26 August 2019
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540 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     532 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the German newspaper Rheinische Post, published on July 18, 2019

Questions: Germans would like to have better relations with Russia. What could Russia do towards this?

Sergey Lavrov: I can assure you that Russians are interested in developing multifaceted cooperation with Germany as well, the more so that your country is one of Russia’s major partners in Europe. We have a long, though not always cloudless, history of bilateral relations. It is very important that our close dialogue has not stopped today despite the current difficulties. Many cooperation mechanisms have been suspended, but not at our initiative. For our part, we have been trying to restore full-scale interaction and friendly ties with Germany based on the principles of equality, trust and mutual benefit, and we intend to move toward this at a speed that suits our German partners.

The anti-Russia sanctions policy is seriously damaging Europeans: the shortfall of the EU budgets is estimated at billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs have been lost or not created. We believe that the growing awareness of the futility of political and economic pressure on Russia has produced the first results, and that reality will prevail. This is why positive dynamics has been reported in Russian-German relations, primarily in trade, the economy, science, education, culture and the humanitarian sphere, as well as in cooperation between our civil societies. Of huge importance are also the diversified ties at the regional and municipal levels.

We believe our German friends understand that the continued efforts to improve relations with Russia would benefit both sides and that the success of this process also depends on both sides. As for who could be involved and what could be done when it comes to this situation, this question should remain the subject of ongoing discussions at political and diplomatic venues.

Question: Should the Russia-NATO Council resume its work at the top level?

Sergey Lavrov: It should be understood that the work of the Russia-NATO Council at the top and high levels was not suspended through our fault or at our initiative. The decision to curtail practical cooperation and to resort to methods of military-political containment of Russia was taken by the alliance. I would like to remind you that it happened in 2014, when the West unwisely supported the anti-constitutional coup in Ukraine and subsequently turned a blind eye to Kiev’s military campaign against the Donbass residents.

It should be said that there were periods of a Russia-NATO chill before, for example, after the bloc countries’ aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999 and after the Saakashvili government’s military misadventure in South Ossetia in 2008. We managed to overcome these crises. The Pratica di Mare Declaration on the new quality of cooperation and the establishment of the Russia-NATO Council was adopted during the Rome summit in 2002. The council members held a summit meeting in Lisbon in 2010, where they decided to take their relations to the level of strategic partnership.

But the situation is really alarming now. Acting under pressure from Washington, which is pursuing its own geopolitical goals, the NATO countries have adopted an aggressive anti-Russia policy. We see unjustified increases in their military spending: in 2018, the United States alone earmarked over $700 billion and NATO as a whole about $1 trillion for defence, while Russia spent less than $50 billion. The alliance is enhancing its military presence on the borders of Russia and its ally, Belarus, which is increasing the risk of accidental incidents and is escalating military and political tension. Decisions to approve the accession of Montenegro and North Macedonia to NATO look completely illogical when it comes to strengthening the bloc’s defence capability.

This is not what is needed to maintain European security and stability right now. We believe that if they want to reverse negative trends, the authorities of the leading NATO states should revise their policies toward Russia. At the same time, we should develop regular contacts between our military experts at the Russia-NATO Council. Russia has submitted its practical proposals for scaling down military risks and preventing accidental incidents. We are waiting for NATO’s response.

It is the alliance who should initiate the normalisation of relations, as well as the resumption of the Russia-NATO Council’s work at the top level. We are prepared to go as far as our colleagues are ready to go.

Question: What is happening with Nord Stream 2? What can help influence Denmark’s position on this project?

Sergey Lavrov: The construction of Nord Stream 2 is proceeding according to plan. Some 60 percent of the pipeline has been laid, and over 80 percent of the planned outlays have been earmarked.

The benefits of the project are pretty obvious. The funds that have been invested in the project up until now have helped to create over 57,000 jobs in EU countries. The pipeline provides the shortest route for the delivery of gas, which European countries need, from Russia’s northern fields.

It should be noted that Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project intended to strengthen Europe’s energy security and cut gas prices for European consumers.

In his context, it is strange that certain forces have been stubbornly trying to throw a spanner in the works to hinder the project’s implementation. This is our interpretation of the amendments to the Gas Directive of the EU’s Third Energy Package, which became effective as of May 23 and which actually contradicts the fundamental principle of protecting investors from amendments in the host country legislation. Given the haste with which the previous – Romanian – EU Council Presidency worked towards the adoption of these amendments, we do not doubt for a second that they were designed exclusively to prevent the implementation of the project.

We regret that Denmark has taken a politicised stand and is dragging its feet when it comes to granting planning permission to build the pipeline in its exclusive economic zone. We believe that delaying the analysis of requests submitted by the project operator is contrary to the international law of the sea, which permits the construction of underwater energy infrastructure projects. It should be noted that not a single country, including Denmark, had any complaints about the route of the first Nord Stream line. This project has been approved by the leading European energy companies, which can hardly be suspected of any anti-Europe intentions.

