4 July 2020
Moscow: 08:25
London: 06:25

Consular queries:  
+44 (0) 203 668 7474  

853 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     845 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to questions from Rossiyskaya Gazeta editorial office and its regional partners during a business breakfast, Moscow, February 10, 2020

Question: There are numerous reports in the media about preparations for the upcoming Defender-Europe 20 military exercise, due to take place this May in a number of Eastern European countries. This will be the largest US military exercise in the past 25 years. Given the considerable cooling in relations between Russia and NATO, are we witnessing the birth of a new Cold War?

Sergey Lavrov: During the Cold War, there were large-scale operations aimed at expanding the armed forces in Europe, including a more substantial US presence. This included Operation Return of Forces Germany (REFORGER), when the Americans made themselves at home in Germany and now they have dozens of military installations there. Germany now has a tremendous foreign military presence, but that is NATO affairs.

Regarding the Defender-Europe 20 exercise, we would like to ask who it is that they want to defend themselves from. They say it is not intended to defend themselves from Russia but from an enemy that has a comparable military potential. In that case, it is difficult to find a target for these efforts that would have a comparable scale. If we look at the official data (not Russia’s but foreign) on defence spending and military equipment, including all types of weapons without exception, such as tanks, warplanes, attack helicopters, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, warships and submarines, then we will see that NATO’s European members alone, without the US potential, surpass the Russian Armed Forces by over 100 percent. I don’t know where they have found a comparable enemy.

Of course, Russia is not a dominant military force in Europe. NATO has this status. Although the region is already filled to overflowing with military installations, and although NATO’s eastward expansion has already created serious problems in the area of strategic stability in Europe, NATO continues to merge with the European Union. NATO is trying to hold joint exercises and to involve in them neutral states, such as Finland and Sweden, under the pretext of EU membership. They have invented the term Military Schengen in the context of NATO-EU military cooperation. It provides for the modernisation of all transport arteries all the way to the Alliance’s eastern border in such a way that the largest military equipment would be able to move eastwards unhindered. I believe that this alone is enough to understand the danger of these games. 

Preparations for the Defender-Europe 20 exercise, due to take place in April-May 2020, were launched a long time ago. In addition to the already deployed military contingents in the region, there are plans to redeploy many thousands of units of US equipment, as well as over 20,000 US service personnel.  This is formally a US military exercise, but other NATO members and partners are also invited to take part. This is an interesting aspect. I don’t know the reasons for this, but it can probably be explained by the fact that the Americans find it much easier to organise and implement everything under their own plans, without abiding by any symbolic NATO discipline, although the Commander in Chief of United States Army Europe also serves as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. This exercise is to involve over 40,000 officers and soldiers. Naturally, we will respond. We cannot ignore processes that cause grave concern, but we will respond in such a way as not to create any unnecessary risks.

This is inevitable, and I hope that any reasonable military commander and politician realises this. Those who provoke such absolutely unwarranted exercises want to see retaliatory measures that would aggravate tensions still further. But an important point to bear in mind is that all our efforts in response to the creation of security threats with regard to Russia by NATO are take place exclusively on Russian territory. Equally, Russia keeps its nuclear weapons on its own territory, unlike the United States.

Question: Strategic stability matters have long been one of the pillars of Russia-US relations, and to some extent guaranteed stability around the world. However, over the past years the US administration has taken steps that reversed these achievements, at least in part. In particular, the US is openly hampering the renewal of the New START. Do you believe that the situation may change after the US presidential election? Back in the days when Rex Tillerson was US Secretary of State, you had an agreement to establish a working group for resolving disputed matters. Is it working on renewing the New START?

Sergey Lavrov: Let me begin with your last question. The group is working, albeit without much success. There were 12 or 13 meetings over the past years. I cannot recall the exact number. Even before Rex Tillerson, meetings of this kind consisted of a Russian representative merely listing to his US counterpart the concerns, unacceptable actions by the US administration, citing examples and handing over memos to this effect. These documents contained all the possible grievances, from the seizure of Russian diplomatic property and voluntarist cuts in the personnel of the Russian diplomatic missions, to the kidnapping of Russian nationals Viktor But, Konstantin Yaroshenko, Roman Seleznyov and to name just a few. There were also problems related to how Russians were treated in US prisons, whether they enjoyed normal conditions, etc. The American side would promise us that they would look into these matters, at the same time advising Russia to stop interfering in US domestic affairs, arguing that everything is related, and that there is no crime without punishment. The same old story over and over again, as the saying goes.

During my trip to Washington last December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and I agreed to give a new impetus to the Russia-US dialogue in order to achieve at least some progress. US President Donald Trump has also said that we needed to get along.

