20 February 2017
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Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov’s interview with Izvestia newspaper, published on February 13, 2017

Question: In 2016, a wave of terror attacks swept across Europe and the US. This year also started with attacks in Europe, and terrorism is still an issue for everyone, Russia included. Vladimir Putin has said on numerous occasions that we can overcome terrorism only by working together. When will the West understand that in order to overcome this common scourge what the world needs is to form a broad coalition?

Oleg Syromolotov: You are absolutely right: in order to fight international terrorism the world does need a broad coalition that would be guided in its actions by the UN Charter, international law and UN Security Council resolutions. Destroying ISIS is a priority as far as counter-terrorist efforts are concerned. Everyone understands that. However, countries tend to adopt different approaches to achieving this aim due to their differences, primarily disagreements on political matters. Some go as far as supporting various kinds of terrorist groups, thinking that they will be able to control them, which is a huge mistake. As a result, they tend to fall into the same trap over and over again.

We hope that with Donald Trump as the new president of the United States and the new administration, the West will change its approaches to counter-terrorism efforts. Maybe they will finally understand that this fight should be free from any double standards or hidden agendas, and that the legitimate government of a country where the counter-terrorist operation takes place cannot be excluded from relations with foreign powers.

Let me give you one example. A coordinated effort to fight radical ideology without any compromises and in full compliance with international law and UN resolutions could serve as a foundation for uniting the broad coalition. In autumn 2016, Russia submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council aimed at countering the spread of terrorist ideology, justification and instigation of terrorist activity, including through the internet. Unfortunately, our Western partners have been quite restrained in their response to our initiative, to say the least. I think that common sense and the self-preservation instinct could compel them to be more open and constructive in cooperating with Russia.

To give you an example, I can refer to my February 8 meeting in Moscow with Deputy Secretary General at the European External Action Service Pedro Serrano to discuss international counter-terrorist cooperation.

During the talks, we discussed opportunities for expanding counter-terrorist cooperation in multilateral formats, primarily within the UN, reaffirming the need for the international community to work together in fighting the global threat of terrorism, while being guided in its efforts by international law, the UN Charter and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We agreed to hold the next round of talks in Brussels.

Question: Are there any differences in the approaches to fighting terrorism adopted by Moscow and Washington? Isn’t it one of the reasons why the two countries have so far been unable to fully cooperate on this issue?

Oleg Syromolotov: As strange as it may seem, but despite the extreme terrorist threat, until recently Western countries led by the US did not even think about giving up on the double standards in their fight against terrorism, thereby undermining the tenets of international counter-terrorist cooperation and helping terrorist forces strengthen their positions.

In fact, they have been following the same scenario time and again, and were consistent and cynical in doing so. They try to consolidate their global dominance by nurturing various radical forces and pitting them against unwanted regimes. They are willing to act in bad faith and violate all agreements for a single purpose: to stir up trouble and use the crisis situation to their benefit. This short-sighted policy is lamentable, and so are its consequences, including for Western countries and their citizens. It is not that easy to put the genie back in the bottle. Just look at all the issues Europeans are now facing after certain European countries carried out geopolitical experiments in the Middle East and North Africa.

Nevertheless and despite the existing differences, Russia and the US are still natural partners in fighting terrorism. Both countries should be interested in developing and strengthening this partnership. Russia hopes to be able to establish a more meaningful dialogue in this area with Washington under the new administration. That said, there is still a lot to be done in order for both sides to begin moving towards strengthening international counter-terrorist solidarity and to stop making a political issue out of efforts to combat the global scourge of terrorism. By the way, the double standards adopted by the US are to blame for the lack of momentum in the creation as per the initiative of the Russian president of a broad counter-terrorist front under UN auspices and based on international law, with a contribution from all countries to the best of their ability and subject to agreement of the country where the counter-terrorist efforts take place.

We assume that against the backdrop of rampant terrorism it is our duty to put political differences aside and finally try to cooperate in fighting terrorism in an honest and open manner.


20.02.2017 - Sergey Lavrov’s answer to a media question on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, February 18, 2017

Question: How do you feel about the questions? Were they easy, as usual? Sergey Lavrov: They were predictable, given our Western colleagues’ fixation on seeing Russia as the only party responsible for the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. Their fixation on this cybersecurity and cyber espionage agenda is equally and utterly incomprehensible. Not a single fact implicating Russia has been cited in the presence of a number of facts pointing in a different direction towards the real source of this unlawful activity. We are doing our best to make our position clear.

