29 March 2017
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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

12.03.2017

Ambassador Yakovenko's interview for Sunday Express

Q: As a precursor to Boris Johnson's visit to Moscow in the coming weeks, what is your understanding of the nature of the visit and the purpose of the invitation - given that he will be the most senior UK Government official to visit the Kremlin in a good number of years? What message does Russia hope that the visit will send to the rest of the world? 

A: It is going to be the first working visit at Foreign Ministers' level in our bilateral relation over the past three years. We hope that it means that our British partners are interested in resumption of political dialogue.

Q: Historically, and prior to the Cold War, Russia and Britain had strong cultural ties. But these have become strained throughout the 21st century. What can be done to restore these close links? 

A: We did have strong cultural ties even at the time of the Cold War. These are an ultimate pillar of the relations between our two nations. That’s why both governments did their best not to politicize cultural relationship.

Q: There has been talk only recently that the Stare of UK-Russian relations is in its worst state in peacetime - what do you make of these claims and how do these claims fit with the timing of the in invitation? What would you hope the visit will do for Russian-UK relations?
Sources close to Boris say the visit signals anything but a cosier relationship with Russia and will not reset the relationship but that he will use the visit to deliver some tough messages on the Ukraine, for example, how will that go down? 

A: Of course, the Foreign Secretary’s visit comes at a time when our official bilateral relationship is at the lowest point after the Cold War end.  We don’t need a cozy relationship with Britain, just the one based on mutual respect and national interest. The rhetoric does matter, but without a positive agenda it becomes an end in itself.

Q: How misunderstood is Russia by the British people? How can we change this perception?

A: I think the British people deserve better than the present official and media propaganda campaign. At least, it should be toned down. And whatever evidence there is to support accusations against Russia, it should be made public.

Q: What did you make of Britain's decision to leave the European Union? Obviously there has recently been a recommitment by UK and EU ministers to the sanctions in place against Russia but could you ever see a time when Russia becomes a trading partner to the UK - what is your ultimate hope for Russia's relationship with the UK? Does the Russian government take a view on the merits or otherwise of Brexit?

A: We don’t have an official view of ‘Brexit’ – it’s none of our business. We deal with our partners as they are.

Q: Can Britain and Russia work together militarily to solve the crisis in Syria? What would need to happen to make that work?

A: As to the Syrian crisis, it doesn’t have a military solution. But the terrorist organisations active in Syria have got to be defeated militarily. It is up to the British government to decide what military assets it has at its disposal to commit to that fight.

Q: What do you make of the UK Government's current strategy towards Russia - "engage but beware"? 

A: It’s also up to the British government to determine how to proceed in its relations with Russia. Personally I think its either “engage” or “beware”. Any way, pragmatism, traditionally espoused by the British, is synonymous with commonsense and sound assessment of the situation.

Q: Should Britain fear a resurgent Russia? What about the Baltic states? What about the frequent Blackjack incursions? (nuclear bombers buzzing Britsih aerospace)

A: Russia is just emerging from a painful period of transition/reconstruction. It includes a state of our military. Russia poses threat to no one, including the Baltic states. I have heard of no incursions of our strategic aircraft into the British airspace. They have been flying on their routine missions past the British Isles. It is pure geography.

Q: Cyber attacks are being blamed on Russia, as is a new front in the propaganda war. What does the Russian govenrment say? Boris is apparently going to deliver a message about not interfering in any of the elections in the EU following the allegations about the US - what do you make of this? 

A: It sounds ridiculous that Russia could influence the Western nations’ domestic affairs. Certainly, we have our views to air on various issues of public interest.

As to the accusations of hacking, we now see, given the latest disclosure of the CIA files by Wikileaks, that the US intelligence services have got an army of their own hackers on the government payroll. It appears that CIA has a library of “fingerprints”/identities of various foreign hackers which could be used to put blame on others. That makes the murky business of hacking even murkier. 

