18 March 2018
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Ambassador Yakovenko contributes to the ongoing debate in The Financial Times on the issue of European security architecture:


25 years after the Cold War end it’s clear that something is wrong with the European security architecture. Otherwise we would have no Ukraine crisis on our lap. It is an established fact that there has been no formal post-Cold War settlement. And it is a truth if not universally acknowledged, but gaining support among experts and observers, that this constitutes a major flaw with far-reaching consequences.
Yes, we do have the OSCE and the Paris Charter of 1990, and even the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). But they are all pieces of a patchwork, inherited mostly from the previous era. The Charter is about political commitments of general nature. The OSCE hasn’t been able to evolve into a full-fledged regional security organization, as provided for in the Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. It has stuck at the stage of the League of Nations, as impotent in ensuring equal security for all in the Euro-Atlantic. It even does not have a charter of its own. The NRC has proved to be incapable of being an all-weather forum, first at the time of the Caucasus crisis in August 2008. Since the Rome declaration of 2002 we haven’t been able to get from our NATO partners the definition of substantial forces they promised not to deploy in new member-states on a permanent basis.
This incoherent construction is hugely distorted by continued existence of the NATO, which, bent on preserving its place of privilege in the European security architecture, insists on legally binding security guarantees to be enjoyed exclusively by its members. That is a key obstacle to the declared goal of indivisible security in our region. Thus, we have various levels of security in Europe. Like in physics, difference of potentials generates voltage in the circuit, or tension in the system.
This electricity begets the NATO’s eastward expansion, which brings its military infrastructure to Russia’s doorstep. It might have looked like a smart policy of pursuing dual objective of extending the Alliance’s reach while hedging its bets on Russia. But not now, that the NATO retreats into its cocoon of territorial defense.
Lord Hannay (FT, Letters, 16 October) knows better than others that nothing is automatic in international relations. In 2004 he was in charge of the Cyprus settlement dossier and could see that the imminent EU membership wouldn’t change the Cypriot Government’s negative position on the Annan plan. And the very fact of the Ukraine crisis proves precisely that. Either we have a genuine collective security, or we have got something else.
Let’s have a look at history. After the defeat of Napoleon, France, which shed the Emperor’s personal territorial acquisitions, was invited by the victors to the top table of European politics at the Congress of Vienna. That Churchillian magnanimity in victory ensured 40 years of calm in Europe. The Crimean War, which was declared on Russia in the name of maintaining the European balance, resulted in the opposite, opening the door to the Franco-Prussian War and the wrong unification of Germany as a Greater Prussia (not as a federation it became after two world wars).
The Versaille system didn’t follow the Congress of Vienna example. It left isolated both the Soviet Russia and Germany. No regional collective security system was designed, with the borders of Germany’s eastern neighbours not guaranteed. The attempts to address this flaw, including the Eastern Pact/Locarno failed, leading to the Eastern European nations fending for themselves, mostly through conclusion of bilateral non-aggression treaties with Germany. The final outcome is known, and that includes the folly of anticipating Germany to direct its aggression eastwards first and the Phoney War.
It is also important to remember, that originally the settlement after WWI was supposed to be on a no-victors-no-losers basis. But the November revolution in Germany helped derail this rational arrangement in favor of the flawed Versaille system. Germany was vilified to play to the French and British public opinion to justify the terrible cost of the Great War. The Palmerston Ministry, for the same reasons, insisted, on humiliating provisions of the Peace of Paris of 1856.
History shows, that revolutionary/violent destruction of constitutional order always leaves a nation exposed to civil war, foreign intervention and all sorts of contingencies. The British saw it in XVII-XVIII centuries (till Bonnie Prince Charlie’s final defeat, although America’s War of Independence would qualify as Act 3 of the English revolution). So did the French in their revolution, and Russia early in the XXth Century.
Martin Wolf (FT, 17 September) admits, that the West is partly responsible for the present crisis. The West, indeed, ludicrously focused on who would pay the Soviet debt. That petty mindedness and failure of imagination defied the lessons of European history. That is why many believe that the so called “Kremlin policies” are the consequence rather than the reason.
Russia has always been, at least over the past three centuries, a part and parcel of Europe and European politics, sharing in joys and triumphs, as well as tragedies. Our preemptive attack in East Prussia in August (on a much greater scale than the Charge of the light brigade at Balaclava) prevented 1914 turning in 1940, with all due respect for the British thin line of defense, which saved the day by its counter-attack near Ypres at the end of October the same year.
We don’t want an adversarial relationship with our European partners, for both of us will lose. President Vladimir Putin talking recently to the Valdai Club in Sochi was honest in his assessment of the choice we are facing. It’s either further alienation with broader geopolitical flak, or drawing the line and starting to work collectively to deal with the damage already done in Europe and elsewhere, and putting international response to common challenges, particularly in the Middle East, on a sound legal and policy foundation.
Naturally, it has to start in Europe. The US have developed, under Madeleine Albright, the tactics of constructive ambiguity, which provides enough flexibility for all to avoid painting ourselves into the corner as regards the Ukrainian crisis. But ambivalence in the transient European security architecture, that got stuck somewhere between Versaille and Vienna, doesn’t serve any positive purpose any longer. We need something overarching and cooperative that would leave no space for motives and temptations to shift old divisive lines as a policy by default. It means further institutionalization of the OSCE, our idea of a European security treaty and a joint missile defense for Europe.
The time to act on the lessons of the Ukrainian stress test is now. We know that European transformation of Ukraine cannot be managed unilaterally and on the cheap. As President Poroshenko said, the challenge of reintegration of the south-east, which can only be done peacefully, provides a strong incentive for fundamental reforms. Nobody needs Ukraine as a geopolitical dependency.
Like any crisis, this one represents a rare opportunity to fix what needs to be fixed. All the more so that we know that no military solutions are possible in Europe today, both domestically and internationally. That is what have in common, in my view, the real tragedy in South-Eastern Ukraine, high drama of the NATO summit in Wales and comedia dell’arte in Sweden’s territorial waters. And even Gideon Rachman’s raising, quite surrealistically, the spectre of use of theatre nuclear weapons in Europe (FT, 12 November) proves precisely that.
In much broader terms, the state of European security is just another sign of our region still living in the XXth century. Like the present economic and financial crisis, including banks too big to fail and financial alchemy of the past thirty years, it resists effort to bring it into the new century. It’s also about the state of elites, who, unlike a hundred years ago, have no option of a big war. Hopefully, ushering in another century will be less tragic this time, but kicking and screaming we’ll see a lot. Perhaps, it was the real promise, held out by the fall of the Berlin wall 25 years ago. Certainly, it was not about construction of new walls, sanctions, isolation and disengagement, which provided the comfort of segregated existence in the century that has run its course.