We hope that the new Danish government formed following the recent parliamentary election will abandon this confrontational approach and adopt some wise decisions.

Overall, we believe that energy cooperation must not be used for settling political scores. We believe that any attempts to force European consumers to buy more expensive American LNG are absolutely undemocratic and run against the market rules. We hope that our German and other European partners’ decisions on gas and any other subjects will take into account the interests of their people rather than instructions issued from across the ocean.

Question: What practical measures should be taken to ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements? What practical measures is Russia prepared to take? What can revitalise dialogue with the new Ukrainian leadership?

Sergey Lavrov: There is no alternative to the Minsk agreements, which the UN Security Council approved, as the basis for the settlement of the intra-Ukrainian conflict. They must be implemented through a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. The leaders of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics are ready for this. But the Ukrainian authorities obviously lack the political will.

It should be said that for the past five years our Western partners, instead of stimulating Kiev to honour its obligations, actually condoned with Kiev’s attempts to delay the implementation of the Minsk agreements. They have actually turned a blind eye to such shameful features of the new Ukrainian reality as the rise of neo-Nazism, mandatory restrictions on the use of the Russian language, the persecution of independent media, as well as the Kiev-inspired harassment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and believers.

However, we believe that movement towards a settlement is possible if there is goodwill and political resolve. I agree with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that the long delayed disengagement of forces and hardware in Stanitsa Luganskaya in late June is a sign of progress and gives hope for peace. We must build on this step forward, including when we are addressing other and no less important matters, the most important of which is a complete ceasefire.

After Vladimir Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine, the United States and Europe started talking about “a window of opportunity” for a settlement in Ukraine, which Russia should use. This is nothing other than double standards and an attempt to shift the responsibility for the implementation of the Minsk agreements onto Russia. Unlike Ukraine, Russia is not a party to the Minsk agreements. It is Kiev that is responsible for implementing a number of the Minsk Package provisions, for example, end the economic blockade of Donetsk and Lugansk, amnesty for the participants in events in Donbass, as well as coordinate a special status for Donbass with Donetsk and Lugansk and formalise it in the Ukrainian Constitution. So far, Zelensky and his team have issued highly contradictory signals.

We would like to see a realistic approach prevail in Kiev. For our part, we are ready to work together with Kiev based on the principles of pragmatism and respect for the fundamental interests of our people. Europeans, above all Germany, should not encourage Kiev’s feeling of permissiveness and should not disregard the large-scale human rights violations in Ukraine and Kiev’s unwillingness to comply with the Minsk agreements. In this sense, Germany is partly responsible for the settlement of the intra-Ukrainian conflict.

Question: When will Russia withdraw from Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia deployed its troops in Syria at the invitation of the country’s legitimate authorities. The legal framework for the Russian military presence in Syria was coordinated in late 2016. These are termless agreements, which can be amended by the two countries’ concerned departments. By the way, according to international law, the US-led “international coalition” is operating in Syria illegally.

The main mission of the Russian military in Syria is to combat terrorism. This problem must be settled eventually. This means, in part, that we will not endlessly tolerate the presence of tens of thousands of extremist fighters affiliated to al-Qaeda in the Idlib de-escalation zone. We will look for a solution that will not be detrimental for the civilian population of the province. There is the negative example of Raqqa, which has been razed by airstrikes by the self-same US-led international coalition.

We believe that the liquidation of the terrorist seat in Syria is in the interest of Europe because this will lower the terrorist threat coming from the region and decrease the inflow of migrants.

However, it would be wrong to limit Russia’s role in Syria to exclusively military operations. Our military are also implementing an important humanitarian mission in Syria. I would like to remind you that the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and Refugee Migration Monitoring in Syria is located at the Khmeimim Air Base. The centre is responsible for negotiations on local ceasefires, the distribution of humanitarian aid, mine clearing, as well as for monitoring the return of displaced persons and refugees back home.

As a guarantor of the Astana process and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has been working to promote a political settlement in Syria based on decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress and UNSC Resolution 2254. In particular, we are working to try and establish a Constitutional Committee together with Iran, Turkey and the team of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria. We hope the international community will support our efforts. Ultimately, the restoration of Syria’s sovereignty over the entire territory of the country and a political settlement of the conflict in the interest of the Syrian people as a whole will provide the basis for long-term peaceful developments in Syria.

Question: What de-escalation measures could Russia propose toward settling the conflict between the United States and Iran?

Sergey Lavrov: We are certainly worried when it comes to the situation around Iran. The Islamic Republic is our neighbour; we have developed firm cooperation ties with it in many spheres. We will not suspend our absolutely legitimate cooperation with Iran just to allay anyone’s phobias or satisfy anyone’s whims.

