26 April 2017
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

20.04.2017

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, April 19, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to participate in a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the SCO Member States

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Astana on April 20-21.

The discussion will focus on the current state of, and prospects for expanding, the SCO’s activities in light of the forthcoming SCO membership of India and Pakistan. In line with the work to ensure the substantive content of the SCO summit, which will be held in the capital of Kazakhstan on June 8-9, the ministers will focus on documents and decisions to be reviewed by the heads of the member states. Particular attention will be paid to coordinating issues related to deepening cooperation in the spheres of security and humanitarian ties.

The participants will exchange views on current issues of the global and regional agenda as well as on ways to build up practical interaction and coordination at multilateral platforms, primarily, within the UN.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meeting.

Talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini will come to Russia on a working visit on April 24 at the invitation of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

During the talks, the participants will discuss the current state of affairs and prospects for Russia-EU relations, as well as key international issues, including the situations in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the situation around Iran’s nuclear programme, the Middle Eastern settlement, countering international terrorism and a number of other international topics.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to take part in the presentation of the Chuvash Republic

The Foreign Ministry is working to provide assistance to the Russian regions as they try to develop and strengthen their cooperation with foreign partners and the business community, which we regularly inform you about. Presentations of the economic and investment potential of the Russian regions are held at the House of Receptions at the Foreign Ministry Mansion as part of this work.

The presentation of the Chuvash Republic, with the participation of representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Moscow, federal and regional authorities, business circles and Russian and foreign media, will take place on April 24. The presentation is designed to familiarise the participants with international and foreign economic relations of the Chuvash Republic, and the plans of the region’s leadership to attract foreign investment and step up interaction with international partners. Long-term projects will be presented, which business circles or foreign stakeholders could take part in.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Head of the Chuvash Republic Mikhail Ignatiev will speak during the presentation.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with Secretary General of the OSCE Lamberto Zannier

On April 25, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with Secretary General of the OSCE Lamberto Zannier, who will be in Moscow to take part in the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security.

Mr Lavrov and Mr Zannier are expected to discuss a broad range of issues on the agenda of the OSCE, the world’s biggest regional organisation, with 57 member countries. Russia is an active participant in the organisation and wants it to play a more effective role in international affairs as an important instrument for building an indivisible security community.

Subjects of discussion include the OSCE’s tasks as a unifying platform for restoring trust in international relations, the organisation’s contribution to responding to transnational challenges such as terrorism, drug trafficking and cyber threats and prospects for harmonising the integration processes underway in the common European space. Other subjects of discussion include the OSCE’s work in the Balkans and the organisation’s role in facilitating the resolution of regional conflicts, including in eastern Ukraine.

Mr Lavrov and Mr Zannier will also examine in detail the activities of the OSCE’s field missions and specialised institutions, for example, the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights), and the Representative on Freedom of the Media, including the need to correct imbalances in their work, as well as other structures and personnel issues related to planned changes in senior leadership.

We look forward to constructive and fruitful talks on all above themes.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 6th Moscow High-Level Conference on Security Issues

On April 25-27, the Defence Ministry plans to hold the 6th Moscow High-Level Conference on Security Issues, which is expected to be attended by over 700 representatives of state agencies, international and non-governmental organisations from 85 countries.

One of the key speakers, along with other representatives of Russian state agencies and bodies, will be Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will use his speech to address a wide range of current issues related to countering international terrorism, and global and regional security in the Middle East and North Africa, the European continent, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region.

We expect that the conference will once again confirm its high status as an international platform for exchanging views and experiences on countering new challenges and threats, which require a comprehensive integrated approach.

Russia’s participation in the international donor conference for Yemen

On April 25, Geneva will host a high-level donor conference to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, organised by the UN, Switzerland and Sweden. Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.

According to UN estimates, the war in Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis of our time. It has been a terrible ordeal for the population. Based on the most conservative estimates, at least 7,500 people have been killed and over 40,000 people injured. About 19 million people, or 80 percent of the population, need humanitarian aid. Over 7 million people do not get enough food.

The conference aims to provide funding for the UN humanitarian response plan, to show solidarity with the Yemeni people suffering in the humanitarian disaster, and to send a clear message on behalf of the international community that the parties to the conflict must strictly adhere to international humanitarian law and ensure the population’s access to humanitarian aid.

