21 October 2018
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Interview by Igor Bratchikov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry, ahead of the Fourth Caspian Summit in Astrakhan published in September edition of the “Caspian Energy”

Question: What agreements are being prepared for signing at the 4-th Caspian Summit in Astrakhan? What are Russia’s expectations from this summit?

Answer: Every summit considers the results of what has been already done and an opportunity to give an incentive to the development of relations. The Caspian Summit is of no exception in this regard. The last Summit of the Heads of state of the Caspian Sea region was hosted by Baku in 2010. Since then a big job has been done to coordinate principles of a five-sided cooperation in the sea, which shall underlie a future convention on legal status of the Caspian Sea. In Astrakhan we are to examine and fix the results of this job, and also set up priorities of a five-sided cooperation for a period until the next summit.

As far as the first part of your question is concerned, a number of intergovernmental agreements are ready, targeting promotion of the cooperation between the Caspian countries in certain areas, including preservation and rational use of bioresources of the sea, prevention and elimination of emergency situations in the Caspian Sea, hydrometeorology.

Question: After the Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Caspian littoral states you said the ground for a progress in the talks had been prepared. What kind of progress do you expect?

Answer: The conference of ministers is one of the key links of the Caspian dialogue. Progress at such meetings is possible when the issues discussed by experts require political decisions. In that context, the April Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Caspian littoral states in Moscow was very fruitful. The decisions taken at the conference have been helpful in reaching agreements to be submitted for consideration and, hopefully, approval of our heads of state at the Summit in Astrakhan. I believe the 18-year long process of working on a new legal status of the Caspian Sea would get a required acceleration after Astrakhan.

Question: Which is the key aspect for Russia in the ongoing negotiation process on the legal status of the Caspian Sea: legislative, economic or environmental? Could you please speak about each of them in details?

Answer: All the mentioned aspects are interrelated. A convention on legal status of the Caspian Sea is to be a core document for a five-sided cooperation. Nothing but a convention should create a reliable mechanism for protecting of sovereign rights of the littoral states in the Caspian Sea. Simultaneously, without compromising the talks on a legal status, we are working on international legal treaties that cover specific areas of cooperation, including economy, ecology and other areas of common interest. I would like to mention the 2007 Tehran Convention on Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea and the three Protocols to it signed in recent years, the Agreement on Security Cooperation in the Caspian Sea signed in Baku in 2010 that opens up good opportunities to jointly address challenges and threats actual for all five states.

Let me suggest that environmental problems, joint economic projects, cooperation between the five states in the field of politics will be included in the agenda of talks between the presidents in Astrakhan as well as still unsettled legal issues on the Caspian Sea.

Question: Will Russia stand for demilitarization of the Caspian Sea?

Answer: Let’s be candid, all littoral states are upgrading their Caspian fleets guided by the interests of own security, which is not limited to the Caspian Sea only. They apply a complex approach, taking into consideration threats coming mainly from non-regional sources, ongoing explosive situations occurring not far from the Caspian region. That is the reason why it would be more appropriate to speak about military construction that does not do any damage to security of neighbouring states, about transparency and predictability of any endeavours in the military sphere.

Question: Is there any success gained in bringing positions of all Caspian states closer to one another and accelerating the process of reaching the consensus by the forthcoming Summit?

Answer: All the parties of the negotiation process have a firm intention to reach mutually acceptable solutions considering the interests of all Caspian states, which would be a long-term basis for close cooperation of the Caspian «5» in future. Discussions are held in constructive atmosphere, in the spirit of trust and understanding of responsibility for the fate of this unique water body. I think such mood predetermines reaching of agreements we need.

Question: Prime Minister of the Russian Federation D.A.Medvedev has recently ordered to stimulate development of the Caspian shelf of Russia. Will the neighbouring Caspian states be involved in new projects?

Answer: The plan of complex promotion of development of crude hydrocarbon fields in the continental shelf of the Russian Federation and in the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea bed, approved by the government early in June 2014, provides administrative and legislative support for corresponding activity, including development of the single approach enabling to more efficiently develop resources of the Caspian seabed sector belonging to Russia. Since it is not the states that deal with development of fields but producing companies, the issue of attracting foreign partners will be solved within the framework of consultations between the responsible Russian bodies and interested economic operators.

