17 September 2019
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562 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     554 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 speech at the Terra Scientia National Educational Youth Forum, Solnechnogorsk, August 15, 2019

Good afternoon.

Thank you for the warm greetings. This is not my first meeting with Terra Scientia students, but it is the first time in this picturesque place. This is more convenient for those from Moscow because it’s closer. In any event, all our previous meetings were fairly useful.

We are fueled by the interest of our society in foreign policy and international affairs, and are always ready to use our knowledge, experience and practical actions to meet this interest on behalf of our citizens. It is particularly important when young people are interested in foreign policy issues. After all, you will shape Russia’s future and its future place in international life.

There is always feedback and an interactive approach. For me and my colleagues (I talked to my deputies and department directors that also meet with representatives of civil society), meetings like this provide very important feedback. If we do not know what specific foreign policy issues are of concern to our people, including above all the young people, we would probably just be groping in the dark. It is important for us to act in the interests of our country, which is certainly represented by our people.

I will not describe in detail the trends that are now developing in the world. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly talked about them. Recently, a detailed discussion also took place at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. I will only say that the main trend is the confrontation between a new polycentric, more fair and democratic world arrangement that is objectively taking shape today and the striving of a fairly narrow US-led group of states to prevent this arrangement from coming into fruition. These states are doing all they can to secure domination in every area of international life – military and political domain, the economy, and interpretation of the standards of respect for human rights and history, which is also a very meaningful topic today. Heavy battles are taking place even in sports. For the most part, they are aimed at enabling Anglo-Saxons to set the order, including as regards punishment for doping and identification of the guilty. 

Another major trend that has manifested itself in our Western colleagues’ policies is their desire to replace international law which, by definition, is about universally agreed norms and principles, with certain rules which our Western colleagues develop among themselves and then present as the ultimate truth, which all other members of the international community should follow. If you are interested, I will provide specific examples during our discussion. There are many of them.

New centres of power are emerging in Eurasia, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa. However, in the face of an emerging world order that is balanced and based on respect for the interests of all members, the West is trying to maintain its superiority and ensure its dominance despite the objective course of history. However, we must give the historical truth its due: for about five centuries, the West has dictated the rules in the modern world. But the world is changing, and the colonial era is a thing of the past. The centres of global economic growth and global finance are shifting from the West to other regions. To counter this trend, our Western, primarily American, colleagues, are resorting to the most unscrupulous methods and unfair competition in an attempt to secure a unilateral advantage. To do so, they are using economic sanctions, blackmail, threats, ultimatums and direct pressure, including the use of military force, as was the case during interventions in Yugoslavia in 1999, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. The peoples of these countries who came under attack in these acts of aggression didn’t see any improvements in their lives. Libya’s very survival as a state is now in question, though we are all trying to help improve the situation.

In opposition to such an illegitimate and unlawful policy pursued by our Western colleagues, we maintain our stance, which is informed by the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation approved by the President of Russia, a revised version of which was adopted in 2016. First of all, it is based on the need to create the most favourable external conditions for the development of our country, in particular its economic growth, and to address its social problems. To this end, it is our responsibility to provide a safe environment, the most favourable conditions for our citizens and our economic operators across the world. These goals, according to the Foreign Policy Concept, must be achieved solely on the basis of respect for international law, primarily, its components such as the principle of sovereign equality of states, non-interference in internal affairs, respect for the right of the peoples to determine their own future without outside interference, peaceful settlement of disputes and a prohibition on the threat or use of force. These are the principles of the UN Charter.

When we analyse the activities of the UN General Assembly after each of its annual sessions, we can easily see that the vast majority of UN member states adopt positions that are identical to Russia’s. I believe it is simply ridiculous in the current situation to claim that the policy of Washington or Brussels seeking to “isolate” Russia has yielded any results. We never act out of resentment and are always open to candid discussions with our partners in the East, South or West provided such discussions are based on equality and respect for each other's interests, and also seek to find solutions to controversial issues based on a balance of interests.

Question: Yesterday we had a discussion on soft power with Prorector of the Higher School of Economics. What do you think about this concept? And what, in your opinion, are the main trajectories for expanding Russia’s soft power today?

