25 May 2017
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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

06.03.2017

The growing Russian economy is increasingly open for business (article by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Daily Telegraph, 6 March 2017)

Tough challenges, including weak global growth, low energy prices and Western sanctions have been used by the Russian Government as incentives to make difficult, but sound decisions to keep our economy in shape. Most of the problems have been overcome, and we have adapted to the new, tougher trade and economic environment, that some call deglobalisation.

While Russia’s GDP fell by 3.7pc in 2015, last year the contraction was insignificant (0.2pc), and we witnessed a transition to growth already in the third quarter of 2016. Now experts have to admit that the results surpass most predictions, and fundamentals of the Russian economy have strengthened. GDP is expected to grow between 1 and 2pc this year.

The Russian Government has been working hard to minimise negative external effects and to secure a structural transformation of the economy. A well-timed anti-crisis programme was launched and has proved successful. The Government is actively scaling down the dependence on commodities and implementing structural reforms. We have maintained macroeconomic stability, preserved and even enlarged our financial reserves. As of 1 January 2016, the reserves stood at around $370 bn, and now there are almost $400 bn.

Public debt is low. Obligations for external debt repayment will have decreased from $130 bn in 2015 to $80 bn by the end of 2017. The federal budget deficit remains at safe level and will be financed by loans, which should not exceed the ceiling of 17pc of GDP. That is much lower than in EU member states. Despite the difficulties, the Government is meeting all of its social obligations in full. The unemployment rate stays reasonable.

Russian financial authorities have been doing an important job in stabilising the markets and bringing inflation down. The inflation rate has steadily decreased and has a potential to meet the 4pc target by the end of this year. Foreign direct investment inflow increased from $6 bn in 2015 to more than $25 bn last year. At the same time, capital outflow decreased from $150 bn. in 2014 to $15.5 bn. in 2016. Industrial production growth rates are expected to rise from 0.4pc in 2016 to 1.1pc in 2017 and up to 2.1pc in 2019.

Over past two years the financial stability of Russian banking system was restored. The profits of the Russian banks grew five-fold over the year. The volume of bad debt saw no increase. The loan portfolio remained stable without marked decrease. The dollarisation of the Russian economy (deposits and loans in US dollars) has been brought to 24pc, which is much less than in other emerging markets (in some countries this indicator is 60 to70pc).

Overall, the Russian economy is on a trajectory of sustained growth in the coming months making most international economists revise upwards their forecasts. We believe that foreign direct investment will increase substantially. We welcome major foreign companies and hedge pensions funds, which have serious long term interests in investing in the Russian economy, bonds and stock markets. In early February a leading global Russian agrocompany PhosAgro, which makes phosphate-based fertilizer, successfully completed its SPO at the Moscow Exchange, selling 4,5pc of its share capital for 15 bn roubles (about $250m) in just one hour. It is one example among many indicative of how Russia is viewed by international business.

The Russian Government is committed to providing every help and support to companies starting or continuing their business in Russia. Rouble devaluation has made Russian assets very attractive for purchase. Real sector companies, including agriculture, car and other industries, will benefit from localising their production in Russia.

I am confident 2017 will dramatically improve prospects for the Russian economy, raising its attractiveness further for foreign investors, including those from the UK.




LATEST EVENTS

15.05.2017 - There can be only political solutions on the Korean peninsula (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

There is no doubt that what we are living through in present is one of the most dramatic developments on the Korean peninsula showing that the threat of confrontation is moving into its hottest phase than ever before. The belligerent rhetoric coupled with reckless muscle-flexing has led to a dangerous situation where one careless step can lead to the most terrible consequences.


11.05.2017 - The OPCW investigation of Khan-Sheikhoun chemical incident: how credible? (Article by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Daily Telegraph)

Unfortunately, there is still no proper reaction by the OPCW to the alleged use of sarin in Khan Sheikhoun of 4 April. The work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Syria is shrouded in secrecy. What is clear is that it continues to operate in a remote mode, using Internet data mostly concocted by the radical elements of the Syrian opposition, including the notorious “White Helmets”. From the scarce information one can gather that the samples taken from those injured or dead were tested in the OPCW-licensed laboratories in Britain and Turkey and established to be sarin or sarin-like substance. However, the samples were not taken at the site of the incident, but, it appears, in the Turkish territory, to which the injured and the bodies of the dead were taken. Hence the basic principle of the investigation, that of the chain of custody, hasn’t been observed. There are no answers on that from our Western partners. As there is no clear evidence that those people were from Khan Sheikhoun and not from somewhere else.


