18 March 2018
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Embassy comments on The Sunday Telegraph Christopher Booker’s piece on Dunkirk

        It is preposterous to say that Russia would rather forget Dunkirk. We had a similar tragedy in the summer of 1941, and had no other option but keep on fighting. Russia was the means of last resort in dealing with that existential threat to European civilization.

In our Twitter poll (on 19 July) we wanted to draw attention to the origins of that calamity on the Western front. And those are in the policy of appeasement. In fact, the British and French troops were badly let down by their Governments. Since they stayed idle along the border with Germany for eight months (September 1939 to April 1940), it was impossible to see where the will to fight would have come from. All the more so that the Germans executed the same Schlieffen plan, they couldn’t successfully accomplish in August 1914 because of an early action by the Russian army in East Prussia. Like in 1914, they moved through Belgium, and the Maginot Line didn’t protect that breach. We didn’t mention the Cliveden Set, Munich etс. for the sake of level-headed debate.

         But the most important thing from the point of view of contemporary European politics is that the Versailles system was utterly flawed. It marginalized Germany and the Soviet Union, leaving them no other choice but to cooperate bilaterally. Unlike the Western neighbours of Germany, her Eastern neighbors’ borders were not guaranteed. The plans for an Eastern Locarno were defeated by the Western elites. What came out of this project was a system of two bilateral treaties between Prague and Paris/Moscow. In the fall of 1938 the Soviet Union was willing to come to Czechoslovakia’s assistance, but could do so only together with France, and the French Government preferred a sellout to Hitler in Munich. Obviously, Nazi Germany was easier to defeat in 1938 than in 1939, and in 1939 than 1940.

We didn’t say that the Revolution in Russia was to a great extent due to the consequences of WWI, and even the Provisional Government could have done better and haven’t lost control, had it not been pressed by the allies to continue the war effort that the country couldn’t afford. Shall we mention that the Western powers were well aware of the futility of the war by the first Christmas, but still didn’t have enough wisdom to stop the slaughter? Another chance for peace arose in the spring of 1917, but was also missed. Then Paris and London failed the Wilsonian “peace without victors” test. J.M.Keynes in his “Economic Consequences of the Peace” made a convincing argument why the Versailles created economic conditions for another war in Europe. A big issue of causality in terms of European order/national regimes.

It is obvious that the Western powers failed to create a region-wide collective security system to prevent war in Europe. Instead they reacted to “the mass political awakening” (Zb.Brzezinski) with the “Soviet threat” in mind, and wouldn’t mind fascism as a way to manage it. That is why the appeasement and the effort to channel the German aggression eastwards. The partitioning of Czechoslovakia and invasion of Poland were viewed as necessary to ensure direct territorial contact for a military clash with the Soviet Union.

         We are very much in favour of good knowledge of history, including the Phoney War and Dunkirk. By the way, the Phoney War proved Moscow right in that it couldn’t count on Western powers had it chosen to stand up to Hitler in 1939. The Phoney War is hardly ever mentioned in history books here. It ought to be explained, however difficult it might be. But without that one cannot understand the tragedy of Dunkirk and the scale of courage of the troops put in that impossible position by their own government’s folly. It also illustrates the elites’ capacity for self-delusion and outright lunacy, which is always useful to bear in mind.

         Naturally, bigger issues of history arise. It is easy to understand the eagerness to disown Germany as black sheep (or later prodigal son) of the West. Yes, indeed, Germany was the first major European power to occupy another major European power since Napoleon in its war with France in 1870-1871. Prior to that Prussia had wars with Denmark and the Austrian empire. But the European order, agreed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, was destroyed by the Crimean War in 1853-1856, which re-introduced war into European politics. Orlando Figes calls it, quite rightly, the first total war. Some historian would call it unnecessary. For others it was World War Zero, for it started the countdown to WWI, having provided the window of upportunity for the wrong unification of Germany, i.e. as a Prussian empire. 20 years before it happened, Fedor Tyutchev predicted that it would bring about a European catastrophe. Here, in Britain, that war is mostly remembered for the Charge of the Light Brigade. As Lord Tennyson put it, “someone had blundered.” It was the least consequential of the blunders in European politics that followed, including the British Government’s insistence on humiliating provisions in the Peace of Paris. Overall, this is about the importance of being knowledgeable in history, the view that we wholly share.


