20 March 2018
Moscow: 16:41
London: 13:41

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Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova



The death of Russian Ambassador to Sudan Mirgayas Shirinsky


On August 23, Russian Ambassador to Sudan Mirgayas Shirinsky died in Khartoum. According to the Russian Embassy, the ambassador died around 6 pm local time. When he was discovered in the residence, he appeared to have symptoms consistent with a heart attack. The embassy employees at the residence immediately summoned medical assistance. Unfortunately, the doctors were unable to save the ambassador’s life.

Mirgayas Shirinsky was a top professional who dedicated his life to diplomatic service.

We express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Ambassador. May he rest in peace.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s working visit to Kuwait, UAE and Qatar


On August 27−30, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will make a working visit to Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

While in Kuwait, Sergey Lavrov will meet with Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and will hold talks with First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kuwait Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah.

In Abu Dhabi, Sergey Lavrov will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser Tahnoun Al Nahyan and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who also co-chairs the Intergovernmental Russian-Emirates Commission for Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation.

In Doha, Sergey Lavrov will meet with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and will hold talks with Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani and Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah. 

The Russian delegation will use the upcoming meetings to discuss the traditionally friendly relations between Russia and these states and their further development. The parties will review in detail the implementation of the decisions that have been made by their leaders in this respect.

Our joint tasks include maintaining a regular political dialogue, expanding trade and investment partnership and preparing mutually beneficial projects in energy, metallurgy, manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructure and other areas. In addition, the parties will discuss the possibility of promoting cultural ties, including cultural exchanges and cooperation in tourism.

A major issue at these talks will be the continued coordination of the parties’ positions on the key global and regional issues, including support for Russia’s position and initiatives at the UN and other international organisations.

The parties will hold in-depth discussions of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, primarily the need to settle regional conflicts by political and diplomatic methods, through dialogue based on mutual respect for the interests and concerns of all the sides involved.

Much attention in this respect will be given to the ongoing crisis in Qatar’s relations with the United Arab Emirates and several other Arab countries. Russia has firmly urged the countries involved to abandon confrontational rhetoric and instead settle the dispute through negotiations and compromise solutions. Russia supports Kuwait’s mediation towards this end.

Syria is another current issue on the agenda of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s tour of the regional countries. The Russian delegation will update its Arabian colleagues on Russia’s efforts to settle the Syrian crisis, including within the framework of the Astana process, and on the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria. The parties will also exchange opinions on the possibility of progress at the intra-Syrian talks held in Geneva in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

We view Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming visits as an integral part of our consistent efforts to promote multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation with all our partners in the strategically important region of the Middle East and North Africa. We have always believed that this fruitful cooperation meets the long-term interests of Russia and regional countries and serves the cause of peace and stability.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with students and faculty of Moscow State Institute of International Relations and Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy


According to our long-standing tradition, on September 1 the Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with the students and faculty of Moscow State Institute of International Relations and Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, marking the beginning of a new academic year. There will be an interactive discussion with the students, which has also become traditional by now.

I don’t think there’s any need to explain how important these two institutions are for Russia’s foreign policy and for the Foreign Ministry. For decades they have been training highly professional experts in international relations, as well as state officials, politicians, diplomats, researchers, journalists, and business leaders for Russia and other countries; but they also make a major contribution by strengthening the analytical expertise of the Foreign Affairs Ministry when it comes to preparing important foreign policy decisions.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will share his ideas about the main trends in the future global development, comment on key international issues and answer questions from the audience. We hope that the upcoming meeting, as well as the interactive discussion, will help the young people who are entering a new and very important stage of their lives to understand Russia better in terms of foreign policy issues, and see how committed we are to establishing a positive and unifying agenda and following the principles of objectivity and fairness.

As always, the meeting will be broadcast live. We invite everyone to visit the Moscow State Institute of International Relations on September 1. Please make sure to get your accreditation beforehand. Those who don’t get accreditation will still be able to watch the stream on the Foreign Ministry’s website and on our pages in social networks.


Developments in Syria


The military-political situation in the Syrian Arab Republic took a largely positive turn after the signing of the memorandum on the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria by guarantor countries of the Astana process – Russia, Iran and Turkey – on May 4 and the subsequent creation of these zones in southwestern Syria, Eastern Ghouta and in the north of the Homs Province.

The Syrian government forces continue their efforts to rid the country of terrorists from ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (or Jabhat al-Nusra) and the groups that support these organisations.