The current outbreak of tension around Iran is a direct result of the US administration’s improvident and even dangerous course. The Americans’ policy of strangling the Iranian economy has led to a dramatic escalation in the Persian Gulf. While Washington and Tehran are exchanging mutual accusations, the Americans have beefed up their naval presence in the region, thereby creating a risk of military confrontation. Any careless movement there can provoke a conflict fraught with unpredictable and destructive consequences.

No wonder that this possibility seriously alarms us. This is why Russia will continue to insist that all sides take de-escalation moves and settle their differences by political and diplomatic means. This spells out above all that Washington should abandon its policy of ultimatums, sanctions and blackmail.

At the same time, we should look at the Gulf developments from a wider angle, primarily taking into account the fact that the United States has unilaterally abandoned its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for the settlement of Iran’s nuclear programme. Germany is one of this plan’s signatories. It is clear evidence of Washington’s deliberate efforts to undermine the international architecture of non-proliferation and international security.

We are using contacts at all levels to urge our American colleagues to avoid taking steps that could aggravate tension around Iran. Our common goal is to prevent the situation from going into a tailspin of military confrontation and to resume a consistent implementation of the JCPOA. This is the responsibility of all the other members of the nuclear deal, including Germany.

More broadly speaking, I would like to note that the current crisis has highlighted the need for coordinating a strategic vision of possible stabilisation scenarios for this region. Russia proposed doing this many years ago based on our collective security concept for the Persian Gulf. The idea is to develop equitable cooperation among all the concerned sides, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, so as to gradually move ahead toward defusing conflicts and developing confidence-building measures and controls. These efforts should ultimately lead to the creation of a comprehensive subregional system of collective security and cooperation with the necessary mechanisms and organisational structures. This experience could be later used to create a post-crisis architecture for the Middle East as a whole.

Question: The Council of Europe has restored Russia’s voting rights five years after the so-called annexation of Crimea. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described this as a signal for Russia. Does the restoration of the Russian delegation’s powers at PACE indicate the start of normalisation of relations?

Sergey Lavrov: I would like to remind you that our deputies at PACE were deprived of their rights illegally for their political stand on Crimea’s reunification with Russia, which took place in 2014 in full compliance with international law. That decision made by PACE provoked a deep crisis at the Council of Europe.

The return of our deputies back to Strasbourg is not a signal but a necessary step toward an improvement of the unhealthy situation in a common European organisation, where an aggressive anti-Russia minority is actually hindering normal interaction among PACE’s national delegations.

Question: A recent annual report produced by German intelligence and security services mentions the influence of Russian media outlets – the Sputnik news agency and the online publication RT Deutsch – on public opinion in Germany. These media outlets have been accused once again of promoting propaganda and misinformation. According to the report, Russia is increasing its media presence in Germany, while state-financed companies pose as independent media to camouflage their affiliation with the Russian state and to be able to manipulate the public. Can you comment on this please?

Sergey Lavrov: The financing sponsors of Sputnik and RT are openly named on the official sites of these resources and include the Russian government. This is normal practice and not a cause for creating phantom sensations. The governments of Germany, France, Britain, the US, China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries subsidise various media outlets as well. Russian media outlets are operating in Germany in strict compliance with German legislation and high journalistic standards. We believe that German citizens have a right to receive information of interest to them from various sources. Moreover, as far as we know, Sputnik and RT are very popular in Germany.

Regrettably, we see that certain forces in Germany are inciting hatred toward Russian media outlets that have been denounced as “toxic.” The defamation campaign launched against Sputnik and RT Deutsch involves, among others, members of the local political establishment and professional journalistic organisations. Some of them have called for boycotting our media and for banishing them from the cable networks. Nothing of the kind could ever happen to German media outlets in our country. I believe that operations in this sphere must be guided by the principles of freedom of the media and non-discriminatory access to information, principles that have been formalisedby the UN, the OSCE and other international organisations.


24.08.2019 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko relinquished his duties and departed to Russia

24 August 2019 Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Mr Alexander Yakovenko relinquished his duties and departed to Russia. Mr Ivan Volodin, Minister-Counsellor, will act as Chargé d'Affaires a.i.

16.08.2019 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the course of investigation into Salisbury and Amesbury incidents

Question: How would you comment on the official statement of the Met Police claiming that one more police officer was affected by a nerve agent in March 2018 in Salisbury? Answer: Contents of the Met Police official press release of 15 August only raises further questions. It is unclear why such vital information has not been disclosed for almost a year and a half since the incident itself.

