feel you are not sociable enough, try to cultivate these qualities in yourself. Diplomacy is the first profession in the world because you have to reach agreement on all the rest. Diplomacy is the art of reaching agreement. There are no special, magic recipes. Learn from the experience of your great predecessors. There are esteemed diplomats in this hall, who are sharing their knowledge with students. We are indebted to them. Use their experience and knowledge. I think that this is the best step you can take toward a successful diplomatic career.

I’d like to sincerely thank all of you for organising this meeting. It was very interesting for me and, I hope, useful for all those present. Thank you once again.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502184






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answer to a media question on the sidelines of his visit to Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, February 6, 2019



6 February 2019 - 14:28




Question:

Would you be so kind as to congratulate the diplomats of Turkmenistan on the upcoming Diplomats’ Day?



Sergey Lavrov:

I would like to congratulate everyone implementing the foreign policy of Turkmenistan under the guidance of the president of this country on Diplomats’ Day, marked on February 18. Russia marks it eight days earlier. Diplomats’ Day also helps bring together the staff of our ministry, its foreign missions, and to set the course for our future work in line with the leadership’s decisions. I congratulate everyone on Diplomats’ Day, and wish you good luck, every success and high spirits.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502194
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a wreath-laying ceremony on Diplomats’ Day, Moscow, February 8, 2019



8 February 2019 - 11:44







Friends,

Every year when we celebrate our professional holiday, Diplomat’s Day, we express gratitude to our veterans who are still with us and commemorate those members of the ministry who lost their lives fighting for the freedom and independence of our homeland during the Great Patriotic War and in line of duty, as well as those who perished during persecution campaigns.

On this day we traditionally pay homage to our great predecessors who were laid to rest in Russia and abroad. It is one of our main traditions, which all our missions outside Russia scrupulously observe in order to maintain continuity and preserve the dignity of our efforts.

Everyone knows about the complicated situation in the world and the difficult conditions in which all of us are working now. I would like to say, though, that the overwhelming majority of our diplomats are doing this commendably, keeping up or at least doing their best to keep up the high standards set by the previous generations.







We will continue to do everything in our power to implement Russia’s foreign policy, which was formulated by President Vladimir Putin and which is viewed positively in most countries despite the attempts to discredit Russia for the sake of discrediting. We can feel this.

I would like to once again thank our veterans who continue to share their invaluable experience with our young diplomats. Best greetings on Diplomats’ Day! I hope it will be a joyful and memorable day for all of you and for your families and loved ones.

Best regards on our professional day.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3505371






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during a meeting with Foreign Minister of Thailand Don Pramudwinai, Moscow, February 8, 2019



8 February 2019 - 12:07







Mr Pramudwinai,

Friends,

Welcome to Moscow. We very much value our friendship with Thailand, our longtime partner in Southeast Asia. We enjoy a comprehensive political dialogue at all levels, as well as cooperation in security, trade, investments and culture. We are ready to continue this interaction. Today we will discuss these issues in detail, as well as our interaction in international affairs, including the developments in the Asia-Pacific region. It is especially useful given Thailand’s presidency in ASEAN this year.







Once again, welcome.

I am happy to see you all.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3505457






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand Don Pramudwinai, Moscow, February 8, 2019



8 February 2019 - 14:36







Ladies and gentlemen,

The talks with my colleague from Thailand, Don Pramudwinai, were held in a traditionally friendly atmosphere and were very substantial.

Thailand is Russia’s longtime partner. Our relations are based on the values of friendship, mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests.

We discussed the state of bilateral cooperation and prospects for its further development, with due account for the agreements reached at meetings between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha during the September 2017 BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, and also on the sidelines of the 13th East Asia Summit in Singapore last November.

We were satisfied to note the positive dynamics of bilateral trade and economic ties. We praised the launching of practical co-production arrangements in the power industry, the transport and agro-industrial sectors.

We agreed to continue implementing the top-level decision to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion. The Joint Russian-Thai Commission for Bilateral Cooperation has a major role to play in these efforts. My colleague, Don Pramudwinai, co-chairs the Thai section of the Commission, and Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov chairs its Russian section. We will vigorously facilitate the implementation of agreements reached at this commission’s seventh meeting in Bangkok in December 2018 aimed at promoting joint mutually beneficial projects. We will continue to help expand direct contacts between our countries’ business communities.

The meeting between the Foreign Minister of Thailand Don Pramudwinai and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov will take place later in the day. They will map out more specific actions on implementing the agreements reached by the Intergovernmental Commission.

Today, we reaffirmed our desire to improve the contractual foundation of our relations, deepen cooperation in countering new threats and challenges and developing military and military-technical cooperation.

We highly value our cultural, humanitarian, youth and tourist exchanges. Last year 1.5 million Russian citizens visited Thailand. We are grateful to the Thai authorities for meeting our request to open a Russian consulate-general in Phuket in order to facilitate these tourist flows and to assist our tourists.

We emphasised our mutual interest in continuing the practice of educating Thai students at Russian universities; there are now 350 students. We appreciate the interest of the Thai leaders in promoting the Russian language in their country. The centre of the Russian World Foundation has been operating in Thailand for seven years, and the Russian language is taught in many education institutions. Today, we offered our colleagues assistance in training and upgrading the skills of Russian language teachers.







We discussed major issues on the world and regional agendas. We maintain a constructive dialogue in the UN and agreed to continue this. We are grateful to Thailand for voting in favour of many Russian initiatives, including the resolution on the unacceptability of glorifying Nazism, building up trust in outer space, preventing the deployment of weapons in space, and promoting international information security, to name a few. We note that Thailand is not associated with some provocative anti-Russia initiatives that are sometimes put forth in the UN.

We spoke about our continued cooperation at the platforms in the Asia-Pacific Region. The plan of consultations for 2019-2021, signed by our foreign ministries today, will play a big role in this work.

We are also interested in ensuring the sustainable development of the Asia-Pacific Region. To achieve this, it is necessary to continue enhancing regional stability, and form a comprehensive and reliable system of equal and indivisible security that will rely on international law, the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes and the non-use of force.

We support the reliance of this system on the initiatives made by many decades by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the promising East Asian summits. Along with Thailand and other participants in this format, we want the dialogue on security to continue and to produce a common understanding of the principles of building security in this region.

Thailand chairs ASEAN in 2019. In this context, we confirmed our interest in continuing the practical dialogue on enhancing strategic partnership between Russia and the ten ASEAN countries based on the relevant joint statement signed by our leaders last November.

We favour closer cooperation between ASEAN, the EAEU and the SCO. Last year, the Eurasian Economic Commission (EAEC) signed memorandums of understanding with the Government of Thailand and ASEAN. I think this is a good beginning. We will continue working in this area and moving to join the mechanisms operating in Southeast Asia in the interests of promoting interconnection and creating transport and production chains. All these initiatives naturally fit in into President Vladimir Putin’s initiative on establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership.

We are pleased with the results of our talks. I think this feeling is mutual. I would like to thank my colleague for this close cooperation, and I will now give the floor to him.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3508402






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s greetings at a gala meeting on Diplomats’ Day, Moscow, February 8, 2019



8 February 2019 - 17:43







Colleagues,

Allow me to declare this gala meeting on Diplomats’ Day open.


(The anthem of the Russian Federation is played)


* * *


Colleagues,

Every year when we gather in this hall we recall the veterans and other our comrades that have passed away in the last 12 months. This past year was no exception. Let us honour their memory with a minute of silence.


* * *


Colleagues and friends,

I am pleased to see many familiar faces in this hall – our veterans and colleagues from the Presidential Executive Office, the Government Executive Office, the Security Council, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, ministries and departments. We are sincerely grateful to you for your support and cooperation, and for a professional solidarity that helps us successfully fulfil the responsible instructions of the country’s leaders.

First of all, I would like to read a message of greetings from President of Russia Vladimir Putin.


Message of greetings by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin



Staff and veterans of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation



Dear friends,

Please accept my sincere congratulations on the occasion of your professional day, Diplomats’ Day.

The foreign policy service of our country is proud of its rich history and glorious traditions, as it should be. Russian diplomats of many generations have served the Motherland with honour and have remained faithful to their professional duty.

Today, our diplomacy is making a significant contribution to strengthening peace, resolving important regional and global issues, and promoting cooperation with our foreign partners.

In today’s challenging circumstances, when international security and the rule of law are subjected to serious tests, you, the diplomats, face important and major tasks. In particular, it is imperative to enthusiastically uphold the basic principles of international law and the universal role of the UN and to strive to rally the international community in fighting the terrorist threat. Maintaining strategic stability needs much attention, especially now that the arms control and non-proliferation regime has been challenged.

Much remains to be done to further advance the peace process in Syria, as well as to find solution to other crises by political and diplomatic means.

Of course, efforts should be stepped up to promote Eurasian integration processes and to expand the external relations of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with an eye to forming Greater Eurasian Partnership.

I am confident that the staff of the Foreign Ministry’s central office and overseas missions will continue to work proactively, with full dedication and creativity in the interest of ensuring Russia’s dynamic development and further strengthening of its standing and influence on the international stage.

I sincerely wish you every success in your work. I wish good health and all the best to our esteemed veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving the Fatherland in the diplomatic field.

VLADIMIR PUTIN


* * *







We have also received several other greetings. In his message, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev noted the contribution of domestic diplomacy to promoting national interests in the international arena. Messages of greetings have been sent from speakers of the Federation Council and the State Duma, heads of parliamentary committees, executive government bodies, regions of the Russian Federation and the business community.

The high appreciation of the ministry’s work is borne out by the fact that in the past year alone 67 of our colleagues have received state awards, certificates of merit or thank-you letters from the President. We have recently done much to enhance the social protection of our employees and veterans. We are well aware of the outstanding problems in the pension system and measures to improve medical and health resort treatment. We will persistently work to resolve these and other problems.

This attention to our activities enhances our commitments to ensuring favourable external conditions for Russia’s sustainable development, the consolidation of its scientific and technical potential and upgrading the living standards of our citizens.

We realise that we have to resolve these tasks in conditions where the world situation continues to degrade. We are seeing persistent efforts to break the system of international security, the foundations of which were based on the results of World War II and recorded in the UN Charter. Key strategic stability agreements – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programme and the INF Treaty are falling apart.

Threats and pressure, disinformation and crude methods of dishonest competition in diverse areas – from the economy to sports – are being used. This often amounts to brazen interference in domestic affairs. The developments in Venezuela are a graphic example and far from the only one. Stubborn attempts are being made to replace international law with some “order based on rules.” These rules are invented based on the principle of political expediency and are being used to justify aggressive actions against those that cherish their sovereignty, try to pursue independent foreign policy and uphold collective ways of resolving international issues based on consensus and a balance of interests.

Russia is one of the main obstacles in the way of world hegemony of a small US-led group of Western states. This explains why we are subjected to verbal attacks and unfriendly actions and a desire to impede our domestic progress and push us to the outskirts of world policy.

This is not the first time that the West has become obsessed with the syndrome of its superiority and anything-goes policy. However, it is worth remembering the lessons of history. There should be no doubt. Attempts to dictate foreign policy decisions to Moscow are doomed to failure. As Yevgeny Primakov noted in October 2014, “Russia has positioned itself as a country that is defending its national interests in a multi-polar world. The United States and its European allies do not like this but such is the objective course of history.”

Our confidence is enhanced by the fact that our views on building inter-state communication based on international law and the UN Charter, the principles of mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests are shared by the overwhelming majority of the members of the international community that are tired of zero-sum games, sanctions and blackmail, and like us, are interested in improving the situation and promoting large-scale and equitable international cooperation.

In consistently implementing the multi-vector foreign policy course approved by President Vladimir Putin, Russian diplomacy is working hard in all areas. Our priorities include the consolidation of neighbourly relations along the entire perimeter of our borders, and promotion of the idea of broad Eurasian integration with the participation of the Asian and European countries. We are productively working in key global organisations, primarily the UN and the G20. We are enhancing cooperation in various formats with our allies and like-minded partners in the EAEU, the CSTO, the CIS, BRICS, the SCO, the RIC and other Asian, African and Latin American countries. We contribute to consolidating the efforts of the world community to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and combat terrorism and drug trafficking.

We continue contributing to the peaceful settlement of numerous crises and conflicts, including Syria where the main terrorist bridgeheads have been routed and Syria’s statehood preserved largely owing to Russia. Now Syria has the following items on its agenda: to reach a stable political settlement based on the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress that was convened in Sochi a bit over a year ago; rebuild the country and create conditions for the return of refugees. Naturally, we will seek the full and consistent implementation of the UN Security Council resolution that unanimously endorsed the Minsk Package of Measures on a Settlement in Ukraine. We will demand that the current Ukrainian authorities fulfil their international commitments on language, education and religious rights and freedoms.

As for relations with the US, the EU and the West as a whole, we are not short on interest in cooperating on any issue but only based on equitable and mutually respectful dialogue rather than ultimatums. Our proposals in this regard are well known, but as they say, “love cannot be forced.” But we are always open to those who are ready to search for solutions to any global challenges based on equality, mutual respect and a balance of interests.

Friends,

The Russian foreign policy service has always been distinguished by its traditions and careful attitude to the glorious pages of the past. Today too, the wealth of the intellectual heritage of our predecessors is a major advantage in our work. This year we will observe the dates that are linked with the lives of outstanding diplomats: the centenary of Andrey Gromyko, Georgy Pushkin, Anatoly Dobrynin, and Oleg Troyanovsky; and 90 years since the birth of Yevgeny Primakov and Yuly Vorontsov. The ministry’s departments and the Veterans Council will provide fitting observances of these memorable dates.

I hope the staff at our central office, territorial representatives and foreign missions will continue to work proactively, creatively, productively and devote all their efforts and energy to serving the homeland. I wish good health and all the best to you and your families.

Happy Diplomats’ Day to you once again.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3510024






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s greetings on Diplomats’ Day, Moscow, February 10, 2019



10 February 2019 - 00:05







Today we will mark Diplomats’ Day. First of all, I would like to extend my heartfelt greetings on the occasion of our professional holiday to all our colleagues who work at the Central Office and on the “foreign policy frontline,” that is, our offices abroad.

This date is associated with the earliest thus far mention of Russia’s first permanent diplomatic service, the Ambassadorial Department, in the year 1549. However, our service is much older than that, of course, because our nation was an active and independent member of interstate relations from time immemorial, signing international treaties and creating unions with other nations.

Foreign service is a profession that requires the best of human qualities, extensive knowledge, as well as the ability to think broadly and to write skilfully. We are proud that the service always had real patriots and talented people with creative ideas. Many of them made an invaluable contribution to the strengthening of the Russian state and went down in the history of Russian culture.

Diplomatic service has never been a plum job. The protection of national interests is often a life-threatening career. On this day we also commemorate our colleagues who lost their lives defending the homeland and its interests. We will never forget them, and we are grateful to them for what they achieved.







Today the personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to build on and to strengthen the glorious traditions of our predecessors, working long hours, often away from their families in countries with adverse weather conditions amid military and political problems. Colleagues, your main responsibility is to implement the country’s foreign policy as approved by President Vladimir Putin and to strengthen its international prestige.

Our success is assured by the traditionally high level of public support for our foreign policy. I can say on behalf of the ministry personnel that in this complicated period of time we will continue to work coherently, showing initiative and doing our very best to ensure a safe and stable future, glory and prosperity for Russia.

In conclusion, I would like to wish the ministry personnel, their families and loved ones, as well as our veterans, good health, prosperity and success in their noble service to the homeland.

Friends, best regards on the occasion of our professional day!




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3510166







The following events are not displayed in the English version.


6 February 2019

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Head of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia N. German - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502579


7 February 2019

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the leader of the political movement "Syria Tomorrow" Ahmad Jarboy - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503301
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Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit?
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(c) Alan Alexander Miln
 
Old February 18th, 2019 #16
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Most personal and non-personal events have not been translated to English.





Personal events:





Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s opening remarks at a news conference at Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, Moscow, February 7, 2019



7 February 2019 - 16:12



Before answering your questions, I would like to give a brief account of the situation surrounding the INF Treaty that we are discussing today and briefly describe the Russian approach.

On February 1, US President Donald Trump announced publicly that the United States would suspend the fulfilment of its commitments under the INF Treaty and begin a withdrawal from the treaty that would be completed in six months if Russia failed to resume verifiable observance of the treaty. With this aim in view, Washington gives us an ultimatum, insisting that we should destroy all 9M729 missiles that were used as the pretext for its claims against us, together with their launchers and auxiliary equipment. The Americas say they no longer consider themselves bound by the commitments under this document, that is, they can openly initiate the development, production and deployment of systems banned under the treaty.

On February 2, our Embassy in Washington, D.C. received a note from the US Department of State with an official notice on the suspension of the INF Treaty by the US and implementation of its right to withdraw from it in accordance with Article XV. To justify its position, the US again referred to alleged Russian violations. Although not a single piece of evidence was presented to support these accusations, the US claimed that its supreme interests were threatened as a result.

In connection with the US’s intentions to discard the INF Treaty, President of Russia Vladimir Putin said on television on February 2 that our response would be symmetrical – both as regards suspension of commitments under the treaty and initiating related research.

The Russian President emphasised that we would not deploy medium- and shorter-range missiles, if we have them, in Europe or other parts of the world as long as similar US weapons are not deployed there.

Regarding arms control in a broader context, President Putin noted in the same speech on February 2 that for many years Russia had been consistently raising the question of holding meaningful talks, but the Americans had blocked our initiatives and continued to dismantle the international security system. In connection with this, the President instructed not to initiate any talks on this matter until our partners are ready to conduct an equitable and meaningful dialogue with us.

In a reply note from the Foreign Ministry that was given to the US Embassy on February 4, we categorically rejected the groundless and pointless assertions that Russia is violating the INF Treaty. At the same time we notified the US Embassy that Russia will suspend its obligations under the treaty unless the United States returns to strict observance of the treaty or until its expiry.

We have stated that Washington has taken no action to eliminate its own violations of the treaty. Thus, starting in 1999, the Americans began illegally using ballistic target-missiles in tests that they described as missile defence tests even though their specifications were similar to medium- and shorter-range missiles. This allows the US to maintain and develop its technological potential while testing the combat use of treaty-prohibited ballistic missiles.

The US is guilty of another violation. Since the early the 2000s the US has been developing and using attack drones that allow it to meet challenges comparable to those assigned to medium- and shorter-range missiles before 1987. Importantly, drones fully fall under the treaty’s definition of “land-based cruise missiles.”

Finally, the US is deploying ground-based Mk-41 multi-purpose launchers in Europe, ostensibly for missile defence. Since 2015 they have been deployed in Romania as part of the Aegis Ashore systems and may soon appear in Poland as well. There are plans to deploy similar systems in Asia, notably in Japan.

Contrary to the INF Treaty, these systems make the combat use of Tomahawk medium-range land-based cruise missiles and other attack weapons possible. This is a direct violation of the treaty.

