20 July 2018
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UKRAINIAN CRISIS: ROOT CAUSES AND BLAME GAME (by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to UK )

The scale of the Ukrainian crisis eclipsed a fundamental issue of who and why provoked it. All the ratchet, which broke loose like hell in Western media seems to avoid a reasoned debate on this issue of culpability. It is obvious that those who hid behind colorless personalities of Brussels bureaucracy knew full well what they were doing when offered Kiev a deep integration short of full membership. They knew also that this deal would have a serious impact on an extensive Russo-Ukrainian trade and economic relationship. If Moscow was engaged in such talks when the EU admitted new members, why not now? Now they feign ignorance, though, as it looks, Russia’s part in that geopolitical exercise was to be a shock-absorber to soften the disastrous consequences of shock therapies to be prescribed to Ukraine through the IMF. The EU didn’t want to deal with that issue when it was raised fairly by President Yanukovich, supposedly, to keep the entire nation in a fix, thus breaking its will to decide for itself. And it was hatched in secret both from the Ukrainian people and Russia.

Now, the new authorities in Kiev ask for pretty much the same financial assistance for the same reasons. And it is being dealt with by Brussels as a sound and legitimate request.

Against this background the entire situation cannot help being seen as an irresponsible geopolitical gamble with stakes sky-high. Irresponsible because our response was easy to foresee. But with that in mind, Moscow did its best to soft-land the fast-evolving crisis through international mediation. On 21 February such an agreement was reached between the Government and the opposition with the help of Foreign Ministers of Germany. France and Poland and a representative of President Putin, who, our partners admit, played critical role in getting President Yanukovich’s consent to this broad, far-reaching and fair compromise. It had nothing to do with the personality of Victor Yanukovich and it did everything with Ukrainian national interest. If took into account the fragile state of the Ukrainian statehood, deep divisions within Ukraine on its national and historical narrative. It didn’t rock Ukraine’s boat, but provided for everything required to preserve that frail consensus in its society that had ensured its survival as a sovereign state since independence.

Under the pretext that President Yanukovich had to flee the country, the 21 February agreement was reneged on by the opposition. Our Western partners do not deny that. A blatant power grab followed by a partly legitimate Rada, which acted in a climat of intimidation by armed protestors, claiming a “revolution”, which, as is well known, always means destruction of the entire constitutional order and the balance of interests if sustains. No impeachment procedure was followed, and the Constitutional Court which plays an important part in it, was disbanded with the Judges prescribed by new authorities to be meted out revolutionary justice.

President Putin, talking to media on 4 March, explained Russia’s view of the situation in great detail, leaving nothing to guess. It is an honest and open position. We want the 21 February agreement to be followed through in due course. That means an extensive constitutional reform, agreeing the prospect of a national unity government and only afterwards holding elections.

Vladimir Putin referred to the experience of the Russian Revolution of 1917, when extremist political forces grabbed power through better organization and ruthlessness to their opponents among moderate opposition. At the time “due course” meant vesting power in the Constituent Assembley, already elected by the time of the Bolshevik takeover in late October 1917. It was disbanded by the revolutionary authorities claiming their own legitimacy. Pretty much like Cromwell did to the Rump in 1653 to establish his Protectorate.

Likewise, revolutionaries unleashed a campaign of terror and intimidation against the rest of the society. Turning a blind eye to this rise of violence, in fact denial of the right to peaceful protest, is aimed at effective cover-up of the origins of this entire enterprise. We are open to be convinced of the opposite.

Rule of law, legitimacy and Constitutional order are not empty words nor abstract categories. In politics it is about the proper process that defines a just and sustainable outcome. Or is it too much for Russia to ask in this particular case?

As to recognition of the revolutionary authorities, the precedents of the Soviet Government’s recognition by Western powers provide a good case in point. It was not automatic nor immediate. It took Washington 16 years and the painful experience of the Great Depression to establish diplomatic relations with Moscow.

Everybody knows that a new Crimean War is out of the question. But that war was as unnecessary as the present crisis in and about Ukraine. Like any human condition, this situation is open-ended. There is still time to save Ukraine from the dire prospect of civil war, since if the nationalist minority begins to impose its will and its narrative upon the rest of the society by “revolutionary” terror, the people, protesting peacefully now, will rise in self-defense.

Russian doesn’t intend to extend its humanitarian mission to other part of Ukraine, but may be compelled to. In the final count its about the old dilemma – the state for the people, or the people for the state. Silence is a sign of spiritual and, ultimately, physical death. Moscow answers calls by Western leaders and its Foreign Minister has been keeping in touch with his counterparts. Leo Tolstoy in his “War and Peace” wrote about Napoleon being indifferent to the truth. If that is the case for the West as a whole, then we are facing a genuine cultural divide. And I don’t know how to overcome it, since its seems again that the only thing our Western partner understand is crude force of facts.



