24 November 2020
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996 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     988 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



Four years since the coup in Kiev: Embassy Press Officer on the article by Boris Johnson on Crimea

Yesterday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson published an article entitled “Four years since the illegal annexation of Crimea”. It is a pity that it is not accompanied by a piece on the fourth anniversary of the coup d’état in Kiev that was backed by the UK and the West in general, and blatantly violated not only Ukraine’s Constitution, but also the agreement between President Yanukovych and the opposition mediated by Germany, France and Poland on 21 February 2014. It was precisely the forcible removal of the lawfully elected President that paved the way to power to the self-styled “government of winners”, a bizarre mix of pro-European liberals and far-right extremists, and triggered the sequence of events that resulted in Crimea re-joining Russia.

Mr Johnson’s article contains statements that form the basis of current British policy on Ukraine and Russia and shape the logic of the sanctions imposed on our country. He puts forward at least four major allegations that we cannot accept.

1. The Foreign Secretary speaks a lot about the “sham referendum” in Crimea. Let us remind him of the principle of self-determination proclaimed in the UN Charter, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law. The latter document specifies that the right to self-determination should not be seen as running against the territorial integrity of states “possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed or colour”. The coup in Kiev brought about quite a different situation: namely, a government of extreme right radicals whose calls and actions created a direct threat to human rights and physical safety of Russians and Russian-speakers in Crimea. Faced with this situation, in which the people of Crimea was effectively deprived of its right to self-determination within the Ukrainian state, the lawfully elected local authorities decided to hold a referendum where citizens were asked whether they preferred Crimea to join Russia or remain part of Ukraine. With a 83.5% turnout, 96.8% of the voters supported joining Russia.

We believe that democratic expression of the will of the people must be the main criterion to judge political processes in any country. The British experience, be it with Brexit, Falklands, Gibraltar or Scotland, is a useful benchmark in this respect.

2. The Foreign Secretary speaks of the “first forcible redrawing of a European frontier since 1945”. We suppose that the Serb people have a different opinion. In 1999, 78 days of bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO forces effectively destroyed its statehood, forcibly (and without any referendum) removing the province of Kosovo from Serbia. Compare this with the events in Crimea where not a single shot was fired and a popular vote was held.

And that was not all: if Secretary Johnson took time to read last Saturday’s New York Times, he would have noted the piece by Scott Shane describing how “the United States funded a successful effort to defeat [Yugoslav President] Slobodan Milosevic” at the 2000 elections. The question is, did the UK take part in those efforts as well?

3. Foreign Secretary Johnson further claims that Russia violated its commitments to respect Ukraine’s borders under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Two remarks are in order here. First, the loss of Ukraine’s territorial integrity has been a result of complex internal processes and a democratic decision of Crimea’s people. Russia indeed pledged to respect Ukraine’s borders in Budapest, as indeed all countries are obliged to under the UN Charter, but we have never subscribed to forcing any region of Ukraine to remain part of that country against the will of its own people. Second, in Budapest Ukraine committed to counter the growth of aggressive nationalism and chauvinism. This commitment has clearly been violated, and, by the way, we haven’t seen much reaction to that from the United Kingdom, one of Budapest guarantors.

4. Another groundless claim by the Foreign Secretary refers to the Crimean Tatar people. As four years have obviously not been enough for the Foreign Office to report to its successive Secretaries on some of the basic facts on this issue, we have to fill the gap. Unlike under Ukrainian authority in Crimea, the Crimean Tatar language has been recognized as an official language of Crimea, alongside Russian and Ukrainian. 15 Crimean Tatar schools and 137 Crimean Tatar classes operate in the peninsula’s education system, serving 5500 pupils. 45 new Crimean Tatar textbooks have been published. 187 Crimean Tatar Muslim mosques or prayer houses are in place, and a new central mosque is under construction in Simferopol, to host up to 4000 people. There are 30 Crimean Tatar NGOs and 58 Crimean Tatar media outlets. About 10 per cent of Crimea’s police and prosecution officers, 14 per cent of Crimea’s teachers, 6 per cent of Crimea’s school headmasters come from the Crimean Tatar community. 150 Crimean Tatars have been elected as local councillors, and one MP represents the community at the Russian Parliament. In 2016 alone, 3600 Crimean Tatar land owners registered their plots, something that Ukraine had persistently refused to do, ironically citing “land grabs”. The federal programme of support for Crimean Tatars was funded at 50 million US dollars in 2017, to be compared with the 2.5 million planned by Ukraine for the same purposes in 2014.

Against this background, it is no wonder that the International Court of Justice, the top UN judicial body, has rejected Ukraine’s demands to order Russia to “cease and desist from acts of political and cultural suppression against the Crimean Tatar people”. In fact, the last four years have seen a successful resolution of Crimean Tatars’ numerous problems that were left unresolved over the 23 years of post-Soviet Ukrainian rule.

