22 January 2018
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Push for peace and Road to Damascus (by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to UK, for RIA Novosti)

The G-20 Summit in Saint-Petersburg became the scene of debate on the Syrian crisis by leaders of major nations of the world. It was an opportunity not to be missed, at such a critical juncture in world politics, to push for a political settlement in Syria. Political process, though talked about for the past two years, has been and still is the key missing piece of this conflict’s puzzle. The cumulative effect of the past experience, in particular over the last two decades, be it in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, explains the lack of enthusiasm in many countries, the Euro-Atlantic making no exception, for unilateral use of force, i.e. outside international law. Moreover, the Syrian situation, not that much different from the previous cases, puts spotlight on the fundamental issues involved. They are two, but both of them pertain to the very foundation of the existing post-WWII international order.

First, use of force is only allowed in self-defence or by explicit decision of the UN Security Council. Otherwise it is illegal. The UN is the unique source of international legitimacy. Those who decide to act on their own not only do so at their own risk and expense, they undermine the very UN-centered system that benefit the entire international community, big states or small ones, strong or weak. This is an international projection of the national rule of law. True, certain actions may be outsourced to groups of countries, but upon express mandate of the UN Security Council.

That is the point, American scholars Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro make in their recent article in IHT. In their view, on Syria a UN vote isn’t optional. Acting outside UN “will endanger the fragile international order which is World War IPs most significant legacy”. It wasn't disposed of in the Cold War. It must not now that a multipolar world is emerging. That is why giving peace a chance in Syria and, consequently, to the entire region is not only the position of Russia and other BRICS, but also of the EU, UN Secretary-General and many others.

Secondly, meddling in domestic affairs of sovereign states. Yes, it is a Westphalian principle, but it has served the world well, including the case of the Civil War in America. IHT of today cites Sir William Harcourt’s opinion of the time. According to him, military intervention is like revolution: “its essence is illegality and its justification is its success”.

One may juggle with words, resort to all sorts of euphemisms, like the ones the financial sector used over the last 30 years, but it is impossible to defy laws of nature. That is why it is difficult to believe in a “limited” or “surgical” strike. It will still be fraught with unintended consequences for which everybody will have to pay. My hunch, as that of many people, is that things are not simple, and if they are presented as such, it provides grounds for suspicion. People may give the benefit of the doubt to their government, but internationally, especially given Iraq and Libya, there exists due process that ought to be followed and it leads to New-York.

So, it may well be not by chance that the road to Damascus presents itself as an opportunity for conversion into the faith of international rule of law. Primus inter pares is compatible with it. Better to convert before using force of arms rather than in its wake.


29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?

18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.

05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.

05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.

30.09.2017 - Russia’s initiative on protecting SMM OSCE in South-East of Ukraine (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 5th September, at the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has announced an initiative to establish the United Nations Mission on Support in Protecting the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) OSCE in the South-East of Ukraine.

25.09.2017 - Eurasian Economic Union today (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Though hardly noticeable in the Western media, the Eurasian economic cooperation is booming, with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) becoming an increasingly effective integration project. The unique format of enhanced economic coordination along with the EAEU member states’ retained political sovereignty and cultural identity is proving itself.

25.09.2017 - On Russia's assistance to Central Asia (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia attaches great importance to the issue of sustainable development as it is underlined by the UN. Among our priorities in this area is the development of Central Asia. We contribute to the development of this region on a regular basis, regardless of the global economic crisis and its negative effect on Russia’s economy. In today’s world, international aid is often politically motivated and aimed at exerting one’s influence. Russia has a different approach.

25.09.2017 - IX BRICS Summit – turning into a global organisation (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, has emphasized the proximity of positions of the member states on the current global problems. It demonstrated that over the last 10 years BRICS has grown into a full-fledged international mechanism for global cooperation.

08.09.2017 - SCO sets standards for countering extremism (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In June 2017, the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) signed the SCO Convention on Countering Extremism, which will help strengthen the international legal framework to address new challenges and threats as well as increase the effectiveness of cooperation between relevant authorities of the member states and to improve legislation in this area.

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