Thus, Washington has been systematically tearing down the INF Treaty for quite some time. The end of the treaty, that could take place due to the US position, on August 2, will deal a devastating blow to the arms control system that took decades to establish. Deplorable and far-reaching negative consequences will ensue for the entire system of international security and strategic stability, above all, in Europe. The United States will be fully responsible for this.

Russia has done all it could to save the treaty. We have repeatedly tried to engage the Americans in a professional discussion and have suggested specific initiatives on a search for solutions to settle mutual grievances. Displaying goodwill, Russia took unprecedented transparency measures beyond the treaty’s requirements. For example, on January 23, the Russian 9M729 missile was on display in Patriot Park for foreign military attachés and a related briefing was organised.

However, all of our efforts have been ignored or blocked by the US. Regrettably, the aim was not at all to preserve the INF Treaty but to discard its restrictions on the buildup of US missile potential.

Needless to say, new threats created by Washington will compel us to take exhaustive measures on ensuring our own security. However, if the United States can still revise its destructive policy and return to the observance of the INF Treaty, Russia will be open to meaningful dialogue on the treaty and all other strategic stability issues based on mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503217






4 February 2019

Speech of A. Lukashevich at a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in response to the reports of the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for Ukraine and in the Contact Group M. Saidik and the Head of the OSCE SMM in Ukraine E. Apakan, Vienna, February 1, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3499848

Meeting of S. Ryabkov with the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba in the Russian Federation H. Penalver Portal - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3500002

Meeting of A. Grushko with the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Y. Vedrin - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3500129


5 February 2019

Working visit of M. Bogdanov to Iraq - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3501523

M. Zakharova's comment on the increasing political persecution in Lithuania - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3501569


6 February 2019

Meeting of S. Ryabkov with the Ambassador of Nicaragua in Moscow A. Torres Mehia - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502130

Meeting of S. Ryabkov with Brazilian Ambassador to Russia T. da Silva Nunes - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502140

Meeting of V. Titov with the delegation of the Finnish Parliament's International Affairs Committee - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502327

Meeting of S. Vershinin with the Ambassador of France in Moscow S. Berman - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502531

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Rwanda in Moscow Zhanna d'Arc Mujamajaria - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502559

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the executive director of the international NGO Sheikh Group S. Sheikh - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502569

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Chairman of the Syrian People’s Party, Sheikh N. Al-Mulhim, and the General Secretary of the Syrian National Youth Party for Creation and Change B. Ibrahim - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3502599


7 February 2019

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Egypt in Moscow I. Nasr - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503066


8 February 2019

Interview of V. Titov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, to the newspaper “Arguments and Facts”, published on February 6, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3505539

Interview of V. Titov to the newspaper "Izvestia", published on February 8, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3505550

Speech by A. Lukashevich at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the situation in Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk agreements, Vienna, February 7, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3505611

Speech by A. Lukashevich at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the violation by Ukraine of OSCE commitments in the context of the presidential elections on March 31, 2019, Vienna, February 7, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3505626

Meeting of G. Karasin with Armenian Ambassador to Moscow V. Toganyan - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3508440

Interview of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia S. Vershinin to Kommersant newspaper, Rossiya Segodnya Information Agency and TASS news agency, February 8, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3510004







Non-personal events:





Comment by the Information and Press Department on the NATO Council statement on the INF Treaty developments



4 February 2019 - 11:15



We have read the NATO Council statement of February 1, 2019 and noted that it was released much earlier than we received a formal notification from the United States about suspending its participation in the 1987 Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles and beginning the exit procedure.

Such haste is no surprise for Russia. This is yet another demonstration of the fact that NATO has fully blended with Washington’s line aimed at the final scrapping of the arms control system painstakingly built over many years.

The collapse of the INF Treaty will have grave and far-reaching consequences for the entire European security architecture NATO is allegedly deeply concerned about – and naturally, for the US allies in Europe.

The NATO Council statement lacks elementary logic: the United States is withdrawing from the Treaty, but NATO is going to “contain” Russia. As a reminder, in recent years, it was Moscow that was persistently and consistently trying to lead the US to a specific professional conversation so as to strengthen the viability of the INF and preserve its guiding role for strategic stability.

Russia has initiated several briefings and other transparency measures going far beyond its obligations under the Treaty. The situation around the INF Treaty was discussed on our proposal at a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council (RNC) on October 31, 2018. And on January 25, 2019 we organised a special briefing at the RNC on the matter at the Deputy Foreign Minister level.

Unfortunately, NATO countries were not ready for meaningful dialogue on the Mk-41 launchers deployed in Romania, which will be extended to Poland next year in violation of the provisions of the INF. These launchers are integrated into the NATO missile defence system, so the alliance is also directly responsible for the undermining of the Treaty.

If the US’ European allies are really interested in maintaining effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, they should not blindly follow the course of American policy aimed at achieving military superiority, but should be guided by fundamental security interests and prevent Europe from being again turned into an arena of confrontation that will become inevitable if the United States begins to deploy this class of missiles.

Russia will further stick to this responsible approach.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3499603






Comment by the Information and Press Department on the US officials’ continuing pressure on Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York



7 February 2019 - 19:20



The United States continues to violate its obligations as a state where the United Nations’ main institutions are based. In addition to the widely common practice of non-granting visas to Russian diplomats travelling on long and short business trips to Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, as well as the cancellation of already issued visas, there is another irritant that surfaced recently.

Since January 2019, Americans introduced a new procedure for obtaining a driver’s license and registering personal vehicles for employees of the mission’s administrative and technical division. From now on, those employees will have to obtain their driver’s licenses not via the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) but via the authorities of the state. The procedure will be the same for ordinary local residents and for the employees of the administrative and technical division. To obtain a driver’s license, they will most likely have to take a test which consists of several stages, and pay a fee. This procedure will create difficulties for the Permanent Mission by complicating the not-so-easy system of obtaining driver’s licenses. Moreover, Americans are seeking to extend this practice to Russian professional drivers working at the mission (since February 2018, the Americans have not issued a single bus driver’s license). Considering the distance of the residences from the Permanent Mission’s office in Manhattan, this fact can make the mission’s everyday operations significantly more difficult.

This situation hinders the activities of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN, which contradicts the United States’ obligation to ensure the normal work of all members of the United Nations Organisation.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503275






Statement by the Foreign Ministry of Russia



8 February 2019 - 15:08



The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has received an official notification from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on the refusal to accredit citizens of the Russian Federation who, as long-term observers, were supposed to arrive in the country soon to start working as part of the ODIHR monitoring mission for the presidential election in Ukraine.

In principle, such a decision was expected amid the constant statements by Ukrainian high-ranking officials, as well as the actions of the Verkhovna Rada to legislate a ban on Russians taking part in monitoring any elections in Ukraine.

However, there was hope that reason would prevail in Kiev. Our foreign partners pointed out the anti-democratic nature of these steps by the Ukrainian authorities, and the ODIHR senior officials criticised this step as well. Unfortunately, the expectations that Ukraine’s politicians would show some common sense failed to materialise again.

We regard Ukraine’s refusal to accredit Russian observers as a gross violation of international obligations in the sphere of generally accepted electoral procedures. Thus, significant damage has been done to the ODIHR, which positions itself as a keeper of the gold standard of electoral monitoring principles. The Kiev authorities have, in fact, wiped their feet on these standards having shown once again an utter disregard for international law and their own obligations.

Under these circumstances, Russia, to ensure the safety of its representatives in the ODIHR observation mission, has chosen not to send them to Ukraine.

The absence of Russian observers in international monitoring missions, as well as depriving millions of Ukrainian citizens residing in Russia of the opportunity to vote in Russia during the presidential elections in Ukraine, calls into question the transparency and objectivity of the outcome of the forthcoming vote.

We call on our partners, primarily from among the Western mentors of Kiev in matters of democracy, to provide a principled assessment of the Ukrainian authorities’ actions and demand that they return to the international legal field.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3508588






4 February 2019

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the cancellation of the Fifth meeting of the heads of Russian and German educational and research organizations in Kazan - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3499981

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the meeting in Moscow of representatives of the leading political forces of Afghanistan under the auspices of the Afghan diaspora - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3500278


7 February 2019

On the commencement of work of the Joint Committee of the Russian-Georgian Agreement of 2011 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503227

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the meeting in Moscow of representatives of the leading political forces of Afghanistan - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503237

On the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Government of the Central African Republic and the main armed groups operating in the territory of this country - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503421

On the second humanitarian convoy to the IDP "Rukban" camp in Syria - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503431


10 February 2019

On the return from Iraq to the homeland of the second group of minors of Russian citizens - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3510191
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Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit?
Piglet said that the best place would be somewhere where a Heffalump was, just before he fell into it, only about a foot farther on.
(c) Alan Alexander Miln
 
Old February 19th, 2019 #17
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Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, February 7, 2019



7 February 2019 - 20:36







Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Foreign Minister of Finland Timo Soini

On February 11-12, Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini will visit Russia at Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s invitation. The ministers will hold talks in Moscow on February 12.

The ministers will have an open and engaged discussion of important issues of the bilateral and regional agenda as is customary for the meetings between Sergey Lavrov and Timo Soini. They will exchange views on international developments, including through the lens of current Finnish presidency in the Arctic Council and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, as well as Finland's upcoming EU presidency in the second half of this year.



The third Moscow intra-Palestinian meeting

On February 11-13, the third meeting of representatives of all major Palestinian political organisations will take place in Moscow on the platform of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The delegations will be provided with favourable environment so that they can directly, constructively and without external interference discuss all issues of interest and problems that stand in the way of restoring unity in the Palestinian ranks.

We believe this event is important and timely, especially given the recent aggravation of the disputes between the main Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas.

According to established practice, representatives of Palestinian parties and movements participating in the Moscow meeting will be received by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Having put forward a proposal for holding an inclusive intra-Palestinian meeting in Moscow, Russia was guided by its principled position on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which cannot be achieved without Palestinian national unity on the well-known political platform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho Lesego Makgothi

On February 12-14, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho Lesego Makgothi will visit Russia on a working visit, the first such visit in the entire history of bilateral relations.

Talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho Lesego Makgothi are scheduled to be held in Sochi on February 13. It is planned to discuss prospects for cooperation between Moscow and Maseru, including joint development of Lesotho’s natural resources, introduction of advanced Russian technology in that country in various areas, and training Lesotho professionals in the universities of our country. There will also be an exchange of views on important issues of the global and regional agenda, including Russia's participation in international efforts to resolve conflicts and crises in Africa and to ensure sustainable socioeconomic development of the continent.



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to participate in the Munich Security Conference

On February 15-16, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as head of the Russian delegation, will take part in the 55th meeting of the Munich Security Conference.

According to the organisers, about 40 heads of state and government will get together in Munich this time.

The participants of plenary sessions, as well as numerous round tables convened on the sidelines of the forum, most of which will be attended by Russia’s representatives, will comprehensively review security issues in regions such as the Middle East, the Arctic, the Balkans and the Black Sea, as well as matters of energy and cyber security, disarmament and arms control, global trade, cooperation in healthcare and environment, and much more.

In his remarks, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov plans to outline Russia's principled approaches to building cooperation within a wide region from Greater Europe to Greater Eurasia, as well as to ensuring international security and global stability.

The conference traditionally provides ample opportunities for organising informal political contacts on its sidelines. In particular, bilateral meetings between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and a number of foreign representatives, including Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas, as well as their joint participation in a working breakfast with business leaders of Russia and Germany, are being coordinated.



Syria update

Idlib Province remains the main hotbed of tensions and violence. The tune there is set by terrorist groups. Militants of Al-Nusra’s Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance have not discontinued their armed raids against the Syrian armed forces. For example, on the night of February 4-5, the terrorists conducted a number of offensive operations against government troops in the area of Aleppo. Radicals are also staging regular provocations in the north of Hama Province. So, there are no grounds to speak about the reduction of ceasefire violations by these criminal groups. During the past week alone, Russia recorded 35 similar cases. Indicatively, the extremists are not only shelling neighboring districts but are also planning full-scale offensive operations. According to incoming reports, in late January Al-Nusra urged its so-called allies operating in Idlib, notably, Hurras al-Deen and the Turkestan Islamic Party, to begin joint preparations for a potential start of a large-scale military operation.

Obviously, the ultimate goal of the terrorists is to establish control over the entire Idlib de-escalation zone. According to recent reports, they are planning to establish a joint operations headquarters with centralised command. Field commanders of all illegal armed units operating in the zone are supposed to join the headquarters.

Moreover, jihadists continue stockpiling toxic chemicals along the entire line of contact with the Syrian armed forces. We noted media reports that militants of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham recently delivered several tanks with chlorine from Jisr ash-Shugur to Khan Shaykhun in the south of Idlib Province. It is reported that in transporting toxic chemicals the terrorists again relied on the help of the notorious White Helmets, whose activists kindly provided their ambulances this time. We would like to emphasise again that provocations involving chemical weapons are unacceptable. They are aimed at giving the green light to the enemies of Damascus from among Western countries to carry out yet another act of aggression against the legitimate Syrian authorities. We appeal to the patrons and sponsors of the White Helmets to give up such dangerous and destructive plans.

Considering the very complicated situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, we hope that our Turkish partners will step up their efforts so as to eventually change the situation and fully implement their commitments under the Sochi agreements on Idlib of September 17, 2018, including the formation of a demilitarised zone.

Russia has continued its vigorous political and diplomatic efforts to launch a sustainable political settlement process. Our high-level representatives visited Israel, Palestine, Turkey and Iran as part of an interdepartmental delegation. During consultations they focused on the need to maintain the ceasefire, prepare for the work of the Constitutional Committee and provide humanitarian relief for Syrian civilians.

On February 14, Sochi will host the fourth regular summit in the Astana format. The Russian delegation will include Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. We do not rule out contacts between the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey on the sidelines of this event, during which they may discuss in more detail the full range of issues related to the Syrian settlement process as a follow-up to the agreements reached by the leaders of the Astana format countries.

As for Syrians returning to their places of permanent residence, their number is growing with every day. I would like to quote statistics again because figures graphically illustrate the positive dynamics. Over 125,000 people have returned home since July 2018. We are sure that this number will continue to increase because tentatively over 1,700,000 people expressed their desire to come home. We are going to continue taking coordinated measures with the Syrian authorities and other interested parties to provide aid for the returning Syrians.



Our stand on the dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus

Moscow has always considered and continues to consider Kurds as an integral part of the Syrian nation. Therefore, we firmly support the start of dialogue between the Kurds and the Syrian government in Damascus. We are confident that this process will serve the interests of ensuring the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. We also see Washington’s declared intention to withdraw US troops from the country through this prism.

Once again, I would like to emphasise that Moscow believes that a long-term political settlement of the crisis in Syria requires consideration of the interests of all ethnic and religious groups of Syrian society, including the Kurds. We are confident that the Syrians themselves must find solution to all the challenges they face without pressure and outside interference. In this regard, we strongly reject any attempts to split Syrian society and the country on ethnic or religious grounds.



New revelations regarding the Netherlands’ support of Syrian terrorist groups

In September 2018, we already addressed the issue of the Dutch government rendering Syrian terrorist groups so-called non-lethal aid which appeared to have been used by the militants in purposes which were anything but peaceful.

The topic was reopened in Netherlands as Dutch journalists came out with new revelations which indicate that at least five Islamic organisations registered in the Netherlands as NGOs, with the connivance of the Dutch government, rendered alleged “humanitarian aid” to Syrian groups which are listed nationally and internationally as terrorist organisations (including ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham). These so-called “charity organisations” not only delivered “humanitarian cargoes” to Syria (apparently designed for military use) but also collected “donations for charitable needs”, meaning support for terrorists. As an evidence, the journalists showed footage from an Al-Nusra camp where one of the terrorists is seen giving an interview as he calls for the killing of Syrian army soldiers against the background of an ambulance with a Dutch license plate, which had been allegedly delivered by the Netherlands for a hospital in Aleppo.

The damning evidence collected by the journalists was submitted to the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service, and the Syria-related activity of the aforementioned five NGOs was suspended. However, none of them has been banned as of yet, and they all are set to resume their activity in Syria at the earliest possibility. Experienced lawyers came to their defence.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok, who was called to account by parliament deputies, had to explain again the Hague’s aid to Syrian terrorists. According to him, the aid was meant exclusively for “moderate” groups but it fell into the “wrong hands” “by mistake.” Meanwhile, uncomfortable questions remain unanswered, which could have revealed the unsavoury role of the Dutch authorities in supporting terrorists, by referring to the article in the country’s constitution which allows executive authorities not to disclose information about participation in armed conflicts if it runs contrary to national security interests.

The new evidence revealed by the journalists is further confirmation that the Netherlands renders aid to Syrian terrorist groups, albeit via national NGOs. Of particular importance is the response of the government officials who prefer to cite “mistakes” and hide behind some sort of confidentiality rather than conduct a proper investigation of the exposed facts and take effective steps to guarantee that it doesn't happen again.



Western powers' delay in resettling White Helmets activists from Jordan

We have to again address the situation around the activists of the pseudo humanitarian White Helmets organisation, who were urgently evacuated from Syria in the summer of 2018 and were temporarily settled in Jordan. The Jordanian authorities offered their land to those people exclusively out of humanitarian concerns. We all remember perfectly well how their Western patrons adamantly claimed that they would send them to European countries and Canada within several months. Meanwhile, around 40 such pseudo humanitarian workers including their family members still remain in Jordan which accepted over 420 White Helmets activists. It is interesting to note that Europeans are in no rush to deal with their resettlement from Jordan and are dragging it out any way they can. It looks more like passing the buck or trying to get some compensation for agreeing to accommodate them in the country. Why is this being done?

The answer is obvious, in our view. The West has quite justifiable concerns that these pseudo humanitarian workers present a potential terrorist threat and are unlikely to sever their former ties with terrorist organisations. There is irrefutable evidence that there are regular Al-Nusra militants among them in addition to terrorist accomplices. Numerous examples of that were given in an investigation by the Russian NGO Foundation for the Study of Democracy presented at the UN headquarters in New York on December 20, 2018.

We regret to state that some countries persist in attempting to keep afloat the White Helmets' activities in Syria. Quite recently (on February 4) the Qatar Fund for Development allocated $2 million for that purpose. And on the following day the media carried reports the White Helmets are planning yet another provocation against Syrian civilians involving the use of chemical weapons in the area of Khan-Shaykhun.

All this is, of course, a cause of grave concern with us.



Report released by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy “The White Helmets: Terrorists Accomplices and Sources of Misinformation”

This investigation was done to reveal the true nature of the White Helmets’ activities in Syria. Let me stress again that Russia has an official position on this, which is communicated via official channels, and then there is work by independent journalists, experts and public activists who are trying to dig up the truth and report the real facts about the White Helmets, their collaboration with terrorists, and the crimes they have committed.

Recently the Russian Foundation for the Study of Democracy completed the full text of the report "The White Helmets: Terrorists Accomplices and Sources of Misinformation.”

The results of the investigation were presented by the Foundation’s director Maxim Grigoryev at an event organised by Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York in conjunction with Syrian representatives on December 20, 2018.

I would like to reiterate that it is neither a collection of hypotheses nor does it represent Russia’s official position. These are materials which the Foundation’s representatives managed to find and present to the public.

