17 November 2018
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258 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     250 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



Alexander Yakovenko for RT

Russia and the United Kingdom - these two powers, for centuries, have been tied into the most complicated relations: enemies at one time, and yet allies and cooperators at another. But now the temperature between the two is steadily going down, with Britain leading the anti-Russian sanctions and, just recently, coming out with allegations of Moscow’s involvement with a death of former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. What’s pushing London to make such statements? Does the Cold War-like vector of Cameron’s policy resonate with public opinion? How much is this public opinion is shaped by the voice of mainstream media? And, finally, is there a hope for a thaw? We ask the Russian Ambassador to the UK. Alexander Yakovenko is on Sophie&Co today.

Sophie Shevardnadze: Russian Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, thank you very much for being with us today. It’s great to finally have you on the show, so - ambassador, the latest report that accused President Putin for the killing of the former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko was far from conclusive, only hypothetically pointing to Moscow’s direct involvement - and we heard words like “probably”, “possibly”, “allegedly”. I mean, they are dominant throughout this document. If this report was largely based on assumptions, why did it receive so much hype in the UK?

Alexander Yakovenko: Basically, the investigation lasted so many years, and the only thing that we read in the press, this is some thoughts about that without any facts. The concluding investigation was secret, it wasn’t for the public, and of course, not for the press. We wanted to take part in this trial, but unfortunately, we were refused. So, our representatives, the representatives of the Russian government couldn’t participate in these hearings. We didn’t have a chance to read the papers and listen to the witnesses. For us, it’s difficult to accept, because it was secret, as I said, and, of course, everybody wanted to know what was the reality with that. All of us know, and that was said by his wife, that he worked for the MI6 and some other secret services, but today, unfortunately, this is the case. You rightly mentioned that in the judgement, it was said “probably”, “maybe” and so on - and that means that the judge wasn’t sure on the conclusions. It was secret, but he wasn’t sure on the conclusions which were made by the court. From my point of view, it’s absolutely unacceptable and this is, probably, the first such kind of trial in Britain. From my point of view it's’ a shame.

SS: The British PM David Cameron said the UK would have to have some sort of relationship with Russia, but said it would be “now done with clear eyes and very cold heart”. Were relations at different before?

AY: After the Litvinenko case we had difficult relations for all this time. There was a sanction regime… There were two elements there: there were restrictions to the visits of the Russian officials to the UK, the Russian officials who were taking part in different events, they couldn’t get the multiple visas and the period of their stay was limited just for a few days - this is first. The second one is that the British, they closed down any cooperation in fight against terrorism, so anti-terrorist cooperation was shut down. From point of view, that’s a big loss for the relations between two countries, but this is just the fact of life. Later on, we had some other restrictions from the British side, but of course they’ve got the reciprocity, and this is just the fact of life and here we are. But, the British side wisely said that they want to keep all the channels open and of course, we support this, and we believe that Britain should drop this policy with Russia…

SS: How so? Do you feel like British officials and diplomats are even able to look at Russia with clear eyes? Without the Cold War perceptions?

AY: I don’t what they mean by “clear eyes”. I would prefer them just look at us pragmatically.

SS: Commenting on the Litvinenko case, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it “regrets the politisation of the criminal case”. Who do you think is responsible for that - the government or the media hype surrounding the case?

AY: Basically, the media was very hostile, and the media wrote different stories. Of course, the regular people in the UK, they are just reading this, and of course, the media created a very negative atmosphere around Russia. We tried to object, but of course, the overwhelming number of the stories, they were anti-russian. This is first, and, by the way, when I was summoned to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the Litvinenko case and had a conversation with a Deputy Minister, they just forgot about the words “maybe”, “probably”, they said that Russia did this. From my point of view, this is absolutely unacceptable and of course, we didn’t accept that.

SS: So you had the revival of the Litvinenko case, we have corruption allegations against Putin in the BBC news show, and a movie portraying the outbreak of the World War III, instigated by Russia, also a product of BBC as well - literally happened one after another. Some in Russia believe the timing was planned. Do you think there’s a chance this is a mere coincidence?

AY: I don’t think this is coincidence. This is part of the big campaign against Russia that we see for years. I think the reason for that is the differences that we have in some big political issues - first, on Syria, and of course, in Ukraine. This is sort of a pressure on Russian policy. It doesn’t work, but this is just the fact of life.


30.10.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with ''Moscow. Kremlin. Putin'' TV programme Moscow, October 25, 2018

Question: Why did US National Security Adviser John Bolton come to Moscow? Sergey Lavrov: To talk. There are many matters we need to discuss. We appreciate it that it is US National Security Adviser John Bolton who is especially proactive regarding ties with his colleagues in Moscow. Question: Is this a joke? Sergey Lavrov: Not at all. Actually, we have meetings with Mr Bolton more often than with our other colleagues. He was here in July, and now he is back again. In between, he met with Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva. We believe that it is important when such a high-ranking official takes interest in the practical matters on our bilateral agenda.

24.10.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's introductory remarks at the opening of the 2nd Russia-UK Raw Materials Dialogue, 24 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, To me as Russian Ambassador to the UK, it is a privilege to address such an important Russian-British conference. The 2nd Russian-UK Raw Materials Dialogue has a great meaning for the professional community in our countries, for it covers a broad range of different topics from mining technologies, new material development and use of natural resources to international academic and scientific exchanges.