Abridged text published on the newspaper website




LATEST EVENTS

17.03.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko about learning Russian: talking points for BBC interview

Foreign languages are an essential skill in the modern world. For example, in Russia, English is taught in all schools, mostly as primary and sometimes as secondary foreign language (2 foreign languages are now mandatory). Russian, the language that has most native speakers in Europe, is equally important for economic, cultural and political reasons. Learning Russian is in high demand in Asia, including China. Today you don’t even need to physically attend classes – online education is available, in some cases even for free, by Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, Moscow State University and RT TV channel. In UK, the demand for Russian is high: 21% of British employers are looking for Russian-speaking staff – this is no wonder since 600 British companies are working in our country, and the prospects are good: GDP is expected to grow between 1 and 2 percent this year.


15.03.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at Valentina Tereshkova concert (March 14, Ambassador’s Residence)

It’s an honour and real pleasure for me to welcome a legendary woman – Dr Valentina Tereshkova, Russian cosmonaut, engineer, politician, mother and friend. You are a real Russian star, our pride and a true example of patriotism.


28.02.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at Defender of the Fatherland Day reception

On 23 February, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation celebrate their main holiday - the Defender of the Fatherland Day. This day is important not only for those who wear or used to wear military insignia, but also for all those who care about the words "Motherland" and "duty". Peace of our homes is guarded by those who serve in the country as well as abroad. Throughout history people in Russia respected military, which, according to Peter the Great, was "the first of the worldly affairs as the most important for the defense of the Fatherland". As the history teaches us – the stronger the army is, the safer is the world.


14.02.2017 - UK – RUSSIA YEAR OF SCIENCE AND EDUCATION: THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP? (Robin Grimes, FCO Chief Scientific Adviser, Part of Global Science and Innovation Network)

At the end of the classic film Casablanca, Rick says to the Chief of Police “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship”. So, as we embark upon a year of UK Russia Science & (Science) Education events, what do we expect our scientific relationship to look like 12 months from now? There are some crucial points to bear in mind.


10.02.2017 - UK worried about its place if US-Russia ties are repaired – Russia’s UK envoy (Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

Hacking, destabilizing Western states, building up its military might, and weaponizing information – Russia is hitting the headlines and seems to be to blame for all of the world’s problems. One of the loudest anti-Russia voices is the United Kingdom, condemning Moscow’s actions and calling for economic sanctions against it. Most of the accusations are far from proven – so is there still room left for cooperation on vital issues between world powers? And now that the UK’s ally the US may be ready to change course and start making deals with Moscow, is there a chance for a change in tone? We ask Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom – Alexander Yakovenko.


08.02.2017 - Ambassador’s Alexander Yakovenko speech at the opening of "Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932" exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts (February 7, 2017)

It’s an honour for me to be here at the opening of this impressive exhibition. The best Russian museums have provided masterpieces from their collections which give a fascinating insight into the drastic and violent transformation of culture and society in Russia 100 years ago. Our revolution was a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon, a direct result of our common European catastrophe, which was WWI.


30.01.2017 - Alexander Kramarenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for the “International Affairs” magazine (Moscow). Unaccomplished mission of Alexander Benckendorff and its lessons.

11 January marked 100 years since the death of the last Ambassador of the Russian Empire to the UK count Alexander Benckendorff, who was buried in the catholic Westminster Cathedral in London. This anniversary was a timely reminder of his unaccomplished mission in London, where he arrived in 1903. What was it and why is it still relevant now?


25.01.2017 - A visit to Syria by an independent group (31 August - 7 September).



13.12.2016 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for The Daily Mail (full text)

Question: Does Russia hope for better co-operation (both political and military) with the UK and how can this be achieved/ what would this look like? Answer: Unlike MI-6 Director Alex Younger’s portrayal of Russia, I can assure you that Russia doesn’t view Britain as a strategic adversary, and it just cannot be. There is nothing strategic for us to contest. We hope for real cooperation, not war of words, primarily in the fight against terrorism, including military and special services cooperation, in political settlement in Syria and other international issues.


05.12.2016 - Ambassador Yakovenko answers to media question regarding Russia’s efforts in Syria

Question: What is Russia’s position on a draft UNSC resolution on Aleppo recently presented to the Security Council? Answer: We believe that the introduction of this draft is utterly counterproductive. In the coming days experts from Russia and the United States are to begin their work on the withdrawal of all fighters from the eastern part of Aleppo and achieving an agreement on routes and timing of their exit from the city. After that the ceasefire will come into force.



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