The counterterrorism operation is ongoing against al-Nusra in the Jobar district of Damascus and in the neighbouring Ayn Terma. The jihadists are shelling residential districts in Damascus, in particular, Bab Touma and Al-Hamidiya. Several shells have been fired towards the 59th Damascus International Fair, killing four people. But the international fair, which has been held for the first time since 2011, has not suspended its work.

Aleppo, the most densely populated province in Syria, has been fully liberated from the terrorists. Overall, 50 towns and over 2,700 square kilometres of Syrian territory have been liberated.

The assault groups of the Syrian army, who are fighting in the east of the Hama Province with support from Russia’s Aerospace Forces, have assumed control over several commanding heights near the towns of Hisayah and es-Savannet and have surrounded a large group of ISIS fighters near Uqayribat. The terrorists have been trying to break out of the trap and flee towards Deir ez-Zor.

The Syrian army is carrying on the offensive near the town of Abu Kamal on the Syrian-Iraqi border towards the Euphrates.

The combined Kurdish and Arab units of the Syrian Democratic Forces continue the operation to liberate Raqqa from ISIS fighters. These units have assumed control over some 60 per cent of the city area.

Tensions persist between Faylaq al-Rahman and Jaysh al-Islam, which has joined the de-escalation agreement. These groups are fighting each other on the battlefield and in the media, where they question the other party’s loyalty to the “revolutionary ideals.”

Meanwhile, Jabhat al-Nusra has been trying to escape public censure as a terrorist organisation by blending in among the locals in the administrative units it has created in the areas it controls in the Idlib, Hama and Aleppo provinces. With this aim in view, it has been working to create its own “government” and local governments and to merge the allied terrorist groups into the so-called Northern Army.

The current developments in Syria point to an urgent need to expedite the creation of de-escalation zones, strengthen the ceasefire regime and improve the humanitarian situation in the country as soon as possible. We call on our regional and international partners to support the efforts to rout terrorists in Syria ahead of the sixth International Meeting on Syria, which will convene in Astana in mid-September, and to take additional efforts to help the conflicting sides find compromise solutions that would put an end to drawn-out confrontation in Syria.


US Department of State’s allegations of Syrian government’s involvement in chemical attacks in Eastern Ghouta and Khan Shaykhun


We would like to draw your attention to the press statement on the August 21, 2013 chemical attack in the eastern suburb of Damascus, which the US State Department’s Office of Press Relations issued on August 21. Without a shadow of a doubt in its exceptional righteousness and exclusive right to the truth, which has, unfortunately, become the prerogative of our American colleagues, the US State Department has again blamed the Syrian government for the chemical attack perpetrated four years ago, as usual, without any substance. In the same statement, the Americans again repeated the allegation of Damascus’ involvement in the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack on April 4, 2017.

I would like to remind everyone that the Russian Foreign Ministry has more than once provided detailed comments on Eastern Ghouta and Khan Shaykhun. We have yet to receive any reasonable and objective arguments to substantiate this allegation, and so we do not understand why Washington is convinced that the blame rests with the government of Bashar al-Assad. Washington’s conviction is so strong that it delivered a missile strike on the Syrian government forces on April 7 in gross disregard for international law.

We view the events in Eastern Ghouta and Khan Shaykhun, as well as the commotion raised over them by the biased Western media and officials, as clear elements of the information war that is being waged against sovereign and independent Syria and as attempts to torpedo the efforts towards a political settlement of the Syrian crisis based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254.


The new US strategy on Afghanistan and a statement by US State Secretary Rex Tillerson


We took note that a new strategy on Afghanistan announced by US President Donald Trump on August 21 focuses on a military solution to the Afghan issue, including through beefing up foreign military contingents.

This approach is in tune with the prescriptions for Afghanistan issued by the previous US administration, which, as is known, failed to improve the security in the region.

Regrettably, the strategy does not reflect the danger posed by the Afghan offshoot of the ISIS terrorist group, which is actively spreading its influence in Afghanistan, and completely ignores drug production in Afghanistan as well. Russia, the UN and corresponding entities have repeatedly said that the drug production represents a major source of revenue for terrorists.

We expect that the planned expansion of powers of the US armed forces in Afghanistan will not violate sovereignty of that country or infringe upon the national interests of the states in that region.

For our part, we are willing to continue to assist Kabul in training and equipping its national security forces as the main guarantor of security in Afghanistan, as well as in advancing the national reconciliation process. We reaffirm our openness to cooperation in these areas with the United States and other stakeholders.