27.09.2018 - Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN Security Council meeting, September 26, 2018

Mr President, Colleagues, In the modern world, an efficient fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is becoming increasingly important for global and regional stability and the reliable security of all states without exception. Constructive cooperation in this area is an important component of the efforts to shape a positive international agenda. I think everybody agrees that the UN Security Council resolutions that outline specific measures against violations of non-proliferation must be strictly observed. Resolution 1540 remains the basis for this and contains obligations for the member states to take specific measures to prevent non-government agents from accessing weapons of mass destruction and their components. The UNSC decisions taken in pursuance of this resolution are particularly important as they include sanctions for handing over any types of weapons to terrorists. There have been incidents of such handovers and they must be thoroughly investigated.

07.09.2018 - Remarks by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the UNSC meeting on the incident in Salisbury

Q: Do you expect British sanctions on Russia soon? A: We are not expecting or afraid of anything. Taking to the account how things have been developing during the recent years we do not exclude anything. This discussion and yesterday’s speech by the British Prime-Minister in the British Parliament are not coincidental. I think that’s looks like a prelude to a new political season. Q: So, Ambassador it’s really coming from the highest level in the UK. A: It always comes from the highest level. Last time when the incident took place it also came from the highest level. Q: But it seems that you are not taking it seriously. A: We are taking it very seriously. We were saying it all the time. Why we’ve been asking for cooperation with the UK from day one. Only few minutes ago Ambassador Pierce was referring to an ultimatum that Boris Johnson made in his letter to the Russian Ambassador in London when the incident took place presented as a request by the British site to cooperate while in fact it was a demand to to accept the gilt. At the same time our requests which we sent to British authorities constantly through OPCW and bilaterally were ignored.

06.09.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show on Channel One, Moscow, September 4, 2018

Question: Today we have a special guest in our studio, one of the main participants in the “great game”, someone the future of the world really depends on in many ways: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. We are happy to welcome you in the Great Game studio. Sergey Lavrov: Thanks for inviting me.

22.08.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comment on UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's anti-Russian claims

At a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's urges to European partners to slap their own sanctions on Russia in connection with the Salisbury incident.

16.08.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Salisbury Journal"

The Russian Ambassador said he stands together with the people of Salisbury in a meeting with the Journal last week, as the United States announced new sanctions against the country. Speaking at his official residence in Kensington Palace Gardens on Thursday, Alexander Yakovenko said: “We are together with the people of Salisbury.”

24.06.2018 - Greeting by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for the Znaniye school Family Day (Ealing, 24 June 2018)

Dear friends and guests, I am delighted to welcome you at a Family Day celebrating Russia and the World Cup. Today, Russia is the place to be for the whole world. It is a great pleasure to hear fans from all continents appreciating Russia’s hospitality, friendliness and openness to everyone. Right now, people from virtually every country see the 11 host cities, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals on the border of Europe and Asia, and realize how diverse and beautiful our country is. We’d like to bring a bit of Russia and the excitement of the World Cup to Ealing, for those who couldn’t make it to the tournament. By the way, so far both our teams are doing very well, and let us hope they keep up this good work. We cheer for both Russia and England but I’m afraid this can change if both teams meet at the semi-finals.

20.06.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, May 30, 2018

Mr Dynkin, Colleagues and friends, Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for a new opportunity to speak at the international forum named after Academician Evgeny Primakov, an outstanding Russian statesman, academic and public figure. It is indeed a great honour for me. I consider Mr Primakov, with whom I worked at the Foreign Ministry in the latter half of the 1990s, my senior comrade and teacher, as probably do the majority of those who crossed paths with him at one point. Holding this representative conference under the aegis of one of Russia’s leading academic institutes – National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) that also bears Primakov’s name – has become a good tradition. The Primakov Readings have earned a reputation as a venue for serious dialogue of authoritative specialists on the most pressing issues of international politics and the global economy. Today, there is no lack of buzzwords used by politicians, experts and scientists to capture the current moment in international relations. They talk about the crisis of the “liberal world order” and the advent of the post-Western era, “hot peace” and the “new cold war”. The abundance of terms itself shows that there is probably no common understanding of what is happening. It also points to the fairly dynamic and contradictory state of the system of international relations that is hard to characterise, at least at the present stage, with one resounding phrase. The authors of the overarching theme of the current Primakov Readings probably handled the challenge better than others. In its title “Risks of an unstable world order’ they provocatively, and unacademically, combine the words “unstable” and “order”.

21.04.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's talking points at the Press Conference, 20 April 2018

Since we met last time a lot of events took place: - Military strikes of the United States, UK and France against Syria in violation of the international law - Mission by OPCW inspectors to Douma - Speech of Prime Minister May in Parliament in support of the British aggression against Syria - Special meeting of the OPCW Executive Council (18 April 2018) - New developments in the classified case of Salisbury poisoning of Skripal family - No meaningful developments on the Glushkov case - and Cyber security threats I plan to comment all these issues. And I will be happy to answer all our questions, if you have any.

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