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



The Middle East: learning from history or repeating it? (by Ambassador Yakovenko, for the Daily Telegraph)

The successful conclusion of the talks with Iran on its nuclear program is a rare bright spot on the otherwise gloomy horizon of the Middle Eastern affairs. That is a fundamental breakthrough, including in terms of political psychology, upon which, in theory, a sustainable regional architecture could be built.
First of all, given a lot of opportunities missed, including Mohamed Khatami presidency and the late entry of Washington into the diplomatic process, it represents a triumph of common sense, the Westphalian principles and diplomatic method over ideology, political conjuncture and threats of force. The deal reached between the main protagonists, helped by multilateral environment and the flexibility it provides for a veritable give and take, testifies to the truth universally acknowledged nowadays, i.e. problems, both international and domestic, have no military solutions. It is highly encouraging that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as such regional powers like Germany and Iran, subscribed to this notion.
Among the myths shattered is the belief that unilateralism, especially military intervention, works. All unilateral actions of the past 25 years, proved to be utter failures, be it in Iraq, Libya or the Arabian Peninsula, the costs to the region and the world still mounting. A truly collective international effort in ways, perhaps, inscrutable helps find sober and pragmatic middle ground which offers hope of success. It saves from the temptation to simplify and cut corners. It clears the road to an agreed goal of hidden agendas of all the players concerned.
It is true for the next critical issue on the regional and, equally, international agenda which is the fight against the 'Islamic State'. Here, too, a genuine international effort is in the order of the day. Things like double containmen proved wrong for world powers. What grounds to believe that regional players left to their own devices will be smarter? That is why it is irresponsible to expect that

Sunni-Shia schism will provide a universal solution to all the problems of the region and a firewall of protection from adverse weather beyond one's borders. Those who try to manipulate this intra-Islamic conflict will light the fuses leading back home. At any rate, it would result in a substantial reordering of regional borders, massive displacement of population on the scale of partitioning of India in 1947, as well as economic disruption with huge consequences for global energy and financial markets.
President Vladimir Putin proposed establishing a broad coalition to fight this evil. To be effective it has to include all regional players, first of all Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have substantial potential to contribute to this effort. All international stakeholders should assist them, with legitimacy provided by a UN Security Council mandate.
All agree that airstrikes alone won't stop 'IS' and 'Jabhat al-Nusra' and those affiliated with them. It must be a coalition of the like-minded, including those who are fighting the extremists on the ground, i.e. the Syrian and Iraqi armies, the Kurds and the countries, which could provide assistance in that struggle. Russia already provides such assistance to Iraq and Syria. When President Vladimir Putin met Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman in June in Saint-Petersburg, he meant precisely this – a united front against terrorism. Search for political settlement in Syria should be reinvigorated on a realistic basis. Those were the main objectives of Moscow at the diplomatic round in Doha, Qatar. Two documents on Syria recently passed in rapid succession by the UN Security Council, that is Resolution 2235 on identifying perpetrators using chemical weapons and the President’s statement in support of Staffan de Mistura’s effort to restart political process, inspire hope.
There is no point in discussing the origins of the present situation in Iraq and Syria. It is the mortal threat it poses that counts. So called situative alliances with dubious entities or attempts to fight prospective allies on other fronts will doom the entire enterprise. Nobody in the region will be capable of ensuring its safety on such terms. On the contrary, it will prove to be self-defeating. It is not by chance that the word 'self-destruction' is now widely used in political analysis.
If only for the sake of humility, let's turn to European experience between two wars. Ideology was to blame, as well as calculus which turned out to be ridiculous in hindsight as it was disastrous for the region and the world at large in practice. The appeasement of Nazi Germany, meant to be a firewall against the Soviet Union and communism ended in tears, including the tragedies of Dunkirk and the fall of France and other European countries. Lack of trust and ideological fears muddied the water and distorted political analysis. But the need to deal with the existential threat of Nazism helped overcome those differences and fears in the final count.
Now, too, the Middle East is facing a similar threat of implosion. What is required of all the players is rallying around a single clear-cut purpose. Whatever domestic transformation imminent, it would be easier to manage collectively, with outside assistance and in a more benign environment. The fight against the IS is no substitute for reforms, rather a prerequisite and precondition for them. All the countries of the region are facing this challenge.
All agree that the region is in a catastrophic state, whether visible or not. Of course, the Cold War politics is to blame. The first wave of political awakening soon after the war was nipped in the bud. The overthrow of the Mossadegh government in Iran and the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in Congo were symbols of this counter-transformation. But after the Cold War ended, there remained no rational justification for the lack of transformative action. Business as usual, including stagnation in the Arab-Israeli settlement, could only be explained by hubris and the end-of-history euphoria which fed inertia and vain hope for things to sort out by themselves.
Now that it is obvious that no outside strategic oversight is possible in this region, the extraregional players acting in concert could provide assistance in finding regional solutions to regional problems. It is not about tutelage of the past, but a mature and honest talk of what is to be done and what kind of help can be provided. For outside players, it'll be dealing with their own problems, particularly threat of terrorism and uncontrolled migration, at their source.
Short of genuine regional cooperation, there will be no hope in the region, no stability and no development. This is the only way to find a sustainable solution to the migration crisis in Europe, too. People in the region, especially the young, with no prospects of education and jobs are facing the stark choice between emigration and joining the extremist outfits.
Old politics does not provide solutions to today's problems. All the more reason for us to help others learn the universal lessons of history, rather than let them repeat it. Outside players failed the region in the past. We cannot fail it now.



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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