30 May 2017
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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

12.03.2017

Ambassador Yakovenko's interview for Sunday Express

Q: As a precursor to Boris Johnson's visit to Moscow in the coming weeks, what is your understanding of the nature of the visit and the purpose of the invitation - given that he will be the most senior UK Government official to visit the Kremlin in a good number of years? What message does Russia hope that the visit will send to the rest of the world? 

A: It is going to be the first working visit at Foreign Ministers' level in our bilateral relation over the past three years. We hope that it means that our British partners are interested in resumption of political dialogue.

Q: Historically, and prior to the Cold War, Russia and Britain had strong cultural ties. But these have become strained throughout the 21st century. What can be done to restore these close links? 

A: We did have strong cultural ties even at the time of the Cold War. These are an ultimate pillar of the relations between our two nations. That’s why both governments did their best not to politicize cultural relationship.

Q: There has been talk only recently that the Stare of UK-Russian relations is in its worst state in peacetime - what do you make of these claims and how do these claims fit with the timing of the in invitation? What would you hope the visit will do for Russian-UK relations?
Sources close to Boris say the visit signals anything but a cosier relationship with Russia and will not reset the relationship but that he will use the visit to deliver some tough messages on the Ukraine, for example, how will that go down? 

A: Of course, the Foreign Secretary’s visit comes at a time when our official bilateral relationship is at the lowest point after the Cold War end.  We don’t need a cozy relationship with Britain, just the one based on mutual respect and national interest. The rhetoric does matter, but without a positive agenda it becomes an end in itself.

Q: How misunderstood is Russia by the British people? How can we change this perception?

A: I think the British people deserve better than the present official and media propaganda campaign. At least, it should be toned down. And whatever evidence there is to support accusations against Russia, it should be made public.

Q: What did you make of Britain's decision to leave the European Union? Obviously there has recently been a recommitment by UK and EU ministers to the sanctions in place against Russia but could you ever see a time when Russia becomes a trading partner to the UK - what is your ultimate hope for Russia's relationship with the UK? Does the Russian government take a view on the merits or otherwise of Brexit?

A: We don’t have an official view of ‘Brexit’ – it’s none of our business. We deal with our partners as they are.

Q: Can Britain and Russia work together militarily to solve the crisis in Syria? What would need to happen to make that work?

A: As to the Syrian crisis, it doesn’t have a military solution. But the terrorist organisations active in Syria have got to be defeated militarily. It is up to the British government to decide what military assets it has at its disposal to commit to that fight.

Q: What do you make of the UK Government's current strategy towards Russia - "engage but beware"? 

A: It’s also up to the British government to determine how to proceed in its relations with Russia. Personally I think its either “engage” or “beware”. Any way, pragmatism, traditionally espoused by the British, is synonymous with commonsense and sound assessment of the situation.

Q: Should Britain fear a resurgent Russia? What about the Baltic states? What about the frequent Blackjack incursions? (nuclear bombers buzzing Britsih aerospace)

A: Russia is just emerging from a painful period of transition/reconstruction. It includes a state of our military. Russia poses threat to no one, including the Baltic states. I have heard of no incursions of our strategic aircraft into the British airspace. They have been flying on their routine missions past the British Isles. It is pure geography.

Q: Cyber attacks are being blamed on Russia, as is a new front in the propaganda war. What does the Russian govenrment say? Boris is apparently going to deliver a message about not interfering in any of the elections in the EU following the allegations about the US - what do you make of this? 

A: It sounds ridiculous that Russia could influence the Western nations’ domestic affairs. Certainly, we have our views to air on various issues of public interest.

As to the accusations of hacking, we now see, given the latest disclosure of the CIA files by Wikileaks, that the US intelligence services have got an army of their own hackers on the government payroll. It appears that CIA has a library of “fingerprints”/identities of various foreign hackers which could be used to put blame on others. That makes the murky business of hacking even murkier. 

Abridged text published on the newspaper website




LATEST EVENTS

26.05.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s address at the RBCC Business Forum (25 May, “BMA House”, London)

It is my pleasure to welcome the participants of the annual Business Forum held under the auspices of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce. Whatever the political situation, the Chamber has always been successful in its mission to strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties (“Russo-British Chamber of Commerce” was registered on the 23rd of October, 1916, in London as a joint-stock company with the aim “to promote trade between the British and Russian Empires”).


