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1546 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     1538 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

28.04.2022

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Moscow, April 26, 2022

Ladies and gentlemen,

We held substantive talks during which we discussed many issues that are facing the UN. We continue working on Syria and Libya. Neither must we slacken attention to the Middle East settlement. It is one of the oldest conflicts in the world, which is moving ever further away from its solution, contrary to the UN Security Council resolutions.

For understandable reasons, we focused on the situation in Europe in the context of the developments in Ukraine and the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. We are grateful to the UN Secretary-General and his team for understanding the importance of discussing the situation in and around Ukraine as part of global developments and in the context of the current trends, which are gathering strength and are not always following in line with UN ideals and the principles of the UN Charter. Today, I talked with Antonio Guterres, our colleague and friend, about our vision of the main causes for this situation. The critical cause was the line of our American colleagues and their allies for the unlimited expansion of NATO and the establishment of a unipolar world.

As for our geopolitical space, all of that was being done in the interests of containing the Russian Federation. It is for this purpose that Ukraine was over these years consistently turned into a bridgehead for provoking and containing Russia. They encouraged the Ukrainian authorities’ decisions to promote laws that prohibited the Russian language, Russian media outlets, Russian couture and everything that is Russia. At the same time, laws were adopted to formalise the Nazi theory and practices. Of course, the UN Secretary-General is aware of the decisions, which have been made public by President Vladimir Putin, and of the reasons and goals of the operation which our armed forces are conducting jointly with the Donetsk and Lugansk militias in Ukraine. The main goal is to protect civilians. In this context, we are interested in cooperation with our colleagues from the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross as regards additional efforts to ease the suffering and plight of civilians.

After the UN Secretary-General contacted our Defence Ministry on March 4, 2022, we established the Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response at the National Defence Control Centre of the Russian Federation. UN representatives are coordinating practical matters to organise safe humanitarian deliveries. The UN, namely the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has helped organise five humanitarian aid convoys to various parts of Ukraine, in addition to the humanitarian aid that is delivered every day to Ukrainian citizens and to Donetsk and Lugansk by the Russian Defence and Emergencies ministries and NGOs. Today we discussed possible measures that can be taken to strengthen our cooperation in this area. I believe that such measures can be coordinated on the basis of the talks in Moscow, inasmuch as they are needed in the current situation.

Certainly, we talked about the UN’s overall destiny, as well as the attempts of our Western colleagues to discuss key issues outside universal formats, those under the auspices of the UN and its system, and to organise various partnerships and appeals that are portrayed as a club of advanced members or a club of select members. The Alliance for Multilateralism, a French-German initiative, follows the same lines. Does this not amount to competition with the UN? In 2021, the United States organised the Summit for Democracy and independently invited the participants without consulting anyone. Today, we also drew the attention of our partners to this fact. On the whole, this comes as an alarm bell for the UN and as an attempt to nullify the fundamental rules and principles of the UN Charter, including the fact that the organisation was established on the basis of the sovereign equality of states. This is what the UN Charter says, and it is necessary to remember this. We will recall this more often, so that no one in New York and the capitals of member states will forget it.

I would like to conclude my remarks by expressing my sincere gratitude to the UN Secretary-General who suggested holding this meeting. We responded promptly, and this underscores the fact that we attach great significance to regular dialogue and to coordinating positions with the leadership of the UN Secretariat. Given all difficulties that continue to accumulate in global affairs, such frank discussions are quite useful, so that we can eventually go back to the roots, to the UN Charter, and so that we can build upon various concepts for expanded multilateralism precisely on the basis of this Charter. Multilateralism is a key word nowadays.

Once again, I am grateful for the fact that the UN Secretary-General was prepared to conduct today’s conversation in precisely this context.

Question: Both sides, be it the UN or the international community, are considering a potential diplomatic solution to the crisis and a ceasefire. If Russia decides in favour of a diplomatic solution, is there an organisation or a country that Moscow has been considering as a mediator? 

Sergey Lavrov: First of all, I would like to comment on the positions held by the international community and on how the UN should be guided by these positions, along with the intransient principles of the UN Charter, primarily the principle of sovereign equality of states, which I have mentioned.

The UN Secretary-General has referred to the General Assembly resolution, which has denounced Russia and declared that the developments in Ukraine are an invasion and a violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Let me remind you that there was a vote and the General Assembly did not reach a consensus on the resolution. Many countries complained to us later that they had been forced to vote for it: the Americans were swooping on their ambassadors in the UN lobbies (our US friends are past masters at this) and were threatening them. Some people have bank accounts in the United States, others – student-age children at a US university. I am not exaggerating. This was how it was, and we know it.     

