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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

31.03.2017 - Liberation of Mosul: a new catastrophe? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating plight of the civilians in Mosul, who are paying an excessively high price for their liberation from terrorists. We have seen devastating consequences of the first phase of the military operation in the eastern districts of Mosul, where the Coalition applied doubtful tactics to push terrorists out of the city. Those efforts led to deplorable results: at least 1,500 civilians were killed and over 160,000 were displaced. During that brutal fighting about 60 percent of administrative buildings, 90 percent of transport infrastructure, 15 percent of residential buildings and 30 percent of schools were ruined.


06.03.2017 - The growing Russian economy is increasingly open for business (article by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Daily Telegraph, 6 March 2017)

Tough challenges, including weak global growth, low energy prices and Western sanctions have been used by the Russian Government as incentives to make difficult, but sound decisions to keep our economy in shape. Most of the problems have been overcome, and we have adapted to the new, tougher trade and economic environment, that some call deglobalisation.


21.02.2017 - Remembering Ambassador Churkin (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Work in New York, at a mission to the United Nations differs a lot from any Embassy. Especially so for a mission of a nation-permanent member of the Security Council. The last ten years, when Vitaly Churkin represented Russia at the UN, undoubtedly where the most busy and strenuous, given the War in Iraq, intervention in Libya, the crises in Syria and Ukraine. On all these issues there were serious differences between major powers, which increased demand for multilateral diplomacy. On many occasions those were non-stop, marathon sessions aimed at reaching consensus, finding some common ground as a basis for international action.


03.02.2017 - MEPP: inter-Palestinian conference in Moscow (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 15-17 January in Moscow there was held an inter-Palestinian informal meeting organized by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Representatives of the main Palestinian organizations were present, including Fatah, Hamas, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, the Palestinian National Initiative, the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, the Palestinian Democratic Union and others.


03.02.2017 - Deal is straightforward yet Kiev drags its feet (by Ambassador Yakovenko for FT)

Sir, The latest flare-up in eastern Ukraine is just more evidence of the Kiev government choosing war over reform (Letters, February 1). It has been dragging its feet over implementation of its part of the Minsk 2 accords reached by the Normandy Four two years ago.


01.02.2017 - Crimea and Minsk Agreements: what the British media would not tell? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The recent escalation in eastern Ukraine is again presented in the British media as Russia’s attempt to wage a proxy hybrid war against Kiev’s pro-western leadership. For fear of an eventual improvement in Russia-US relationships they pray for the sanctions against Russia to stay unless the Minsk Agreements are implemented as well as a punishment for the “Russia’s annexation of Crimea”. Let me set the record straight on that.


25.01.2017 - Finally there is hope for peace in Syria. Now let's concentrate on fighting Isil (article by Ambassador Yakovenko in The Daily Telegraph, 25 January 2017)

For almost a year and a half, as the British government and media were accusing Russia of pursuing a military solution in Syria, we have patiently said that fighting terrorists complements the peace process. Their presence is a foreign intervention, which distorts everything. Not always was our voice heard, but today facts on the ground prove us to be right, and hope for peace is palpable.


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.



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