26 April 2017
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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

17.04.2017

Ambassador Yakovenko answers the Daily Mail questions (17 April 2017)

1. Theresa May said today (Thursday) that Russia was on the “wrong side of the argument” when it comes to Syria, what is your response to that?

Answer: With all my respect for Prime Minister Theresa May I’ve got to say that the opposite is true. Even former British Ambassador in Damascus Peter Ford (on the BBC the other day) said that there is no moderate opposition alternative to the present government is Syria. That’s why there is urgent need for lasting ceasefire and political process among the Syrians, so that they can decide for themselves. It seems that our Western partners don’t like this approach and want to decide for the Syrians who will take part in the political process and who shall not. I think the reason is they know well what the choice of the Syrians is going to be after the 6 years of civil war.

2. Michael Fallon has accused Russia of being responsible for the chemical attacks by proxy, how do you respond to that?

Answer: We deplore such hostile rhetoric not supported by evidence. The problem is that our American partners tell us that they’ve got compelling evidence of the government forces’ culpability, but they cannot produce it, for it is secret. For them the issue of responsibility is closed. That explains their effort to pass a politicized UN Security Council resolution instead of a straightforward investigation by the OPCW on the site of the chemical incident. Of course, this mission cannot be impartial if it conducts its work in Turkey, with no direct access to the site and evidence.

For us, and Sergey Lavrov said that today in Moscow after meeting his Syrian and Iranian counterparts, this latest incident looks like an attempt to frame the Syrian Government. It reminds us, even by the type of the chemical agent used, the incident in August 2013 in Ghouta, which was supposed to provoke Western military intervention but failed to do so. Now the same stagecraft with the same purpose in mind. It is suspicious that the West wouldn’t even discuss the issue of CW use by opposition/terrorists. Those incidents were widely reported over the past few years. One shouldn’t forget either that the province of Idlib is controlled by the “Al-Nusra”, a UN proscribed terrorist organization, and groups affiliated with it.

3. What do you think about Boris Johnson’s decision not to travel to Russia?

Answer: It was unfortunate. But that is just another indication that there is no bilateral relationship of substance between our two nations, that is beyond mere diplomatic ones. Although Sergey Lavrov is considered to be the world’s Number One diplomat and for the good reason, the recent talks of Rex Tillerson in Moscow show that jousting with Sergey Lavrov at the table isn’t lethal.

4. Is this the worst relations have ever been between UK and Russia?

Answer: Yes, it is.

5. Are you concerned this could lead to World War Three?

Answer: I think the talk of WWIII this time was prompted by the media reports that the US Secretary of State was to deliver an ultimatum in Moscow. Fortunately, it turned out to be a mere suggestion on the part of the Americans. But in history, the very word “ultimatum” is closely associated with a declaration of war. For example, that was what German Ambassador Pourtales did when he met Foreign Minister Sazonov in July 1914. The Russian Minister rejected the German ultimatum and was handed over the Germane Note declaring war on Russia which fast turned into WWI. By the way, Pourtales knew what he was doing and burst into tears (Sazonov had even to comfort him), leaving both Notes intended for opposite outcomes of his demarche. So, the choice of words is very important, especially for the politicians.

6. What do you think about Britain’s deployment of 800 troops to Estonia?

Answer: We deplore that deployment for it raises tensions in Europe along the border between NATO and Russia. Russia doesn’t pose any threat to Estonia nor any other NATO member-state. That’s why all the talk of territorial defence sounds provocative, and with changing nature of war, outright ridiculous.

7. How would you respond to claims by the Public Administration Committee that Russia may have influenced the EU referendum by hacking the official voter registration website?

Answer: The Russian Government has nothing to do with this hacking if it ever took place at all. I regret to say that over the past few months we have seen various attempts to establish some connection between the June referendum’s outcome and Russia. It looks like Americanization of the issue. It doesn’t take lots of imagination to see that if the hollowing out of the new US presidency succeeds under the “Russian connection” pretext, Brexit will be the next target.

