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692 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     684 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

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




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