The new US Ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, arrived in Moscow. He assured us that he wants to facilitate progress at least on some specific matters, although before that we need to put our bilateral relations back on track. The prospects for making specific steps have been quite hazy so far. We somehow managed to revive counterterrorism dialogue. This is one of the fields that should be free from any artificial barriers. Over the past years there were a couple of instances when the US passed on intelligence enabling us to prevent terrorist attacks in Russia. We have also been doing it since the Boston Marathon attack. It could seem that we have resumed contacts along these lines. When in October 2019 Washington proposed continuing consultations, we agreed on adopting a joint statement on counterterrorism as part of my visit in order to send a positive signal, showing that Russia and the US can share the same positions and subscribe to them. But when I arrived there it turned out that they were not able to get the necessary approvals on time, or something like this. Today, working with our US partners on specific matters is a challenge.

But let us go back to strategic stability. This is a matter of concern for Russia and the US, and also for the rest of the world. The very framework of the international architecture is falling apart. The INF Treaty followed in its demise that of the ABM Treaty. They rejected our proposal to introduce a moratorium on building and deploying missiles of this kind. They accuse us of deception regarding the INF Treaty, arguing that the moratorium we propose boils down to the following: we already have Iskander systems that can deliver missiles that are banned under the treaty, while the US lacks intermediate-range means of delivery. They argue that we want to maintain our intermediate-range missiles, while denying the US the possibility of building them.

We have a clear and specific answer to these allegations. In the fall of 2019, after the US withdrew from the INF Treaty, President of Russia Vladimir Putin sent a message to more than 50 heads of state and government, including the US, all NATO members, as well as other non-NATO neutral European countries, and Asia-Pacific countries (since the US also intends to deploy intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in this part of the world as well). We have not made this message public, but I can tell you that it sets out the background of this question, stressing that there is not a single fact to back the claim made by the United States that we tested the 9М729 missile on a range prohibited by the INF Treaty. Since the US has satellite imagery, they could at least show us a single image confirming their allegations and contradicting Russia’s arguments. They have no evidence of Russia violating the treaty. The US refused to attend a demonstration of a new cruise missile organised by the Russian Defence Ministry together with the Foreign Ministry in January 2019, and advised other NATO countries against attending. They called it just a show and a sham. This is not a proper way for transacting serious business. If you want to prove that it was a sham, just come here and prove it. During the event, participants could ask questions and provide comments. Russian representatives answered questions for two hours during the briefing. However, out of all the NATO members only Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey were represented. But they lack the kind of expertise the US has on these matters. The presence of US experts at the demonstration would have helped them better understand what they are dealing with.

President Vladimir Putin’s message said: we suggest that the US and its allies join our moratorium on the deployment of medium and smaller-range missiles, including the creation of a possible verification mechanism. They are attempting to disregard this altogether, avoiding any mention of it as a matter of principle. They tell us: no, you are cheating, you do have missiles of this sort, they are on alert duty, they were developed long ago and deployed in violation of the treaty that was in force at that time. As for the moratorium-cum-verification proposal, they are attempting to drown it in verbiage. Only President of France Emmanuel Macron said in public that he still had problems with regard to how Russia had implemented the treaty, but he was ready to respond to President Putin’s message. All other NATO members (obviously, on orders from Washington) are keeping mum.

The Americans have plans to deploy medium and shorter-range missiles in the Asia Pacific Region. In this context, Japan and South Korea are mentioned. Both countries have declared that they have no intention of allowing the deployment of these missiles. But if the Americans are keen to deploy the missiles there, I do not think that this is impossible. Some exotic mid-Pacific islands are also mentioned. As is clear – and they are not concealing it – these measures are aimed at containing China. But the geographic distances are such that, if the US medium and shorter-range missiles are deployed at those points, much of Russia’s territory will be exposed to an attack, while in case of Japan or [South] Korea, the entire Russian territory all the way to the Urals will be covered. Of course, we will have to respond. This is why we have been explaining in very concrete terms to the ASEAN and APR countries, including Japan and South Korea, what risks these “games” are fraught with.

As for the New START Treaty, we have repeatedly proposed its extension. President Vladimir Putin told his US counterpart at the G20 summit in Osaka last June how important it was to extend the Treaty and do this as soon as possible. Last May, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Sochi, President Putin drew his attention to this fact as well.

The Americans are constantly trying to impose on us an option involving China’s accession to the debate on the medium and shorter-range missiles as well as the New START Treaty. But China has repeatedly stated in public that it will not join these talks because the structure of its nuclear forces is radically different from that of Russia and the United States. In terms of numbers, these forces are also a far cry from the level where China would be ready to talk of some balance. If China suddenly changes its mind, we will be pleased to participate in multilateral talks. But we will not try to convince China. If the Americans are quite sure that it makes no sense to take any further steps on the New START Treaty without China, let them get down to business on this all on their own. We, for our part, believe that it does make sense to extend the New START that will expire in one year’s time. If we fail to do this, there will be no such agreement after February 5, 2021.

