26 September 2018
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

30.11.2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Libero, Italy

Question: What subjects do you intend to broach in you remarks at the Mediterranean forum?

Sergey Lavrov: I am glad to have an opportunity to once again attend the third international conference, Rome Mediterranean Dialogues 2017, sponsored by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies.

Owing to the organisers’ energetic efforts, the forum has asserted itself, within a brief period of time, as an authoritative and much-needed expert venue for discussing current international problems relating to the Mediterranean region.

Those taking part at the two previous meetings discussed Mediterranean security, settlement of crises and conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and counteraction to international terrorism. The discussions were interesting, substantial, and aimed at looking for effective solutions to a wide range of subjects.

Today, this region continues to face numerous challenges. What I mean in particular is the persisting political and socio-economic instability in a number of its countries, the terrorist threat, radicalisation of public moods, and an uncontrolled growth of migration flows.

I am planning to focus on these problems as well as on the Russian approaches to dealing with them. I intend to emphasise that Russia is prepared for constructive interaction with all responsible players in the interests of ensuring peace, stability and security in the Mediterranean. It is only by pooling our efforts that we will be able to achieve this.

Question: In his recent interview with Libero, the Russian Ambassador in Italy, Sergey Razov, stressed that the anti-Russian sanctions were inflicting great damage on the economies of Italy and other members of the EU. When, in your opinion, will Brussels abolish these suicidal restrictions?

Sergey Lavrov: In fact, the sanctions are damaging to Russia’s cooperation with the EU and its member countries. Incidentally, Italian Ambassador to Russia Cesare Maria Ragaglini, as far as I know, called attention to this very fact in his interview with Corriere della Sera in July of this year.

Today, it is clear that the sanctions, which the Brussels bureaucrats have built up on instructions from Washington, have boomeranged against the European national producers. They have lost a number of their positions on the Russian market and continue sustaining considerable losses. America, for its part, has suffered no damage, because our trade with them is miniscule. Thus, the US establishment wants to address its anti-Russian agenda at the expense of the Europeans and use Europeans to do their dirty work. I suggest that you think about this. Not so very long ago, I had a chance to talk to representatives of European companies working in my country. Their stance is unequivocal: the business community does not want restrictions and political interference in business life.

As for the fate of sanctions, this question, to be sure, should be addressed to Brussels, not Moscow. We hope that the EU structures will prove strong enough to renounce policy-making with regard to Russia based on the “least common denominator” principle and stop taking their cues from a small, if extremely aggressive, group of  Russia haters inside the EU. For our part, we will promote cooperation at a pace for which our European partners are ready.    

Question: Could the West defeat ISIS without the assistance of Russia’s Aerospace Forces?

Sergey Lavrov: From your question, Western readers might think that the West is fighting ISIS and that Russia is helping the West. The situation is different. The US-led coalition against ISIS was established without a UN Security Council mandate and is not coordinating its actions with Syria’s government, which is a violation of international law.

As for the effectiveness of its actions, it became clear by mid-2015 that it was unable to attain its proclaimed goals. ISIS was increasing the area of its caliphate, was creating pseudo-state organisations and was printing its own currency. ISIS controlled nearly 70 per cent of Syrian territory. Despite the coalition headquarters’ victorious statements, ISIS continued to spread its misanthropic ideology and to stage bloody intimidation attacks in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as beyond it.

Realising that the strengthening of ISIS and similar terrorist groups can have dramatic consequences, Russia decided to help the Syrian government fight the proliferation of the various types of terrorism regardless of their ethnic or religious nature.

Here are some facts to show what has been done to rout ISIS. Over the two years since the Russian Aerospace Forces launched operations in Syria, they have eliminated over 900 terrorist training camps, over 660 munitions plants and 1,500 items of military equipment. Some 1,000 cities and towns have been liberated.

At this point, over 95 per cent of Syrian territory has been cleansed of ISIS. Peaceful life is returning to the country: 1.12 million refugees and internally displaced persons have returned to their homes, including 660,000 in 2017. I would like to point out that our operation in Syria proceeded in strict compliance with international law.

In 2015, President Putin proposed creating a broad UN-led international coalition. Regrettably, our calls for joining forces against ISIS were disregarded. Only recently have our Western partners seen that collective efforts are needed to fight terrorism. A vital political event in this context was the joint statement on Syria the presidents of Russia and the United State made on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Da Nang on November 11. It confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria. Possibilities for developing interaction in the fight against terrorism were also discussed in a telephone conversation between President Putin and President Trump on November 21.

Question: Does Russia still hope to improve relations with the United States despite Russiagate and the Trump administration’s unfriendly actions?

Sergey Lavrov: The situation in our bilateral relations remains very complicated. The US establishment is sinking in Russia-hating sentiments, which have been provoked by some political forces that refuse to accept the results of last year’s presidential election in the United States.

It is difficult to say what consequences the current difficult stage [in bilateral relations] will have. The divergence of opinions in the United States has reached its highest level in decades, spreading from the political and economic spheres to the entire range of social issues.

