23 October 2018
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Russia and Britain should beat Isil as we did the Nazis: together (by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Telegraph)

Sir Winston Churchill knew that faced with evil, Britain and Russia must stand united.
As Britain debates its role in fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), Russia and others, including France, would welcome our British partners doing their bit to defeat this evil.
As the atrocities in the Sinai, Paris, Ankara and other places show, we in Europe are in the line of fire, whether we are formally at war with Isil or not. Nobody is immune, nobody is safe. Did the half-hearted US-led bombing campaign save lives in Paris?
At the Guildhall this month, David Cameron rightly invoked the resolve of Sir Winston Churchill in the face of Nazi Germany. As early as September 4 1938, before the Munich agreement, Churchill told the Soviet Ambassador Ivan Maisky that he would save a bottle of vodka so they could “drink it together when Great Britain and Russia beat Hitler’s Germany”.
"Nobody is immune, nobody is safe. Did the half-hearted US-led bombing campaign save lives in Paris?"
The present situation requires the same foresight, determination and willingness to make common cause, while pushing everything else aside. Isil and other terrorists, who act under various guises, hate humanity and everything our world is based on. They are a horrible and opportunistic marriage of religious fanatics with the rump of the Iraqi Baathist regime and Saddam Hussein’s officer corps. They took advantage of the civil war in Syria to try to make a Sunni-Shia schism the pivot-point of politics in a region left suddenly to its own devices.
Only secular governance can address Syria’s problems. That is one of the core principles the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) agreed in Vienna earlier this month.
A strategy of containing Isil is tantamount to appeasement. And on the experience of the past two months, it looks like we have had another Phony War. A year or so of the US-led coalition’s bombing saw the expansion of the Isil area of control. As Henry Kissinger put it, “inconclusive military effort risks serving as a recruitment vehicle for Isil”.
We were told by our Western partners that Damascus would fall this past October. Should we have waited for that? If so, it would have been much harder to pick up the pieces, given that moderate, secular opposition forces are difficult to find on the ground.
The outrageous downing of a Russian plane over Syria exposes the inherent dangers of Western alliances in the region. The Turks delivered one of our pilots into the hands of terrorists.
It is high time that some regional players stopped solving problems of their own at somebody else’s expense, even by sponsoring terrorists. They must stop exporting poisonous ideology and pursuing agendas that threaten regional security. With allies like these, who needs enemies?
The threats we are facing cannot be effectively dealt with by old alliances. Is the European migration crisis not a harmful act by one Nato member against other members?
Having committed substantial resources in pursuit of a realistic strategy in Syria, Russia provided an impetus for a genuine coalition of nations able and willing to fight Isil in earnest. The ISSG provides a political framework. It helps to keep everyone on board and committed to the Westphalian principle of respect for nation states’ sovereignty. This provides a controlled environment, making the situation more predictable.
Syrians long for the peace and order necessary for reconstruction and development. We have already agreed on many things. Why not agree on the rest over time? We cannot decide for the Syrians. We can only create conditions for that, while dealing with multiple consequences of outside interference in their affairs.
To be clear, Russia makes no linkages between the Syrian situation and those elsewhere, including the Ukrainian crisis. This year, Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany made the Minsk-2 agreement, in the interests of all. The only thing missing so far is Kiev fulfilling its obligation to work with the people of Donetsk and Lugansk instead of branding them terrorists.
Britain modified its narrative in Northern Ireland to work with all sides there. For the sake of peace, Ukraine should follow that example – especially because more regions are seeking decentralisation, hoping to break the hold of the corrupt central bureaucracy in Kiev.
Alexander Yakovenko is the Russian ambassador to London



09.08.2018 - Letter from Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to the Guardian’s editor

In response to the Ambassador Beruchashvili’s letter, offering not so much a recollection of the August 2008 events in the Caucasus, but rather a misleading reiteration of the Georgian claims against Russia I have to refer to some of the universally recognized facts and consequences resulting from those tragic events.

24.07.2018 - Eastern Economic Forum: the East is bright (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

When talking about Russia’s Far East, you invariably remember its stunning natural beauty, abundance in natural resources and vast territories. But when one thinks of its investments prospects, you also invariably remember its harsh climate, low average population density and the lack of transport and other infrastructure. But now the situation is changing fundamentally. The region is undergoing a huge and qualitative revival. The development of the region has been declared one of the national priorities for Russia. In the last 5 years 18 advanced development zones and 5 free ports have been established in the Russian Far East. Long-term tax exemptions have been provided for large investment projects. Paperless e-visas for visitors of Vladivostok are available for citizens of 18 countries.

03.05.2018 - SALISBURY: A CLASSIFIED CASE (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

On 4 March 2018 two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were reportedly poisoned in Salisbury, Wiltshire with the toxic chemical named A-234 under the British classification. On 12 March Foreign Secretary Johnson summoned me to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and said that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the attack. He invited us to respond by the next day, whether this had been a direct act by the state or Russia had lost control over this nerve agent. The incident had international repercussions, including expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from 28 countries, notwithstanding the fact that the charges were based on assumptions and unverifiable intelligence. The Western countries lost the same number of Moscow-based staff. Meanwhile, the British government provided no evidence either to the public, its allies or Russia. Subsequent events revealed that no proof of Russia’s involvement existed. On 1 May, National Security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill confirmed that (despite a number of previous leaks) no suspect had been identified, a statement that speaks for itself.

14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.

26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.

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.

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