19.05.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s remarks at opening of the "Travels in Holy Russia with the Temple Gallery” exhibition

Dear Ladies and gentlemen, Friends, It’s a real honor for me to be here today at the opening of exhibition of photographs: "Travels in Holy Russia with the Temple Gallery”.


11.05.2017 - The Worshipful Mayor of Southwark speech on Victory Day (May 9 2017, Imperial War Museum)

I welcome you all here today at the Soviet War Memorial as we remember those who gave their lives during the Second World War on the 72nd anniversary of the victory of the allied forces in Europe.


09.05.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s remarks at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Soviet War Memorial (London, 9 May 2017)

Today we honour and remember men and women who fought heroically, sacrificing their lives in the fight against fascism. We also honour all those who selflessly toiled at factories to bring the Victory Day nearer. All those who suffered one way or another, went through all the hardships and tragedies of that war


17.04.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko answers the Daily Mail questions (17 April 2017)

1. Theresa May said today (Thursday) that Russia was on the “wrong side of the argument” when it comes to Syria, what is your response to that? Answer: With all my respect for Prime Minister Theresa May I’ve got to say that the opposite is true. Even former British Ambassador in Damascus Peter Ford (on the BBC the other day) said that there is no moderate opposition alternative to the present government is Syria. That’s why there is urgent need for lasting ceasefire and political process among the Syrians, so that they can decide for themselves. It seems that our Western partners don’t like this approach and want to decide for the Syrians who will take part in the political process and who shall not. I think the reason is they know well what the choice of the Syrians is going to be after the 6 years of civil war.


10.04.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's opening remarks at Quantum Workshop (7 April 2017)

I am honoured to be at the opening the Trilateral Quantum Workshop organised by the Russian Quantum Centre. This is an unprecedented and very timely event. Even as somebody rather uninitiated in quantum science, I hear more and more about the advances in this area and find myself reading up on the basics of quantum technology. Luckily, wider public now has the benefit of learning more from Internet.


17.03.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko about learning Russian: talking points for BBC interview

Foreign languages are an essential skill in the modern world. For example, in Russia, English is taught in all schools, mostly as primary and sometimes as secondary foreign language (2 foreign languages are now mandatory). Russian, the language that has most native speakers in Europe, is equally important for economic, cultural and political reasons. Learning Russian is in high demand in Asia, including China. Today you don’t even need to physically attend classes – online education is available, in some cases even for free, by Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, Moscow State University and RT TV channel. In UK, the demand for Russian is high: 21% of British employers are looking for Russian-speaking staff – this is no wonder since 600 British companies are working in our country, and the prospects are good: GDP is expected to grow between 1 and 2 percent this year.


15.03.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at Valentina Tereshkova concert (March 14, Ambassador’s Residence)

It’s an honour and real pleasure for me to welcome a legendary woman – Dr Valentina Tereshkova, Russian cosmonaut, engineer, politician, mother and friend. You are a real Russian star, our pride and a true example of patriotism.


28.02.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at Defender of the Fatherland Day reception

On 23 February, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation celebrate their main holiday - the Defender of the Fatherland Day. This day is important not only for those who wear or used to wear military insignia, but also for all those who care about the words "Motherland" and "duty". Peace of our homes is guarded by those who serve in the country as well as abroad. Throughout history people in Russia respected military, which, according to Peter the Great, was "the first of the worldly affairs as the most important for the defense of the Fatherland". As the history teaches us – the stronger the army is, the safer is the world.


14.02.2017 - UK – RUSSIA YEAR OF SCIENCE AND EDUCATION: THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP? (Robin Grimes, FCO Chief Scientific Adviser, Part of Global Science and Innovation Network)

At the end of the classic film Casablanca, Rick says to the Chief of Police “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship”. So, as we embark upon a year of UK Russia Science & (Science) Education events, what do we expect our scientific relationship to look like 12 months from now? There are some crucial points to bear in mind.



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