US State Department Secretary Rex Tillerson’s remarks during a briefing on August 22 to clarify a new US strategy on Afghanistan, where he accused Russia of alleged arms supplies to the Taliban, are extremely perplexing. Of course, you are all perfectly aware of our position on this matter. We repeatedly rejected all accusations, and also asked our American colleagues to provide evidence, but to no avail. To reiterate, such statements aren’t conducive to the establishment of effective cooperation between our countries in Afghanistan. Once again, we state that we do not provide any support to the Taliban.

I would like to say once again that all the statements or comments that we made over the past year on this account are available on our official Foreign Ministry website. When quoting the current or future statements by US officials, please be mindful of the official position of the Russian Federation.


The situation on the Korean Peninsula


We noted a certain decrease in intensity of bellicose rhetoric surrounding the Korean Peninsula. The lack of an alternative to a peaceful settlement of the issues faced by the sub-region is becoming increasingly clear for all, albeit with some difficulties.

However, we believe that conducting large-scale naval exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea (Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2017, August 21 – September 1) is not helpful for de-escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula. We call upon all parties to be very careful. Since the region is flooded with weapons, any rash move or even an unintended incident may trigger off a military conflict.

We expect the DPRK to continue to exercise restraint and not react to these maneuvers in a military manner.

We are convinced that the need for nuclear missile tests or military exercises will disappear after the stakeholders reach basic agreements on mutual relations and the principles of peaceful coexistence. To do so, the dialogue must be resumed, but first, of course, it is important to reduce military activity in the region.


Japan’s Defence Ministry plans to deploy Aegis Ashore systems in the country


We are closely following the years-long discussion in Japan on the purchase of advanced missile-defence systems from the United States. Needless to say, we paid attention to the recent media reports about the Japanese Defence Ministry’s preference for Aegis Ashore systems.

Since the very start, we made it clear to Tokyo that we are concerned over these plans and consider inadequate Japan’s attempts to justify them by the progress of North Korea’s nuclear missile plans. We are confident that the adoption of a decision to purchase and deploy these systems should be viewed as disproportionate to the real missile threats in the region. Considering the systems’ eventual incorporation into the military structure of the Asian segment of US global missile defence, the decision may undermine strategic stability in the northern part of the Pacific.


Introduction of peacemakers in Donbass


Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko and other officials keep talking about the introduction of UN peacekeepers in the southeast of Ukraine. In this context, we would like to note the following.

On a par with the participants in the Normandy format and the Minsk Contact Group, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) is actively involved in the process of crisis settlement in Ukraine. Its employees are actively working in different parts of Ukraine, including Donbass. The SMM is monitoring the situation at the contact line, and verifying the withdrawal of weapons and the disengagement of combat equipment and personnel of the conflicting sides.

It should be emphasised that both the participants in the Ukrainian domestic conflict – Kiev, and Donetsk and Lugansk – and various international agencies and countries that are directly involved in the settlement process recognise that it should be based on the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements that was agreed upon by the sides of the conflict on February 12, 2015 and approved by the leaders of the Normandy Four and supported by the UN Security Council. Therefore, today the main task is to strictly and consistently fulfil the provisions fixed in this package. Incidentally, this document does not say a word about UN Blue Helmets and OSCE armed observers. I would like to recall once again that this document was drafted with Kiev’s direct involvement. Therefore, the initiatives of the Kiev regime are obvious attempts “to squander” the implementation of Minsk-2 and avoid fulfilling relevant commitments.


Russia’s participation in the project to build a new Museum Memorial at the former Sobibor Nazi death camp


We are pleased to note that during the meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on August 23, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported Russia’s participation in building a new museum on the territory of the former Nazi death camp in Poland’s Sobibor. We consider his statement a major step towards restoring historical and human justice and a signal that should encourage the members of the international steering committee to resume the discussion on Russia’s full-fledged participation in the work of this body.

We were ready for full participation in this project from the very start. We  believe that the Israeli side’s affirmation of its traditional attitude to the results of WWII and the Red Army’s role in the victory over Nazism is a clear signal that rules out any insinuations on Russia’s involvement in the project and Russian-Israeli cooperation to preserve historical memory and prevent the revision of the results of one of the most horrible tragedies of the 20th century.


To be continued...




19.03.2018 - Russian presidential election held in London

On Sunday 18 March polling station 8061 opened at the Russian Embassy in London for the presidential election. The turnout was remarkably high, with over 3700 Russian nationals exercising their right. No incidents were recorded, election monitors and journalists were present at all stages of the electoral procedure. Full results are published on the website of the Central Electoral Commission of Russia.

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.

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