24.06.2018 - Greeting by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for the Znaniye school Family Day (Ealing, 24 June 2018)

Dear friends and guests, I am delighted to welcome you at a Family Day celebrating Russia and the World Cup. Today, Russia is the place to be for the whole world. It is a great pleasure to hear fans from all continents appreciating Russia’s hospitality, friendliness and openness to everyone. Right now, people from virtually every country see the 11 host cities, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals on the border of Europe and Asia, and realize how diverse and beautiful our country is. We’d like to bring a bit of Russia and the excitement of the World Cup to Ealing, for those who couldn’t make it to the tournament. By the way, so far both our teams are doing very well, and let us hope they keep up this good work. We cheer for both Russia and England but I’m afraid this can change if both teams meet at the semi-finals.

20.06.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, May 30, 2018

Mr Dynkin, Colleagues and friends, Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for a new opportunity to speak at the international forum named after Academician Evgeny Primakov, an outstanding Russian statesman, academic and public figure. It is indeed a great honour for me. I consider Mr Primakov, with whom I worked at the Foreign Ministry in the latter half of the 1990s, my senior comrade and teacher, as probably do the majority of those who crossed paths with him at one point. Holding this representative conference under the aegis of one of Russia’s leading academic institutes – National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) that also bears Primakov’s name – has become a good tradition. The Primakov Readings have earned a reputation as a venue for serious dialogue of authoritative specialists on the most pressing issues of international politics and the global economy. Today, there is no lack of buzzwords used by politicians, experts and scientists to capture the current moment in international relations. They talk about the crisis of the “liberal world order” and the advent of the post-Western era, “hot peace” and the “new cold war”. The abundance of terms itself shows that there is probably no common understanding of what is happening. It also points to the fairly dynamic and contradictory state of the system of international relations that is hard to characterise, at least at the present stage, with one resounding phrase. The authors of the overarching theme of the current Primakov Readings probably handled the challenge better than others. In its title “Risks of an unstable world order’ they provocatively, and unacademically, combine the words “unstable” and “order”.

21.04.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's talking points at the Press Conference, 20 April 2018

Since we met last time a lot of events took place: - Military strikes of the United States, UK and France against Syria in violation of the international law - Mission by OPCW inspectors to Douma - Speech of Prime Minister May in Parliament in support of the British aggression against Syria - Special meeting of the OPCW Executive Council (18 April 2018) - New developments in the classified case of Salisbury poisoning of Skripal family - No meaningful developments on the Glushkov case - and Cyber security threats I plan to comment all these issues. And I will be happy to answer all our questions, if you have any.

17.03.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Mail on Sunday" (full text)

Q: Bearing in mind that the US, France and Germany have said they agree with Britain that all the evidence suggests the attacks in Salisbury were the responsibility of the Russian state, what credibility can be placed on the denials issued by the Russian Government? A:We don't know if UK presented any evidence to US, France and Germany - highly likely none - but if they did, why not present it through the channels outlined in the Chemical Weapons Convention? Universal legal principle is presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof lies with the British Government. Its record includes the Iraq WMD dossier - you will remember that at some point doubting US and UK claims was considered a wild conspiracy theory. It is not any more.

26.01.2018 - Main foreign policy outcomes of 2017

In 2017, Russian diplomacy addressed multidimensional tasks to ensure national security and create a favourable external environment for our country's progressive development. Russia maintained an independent foreign policy, promoted a unifying agenda, and proposed constructive solutions to international problems and conflicts. It developed mutually beneficial relations with all interested states, and played an active role in the work of the UN, multilateral organisations and forums, including the G20, BRICS, the SCO, the OSCE, and the CSTO. Among other things, Russian policy has sought to prevent the destabilisation of international relations, and this responsible policy has met with broad understanding in the international community.

17.01.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the unveiling of memorial plaque in Sayes Court Park

Dear Mayor, Dear Councillors, Lady Joan, Ladies and gentlemen, It is now 320 years ago that a truly remarkable man set foot in Deptford. As you know, the Russian Tsar Peter, later named the Great, visited Western Europe in 1697—1698 under the nickname of Peter Mikhailov, with his Grand Embassy. He was eager to find out about the latest achievements in science and technology and create new diplomatic alliances. Of course, England couldn’t escape his attention. He mostly studied shipbuilding at the famous Deptford Dockyard, but he also met King William III, and, reportedly, Isaac Newton. Peter’s landlord, the famous John Evelyn, was also a respected scientist – a founder member of the Royal Society.

13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.

08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)

25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.

20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.

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