Nevertheless, the resolution was not approved unanimously. Several dozen countries refused to support it. I understand that any General Assembly resolution should serve as a mandate for the UN Secretariat (and so it is setting forth its approaches). But likewise, the UN Security Council resolutions, particularly those passed by consensus, where all 15 members vote for a specific decision, should be sacred to the Secretariat. It was by consensus that in February 2015, the Security Council approved a document entitled the Minsk Package of Measures, which clearly said that there was a need for direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk, and Lugansk in order to solve all the existing problems in terms of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  All that was needed was to fulfil the commitments undersigned first by President Petr Poroshenko and later by President Vladimir Zelensky and to extend a special status to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, as well as to grant an amnesty and amend the Constitution in the context of a decentralisation plan that nevertheless implied preservation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It provided for holding elections by coordination with Donetsk and Lugansk. I don’t remember the UN Secretariat responding in any way to Kiev’s open and glaring sabotage of the Minsk Agreements, although the UN Security Council resolutions (the more so those approved by consensus) are part of international law. We talked about this today. We have good and comradely relations. But I think it is impossible to attempt to postpone a conversation of this kind. 

We are now at a stage in the development of international relations, where the moment of truth is at hand: either all of us resign ourselves to a situation where someone singlehandedly or with a handful of satellites decides how mankind should live, or mankind will live based on the UN Charter. It’s a simple choice. No one wants any wars, but it is an absolute must to put forward arguments and urge violators of the UN Charter to face responsibility. I assure you that an increasing number of countries, particularly those with their distinct history and culture and a civilisational legacy of their own, are eager to take precisely this position. This conversation should be inevitable. I hope that it is the UN with its roots in the Charter (the greatest document of all time) that will play the role of a catalyst in promoting this honest dialogue without ultimatums, threats or attempts to solve all problems by force, including economic and financial force, taking advantage of their position in the international system. I think this is an outrage.    

As for negotiated solutions, we are in favour of them. In early March, we immediately accepted Ukrainian President Zelensky’s proposal to start talks.  But it is depressing to see how the Ukrainian delegation has behaved during the talks or how President Zelensky himself has behaved by refusing to confirm that they received our new proposals a week ago (he said so a number of times). Judging by all appearances, they are not particularly interested in talks. Those insisting that Russia should not be allowed to win,  and, on the contrary, urging [Ukraine] to overpower Russia and destroy it have promised Kiev that they will continue this policy by rushing arms to Ukraine in huge amounts. Right now, the Ukrainian authorities are relying on this. If this continues, the talks are unlikely to have any outcome. But I repeat: we are committed to a negotiated solution and ceasefire. We pursue this daily by announcing humanitarian corridors, which are ignored by the militants from the Azov battalion, among others, who have entrenched themselves at the Azovstal plant. This battalion sports swastikas and emblems and symbols of [German] Nazi battalions (Waffen-SS). Asked by CNN about them, President Zelensky said they have many such battalions and they are what they are. This phrase, “they are what they are,” was later deleted from the interview. They seemed to be utterly ashamed to present this man with all his hidden sentiments to the Western democratic community. 

We are ready for talks. If anyone has any interesting ideas, we are prepared to listen to them. The Ukrainian negotiators did not mention mediation as such at the previous stages. Our teams meet one-on-one. They met three times in Belarus and once in Turkey. These are the venues for talks. We are grateful to both sides for their hospitality and organisational efforts. It is still premature to speak about mediators at this stage. We want to get a reply to the latest draft document that we submitted eleven days ago. The Ukrainian negotiators failed to report to their president about it. For at least a week, he was unaware that this document had been put forward.

Question: It is expected that later today, the UN General Assembly will hold a vote on Liechtenstein’s draft resolution on the right of veto. The resolution would be applied by the General Assembly every time one of the five permanent members of the Security Council casts a veto. What does Moscow think about this initiative? What does Russia think in general about the proposals on reforming the UN Security Council and specifically the initiative that would be able to overturn a veto through a General Assembly vote?

Sergey Lavrov: As concerns the resolution submitted to the General Assembly, it is clearly stated that the resolution has nothing to do with and will in no way affect the talks that have been ongoing for many years on the UN Security Council reform. Nothing will happen to the right of veto, I can assure you. The right of veto is a supporting pillar of the United Nations, without which this Organisation would go out of control. The great powers, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, primarily rely on the principle of unanimity that is enshrined in the UN Charter and helps to avoid any rough clashes between them.

The other thing is that the world has changed. The Americans are publicly declaring that they want to make the world unipolar forever – when objectively, the process is going in the opposite direction. The world is multipolar. We have said it many times that the UN Security Council must get rid of its biggest flaw, which is the dominant influence of a specific group of countries. Six out of 15 seats belong to the Western countries and their allies. Developing countries are underrepresented. We have stressed it many times that we want to see representatives of Asia, Africa and Latin America in this body on a permanent basis. We specifically mentioned our partners from India and Brazil. By all means, there must be a candidate from Africa.