And a final remark. In line with the well-known UK policy, Mr Johnson demands that Russia implements the Minsk agreements. We have to remind the Foreign Secretary that the Minsk agreements were concluded between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk rather than Moscow. Those three parties should implement them through direct dialogue. The primary responsibility lies with the government of Ukraine that, instead of finding a solution, has sought to isolate the breakaway regions economically, refused to go ahead with the political measures agreed in Minsk, and most recently has set its obstructionist position into law by adopting the act on “re-integration” which effectively kills the agreements. We haven’t heard any reaction from London to that law. Nor did the UK condemn the recent pogrom of the Russian Cultural Centre in Kiev which, by the way, is a stark reminder of what would be happening in Crimea if its people had not been brave and resolute enough back in 2014.

We believe the time has come for the British authorities to reconsider its attitude to the processes going on in Ukraine. Otherwise, endlessly repeating the groundless accusations against Russia only sends wrong signals and encourages the Kiev regime to continue its self-defeating policy.


20.11.2020 - Normandy Summit on Ukraine: one year on

During the recent visit of Ukrainian President Zelensky to London the UK Government did not spare words to reiterate its full support for Ukrainian reforms and territorial integrity. New calls were made for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the premise being that it is Russia and “Russia-backed separatists” who hamper the political process. Yet the reality is quite the opposite. We believe it is important to set the record straight: the Minsk Agreements and political engagements based on them are being persistently and deliberately ignored by Ukraine itself (with the connivance and, often, encouragement of its Western backers).

10.11.2020 - Embassy reply to BBC Radio 4 regarding its podcast series “Intrigue. Mayday” on the White Helmets and James Le Mesurier

Referring to the subject of the BBC Series – White Helmets and James Le Mesurier – the Russian position is well-founded. Vast amounts of evidence on the ground as well as intelligence information which Russia has at its disposal unequivocally point to direct links between the White Helmets and terrorist organisations operating in Syria.

16.10.2020 - Embassy comment to The Times newspaper on disinformation allegations

The suggestion that the Russian State may conduct any kind of propaganda against the AstraZeneca vaccine is itself an example of disinformation. It is obviously aimed at discrediting Russia’s efforts in combating the pandemic, including the good cooperation we have established with the UK in this field.

06.10.2020 - Ambassador Andrei Kelin holds online meeting with members of Russia APPG

On 5 October 2020 Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin held an online meeting with members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia. Members of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, representing all major political parties of the country, took part in the conversation.

03.10.2020 - Joint Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh, Moscow, Paris, Washington, D.C., October 2, 2020

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stéphane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) released the following statement today: The Co-Chairs strongly condemn the continued violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone as well as against targets in the territory of Armenia and Azerbaijan away from the Line of Contact, and express our alarm at reports of increasing civilian casualties. Targeting or threatening civilians is never acceptable under any circumstances. The Co-Chairs call on the sides to observe fully their international obligations to protect civilian populations.

02.10.2020 - Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on the EU’s restrictions on Belarus

We noted the EU’s October 2 decision to adopt new restrictive measures as regards Belarus. A comment declaring response measures has already been released by Belarusian officials. We see that instead of displaying restraint, which is so vital for stabilisation in Belarus, the European Union has once again resorted to the instrument of sanctions. This approach is unilateral and illegal. It undermines the prerogatives of the UN Security Council and leads to the further erosion of international law.

02.10.2020 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on statements by Permanent Representative of the United States to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva Robert Wood on Russia’s initiatives to prevent an arms race in space

There is growing concern regarding the professional credentials of Permanent Representative of the United States to the Conference on Disarmament Robert Wood. On October 1, 2020, during a briefing hosted by the Foreign Press Association at the United Nations Office in Geneva he said that he did not know what Russia’s initiatives to prevent an arms race in outer space were about. As a reminder, for 40 years Russia (and earlier the USSR) has consistently advocated the drafting of a multilateral legally binding instrument that would prohibit the deployment of weapons of any kind, as well as the use or threat of force in outer space.

29.09.2020 - Ushakov Medal presented to the Arctic Convoys Veteran

On 26 September 2020 Third Secretary of the Embassy Vadim Retyunskiy presented the Ushakov medal to the Arctic Convoys veteran Mr William Geoffrey ROBINSON who was awarded this military honour by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation for his personal courage and bravery displayed in WWII.

26.09.2020 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on discrepancies and inconsistencies in the situation around Alexey Navalny

The Russian Federation has been acting in the most transparent manner in the situation around Mr. Alexey Navalny from the very beginning. At the request of relatives, he was promptly granted permission to travel to Germany for medical treatment, which he did without hindrance, once the doctors at the Omsk hospital managed to stabilize his condition. Moreover, Russian doctors passed on to their German colleagues the data they had collected on the patient's health condition and were ready to continue to work together for the sake of his speedy recovery.

26.09.2020 - Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, on a comprehensive program of measures for restoring the Russia – US cooperation in the filed of international information security

One of today’s major strategic challenges is the risk of a large-scale confrontation in the digital field. A special responsibility for its prevention lies on the key players in the field of ensuring international information security (IIS). In this regard, we would like to once again address the US with a suggestion to agree on a comprehensive program of practical measures to reboot our relations in the field of security in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

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