The interview, abridged, is published at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4417086/UK-relations-Russia-time-low.html




LATEST EVENTS

10.04.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's opening remarks at Quantum Workshop (7 April 2017)

I am honoured to be at the opening the Trilateral Quantum Workshop organised by the Russian Quantum Centre. This is an unprecedented and very timely event. Even as somebody rather uninitiated in quantum science, I hear more and more about the advances in this area and find myself reading up on the basics of quantum technology. Luckily, wider public now has the benefit of learning more from Internet.


17.03.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko about learning Russian: talking points for BBC interview

Foreign languages are an essential skill in the modern world. For example, in Russia, English is taught in all schools, mostly as primary and sometimes as secondary foreign language (2 foreign languages are now mandatory). Russian, the language that has most native speakers in Europe, is equally important for economic, cultural and political reasons. Learning Russian is in high demand in Asia, including China. Today you don’t even need to physically attend classes – online education is available, in some cases even for free, by Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, Moscow State University and RT TV channel. In UK, the demand for Russian is high: 21% of British employers are looking for Russian-speaking staff – this is no wonder since 600 British companies are working in our country, and the prospects are good: GDP is expected to grow between 1 and 2 percent this year.


15.03.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at Valentina Tereshkova concert (March 14, Ambassador’s Residence)

It’s an honour and real pleasure for me to welcome a legendary woman – Dr Valentina Tereshkova, Russian cosmonaut, engineer, politician, mother and friend. You are a real Russian star, our pride and a true example of patriotism.


12.03.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko's interview for Sunday Express

Q: As a precursor to Boris Johnson's visit to Moscow in the coming weeks, what is your understanding of the nature of the visit and the purpose of the invitation - given that he will be the most senior UK Government official to visit the Kremlin in a good number of years? What message does Russia hope that the visit will send to the rest of the world? A: It is going to be the first working visit at Foreign Ministers' level in our bilateral relation over the past three years. We hope that it means that our British partners are interested in resumption of political dialogue.


28.02.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at Defender of the Fatherland Day reception

On 23 February, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation celebrate their main holiday - the Defender of the Fatherland Day. This day is important not only for those who wear or used to wear military insignia, but also for all those who care about the words "Motherland" and "duty". Peace of our homes is guarded by those who serve in the country as well as abroad. Throughout history people in Russia respected military, which, according to Peter the Great, was "the first of the worldly affairs as the most important for the defense of the Fatherland". As the history teaches us – the stronger the army is, the safer is the world.


14.02.2017 - UK – RUSSIA YEAR OF SCIENCE AND EDUCATION: THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP? (Robin Grimes, FCO Chief Scientific Adviser, Part of Global Science and Innovation Network)

At the end of the classic film Casablanca, Rick says to the Chief of Police “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship”. So, as we embark upon a year of UK Russia Science & (Science) Education events, what do we expect our scientific relationship to look like 12 months from now? There are some crucial points to bear in mind.


10.02.2017 - UK worried about its place if US-Russia ties are repaired – Russia’s UK envoy (Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

Hacking, destabilizing Western states, building up its military might, and weaponizing information – Russia is hitting the headlines and seems to be to blame for all of the world’s problems. One of the loudest anti-Russia voices is the United Kingdom, condemning Moscow’s actions and calling for economic sanctions against it. Most of the accusations are far from proven – so is there still room left for cooperation on vital issues between world powers? And now that the UK’s ally the US may be ready to change course and start making deals with Moscow, is there a chance for a change in tone? We ask Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom – Alexander Yakovenko.


08.02.2017 - Ambassador’s Alexander Yakovenko speech at the opening of "Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932" exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts (February 7, 2017)

It’s an honour for me to be here at the opening of this impressive exhibition. The best Russian museums have provided masterpieces from their collections which give a fascinating insight into the drastic and violent transformation of culture and society in Russia 100 years ago. Our revolution was a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon, a direct result of our common European catastrophe, which was WWI.


30.01.2017 - Alexander Kramarenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for the “International Affairs” magazine (Moscow). Unaccomplished mission of Alexander Benckendorff and its lessons.

11 January marked 100 years since the death of the last Ambassador of the Russian Empire to the UK count Alexander Benckendorff, who was buried in the catholic Westminster Cathedral in London. This anniversary was a timely reminder of his unaccomplished mission in London, where he arrived in 1903. What was it and why is it still relevant now?


25.01.2017 - A visit to Syria by an independent group (31 August - 7 September).




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