The report is based on materials collected by the Foundation’s staff during their visit to Syria in October-November 2018. They include numerous interviews with formers White Helmets activists, former terrorists and eye-witnesses of the crimes committed by the White Helmets.

The evidence presented by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy testifies to this pseudo humanitarian organisation's solid ties to terrorist organisations, pillaging and marauding by members of the White Helmets, takeovers of schools, kindergartens and out-patient clinics terminating their activities, as well as fire stations, shops and private residences. There are confirmed cases of the White Helmets’ personal participation in fake chemical attacks, artillery and air strikes, killings of civilians, including children, for organ harvesting. The most horrendous details emerge of the crimes committed by the White Helmets. It appears to have been a side business for those affiliated with that organisation.

I would to like to emphasise that it is an organisation which is openly funded by a number of countries, in particular, as the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN recently confessed, by the nation she represents.

The Russian Foreign Ministry is intent on using the evidence presented in the investigation. This report is far from being the final word in the investigation, but rather opens up a whole series of investigations and analyses of what the White Helmets really were and the result of their crimes.

We can offer a copy of the report to those interested.

Let me reiterate that we are not saying the report is perfect. We stress that it does not represent the official position of the Russian Foreign Ministry but rather is the work of independent experts.



Venezuela update

Developments in and around Venezuela remain extremely worrying. Washington continues to signal the possibility of overthrowing the legitimate government by force, including through direct military intervention. The White House has made this perfectly plain. It is worth recalling that statements of this kind made by US officials constitute an outright violation of Article 2 Par. 4 of the UN Charter, whereby all UN member countries shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force.

Against this backdrop, promises of amnesty to military personnel take on an increasingly provocative tone, since they are designed to sow discord in the army. The question is: amnesty for what? If people have not committed any offences, why would they need amnesty? But there is an answer to this seemingly absurd question: amnesty for breaking the military oath. Does this mean that they are making direct calls to break the oath promising that this crime will go unpunished? What a horrendous temptation. In legal terms, under the Criminal Code this constitutes incitement and complicity in committing a crime. However amnesty is only the beginning. Washington went as far as to directly threaten to impose sanctions on the Venezuelan military who remain true to the legitimate government. This is a new take on the carrot and stick concept: they highlight the possible punishment, while leaving open the possibility of a reward.

We took note of the proactive stance adopted by the Venezuelan opposition whose activists seek to create an illusion of a dual power and are deploying an alternative network of diplomatic agents, although it is not clear whom these people represent. It goes without saying that these actions are totally at odds with the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. By the way, this is evidenced by inconsistencies in various countries regarding their status when obtaining “accreditation.”

The “angry young Europeans” once again excelled in their willingness to vilify Russia. Some Polish observers suggested that “Venezuela could become a place where Russia will use the so-called Syrian scenario, which includes plunging the country into chaos and complicating US foreign policy.” This is what historian and political researcher Jerzy Targalski said in an interview with Polskie Radio. It is quite possible that some day we will learn from reports that it was Russia that invented and carried out the Arab Spring, and that it was Russian know-how. Why not? Everything is heading in that direction. It has to be recalled who the true author is of the Syrian gamble, and what it cost the country and the region. It would be interesting to know whether the hotheads in Caracas are ready to follow in the footsteps of countries where the scenario developed by the US and the West was tried and tested. Every time it all started with calls for restoring democracy and ended with the need to find a way to upgrade statehood on a territory that could no longer be called a country anymore.

I would like to mention a fact that was picked up by some Western media after our previous briefing. I am referring to the possible environmental consequences from US sanctions against state-owned PDVSA, the backbone of the Venezuelan economy. The Wall Street Journal reported that with oil exports declining storage facilities in the country are filling up, and tankers loaded with oil are staying put in the ports, which, according to oil union leader Luis Hernández, is an “absolute disaster.” With the sanctions in place, all that is left for the Venezuelan oil industry is to accumulate oil reserves. What will come out of this? Apart from environmental threats, this could lead to fuel shortages at the pumps, lack of fuel for delivering food and new problems for the economy, as well as everyday life of ordinary Venezuelans whom Washington cares so much about. Why impose sanctions that only make things worse?

Let me now turn to the question of international humanitarian aid that Caracas is under pressure to accept. This is as cynical as it can get: imposing sanctions that block the Venezuelan economy, on the one hand, while offering assistance, on the other hand.

According to media reports, Cúcuta, a city in a region neighbouring Venezuela, was recently visited by high-ranking US military officers, and a single command post of the so-called humanitarian operation is being deployed there. But if we call a spade a spade, this is a command post for a humanitarian intervention. Judging by the activity by the US military delegations that have literally flooded the region lately, they are working out the details of conducting a regime change by force in Venezuela, including the logistics support.

What about democracy? Who would believe this? Why do Western media fail to see the obvious? This is not a question of democracy. No one is trying to restore it. All they are trying to do is achieve a regime change in Venezuela. They are saying that life is bad for Venezuelans under this rule. If this is so, do not impose sanctions. Let this country live and prosper, and overcome the challenges it faces on its own without making them worse.

By the way, the Santo Domingo International Airport is located not far from this community but on the Venezuelan side of the border. It has one of the longest runways in the country that is 3,200 metres long, which means that any aircraft can land there.

Looking at all these facts inevitably leads to the conclusion that Washington decided to use force, and all the rest is mere camouflage. It seems that the hawks did not learn anything from the past. They are guided by their hunting instincts without thinking about their potential victims who unfortunately are fooled into believing the sweet talk and promises. Are countries that chose to play into Washington’s hand, including a number of Latin American countries, ready to assume responsibility for complicity in these undertakings? In any way, the fact that a hotbed of tension of this scale formed in the region will have unprecedented and disastrous consequences for its people.

That being said, there must be a chance for a positive resolution. An international conference on Venezuela opens today in Montevideo, bringing together Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as EU representatives. This is by far not the first attempt to find a political solution in this country, and maybe not the last one. Mexico, Uruguay and CARICOM have presented their approaches. We view this as an important step toward opening up space for dialogue and enabling regional countries to play a more prominent role in resolving the problem. We hope that proactive engagement of high representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean, and their unbiased and constructive attitude will promote a balanced vision at the Montevideo conference enabling its participants to discuss important objectives that go beyond the positions of the European representatives at the meeting who declared in advance their support to one of the sides in the intra-Venezuelan political conflict.

We welcome all international efforts to promote a peaceful settlement in Venezuela based on the country’s constitution and laws. We remain committed to facilitating this process.



Assessing US-Taliban talks

In late January, Doha hosted a regular round of talks between US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives. As is claimed, its main result was a preliminary agreement on a US military pullout from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban’s guarantee that it would not allow international terrorist groups, including ISIS and Al Qaeda, to use Afghan territory against the US and its allies.

As we have stated earlier, Russia regards Washington’s intention to withdraw its military contingent from Afghanistan as a step in the right direction, one capable of precipitating the beginning of a peace process in that country. It was not accidental that in the wake of the said talks in the Qatari capital, members of the Afghan diaspora from Russia, the CIS, Europe and Asia, inspired by the prospect of peace talks, organised a Moscow meeting between leaders of Afghanistan’s leading political parties and the Taliban.

But the preliminary agreements that were reached in Doha are yet to be specified. It is still unclear whether the US will be satisfied with the Taliban’s promise to prevent international terrorists from using Afghan territory or it will put forward additional conditions; whether the US will agree to release Taliban members from prisons; whether the Taliban itself will agree to hold talks with the Kabul government at Washington’s insistence; and what number of its servicemen and military facilities the US would like to leave in Afghanistan following peace agreements with the Taliban. These are the key and most difficult matters that will have to be addressed to enable the US-Taliban dialogue to continue. Therefore, it would be premature to say that the final agreements and peace in Afghanistan are just round the corner. So far, we have received no answers to the key questions.

We are confident that genuine peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved based on a broad inter-Afghan consensus with support from leading outside players concerned with an Afghan settlement, primarily regional and neighbouring states.



Meeting of Afghanistan’s leading political forces under the aegis of the Afghan diasporas

On February 5 and 6, Moscow hosted a meeting of the leaders of Afghanistan’s foremost political parties and Taliban representatives, held under the aegis of the Afghan diasporas from Russia, the CIS, and a number of countries of Europe and Asia. The meeting participants discussed prospects for establishing a broad-based intra-Afghan platform to launch a peace process, including with an eye to developing modalities of a post-conflict system in Afghanistan.

The Moscow meeting has shown that, given Washington’s declared intention to withdraw many of its troops from Afghanistan, the Afghan public are preparing for a new stage in the life of their country, where Afghans themselves should play the key role in dealing with its problems. The discussions at the meeting confirmed that the respected Afghan politicians were prepared to take into account the interests of all ethnic and religious groups, without which it is hardly possible to establish real peace in Afghanistan.

Russia welcomes the results of this intra-Afghan dialogue, which was aimed at making the upcoming peace process in Afghanistan maximally inclusive and involving in it all social and political forces in the country, including the armed opposition. The event was a graphic embodiment of the principle of “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” conflict settlement dialogue, which was widely acclaimed by the world community.

We are confident that there is no alternative to this path of achieving genuine peace and turning Afghanistan into an independent, self-reliant and prosperous state, which will no longer be a source of terrorist threats.



Provocative policy of Kosovo’s “Prime Minister”

The well-known ringleader of Kosovo Albanian militants Ramush Haradinaj, now serving as “Prime Minister” of Kosovo, continues his provocative policy aiming to undermine stability and security in the Balkan region. In November 2018, he ordered the introduction of 100-percent customs duties on goods from central Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These duties made it much harder to deliver goods to Kosovo’s Serbs. This measure obviously shows the continuing policy of anti-Serb ethnic cleansing campaigns and driving the Serbian population out of Kosovo. In addition, Haradinaj said on February 6 that, from now on, he refuses to deal with the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which, as he claims, voices biased views regarding Kosovo.

Indicatively, the European Union, mandated by the UN to mediate the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, cannot and does not want to do anything about this. No one in Kosovo heeds any statements from Brussels. Perhaps these statements are not as insistent as Brussels can be in certain other cases. In reality, nothing is being done, except statements, with Kosovo leaders ignoring the European Union’s position.

Against this backdrop, one should note the responsible and well-thought-out position of Belgrade, which underscores its readiness to resume dialogue when the so-called Prime Minister of Kosovo revokes his unacceptable decisions. Serbia has not taken any retaliatory measures so far.

One gets the impression that the sponsors of Kosovo’s independence and the “champions of democracy” in the Balkan region are no longer able to influence the situation in any way. At the same time, the situation in Kosovo continues to deteriorate, and inter-ethnic tensions are becoming more pronounced. This is a matter of statistics, rather than a political opinion.

We believe that the UN Security Council should systematically focus on the situation in Kosovo.



Protocol on admitting Skopje into NATO signed

On February 6, a protocol on admitting Skopje into NATO was signed in Brussels in the presence of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov.

The euphoria of our Western colleagues in this connection proves that, by promoting the Prespa Agreement, they were not guided by a wish to help resolve the neglected regional problem. They pursued an entirely different goal, that is, to incorporate another Balkan country into NATO as quickly as possible and at any price, including through blackmail and bribery.

Yesterday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO keeps one billion people secure. Whom do they want to seek the people of Macedonia secure from? The “Kosovo Army” being recruited from former Albanian militants is the only serious military force destabilising the region. We don’t see any other security threats. In this connection, we would like to ask: will NATO really fight those whom it had trained and armed once again? We have already seen similar developments in Middle East and North African countries. First, they armed local militants and terrorists, and then they fought them. First, they created favourable conditions for the appearance of terrorists in areas where there had never been any terrorists; then they spent billions and tried hard to prevent the terrorist threat from spreading in the region and all over the world. I am not even talking about refugees, migration and the changing global landscape.

It is hard to say what real benefits Skopje will obtain from joining NATO, but it will certainly have to pay for NATO’s patronage. We know the prices since they have been made public by Washington. Macedonia will have to pay by increasing its defence spending and by taking part in military preparations and operations that have nothing to do with the interests of the people of Macedonia; moreover, it will be unable to conduct a truly sovereign foreign policy.



Upcoming presidential election in Ukraine

We received a message before the briefing that Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada passed a bill that prohibits Russian observers from the election. This is yet another step on the way to Ukraine’s “true democracy,” we all understand it very well.

I would like to point out that there have been statements and calls on behalf of Brussels, even from Washington – US Special Representative Kurt Volker wrote that it would be fine if Russians took part in monitoring the election. However, the Verkhovna Rada decided otherwise.

Once again, this is a “triumph” of democracy, step by step.



Kiev’s continuing attempts to falsify history

Official Kiev continues its committed policy of falsifying chapters of the Great Patriotic War history.

It was reported the other day that the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance posted online a board game called “Ukrainian Insurgent Army: A Response of Unbroken People.” For independent players at home, there is a playing field and cards that depict ‘enemies’ of the Banderovites: Soviet soldiers, partisans and Nazi invaders.

The game is supplied with an e-book on the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army which contains, among other things, biographies of Yevhen Konovalets, Stepan Bandera and Andriy Melnyk. The book plays with the threadbare claim that the Banderovites allegedly fought for an independent Ukrainian state against both Soviet soldiers and German invaders who the authors basically equalise. The fact that the so-called Ukrainian liberating movement closely cooperated with the Nazis and was responsible for bloody crimes against civilians is, of course, omitted from the book.

Obviously, promoting such extremist games is nothing but another insult against not only Great Patriotic War veterans who saved Ukraine and Europe from the brown plague but also against the overwhelming majority of the Ukrainians who cherish the memory of their ancestors’ heroic deeds. Kiev officials’ ardent propaganda of clearly neo-Nazi initiatives is aimed at deliberately inciting inter-ethnic hatred, conniving the nationalist and chauvinistic ideology and many other extremist ideas.

Once again, we would like to draw the attention of our Western partners (who, if truth be told, shape Kiev’s political agenda), the OSCE and relevant human rights bodies who must not ignore the multiplying facts of glorifying the Nazis’ henchmen and must duly respond to the dangerous cases of historical revisionism, xenophobia and nationalism that are surging through today’s Ukraine with direct approval of the Kiev regime.



Anti-Russian rhetoric during the election campaign in Moldova

The parliamentary election in Moldova is to take place on February 24, but the already started election campaign is noteworthy due to some Moldovan politicians’ frequent public attacks on Russia. Our country is being accused of interfering in the election process and attempting to influence the voting results. At the same time, the individuals voicing such insinuations, most of whom have been in power in Chisinau for the past several years, do not deign to give any proof and stick to the traditional scheme Washington and other Western countries use.

We categorically deny such speculations. Russia has never had any intention to influence the election processes in Moldova. We presume that the upcoming election must be held in strict accordance with the common standards of democratic elections, and will be transparent and fair.



Increase in NATO submarines’ port calls in Norway

As you know, Russian submarines traverse the waters of Northern Europe and can be seen here and there. As soon as any domestic problem needs to be solved, or somebody wants to stir the pot in Northern European affairs, they turn to the issue of Russian submarines. The Russian Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry comment on this news and try to prove that all of them are fake. After that refutations are published in small print.

We noticed publications by the Norwegian media about a three-fold increase in allied nuclear submarine port calls in the Norwegian waters in the past ten years. In 2018 alone, NATO submarines passed through Norwegian waters 27 times.

In order to justify this, fake news about the alleged Russian threat is being spread, and as a result, the authorities are urged to take up arms and citizens are told to purchase iodine-containing medicines to protect themselves from nuclear radiation.

At the same time, we are witnessing an increased number of cases when Norway itself takes part in the implementation of NATO’s plans to boost its presence in the Arctic region. In 2019, they will include assistance in building infrastructure for submarine maintenance in the North Atlantic. In particular, a special port will be equipped to admit nuclear submarines near Tromso, Norway.

In spite of the historical traditions of neighbourly relations and cooperation in the Arctic region, Oslo continues to escalate tensions and increase the risks of military activity. Such activity will not go unnoticed and the Russian Federation will take all the necessary measures to ensure its security.



Russian-language education in Estonia

We are deeply concerned about the recent developments with Russian-language education in Estonia.

After a “successful” eradication of the Russian language in university education, the country has shown that it is ready to make a full transition to Estonian-language secondary education, which is disguised as the idea of an “integrated school” where Russian and Estonian students would study in the Estonian language together.

The media is conducting a campaign to persuade the public that the integrated system will be “useful, competitive and optimal.” Russian-language school principals are being manipulated, while disloyal ones are forced to quit their jobs, as it happened in a gymnasium in Kohtla-Jarve, which is mostly a Russian-speaking city.

What we find particularly offensive is the cynical statements by Estonian politicians that these changes are being made in the interests and even at the request of Russian-speaking students and their parents.

It is obvious, however, that such notorious plans disguised as good intentions have nothing in common with protecting the interests of the Russian-speaking community.

I would like to point out that all countries should decide for themselves on how to shape their education policy. However, there are also international obligations, in particular within the OSCE and the EU, which directly regulate the states’ obligations towards national minorities that use a language common for a given area.

We are so often reminded about these international obligations that we cannot forget about them.

We urge relevant international structures, including the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier to turn their attention to these discriminative plans and evaluate them accordingly.



Transfer of mobile express diagnostics microbiology lab to the Republic of Guinea

Very soon, the Federal Supervision Service for Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) plans to donate a microbiology lab based on a GAZ all-wheel-drive vehicle to Guinea. The lab can be used for autonomous laboratory tests of environmental samples and clinical material for speedy diagnostics in the conditions of epidemics, in remote and hard-to-access areas that are not covered by stationary lab networks, and in the areas of emergencies. The laboratory can be employed as a mobile station for sanitary and epidemiological control. It allows working with pathogenic biological agents of bacterial and viral nature while complying with all biological security requirements. The laboratory has the capacity to conduct 30 to 400 tests daily using various diagnostic methods.

Russia and Guinea have developed cooperation on preventing infectious diseases since 2014, when Russian experts assisted Guinea in eliminating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In 2017, Rospotrebnadzor opened a Russian-Guinean research centre for epidemiology and infectious disease prevention in Kindia. Between 2014 and 2018, specialists from Rospotrebnadzor’s research organisations who worked on rotation in the Republic of Guinea collected over 12,000 samples of biological material, conducted over 120,000 clinical tests, including 50,000 field tests. They carry out expeditions to various prefectures of Guinea to study the epidemiology of infectious diseases.

We hope that this equipment will serve to improve Guinea’s healthcare system and will be another contribution by Russia in the struggle against dangerous infections in Guinea and all of West Africa, and an important step towards further expanding mutually beneficial Russia-Guinea links.



Update on the Russian media in Germany

During the previous briefing, we discussed at length the problem of Russian media in Germany and pointed to the signs of a large-scale campaign to discredit Russian-language media, including by the German press.

We provided specific examples of how Russian and Russian-language media are surrounded by the atmosphere of mistrust and hostility. We also provided references to statements by top managers of some major German media outlets and representatives of the media community. We provided direct quotes which do not require any political evaluation because they speak for themselves.

