24 March 2018
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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...



23.03.2018 - Ushakov Medal presented to the Arctic Convoys Veteran

On 21 March 2018 Third Secretary of the Embassy Vadim Retyunskiy presented the Ushakov medal to the Arctic Convoys veteran Mr Rullion Haldane RATTRAY.

22.03.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's reply to a media question

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's reply to a media question during his press conference 22 March 2018

22.03.2018 - Ambassador Yakovenko introductory remarks at the press conference 22 March 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, The Number 1 rule in Britain is to start any statement with a joke. Unfortunately, it’s not a time to joke. The issue I am going to raise is too serious. On 5 March 2018 we heard media reports announcing that the day before two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury. Sergei Skripal is one who has dual citizenship. First of all I would like to wish all the victims, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who also suffered from this incident, speedy recovery and well-being. The Embassy has immediately requested the British authorities to share information about the incident and details of the ongoing investigation.

21.03.2018 - Operational changes in the Consular Section of the Embassy

As a result of the irresponsible actions of the UK Government, which lead to an expulsion of 23 diplomats of the Russian Embassy, including a number of Consular Section staff, the Embassy is temporarily limiting the number of all visitors.

21.03.2018 - Telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States Donald Trump at the latter’s initiative.

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.

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