20 January 2017
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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

16.10.2016

Syria. Who should be ashamed? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Observer)

The novel way of diplomacy, proposed by Foreign Secretary Johnson has so far materialized in a lone gentleman with a poster outside our Embassy – not something I would describe as a big diplomatic victory. But the very fact of having to resort to (non-existent) campaigners to make a point is, in my opinion, a sign of the state of Britain’s Syria policy. Some would say that Russia’s record on Syria has “also” been controversial – and here’s where I would strongly disagree.

We entered the conflict on 30 September 2015. Western coalition had already been active there for years, dropping bombs and missiles, and supporting the highly-praised “moderate opposition” against the radicals – as they say. And still, Syria was on the edge of collapse. ISIS, aka DAESH, a by-product of Western ham-fisted social engineering in Iraq, gained new ground, pushing back the Syrian army as well as rival anti-governmental forces. They brought the conflict to a new degree of barbarity and cruelty unseen since Dark Ages and Nazi Germany. Massacres, public tortures and executions, slave trade on an industrial scale were a daily reality in the areas held by ISIS, not to mention the destruction of many historic sites and artifacts. And they seemed to be moving in for a kill – preparing to take Damascus and rule the country by the right of conquest. Establishment of a terrorist state in Syria would pose a grave threat to Russia and the whole of Europe.

A year after Russia sent its Air Force, reacting to the request of legitimate Government of Syria, the picture looks different. ISIS is on retreat, having lost over 4600 square miles of territory and up to 35 000 fighters. Syrian army and local militia freed 586 towns and villages from ISIS. Their leaders, who a year ago promised to bring slaughter and chaos to other regions – including Europe – went remarkably silent.

But Russia didn’t come to Syria to fight the war. We came to deliver the country from terrorists and extremists, and to create conditions for a peace process. With ISIS gangs no longer threatening Damascus and many other cities, Syrians have a chance to settle their political, ethnic, religious differences at a negotiating table. Talks started between the Government and many patriotic opposition groups. At local level, many villages and towns have joined the ceasefire regime (783, and the number grows daily), brokered by the Russian military.

The combat is tough, however, in Aleppo, where the Syrian Army is wrestling with the rebels, over half of whom belong to Jabhat Al-Nusra, an offspring of infamous Al-Qaeda, internationally recognized as terrorists. After long negotiations, the US agreed to exert influence on the “moderates” to separate them from the proscribed terrorists. This didn’t happen. Those who fight in East Aleppo shamelessly use civilians as a human shield, block their passage to safety through established humanitarian corridors, hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid (they say they didn’t want a ceasefire and humanitarian aid). Our military does what they can, verifying the targets to make sure these are no civilian objects, to exclude any loss of life and limit damage to civil infrastructure. (We are always ready to concede concrete evidence that our strikes have hit civilian targets, and investigate accordingly – but we have so far seen none). Human suffering, a horrible by-product of any war (the expression “collateral damage” wasn’t invented by us or President Assad) is being exploited to rally to the terrorists’ cause. Britain and France suggestion of a no-fly zone would lead precisely to this – leaving terrorists in charge and in control. Our goal is to defeat terrorists which will ensure humanitarian relief for all in need.

Russia saved Syria from terrorist takeover. We champion a political solution, which will include all political forces in Syria and ensure its future as a secular, pluralistic nation. We deliver humanitarian aid. And finally, Russia was not the one to quit all efforts to arrange a ceasefire in Aleppo, which cannot be achieved on terrorists’ terms.

This is where we stand. We are not ashamed to be part of a complex solution in Syria and call on others to join us. For that our Western partners will have to forget about regime change in Syria, leaving it to the Syrians to decide for themselves. After all, terrorists do not offer the Syrians a vote. Theirs is an end of history rule, with all other options closed.

 




LATEST EVENTS

18.01.2017 - Back to basics in international relations (letter by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for Evening Standard, published on 17 January 2017)

Recently we have seen a trend of questioning electoral outcomes in Western nations under the pretext of undue outside interference, first of all “Russian influence”. It follows that outcome of the June referendum in Britain could be also challenged on those grounds. Not all find it preposterous. But will of the people is expressed within domestic environment.


