20 July 2018
Moscow: 12:03
London: 10:03

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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...



19.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning alleged identification by the Metropolitan police of suspects in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Q.: How would you comment on today’s media reports claiming that the Met Police have allegedly identified two suspected perpetrators of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury? A.: We have seen the report by the Press Association saying that investigators believe to have identified the persons who poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal by cross-checking CCTV recordings with lists of people who entered and left the United Kingdom around that time. The Security Minister Ben Wallace has already given assessment to this report by writing in Twitter that it “belongs in the ill informed and wild speculation folder”. In this regard, we would also like to mention the statement of the Met Police on the Salisbury poisoning published by “Daily Mail” on 17 July, according to which “the investigation into the Salisbury attack remains ongoing and we’re not prepared to discuss any lines of enquiry at this stage”.

19.07.2018 - Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s answers to questions by the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency about the investigation into the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents and the murder of Nikolai Glushkov

Question: What could you say about the investigation into the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury? Maria Zakharova: We have noticed that Britain has lately modified the tactics of covering the investigation into the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents. While earlier the London police limited themselves to general phrases accompanied by a lot of media leaks and high-level politicised statements, then now they make regular public statements, with politicians referring to the need to wait for police conclusions. Despite insufficient informative value, this creates an illusion of transparency.

18.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s statement of on the 4th anniversary of the MH17 plane crash in Eastern Ukraine

Q: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insists on Russian state responsibility for downing MH17 flight in Eastern Ukraine. How would you comment on this? A: Indeed, four years have passed since Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight crashed in Donbass, claiming the lives of 298 innocent passengers from many countries. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who lost their lives. From the very first day Russia has advocated a thorough and impartial international investigation into this crash. Our country immediately offered all necessary technical and expert assistance. Instead, the Netherlands did not allow Russia to participate in the Joint Investigative Team (JIT) and opted to pursue a preselected line of investigation, almost entirely ignoring essential information that Russia was providing.

17.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statement of Minister of State Alan Duncan on the “Ukrainian political prisoners”

Question: Foreign Office Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan has urged Russia to release the “Ukrainian political prisoners” Oleg Sentsov, Volodymyr Balukh and Emir-Huseyn Kuku. How would you comment on this? Answer: The Embassy has taken note of Sir Alan’s statement, which fails to reflect the real state of affairs. It should be reminded that Oleg Sentsov has been sentenced to 20 years in prison on grave charges of creating a terrorist group and preparing two terrorist acts.

17.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning The New York Times article on the Skripals case

Question: According to the New York Times, British investigators suspect “current or former agents of the GRU” of the attempted poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. How would you comment on that? Answer: We are not surprised by the new wave of anti-Russian publications in the run-up to and on the day of the meeting between the Russian and U.S. Presidents in Helsinki. However, we are concerned by the fact that, while the British authorities keep concealing all information concerning the investigation into the Salisbury incident, the newspaper has quoted “one former US official familiar with the inquiry”. It appears that the British authorities have shared confidential and extremely sensitive information with private individuals who have no authority or grounds for access thereto. Meanwhile, the Russian side has been trying to get access to the investigation and ensure cooperation between the British authorities and Russian experts for over four months, to no avail.

16.07.2018 - Russia-US summit

President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of the United States of America Donald Trump have met in Helsinki for their first full-scale summit meeting. Before this, Mr Putin and Mr Trump had met on the sidelines of various international events.

16.07.2018 - News conference following talks between the presidents of Russia and the United States

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, The talks with President of the United States Donald Trump were held in a candid and business-like atmosphere. I think they were quite successful and beneficial. We reviewed the current state and prospects of Russia-US relations and key international issues. It is obvious to everyone that our bilateral relations are undergoing a complicated period but there is no objective reason for these difficulties and the current tense atmosphere.

14.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new invitation of the OPCW experts to the UK

Question: How would you comment on the recent statement of the FCO concerning the new invitation to the OPCW experts to visit the United Kingdom in the framework of the Amesbury incident investigation? Answer: Following the new invitation extended by the UK to the OPCW technical experts “to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent”, which Charles Rowley and Dawn Sturgess have been exposed to, we would like remind of the fact that after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March Russia proposed to the UK to use the mechanisms under Article IX, paragraph 2 of the CWC and carry out a joint investigation.

14.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning course of investigation of the Amesbury incident

Question: How would you comment on the recent statements that a small bottle containing nerve agent has been found in Amesbury? Answer: Unfortunately, Russia has no access to any official information concerning both the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and other suspicious incidents in the UK, because the British side refuses to cooperate with us in any way possible. We cannot check or verify any British statements. As for this incident, we have to rely only on public statements, and we are almost sure that the British side will not be informing us directly.

11.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the activity of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down

Question: As early as in April the Russian Embassy requested assistance of the British side in arranging a meeting with Chief Executive of the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Gary Aitkenhead and his colleagues. Have you managed to ascertain whether this secret lab had produced A-234 type agents that were allegedly used against the Skripals? Answer: Sadly, the FCO has ignored our query, which brings us to the conclusion that the British authorities wish to prevent us from communicating with experts who might have some information that is inconvenient for the Conservative government. In his interview to Sky News in April, Mr Aitkenhead himself did not deny the fact that his laboratory had produced and stockpiled nerve agents, including the so-called “novichok”. He added that they “would not be allowed to operate if we had lack of control that could result in anything leaving the four walls of our facility”.

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