It appears that the US administration has not yet developed a clear Russia policy. Just as during his election campaign, President Trump continues to say that he would like to normalise relations and to develop cooperation with Russia on current international issues. He has said this more than once during telephone conversations and meetings with President Putin, including at the APEC summit in Da Nang.

In practice, however, the actions of President Trump’s team could be described as inertial; they do not differ much from Obama’s policy. Moreover, acting at the prompting of the anti-Russia lobby, the administration has taken many unfriendly steps in many areas, such as the expansion of unilateral restrictions, the implementation of global BMD plans, the build-up of US and NATO military presence at Russian borders, as well as attempts to discredit Russia’s foreign policy.

Russia-hating hysterics in the United States have resulted in the adoption of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. In other unprecedented moves, the United States has shut down the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and seized five Russian diplomatic properties.

At this point, we can hardly expect any positive US moves. The potential for cooperation in global and bilateral affairs remains largely unused because of the anti-Russia hysterics. Declaring Russia an adversary in legislation is an absurd and irresponsible move. We in Russia do not look at the United States from the same angle. On the contrary, we have always respected the American nation and its achievements.

In other words, we will continue to act pragmatically and will not seek confrontation. We believe that it is in the common interests of Russia and the United States to join efforts against terrorism, drug trafficking, WMD proliferation and organised crime. A coordination of efforts is vitally important to settle regional conflicts. As President Putin has said more than once, Russia is open to cooperation with the United States on all issues and is willing to cover its part of the way towards stabilising and improving relations, which have deteriorated in the past few years through no fault of ours. We hope that common sense will prevail in Washington’s corridors of power in the foreseeable future.

At the same time, we will continue to reply to unfriendly moves on the principle of reciprocity.

Question: Russia has successfully resolved problems linked with immigration from post-Soviet republics. What should the European Union and its member countries do to stem the tide of immigrants from North African countries which is supported by international organised crime?

Sergey Lavrov: The large-scale immigration crisis that has engulfed Europe is the direct consequence of a policy of “exporting” the state system, of meddling in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, primarily those in the Middle East and North Africa. These short-sighted actions weakened or demolished institutions of state authority, caused humanitarian disasters and an upsurge of terrorism and extremism. This provoked an all-out exodus of people from these regions.

Obviously, it is impossible to effectively solve Europe’s immigration problems without the elimination of their root causes. It is necessary to redouble efforts for resolving crises and conflicts, primarily those in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, by peaceful and political-diplomatic means. It is necessary to assist regional countries in either strengthening or restoring their statehood, conducting socioeconomic rehabilitation and putting them on the path of sustainable development. It is necessary to continue an uncompromising struggle against terrorism, as stipulated by the initiative of President Vladimir Putin to establish a broad anti-terrorist coalition under UN auspices that I have already mentioned.

Today, it is important to adequately monitor immigration flows and to rule out the possibility of terrorists penetrating European countries with people in need of real assistance. It is unacceptable to make refugees an object of political manipulations on the part of forces inciting ethnic, religious as well as social hatred. It is all the more unacceptable to use refugee camps for recruiting and training militants. At the same time, it is important to counter xenophobia, racism and intolerance towards immigrants themselves.

We are ready to continue cooperating with the EU in the area of immigration and to exchange experience in resolving immigration problems. We are interested in resuming contacts within the Russia-EU immigration dialogue as soon as possible. It goes without saying that we are ready to more actively cooperate with the EU while countering terrorism.

And, finally, we believe that countries that were actively involved in destabilising vast regions of the Middle East and North Africa should assume the greatest primary responsibility for assisting refugees and forced migrants. In this connection, we perceive the “sharing of responsibility” concept being advanced by a number of states as an attempt to shift the relevant burden on someone else’s shoulders.

 

To be continued...

http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2971828?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw&_101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw_languageId=en_GB




LATEST EVENTS

24.09.2018 - Russia’s position at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly

1. The objective of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) is to reaffirm and strengthen the central and coordinating role of the Organization in international affairs. The UN is a unique platform for equitable dialogue aimed at seeking solutions with due regard for different opinions and based on the purposes and principles of its Charter. Any attempts to challenge the UN authority are dangerous and may lead to a dismantled system of international relations. We have consistently advocated a polycentric world order, equal and indivisible security based on unconditional respect for sovereignty and peoples' right to independently choose their development path.


21.09.2018 - Reply by the Embassy’s spokesperson to a media question regarding the Guardian piece on Julian Assange

Question: How would you comment on today’s Guardian article claiming that “Russian diplomats held secret talks to assess whether they could help Julian Assange flee the UK”? Answer: This publication has nothing to do with the reality. The Embassy has never engaged either with Ecuadorian colleagues, or with anyone else, in discussions on any kind of Russia’s participation in ending Mr Assange’s stay within the diplomatic mission of Ecuador.


