16 October 2018
Moscow: 11:10
London: 09:10

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Alfonso Dastis Quecedo

Ladies and gentlemen,

We had very productive talks during which we discussed the entire range of bilateral relations.

Spain is an old and reliable partner for Russia. As you know, this year we marked 40 years of the actual resumption of diplomatic relations between our countries. It is a fact that our bilateral relations go back centuries. Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich sent the first Russian embassy led by Pyotr Potyomkin to Spain 350 years ago.

We stated with mutual regret today that Russian-Spanish cooperation, which we want to develop to the best of our ability, is negatively influenced by the difficult situation in Europe. In this context, we are doing our utmost to preserve and protect the potential of our partnership. We are pleased to say that our bilateral trade, which was declining at a dramatic rate, has increased by 50 per cent in January-March 2017 compared to the same period last year. We will do our utmost to maintain this positive trend. 

The Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Industrial Cooperation, which held its ninth meeting in Moscow in late May, has a special role in this. A large delegation of Spanish business people, who attended the meeting, also met with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The meeting participants expressed the resolve to look for new opportunities to promote investment projects.

We have agreed to work to step up our ties in other spheres as well. We plan to hold a meeting of the bilateral interagency working group on opposing new challenges and threats in the near term. The group has been working actively and held meetings in 2015 and 2016. This is extremely important in light of the unprecedented increase in international terrorism and extremism. Regrettably, we see daily evidence of continuing terrorist activity, such as the terrorist attacks in Iran today, responsibility for which ISIS has claimed.

We also expressed interest in signing agreements on the mutual recognition and exchange of national driver licences and on the mutual recognition of diplomas and academic degrees as soon as possible. Both agreements concern issues that have a direct bearing on the life of Russians in Spain and Spaniards in Russia.   

We expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the Russian-Spanish Year of Tourism, which was held in 2016-2017. The closing ceremony took place in late May. We hope that the events and the potential we have accumulated during this project will strengthen mutual trust and understanding between our nations. One result of this project is the signing of a joint tourism development programme for 2017-2019. We pointed out that the number of Russian tourists in Spain started growing again last year. Over 800,000 Russians visited Spain and some 110,000 Spanish people visited Russia. I am sure that these figures will grow.  

We also discussed international issues, primarily the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. These conflicts have a direct negative impact on regional security, international stability, and the spread of the terrorist threat and other forms of organised crime. Illegal migration is, of course, directly connected to the developments in these countries. We recalled in this connection that the situation in the region was triggered off by the external interference in the affairs of sovereign states with the aim of changing their governments. I hope that while working to settle these conflicts and prevent new crises, we will draw the right conclusions from what happened in Iraq and Libya and what has almost happened in Syria.    

We discussed prospects of promoting cooperation on all international issues, primarily in the United Nations, the OSCE and other international forums.

We share the view that the current state of Russia-EU relations cannot be described as satisfactory. We consider it necessary to return them to the normal path of steady development. For our part we are ready for this. We hope constructive approaches will also prevail in the EU, considering the proposals submitted during President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in St Petersburg a year ago.   

We emphasised that the escalation of NATO’s activities in the regions bordering on Russia remains a serious destabilising factor. We reiterated that instead of exchanging unilateral statements as our NATO partners tend to do, we suggest a serious discussion of current military-political security in the Russia-NATO Council. Let us see with facts and maps in hand how the current situation compares with our joint commitments during the signing of the Russia-NATO Founding Act.    

Naturally, we spoke a lot about Ukraine. For all the nuances in the assessment of the genesis and further development of the crisis, Russia and Spain still believe that there is no alternative to implementing all provisions of the Minsk Agreements without exception with a view to reaching a peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. Today we described how Russia works on a daily basis in the Normandy format and the Contact Group to achieve the required results. We are exerting influence on our partners in Donetsk and Lugansk while working in the Contact Group. We assume other participants in the Normandy format – Germany and France – will also exert positive influence on its work and will not allow Kiev to artificially impede the fulfilment its commitments, which is the case today.

We noted the absolutely disgraceful blockade of Donbass, which is aggravating the already grave humanitarian situation and undermining Kiev’s obligation under the Minsk Agreements to ensure the economic interconnectedness of all areas of Ukraine. We will continue this line. Literally in the next few days experts will continue compiling the roadmap for implementing the Minsk Agreements. I would like to emphasise again that I hope that the necessary influence will be exerted on Kiev because in private conversations the majority of our partners that are watching developments in Ukraine know very well who is blocking the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures.

 We are satisfied with the exchange of views.


To be continued...



