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Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko’s talking points at Diplomacy in the Middle East Round Table (Global Diplomatic Forum, 22 October 2013)

- The conflict in Syria has no precedents in modern history given its complexity and scope. The crisis has gone beyond Syria and is destabilizing the entire region. Killings, destruction and human rights abuses are escalating. Russia is seriously concerned over increasing reports of murders and acts of violence based on ethnic and religious grounds in Syria, attacks on civilians in the areas populated by certain ethno-confessional groups. Huge foreign presence on the opposition side is destabilizing and distorting the stakes in the civil war.

- We welcome the accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the agreements reached by the ORCW and the UN Security Council on chemical disarmament. This Russian-American initiative determined a long-sought after common denominator for the international community on Syria and, what is more, provides an opening for launching a political process to settle the crisis in Syria. So, it’s not about changing the topic.

The Syrian chemical issue has several dimensions:

1) Syria getting rid of its poisonous weapons per se.

2) Successful elimination of the largest chemical arsenal in the region may cause other countries in the Middle East to follow suit.

3) A new political atmosphere had emerged due to the restored international consensus over Syria, which has revitalized international effort to convene Geneva-2 meeting on the basis of the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2013, now endorsed by UNSC resolution 2118.

- It is critical, as Russia believes, to convene the international conference as soon as possible, since the delay plays into the hands of radicals and terrorist groups, which are increasingly gaining ground among those fighting against the Syrian Government. At the same time, there should be no illusions that Geneva-2 itself will be a cakewalk. No doubt, there will be attempts on the part of those opposed to any political process to disrupt this effort. The opposition’s representation still needs to be sorted out. The UNSC resolution 2118 says that the Syrian sides at the conference should be as broadly represented as possible in terms of reflecting the broad cross-section of Syrian society. It is a hard task, given the fact that it is disunited and split. But still we hope there are people on the opposition’s side, who think about the well-being of their country, who want it to remain united, territorially integral and for all sectarian and ethnic groups to live in safely.

- It is fundamentally important that the conference launch a Syrian-led political process leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them to determine their own future. It is for the Syrians to agree how to implement the provisions of the Geneva Communiqué.

- We need to ensure the participation in Geneva-2 of all those who influence the situation in Syria in any way. It is welcome that argument against the participation of Iran have been replaced by a more realistic approach recently. Positive prospects for negotiations on INP contribute to this, since it is all about the same regional context, where all the elements are intertwined. The same holds true for the Saudi Arabia, although their decision not to take up their seat at the UN Security Council is a bad sign.

- It has become clear for everybody that in the Middle East there are no alternatives to the political settlement of the Syrian conflict. If something goes wrong and a peaceful process does not materialise, we will feel the consequences far beyond this region. All of this is directly related to the way the global community may deal with settlement of internal conflicts in future. International rule of law and the central role of the UN are mandatory in such a situation. It establishes an important precedent.


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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