18 July 2018
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

30.11.2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Libero, Italy

Question: What subjects do you intend to broach in you remarks at the Mediterranean forum?

Sergey Lavrov: I am glad to have an opportunity to once again attend the third international conference, Rome Mediterranean Dialogues 2017, sponsored by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies.

Owing to the organisers’ energetic efforts, the forum has asserted itself, within a brief period of time, as an authoritative and much-needed expert venue for discussing current international problems relating to the Mediterranean region.

Those taking part at the two previous meetings discussed Mediterranean security, settlement of crises and conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and counteraction to international terrorism. The discussions were interesting, substantial, and aimed at looking for effective solutions to a wide range of subjects.

Today, this region continues to face numerous challenges. What I mean in particular is the persisting political and socio-economic instability in a number of its countries, the terrorist threat, radicalisation of public moods, and an uncontrolled growth of migration flows.

I am planning to focus on these problems as well as on the Russian approaches to dealing with them. I intend to emphasise that Russia is prepared for constructive interaction with all responsible players in the interests of ensuring peace, stability and security in the Mediterranean. It is only by pooling our efforts that we will be able to achieve this.

Question: In his recent interview with Libero, the Russian Ambassador in Italy, Sergey Razov, stressed that the anti-Russian sanctions were inflicting great damage on the economies of Italy and other members of the EU. When, in your opinion, will Brussels abolish these suicidal restrictions?

Sergey Lavrov: In fact, the sanctions are damaging to Russia’s cooperation with the EU and its member countries. Incidentally, Italian Ambassador to Russia Cesare Maria Ragaglini, as far as I know, called attention to this very fact in his interview with Corriere della Sera in July of this year.

Today, it is clear that the sanctions, which the Brussels bureaucrats have built up on instructions from Washington, have boomeranged against the European national producers. They have lost a number of their positions on the Russian market and continue sustaining considerable losses. America, for its part, has suffered no damage, because our trade with them is miniscule. Thus, the US establishment wants to address its anti-Russian agenda at the expense of the Europeans and use Europeans to do their dirty work. I suggest that you think about this. Not so very long ago, I had a chance to talk to representatives of European companies working in my country. Their stance is unequivocal: the business community does not want restrictions and political interference in business life.

As for the fate of sanctions, this question, to be sure, should be addressed to Brussels, not Moscow. We hope that the EU structures will prove strong enough to renounce policy-making with regard to Russia based on the “least common denominator” principle and stop taking their cues from a small, if extremely aggressive, group of  Russia haters inside the EU. For our part, we will promote cooperation at a pace for which our European partners are ready.    

Question: Could the West defeat ISIS without the assistance of Russia’s Aerospace Forces?

Sergey Lavrov: From your question, Western readers might think that the West is fighting ISIS and that Russia is helping the West. The situation is different. The US-led coalition against ISIS was established without a UN Security Council mandate and is not coordinating its actions with Syria’s government, which is a violation of international law.

As for the effectiveness of its actions, it became clear by mid-2015 that it was unable to attain its proclaimed goals. ISIS was increasing the area of its caliphate, was creating pseudo-state organisations and was printing its own currency. ISIS controlled nearly 70 per cent of Syrian territory. Despite the coalition headquarters’ victorious statements, ISIS continued to spread its misanthropic ideology and to stage bloody intimidation attacks in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as beyond it.

Realising that the strengthening of ISIS and similar terrorist groups can have dramatic consequences, Russia decided to help the Syrian government fight the proliferation of the various types of terrorism regardless of their ethnic or religious nature.

Here are some facts to show what has been done to rout ISIS. Over the two years since the Russian Aerospace Forces launched operations in Syria, they have eliminated over 900 terrorist training camps, over 660 munitions plants and 1,500 items of military equipment. Some 1,000 cities and towns have been liberated.

At this point, over 95 per cent of Syrian territory has been cleansed of ISIS. Peaceful life is returning to the country: 1.12 million refugees and internally displaced persons have returned to their homes, including 660,000 in 2017. I would like to point out that our operation in Syria proceeded in strict compliance with international law.

In 2015, President Putin proposed creating a broad UN-led international coalition. Regrettably, our calls for joining forces against ISIS were disregarded. Only recently have our Western partners seen that collective efforts are needed to fight terrorism. A vital political event in this context was the joint statement on Syria the presidents of Russia and the United State made on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Da Nang on November 11. It confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria. Possibilities for developing interaction in the fight against terrorism were also discussed in a telephone conversation between President Putin and President Trump on November 21.

Question: Does Russia still hope to improve relations with the United States despite Russiagate and the Trump administration’s unfriendly actions?

Sergey Lavrov: The situation in our bilateral relations remains very complicated. The US establishment is sinking in Russia-hating sentiments, which have been provoked by some political forces that refuse to accept the results of last year’s presidential election in the United States.

It is difficult to say what consequences the current difficult stage [in bilateral relations] will have. The divergence of opinions in the United States has reached its highest level in decades, spreading from the political and economic spheres to the entire range of social issues.

It appears that the US administration has not yet developed a clear Russia policy. Just as during his election campaign, President Trump continues to say that he would like to normalise relations and to develop cooperation with Russia on current international issues. He has said this more than once during telephone conversations and meetings with President Putin, including at the APEC summit in Da Nang.

In practice, however, the actions of President Trump’s team could be described as inertial; they do not differ much from Obama’s policy. Moreover, acting at the prompting of the anti-Russia lobby, the administration has taken many unfriendly steps in many areas, such as the expansion of unilateral restrictions, the implementation of global BMD plans, the build-up of US and NATO military presence at Russian borders, as well as attempts to discredit Russia’s foreign policy.