15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the ties between “Bellingcat” and secret services

Question: Russian officials claim that “Bellingcat” is connected to intelligence agencies of the Western countries, but do not present any evidence of such ties. Doesn’t such approach contradict Russia’s position on the Salisbury incident, the MH-17 catastrophe and other notable cases, where the Russian government is continuously demanding to publish proofs of accusations? Answer: There is no contradiction. The fact that “Bellingcat” is affiliated to the intelligence services is obvious considering the whole range of relevant circumstances: date of its foundation (several days prior to the MH-17 catastrophe), nature of published information (which combines signs of intelligence data and highly professional fakes), its orientation (always anti-Russian), timeline of publications (each time at the best moment from the point of view of interests of NATO countries), biography of its leader (Elliot Higgins suddenly turned from a PC gamer into an “icon of independent journalism), non-transparency of its internal structure and financing. If “Bellingcat” can provide any other plausible explanation for such combination of facts, it should be presented to the public.

15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the British government calls to step up anti-Russian sanctions

Question: How would you comment on the news that the British government has been lobbying a new EU sanctions regime against Russian nationals allegedly involved in use of chemical weapons and cyber-attacks in Europe? Answer: We have taken note of the respective statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of 14 October and the relevant media reports. These suggest that, faced with an imminent Brexit, the British government makes every effort to step up the sanctions pressure on Russia and to complicate as much as possible Russia-EU relations after Brexit.

13.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Q.: 12 October marks seven months since the death of Nikolay Glushkov. Does the Embassy have any new information on this case? A.: Unfortunately, once again we have to state that the British side continues to evade any sort of cooperation with Russia with regard to the investigation of the death of former Deputy Director General of “Aeroflot” Mr Glushkov that occurred on British soil on 12 March. The British authorities continue to ignore numerous Russian requests, including the official request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance in the criminal case opened in Russia into the Nikolay Glushkov’s death. There are no answers to the Embassy’s proposals to arrange a meeting or consultations between the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation experts and the Metropolitan Police representatives.

12.10.2018 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s introductory remarks at the press-conference on 12 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, In recent weeks we have received a number of media requests concerning the current state of bilateral affairs between Russia and the United Kingdom. I am also often asked how numerous anti-Russian statements by the British officials influence our approach towards the UK. Considering this, I have decided to invite you today to make respective short comments on these issues and answer your additional questions. Currently the relations between Russia and the UK are at a very low level. The reason for that lies in an aggressive anti-Ru ssian campaign launched by the current Tory government and supported by the British media.

09.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new Bellingcat’s investigation

Question: How would you comment on Bellingcat’s claims that it has “tracked down Alexander Petrov’s real identity”? Answer: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently advised us to consider such publications and statements as a display of freedom of public debate into which the UK Government does not interfere. There have already been reports that the Home Office and Metropolitan Police would not comment on these “speculations”. This is exactly the case when we should follow the example of our British colleagues.

08.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the UK authorities’ reaction to Russia’s official requests following recent flagrant media publications

Question: The Embassy declared its intent to request clarifications from the British side following the recent accusations of cyberattacks, and the media reports on preparations for retaliatory cyberstrikes against targets in Russia. Has there been any response? Answer: Today we have received a reply from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which implies that, as before, the British side is not going to provide us with any details that may serve as the basis of the accusations. In this case, we are not in a position to make comments on the essence of those accusations.

05.10.2018 - Embassy comment on another groundless British accusation against Russia

On 4 October, UK Permanent Representative to OPCW Peter Wilson speaking on behalf of Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan claimed that the “GRU” allegedly “attempted to compromise UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office computer systems via a spear phishing attack” and “targeted computers of the UK Defence and Science Technology Laboratory”. The same day the UK National Cyber Security Centre stated that “multiple email accounts belonging to a small UK-based TV station were accessed and content stolen” and “the GRU was almost certainly responsible”.Today, the Embassy has forwarded a Note Verbale to the FCO demanding that the UK Government produces and immediately shares with the Russian side hard evidence and proofs supporting those claims, and informs about sources used to draw such conclusions. We have reminded, in particular, that Russia had repeatedly proposed expert consultations on cybersecurity in order to address UK’s concerns, if any.

04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the BBC journalist Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal

Q.: How would you comment on the Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal published on 4 October? A.: We intend yet to study this book. At the same time, it is a well known fact that Mark Urban has close links with British secret services. This gives us grounds for considering this book as an attempt to compensate for Sergei Skripal’s public non-appearance as the key witness to the Salisbury incident. Instead of facts, the public is again offered speculation and guesses.

04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the recent anti-Russian statement by the Foreign Office

Question: How would you comment on today’s statement by the Foreign Office accusing Russia of worldwide cyber-attacks on massive scale? Answer: This statement is reckless. It has become a tradition for such claims to lack any evidence. It is yet another element of the anti-Russian campaign by the UK Government.

03.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question on INF Treaty

Question: How would you comment on the latest statements by US officials on Russia’s alleged non-compliance with INF Treaty? Answer: Russia has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). The US allegations of Russian non-compliance relate to one particular missile type. While we have assured Washington on multiple occasions that the mentioned missile does not violate INF, the US has never explained the exact reasons of their preoccupation. These allegations divert attention from the American actions that are breaching a number of INF provisions.

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