Even if a multilateral process gets under way, it will be utterly protracted. There are no talks on such a serious theme that could be concluded in just a few months. Therefore, we ought to have a safety net in an extended New START Treaty even from the reputational and political point of view: no one should accuse Russia and the United States of letting a legally binding instrument in the area of strategic stability collapse. We have told the Americans as much. They are still silent. Are they worried that we might put forward some preconditions to the extension of the treaty? Nothing of the kind! President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made public statements to the effect that we suggest extending the New START Treaty without preconditions. But the Americans would respond with media plants to the effect that China should join the agreement.           



24.06.2020 - President Vladimir Putin's speech at the military parade marking 75th anniversary of Great Victory, 24 June 2020

People of Russia, Our dear veterans, Foreign guests, Soldiers and sailors, sergeants, warrant officers and ensigns, Officers, generals and admirals, I wish you all the best on the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. A victory that determined the future of the planet for decades to come and went down in history as the grandest in its scale, significance and moral value. This year, the traditional Victory Day celebrations are being held in Russia on June 24. Exactly 75 years ago, the legendary victors paraded right here, along the Kremlin wall, to commemorate the end of the Great Patriotic War. That parade went down in history as a triumph of unprecedented scale, the triumph of good over evil, of peace over war, and life over death.

19.06.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions during a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei, Minsk, June 19, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to our Belarusian friends for the warm welcome accorded to our delegation.

18.06.2020 - Article by President of Russia Vladimir Putin '75th Anniversary of the Great Victory: Shared Responsibility to History and our Future'

75 years have passed since the end of the Great Patriotic War. Several generations have grown up over the years. The political map of the planet has changed. The Soviet Union that claimed an epic, crushing victory over Nazism and saved the entire world is gone. Besides, the events of that war have long become a distant memory, even for its participants. So why does Russia celebrate the 9th of May as the biggest holiday? Why does life almost come to a halt on June 22? And why does one feel a lump rise in their throat? They usually say that the war has left a deep imprint on every family's history. Behind these words, there are fates of millions of people, their sufferings and the pain of loss. Behind these words, there is also the pride, the truth and the memory.

18.06.2020 - Article co-authored by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Serbian Kurir on June 18, 2020

Public discussions about possible outcomes of the Kosovo knot have become noticeably livelier recently. The United States and the EU are striving to make themselves an indispensable part of the settlement and are competing for the leading role in this process. In addition, as it happened before, they often disregard the opinions of other stakeholders, which fact calls into question the very possibility of finding a fair solution. Looking back into the recent past and analysing the regrettable consequences of external interference in the region’s affairs is something that must be done if we want to avoid making more mistakes. We also believe it is important to provide a general assessment of the current state of affairs and to outline our fundamental approaches to the Kosovo settlement.

17.06.2020 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on US Officials’ Statements on Russia's manipulation of the International Criminal Court

Last week, Washington announced more unilateral sanctions. Unfortunately, this has already become common practice for the United States. These sanctions are directed at an unusual target - not one of the many countries that are out of US favour, but the International Criminal Court and its staff. This event was the subject of a joint briefing by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defence, the Attorney General and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

02.06.2020 - Appeal by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to the parliaments of foreign States and the peoples of the world with regard to the 75th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazism

Appeal by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to the parliaments of foreign States and the peoples of the world with regard to the 75th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazism

28.05.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article about the world amid the coronavirus pandemic for Chinese newspaper Global Times, Moscow, May 28, 2020

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus changed life on the planet virtually overnight. It also became a crush test for international relations, both at the level of individual countries and multilateral associations. The obvious consequences include an economic recession, a crisis of global governance and the growth of protectionist and isolationist sentiments. The pandemic has seriously limited humanitarian, cultural and tourist exchanges, as well as people to people contacts. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

27.05.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the joint news conference with CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas following the CSTO Foreign Ministers Council videoconference, Moscow, May 26, 2020

We have held a CSTO Foreign Ministers Council meeting via videoconference. Russia is chairing the CSTO this year. Considering the difficult situation caused by the coronavirus infection, we approached the preparations and holding of this meeting with certain precautions.

16.05.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the RBC media holding on current international issues, Moscow, May 15, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview on current international issues

14.05.2020 - Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a news conference following a video conference of foreign ministers of the SCO Member States, May 13, 2020

We have just completed the SCO Member States foreign ministers’ video conference where we discussed the general state of affairs in the region and the world and the SCO priority goals in connection with the spread and consequences of the novel coronavirus infection. We thanked our colleagues for supporting the Russian chairmanship’s proposal to hold this SCO foreign minister extraordinary meeting on this sensitive and important topic.

all messages