We saw a very strange reaction, including from the official Berlin. As we understand, our German colleagues rushed to create the appearance of our concerns being completely unjustified. Official spokesperson of Germany’s Federal Government Steffen Seibert said that those who make such dubious claims know little about Germany and the freedom of speech or want to knowingly make Germany look bad. I want to return this quote to the official spokesperson. In that case you should not be judging Russia because you are judging Russia based on what is published in the German press.



Cybersecurity

I would like to address the issue of cybersecurity once again. We have already pointed out that the Western media are exploiting their favourite topic of computer hacking, often accusing our country of cybercrimes.

In this regard, we would like to draw your attention to the materials prepared by the Russian National Coordination Centre for Computer Incidents. Here is a ranking of countries that are sources of cyber threats for 2016-2017. As we can see, the main source of malicious activity, according to leading information security companies (such as Symantec (USA), McAfee (USA), NTT Security (Japan), Kaspersky Lab (Russia), etc.) is not Russia; it is the United States and a number of EU countries.

I remind you that, according to Article 273 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, writing malicious programmes qualifies as a crime. Unlike Russia, Western countries are in no hurry to ban the development of malware. In many countries, including the USA, UK and France, more than 40 large development firms are involved in this multi-billion dollar business. For example, the French company Vupen traded in vulnerabilities. Its clients included the US National Security Agency and other NATO countries’ intelligence services. After a series of scandals in 2015, Vupen was shut down.

As a rule, manufacturers of information and communication technologies try to bring new products and services to the market as quickly as possible, without wasting time on long and thorough product safety testing. Because of this, errors go unnoticed, and, without being corrected, turn into hidden vulnerabilities.

The number of vulnerabilities grows every year, giving hackers a nourishing environment, because vulnerabilities are an excellent basis for developing malware. We firmly believe that making malware should be considered a crime. A war should be waged against this evil common for all of us at the global level, primarily on the legal track.

To improve information security, Russian specialists have developed a state system for detecting, preventing and deterring cyberattacks on the information resources of the Russian Federation. In 2018, this system exposed more than 4 billion attacks on Russian information resources. We regularly inform you in detail about any illegal influence attempts or cyberattacks on the Russian Foreign Ministry resources.

We urge our Western colleagues who accuse Russia of hacker attacks with unfailing regularity and without proof to focus on ensuring their national cybersecurity and the need for a joint fight against cyber threats. We are ready for this.



Facebook and Twitter war against fake accounts

The US operators of the social networking service companies Facebook and Twitter have recently reported on their fight against fake accounts. Since the publication of its latest report in mid-January, Facebook has taken down 783 accounts linked to Iran that published items and links to current events, including developments in Yemen and Syria. Twitter reported that it has suspended 2,617 accounts linked to Iran, 418 accounts linked to Russia and 1,960 accounts linked to Venezuela.

We see that they are working. This is good, because many times we ourselves became a victim of fake news, “influence campaigns” and “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, as these companies describe any “suspicious” activities in the social networks against which they are fighting. This is something that really needs to be done, but these should be objective efforts that are not taken to suit the political preferences of any [political] interest groups.

I understand that a great number of fake accounts should be suspended in the context of developments linked to Iran, Venezuela and Russia, but you can see that this decision is supplemented with political reasoning. I would like to remind you that we spent months trying to convince the administration of social networking services, including the ones I have mentioned here, to take down the fake accounts of Russian state authorities. We have not succeeded. They have redirected us to Silicon Valley, which told us we should deal with the US Department of State, and we were ultimately sent back to the social networks. Nobody seems to be responsible. Send us a letter, they say. We do, and then they reply that we misdirected our letters. All this commotion concerns facts that do not need any additional proof. For example, the Russian Embassy in some country has an official website. If a fake website of this embassy appears online, who other than the Russian Foreign Ministry should know immediately that it is a fake and inform the social networks thereof? We do this promptly, adding that these fake websites post very dangerous fake news, which can be described as misinformation. But our complaints fall on deaf ears. It takes weeks and sometimes months to get any results.

It is notable in this context that the fight against fake accounts in Venezuela (it is remarkable that these social networking companies have taken an interest in Venezuela at this particular moment) led to the suspension of some 2,000 local accounts that published information in support of the incumbent legitimate government. Have these companies taken similar action with regard to the accounts that support other political views? So far, we see that these companies’ activities are influenced by political preferences. Is the fight against “suspicious” accounts objective if some accounts are taken down while others continue to publish biased and politically motivated misinformation?

I would like to point out that Russia has never interfered and is not interfering in any foreign elections, including in the United States. And we will not do this in the future either. Meanwhile, social networks continue their attempts to accuse Russia of this. Twitter claims that the 418 accounts that appeared to originate in Russia posted approximately 929,000 Tweets that were related to the US midterm elections in November 2018. Out of these Tweets, only some 73,000 were directly related to the elections. They must have been extremely convincing to influence the voting, considering that some 99 million Tweets concerning the elections were posted in that period. How can one believe in the alleged Russia threat when even Facebook and Twitter cannot prove that these “suspicious” accounts originated in Russia? It is claimed that certain activities are associated with Russia, but no proof or facts proving this have been provided.

Overall, they have admitted that the overwhelming majority of Tweets that allegedly attempted to influence the elections originated in the United States. Regrettably, there is little information about this in the media, and the data provided by these social networking services have not been thoroughly analysed. It appears that any Western news agency that does not write about the alleged Russian threat or, worse still, casts doubt on its existence will be declared to be pro-Russia and accused of the illegal promotion of foreign views that can affect national security.








Answers to media questions



Question:

There is information that the US intends to put the Venezuela issue to the vote at the UN Security Council. In this way, Washington is attempting to legitimise its likely invasion in that country. What do you think about this?



Maria Zakharova:

Let us not engage in modelling Security Council activities. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia will know if there is any intention to hold a meeting or consultations. There is no need to comment on something that does not exist.



Question:

I would like to draw your attention to an episode in Russian-Japanese relations that has a direct bearing on the topic of the Kurils. As you may know, tonnes of Russian gold were smuggled out of Russia during the Civil War. The White Movement leaders intended to use this gold to buy weapons in Japan. But it was lost irrevocably and Russia never got the arms. The Japanese directly seized part of the consignment and deposited it in Japanese banks. Putatively, the Central Bank of Japan has deposits of Russian gold worth an estimated $80 billion.

I would like to ask you the following. If Russia paid the Tsar’s debts to France, why can’t we raise the matter of the Japanese debt to Russia, which is topical to this day? Is the Foreign Ministry making attempts to find out whether Japanese banks have this gold and what the chances for handing it over to Russia are?

I would like to wish you all the best on the occasion of Diplomats’ Day and present you with this gift which is a book dedicated to the theme of Russian gold abroad.



Maria Zakharova:

Thank you. I will read this book with pleasure. To reply to your question, I will have to consult our experts and historians on this matter. I am not that savvy myself.



Question:

Today Japanese and Russian media noticed that the statement adopted following the annual meeting in Tokyo in support of the return of the Kuril Islands did not refer to them as “illegally occupied.” If we compare it with last year’s statement, the passage saying that 72 years have passed since the occupation has been replaced with the phrase that a peace treaty between Russia and Japan has not been signed during the past 73 years. Has the Foreign Ministry noticed this change in the Japanese rhetoric? Would you please comment on this?



Maria Zakharova:

We primarily analyse Japanese official statements and Tokyo’s steps in this regard. Of course, we note the atmosphere that is created or is accompanying these statements and the negotiating process. It is not necessary to comment on actions made by Japanese NGOs or, in this case, public organisations. The case in point is not an official position. As for the Russian position, you know it well. The ownership of the islands you mentioned is not discussed.



Question:

You have mentioned Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming visit to the Munich Security Conference. It was officially announced that Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers would hold a meeting on its sidelines. As is only natural, they will discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh developments. Are there plans for the Russian Foreign Minister to meet with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts? If so, what format will be used for the meeting?



Maria Zakharova:

As I already said earlier, we are not announcing the upcoming meetings because they are still at the planning stage. I would not like to make any comments on this. But I promise to come back to this topic soon.

Mr Lavrov has just completed his visit to Central Asian countries. We will be planning in detail his upcoming attendance at the Munich Conference. We will certainly share with you data on the minister’s working schedule on the sidelines of the event.



Question:

Next to Venezuela, there are countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, countries that suffer from crisis, drug crime and a lack of drinking water on a daily basis. The US, however, does not interfere in these countries’ affairs, because they have no oil.



Maria Zakharova:

This is exactly what we are saying: the US has, in fact, no concern for the democratic values and the people of Venezuela; they just want to change the regime. Their objectives concern domestic and foreign policies, their scheme is simple, and their patterns remain the same.

This plan has already been implemented in many parts of the world and led to catastrophic consequences. Some countries, such as Syria, have cut short the attempt to implement this plan. But the scenario was similar, too. We still remember the old phrase concerning the idea of changing the regime, because “the Syrian people can no longer live under this leadership.” This is precisely what was said.

When the Russian side suggested giving the floor to the Syrian people for them to determine on their own whether they could live with that regime, government and leadership, we were told that they certainly could not, and therefore, the regime had to go as soon as possible. Now that most of Syria has been wiped clean of terrorists, it turns out that the Syrians are more than ready for peace and living their lives peacefully as well as solving their domestic political issues without any external involvement. Why a number of countries fail to see the lessons taught by other states continues to be a big mystery. In many ways, you reiterated what I have already said today – the moves to directly interfere in that country’s internal affairs and change the regime are guided solely by geopolitical motives, not the concern for the people of Venezuela.



Question:

Is it true that Russia will not hold additional talks with the Kurds or invite them to the negotiating table during the upcoming Sochi summit?



Maria Zakharova:

I have already formulated the Russian position very clearly. We proceed from the fact that the Kurdish people are an integral part of the people of Syria; we have been actively advocating the establishment of a dialogue between the country’s official authorities and this population group, which is part of their own people.



Question:

We are used to the fact that ever since the 1990s, Russia has been paying a tribute of sorts to the West in terms of human resources – I am talking about young scientists that migrate to support the American, German, British and other economies after receiving education in Russia. In his recent remarks at the Russian-Tajik (Slavonic) University, Sergey Lavrov said that there was a tendency for young people, young scientists, to come back to Russia. It is a very positive, interesting fact. Could you explain in detail how the Foreign Ministry participates in this? Have you noticed this tendency?



Maria Zakharova:

This tendency was mentioned by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, whom you have just quoted. Speaking of the Foreign Ministry’s role in this, I believe that it is the Russian government that is playing the key role by creating the proper environment. The Foreign Ministry informs the global community, legalises documents and works with Russian compatriots by providing a whole range of consular services. Together with the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Cultural Cooperation, we are conducting a great deal of work.



Question:

Britain’s The Telegraph has published a report on a third person involved in the high-profile Skripal case, allegedly linked to the poisoning. Can you comment on this?



Maria Zakharova:

We have seen this article. But we have heard no official statements; there is nothing but media leaks. Unfortunately, in this situation we still have to take into account even such stories.

The article indeed mentions an alleged third suspect in the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury, and cites certain names. It is alleged that the person in question remained in the UK, under an assumed name. Once again we are witnessing the planting of unsupported information, with heaps of media-inspired anti-Russian conjectures cranked out.

Once again I would like to emphasise that, even after the recent high-profile publications, we have not seen or heard any official statements from the British side. As before, we received no substantial response this time around, nothing that would shed light on the events.

Therefore, there is nothing to comment on. Because, figuratively speaking, we have already seen a billion such references to unnamed sources with leaks and re-writings. Every time we asked the British side to provide facts, data, to share their thoughts on various aspects, but never got any response.

I would also like to remind you again that London continues to refuse to cooperate with the Russian authorities in investigating this case. I emphasise that Russia is as determined as before to establish the truth about what happened, and will continue to demand that the British authorities present comprehensive official information and fulfil their international legal obligations to provide consular access to our fellow citizens. We need to and have the right to make sure they are not being threatened, that their rights are not violated and their freedom is not restricted. The most important thing for us is to clarify what actually happened, considering the gravity of the charges brought by the British Government.



Question:

Two weeks ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said during an interview with CNN in response to a leading question that he would not use the word “ally” to describe Russia’s relations with Iran, and that one of Russia’s priorities was to protect the security of Israel. Can you clarify this matter and redress this situation?



Maria Zakharova:

This is not exactly what Sergey Ryabkov said in his interview, and there is nothing to redress. We have very good relations with Iran, and Tehran knows this very well. I have a recommendation to make in this connection. Unfortunately, we often have to deal with inaccurate wording and translations, when media outlets highlight incorrect quotes and quoting out of context, whereas comprehensive material on bilateral relations is not given any attention.

There is a great amount of material on Russian-Iranian relations on the Foreign Ministry’s website. This comprehensive material explains our position on economic ties, which continue to grow despite the Washington and Brussels sanctions, our political cooperation, a Syrian settlement, and Russia’s consistent position on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. I would like to ask, in particular, you, why this material, which is available in English and other languages, has not been made public in Iran. How can quoting out of context and incorrect quotes change the mentality of people who have known for decades that Russia is a partner who is firmly committed to its obligations and does not change its strategic decisions? How can quoting out of context make people doubt this?

We have received related requests from the Iranian media, and I have provided a comment to reaffirm what does not need reaffirming, namely, the inviolability of Russia’s position on cooperation with Iran in all spheres. If necessary, I can repeat this once again. I will be delighted to provide detailed answers to all your questions and to the concerns you have mentioned.

I would also like to note that the subject of the status of bilateral relations, including partner or allied ones, not only has to do with the sides’ emotional attitude to each other, but is also based on international and interstate agreements on alliance or strategic partnership. This is probably the essence of the matter. These relations have been sealed in the relevant agreements, which remain inviolable.

In this particular case, I would like to caution you against fantasising or looking for contradictions. I would suggest that you read the agreements to learn about the status of our bilateral agreements and our countries’ attitude to each other.

As for leading questions, there is nothing unusual about them. Regrettably, we are living in a certain paradigm and a specific information environment where leading questions have become a norm. I believe this is something to be remembered not only by those who make statements but also by the media which report them. They should check everything and look at the quotes in the context of the entire interview, rather than focus on separate paragraphs.

I would like to share some good news in this connection. We have reached an agreement with Iran to hold consultations on the media in the near future. I believe we will be able to discuss this matter as well. I cannot tell you about the time or place of these consultations because we are still coordinating them, but we did reach an agreement.



Question:

If Russia’s priority is the security of Israel in the region, while Israel’s goal is to force Iran out of Syria, does this mean that Russia will try to convince Iran to pull out of Syria? Can you comment on this possibility?



Maria Zakharova:

Russian officials have commented on this more than once. The presence of foreign troops in Syria is being addressed by the Syrian government. Other countries may have widely different views and opinions on this matter. It can be discussed in multilateral, bilateral or many other formats. But the Syrian government alone is authorised to decide whose troops can or cannot be deployed in the sovereign territory of Syria, and in which capacity. This is the fundamental premise. This is exactly how we acted [in Syria], and we have explained our position to the general public more than once.



Question:

Has France answered whether President Emmanuel Macron’s quote about Russia's interference in France’s internal affairs in the Le Point weekly is a fake? Did they confirm this quote? The article says Macron allegedly mentioned “Nazi,” “leftists” and “Russians” as destabilising factors in France. Could you comment on this?



Maria Zakharova:

So far, the Russian Foreign Ministry has had no response from the French side to the note we sent. I would like to believe that our partners will soon provide comprehensive information on our concern. We hope that this will put an end to the spreading of baseless accusations against Russia and the Russian media of interfering in that country’s internal affairs and supporting internal political processes.

We very much hope that once the truth is established, Paris will abandon its discriminatory approach to Russia Today and Sputnik working in France, enabling them to fulfil their journalistic job and professional duties in accordance with the principles of freedom of speech and expression shared by Paris and enshrined in a large number of international obligations that France has assumed.

As for the quote attributed to Emmanuel Macron, I would like to note that, to rule out any speculation on this matter, a note was immediately sent to the French side asking for clarifications. We are waiting for them.

I would also like to explain that the memory of the Great Patriotic War and the millions of our ancestors, who gave their lives on the battlefields, worked for the victory at the home front and, ultimately, freed the world from the “brown plague,” is sacred for all citizens of Russia. Those who attend our briefings certainly know that we consider this topic a priority, including on the international arena. Therefore, any hints, even indirect ones – no matter who they may come from – to any analogies or parallels between the actions of our country, Soviet soldiers and civilians who fought at the battle front and at the home front, and the inhuman crimes of the Nazis are very sensitive and painful, and spark deep indignation as well as outrage among the Russian people.

We remember well how during the difficult years of the war, French soldiers and officers fought in the ranks of the Red Army. They lived and died side by side with our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. This joint fight for freedom and independence, sealed by blood and brotherhood in arms, laid the groundwork for the development of special, Soviet-French and later Russian-French ties in the post-war decades, as well as for the joint efforts of Moscow and Paris to preserve peace and security in Europe. It is with this historical baggage and time-tested values ​​that Russia continues to build the good-neighbourly partnership and friendly relations with France today.

I would like to say once again that we are guided by the universally recognised norms of behaviour, which are also propagated in Paris. As soon as the publication you mentioned appeared, we immediately sent a request to the French side and are waiting for a response.



Question:

A commercial shown on BBC by the Invest Japan agency features the four disputed Kuril Islands as being Japanese property. Is this an honest mistake or a provocation?



Maria Zakharova:

I have seen these reports but did not scrutinise the details. I believe it would be senseless and useless to wonder if this is a provocation, an honest mistake or political impudence. I would like to point out that Russia’s position on this matter has been put forth many times by the national leaders and the representatives of official agencies who are authorised to make statements of Russia’s sovereignty over these territories on behalf of the state. We will certainly pay attention to such actions and make our reaction known to the media and any other agencies that publish such data. On the other hand, we would not recommend paying attention to television reports or fake news items (it must be said that a great deal of fake news has been recently posted on this matter, and you know our reaction to this), but rather look up Moscow’s official position on this subject.



Question:

Will you comment on the statement issued by the US ambassadors to Germany, Denmark and the EU, urging the European countries to revise the Third Energy Package’s Gas Directive so that the union’s gas pipeline regulations also apply to other countries’ projects, such as Nord Stream 2?



Maria Zakharova:

We have taken note today of a great deal of unofficial reports referring to certain statements and decisions.

In particular, Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung reported this morning that France might stand up and “abandon Germany” when it comes to Nord Stream 2. Before this briefing began, it was reported that the US ambassadors to Germany, Denmark and the EU urged their European partners in Germany to adopt amendments to the Gas Directive so that the EU’s key gas regulations apply also to non-EU countries. The ambassadors’ statement was posted by Deutsche Welle the other day.

Efforts are being taken to create a specific information environment regarding energy cooperation in Europe. This is being done rather crudely, with pressure being mounted by media outlets in the form of stories, letters and leaks. Regrettably, I believe that we will see more of such attempts made by some countries to cut short the growing energy cooperation.

