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Facing down Isis threat in Syria together (full text of article by Ambassador Yakovenko for RBTH)

Isis established a bridgehead in Syria and other countries of the Middle East. The terrorists do not conceal their far-reaching plans for further expansion, destabilization of more countries in the region and beyond, recruiting more people from all over the world, including Russia and our neighbors, to fight for their cause.

To pre-empt this threat to national security, as a measure of self-defense, Russia launched its military operation in Syria. It was done in response to the Syrian Government's request and, thus, is fully in line with international law.

There is a way for everybody to carry out airstrikes against Isis and other terrorists in Syria legitimately. It means a UN Security Council mandate. Besides establishing clear-cut objectives and terms of such collective intervention we could agree, in this resolution, realistic and flexible enough modalities of a political settlement in Syria.

Political settlement was one of key topics at the recent talks between President V.Putin and President B.Assad in Moscow. Sergey Lavrov met John Kerry and their Saudi and Turkish counterparts in Vienna for the same reason.

I am sure that, thus, there will be all the conditions in place for us to have a common view of the situation and make joint efforts on that basis. It would drastically change the terrorists' calculus while doing the same to our bilateral relationship with Britain.

We have requested our Western partners to provide us with their intelligence on terrorist infrastructure in Syria, if they really think that we strike at the wrong targets. We have also requested contact numbers of the Free Syrian Army. The negative response betrays the lack of clarity as to who is who on the ground and who does what sponsoring various groups opposing Damascus.

Preservation of secular statehood both in Syria and Egypt is absolutely key, because of their centrality to the regional stability. Partitioning Syria would be the worst development. Regional crises require regional solutions with all the players participating. It is true for Syria, as it is true for Afghanistan.

It means that regional security is indivisible. Various regional players’ attempts to play games of their own will bring about an implosion of the entire Middle East, very much to the satisfaction of terrorists, who recognize no borders. Hopefully now, that many things in the situation are clear enough, we`ll see the last of the tactics of ensuring one`s own security at somebody else’s expense. Chickens do come home to roost.

Our partners didn't want to relieve the Syrian army by degrading the terrorists' capability. But now we know the outcome of this, to put it mildly, ambivalence. Politics and statecraft are always about making hard choices. Trying to avoid it equals abdication of responsibility. Initial results of our strikes prove that the terrorists took their impunity for granted. Things are changing now. The healthy competition between two coalitions is doing its bit.

Nobody wants to deploy ground forces in Syria. Then why not let the Syrian army play this part. If not them then who? It is no time to engage in fantasies of regime change in Syria.

And, finally, Russia, indeed, stepped in the line of fire. Those on the sidelines engage in ill-wishing, foretelling casualties and quagmire. It was not an easy decision for us to make but inaction was not an option. The broad public opinion seems to share this view.

Still, we are ready to discuss anything honestly and on the basis of facts with the capitals concerned. Neither 'great games', no cold-war geopolitics will help us deal with this threat to international security. It is a common threat and it must be addressed collectively. As President V.Putin emphasized, speaking at the Valdai meeting, we want to work together with everybody on Syria.


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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