A focus of Russia at the conference will be calling for an immediate end to the conflict, which, as we firmly believe, does not have a military solution. The parties should return at the negotiating table with the mediation of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The normalisation of the humanitarian situation in the country is possible only through a long-term ceasefire and the beginning of a stable political settlement.

Resumption of the special session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

I would like to recall that the special session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) resumed its work today, April 19. It is dedicated to the situation in Syria in connection with the events in Khan Sheikhoun. The Russian delegation is led by Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the OPCW. Director of the Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament Mikhail Ulyanov will take part in the discussions.

We will promptly publish the text of remarks at the session on the Foreign Ministry’s official website and will inform you about the session’s work.

The first summit of the Barents region’s indigenous groups

On April 28, Moscow will host the first summit of the Barents region’s indigenous groups. It will be convened within the framework of Russia’s chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in 2015–2017 to further dialogue and cooperation between the state authorities, businesses and indigenous peoples’ organisations in the region.

I would like to point out something that might cause misunderstanding: Please don’t be misled by the word “summit,” because heads of state will not be participating in the forum. It will be attended by representatives of the indigenous peoples and various branches of power, which I will talk about later.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov advanced this initiative during the 15th ministerial meeting of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in Oulu, Finland, on October 14, 2015.

Coinciding with the 12th Treasures of the North international exhibition/fair, the forum will be in the format of a plenary meeting and panel discussions involving representatives of the Barents region’s indigenous populations, the State Duma and the Federation Council of Russia’s Federal Assembly, relevant Russian ministries and agencies and the administrations of the Republic of Karelia, the Murmansk Region and the Nenets Autonomous Area. Representatives of the North European countries’ ethnic and regional executive bodies and legislatures will also take part.

The forum will discuss issues of socio-economic development and improving living standards essential for the Barents region’s indigenous peoples, with a focus on preserving their traditional livelihood, languages and cultures.

UNICEF March review on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has released its latest monthly review of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine (for March 2017).

Fund officers are working on both sides of the contact line and are stationed in Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Kramatorsk, Donetsk and Mariupol. UNICEF participates in implementing projects in education, water supply, sanitation, healthcare, including the fight against HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and child protection. Only one-third of the UN humanitarian appeal for UNICEF has been funded ($9 million out of the necessary $32 million).

Citing the OSCE, the review notes that hostilities are subsiding though public facilities are still occasionally shelled, which disrupts water supply. In terms of civilian causalities, it is reported that five adults and a child have been killed and 36 wounded.

The chronology of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics trade blockade, as portrayed in the review, is indicative: it creates the impression that the blockade was imposed as the Kiev authorities’ response to so-called external management of all Ukrainian businesses except Waters of Donbass and MTS. The review does not say a word about provocative actions by the notorious anti-terrorist operation veterans, who closed transport links with Donbass early this year – as if these actions never happened and no one knows about them.

Among events with an impact on the general situation, the review mentions the murder of a “former Russian legislator”, the temporary closure of the Russian-Ukrainian border on its Chernigov stretch, and the attack at the Polish consulate general in Lutsk.

Note that the plight of children in Donbass (UNICEF estimates the number of children in need of help at a million) is made worse by the Ukrainian government blocking food and medicine supplies to the country’s southeast.

We, for our part, are doing everything we can to aid the population in need. By March 23, 2017, Russia had sent to the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics 62 humanitarian convoys carrying over 66,700 tonnes of supplies – mainly food, medicine, fuel, construction materials, electrical equipment and generators, farming equipment, and school books.

According to Russia’s Federal Migration Service, the number of Ukrainians currently in Russia was 2,300,320 as of March 16, including 1,015,214 from south-eastern Ukraine. There are 31 temporary settlements in 14 constituent entities, and Ukrainian refugees receive regular food and other aid and medical care.

I would like to touch on fake news and hoaxes – in fact, blatant misinformation – in this context. I announced a figure today that shows that Russia has sent over 60 humanitarian convoys to the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. Just remember what it all began with: tweets and Western press reports about Russia launching an armed invasion of Ukraine. Convoys in duly marked white lorries were made out to be carrying armoured vehicles and not humanitarian aid.

Who is circulating fake news? I don’t think the culprits are hard to find. Everyone is keeping silent for some reason now. No one spots a single humanitarian convoy in Donbass, no one is tweeting anything of the sort, and we don’t see any relevant contributions in the Western press. I don’t think we will see any, for that matter.