As for our position, I will focus on the essence of the matter, that is, I will repeat our position on Nord Stream 2. It is well known, but I think there is no harm in restating it, in light of today’s German media publications. Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project aimed at diversifying Russian gas delivery routes to Europe. In this context, its successful implementation will strengthen the EU’s energy security, not weaken it as its opponents claim.

The EU plans to discuss amendments to the so-called Gas Directive of its Third Energy Package (TEP). These amendments provide for applying TEP regulations, that is, EU laws, on trunk offshore gas pipelines “from third countries.” In our opinion, the adoption of these amendments will seriously complicate the implementation and future operation of Nord Stream 2. The European Commission’s Legal Service said that applying EU rules to offshore pipelines may breach the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. In this connection, we express hope that when taking a decision the EU member-states will be guided by their national interests and the interests of their businesses and European consumers, rather than by Washington’s anti-Russia instructions.

I fear, though, that this is not the last information campaign over this subject.



Question:

Can you comment on US President Donald Trump’s statement that 100 percent of Syrian territory has been liberated from ISIS? Does Russia also believe that Syria is now 100 percent free? How would you respond to Mr Trump’s words that the United States has defeated ISIS?



Maria Zakharova:

We have already commented on this. These statements cannot be interpreted out of context, because in this case they can only be qualified as populism. I suggest considering them in a comprehensive manner as part of US strategy in Syria. And that raises a lot of questions. I suggest, although many would love to interpret each new tweet in its own way, trying anyway to form a general understanding of the US strategic approach to Syria, to the resolution of the crisis there and to what is happening in the region.

We have heard statements on the US pullout from Syria. Then more statements, but of a different nature – they decided to stay, partially pullout, or partially stay, and so on. It is important to know the final decision, at least for the short term. As we understand it, there is no single concept in the US. Representatives of various social and political groups have different ideas and views on the strategy in Syria, and there are differences even among government agencies and executive authorities.

I hope we will soon hear and see a comprehensive US strategy, which can somehow be announced and presented to the international community, to explain their moves in this respect.

The main argument on which US criticism of Russia was built was Russia’s unpredictability. However, I could not find anywhere in which particular matters Russia showed unpredictability, which, according to Washington, appeared so dangerous for the European continent, the peoples of Europe and the future of the world in general. Russia has not shown any unpredictability on the most complex issues, whether it’s Syria, Ukraine or other hotspots. On the contrary, we behaved extremely predictably. All our postulates are listed in the Foreign Policy Concept and the concepts of other strategic areas of our domestic and foreign policy.

At the same time, the United States demonstrates absolute unpredictability and inconsistency in addressing key issues of its domestic agenda as well as global challenges, from the environment to geopolitics, from international humanitarian ties to energy security. Suffice it to mention a reversal of that country’s general course every four or eight years as US leadership changes; moreover, in recent years we have witnessed skipping from side to side even within the existing executive authority had certain plans and a programme when it came to power.



Question:

Can we say that following the US’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty there is a danger that the United States will continue to break and violate other treaties? Are we at a reboot phase in international relations?



Maria Zakharova:

This is not a question. This is a statement of fact. This trend did not start with the US’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty. We have followed it for a few years. This is not about the current administration. It all began long ago. The United States has unilaterally withdrawn from a number of agreements and commitments. I have mentioned this indirectly, but I can speak more specifically.

For example, the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM). There was not even a hint that Russia had somehow violated it. Simply, it became disadvantageous for the US in terms of the development of its military capability, its vision of geo-strategy and geopolitics in the world.

After that, this trend, like a snowball, became overgrown with new precedents – the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UNESCO, the INF Treaty and the de facto parting from all norms of international relations, in particular international trade relations after years of praising the system and teaching everyone else to follow it. The United States is intensively promoting the concept of protectionism – a phenomenon that cuts off any further talk of free trade. Flourishing protectionism today shuts the door on everything the US had been leading not only Russia, but all other countries to – like following WTO rules, observing the rules of the free market on the world stage and using accepted rules for trading. This trend is not just an outline, but is unfolding in full measure. This policy has been going on for quite some time.



Question:

Unfortunately, shelling in Donbass continues every day. In late January teams from the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office to the Trilateral Contact Group, Martin Sajdik, and Special Representative of the Department of State for Ukraine Kurt Volker began raising issues that indicate a potential “soft” discrediting of the Minsk Agreements. Are we talking about an information campaign designed to replace the Minsk agreements, which are very important for settling the conflict in Donbass?



Maria Zakharova:

The answer to this is obvious as well. I think the latest foreign policy events in Ukraine bear this out. A new round of witch hunts has begun. Now devoted pro-Ukrainian politicians are falling under the millstone of Ukrainian democracy. They cannot be blamed of bias, or of loving or working for anybody but their own people. In part, they are charged with attempts to carry out the Minsk agreements. The latest statements made in this respect are simply beyond the legal system. The implementation of the Minsk agreements is in crisis due to the position of the Kiev regime.



Question:

What do you think of the statement by the Swedish National Defence Research Institute on Russia’s “muscle building? They are referring, in part, to the military exercises: East, West and Caucasus.



Maria Zakharova:

When somebody engages in muscle building, he may just want to be fit and improve his health. Judging by the growing trends in fitness in the world, a fitness devotee will not necessarily threaten anyone.



Question:

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said he would do anything to prevent the deployment of US missiles in the Baltic in connection with the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty. What practical measures can be adopted in this respect?



Maria Zakharova:

It would be better to address this question to our military experts. Russia will also take political steps – hold talks, present our point of view, and anything else that needs to be done.



Question:

The first working group meeting on implementing the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea is scheduled for this month in Baku. Who will represent Russia at this meeting and what results can Moscow expect?



Maria Zakharova:

The results should be the practical implementation of the agreements reached. As for who will represent Russia, I will check on this.


* * *


One more point. In late January we noted an article by a Ukrainian journalist who said he was starving for good food, for instance, good cheese in Russia because it was, allegedly, impossible to find any.

Our domestic cheesemakers were infuriated by this. They flooded the Foreign Ministry with letters of rebuttal.

Since the statement was made by a foreign journalist, our cheesemakers asked us to let them use our venue for a tasting session with their products.

We are inviting all of you to this cheese tasting session. We offer products from domestic cheesemakers. You can try them yourself and give your opinion. I see here journalists from Italy, Germany and Eastern Europe. These products are broadly represented in their countries. I suggest we hold a cheese tasting session and you can tell us whether our cheeses deserve praise or still need improving. I would be very interested in hearing your opinion.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3503377
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Old February 21st, 2019 #18
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Foreign Minister of Finland Timo Soini, Moscow, February 12, 2019



12 February 2019 - 11:50







Colleagues, friends,

Dear Timo,

We are glad to welcome you to Moscow. We appreciate that you have taken the time out of your busy schedule, considering the upcoming parliamentary elections in Finland, to continue our very useful dialogue.

Our relations have been developing well despite the well-known difficulties in the interaction between Russia and the European Union due to some EU members’ sanctions fervour. Nevertheless, we can see the mutual interest at all levels to promote relations between Russia and Finland: between our presidents, prime ministers, parliamentary leaders and the public in our countries.







There are many issues on which Russia and Finland are interacting in the international arena, especially in the northern region, where a number of organisations, including the Arctic Council currently chaired by Finland, are operating successfully.

We have many subjects to discuss. I hope we will conduct a productive dialogue during these talks, as it has always been.

Once again, welcome.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3513072






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comments and answers to media questions during the joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Finland Timo Soini, Moscow, February 12, 2019



12 February 2019 - 15:01







Ladies and gentlemen,

Our talks were very useful, to the point, and constructive.

Despite Brussels’ policy as regards the Russian Federation, our relations with Finland remain neighbourly and continue making steady progress. Presidents Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto hold regular meetings, and preparations for their next encounter are underway. Our prime ministers, heads of ministries and departments and parliament speakers are developing ties as well.

We noted a confident increase in trade, which grew by 21 percent last year. We have supported the implementation of major joint projects. Finland is building the Hanhikivi-1 Nuclear Power Plant with the participation of the Rosatom State Corporation. In turn, Finnish Fortum is building new energy capacity in Russia, including with renewable resources. We made a positive assessment of the performance of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation that held its latest meeting in St Petersburg in the autumn of last year. We support the activities of the Intergovernmental Commission for Cross Border Cooperation that plans to hold a second meeting in late February.

We discussed in detail different aspects of security issues is Europe, especially in the north. We reaffirmed the Russian Federation’s respectful attitude towards Finland’s traditional policy of abstaining from military alliances. We welcomed another contribution by Finland to ensure stability in the Baltic Sea, including the well-known initiative of Finnish President Niinisto to enhance the security of flights over the Baltic.

We discussed in detail issues of cooperation in regional formats in the north of Europe, including the Arctic Council (AC), the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). We appreciate the effective performance of Finland in its AC chairmanship.

Since November of last year, Finland has also held the presidency of the Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe. We discussed in detail the deep crisis that has hit this organisation. We appreciate the efforts of Helsinki and the Finnish leaders in general to overcome this crisis. There is no doubt that it was triggered by the aggressive actions of the Russophobic-minded members of the Council of Europe. As a result, Russian MPs have been deprived of key powers in crude violation of the charter of this organisation. We are grateful to our Finnish colleagues for their efforts to find a way out of this situation. For our part, we confirmed that we will be ready to cooperate in order to restore justice and legality in this respect.

In the second half of this year Finland will assume the presidency of the European Union. We have a common interest in normalizing Russia-EU relations. We reaffirmed our willingness to walk as far as Brussels will go.

We emphasized the futility of the EU’s position to the effect that the normalization of relations with Russia is only possible after Moscow fulfils the Minsk agreements on a settlement in Ukraine. The facts show that the Minsk agreements are being stubbornly subverted by the current Ukrainian authorities. Judging by all the evidence, they have not given up trying to resolve the Donbass issue by force.

We also noted the flagrant violations by Kiev of basic human rights and freedoms, including language, education and religious freedoms, and the extremely dangerous growth of nationalist and overtly neo-Nazi attitudes in Ukraine. The EU and NATO are shutting their eyes to these very dangerous movements, which by no means improve the image of these two organisations that position themselves as model democratic structures.

We briefly exchanged views and assessments on some human rights points in Russia and in EU countries.

For our part, we are happy with the results of the talks and hope to continue close contact on the issues discussed today and other questions of common interest.







Question:

Despite scepticism on behalf of the United States and its supporters with regard to Russia’s draft resolution on Venezuela, Moscow believes it can become the basis for consensus at the UN Security Council. Is the corresponding contact group which includes Moscow, Washington and Europe conducting talks?



Sergey Lavrov:

Our resolution is designed to start a national dialogue in Venezuela.

I read that certain US officials and some of the Venezuelan opposition leaders are saying that our resolution is actually designed to disrupt the humanitarian efforts of the United States and its allies. This is a lie and an attempt to divert attention from the fact that the US draft resolution submitted to the UN Security Council, in essence, aims to cover planned provocations by delivering humanitarian aid as a means of destabilising the situation in Venezuela, and even obtaining a pretext for direct military intervention. As you know, the Security Council will never adopt such resolution.

If someone desires to provide humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people, there is a legitimate government in Venezuela to talk to. There is a UN office there. All matters related to humanitarian aid or other involvement by international organisations should be resolved through legal channels.

I have heard statements by certain representatives of the UN Secretariat that the Secretariat should remain neutral in this conflict. Such statements directly contradict the scope of duties of all, without exception, international officials under the UN Charter, which demands respect for the sovereignty of member states. Venezuela is a legal and legitimate UN member, and its government represents its country in this organisation. There can be no neutrality in this matter.

Regarding the political aspects of the situation in Venezuela, we, from day one, have supported the initiative of Mexico and Uruguay, which were in favour of the earliest possible provision of proper conditions for a national dialogue with the participation of all political forces in Venezuela. President Maduro immediately expressed his willingness to be part of such a dialogue, but the opposition rejected his offer. Apparently, because it is being handled by the US representatives, who, in their deliberations of ways to resolve the situation in Venezuela, have lost all sense of shame.

Meanwhile, with the participation of a number of Latin American countries, Mexico and Uruguay created the Montevideo Mechanism. We strongly support its efforts. The EU has, for some reason, decided to assume responsibility for deciding which representatives of other regions can be involved in these efforts. If we are talking about bringing in external players to help resolve the situation in Venezuela and the efforts undertaken by Latin American countries, we, like China and a number of other countries, have expressed our willingness to participate in creating an international support group to promote these efforts. So far, there has been no constructive response from Brussels. The contact group created by the EU and some Latin American countries approved a document which, even though devoid of ultimatums originally advanced by individual EU members, still focuses on unilateral support for the opposition.

I plan to meet with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini one of these days. Of course, we will discuss this situation and Brussels’ position in a Venezuelan settlement.

With regard to contact with the Americans on Venezuela, we haven’t had any, except for the discussions at the UN Security Council, where they tried to push through a resolution covering their aggressive interventionist plans.

Yesterday, the State Department asked us to make arrangements for a telephone conversation with Mike Pompeo. The call will take place today. Most likely, he wants to talk about Venezuela as well. By the way, Timo is just back from Washington, so, at lunch, he will tell me what the Americans are thinking about Venezuela.



Question:

In November 2018 the Russian Ambassador to Finland was summoned to the Finnish Foreign Ministry because of disruptions in GPS performance during NATO exercises. Russia did not admit any guilt related to these disruptions. Is Russia ready to acknowledge today that these disruptions were triggered by its activities? If not, was there any inquiry into the origin of this?



Sergey Lavrov:

I will say right now that there was no inquiry because it is impossible to investigate fantasies that are not backed by facts. All this is the same as Theresa May’s “highly likely,” an approach that is now being used by some of our other neighbours. Mr Minister raised this question today. I reminded him that immediately after Russia was accused of disruptions, our military expressed their willingness to sit at the table with their colleagues from the relevant countries and analyse the facts that are being used by those who blame Russia. We made an official statement to this effect but neither the Norwegian leaders nor the military nor the press heard us. You asked if Russia is now ready to acknowledge that it did this. If you present facts we will be willing to talk. Otherwise, this is simply not serious.

Meanwhile, the hard facts are the unprecedented buildup of NATO military potential, infrastructure and troops near the borders of the Russian Federation and the increase in the number of various drills in the Baltic and Black seas and in the air. This could have gone bad. If you remember, during similar exercises last August, a Spanish plane accidentally released an air-to-air missile that luckily did not explode and fell on Estonian territory. It could have fallen and exploded on the territory of the Russian Federation. Now it’s your turn to indulge in fantasy.

It is also a fact that we have repeatedly offered our Western partners to finally start a serious, professional discussion, rather than a conversation with yelling, about cybersecurity, the risks that exist in this area and from whom they are emanating. But again, there was no response.

It is also a fact that in response to the initiative of President of Finland Sauli Niinisto, the Russian Federation took part in the activities of the specially established working group. As a result, our military took specific measures to enhance the safety of flights over the Baltic. In part, they agreed to turn on transponders on military aircraft. NATO is refusing to assume similar commitments, including for transponders, even though at the Russia-NATO Council we have raised this issue more than once. However, in the council they prefer to engage in polemics on their interpretation of events in Ukraine after they backed the coup there.

And here is yet another fact. Grievances about the alleged disruption in the GPS signal were related to the incident that took place during the Trident Juncture NATO exercises. Briefing us on their results at the Russia-NATO Council session (we have a practice of exchanging briefings after the exercises), NATO personnel reported that one of the tasks was to act under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which implies a collective military action. Naturally, we asked our Finnish colleagues how this fits in with the fact that neutral countries, including Finland and Sweden took part in the exercises. We were assured that Finland does not take part in any actions related to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. We respect this position and believe that Finland’s neutral status as regards participation in military blocs is a stabilising factor in Europe, especially in the north.



Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Timo Soini):

I don’t want to leave any misunderstanding here. Mr Soini said that he told me that our Finnish partners were waiting for the information on the disruption of GPS signals. I would like to emphasise my answer to this: we cannot provide information on a supposed fact that we have not seen. Our military are ready for a dialogue but only if the other side can go beyond the “highly likely” approach and can start a serious conversation as adults do. I do not want there to be any ambiguity here.



Question:

My question is about historian Yury Dmitriyev known in Finland for his efforts to make public information about the 100 Finns who were buried in Sandarmokh in Stalin times.

Was the situation surrounding Yury Dmitriyev raised during the talks? Currently, he is standing trial for a second time in the case in which he was already cleared some time ago. Do you think the trial of this internationally-acclaimed man can have a negative impact on Russia’s reputation?



Sergey Lavrov:

Frankly speaking, I did not know Yury Dmitriyev has been working to locate the sites where Finnish soldiers were buried. I know that he is the head of the Karelian branch of the Memorial Society. Today, we talked about the charges brought against him, I mean the sexual harassment of his adopted daughter. We support memorial activities carried out in any format by different people in any way we can, however, sexual harassment allegations are a serious matter. It requires legal proceedings, something that is taking place now.

Today, we also discussed the issue of how the national child protection system operates in Finland. If a child comes to school and someone, say a teacher or a classmate thinks that there is something wrong with him or her, this could be sufficient cause for removing this child from his or her family. Many Russian nationals from mixed families had this experience. If our citizens are involved in such cases, we, with due regard for Finnish law, dialogue with our Finnish colleagues in an effort to find a solution without overstepping legal boundaries existing in this country. The situation with Yury Dmitriyev involves our citizen and is taking place in our country in compliance with our laws. Indeed, he was acquitted of [sexual harassment] charges 18 months ago but the prosecution appealed against the decision. Not only Russian law but the law of any normal country provides for this action. Hopefully, this is clear. This does nothing to belittle the importance of his memorial activities but at the same time this does not relieve him of his responsibility to answer for his actions under his country’s laws. We have to wait for the outcome of the legal proceedings.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3513560






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during a meeting with intra-Palestinian dialogue members, Moscow, February 12, 2019



12 February 2019 - 18:10







Good afternoon, friends,

I’m pleased to have another opportunity to have a discussion in this format with the representatives of all major Palestinian organisations. I understand we have 12 organisations here. This format was initiated in 2011 and, since then, it not only has remained relevant, but as I understand it, is gaining even more traction with its participants. I think this is due to the growing understanding of the danger of Palestinian division for the interests of your nation. Like most states around the world, we are fully committed to the paradigm of solving the Palestinian problem which is enshrined in UNSC and UNGA resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Unfortunately, the current situation in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement is rather bleak and disquieting. We see the greatest danger in the stance of the United States which is aimed at promoting unilateral approaches without accounting for the views of other international community members, scrapping essential, key and fundamental international legal instruments for resolving the Palestinian issue. Our US colleagues are bluntly putting forward new recipes in an attempt to resolve this issue, and have for more than two years now been promising to come up with the “deal of the century.” However, the information we have shows that this future “deal” will destroy everything that has been accomplished so far. Judging by what we hear from those who are familiar with the unilateral American initiatives and efforts, the issue is about a totally different goal than creating a viable Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and with possible equivalent exchanges and the capital in East Jerusalem.

