18 October 2018
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

30.08.2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani following his visit to Qatar, Doha, August 30, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to our Qatari friends for their hospitality and very good organisation of our work.

As my colleague, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, said, we were received by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar this morning and after that detailed talks were held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar.

At all these meetings, we reaffirmed our commitment to the further development of interaction over the entire spectrum of areas in line with the agreements reached during His Highness Sheikh Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to the Russian Federation early this year and in the course of telephone conversations between President Vladimir Putin of Russia and the Qatari leader.

We are committed to promoting our trade and economic ties more actively. Of course, trade so far falls short of both countries’ potential. In this regard, we attach much importance to energising the Joint Russian-Qatari Commission for Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation, which held a meeting in Doha in April of this year. Incidentally, our entrepreneurs held a business forum on the sidelines of this event. Quite recently, we have also upgraded the composition of the Russian-Qatari Business Council, which should also facilitate progress in trade and economic interaction.

We have confirmed our shared interest in continuing our coordination in the energy and oil production area as well as within the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. We note a growing interest towards investment interaction, specifically between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Qatar Investment Agency. We have agreed to continue cultural, humanitarian and educational exchanges, including during preparations for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022.

As my colleague, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, said, Minister of State for Defence Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah of Qatar visited the Russian Federation recently to attend the Army-2017 International Military Technical Forum. He held talks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, which revealed mutual interest in promoting contacts in this sphere.

We also discussed current regional issues, including crises in Syria, Libya and Iraq. We share the opinion that every one of these conflicts must be settled exclusively through an inclusive dialogue between all ethnic and religious forces without any external interference, so that the people themselves can decide the future of their country. In this regard we are grateful to our Qatari friends for their high assessment of Russia’s efforts to promote the concept of de-escalation zones in Syria, considering that such zones will also create more favourable conditions for promoting political dialogue.

We also share the concern over the deadlocked Palestinian-Israeli settlement. We are convinced that solutions must be searched for on the path of direct dialogue based on the Arab Peace Initiative, which the quartet of international intermediaries – Russia, the United States, the UN and the EU – has supported more than once. Russia and Qatar believe that the restoration of Palestinian unity is an issue of crucial importance. The current developments in relations between the cities of Ramallah and Gaza are absolutely abnormal. We believe that the Palestinians must resume the implementation of the framework agreements reached earlier, which provide for restoring the unity of all on the basis of the PLO platform and the Arab Peace Initiative.

As my colleague has said, we discussed the situation in the Persian Gulf in light of tensions between Qatar and a number of other Arab countries. We are convinced that solutions to this problem must be based on mutually acceptable approaches, dialogue and compromise, and without counterproductive militant rhetoric.

We have reaffirmed our support for the mediation efforts of the Emir of Kuwait. We are ready to contribute to these efforts if the parties believe that this would be useful. As I said in Kuwait, we want the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) to be united and strong and to facilitate the solution of the region’s problems, and strong and to facilitate a solution to the region’s problems, of which there are many, without creating new ones.

I would like to again express gratitude to our Qatari friends for their hospitality. I invite my colleague, Foreign Minister of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, to visit Russia at his convenience.

Question: As you have said, many envoys are visiting the region. How does the role of Russia’s envoys differ from the others who are attempting to resolve the crisis in the Persian Gulf? We have heard reports of the ideas you are bringing to the leaders of the Persian Gulf countries and countries involved in the conflict. What are these ideas? What was the reaction in Kuwait and the UAE when you discussed the situation with Qatar?

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding Russia’s role, we are not acting as mediators, as I said. Kuwait is playing the role of a mediator. We believe that this issue should be resolved through the efforts of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). We know that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has proposed mediation services. We will welcome it if these proposals produce results and these efforts meet with success. But for our part, we have not proposed anything that differs from what Kuwait and the United States are proposing. We do not think this necessary. There are sufficient proposals that provide a perfectly adequate base for beginning dialogue. We will continue our policy of contacts with all countries in the region.

Question: Why did you not go to Saudi Arabia this time?

Sergey Lavrov: I will visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan in early September.

Question: A few days ago, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran is allegedly preparing sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce precision-guided missiles that could be used against Israel. Are you aware of any such plans on Iran’s part? Could you comment on this situation? Was this matter mentioned during Mr Netanyahu’s visit to Sochi?

Sergey Lavrov: Mr Netanyahu told the media himself about what was discussed at the talks in Sochi.

As for your question regarding whatever area of cooperation between Iran and Syria, my position is that if their cooperation in whichever field does not violate the basic provisions of international law, it should not be cause for question.

If anyone in the Middle East or other part of the world plans to violate international law by undermining any other country’s sovereignty or territorial integrity, including any country in the Middle East or North Africa, this would be condemned.

We have no information that anyone is planning to attack Israel.

Question: With roughly a month to go before the elections in Germany, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Hans-Georg Maassen, who is effectively head of German counterintelligence, made new statements about possible Russian interference. In the US case, you usually explained these sorts of statements as attempts to justify the Democrats’ failure in the elections, but how would you comment on the German allegations? What do they gain from this when Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has such a popularity margin with a month to go before the elections?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not know why German intelligence is making statements about Russian meddling in the German election campaign. Perhaps they want to prove their effectiveness, but they have not provided a single fact. If it is facts we are talking about, it emerged some time ago that the American intelligence services were intercepting the Federal Chancellor’s conversations. I do not recall German counterintelligence commenting on this established fact in any way. That is all.




LATEST EVENTS

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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