Question: Is Russia ready to compromise on the issue of gas pipelining along the Caspian seabed?

Answer: We have a consecutive approach toward this issue which fully complies with existing agreements. The 5 Caspian states assumed a political obligation that all major issues concerning the activity in the Caspian sea will be addressed on the basis of consensus of the littoral states. We think that construction of the main TransCaspian pipelines refers to such types of issues. The consequences of construction and operation of a «pipeline» in the water body that has a high seismic activity and tectonics of its bed are unpredictable, in case of any accident it can impact all coastal states and not only those the shores of which are connected by the pipeline. It can jeopardize vital interests of millions of citizens of the Caspian states either the residents of the Russian Dagestan or densely populated Iranian coast. I’d like the TransCaspian gas pipeline project lobbyists living thousands kilometers away from the Caspian would be conscious of this reality reflected in the Russian position.

Question: Under which investment principles will the «Tsentralnoye» field, owned by the two countries, be developed? Are there any plans to attract foreign investments?

Answer: The oil company “LLC Tsentralnaya Oil and Gas Company” (its co-owners are the Russian Companies LUKoil and Gazprom (25% per each) and Kazakh Company KazMunayGas with 50%), is an operator of the project development of the “Tsentralnoye” field. The preparing and determination of parameters for the production sharing agreement are currently underway. Based on this PSA, it is planned to carry out production of hydrocarbons in compliance with the conditions of the Agreement on delimitation of the bed in the north part of the Caspian Sea reached between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1998. Issues concerning funding of the project, including feasibility study and investments are expected to be solved following the outcomes of the analysis of the results of geological survey operations.


27.09.2018 - Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN Security Council meeting, September 26, 2018

Mr President, Colleagues, In the modern world, an efficient fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is becoming increasingly important for global and regional stability and the reliable security of all states without exception. Constructive cooperation in this area is an important component of the efforts to shape a positive international agenda. I think everybody agrees that the UN Security Council resolutions that outline specific measures against violations of non-proliferation must be strictly observed. Resolution 1540 remains the basis for this and contains obligations for the member states to take specific measures to prevent non-government agents from accessing weapons of mass destruction and their components. The UNSC decisions taken in pursuance of this resolution are particularly important as they include sanctions for handing over any types of weapons to terrorists. There have been incidents of such handovers and they must be thoroughly investigated.

07.09.2018 - Remarks by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the UNSC meeting on the incident in Salisbury

Q: Do you expect British sanctions on Russia soon? A: We are not expecting or afraid of anything. Taking to the account how things have been developing during the recent years we do not exclude anything. This discussion and yesterday’s speech by the British Prime-Minister in the British Parliament are not coincidental. I think that’s looks like a prelude to a new political season. Q: So, Ambassador it’s really coming from the highest level in the UK. A: It always comes from the highest level. Last time when the incident took place it also came from the highest level. Q: But it seems that you are not taking it seriously. A: We are taking it very seriously. We were saying it all the time. Why we’ve been asking for cooperation with the UK from day one. Only few minutes ago Ambassador Pierce was referring to an ultimatum that Boris Johnson made in his letter to the Russian Ambassador in London when the incident took place presented as a request by the British site to cooperate while in fact it was a demand to to accept the gilt. At the same time our requests which we sent to British authorities constantly through OPCW and bilaterally were ignored.

06.09.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show on Channel One, Moscow, September 4, 2018

Question: Today we have a special guest in our studio, one of the main participants in the “great game”, someone the future of the world really depends on in many ways: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. We are happy to welcome you in the Great Game studio. Sergey Lavrov: Thanks for inviting me.

22.08.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comment on UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's anti-Russian claims

At a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's urges to European partners to slap their own sanctions on Russia in connection with the Salisbury incident.

16.08.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Salisbury Journal"

The Russian Ambassador said he stands together with the people of Salisbury in a meeting with the Journal last week, as the United States announced new sanctions against the country. Speaking at his official residence in Kensington Palace Gardens on Thursday, Alexander Yakovenko said: “We are together with the people of Salisbury.”

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.

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