02.05.2017 - Investigation into Khan Sheikhoun: rules-based order tested by Western scheming (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

There is still no proper reaction by the OPCW to the alleged use of sarin in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on 4 April. Unfortunately, the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Syria is shrouded in secrecy. What is clear is that it continues to operate in a remote mode, using Internet data mostly concocted by the radical elements of the Syrian opposition, including the notorious “White Helmets”. From the scarce information one can gather that the samples taken from those injured or dead were tested in the OPCW-licensed laboratories in Britain and Turkey and established to be sarin or sarin-like substance. However, the samples were not taken at the site of the incident. Hence the basic principle of the investigation, that of the chain of custody, hasn’t been observed. There are no answers on that from our Western partners. As there is no clear evidence that those people were from Khan Sheikhoun and not from somewhere else.


28.04.2017 - UK is blocking independent international investigation into Khan Sheikhoun incident (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On April 18, in response to a statement by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on British experts at Porton Down lab having analyzed some samples taken at the site of the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, we have asked the Foreign Office to provide us with the information on its unilateral investigation. In particular, we requested information on what kind of samples and where were taken and whether the OPCW’s key requirement of chain of custody was observed during the collection of evidence. If the British side had access to the scene of the incident, why wouldn’t it provide such an access for the OPCW experts? We have not received any reply so far.


31.03.2017 - Liberation of Mosul: a new catastrophe? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating plight of the civilians in Mosul, who are paying an excessively high price for their liberation from terrorists. We have seen devastating consequences of the first phase of the military operation in the eastern districts of Mosul, where the Coalition applied doubtful tactics to push terrorists out of the city. Those efforts led to deplorable results: at least 1,500 civilians were killed and over 160,000 were displaced. During that brutal fighting about 60 percent of administrative buildings, 90 percent of transport infrastructure, 15 percent of residential buildings and 30 percent of schools were ruined.


21.02.2017 - Remembering Ambassador Churkin (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Work in New York, at a mission to the United Nations differs a lot from any Embassy. Especially so for a mission of a nation-permanent member of the Security Council. The last ten years, when Vitaly Churkin represented Russia at the UN, undoubtedly where the most busy and strenuous, given the War in Iraq, intervention in Libya, the crises in Syria and Ukraine. On all these issues there were serious differences between major powers, which increased demand for multilateral diplomacy. On many occasions those were non-stop, marathon sessions aimed at reaching consensus, finding some common ground as a basis for international action.


03.02.2017 - MEPP: inter-Palestinian conference in Moscow (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 15-17 January in Moscow there was held an inter-Palestinian informal meeting organized by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Representatives of the main Palestinian organizations were present, including Fatah, Hamas, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, the Palestinian National Initiative, the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, the Palestinian Democratic Union and others.


03.02.2017 - Deal is straightforward yet Kiev drags its feet (by Ambassador Yakovenko for FT)

Sir, The latest flare-up in eastern Ukraine is just more evidence of the Kiev government choosing war over reform (Letters, February 1). It has been dragging its feet over implementation of its part of the Minsk 2 accords reached by the Normandy Four two years ago.


01.02.2017 - Crimea and Minsk Agreements: what the British media would not tell? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The recent escalation in eastern Ukraine is again presented in the British media as Russia’s attempt to wage a proxy hybrid war against Kiev’s pro-western leadership. For fear of an eventual improvement in Russia-US relationships they pray for the sanctions against Russia to stay unless the Minsk Agreements are implemented as well as a punishment for the “Russia’s annexation of Crimea”. Let me set the record straight on that.


25.01.2017 - Finally there is hope for peace in Syria. Now let's concentrate on fighting Isil (article by Ambassador Yakovenko in The Daily Telegraph, 25 January 2017)

For almost a year and a half, as the British government and media were accusing Russia of pursuing a military solution in Syria, we have patiently said that fighting terrorists complements the peace process. Their presence is a foreign intervention, which distorts everything. Not always was our voice heard, but today facts on the ground prove us to be right, and hope for peace is palpable.



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