To our great regret, the Palestinian divide that has persisted for many years now has created pretexts for advancing a policy aimed at destroying generally accepted settlement parameters. Of course, the increasing economic and political separation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip also serves to promote this agenda. Given these circumstances, many international community members – not the majority yet - are beginning to think that an intra-Palestinian division cannot be overcome, and that it is impossible to promote the two-state principle. In this situation, given the acuteness of many other issues in the Middle East and North Africa, we consider the earliest restoration of Palestinian unity to be an absolute priority. This is the best thing to be done to increase the resilience of the international community to attempts to destroy consensus as spelled out in the UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. Moreover, it would bolster the position of the states, Russia included, that want to see to implementation of the existing agreements on the principles of a Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli settlement.

Clearly, moving towards unity requires courage, foresight, flexibility and awareness of responsibility for the future of the Palestinian people. On the other hand, this difficult decision is unique in that it depends on you alone. It does not depend on any external player. In the absence of such a decision, external players who may have different agendas will try to take you to different corners in this or any other room and forestall a fateful decision, which, I’m convinced, you must make.







As a friend, an impartial and objective aide, including in the quartet of international mediators, we are convinced that the framework agreements reached in Cairo in October 2017 provide a genuine basis for reaching a compromise between all Palestinians. We think this agreement contains a viable compromise formula of national accord, which takes into account the fact that all of you are part of one Palestinian nation and are entitled to be represented by your organisations in the institutions of state power.

We realise that each Palestinian group represented here pursues its own interests. However, I’m sure, all of you are real patriots and will push these narrow party interests to the background.

We cannot impose anything on you, but as friends, we want to let you know that we see restoring your ability to act as a single actor in future talks with our Israeli colleagues as a priority. We understand that this can and should be done through the PLO platform. We have no doubt that news of restored unity in the Palestinian ranks will take the trump cards away from those who would like to destroy the foundations of the settlement laid down in UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. We think that the next step in this direction can be made with the approval of the final document of your meeting, the draft of which was dubbed the Moscow Declaration. We will provide every support to any agreement that you may reach. We will always back any initiative that leads to the restoration of Palestinian national consensus. We are always ready to provide our platform for meetings in this format and always expect a result.

I wish you every success. It can only be shared success. It cannot be imposed in this or any other matter. You cannot build success on someone else’s defeat. I wish you all to end up with an unconditional win-win solution.

Thank you very much. Come see us again. Or, rather, come after you reach an agreement. However, if you need more meetings to reach it, you’re always welcome.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3513968






Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo



12 February 2019 - 22:01







On February 12, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the US initiative.

Concerning the US intention announced by the Secretary of State to impose new sanctions on Russia under the far-fetched pretext of last year’s murky incident with the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, whom nobody has seen since then, Sergey Lavrov pointed out that this absolutely unsubstantiated decision would further complicate bilateral relations and the international environment.

Speaking on the current foreign policy subjects, Sergey Lavrov cautioned against any interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, including the use of force which Washington has threatened to use in violation of international law. He expressed readiness to hold consultations on Venezuela based on the principles of the UN Charter.

Sergey Lavrov and Mike Pompeo also spoke about Syria and agreed on the need to continue their dialogue towards the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. They also exchanged opinions on the recent discussions held by the Russian Foreign Ministry and US Department of State officials on the developments around the Korean Peninsula and the importance of promoting a settlement in Afghanistan.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3514009






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho Lesego Makgothi, Sochi, February 13, 2019



13 February 2019 - 11:54







Mr Minister,

I am delighted to welcome you to Russia.

Relations between our countries have a long and friendly history. They were established soon after Lesotho gained independence in 1980.

We maintain very good ties at the level of our permanent missions to the UN in New York. We highly appreciate the cooperation between our delegations. We are promoting ties between our parliaments, which we would like to become regular, as well as business-like and mutually beneficial relations between our security services.







We would like to boost our dialogue on international matters, including the African agenda, considering that you are an active member of a number of organisations, in particular the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mr Minister, we have a positive agenda, and I hope that we will hold productive talks.

Once again, welcome to Russia.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3514709






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho Lesego Makgothi, Sochi, February 13, 2019



13 February 2019 - 14:26







Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to once again greet my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Lesego Makgothi.

We have had very useful and constructive, and I would say, wide-ranging talks that have allowed us to understand how to continue to build upon relations in numerous areas that, for certain reasons, have not yet duly expanded. This agreement is of special importance because today we are hosting the first visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho to Russia in history.

We noted the traditionally friendly nature of our ties that have developed under the principles of respect and consideration for each other’s interests. We noted a desire to expand these relations in all areas, beginning with the political dialogue and then including cooperation within international organisations, as well as in trade and economic, cultural and humanitarian areas. We noted geological prospecting, mining and the energy industry as promising areas. We agreed to continue supporting business contacts between our businesspeople. We hope that the Lesotho delegation will, among other things, be able to take part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2019. We are expecting a specific list of projects from our friends; this implies projects that, in their opinion, can be jointly implemented.

We also focused on cooperation in education exchanges. Responding to a request from our friends in Lesotho, we expanded the quota for students from Lesotho by five times. This will make it possible to meet the interests of Lesotho and to train specialists in healthcare, meteorology and mining. This will start as soon as the next academic year. We also confirmed the possibility of sending law enforcement officers to study in advanced training courses at Russian Interior Ministry institutions, and also to earn degrees at universities in this area.

We discussed issues facing the international community, including issues being discussed most actively at the UN. Russia and Lesotho have a common position. We would like everyone to unfailingly honour international law, starting with the UN Charter, to respect the unique nature of nations and their desire to independently determine their own destiny as well as specific approaches and development alternatives.

We discussed UN Security Council reform and once again noted that there is no alternative to expanding the number of the UN Security Council members from among developing Asian, Latin American and certainly African countries. We believe that there is absolutely no alternative to this.

We are grateful to our partners for supporting Russian initiatives at the UN, including those aiming to combat the glorification of Nazism, proposals in international information security and efforts to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space.

While discussing African issues, we reaffirmed our approach that the African countries themselves should address the crises and conflicts that, unfortunately, persist on the African continent. The international community is called on to provide any support to these African processes and peacekeeping missions. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia will continue to strictly abide by these principles.

We praise the integration processes that continue to develop in Africa, including the Southern African Development Community that aims to guarantee socio-economic growth in the southern part of the African continent. Last year, we signed several documents with the Southern African Development Community, including a memorandum of understanding between the Russian Government and this organisation on the fundamental principles of our relations and cooperation, and a memorandum of understanding as regards military-technical cooperation. We praise the involvement of the Southern African Development Community in drafting recommendations for Lesotho; such recommendations concern the implementation of reforms that, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Lesego Makgothi has confirmed today, will help ensure long-term public-political consensus in the country.

We discussed the recent session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa. The session’s participants elected the Kingdom of Lesotho to the African Union Commission’s Peace and Security Department. This important position will allow us to further expand cooperation on African issues.

In general, we advocated greater cooperation between Russia and the African countries in all areas, primarily in the context of a proposal by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July 2018. He suggested holding the first ever Russia-Africa summit due to be held this autumn. More events like this summit are scheduled; and others have already been held. The Russia-Africa Public Forum was held in October 2018. An inter-parliamentary Russian-African conference is scheduled within the same format later this year. Russia will host a general meeting of the African Export-Import Bank’s shareholders. We believe that this will make it possible to considerably raise the level of cooperation and improve its quality and to chart specific ways of further enriching our traditionally very friendly relations with our African friends.







Question:

The latest summit of the guarantor countries on Syria will open tomorrow. Is it possible to say that a joint decision on the need to liberate the city of Idlib is already in the offing?



Sergey Lavrov:

Tomorrow’s trilateral Russia-Turkey-Iran summit on the Syrian settlement concerns the developments in the Idlib de-escalation zone as well as problems created there by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra). The agreement reached by the presidents of Russia and Turkey in September 2018 on the approach to resolving the Idlib zone problem was temporary. It was reaffirmed a couple of times at meetings of our leaders after last September.

The agreement boiled down to the need to separate the opposition interested in normal dialogue with the Government from the terrorists and thereby isolate them and continue to work toward their destruction because no agreements provide for the preservation of this terrorist nest on Syrian territory.

According to incoming information, some Western countries want exactly this and the participation of the enclave, in which Jabhat al-Nusra captured 90 percent of its territory, in some future political process. Obviously, any talks with terrorists are impossible. However, our Western colleagues have repeatedly resorted to double standards, so I do not rule out that this information is accurate.

Before the trilateral summit tomorrow, President of Russia Vladimir Putin will hold talks with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. Needless to say, the issue of the Idlib zone will be central at the meeting with Erdogan. Everyone understands that Jabhat al-Nusra must not be allowed to continue entrenching itself in this zone where it has practically tripled the area of the territory under its control. Instead of separating the fighters of illegal armed formations from Jabhat al-Nusra, the reverse is happening.

We will do everything to help the Syrian Government and its armed forces to liberate their territory. We will also support the actions of the Syrian Army that should progress in keeping with the provisions of international humanitarian law. We will not allow what the Western coalition did in Raqqa. Everyone saw how Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta were freed. Hundreds of thousands of people have long returned to these cities. Meanwhile, corpses have not been taken away and mines have not been cleared in Raqqa, for one. We will not allow this to happen. The Syrian Government is absolutely opposed to such outcomes.



Question:

What is preventing the Constitutional Committee on Syria from starting to work?



Sergey Lavrov:

This issue will be discussed by all means. It has already been reviewed at today’s consultations of our experts on drafting agreements for the three presidents at tomorrow’s summit. We thought that the issue of establishing the Constitutional Committee was resolved in December. A Government-supported list was accepted by the opposition. The foreign ministers of Turkey, Iran and Russia sent this information to the then UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura. Later on, it transpired that the list was not welcomed by all. It was opposed by some Western countries rather than some Syrian parties. And they started throwing spanners into the UN machinery to prevent its endorsement. By and large, the UN is a facilitator and a helpful mechanism whereas dialogue should be conducted by Syrians themselves. Such crude and unceremonious interference in the neocolonial spirit evokes serious concern. But we are not closing ourselves off and are willing to look for a way out of this situation. We understand that the UN should facilitate the Syrian dialogue. We have discussed these issues with the new UN envoy on Syria. My deputy recently met with him in Geneva. We will continue this work. We will report to our leaders at what stage this work is and tomorrow they should make a decision on further advancing the inter-Syrian dialogue.

Let me repeat that nobody has ever worked on the practical issues involved in organising an inclusive dialogue among Syrians. Those that are trying to subvert these efforts will never succeed. They are motivated only by one goal – to prove that decision-making is their prerogative. This is egoistic and does not meet the interests of the international community in the Syrian settlement process and other issues. It is unacceptable to impose anything. What is needed is in an inclusive dialogue, be it in Syria, Venezuela or somewhere else.



Question:

Can you comment on Moscow’s position on Damascus’s note to the UN Secretary-General with the demand to denounce the actions of the US-led international coalition, in part, the air attack on Deir ez-Zor, during which civilians were affected?



Sergey Lavrov:

Damascus urged the Security Council to release a statement on this event. This has happened more than once. The coalition regularly hits the wrong targets, affecting civilians and infrastructure. This is no longer a new trend. Let me recall that during the bombing of Yugoslavia a vast number of civilian facilities were subjected to attacks – on purpose, including a bridge with a passenger train on it and the TV Centre in Belgrade. Nothing has changed in international humanitarian law since then; it prohibits using facilities like this as targets. We will support Syria in the UN Security Council. We will do this for any country that will suffer lawlessness that is perpetrated by uninvited foreign armed forces.



Question:

The INF Treaty was not mentioned in yesterday’s Foreign Ministry release for the media on your conversation with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. Wasn’t it mentioned at all?



Sergey Lavrov:

Indeed, this issue was not mentioned during my conversation with Michael Pompeo. We gave a press release in which we listed the issues we discussed by telephone. Several days ago President Vladimir Putin made a clear statement on the INF Treaty and other issues related to strategic stability and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He reviewed the initiatives that have remained unanswered by the US and its Western allies. The President said that they “remain on the table” but instructed Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and me to no longer remind anyone about them. Everyone is aware of these initiatives. When our colleagues are ready, we will be willing to conduct a professional, to the point and non-politicised conversation. Michael Pompeo did not talk about this issue yesterday, so the Americans are not ready yet.



Question:

The Financial Times wrote recently that the US and the EU have almost coordinated anti-Russia sanctions related to the incident in the Kerch Strait. In part, this issue will be put on the agenda of the EU Council of Ministers meeting on Monday (February 18). What is our attitude to this?



Sergey Lavrov:

We said a long time ago that we won’t discuss the sanctions with anyone. We want to develop our economy and trade with normal foreign partners so as not to depend on anyone’s whims. In this case – on the whims of those who have failed to honour their word, allowed a coup in Kiev and did not compel the opposition to fulfill their agreements with President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. We are dealing with people who introduced sanctions in response to the declaration of will by Crimeans and in general to all events that are taking place in this area, including in eastern Ukraine. I think this is yet another occasion where the Europeans have to admit their complete inability to make President of Ukraine Poroshenko abide by the Minsk agreements. Something has to be done since they are unable to direct their “clients.” So they decided to adopt another package of sanctions. We know these sanctions are taken under heavy US pressure, which is further evidence of the EU’s lack of independence. This is sad…

We are open to dialogue but will proceed from the premise that we should not be dependent on people that act like this, including actions with regard to the commitments on settling the Ukrainian crisis that they assumed in February 2014.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3514999






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's opening remarks during talks with Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic Andrej Danko, Sochi, February 13, 2019



13 February 2019 - 18:20






Mr Speaker,

Colleagues,

We are glad to welcome you in Sochi as part of your visit to the Russian Federation. I know that today you have had a very substantial meeting with Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin. We are maintaining our dialogue in all areas. Overall, we are satisfied with how our relations are advancing both in terms of political contacts at various levels and the dialogue on practical cooperation. Especially valuable is the fact that, in my opinion, we are making progress in many directions despite the difficult international environment and conditions in Europe. We see your commitment to developing and deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, and we respond in kind.

Notably, we have very good regular contacts between our foreign ministries. Next week, Slovak Minister of Foreign Affairs Miroslav Lajcak, with whom I regularly meet, is arriving in Moscow in his capacity as Chairperson-in Office of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Of course, we will discuss not only issues related to the OSCE but also our bilateral affairs and certain pressing situations in international and European politics. We hold regular consultations at the level of deputy foreign ministers and heads of departments, so we have a well-developed system that covers all areas of our foreign policies.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ambassador of Slovakia to Russia Mr Peter Priputen for his work in Moscow. We appreciate it.

Of course, as I have already said, we attach much importance to inter-parliamentary contacts, including those between friendship groups of deputies and individual committees. This has become a routine practice. We see that you personally, Mr Speaker, support this process. We see your consistent position on the development of mutually beneficial relations, and your balanced and unbiased approach to the current political and international realities.







Our partnership is based on the economy. Slovakia is one of our important trade and economic partners. We are Slovakia’s third [largest] trade partner after Germany and the Czech Republic (at least according to our statistics). Our trade has been on the rise for more than a year and is approaching $5.5 billion. In 2017, it increased by over 26 percent, and we hope it will continue to grow this year. We would like to consolidate this trend. We place great importance on the work of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation that adopted major agreements in Slovakia last October. We are set to carry them out.

I would like to mention people-to-people contacts, which are traditionally supported by residents of our two countries. We are implementing a programme for cultural cooperation for 2018-2020 and are enhancing direct ties between universities – scientific and sports exchanges. We are happy to witness the Slovak people’s growing interest in the Russian language and will do everything to help them satisfy it.

In conclusion, I cannot but mention yet another area of our cooperation, notably work on military memorials. We are very grateful to the Slovak leaders, local authorities and all the people of Slovakia for their respectful attitude to the memory of Soviet soldiers who gave up their lives for the liberation of European nations from Nazism. We are grateful for the proper care of military graves and memorials in your country.

We know that you will mark the anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising in August. By tradition, we take part in such events. We will be ready to contribute to the celebration of this important date this year.

Once again, thank you for expressing your interest in meeting representatives of the Defence Ministry of Russia and welcome!




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3515551
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during his meeting with Chancellor of the Security Council of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Masrour Barzani on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 15, 2019



15 February 2019 - 16:04






It is very nice to touch base with you again. This is another manifestation of the fact that we are promoting our dialogue with Iraq involving all political, ethnic and religious groups and that we value the multi-ethnic and multi-faith nature of the Iraqi state.







It sustained certain damage a while ago. The situation is not perfect at the moment but there is progress and we wish you all the best. We are ready to discuss the immediate tasks of your government, the Iraqi Kurdistan and what we can do to help our friends prosper.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519737






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at the Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 16, 2019



16 February 2019 - 17:25







First of all, Wolfgang (Ischinger), thank you for your presentation and your kind words. There is yet another reason why I address [this conference] more often than anyone else: this is because you have kept your post for so long.

Today, the situation on the European continent and generally in the Euro-Atlantic region is, certainly, extremely tense. There appear ever more new rifts and the old ones grow deeper. I think that under these circumstances, it is relevant and even timely to turn to the European Home idea, no matter how strange this may sound in the current situation.

Many great modern day politicians realised the need for pooling the potentials of absolutely all European states. Let me mention Charles de Gaulle, who put forward the concept of Greater Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, a peaceful Europe without divides or bloc confrontations, which, in his opinion, made Europe “artificial and barren.” Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Francois Mitterrand also spoke about the importance of the broadest possible partnership with Russia in the name of stability and security.

After the Cold War, these noble plans had every chance of being successfully implemented. But, regrettably, they still remain just good intentions. The choice has been made in favour of “NATO-centrism” and the “leader-wingman” logic. The illegal bombing attacks on Yugoslavia, its partition and the unilateral recognition of Kosovo independence, which recurved state borders on the continent for the first time after WWII, support for the armed coup in Kiev, the reckless expansion of NATO and the deployment of US ABM defences, the EU’s refusal to accept the reciprocal visa renunciation decision that had been coordinated between Moscow and Brussels, and the discrimination of Russian PACE deputies are like links in a chain. Let me add that Russia and the EU had officially approved roadmaps for forming four common spaces from economy and justice to science and education. To all intents and purposes, they have been forgotten and no one even recalls them, let alone work in these fields that, let me underscore, have been approved at the highest level. The same could be said about the commitment not to bolster up one’s security at the expense of others, which was approved at the top level in the OSCE and Russia-NATO Council documents. Not only has it been forgotten but it is also being grossly trampled upon.







So, what do we have as a result? A United Europe has not been built. The considerable potential of interaction between Russia and EU, its comparative advantage are not used. Problems that are of vital importance for all of us, from final extermination of terrorism to ensuring sustainable economic growth, are not being given fitting solutions.

While the Europeans have allowed themselves to be involved in a senseless confrontation with Russia and are sustaining billions in losses from the sanctions that have been handed down from overseas, the world continues to change rapidly. In practical terms, the EU no longer has the monopoly on the regional integration agenda. The balance of power is being modified on the huge Eurasian continent, primarily due to the new centres in the Asia Pacific region. The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has become an inalienable part of the geopolitical landscape, as evidenced by both concrete results achieved by it and the desire demonstrated by dozens of states and associations to sign preferential agreements with the EAEU. The People’s Republic of China, which has been promoting the One Belt, One Road concept, is making its own contribution to upgrading Eurasia. There are relevant open integration projects on the SCO platform as well.