Sergey Lavrov: Generally speaking, soft power is the natural manifestation of technological change around the world. Politics used to be limited to deciding matters of war and peace: someone invades the other, and then they talk, or they try to talk to each other before going to war. This is what foreign policy was all about in the days when technology like we have now did not exist. Today, you can promote your interests in various regions or countries by relying on methods that are far less destructive, without recourse to military power, that is by influencing the public opinion and using the whole range of the available opportunities offered by online resources and social media. I will spare you from a detailed review of all the ways in which we can convey our ideas, assessments and perspectives to anyone who wants to hear what we have to say.

The second important aspect in terms of soft power has to do with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Here in Russia we actively encourage the development of NGOs in the sphere of international relations. We have built partnerships with non-profits interested in foreign policy, and have been maintaining our ties with them. Unfortunately, there are not so many of them. For example, just over sixty Russian organisations have been granted consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is not that we do not assist them in obtaining this recognition. We are always there for those of them who would like to be granted this status. Sixty is quite a good result. There used to be very few organisations of this kind. At the same time, there are thousands of Western NGOs that were granted this status by UN agencies. So Russia’s civil society has a lot of room for improvement. We are proactive in our efforts to encourage the NGO community to work on international matters. Foreign Ministry departments hold monthly meetings with the corresponding NGOs, and my deputies are holding meetings with representatives of NGOs on a more or less quarterly basis. There is also an annual meeting that I attend to sum up the results of these interactions and to discuss what the NGOs need and how the Foreign Ministry can assist them in their efforts.

The media have to be mentioned among the soft power tools. There are a lot of questions here. On a level playing field, Russian NGOs, even though they are not as numerous, are serious competitors and can effectively stand up for justice, truth and international law. Unfortunately, these are not the principles pursued and preached by many Western NGOs who do not shun away from various dirty tricks in order to promote the agenda of their sponsors. In so many cases these NGOs are established and financed by the state. Most of the leading American NGOs receive funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which in turn gets its funding from the US budget. The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute rely on government support in one way or another. These structures provide funding to multiple organisations working on specific aspects of international affairs.

I believe that justice is on our side. We need to continue to defend it and expand Russia’s footprint within the international platforms. So far we are behind in terms of numbers. But let me repeat that if we are talking about the media, RT and Sputnik, just the two of them, created a situation in which they were referred to in the West as the main threat to the public opinion. By the way, London has recently hosted the Global Conference for Media Freedom. RT and Sputnik were not invited to attend under the pretext that they were propaganda mouthpieces rather than media outlets. What do you think about that? For this reason, when soft power is employed using principles and criteria of this kind, it looks like just another attempt to secure unilateral advantages through unfair competition.

We will continue to support all those in the Russian civil society interested in projecting our soft power on human rights, fighting poverty, environmental protection or any other problems that are discussed internationally. We will do everything to support your undertakings. If you are interested, if there are organisations that have not been involved with the Foreign Ministry thus far, please make sure to contact us. We will definitely support you.


To be continued...



17.09.2019 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on attack against oil infrastructure facilities in Saudi Arabia

According to media reports, a large-scale drone attack was launched in the early hours of September 14 against oil refineries of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company Saudi Aramco near the cities of Abqaiq and Khurais in the eastern part of the Kingdom. The Houthi Ansar Allah movement, now fighting against forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Arabian Coalition supporting him in Yemen, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

17.09.2019 - Joint Statement by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the Republic of Turkey

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran H.E. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Russian Federation H.E. Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gathered in Ankara on 16 September 2019 for a Tripartite Summit.

