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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

16.10.2016

Syria. Who should be ashamed? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Observer)

The novel way of diplomacy, proposed by Foreign Secretary Johnson has so far materialized in a lone gentleman with a poster outside our Embassy – not something I would describe as a big diplomatic victory. But the very fact of having to resort to (non-existent) campaigners to make a point is, in my opinion, a sign of the state of Britain’s Syria policy. Some would say that Russia’s record on Syria has “also” been controversial – and here’s where I would strongly disagree.

We entered the conflict on 30 September 2015. Western coalition had already been active there for years, dropping bombs and missiles, and supporting the highly-praised “moderate opposition” against the radicals – as they say. And still, Syria was on the edge of collapse. ISIS, aka DAESH, a by-product of Western ham-fisted social engineering in Iraq, gained new ground, pushing back the Syrian army as well as rival anti-governmental forces. They brought the conflict to a new degree of barbarity and cruelty unseen since Dark Ages and Nazi Germany. Massacres, public tortures and executions, slave trade on an industrial scale were a daily reality in the areas held by ISIS, not to mention the destruction of many historic sites and artifacts. And they seemed to be moving in for a kill – preparing to take Damascus and rule the country by the right of conquest. Establishment of a terrorist state in Syria would pose a grave threat to Russia and the whole of Europe.

A year after Russia sent its Air Force, reacting to the request of legitimate Government of Syria, the picture looks different. ISIS is on retreat, having lost over 4600 square miles of territory and up to 35 000 fighters. Syrian army and local militia freed 586 towns and villages from ISIS. Their leaders, who a year ago promised to bring slaughter and chaos to other regions – including Europe – went remarkably silent.

But Russia didn’t come to Syria to fight the war. We came to deliver the country from terrorists and extremists, and to create conditions for a peace process. With ISIS gangs no longer threatening Damascus and many other cities, Syrians have a chance to settle their political, ethnic, religious differences at a negotiating table. Talks started between the Government and many patriotic opposition groups. At local level, many villages and towns have joined the ceasefire regime (783, and the number grows daily), brokered by the Russian military.

The combat is tough, however, in Aleppo, where the Syrian Army is wrestling with the rebels, over half of whom belong to Jabhat Al-Nusra, an offspring of infamous Al-Qaeda, internationally recognized as terrorists. After long negotiations, the US agreed to exert influence on the “moderates” to separate them from the proscribed terrorists. This didn’t happen. Those who fight in East Aleppo shamelessly use civilians as a human shield, block their passage to safety through established humanitarian corridors, hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid (they say they didn’t want a ceasefire and humanitarian aid). Our military does what they can, verifying the targets to make sure these are no civilian objects, to exclude any loss of life and limit damage to civil infrastructure. (We are always ready to concede concrete evidence that our strikes have hit civilian targets, and investigate accordingly – but we have so far seen none). Human suffering, a horrible by-product of any war (the expression “collateral damage” wasn’t invented by us or President Assad) is being exploited to rally to the terrorists’ cause. Britain and France suggestion of a no-fly zone would lead precisely to this – leaving terrorists in charge and in control. Our goal is to defeat terrorists which will ensure humanitarian relief for all in need.

Russia saved Syria from terrorist takeover. We champion a political solution, which will include all political forces in Syria and ensure its future as a secular, pluralistic nation. We deliver humanitarian aid. And finally, Russia was not the one to quit all efforts to arrange a ceasefire in Aleppo, which cannot be achieved on terrorists’ terms.

This is where we stand. We are not ashamed to be part of a complex solution in Syria and call on others to join us. For that our Western partners will have to forget about regime change in Syria, leaving it to the Syrians to decide for themselves. After all, terrorists do not offer the Syrians a vote. Theirs is an end of history rule, with all other options closed.

 




LATEST EVENTS

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.