21.09.2018 - Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the incident in Salisbury

Why should we trust or distrust Petrov and Boshirov when there’s zero evidence on the table that would in any way link their very existence to the Salisbury incident? Just because these people were there? Then, can Britain provide a list of all the foreigners who were in Salisbury on those days? On top of that, no one has seen Sergey Skripal since the incident. No one has even talked with Julia Skripal. The whole thing is absurd, because these two individuals came in, talked with Simonyan, provided answers to the counts that the UK publicly accused them of, and, for some reason, everyone is now saying, “We do not believe them.” However, when Yulia Skripal spoke before a camera, which was operated by no one knows who, and didn’t answer any question, but instead read a text apparently written for her by someone, and before that published a text similarly written for her by someone, everyone said, “Yes, of course, we trust her.”


20.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the meeting of the Minister for the Middle East Mr Alistair Burt with the White Helmets group

Question: During his visit to Turkey the Minister for the Middle East Mr Alistair Burt met with the infamous White Helmets group, whom the Russian Federation considers terrorist supporters. How would you comment on that? Answer: It is up to HMG of course to decide which contacts are to develop and whom the senior diplomats are to meet. Nevertheless, this choice is a truly remarkable one.


18.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the classification of the materials on A.Perepilichny by the UK government

Question: How would you comment on yet another decision of the British side to classify additional information on Mr A.Perepilichny within the inquest into his death? Answer: This procedural decision concerns classification of information on Mr A.Perepilichny’s connections to the British secret services, to wit, whether he has been their agent or made contact with them. It has been made public just before the next hearing of the inquest into the death of Mr A.Perepilichnny, which is scheduled for 21 September in the Old Bailey.


17.09.2018 - Embassy press officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statements of FCO Minister of State Sir Alan Duncan

Question: How would you comment on the statement of Minister of State Sir Alan Duncan to the effect that the UK will “push for new sanctions […] as well as robustly enforcing the existing EU regime against Russia”? Answer: This and other similar statements fall in line with the Conservative government’s current policy aimed at destroying the fabric of Russian-British relations, further isolating Russia and presenting it as a major threat to the “rules-based international system”. Faced with the realities of Brexit, the British government is desperate to convince its partners of the need for a tougher sanctions regime against Russia. As usual, it resorts to insinuations, unverified facts and media leaks. Despite our numerous requests, no evidence of Russia’s responsibility has been provided. Russia’s proposals of cooperation in dealing with common challenges and threats, including in the sphere of cybersecurity and chemical disarmament, are being rejected without explanation.


13.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning upcoming annual conferences of the UK’s major political parties

Question: What does the Embassy expect from the party conference season in the United Kingdom starting this week? Answer: Annual conferences of UK’s major political parties are important events in the country’s life. At the conferences parties set out their priorities on a wide range of issues and arrange open and frank discussions on pressing domestic and international matters. Among other things, they offer a platform for a dialogue between party leaders and activists and the diplomatic corps.


12.09.2018 - Embassy press officer’s reply to a media question concerning the inquiry into the death of Mr Nikolay Glushkov

Question: 12 September marks 6 months since the mysterious murder of the Russian national Nikolay Glushkov in London. Does the Embassy have any new information regarding the circumstances of his death? Answer: Unfortunately, the British side continues to pay no attention to our numerous requests, including the official request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance in the criminal case opened in Russia into the death of Mr Nikolay Glushkov, which was delivered to the Home Office as early as in April. The Embassy’s proposals to arrange a meeting between the Russian Ambassador and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, or between experts from law enforcement authorities of the two countries, made as far back as in April, have also been met with silence.


11.09.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statements by the British officials on retaliatory measures against Russia

Question: How would you comment on the recent statements of the British officials who said that the UK was prepared to “retaliate” against Russia, including by deploying its cyber warfare capabilities? Answer: Yet again, we have seen a series of official statements to the effect that the UK should use its “massive retaliatory capabilities” to counter Russia’s “aggression”. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that the UK had “considerable powers, and we’ll bring all these powers, both covert and overt to bear on Russia”. Last week GCHQ head Jeremy Fleming spoke in a similar vein saying that the British authorities and their allies were prepared to “counter the threat” allegedly posed by Russia. In this context he mentioned a plan to “deploy the full range of tools”, including Britain’s “offensive cyber capability” against Russia. Such statements are reckless, provocative and unfounded.


09.09.2018 - Embassy response to Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s remarks at the Andrew Marr Show, 9 September 2018

Sajid Javid: This [the Salisbury incident] was the act, we now know unequivocally, crystal clear, this was the act of the Russian state. Comment: If Mr Javid has evidence that allows him to make this kind of direct accusations, why wouldn’t he share it with the public? So far, what the public has seen is nothing but photos of two Eastern-European-looking men walking around Salisbury on two different days. Everything else, including exact dates and names, let alone these gentlemen’s involvement in the Skripals poisoning and their links to the Russian state, is only assertions based on unverifiable “intelligence” and on the “lack of alternative explanations”. If the “crystal clear”-level evidence exists, it is in everyone’s interest for it to be published.



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