24 March 2018
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MH17 crash must be subject to an impartial international investigation (by Alexander Yakovenko, for Russia Today)

Russia was the first to call for an impartial and transparent international investigation of the crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin as well as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have voiced this position on more than a dozen occasions over the past four days. They have confirmed it in phone calls with their foreign counterparts, including Prime Minister David Cameron on 20 July. Mr Putin said it again in his televised statement on Sunday night.
The idea of an investigation has been supported by the UN Security Council. It therefore represents a matter of broad international consensus. The question is how to move from declarations to real work.
The Russian position is clear: an investigation must be launched as soon as possible, under the auspices of Ukraine and with the leading role of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, with the participation of interested governments and international bodies such as the Interstate Aviation Committee (a post-Soviet aviation authority that includes representatives of both Russia and Ukraine). This would allow for the inquiry to be independent and to avoid biased conclusions.
What we have been seeing so far on the part of our Western partners is willingness to declare “pro-Russian” militia and Russia responsible even before any proper investigation has started. If anything, this means to put pressure on the future inquiry.
Meanwhile, it is wrong to say that the existing circumstantial evidence points exclusively towards the militia’s responsibility. Several other versions are widely discussed in the Internet and by the media.
Within this context, the Russian Defence Ministry has announced that it had detected deployment by Ukrainian forces of anti-aircraft Buk systems in the conflict area a few days before the tragedy. The Ministry has published a number of questions to the Ukrainian authorities, Ukraine being the country in whose sovereign airspace the disaster occurred. Among those questions are: why airspace over the hostilities area had not been closed for civilian aircraft; why Ukrainian special services started to work with air traffic control records before the arrival of international representatives; can Ukraine provide internal reports on movements of Ukrainian military aircraft and records of the use of anti-aircraft weaponry by the Ukrainian army on the day of the crash, etc. This is not to lay the blame on Ukraine, but let’s not forget the 2001 incident when a Russian civilian airliner was shot down by mistake by Ukrainian forces during drills.
On a more general note, the outrage at an alleged Russian complicity in the air crash has completely diverted attention from the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine. The government is continuing its “anti-terrorist” operation that leads to new civilian deaths every day. No attempt has been made by Kiev to enter into any meaningful dialogue with the militias. There is no public discussion of constitutional reforms that would grant regions a proper self-rule and guarantee the status of the Russian language.
It is clear that, whatever the exact cause of the MH17 tragedy, it wouldn’t have happened, had Kiev not resumed fighting on 28 June. Yet, so far Kiev’s Western friends seem to do nothing to encourage the authorities to change their current perilous course. Rather, the decisions on sanctions against Russia serve as an encouragement to continue the military operation. It wasn’t Russia, who rolled the dice. It was the EU’s clumsy unthought-through plan to engage in geopolitics in Ukraine on the cheap, that triggered this chain of events.
We are convinced that there can be no military solution to this conflict. Only a settlement negotiated between Kiev and the regions in the south-east will have a chance to be a lasting one. It will require a truly collective effort, as well as joint analysis and, perhaps, self-criticism.


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.

16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation

25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.

23.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at presentation of the book "The Mystery of Repentance" held at the Russian Embassy

I’m glad to welcome you here to a discussion of two prominent hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of England, on Christian future of Europe.

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