07.09.2017 - No alternative to a peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia is deeply concerned over the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where confrontation is moving into its hottest phase than ever before. North Korea continues to violate UN Security Council resolutions.


07.09.2017 - The West’s counter-ISIS efforts cost Iraq and Syria dearly (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

According to the UN, mass media and NGOs, as a result of air and artillery strikes by the US-led counter-ISIS coalition in Syria, hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians have died. The number of refugees and temporarily displaced persons from Raqqa has reached 200,000. At present, there are still 25,000-40,000 civilians in the city, which until 2013 was inhabited by almost 300,000 people.


16.08.2017 - Iran has the right to develop its missile programme (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The launch by Iran on 27 July of the missile “Simurg” caused a lot of speculations and aimed at putting additional pressure on the country under the false pretext.


05.08.2017 - DPRK tested medium-range, not intercontinental ballistic missile

The latest developments on the Korean Peninsula have become a matter of a grave concern against the backdrop of yet another launch of a ballistic missile by the DPRK on 28 July in violation of the UN Secretary Council resolutions. But the bellicose rhetoric will not produce a peaceful negotiated solution.


02.08.2017 - Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: playing with fire (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On July 7, the work on the draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (PNW) was completed in New York. Russia considers this Treaty as counterproductive and potentially dangerous, which brings humanity no closer to a world free of nuclear weapons and threatens to damage the existing non-proliferation regimes. The international community has already created universal mechanisms, based on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which allow a gradual cut of nuclear arsenals. At the same time, it provides for the strengthening of international stability and ensuring equal security for all states, including non-nuclear. We are convinced that the NPT contains all the necessary provisions in this sphere that must be applied consistently.


27.07.2017 - The role of nuclear weapons in the Russian military strategy: setting the record straight (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

We continue to see efforts to blame Russia for allegedly lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons. Against the backdrop of current anti-Russian hysterics and groundless accusations of “aggression”, “destabilization”, “interference”, etc., this adds to the false picture. Let’s set the record straight.


27.07.2017 - Russia’s efforts in Syria: we invite all to join (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia continues its efforts in Syria aimed at normalizing the humanitarian situation and eliminating terrorism in the region. Along with fighting ISIS, al-Nusra Front in all its reincarnations, and other terrorist organizations, recognized as such by the UN Security Council, Russia also contributes to establishing conditions to secure the ceasefire between the Syrian government troops and the opposition. Starting from June, Russia has supported the signing of agreements on ceasefire with representatives of 508 towns and villages. Total number of reconciled inhabited areas has reached an unprecedented number of 2,043.


26.07.2017 - Khan Sheikhoun: we must establish the truth (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The question of what really happened in Khan Shaykhun on April 4 still remains unanswered. Russia’s critical attitude to the methods of work and to the conclusions of the report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Syria on this matter is well known. For three months of work, the FFM could only prove the use of sarin, thus confirming the findings of the Syrians themselves, who managed to obtain samples onsite. We believe there are fundamental flaws in the work of the Mission, including the following: the inquiry was conducted remotely, without visiting the scene of the incident; the CWC’s basic chain-of-custody principle hasn’t been honoured; in fact, the main question remained unanswered – under what circumstances and how exactly the chemical agent was deployed.


19.07.2017 - Real actions, not sanctions, needed to save public health in Syria (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

The humanitarian situation in Syria remains complex. According to the UN, 13,5 million Syrians or more than half of the country’s population need help. Of the UN 2017 humanitarian appeal for Syria of $3,4 bn, so far $702 mln has been allocated by donors. The Syrian public health system, which was once considered the best in the region, has now significantly deteriorated and its state is of particular concern. There is limited access of the population to the medical and sanitary services, and the immunization from the main diseases remains at a very low level. As of the end of June, 17 cases of poliomyelitis were registered in the country. The threat of epidemic remains high. Due to the lack of clean drinking water, outbreaks of dysentery, cholera and typhoid fever are ever more possible.



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