18.03.2018 - Statement by Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, at the Security Council meeting on letter dated 13 March

Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting on letter dated 13 March 2018 from the Chargén d'affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council

17.03.2018 - Press release on summoning UK Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow to the Russian Foreign Ministry

On March 17, UK Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where he was handed a note stating that in response to the provocative actions of the British side and groundless accusations against the Russian Federation with regard to the incident in Salisbury, UK on March 4, 2018, the Russian side has taken the following decisions in response. Twenty-three diplomatic staff of the UK Embassy in Moscow are declared persona non grata and are to be expelled from Russia within a week. Taking into account the disparity in the number of the two countries’ consular missions, the Russian Federation recalls its agreement on the opening and operation of the Consulate General of the United Kingdom in St Petersburg. Respective procedures will be followed in accordance with international legal practice. Due to the unregulated status of the British Council in the Russian Federation, its activities are terminated. The British side is warned that in case of further unfriendly actions against Russia, the Russian side reserves the right to take further retaliatory measures.

16.03.2018 - Statement by the Foreign Ministry

The decision by the Ukrainian authorities, released on March 16, 2018, not to allow citizens of the Russian Federation to the Embassy and general consulates of Russia on the day of the election of the President of the Russian Federation causes nothing but indignation. Such actions are unprecedented and do not fit into generally accepted ideas about civilised countries. The above steps contradict not only the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations, but also international human rights standards, in particular, the provisions of the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

14.03.2018 - Embassy Press Secretary comments on the death of Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov and the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Q: Can you comment on the mysterious death of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov in London? A: Regretfully, the Embassy has received no information whatsoever regarding the circumstances of the death of Mr Glushkov. The investigation is not transparent, the British side appears not inclined to cooperate. This can only cause regret. Today the Embassy made an official request to provide all the information in possession of the British side regarding this Russian citizen whose death, as you said, appears mysterious. Overall, we are surprised with UK authorities’ reluctance and unwillingness to provide us with full details of both the poisoning of Russians Sergei and Yulia Skripal and the death of Nikolay Glushkov.

14.03.2018 - Statement by the Foreign Ministry

The March 14 statement made by British Prime Minister Theresa May in Parliament on measures to “punish” Russia, under the false pretext of its alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter, constitutes an unprecedented, flagrant provocation that undermines the foundations of normal dialogue between our countries.

14.03.2018 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on US threats to launch military strikes at Syria

During the discussion of Resolution 2401 on the ceasefire and the humanitarian pause in Syria in the UN Security Council on March 12, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley implied that the US might launch military strikes at Syria similar to last April when such actions were based on unfounded unilateral US accusations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government. Russia and Syria were also accused of violating the ceasefire and causing the suffering of civilians, primarily in East Ghouta.

14.03.2018 - Statement of the Russian Embassy

On 14 of March Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko was summoned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he was informed that 23 diplomats were declared personae non gratae. We consider this hostile action as totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted. All the responsibility for the deterioration of the Russia-UK relationship lies with the current political leadership of Britain.

13.03.2018 - Statement by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW, Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, at the 87th session of the OPCW Executive Council on the chemical incident in Salisbury, The Hague, March 13, 2018

Mr Chairperson, In connection with the vicious attacks launched by British officials in London, as well as the statement by the head of the British delegation to the OPCW with regard to Russia concerning the suspicious story of two persons poisoned with a toxic agent in Salisbury, we would like to state the following. The British authorities’ unfounded accusations of Russia’s alleged involvement in using poisonous agents on their territory are absolutely unacceptable. Our British colleagues should recall that Russia and the United Kingdom are members of the OPCW which is one of the most successful and effective disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms. We call upon them to abandon the language of ultimatums and threats and return to the legal framework of the chemical convention, which makes it possible to resolve this kind of situation.

13.03.2018 - Press release on summoning the UK Ambassador to the Russian Foreign Ministry

On March 13, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Russia Laurence Bristow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, where First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov strongly protested the evidence-free accusations by the UK authorities of Russia’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. It was stated that the actions of the UK authorities are a clear provocation and that the Russian Federation was not involved in the incident that took place in Salisbury on March 4, 2018. From the Russian side, it was emphasised that Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring and until the UK demonstrates compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention that stipulates a joint investigation into the incident, for which Moscow is ready. Without that, there can be no sense in any statements from London. The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia. Any threat to take “punitive” measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.

13.03.2018 - Press Secretary responds to media question

Q: Can you comment on yesterday’s threats of cyber attacks against Russia? A: Statements by a number of MPs, “Whitehall sources” and “experts” regarding a possible “deployment” of “offensive cyber-capabilities” cause serious concern. Not only is Russia groundlessly and provocatively accused of the Salisbury incident, but apparently, plans are being developed in the UK to strike Russia with cyber weapons. Judging by the statements of the Prime Minister, such a decision can be taken at tomorrow’s meeting of the National Security Council. We invite the British side to once again consider the consequences of such a reckless move.

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