I am sure that integration processes must not be compounded with confrontation and rivalry. We see the possibility of combining our potentials, for implementing various multilateral projects and for searching together for new growth points. Efforts to create a common Eurasian space have been taken through the alignment of the EAEU with the Belt and Road initiative. Ties are getting ever stronger between the EAEU and ASEAN and between these two organisations and the SCO. These processes are logically developing in keeping with the initiative which President Vladimir Putin advanced several years ago in support of the Greater Eurasian Partnership as a broad integration contour based on the values of international law, openness and transparency.

The above shows that we have started working in deed, not in word, to ensure the indivisibility of economic development on our huge as well as extremely rich continent. I believe that our European partners will benefit from joining this project. The creation of a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok will enhance the competitiveness of all members in deed, not in word, especially in light of the increasingly egoistical behaviour of some countries on the global market and attempts to enforce their rules of the game on everyone everywhere in violation of the UN and WTO norms.

The technical matter of developing a stable dialogue between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission is long overdue. We are ready for this.

A growing economic connectivity in Eurasia could provide a solid foundation for the continent’s architecture of equal and indivisible security. I would like to remind you that we are yet to implement the commitment, which was adopted at the OSCE summit in Astana in 2010, to create a free, democratic, common and indivisible security community in the OSCE area.

Contrary to speculations, Russia is interested in a strong, independent and open European Union. President Putin spoke about this in November 2018, when he said that the EU’s striving for independence, self-sufficiency and sovereignty in defence and security is a natural and positive desire in the context of strengthening a multipolar world. It is another matter if the EU will be allowed to attain this goal.

The realities of the 21st century call for burying the remaining residues of colonial mentality and the philosophy of iron curtains and cordon sanitaire. The common European home needs serious repairs. The tasks we face are really huge. We can fulfil the jobs efficiently only together on a common basis. It has been suggested recently that work is more effective if it is not done on a common basis but through the so-called new multilateralism, which provides for creating special interest clubs. This would be a big step back from the goal we had in mind when we established the UN. It would amount to an attempt to replace a global organisation with clubs for the select few. We have seen this before. No good will come of it.

Thank you. I am ready to answer your questions now.






Question:

What are Russia’s expectations and approaches to extending the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty)?



Sergey Lavrov:

President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that we are ready to start talks on extending the New START Treaty. It only expires in 2021, but time quickly flies by. We suggested that together with our US colleagues we start a discussion, given our concerns linked to the US decision to rearm their submarines and heavy bombers with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The New START Treaty allows for this possibility, provided the other party to the Treaty regards these changes as technically reliable. To this very day, we haven’t received from the Americans any proposals on starting meaningful consultations. But we are not losing hope.



Question:

Will we be able to keep cooperating in the Arctic region, despite the deterioration of East-West relations? I mean Russia and Norway, Russia and Western countries?



Sergey Lavrov:

Where Russia is concerned, the reply is an unequivocal “yes.” Of course, we are paying attention to NATO states’ increased activities in the region. We have discussed this with our Norwegian partners. We want to understand what objectives NATO is pursuing in the Arctic?

To listen to statements made by the British Secretary of Defence, Gavin Williamson, one gets the impression that no one but NATO has the right to interests anywhere except within its own borders.

We have repeatedly made various constructive proposals at the Arctic Council and other regional organisations. We are confident that cooperation in the Arctic does not require any military component. I hope that our partners agree with this approach.



Question:

Why is Russia not seeking a political solution to the Syria crisis? As for Idlib, how does Russia intend to rid the province of terrorists unless it launches a military offensive?



Sergey Lavrov:

The answer to the first question is clear. In my opinion, there is no need to say why someone is seeking a peace settlement anywhere. I don’t think I should dwell upon this.

Where Idlib is concerned, Russia and Turkey, as you may know, signed a memorandum back in September, under which Turkey has assumed commitments to separate opposition groups cooperating with Ankara from Jabhat al-Nusra, now part of a wider terrorist coalition known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. But they have been unable to do that up to this day. Moreover, regrettably, the Nusra Front has imposed its control over 90 per cent of the de-escalation zone in Idlib.

Two days ago, the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran were meeting in Sochi and discussed this situation, along with other topics. They have reached an agreement that the Russian and Turkish military, with the Syrian government’s consent, will try to act step by step creating several joint patrolling areas within the de-escalation zone. We will wait and see how it works.

Addressing a news conference in Sochi President Putin said clearly that we could not put up with “this hotbed of terrorism” forever. How to solve this problem is a question we should put to the military. I am confident that they will do it differently from how the terrorists were being destroyed in Raqqa, where bodies of peaceful civilians and mines are still lying in the open, with no one to attend to them. But it is the military that should draw up a plan in keeping with international humanitarian law requirements.

Of course, everyone can interpret international humanitarian law in his own way. As Belgrade was being bombed, the targets were a train moving on a bridge, or a television centre, and this was also regarded as normal. But we don’t intend to follow these sorts of international humanitarian law interpretations.



Question:

Elaborating on what The Washington Post correspondent has said, I would like to ask the following. Since Russia is a guarantor of security in Syria, can you guarantee that the Assad regime will stop threatening the region and will end its atrocities against its own people?



Sergey Lavrov:

No matter what I say in reply, you will write what you want. So, go on, write what you want.



Question:

The Russian government attempted to interfere in the affairs of Greece and North Macedonia, pandering to the nationalist forces in these countries. How does this relate to your statements on supporting the European Union?



Sergey Lavrov:

I will take up this question, although I could answer it in the same way as I did with the previous question.

Russia has been accused of interfering in the matter of changing Macedonia’s name, but these accusations have not been supported with any clear or reliable facts. Yesterday, I talked with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and several other colleagues. Mr Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and some of the American colleagues, I believe it was the US Defence Secretary – in all, five or six of the leading Western politicians – visited Skopje and publicly urged the people to vote for changing the republic’s name in the referendum. They did this publicly and openly. Had we done one hundredth of what they did, new sanctions would have been imposed on Russia. But these “first class passengers” get away with anything.

When Kosovo seceded [from Serbia] and unilaterally declared independence, which the majority of Western countries recognised, we warned them about the possible consequences of this. Now Pristina does what it wants.

Our Western colleagues use the terms “international law” and “norms of international law” only rarely these days. Instead, they are talking about a “rules-based order” claiming that it is the same thing. However, they prefer using their own term rather than “international law.” As I see it, they do not want to comply with international law as it is sealed in, say, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has been ratified by all members of the international community. They only want to use the “rules” which they have invented themselves in order to interpret the convention in violation of its established procedures.

UN Security Council Resolution 1244 is international law and it, prohibits the establishment of a regular army in Kosovo. However, international law has been violated by a new rule according to which Kosovo can have its own army. And this rule is being upheld by the NATO Secretary General.

There are many other provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 that have not been implemented even despite the efforts of the European Union. The EU mediated the drafting of agreements between Pristina and Belgrade on the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, as well as on a special court for those whom PACE member Dick Marty accused of organ trafficking in his report. They have agreed on all of this, but the special court has not begun its work and, I believe, will not start now.

Pristina has recently decided to impose a 100 per cent duty on imports from Serbia, a decision which the United States and the EU have officially criticised. However, I do not doubt for a second that this decision was coordinated with those who want to force Belgrade to officially recognise Kosovo’s independence. I have no doubt that this is how the game is being played.

By the way, yesterday Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama said openly in an interview with a Greek newspaper that Kosovo is part of Albania. Well, you wanted it, you got it.



Question:

In the morning today, I asked Romanian President Klaus Iohannis as a representative of a Black Sea country about instability in the Black Sea region and Romania’s stance as an EU member on this matter. Tension seems to be on the rise in this region after the recent conflict in the Sea of Azov, or rather it’s a cinch that it is not receding. Could you briefly outline Russia’s position in the Black Sea region and on conflicts of this sort?



Sergey Lavrov:

If you mean the incident involving the Ukrainian Navy’s ships, this was a stage-managed provocation; we have no doubt about this. Petr Poroshenko needed it for his personal aims in order to launch his presidential election campaign and represent it in a favourable light. This incident occurred after two similar Ukrainian Navy ships sailed through the Kerch Strait to the Sea of Azov without any hindrance in September 2018, because they followed security instructions. It is a narrow passage that requires pilotage support and all ships heading for the Sea of Azov request it. Those ships were obeying the security rules.

In November, the Ukrainian authorities needed a scandal and they got it. By the way – I am speaking for the benefit of those who still harbour illusions about Crimea – the Ukrainian vessels were detained in Russian territorial waters that had this status even before the referendum in Crimea.

Now let us focus on a more comprehensive approach to the security issue in the Black Sea region. Your question was about the EU’s perspective on this. Brussels has many regional initiatives, including in the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, Central Asia, and so on. We have nothing against it. The only thing of which we ask the EU is to pay due respect to the arrangements already existing in various regions, be it in the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, or any other region.

There are two mechanisms created by the littoral states in the Black Sea region: the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and Operation Black Sea Harmony initiated by Turkey and supported by all other countries in the region. It is clear what BSEC means. The case in point is economic cooperation. Black Sea Harmony is a joint operation mounted by the littoral navies to ensure legitimacy of shipping in the Black Sea.

I think that anyone wishing to contribute to stability in the Black Sea should respect the existing order. The EU has been invited and has BSEC observer status. They know only too well what things are like over there.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520272






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with member of the Politburo and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 16, 2019



16 February 2019 - 19:51







Many thanks, Mr Yang Jiechi, my dear friend.

We share your satisfaction with Russian-Chinese strategic partnership and comprehensive cooperation. We see that our relations have greatly progressed over the past few years.

Our heads of state met four times last year, and our heads of government meet regularly. The five intergovernmental commissions chaired by our prime ministers have held their meetings as well. You co-chaired a regular meeting on criminal justice, public safety and law enforcement together with your Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev. There are plans for many more contacts in all spheres of our cooperation.







Our bilateral trade has reached a record high. We are looking forward to the next Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, which President of Russia Vladimir Putin will attend.

We also expect President of China Xi Jinping to attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum as its main guest during his visit to Russia.

We have many plans. We must prepare thoroughly to implement them.

I hope that our meeting today will contribute to this.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520327






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 16, 2019



16 February 2019 - 19:58







Mr Minister,

Colleagues,

Welcome to Russia’s General Consulate in Munich.

We are meeting pursuant to the Singapore agreement between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe on the need to intensify the work on a peace treaty based on the 1956 Declaration.







We met earlier, in Moscow on January 14, and then we agreed to your proposal to meet here, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Today, I hope to continue our dialogue in strict compliance and consistency with what was determined by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Once again, welcome.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520341






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 16, 2019



16 February 2019 - 21:15







Question:

You called the UK Secretary of Defence “war secretary.” Is this a signal or a slip of the tongue?



Sergey Lavrov:

It is a slip of the tongue, a Freudian slip. The UK used to have a secretary of state for war.



Question:

Is there still a window of opportunity for an agreement on the INF Treaty?



Sergey Lavrov:

There are windows or margins of opportunity, but keeping them open does not depend on us. We have proposed holding a normal professional dialogue, and we are still ready to do this. We need it to discuss the concerns we and the Americans have professionally and without undue emotions.

We have taken the first step by arranging a demonstration of the missile the Americans claim to be in violation of the INF Treaty. They refused to attend it. Out of all the NATO countries, only Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria attended the demonstration and the briefing. Those who attended the briefing say that it was organised professionally and was very convincing. Of course, some of those who boycotted that briefing could have asked additional questions if they had attended it. Our military were ready to answer them.

But as they say, love cannot be forced.

There must have been an order. We have no doubt that the United States ordered the NATO countries to boycott that event. Only three more or less independent members disobeyed that order.

I have said more than once that back in October US officials told us that what President Donald Trump said about withdrawing from the INF Treaty is final and not an invitation for dialogue. This is what they have told us. Rallying their allies to accuse us of destroying this vital agreement after saying that is quite unscrupulous.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520426






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 16, 2019



16 February 2019 - 23:18







Question:

Does the common position of most European countries on the recognition of the self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido indicate that the current norms of international law are no longer operating? Was Venezuela mentioned in your conversations with your colleagues, and if so, in what context?



Sergey Lavrov:

Venezuela was among the issues discussed with almost all of the partners I had bilateral meetings with (about twenty).

We view the position of the United States and those European countries that have put forward an ultimatum to the legitimate President as manifestations of the very trend that we have already spoken about more than once – when Western countries realise that it is difficult to impose their unilateral agenda on others in a multipolar format, they begin to look for ways to bypass universal institutions such as the UN. They are trying to replace the very essence of international law with certain invented arrangements which they call the “rules-based order.” It is now firmly established in their vocabulary. If guided by the international law, in particular, the UN Charter, the Venezuelan crisis would qualify as that country’s internal affair and the international community would be obliged to urge Venezuelans to find a solution themselves. Uruguay, Mexico, the Caribbean Community countries, Russia, China, Iran, Bolivia and many others have supported this. Yet, this interpretation apparently does not fit with the plan already conceived for the Venezuelan state. Therefore, instead of applying international law and the UN Charter, they put forward some rules they want to use to solve this problem, forcing the legally-elected President to agree to early elections. At the same time, Juan Guaido has been proclaimed acting president by external players, again in accordance with the rules invented by the West.

I would say the lawless nature of everything that is happening is obvious even to my Western European colleagues, who were reluctant to discuss this topic.



Question:

Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has supported Nord Stream 2. It seems that despite charges that it is a political move, Ms Merkel is ready to go against the “players” in Germany’s economic and energy spheres. In your opinion, will Germany manage to keep its position? Will the pressure intensify?



Sergey Lavrov:

Where Nord Stream 2 is concerned, I did not hear from my German counterpart Heiko Maas anything that would signal a change in Germany’s position in favour of this purely economic, commercial project.

I have derived the same impression from today’s early breakfast that Heiko Maas and I went to as part of the meeting of Russian and German business leaders.



Question:

Yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham told the session that President Donald Trump was going to establish a buffer zone in northern Syria with the help of European allies. What is Russia’s position on this matter?



Sergey Lavrov:

I find it hard to comment on Mr Graham or anyone else’s statements regarding President Trump’s intention to create buffer zones in northern Syria. The US leader has announced that they are withdrawing from Syria. Later his staff declared that this was not quite so: they might be pulling out but not entirely; perhaps they would be replaced there by some private military company, or the French, or the British…

In my opinion, everyone should be guided by the agreements developed within the Astana format. The participants at the Sochi meeting discussed security both on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and on the Turkey-Syria border, among other things. All the presidents agreed that there was the 1998 Adana Agreement between Syria and Turkey, whereby security cooperation principles were established for use on their joint border, the principles of which are in force to this day. Among other things, they provide for joint actions against terrorist threats. This is what I would advise you to be guided by.

I think that various plans by countries having no legitimate right to be in Syria, the more so plans to involve even more illegitimate players, do not help the matter.



Question:

A BBC producer has published the results of a six-month investigation, saying that he can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged. In other words, the West is coming around to see that provocations have been staged against Russia and the Syrian government. What do you think about this? Is it true that the West is coming to see the truth and is changing its attitude?



Sergey Lavrov:

I think the West knew this from the very beginning, because it were certain Western countries that staged these provocations, including with the help of the notorious White Helmets, a presumably humanitarian organisation that is headed by a former MI-6 agent.

By the way, our Western colleagues have not resettled all of their wards from Jordan yet. They have asked Jordan to shelter the White Helmets for some time, but the deadline is long past and they are still in Jordan. They have probably seen whom they have given shelter to and that these guys, if they are resettled in the West, can potentially act in Western countries the way they had been trained to act. I think that those of our Western partners who were not involved in these provocations are aware of the absurdity of the accusations.

It is good that there are honest journalists in this world. By the way, he [the BBC producer] did not say that no chemical substances were used in Douma. He says he “can prove without a doubt” that sarin was not used in Douma. This is true. As for the possible use of chlorine, he proposed waiting for the OPCW to prove chlorine or otherwise. Regrettably, the OPCW’s investigation is taking suspiciously long. First of all, it took a long time to convince its experts to visit the suspected attack site, and now they have spent months there investigating it.

The UK journalist has pointed out clearly that the investigation of the Douma Hospital footage shows that the scene was staged. In fact, our military also said that the militants could use chlorine for a provocation. It should be clear to everyone that the hospital scene was staged. It is notable that what the [Western] journalist has said so openly, is being frowned upon in the West.







Question:

Have you harmonised positions at a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono? What are the biggest obstacles standing in the way of signing a peace treaty? Can they be removed in time for the G20 summit?



Sergey Lavrov:

We in Russia do not set any deadlines for this. We calmly explain to our Japanese colleagues that nothing of this kind can be planned. We want to proceed from the 1956 Declaration, just as our leaders agreed in Singapore at the end of last year. This implies that the first step must be to sign a peace treaty. According to the Russian stand, which is public knowledge, this means that there is no alternative for our Japanese neighbours’ recognition of the results of WWII, including Russia’s sovereignty over all the Kuril Islands, including the four islands of the Lesser Kuril Chain.

We have agreed on the steps we would take next. We have deputies who are responsible for this between ministerial meetings, as instructed by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They will hold talks in the next few weeks. Based on the outcome of this meeting, we will set the date for a ministerial meeting in Japan.

At the same time, we maintain dialogue at the level of first deputy ministers. Their next meeting is scheduled to take place on April 2. In addition to this, our deputy ministers will meet to discuss regional security and our mutual concerns about threats in Northeast Asia.



Question:

Mr Lavrov, today German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke in favour of the Minsk Agreements. When and on what terms would it be reasonable to resume the talks in the Normandy format at the level of foreign ministers or at the top level?



Sergey Lavrov:

Contact in the Normandy format continues at the expert level, although these efforts could be described as middling. We believe that first we need to achieve what the leaders agreed on earlier. Recently Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin announced that Ukraine supports the Normandy format but the meetings must be more productive. This is exactly what we have been saying. For over two years, Kiev has been sabotaging the leaders’ decisions that were made in October 2016 in Berlin.

The decisions are well known: to withdraw forces and equipment from three towns where the Ukrainians demand a complete ceasefire for a week before they start to withdraw. The OSCE has already recorded 55 ceasefires lasting one week and longer. But the Ukrainians turn a deaf ear to these statements and claim that they “heard gunshots.”

The second agreement is the notorious Steinmeier formula meaning that the law on Donbass’ special status must temporarily come into effect on the election day in Donbass and permanently on the day when the OSCE publishes its final report stating that the election took place, was honest and just. Ukraine is not supporting this clear agreement between the leaders either in the Contact Group or at the Normandy format expert level. Ukraine refuses to sign the respective document that would drive the Minsk Agreements forward.

In the bigger picture, I have already mentioned that the West is pushing a course for replacing international law with alleged rules that order should be based on. We have already had to deal with this new order. God forbid.

