18 October 2018
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Ambassador Yakovenko contributes to the ongoing debate in The Financial Times on the issue of European security architecture:


25 years after the Cold War end it’s clear that something is wrong with the European security architecture. Otherwise we would have no Ukraine crisis on our lap. It is an established fact that there has been no formal post-Cold War settlement. And it is a truth if not universally acknowledged, but gaining support among experts and observers, that this constitutes a major flaw with far-reaching consequences.
Yes, we do have the OSCE and the Paris Charter of 1990, and even the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). But they are all pieces of a patchwork, inherited mostly from the previous era. The Charter is about political commitments of general nature. The OSCE hasn’t been able to evolve into a full-fledged regional security organization, as provided for in the Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. It has stuck at the stage of the League of Nations, as impotent in ensuring equal security for all in the Euro-Atlantic. It even does not have a charter of its own. The NRC has proved to be incapable of being an all-weather forum, first at the time of the Caucasus crisis in August 2008. Since the Rome declaration of 2002 we haven’t been able to get from our NATO partners the definition of substantial forces they promised not to deploy in new member-states on a permanent basis.
This incoherent construction is hugely distorted by continued existence of the NATO, which, bent on preserving its place of privilege in the European security architecture, insists on legally binding security guarantees to be enjoyed exclusively by its members. That is a key obstacle to the declared goal of indivisible security in our region. Thus, we have various levels of security in Europe. Like in physics, difference of potentials generates voltage in the circuit, or tension in the system.
This electricity begets the NATO’s eastward expansion, which brings its military infrastructure to Russia’s doorstep. It might have looked like a smart policy of pursuing dual objective of extending the Alliance’s reach while hedging its bets on Russia. But not now, that the NATO retreats into its cocoon of territorial defense.
Lord Hannay (FT, Letters, 16 October) knows better than others that nothing is automatic in international relations. In 2004 he was in charge of the Cyprus settlement dossier and could see that the imminent EU membership wouldn’t change the Cypriot Government’s negative position on the Annan plan. And the very fact of the Ukraine crisis proves precisely that. Either we have a genuine collective security, or we have got something else.
Let’s have a look at history. After the defeat of Napoleon, France, which shed the Emperor’s personal territorial acquisitions, was invited by the victors to the top table of European politics at the Congress of Vienna. That Churchillian magnanimity in victory ensured 40 years of calm in Europe. The Crimean War, which was declared on Russia in the name of maintaining the European balance, resulted in the opposite, opening the door to the Franco-Prussian War and the wrong unification of Germany as a Greater Prussia (not as a federation it became after two world wars).
The Versaille system didn’t follow the Congress of Vienna example. It left isolated both the Soviet Russia and Germany. No regional collective security system was designed, with the borders of Germany’s eastern neighbours not guaranteed. The attempts to address this flaw, including the Eastern Pact/Locarno failed, leading to the Eastern European nations fending for themselves, mostly through conclusion of bilateral non-aggression treaties with Germany. The final outcome is known, and that includes the folly of anticipating Germany to direct its aggression eastwards first and the Phoney War.
It is also important to remember, that originally the settlement after WWI was supposed to be on a no-victors-no-losers basis. But the November revolution in Germany helped derail this rational arrangement in favor of the flawed Versaille system. Germany was vilified to play to the French and British public opinion to justify the terrible cost of the Great War. The Palmerston Ministry, for the same reasons, insisted, on humiliating provisions of the Peace of Paris of 1856.
History shows, that revolutionary/violent destruction of constitutional order always leaves a nation exposed to civil war, foreign intervention and all sorts of contingencies. The British saw it in XVII-XVIII centuries (till Bonnie Prince Charlie’s final defeat, although America’s War of Independence would qualify as Act 3 of the English revolution). So did the French in their revolution, and Russia early in the XXth Century.
Martin Wolf (FT, 17 September) admits, that the West is partly responsible for the present crisis. The West, indeed, ludicrously focused on who would pay the Soviet debt. That petty mindedness and failure of imagination defied the lessons of European history. That is why many believe that the so called “Kremlin policies” are the consequence rather than the reason.
Russia has always been, at least over the past three centuries, a part and parcel of Europe and European politics, sharing in joys and triumphs, as well as tragedies. Our preemptive attack in East Prussia in August (on a much greater scale than the Charge of the light brigade at Balaclava) prevented 1914 turning in 1940, with all due respect for the British thin line of defense, which saved the day by its counter-attack near Ypres at the end of October the same year.
We don’t want an adversarial relationship with our European partners, for both of us will lose. President Vladimir Putin talking recently to the Valdai Club in Sochi was honest in his assessment of the choice we are facing. It’s either further alienation with broader geopolitical flak, or drawing the line and starting to work collectively to deal with the damage already done in Europe and elsewhere, and putting international response to common challenges, particularly in the Middle East, on a sound legal and policy foundation.
Naturally, it has to start in Europe. The US have developed, under Madeleine Albright, the tactics of constructive ambiguity, which provides enough flexibility for all to avoid painting ourselves into the corner as regards the Ukrainian crisis. But ambivalence in the transient European security architecture, that got stuck somewhere between Versaille and Vienna, doesn’t serve any positive purpose any longer. We need something overarching and cooperative that would leave no space for motives and temptations to shift old divisive lines as a policy by default. It means further institutionalization of the OSCE, our idea of a European security treaty and a joint missile defense for Europe.
The time to act on the lessons of the Ukrainian stress test is now. We know that European transformation of Ukraine cannot be managed unilaterally and on the cheap. As President Poroshenko said, the challenge of reintegration of the south-east, which can only be done peacefully, provides a strong incentive for fundamental reforms. Nobody needs Ukraine as a geopolitical dependency.
Like any crisis, this one represents a rare opportunity to fix what needs to be fixed. All the more so that we know that no military solutions are possible in Europe today, both domestically and internationally. That is what have in common, in my view, the real tragedy in South-Eastern Ukraine, high drama of the NATO summit in Wales and comedia dell’arte in Sweden’s territorial waters. And even Gideon Rachman’s raising, quite surrealistically, the spectre of use of theatre nuclear weapons in Europe (FT, 12 November) proves precisely that.
In much broader terms, the state of European security is just another sign of our region still living in the XXth century. Like the present economic and financial crisis, including banks too big to fail and financial alchemy of the past thirty years, it resists effort to bring it into the new century. It’s also about the state of elites, who, unlike a hundred years ago, have no option of a big war. Hopefully, ushering in another century will be less tragic this time, but kicking and screaming we’ll see a lot. Perhaps, it was the real promise, held out by the fall of the Berlin wall 25 years ago. Certainly, it was not about construction of new walls, sanctions, isolation and disengagement, which provided the comfort of segregated existence in the century that has run its course.



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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