23 January 2018
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MH17 crash must be subject to an impartial international investigation (by Alexander Yakovenko, for Russia Today)

Russia was the first to call for an impartial and transparent international investigation of the crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin as well as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have voiced this position on more than a dozen occasions over the past four days. They have confirmed it in phone calls with their foreign counterparts, including Prime Minister David Cameron on 20 July. Mr Putin said it again in his televised statement on Sunday night.
The idea of an investigation has been supported by the UN Security Council. It therefore represents a matter of broad international consensus. The question is how to move from declarations to real work.
The Russian position is clear: an investigation must be launched as soon as possible, under the auspices of Ukraine and with the leading role of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, with the participation of interested governments and international bodies such as the Interstate Aviation Committee (a post-Soviet aviation authority that includes representatives of both Russia and Ukraine). This would allow for the inquiry to be independent and to avoid biased conclusions.
What we have been seeing so far on the part of our Western partners is willingness to declare “pro-Russian” militia and Russia responsible even before any proper investigation has started. If anything, this means to put pressure on the future inquiry.
Meanwhile, it is wrong to say that the existing circumstantial evidence points exclusively towards the militia’s responsibility. Several other versions are widely discussed in the Internet and by the media.
Within this context, the Russian Defence Ministry has announced that it had detected deployment by Ukrainian forces of anti-aircraft Buk systems in the conflict area a few days before the tragedy. The Ministry has published a number of questions to the Ukrainian authorities, Ukraine being the country in whose sovereign airspace the disaster occurred. Among those questions are: why airspace over the hostilities area had not been closed for civilian aircraft; why Ukrainian special services started to work with air traffic control records before the arrival of international representatives; can Ukraine provide internal reports on movements of Ukrainian military aircraft and records of the use of anti-aircraft weaponry by the Ukrainian army on the day of the crash, etc. This is not to lay the blame on Ukraine, but let’s not forget the 2001 incident when a Russian civilian airliner was shot down by mistake by Ukrainian forces during drills.
On a more general note, the outrage at an alleged Russian complicity in the air crash has completely diverted attention from the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine. The government is continuing its “anti-terrorist” operation that leads to new civilian deaths every day. No attempt has been made by Kiev to enter into any meaningful dialogue with the militias. There is no public discussion of constitutional reforms that would grant regions a proper self-rule and guarantee the status of the Russian language.
It is clear that, whatever the exact cause of the MH17 tragedy, it wouldn’t have happened, had Kiev not resumed fighting on 28 June. Yet, so far Kiev’s Western friends seem to do nothing to encourage the authorities to change their current perilous course. Rather, the decisions on sanctions against Russia serve as an encouragement to continue the military operation. It wasn’t Russia, who rolled the dice. It was the EU’s clumsy unthought-through plan to engage in geopolitics in Ukraine on the cheap, that triggered this chain of events.
We are convinced that there can be no military solution to this conflict. Only a settlement negotiated between Kiev and the regions in the south-east will have a chance to be a lasting one. It will require a truly collective effort, as well as joint analysis and, perhaps, self-criticism.


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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