16.08.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s speech at the Terra Scientia National Educational Youth Forum, Solnechnogorsk, August 15, 2019

Thank you for the warm greetings. This is not my first meeting with Terra Scientia students, but it is the first time in this picturesque place. This is more convenient for those from Moscow because it’s closer. In any event, all our previous meetings were fairly useful. We are fueled by the interest of our society in foreign policy and international affairs, and are always ready to use our knowledge, experience and practical actions to meet this interest on behalf of our citizens. It is particularly important when young people are interested in foreign policy issues. After all, you will shape Russia’s future and its future place in international life.

12.08.2019 - Statement by Chargé d'Affaires of the Russian Federation Dmitry Polyanskiy at the UN Security Council meeting on Libya

It is with deep regret that we have been receiving news from Libya about a terrorist attack in Benghazi that, reportedly, has taken lives of two officers of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). We express our sincere condolences to the United Nations, to the families and friends of those who perished. We strongly condemn this and other terrorist attacks that kill the people of Libya. Besides, I cannot fail to mention that over the recent two-three weeks several hundred of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe from Libya and other countries after the boats transporting them had capsized. These are only the latest disasters that happened to Libyans and Africans who had become desperate and given up any hope to live stable and peaceful lives. During the minute of silence that you called, Mm. President, our thoughts were with them as well. Because every human life matters.

09.08.2019 - Press-Conference by Chargé d'Affaires of the Russian Federation Dmitry Polyanskiy "Russia’s Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region"

he first section will be about our security concept for the Gulf area which is the bulk of what I was going to say and then at the end I will also make a couple of points on today’s consultations on Georgia. If you have any questions I would also be very pleased to answer them. We decided to make the special presentation of our security concept for the Gulf area because we think it is really important for ensuring security in this strategically important area of the world. You know how difficult the situation is now, so this concept was distributed as an official document of Security Council. Now my colleague has also shared a printed version with you. If you need to have it on your email, do not hesitate to tell us. We will send you the electronic version.

08.08.2019 - Embassy comment on the UN Security Council meeting on Syria

The Western initiative to convene the UN Security Council meeting on Syria is deeply disappointing. There are many speculations based on unverified and biased information about the situation in Syria aimed at escalating tensions and distorting the true events in order to undermine any political settlement in this country.

07.08.2019 - Embassy’s Press Officer reply to a question on the measures to secure Outer Space free from weapons

Question: Russia is promoting an initiative on “No first placement weapons in Outer Space”. Could you explain the reasons for adhering to this political commitment? Press Secretary: While the Outer Space Treaty (1967) prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in Outer Space, the Treaty does not explicitly cover either conventional arms or new weapon technologies. As a result, there is a legal gap with regard to a possible placement of weapons other than WMDs in Outer Space. In 2008 Russia and China introduced at the Conference on Disarmament a draft Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). Subsequently, in 2014 Russia and China submitted an updated version of the PPWT draft reflecting considerations of interested states, thus giving an additional impulse to further work on the draft. However, no progress has been made due to CD failure to agree on its program of work.

06.08.2019 - Embassy comment on the statement by Mr Roger Gale, head of UK delegation at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly

Once again, UK side called upon the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly to reconsider the decision to restore Russia’s rights. We would like to remind official London that Russia’s participation at the Parliamentary Assembly is an irrevocable right of any national delegation that effectively represents the rights and interests of its nation. It is also the necessary requirement for establishing international cooperation and balance in interstate relations in order to support political dialogue in Europe and develop the parliamentary traditions.

04.08.2019 - Embassy press officer’s reply to a media question concerning reports in the British media about recent arrests of illegal rallies participants by Russian police in Moscow

Question: How would you comment on the publications in the British media about the excessive use of force by the Russian police during the rallies in Moscow held on August 3, 2019? Answer: We have seen taken note of recent reports in the British media condemning the actions of the Russian police during the rallies in the Moscow city center in support of unregistered candidates to the Moscow Duma elections. First of all we would like to note that the numerous illegal protests which took place on August 3 in Moscow had nothing to do with democracy or freedom of expression. It becomes clear that the goals of protesters were anything but ensuring their voters rights. Many of the protesters do not even have an idea who the so-called opposition candidates actually were. It also looks absurd that people not living in Moscow are fighting for the political rights of Muscovites. Furthermore the persons wanted in connection with the extremism propaganda as well as 150 young people who had long been evading military service were found among the participants of the illegal rallies. It also proven that foreign citizens participated in the Saturday rallies, for provocation purposes only.

03.08.2019 - Embassy press officer’s reply to a media question concerning the decision of US President D. Trump to impose new sanctions on Russia in relation to poisoning Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury

Question: How would you comment on the intention of the United States to impose the second set of sanctions on Russia in relation to so-called poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury? Answer: First of all we would like to emphasize that the UK deny to present the results of the official investigation in Salisbury. The Russian side is fully committed to seeking and establishing the truth about the incident and could barely rest satisfied with the widely distributed leaks in the media coming from so-called official sources.

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