Russia-hating hysterics in the United States have resulted in the adoption of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. In other unprecedented moves, the United States has shut down the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and seized five Russian diplomatic properties.

At this point, we can hardly expect any positive US moves. The potential for cooperation in global and bilateral affairs remains largely unused because of the anti-Russia hysterics. Declaring Russia an adversary in legislation is an absurd and irresponsible move. We in Russia do not look at the United States from the same angle. On the contrary, we have always respected the American nation and its achievements.

In other words, we will continue to act pragmatically and will not seek confrontation. We believe that it is in the common interests of Russia and the United States to join efforts against terrorism, drug trafficking, WMD proliferation and organised crime. A coordination of efforts is vitally important to settle regional conflicts. As President Putin has said more than once, Russia is open to cooperation with the United States on all issues and is willing to cover its part of the way towards stabilising and improving relations, which have deteriorated in the past few years through no fault of ours. We hope that common sense will prevail in Washington’s corridors of power in the foreseeable future.

At the same time, we will continue to reply to unfriendly moves on the principle of reciprocity.

Question: Russia has successfully resolved problems linked with immigration from post-Soviet republics. What should the European Union and its member countries do to stem the tide of immigrants from North African countries which is supported by international organised crime?

Sergey Lavrov: The large-scale immigration crisis that has engulfed Europe is the direct consequence of a policy of “exporting” the state system, of meddling in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, primarily those in the Middle East and North Africa. These short-sighted actions weakened or demolished institutions of state authority, caused humanitarian disasters and an upsurge of terrorism and extremism. This provoked an all-out exodus of people from these regions.

Obviously, it is impossible to effectively solve Europe’s immigration problems without the elimination of their root causes. It is necessary to redouble efforts for resolving crises and conflicts, primarily those in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, by peaceful and political-diplomatic means. It is necessary to assist regional countries in either strengthening or restoring their statehood, conducting socioeconomic rehabilitation and putting them on the path of sustainable development. It is necessary to continue an uncompromising struggle against terrorism, as stipulated by the initiative of President Vladimir Putin to establish a broad anti-terrorist coalition under UN auspices that I have already mentioned.

Today, it is important to adequately monitor immigration flows and to rule out the possibility of terrorists penetrating European countries with people in need of real assistance. It is unacceptable to make refugees an object of political manipulations on the part of forces inciting ethnic, religious as well as social hatred. It is all the more unacceptable to use refugee camps for recruiting and training militants. At the same time, it is important to counter xenophobia, racism and intolerance towards immigrants themselves.

We are ready to continue cooperating with the EU in the area of immigration and to exchange experience in resolving immigration problems. We are interested in resuming contacts within the Russia-EU immigration dialogue as soon as possible. It goes without saying that we are ready to more actively cooperate with the EU while countering terrorism.

And, finally, we believe that countries that were actively involved in destabilising vast regions of the Middle East and North Africa should assume the greatest primary responsibility for assisting refugees and forced migrants. In this connection, we perceive the “sharing of responsibility” concept being advanced by a number of states as an attempt to shift the relevant burden on someone else’s shoulders.

 

To be continued...

http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2971828?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw&_101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw_languageId=en_GB




LATEST EVENTS

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”.


09.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the death of Dawn Sturgess

Q.: How would you comment on the information concerning the death of the British citizen Dawn Sturgess, who, according to the British authorities, was poisoned by the same nerve agent that had been used against Sergei and Yulia Skripal? A.: We would like to express our sincere condolences to relatives and friends of Dawn Sturgess following her tragic death. We hope that the circumstances of her poisoning will be investigated in good faith and in accordance with high international standards, and the perpetrators will be brought to justice. As it stands now, the police investigation of the Skripals case is limited by political frameworks imposed by the current government.


06.07.2018 - From the Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, July 5, 2018

Media coverage of the World Cup in Russia The 2018 FIFA World Cup continues to delight with its exciting football contests. Experts and fans are unanimous is their opinion that the matches have been spectacular. There’s no need to even mention the entertainment aspect of the tournament, as fans are clearly having the time of their lives when there are no matches to watch. According to our guests’ posts on social media, the atmosphere is fantastic not only in Moscow, but other host cities as well. We can see that the enthusiasm of the fans is rubbing off on the media, which is great. Indeed, we focus on these matters, because there was so much misinformation. This is not surprising, as it is difficult to make up stories now, because everyone can see everything with their own eyes, and the mudslinging directed at our country before the World Cup doesn’t work anymore.


05.07.2018 - Embassy press officer’s comment on the statement by Ben Wallace

Q: UK Minister of State for Security at the Home Office Ben Wallace stated that he is “waiting for the phone call from the Russian state” to get explanations of the “use of chemical weapons” in Salisbury. What should he expect? A: The Russian Ambassador to the UK is ready to meet Mr Wallace – we have requested meetings at the Home Office and Metropolitan Police several times, in relation to the Skripals case, as well as the murder of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov. In both cases the FCO had suggested the Embassy should contact the police directly. Yet our letters to Scotland Yard met a resounding silence. If the British law enforcement authorities wish to end this silence and finally engaged in a substantial dialogue with Russia as envisaged in the international agreements signed by UK, we will be happy to have the opportunity to ask the many outstanding questions. We await Mr Wallace’s specific proposals as to when he will be available to meet.



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