The resolution that you mentioned mandates a discussion by the General Assembly of situations after a veto is cast in the UN Security Council and has nothing to do with the reform. This resolution seeks to democratise the decision-making process. We are ready to join the consensus should one form. It is important to work based on a consensus because many resolutions, even those adopted by a minority of votes, eventually start to prevail in different areas where it primarily benefits the Western countries.

The UN Security Council may be deprived of the opportunity to adopt a resolution not only as a result of casting one or several vetoes but also as a result of six or seven countries abstaining from the vote. This is yet another case where the UN Security Council is divided. Perhaps the General Assembly should not remain indifferent to this state of affairs.

I believe that this is a healthy process. If a country casts a veto, it means that it can justify its decision. But when it concerns the Russian Federation (and such cases may occur), we will be able to give a compelling explanation of our positions in the UN Security Council.

Question: How didRussia respond to the Ukrainian proposal to hold a special round of talks in Mariupol?

Sergey Lavrov: I have heard about this proposal, presented theatrically by the Ukrainian negotiating team (the one that contacted our negotiators inBelarus, inTurkey, then via videoconference) to hold another meeting in Mariupol near the walls of Azovstal plant. The Ukrainians like staging everything. Apparently, they wanted to "stage" another heartbreaking episode.

If we are talking about a serious attitude to work within the framework of negotiations, it would be better if they responded to our proposals sooner. The proposals have been with them for more than ten days now. As it turns out, Ukrainian President Zelensky has not even heard about them.

Question: What measures are being taken by the Russian side regarding the build-up ofUS arms supplies toKiev?

Sergey Lavrov: It is not only the Americans who are supplying arms. They prefer to forceEurope to do this. But they are also taking steps in this direction themselves.

We have said more than once that as soon as foreign weapons are on Ukrainian territory, they become a legitimate target forRussia's special military operation. Our troops are on Ukrainian territory. They are defending the rights of people who have been bombed for eight years. The West was totally silent, regardless of who was or was not part of theNormandyformat, includingGermanyandFranceas co-sponsors of theMinskagreements.

All these years, the entire Russian-speaking population, not only in Donbass and the two proclaimed republics, but also inUkraineas a whole, was sternly oppressed. Everything is in the statistics. Look at the laws that were passed with respect to the Russian language and the media. Moreover, not only Russian channels were banned, but also Ukrainian ones if they were in the hands of a parliamentary, legitimate, legal but opposition party. Then decisions were eventually made to ban the Russian language in everyday life. Nazi ideology and practices were imposed. Everyone was bashfully "hiding their head in the sand" – both inside and outside theNormandyformat.

Weapons that had already been imported intoUkraineat that time posed a real threat to theRussian Federation. The military bases that were built, in particular by the British on theSea of Azov, directly posed the same threat. We heard no sympathetic voices from different parts of the world when, as a final attempt in the autumn of 2021, we proposed to the Americans and NATO that treaties be concluded with the aim of ensuring security in Europe, without increasing the number of members in political-military blocs.

We are now dealing with such threats and actions taken by the West, in violation of its commitment not to strengthen its security at the expense ofRussia's security.

Question: Russia recently accredited the first diplomat from the Taliban government. Does this mean thatMoscow is moving to recognise the Taliban government inKabul?

IsRussiaready to work with Afghan national political forces and include them in a new and all-inclusive Afghan government, as President of Iran Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi recently suggested?

Sergey Lavrov: Indeed, we have accredited one diplomat. The new authorities, the Taliban movement, have already sent him to work at the Afghan Embassy inMoscow. This is not official diplomatic recognition, however.

We are acting in unison withAfghanistan’s key neighbours.Chinarecently hosted a large conference, and we attended the event with the Central Asian countries,PakistanandIran. We recognise the current realities of our work. We maintain regular contact with the Taliban through the Russian Embassy and representatives of various agencies who also review economic cooperation matters. During the Soviet Union’s presence inAfghanistan, specialists built over 140 enterprises there. Those enterprises formed the backbone of the Afghan economy. Not a single similar facility was built there during the NATO coalition’s 20-year deployment inAfghanistan. You know what all this came down to and how it ended.

We intend to ensure full diplomatic recognition of the new Afghan authorities provided they keep their promise to set up an all-inclusive government, and not just in the ethnic-denominational context. The current government consists of Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras, but all of them are Taliban in terms of their political affiliation. It is political inclusivity that will determine our next steps. The Taliban has announced this goal.

We are working with various political forces inAfghanistan, primarily inKabul. They include former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a former senior official. They are interested in a dialogue with the Taliban. In our contact with the Taliban, we encourage them to initiate and continue a detailed dialogue.

 

https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1810897/ 




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