18 December 2018
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289 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     281 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



Ukraine crisis: facing a Cold War mindset (by Russian Ambassador to UK Alexander Yakovenko, special to RBTH, Full text)

The Ukraine crisis served as a trigger of a broader crisis in the West-Russia relationship. Today, a year and a half after it started, what are the stakes and the bets?
First, the declared objective of the EU’s Ukraine policy is to have it firmly integrated in a Greater Europe. We have no problem with that, all the more so that Ukraine’s transformation is long overdue and in everybody’s interest.
But why acting secretly and unilaterally, rather than openly and multilaterally? We had always been told by the EU, that a routine Association Agreement with Ukraine was in the works. We never minded. But then, all of a sudden, it turned out that a Deep and Comprehensive FTA was going to be part of that. When we enquired, we were told that it was none of our business. Though it was obvious, and recognized later on, that such an FTA was not compatible with Ukraine’s membership in the CIS FTA. Why then not full membership, which would have been honest and transparent?
The Financial Times (on 7 April) had to admit that “in Ukraine’s case, the ENP’s mechanical approach blinded EU policy makers in 2013”. The paper called on Brussels unaccountable bureaucracy “to avoid such mistakes”. The Lords in its February report also concluded that the EU sleep-walked into the current crisis. Alfred Tennyson’s line “Some one had blunder’d” comes to mind. In any case, the EU made a risky foray into old geopolitics with its expansionism on the cheap. Why lay the blame for one’s errors of judgement and failures of imagination at Russia’s door?
Second, we will never put up with a war by proxy on our border. When we get the response from Nato general’s mouths, rather than their guns’ muzzles, it would be laughable, had it not been for the death and destruction caused by Kiev’s Orwellian anti-terrorist operation (ATO). The New York Times was right when in its editorial (July 3, 2014) it described Kiev’s decision not to extend the June truce, but conduct the ATO as a fateful step.
Ed Lucas, writing in The Times on 12 August 2014, was appalled by the prospect of the West “bankrolling indefinitely a failing state, run by corrupt politicians, oligarchs and paramilitary thugs”. So far, the developments in Ukraine have not proved that prediction wrong. The choice is clear: it is either war or transformative reforms. Kiev still insists on the military solution, which undermines the Minsk agreements and the Normandy Four effort.
Third, President B.Obama in his CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria in February did admit that the US “had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine”, i.e. behind the backs of the German, French and Polish Foreign Ministers who helped reach the 21 February agreement between President V.Yanukovich and parliamentary opposition. The US, thus, endorsed the power grab which destroyed the politics of consensus and constitutional order that had held the country together for 23 years. The people in the Crimea fled revolutionary chaos and violence of an obviously nationalistic and repressive regime.
For Russia, when the cause of Ukraine’s territorial integrity was lost in the coup, the interests of the people on the ground became a paramount concern. Is it not in line with Europe’s post-modernist values, relegating a state’s sovereignty to the status of a secondary concern?
Fourth, Russia is accused of waging an effective propaganda campaign with the West and Brussels’ Eurocrats “outgunned”. Maybe, the reason is they cannot manage the truth, which is the ATO and its consequences, including indiscriminate shelling of civilian infrastructure and civilian population. But, first of all, the West cannot explain why Kiev has chosen war over political settlement. And I fully agree with The Economist that innovative thinking is in scarce supply in Europe. Mark Mazower (“FT”, 14 April) wrote about “fossilised habits of thought” as one of the problems of the Cold War, which make it difficult for the West to come to grips with complexity of a changing world.
The recipes are obvious – no prospect of Nato membership for Ukraine and federalization of a divided country (the latter option favoured by Vernon Bogdanor on The FT’s pages). Henry Kissinger and Zb. Brzezinski are among those who support these outcomes.
Finally, on rules-based order and Russia’s revisionism. It is a tricky issue. It seems that in the West it is deemed to be the Cold War reality minus the Soviet Union and Warsaw Treaty. The Soviet Union was once, at the time of the Cultural Revolution, accused of revisionism. That is nothing new to Russia, the home of avant-garde art. Remember that there was no formal post-Cold War settlement in Europe. Recently, the Ditchley Foundation conference came to the conclusion that “it was difficult to see how current tensions could be resolved without moves towards a new security system” in Europe. Anyway, in this particular case the EU laid down the rules of unilateralism which we thoroughly followed.
George Friedman (of “Stratfor”) revealed to the Chicago Council on global affairs, that the Ukraine crisis represents America’s grand strategy to establish a cordon sanitaire to keep Russia and Germany apart. So far this conspiracy against Europe succeeds. Hopefully, the Europeans, who, to borrow from T.S.Eliot, have had the experience, but missed the meaning, will wake up to the reality and will not allow their continent to be raped by divide-and-rule tactics.
The revisionism outcry betrays politics and policies of status quo, which are challenged not only by Russia but by the EU electorate. The present systemic European crisis testifies to the unsustainability and untenability of an order and mindset, rooted in the Cold War era. The radically evolving regional and global context will ultimately determine the outcome. A new mainstream is taking shape. And Russia is proud to be part of this process, to be on the side of common sense and truths universally acknowledged, that underlie it.


09.08.2018 - Letter from Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to the Guardian’s editor

In response to the Ambassador Beruchashvili’s letter, offering not so much a recollection of the August 2008 events in the Caucasus, but rather a misleading reiteration of the Georgian claims against Russia I have to refer to some of the universally recognized facts and consequences resulting from those tragic events.

24.07.2018 - Eastern Economic Forum: the East is bright (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

When talking about Russia’s Far East, you invariably remember its stunning natural beauty, abundance in natural resources and vast territories. But when one thinks of its investments prospects, you also invariably remember its harsh climate, low average population density and the lack of transport and other infrastructure. But now the situation is changing fundamentally. The region is undergoing a huge and qualitative revival. The development of the region has been declared one of the national priorities for Russia. In the last 5 years 18 advanced development zones and 5 free ports have been established in the Russian Far East. Long-term tax exemptions have been provided for large investment projects. Paperless e-visas for visitors of Vladivostok are available for citizens of 18 countries.

03.05.2018 - SALISBURY: A CLASSIFIED CASE (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

On 4 March 2018 two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were reportedly poisoned in Salisbury, Wiltshire with the toxic chemical named A-234 under the British classification. On 12 March Foreign Secretary Johnson summoned me to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and said that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the attack. He invited us to respond by the next day, whether this had been a direct act by the state or Russia had lost control over this nerve agent. The incident had international repercussions, including expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from 28 countries, notwithstanding the fact that the charges were based on assumptions and unverifiable intelligence. The Western countries lost the same number of Moscow-based staff. Meanwhile, the British government provided no evidence either to the public, its allies or Russia. Subsequent events revealed that no proof of Russia’s involvement existed. On 1 May, National Security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill confirmed that (despite a number of previous leaks) no suspect had been identified, a statement that speaks for itself.

14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.

26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.

29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?

18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.

05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.

05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.

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