12.09.2019 - Press release by Russian MFA on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement

Moscow has taken note of the Arab countries’ highly negative reaction to the statement made by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu regarding his intention to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley. We share concerns over these Israeli plans, the implementation of which can lead to a dramatic escalation of tensions in the region and undermine hopes for a long awaited peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

12.09.2019 - Embassy comment on the state of the investigation into the death of Nikolay Glushkov

12 September 2019 marks exactly one year and half since Russian national Nikolay Glushkov was murdered in London under mysterious circumstances. We regret to state that the British side has failed to provide any meaningful reply to our numerous enquiries. Since April 2018 the Home Office has been ignoring the official request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance over Russia’s own criminal case into the death of Nikolay Glushkov. The British authorities have also been silent regarding the Embassy’s repeated proposals to arrange a meeting between the Russian Ambassador and the Met Police Commissioner or hold law-enforcement experts’ bilateral contacts.

12.09.2019 - Wizz Air UK to launch new services to Moscow and St Petersburg

The UK-based airline Wizz Air UK has announced that it will launch two new services from its London Luton base to Russia’s Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow and Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg. Both routes will commence on 1 October 2019 and operate daily.

11.09.2019 - Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov`s interview to the National Institute of Information of Suriname, September 11, 2019

Sergey Lavrov: It is true, the relations between Suriname and Russia have gained new momentum in the recent years. A number of landmark events contributed to it: the first-ever visit of Yildiz Pollack-Beighle, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Suriname, to Russia in October 2017, and the signing of two fundamental instruments establishing framework for our bilateral cooperation; I refer to the Agreement on Basic Principles of Relations and the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Conditions for Waiving Visa Formalities in the Mutual Visits of the Citizens of our countries. We regard Suriname as an important partner in developing multifaceted cooperation with the States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). We aim at enhancing cooperation with this subregion in such priority areas as facilitating sustainable development, providing assistance in disaster response, training of diplomatic, law-enforcement, and emergency services officials of the Caribbean States, increasing educational, tourist, cultural, humanitarian and sport exchanges, promoting economic initiatives.

08.09.2019 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on the exchange of prisoners held in custody in Russia and Ukraine

We view the agreed reciprocal release of persons held in custody on the territories of Russia and Ukraine as a positive signal to be followed by other important steps to overcome the current deadlock in Russia-Ukraine relations and in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. It was made possible by fulfilling the agreements reached personally by the presidents of Russia and Ukraine. Unlike its predecessors, Vladimir Zelensky’s administration showed a reasonable approach and readiness to compromise. We hope this step will create a positive background for substantive work within the Minsk Contact Group and in the Normandy format.

06.09.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the MIC Izvestia multimedia information centre Vladivostok, September 4, 2019

I would say that international relations continue to get steadily worse. It is a process that cannot be stopped yet. You see how our American colleagues along with their closest, most loyal allies are actually aiming to undermine the entire international legal system that developed after the Second World War, including the strategic stability and arms control agreements reached over the past decades. In the early 2000s, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was unilaterally terminated. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty has just fallen apart, and it is not clear whether the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3 or New START) will get extended. In general, the international law institutions that were created after the Second World War and developed on the basis of universal agreements are now undergoing the most severe trials. The very term “international law” is used less and less often by our Western colleagues. They prefer to talk about some “rule-based order.” As practice shows, they invent these rules on the spot to suit their current needs and try to convince everyone else that these are multilateral decisions that everyone must follow.

04.09.2019 - Embassy comment on the situation concerning the Salisbury incident with Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal

18 months have now passed since the mysterious incident in Salisbury. Despite our numerous appeals to the British side for transparency of the investigation, access to the affected Russian nationals, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and substantive cooperation to clarify the circumstances surrounding the incident, no clear answer has been received. More than 80 Notes Verbales sent to the Foreign Office and the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance have been ignored so far. We would like to recall just a few of critical points that make the political version voiced right after the incident untrustworthy.

04.09.2019 - Joint statement following the 20th India-Russia annual summit ”Reaching new heights of cooperation through trust and partnership“

At the jubilee 20th Annual Summit, both leaders noted progressive development of the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia. These relations are unique, confiding and mutually beneficial by nature, encompassing all possible areas of cooperation. They are based on similar civilizational values, time-tested friendship, mutual understanding, trust, common interests and proximity of approaches to the fundamental issues of development and economic progress. Regular meetings of the leaders of the States, including those on the sidelines of various international fora and growing momentum of bilateral contacts at all levels are a vivid proof of this Partnership.

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