17.03.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Mail on Sunday" (full text)

Q: Bearing in mind that the US, France and Germany have said they agree with Britain that all the evidence suggests the attacks in Salisbury were the responsibility of the Russian state, what credibility can be placed on the denials issued by the Russian Government? A:We don't know if UK presented any evidence to US, France and Germany - highly likely none - but if they did, why not present it through the channels outlined in the Chemical Weapons Convention? Universal legal principle is presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof lies with the British Government. Its record includes the Iraq WMD dossier - you will remember that at some point doubting US and UK claims was considered a wild conspiracy theory. It is not any more.

26.01.2018 - Main foreign policy outcomes of 2017

In 2017, Russian diplomacy addressed multidimensional tasks to ensure national security and create a favourable external environment for our country's progressive development. Russia maintained an independent foreign policy, promoted a unifying agenda, and proposed constructive solutions to international problems and conflicts. It developed mutually beneficial relations with all interested states, and played an active role in the work of the UN, multilateral organisations and forums, including the G20, BRICS, the SCO, the OSCE, and the CSTO. Among other things, Russian policy has sought to prevent the destabilisation of international relations, and this responsible policy has met with broad understanding in the international community.

17.01.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the unveiling of memorial plaque in Sayes Court Park

Dear Mayor, Dear Councillors, Lady Joan, Ladies and gentlemen, It is now 320 years ago that a truly remarkable man set foot in Deptford. As you know, the Russian Tsar Peter, later named the Great, visited Western Europe in 1697—1698 under the nickname of Peter Mikhailov, with his Grand Embassy. He was eager to find out about the latest achievements in science and technology and create new diplomatic alliances. Of course, England couldn’t escape his attention. He mostly studied shipbuilding at the famous Deptford Dockyard, but he also met King William III, and, reportedly, Isaac Newton. Peter’s landlord, the famous John Evelyn, was also a respected scientist – a founder member of the Royal Society.

13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.

08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)

25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.

20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.

16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation

25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.

23.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at presentation of the book "The Mystery of Repentance" held at the Russian Embassy

I’m glad to welcome you here to a discussion of two prominent hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of England, on Christian future of Europe.

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