LATEST EVENTS

25.04.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions during a joint news conference with OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, Moscow, April 25, 2017

I have held talks with OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier and his delegation. OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier has come to Moscow to attend the sixth Moscow International Security Conference sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defence. We welcome this opportunity to hold a detailed exchange of views on current issues on the OSCE agenda.


25.04.2017 - Draft OPCW decision on Syria chemical incident that Russia proposed and UK opposed

DRAFT DECISION ADDRESSING THE SITUATION AROUND THE ALLEGED USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN THE KHAN SHAYKHUN AREA OF SOUTHERN IDLIB IN THE SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC The Executive Council, Noting with grave concern reports regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Khan Shaykhun area of Southern Idlib in the Syrian Arab Republic on 4 April 2017; Underlining that the use of any chemical weapons and toxic chemicals as a weapon anywhere by anyone and under any circumstances is reprehensible and completely contrary to the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (hereinafter “the Convention”) and all norms of international law and affirming that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable; Recognising the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and its readiness to continue the cooperation with the OPCW; Welcoming the request of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic for assistance in ensuring immediate and impartial investigation in the Khan Shaykhun area of Southern Idlib and the Shayrat airbase, as well as its readiness to ensure free and safe access to the Shayrat airbase, as contained in the letter to theDirector-General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat (hereinafter “the Secretariat”) dated 11 April 2017;


24.04.2017 - Foreign Ministry statement on the OSCE car explosion in Ukraine

According to statements coming from the OSCE, on the morning of April 23, 2017 an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission vehicle returning from a patrol, experienced a mine explosion in the district of Slavyanoserbsky, Lugansk Region, two kilometres away from the line of contact, resulting in the death of one paramedic from the United States working as a contractor with the OSCE. International monitors who were also in the vehicle were wounded.


21.04.2017 - Victory Day Сelebrations in the UK

Programme of 9 May Victory Day celebrations around UK


21.04.2017 - Embassy Press Officer on Sir Alan Duncan’s comments regarding protection of rights of LGBT community in Russia

On 20 April Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Sir Alan Duncan, speaking in the Commons, accused the Government of Chechnya of inciting violence against LGBT people, persecution of gays and ill-treatment of over 100 men because of their sexual orientation. These allegations are solely based on publications in the “Novaya Gazeta” newspaper and are not supported by any other proven data. Russian law enforcement authorities received no notifications from the so-called “victims” of threats. Nevertheless, they conducted proper checks, which didn’t reveal any evidence of violence and ill-treatment of LGBT persons.


21.04.2017 - Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s interview with Kommersant newspaper, published April 19, 2017

Question: Do you know when and where President of Russia Vladimir Putin will meet with US President Donald Trump? Sergey Ryabkov: We have reaffirmed our readiness for such a meeting several times. We understand that contacts at the highest level are crucial for adjusting the agenda, areas of focus and the direction we are moving in.


20.04.2017 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on the planned meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Spitsbergen

In connection with media reports on the plans to hold a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Spitsbergen in May, we believe it is necessary to make the following statement.


19.04.2017 - "Diplomacy of Plants" Article by Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov and Regius Keeper of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Mr Simon Milne in "the Herald" newspaper, published 12.04.2017

The key commonality between plant science and diplomacy it is the sensitivity towards passing seasons. Both must learn to adapt to withstand good times and bad. In an unsettled period for world politics and diplomacy some respite is sorely needed. When diplomatic relations are strained, innovative and creative approaches to building bridges between nations is even more in demand.


19.04.2017 - Press release on the Foreign Ministry reception to mark Orthodox Easter

Оn April 18, a reception was held at the Reception House of the Russian Foreign Ministry on behalf of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the occasion of Orthodox Easter. Attending were Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Russian Orthodox Church hierarchs, representatives of traditional faiths, Russian state officials, public figures, and diplomats.


18.04.2017 - Embassy Press Officer response to a media question on British unilateral chemical weapons investigation

Question: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently stated that British scientists conducted analysis of samples obtained from the site of the incident in Khan Sheikhoun. Yesterday Sergey Lavrov said that given the seriousness of the situation, Russia requested the FCO to provide detailed information on this British effort to upstage the competent international body, which is OPCW. Did you get the answer? Response: Not yet.



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