22.12.2016 - Why the elites blame post-truth politics for their failures, by Ambassador Yakovenko for RBTH, published 22 December

Establishment leaders in Europe and America need a reality check and to address voters' genuine concerns in a globalized world. The year 2016 has seen truly epic failures of mainstream politics and media, most significantly at the British EU referendum and the American election. In both cases seasoned analysts could not see beyond their Westminster or Capitol bubbles and foresee the outcomes. Enraged as they were, they chose to blame outside forces, often pointing the finger at Moscow, which supposedly has more influence on Western voters than home politicians. More generally, they blamed their failures on “post-truth politics”, ie, assuming that new-wave politicians (and their line-up crosses the Cold War divide in the Euro-Atlantic) run fake news stories and take advantage of a total breakdown of trust in elites and their institutions. Indeed, progressively, we have been seeing the last of established politicians, and institutions falling into disarray and irrelevance.


20.11.2016 - Bringing peace to Syria (by Ambassador Yakovenko for "Sunday Mirror", published on 20.11.2016)

It has to be borne in mind that Russia sent its Air Force to Syria only on 30 September 2015. According to our Western interlocutors, it was a critical moment when Damascus was about to fall to the ISIS onslaught. The foreign terrorist organizations, proscribed by the UN, such as ISIS and “Nusra”, are the single most important factor that distorted the entire setup in Syria. In fact, the terrorists are leading the opposition militarily, including in East Aleppo. Accordingly, if they call the tune on the battlefield, they’ll do the same in Syria if they prevail. Our only strategy in Syria is to allow the Syrians to decide for themselves.


19.11.2016 - Collectivism and connectivity at the heart of APEC (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 19–20 November 2016, Lima hosts regular meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. 21 countries’ leaders gather in order to discuss pressing global and regional economic issues. The Summit takes place against the background of global political and economic turbulence. The ongoing shaping of new polycentric world order is accompanied by growing instability. In the Asia Pacific, the effects of these tendencies have been mitigated by major technological and financial potential that has enabled the region to maintain its leading positions in world affairs. However, it is evident that the growing challenges will have a negative impact on the prospects of long-term growth in the region.


18.11.2016 - OPCW decision on Syria is deeply regrettable (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The decision ensures unlimited inspections of the Syria’s military infrastructure and research facilities, which provide for the basic economic needs of the country, and in some cases the region as a whole. According to those who initiated and ensured the adoption of this decision, such inspections would ultimately allow the OPCW to assume total control over the defence, research and technological capacities of the sovereign state of Syria, which has been seriously undermined by the war that is being ignited and actively sponsored by external forces.


06.11.2016 - BRICS: a new model of global cooperation (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RBTH)

BRICS has become a solid inter-continental force within the existing system of global governance. There is nothing revolutionary or iconoclastic about it. It has evolved institutionally and intensified interaction among its members and demonstrated the capacity to contribute to the world’s prosperity and security. Its contribution to global GDP now stands at 31% compared with 24% in 2007.


03.11.2016 - 5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Russia's Position On Syria (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

1. On 18 October, the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria and Syrian Air Force ceased airstrikes against terrorists in Aleppo. In coordination with the Syrian authorities Russia continues to take measures to overcome the dramatic humanitarian crisis in Syria. A new humanitarian pause will be declared in Aleppo on 4 November to ease the intensity of confrontation and allow civilians to exit from areas of combat operations. There are 6 humanitarian corridors arranged for the civilians with posts with hot meal and first medical aid, and 2 corridors are opened for the fighters withdrawing from the city with weapons. These efforts echo the initiative of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Syria Staffan de Mistura to allow “al-Nusra” fighters out of eastern Aleppo.


26.10.2016 - It’s time for West to see reason and stop supporting terrorists (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 21 October, on the UK initiative the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) met for the 25th special session to discuss the recent situation in Aleppo. Discussions have demonstrated a huge divergence of opinions and views on the realities in Aleppo and the Syrian crisis as a whole.


05.10.2016 - Why Russia was forced to suspend PMDA (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia has suspended the implementation of the Russia-US plutonium management and disposition agreement (PMDA). The agreement was signed at a time when our relations with the US were on an upswing. There was considerable hope that the role of crude force in politics would decline, international tensions would lessen and the practice of politically motivated sanctions would become history.


05.10.2016 - Russian position on OPCW-UN JIM report on Syria (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Recently, the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) has presented to the UN Security Council its third report, in which it concluded that the Syrian Armed Forces were allegedly involved in two cases of use of chemical weapons in Syria. While appreciating the significant amount of work done by the JIM and its experts, conclusions drawn by its Leadership Panel are hardly convincing. It has become obvious that due to objective reasons it had very little chance to conduct an effective investigation. One of the main problems was lack of access to the locations due to the dire security situation on the ground.



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