15 October 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

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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