20.02.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following a G20 ministerial meeting and the Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 18, 2017

Our meetings in Germany are almost over. We spent a day and a half in Bonn and two days in Munich, at a meeting of the G20 foreign ministers in Bonn and the annual international security conference in Munich, which is nearing completion. You attended my speech there, and today I am ready to answer your questions if you have any.

17.02.2017 - Concept paper on the Joint Group (Agreed on as the outcome of the International Meeting on Syria in Astana, February 16. 2017)

The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey (hereinafter – the Parties) pursuant to the Joint Statement on the International Meeting on Syria in Astana (January 23-24, 2017, Kazakhstan) decide to establish the Joint Group as part of a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure foil compliance with the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic; prevent provocations; determine all modalities of the ceasefire, including separating terrorist groups ISIL/DAESH and "Al-Nusra Front" from the armed opposition groups in order to consolidate the ceasefire regime; strengthen confidence-building measures and discuss other related issues that can contribute to the UN-sponsored intra-Syrian negotiations on a political solution based on UN Security Council resolution 2254.

17.02.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comment and answers to media questions following talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Bonn, February 16, 2017

We have held a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It was a pragmatic and business-like meeting, which I would describe as productive in that we compared our views on prospects for working together in the areas which our presidents discussed in principle during their telephone conversation on January 28. We reaffirmed the existence of similar or identical interests, primarily with regard to the irreconcilable struggle against terrorism in the context of our cooperation within the political settlement in Syria and other countries where terrorism has taken root. We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Our American partners have expressed interest in joining the efforts that are being taken to settle these conflicts.

16.02.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Moscow, February 16, 2017

I would like to welcome you in Moscow in a very timely visit. And just on the eve of the long-awaited, long-expected resumption of the negotiations in accordance with the Resolution 2254 in Geneva and just on the very day when another round of consultations is being held in Astana in the context of the meeting between the Government and opposition with mediation of the Russian Federation, Iran and Turkey.

16.02.2017 - Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

On February 16, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks in Moscow with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura ahead of the upcoming intra-Syrian talks in Geneva under the aegis of the UN, scheduled for February 23.

15.02.2017 - Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, February 15, 2017

Visit by UN Secretary General Special’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to Russia On February 16, Moscow will host talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. The meeting will be held in the run-up to the inter-Syrian talks scheduled to convene in Geneva on February 23 under UN auspices. Mr Lavrov and Mr de Mistura will exchange views on the full range of issues related to the Syria settlement, including progress in the so-called Astana process launched by Russia, Turkey and Iran to facilitate talks between the Syrian Government and the Syrian armed opposition. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov will hold a separate meeting with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

15.02.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko congratulates Ambassador Elliott

Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Dr Alexander Yakovenko sent a message to former Ambassador of Ghana to the USSR Mr John Banks Elliott, now living in Britain, to congratulate him on his 100 birthday and Russian Diplomats' Day. During his tenure as the first Ghanaian Ambassador to Moscow, Mr Elliott witnessed and participated in many foreign policy events which now became history, and made an outstanding contribution to bilateral ties and USSR-Africa relations.

14.02.2017 - Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s reply to a media question regarding transit trade in the South Caucasus

Question: It has been reported that during their recent meeting in Prague, State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Special Envoy of the Georgian Prime Minister for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze discussed the Russian-Georgian agreement on customs administration and trade monitoring dated November 9, 2011. Can you comment on the statement by the South Ossetian Foreign Ministry to the effect that the issue of transit via South Ossetia must be negotiated with the republic’s authorities? Maria Zakharova: This position of South Ossetia is absolutely legitimate. The 2011 agreement between Russia and Georgia does not provide for other countries’ obligations. The customs administration and trade monitoring measures stipulated in this agreement are applicable exclusively on the territory of Russia and Georgia. The terms for the transit of commodities under it should be negotiated additionally with the transit countries.

13.02.2017 - Comment by the Foreign Ministry Press and Information Department on the North Korean missile test

We consider the North Korean missile test, conducted on February 12, another demonstrative act of ignoring the UN Security Council resolutions on this subject. In this context, we cannot but express our regret and concern.

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