The Minsk Agreements were approved by a UNSC resolution hence becoming part of international law. Kiev does not want to fulfill them. Then US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker tried to persuade us and everybody else that the process needs to be set in motion by coming up with rules instead of an international legal act in the form of a UNSC resolution. The rules state that it is not Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk that should be in charge of the election (as is stated in the Minsk Agreements) but the UN. For this to happen, the first measure must be to send 20,000 to 30,000 troops and heavy arms to that part of Donbass, close the perimeter of the DPR and the LPR, disperse the militia and administrative bodies, bring in the UN police, set up a UN administration and only then fulfill the Minsk Agreements. I don’t have to explain the difference between this approach and what was agreed upon.

As the President said, we cannot expect any positive developments from Kiev until the Ukrainian presidential election. By the way, some say that nothing will radically change in the Ukrainian leadership’s position until the parliamentary elections.



Question:

This year marks five years since we returned to Russia. We are marking the fifth anniversary of the Crimean Spring and reviewing our integration into Russia. What can you tell us about the diplomatic work?



Sergey Lavrov:

Our diplomatic work consists first of all in making our partners understand reality. Not much is required for that; just go there and see everything with your own eyes, like when the representatives from public organisations and political parties from Europe went for the referendum on their own initiative. It is true that there were no official OSCE missions, but there were a lot of foreigners who saw everything first hand. They saw it and said it was impossible to fake anything. So we are eager to persuade anyone who is preoccupied with Crimea to go there and see if allegations of a human rights nightmare or a humanitarian crisis are true.

A cathedral mosque is being built in Simferopol for the first time in Crimean history. This did not happen under Soviet rule nor during the years when Crimea was part of Ukraine. We have been accused of discriminating
against Crimean Tatars even though the Crimean Tatar language has become an official language, another thing that didn’t happen under Ukraine.

We welcome everyone there. However, many people ask about entering Crimea from Ukraine. We answer that in this case there is nothing to discuss because it means that they are not interested in life in Crimea but in politicising the issue. They want to show through their itinerary that they do not recognise the Crimean people’s choice.

Another practical aspect which comes to mind now is visa discrimination of Russian citizens living in Crimea because they are deprived of the right to get Schengen visas. Yesterday I met with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and other EU representatives to discuss this. This is pure discrimination for political reasons, a punishment for the free exercise of choice. Our colleagues have no argument against this, they look down and avoid the discussion. We will continue working on this and we will invite more international events to be held in Crimea.



Question:

During the conference today it was mentioned that you are the most experienced participant in the Munich forum. We would like to know your opinion of this conference, since you have seen so many events like this. Is it easier now to come to agreement with partners on coordinated decisions or are participants’ attitudes towards Russia different this year?



Sergey Lavrov:

We would even like to be a little more isolated because our talks lasted non-stop, over two dozen meetings. Our entire delegation was extremely busy. All of our discussions were constructive, even with politicians who at various times, when they speak in the European Parliament or at other venues, have expressed hard opinions about Russia. Everyone assured us that they want to normalise relations with Russia. But apparently they are guided by collusion and follow a policy charted by the EU under pressure from the aggressive Russophobic minority.

We patiently explain our willingness to resume relations on an equal basis and at a rate and to a degree that will suit our partners. We do not hold a grudge against anyone; we have simply understood as to whom we can rely on in developing our country and whom we cannot, including cases when someone decides to punish us for something else, like the Crimean Spring. But I’ll repeat that they do not respond in any way when I remind them that a few days after the coup, which was carried out by the opposition whom they supported, in violation of the guarantees given by France, Germany and Poland that there would be no backsliding on the agreements with Viktor Yanukovych, one of the Maidan leaders Dmitry Yarosh said that a Russian in Crimea would never think or talk in Ukrainian, nor would he respect Shukhevych, Bandera or any other neo-Nazis or their accomplices. So a Russian living in Crimea, as this Maidan leader who was very popular and influential at that time used to say, should either be eliminated or evicted. Those declarations and the “friendship trains” carrying armed thugs that he later sent to Crimea and the attempted attack on the Supreme Council of Crimea building caused an outburst of indignation from the Crimean people. When we explain all this and say that those people were responding to a racist threat, we get no response. I believe that indeed there are people who are ashamed of this attitude. But nothing can be done about it.

Regarding the conference in general, the audience are more eager to listen. Patience always pays off. We are patient people, strategically as well. Still, there is another issue which had an effect on the overall atmosphere. It was reflected in a distributed report called The Great Puzzle. Supposedly, the puzzle is coming apart because there is no one to pick up the pieces. We can feel the confusion caused by what is going on, both concerning the threats to the world trade system and its openness that emerge almost on a daily basis, and unilateral enforcement measures and attempts to expand one jurisdiction’s laws exterritorialy to other countries. Certainly, Washington’s policy to disrupt the system of international arms control treaties also adds to the feeling of confusion.

Everybody understands that this situation does not require an “anti-policy.” It is important to call all reasonable parties together and sit down at a table and find formats where all the main players can be represented. In this respect, the G20 discussions will be very indicative. It will be interesting to see all this turn into specific documents and viewpoints. Official bodies will be working there, in Japan. Here we have political analysts or public officials in a private capacity.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520504






Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answer to a media question on the sidelines of the Russia-Turkey-Iran trilateral summit (Sochi, February 14) for Moscow. Kremlin. Putin television programme, Moscow, February 17, 2019



17 February 2019 - 22:15







Question:

You have warned the United States against imposing new sanctions. What could we do in return? How can we respond if the US imposes sanctions after all?



Sergey Lavrov:

I have not warned them against anything. I simply said that this would be pointless, and nothing else. I said that the goal was not clear. If they still fail to understand that sanctions do not work, I feel sorry for them.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520882







The following events are not displayed in the English version.


11 February 2019

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lebanese Republic Jean Obeid - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3511551


15 February 2019

Talks of S. Lavrov with Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Belgium Didier Reinders - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519511

Talks of S. Lavrov with German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs H. Maas - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519844

Meeting of S. Lavrov with NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519873

Meeting of S. Lavrov with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the European Commission F. Mogherini - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519891

Conversation of S. Lavrov with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Kang Kyung-hwa - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519901

Meeting of S. Lavrov with representatives of the “Group of Elders” on the sidelines of the Munich Security Policy Conference - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519911

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya G. Salame - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519921

Talks of S. Lavrov with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands S. Blok - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519931

Meeting of S. Lavrov with Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia M. Pejcinovic-Buric - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519941


16 February 2019

On the participation of S. Lavrov in the business breakfast with representatives of the Russian and German business circles - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520023

Meeting of S. Lavrov with Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Al-Dirdiri M. Ahmed - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520013

Meeting of S. Lavrov with President of the Republic of Moldova I. Dodon - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520041

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the chairman of the faction of the "European People's Party" in the European Parliament M. Weber - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520051

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D. Tsogtbatar - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520073

Meeting of S. Lavrov with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Togolese Republic R. Dusse - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520091

Conversation of S. Lavrov with the President of the Republic of Serbia, A. Vucic - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520113

Conversation of S. Lavrov with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Z. Mnatsakanyan - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520123

On the participation of S. Lavrov in the round table "Primakov readings" - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520313
__________________
Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit?
Piglet said that the best place would be somewhere where a Heffalump was, just before he fell into it, only about a foot farther on.
(c) Alan Alexander Miln
 
Old February 22nd, 2019 #20
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Most personal and non-personal events have not been translated to English.





Personal events:





Press release on First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov’s meeting with British Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan



16 February 2019 - 17:16



On February 16, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov had a meeting with British Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan in Munich where the Security Conference was held.

The officials discussed the current situation concerning Russian-British relations and ways to solve the accumulated problems. Russia stressed that there was no alternative than a mutually respectful and equal dialogue to normalise ties. The readiness for such joint work was expressed in case the British leadership corrects its unfriendly policy towards Russia.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3520229






11 February 2019

Interview of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia O. Syromolotov to the Izvestia newspaper, published on February 11, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3510307

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with a member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian Fatah Movement and the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization A. Ahmed - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3511626

Interview of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia A. Pankin to Russia Today International News Agency, February 9, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3511680

Interview of Secretary of State - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Grigory Karasin to the Russia Today International News Agency, February 11, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3511714

Meeting I. Morgulov with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China Kun Xuan - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3511832

Meeting of A. Pankin with the Ambassador of Austria in Moscow J. Aigner - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3512117

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Tunisia in Moscow M. Shihi - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3512280

M. Zakharova’s comment on the upcoming tripartite consultations with Australia and the Netherlands on the destruction of the Malaysian Boeing in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3512294

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with a representative of the leadership of the Syrian opposition Front for Change and Liberation, the head of the "Moscow Platform" of the Syrian opposition K. Jamil - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3512304


12 February 2019

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the appointed Ambassador of Mauritania in Moscow, H. Hamuni - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3513506

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the appointed Ambassador of the Republic of Namibia in Moscow, Klemens Handuukema Kashuupulva - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3513612

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the charge d'affaires of the State of Libya in Moscow Mustafa Abu-Sayed - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3513985


13 February 2019

Interview of the Permanent Representative of Russia to the Council of Europe, I. Soltanovsky, to the Russia Today International News Agency, February 10, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3514131

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement M. Barghouti - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3514944

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Deputy General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command T. Naji and a member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine M. Taher - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3515415

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with a member of the political bureau of the Palestinian movement Hamas M. Abu-Marzuk - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3515450

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Secretary General of the Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA) Z. Kamal and member of the PLO Executive Committee, Deputy Secretary General of FIDA S. Raafat - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3515575

Interview of V. Yermakov, Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, to the Russia Today International Information Agency, February 12, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3515615

Interview of V. Yermakov to Interfax News Agency, February 12, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3515625

Meeting of S. Ryabkov with the Special Representative of the President of Nicaragua on relations with Russia L. Ortega - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3515646


14 February 2019

Meeting of S. Ryabkov with American political analysts - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3516230

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with a member of the PLO Executive Committee, the Secretary General of the Front of the Palestinian People’s Struggle A. Maddaliani - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3517482

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of the State of Israel in Moscow G. Coran - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3517506

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Oman in Moscow Y. Al-Zadzhali - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3518115


15 February 2019

Speech by A. Lukashevich at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the situation in Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk agreements, Vienna, February 14, 2019 - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3518571

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of Egypt in Moscow I. Nasr - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519308

Meeting of M. Bogdanov with the Ambassador of the State of Kuwait in Moscow A. Al-Advani - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519755







Non-personal events:





Press release on the INF Treaty



11 February 2019 - 19:36



Seeking to justify its destructive decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty, the United States is waging a propaganda campaign that is based on an unscrupulous interpretation and bare-faced assumptions. Apart from underhanded attempts to place the blame squarely on Russia, the United States is deliberately downplaying the importance and validity of Russia’s longstanding concerns about Washington’s compliance with the INF Treaty. Moreover, false information has been planted regarding the development and the substance of dialogue on mutual complaints.

According to media reports and statements made by US officials, Russia put forth its own complaints instead of responding to US concerns about INF Treaty compliance. Actually, it was the other way around. The Americans first presented their complaints to Russia in 2013, whereas Russia outlined its concerns about the Pentagon using the so-called target missiles in violation of the treaty back in 1999, and raised concerns about armed unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in the early 2000s.

The statements made by US officials to the effect that the United States has allegedly responded to all Russian concerns are not true either. Russia has been patiently trying for years to ensure that the Americans remove obvious violations of the INF Treaty, providing factual arguments and technically sound reasons for this opinion. But Washington refused to consider them.

Regarding the US unmanned air vehicles with a warfighting capability, some types of such UAVs fully fit the INF Treaty term “ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM),” which is defined as “an unmanned, self-propelled vehicle that sustains flight through the use of aerodynamic lift over most of its flight path.” Whether Washington wants to admit it or not, this is exactly how this provision is formulated in the INF Treaty, and feigning ignorance of this is completely unacceptable.

There is no mention of any launchers or of single/multiple use of such vehicles in the INF Treaty. This means that any ground-launched armed UAVs with a range from 500 km to 5,500 km are in violation of the treaty.

Claims that Russia has pursued the development of armed UAVs for years are absolutely ungrounded. Unlike the United States, Russia has not deployed any UAVs of this class with the range prohibited in the treaty. As for research, R&D is not in violation.

As for the Pentagon’s large-scale use of target missiles in the flight tests of missile defence systems, as they describe them, we have solid reasons to believe that the United States actually tests systems that are prohibited in the INF Treaty. While claiming to be testing early warning systems, the US launched missiles to a distance of between 500 km and 5,500 km without destructive effect but completing a full flight cycle, from the launch to the decrease in the payload, which often includes manoeuvrable reentry vehicles (warheads), decoy targets, and the like.

Therefore, while claiming to be testing ballistic missile target vehicles, the United States is creating missiles whose flight range, velocity and control systems, as well as the mass-dimensional parameters of warheads are identical to the vehicles that are prohibited in the INF Treaty. We do not accept the US arguments that the target missiles are in compliance because they are not tested for combat purposes, since the launch of these missiles without interception is completely identical to the flight tests of weapons delivery systems.

The deployment of ground-based Mk-41 universal missile launchers as part of the Aegis Ashore complexes is another of Russia’s complaints against the United States which arguably causes the greatest concern in the context of the Treaty. They are deployed in Europe allegedly for missile defence purposes and nothing else. However, the above-mentioned launchers allow for land-based combat use of Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles and other attack weapons. This is a direct and flagrant violation of the INF Treaty.

As is known, under the INF Treaty, the United States at some point eliminated the Tomahawk cruise missile ground-based launch systems. These weapons were originally created under a single programme as a universal missile with various types of basing. The ground- and ship-based missiles were outwardly all but identical.

Now, several decades later, the United States is in the process of rebuilding the land-based Tomahawk infrastructure. This runs counter to the INF Treaty. Relocating Mk-41 missiles from ships to land clearly makes these units part of the GLCM launcher category.

Statements by US officials to the effect that the launchers that have already been deployed in Romania and are being readied for deployment in Poland are not similar to the sea-based MK-41 contradict what the US military and the Aegis Ashore complex developers are saying. More than once, they openly acknowledged that the land- and sea-based launchers are “almost identical.”

In addition to the treaty and legal perspective, this issue has an important strategic dimension for Russia. After all, we are talking about US missile infrastructure near Russia. The threat to our security is further aggravated by the fact that the United States has announced plans to recreate its nuclear sea-based cruise missiles, for which Tomahawks are a perfect fit, as was the case before. This means that such nuclear missiles may end up in Aegis Ashore launch cells in Romania or Poland.

Having rejected any and all positive steps on issues that are critical to Russia, the United States is trying to refocus attention on alleged Russian violations of the INF Treaty. Moreover, they are alleging that Russia was presented with a significant amount of information indicating our “culpability.”

This is not true. It is no coincidence that Washington is silent about the fact that, for five years, Russia has been requesting information about three key aspects, a comprehensive study of which would have opened the way to a professional examination of US claims. This includes an accurate definition of a suspect missile; an indication of specific launches when, in the opinion of the United States, our obligations under the INF Treaty were violated; and, most importantly, the provision of objective data, on the basis of which they arrived at the conclusion that the flight range during the tests exceeded the permitted parameters.

Instead of providing the entire array of allegedly available information right away, as Russia demanded, the Americans chose a different path. First, they offered vague allusions like "you know yourself what exactly you violated." Then, Russia was given minimal and overly generalised data which occasionally, sometimes only once a year, were updated with bits of information, including satellite images from the internet and the name of a widely used launcher chassis, which cannot be used for drawing professional conclusions.

It took Washington several years before it pointed to a specific missile - 9M729 - developed as part of upgrades of the Iskander-M complex. However, Russia has never concealed its existence, as they accuse us. We confirmed the presence of this missile in Russia’s arsenal after the Americans gave us the index number. However, we have consistently denied that this missile has ever been tested for a range that is prohibited under the INF Treaty.

With regard to specific launches which Russia allegedly carried out in violation of the INF Treaty at the Kapustin Yar testing ground in the Astrakhan Region, their dates - 2008 and 2011 - were made known to Russia only five days before the United States announced, on October 20, 2018, its plans to withdraw from the Treaty. However, this information was not backed up by any facts. They never mentioned the exact range for which, according to the Americans, this missile was tested. Instead, they limited themselves to citing mysterious intelligence information, which they refused to disclose, as they always do.

In other words, Russia was, for quite a while, expected to independently put together a puzzle of disparate pieces obtained at different points at a time when absolutely no evidence of Russia's violation of the Treaty had ever been presented. The missile index and the dates of launches that take place regularly in Kapustin Yar as part of testing or combat training for missile personnel are not indicative of any illegal activity.

The way the United States is trying to shuffle the facts using awkward justifications for its decision to dismantle the INF Treaty only strengthens our belief that the Americans embarked on a course of torpedoing the Treaty long ago. The real reason behind this is their desire to untie their hands as much as possible and to ensure their access to an unlimited range of military tools to exert pressure on opponents anywhere in the world.

This is a very dangerous policy fraught with tragic consequences for global stability. The international community, above all the citizens of the United States and other NATO countries, the governments of which are blindly parroting American insinuations, should start thinking about how far Washington is prepared to go in pursuit of the spectre of military domination.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3512248






Comment by the Information and Press Department on the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, India



15 February 2019 - 11:01



We strongly condemn the heinous terrorist attack on an Indian military convoy in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14, which killed more than 40 servicemen. We extend our sincere condolences to their families and wish all the injured a speedy recovery.

We are confident that this bloody crime, for which the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group has claimed responsibility, will be properly investigated and its organisers and perpetrators duly punished.

We reaffirm Russia's unwavering support for the Government of the friendly nation of India in its uncompromising fight against terrorism.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3518673






Press release on the foreign ministers of Russia and Fiji exchanging congratulatory messages on the 45th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations



15 February 2019 - 17:30



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Fijian Minister for Defence, National Security and Foreign Affairs Inia Seruiratu exchanged congratulatory messages on the 45th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Sergey Lavrov noted that due to cooperation in recent decades the two countries had laid a strong foundation for progressive development in comprehensive Russian-Fijian relations for the benefit of the people of both countries and in the interests of enhancing security in the Asia-Pacific Region.

In turn, Inia Seruiratu confirmed the mutual attitude for consolidating understanding and trust between Russia and Fiji and expressed hope for stepping up bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues.




The source of information - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3519785






11 February 2019

Russian-American Consultations on the Situation on the Korean Peninsula - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3512262


12 February 2019

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the US involvement in the pre-election situation in Moldova - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3513260

Russian-French consultations at the level of deputy foreign ministers on non-proliferation and arms control issues - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3513995


13 February 2019

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Russian participation in the OSCE mission to observe the presidential elections in Ukraine - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3515377


14 February 2019

Commentary of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the results of the third Moscow inter-Palestinian meeting - http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/...ent/id/3517775
__________________
Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit?
Piglet said that the best place would be somewhere where a Heffalump was, just before he fell into it, only about a foot farther on.
(c) Alan Alexander Miln
 
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