Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, May 18, 2022 (Extensive)

May 20, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1813888/

Table of contents

  1. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting
  2. Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 100 Questions for the Leader project at the Yevgeny Primakov Gymnasium
  3. Update on Ukraine
  4. Involving minors in Ukrainian nationalist formations
  5. Statement by Western leaders accusing Russia of cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure
  6. EU allegations of Russia’s “responsibility” for global food insecurity
  7. Biological warfare research in Ukraine
  8. Closing Canada’s CBC bureau in Moscow
  9. Situation at the JCPOA reactivation talks
  10. The situation in the Republic of Moldova
  11. Russia’s stance on Cyprus settlement
  12. Growing terrorist activity in Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries
  13. Desecration of Soviet military graves in Gdansk
  14. Desecrating a memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died when crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge (Switzerland)
  15. 13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022
  16. 2nd Kostomarov Forum
  17. Eurasian Economic Forum in Bishkek

Answers to media questions:

  1. Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of the Baltic Sea States
  2. The transportation of grain from Ukraine
  3. The death of Al Jazeera journalist
  4. Calls for “regime change” in Russia
  5. Ukraine’s decision to nationalise Russian banks’ property
  6. Russia’s reaction to Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO
  7. Mass shooting in the United States
  8. Russian diplomats working in new conditions
  9. Russia’s reaction to the Western embargo on Russian energy exports
  10. Finland’s economic losses
  11. The future of Ukrainian militants who surrendered at Azovstal
  12. Situation with individuals detained in Ukraine
  13. Russia’s stand on NATO membership for Ukraine and Finland
  14. Russia’s response measures to Finland’s NATO membership
  15. Exchange of prisoners in Ukraine
  16. The possibility of Russia-Ukraine talks
  17. Trilateral working group
  18. Meeting of the Armenian-Azerbaijani commission on border delimitation and border security
  19. Acts of vandalism in Nagorno-Karabakh
  20. CSTO response to developments in Afghanistan
  21. Escalation in the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region of Tajikistan

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting

On May 19, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the BRICS countries via videoconference.

The ministers will review global and regional issues, as well as the problems of maintaining peace and security and settling acute international conflicts. They will focus on coordinating the approaches of the BRICS nations at key multilateral platforms and intensifying cooperation in countering new challenges and threats.

The ministers will review the BRICS strategic partnership in three key areas – political, economic and humanitarian – in the context of preparing for the upcoming 14th summit of the association.

At the initiative of the Chinese Presidency in the Council of Foreign Ministers, a separate session will take place in BRICS-plus format with the participation of the foreign ministers from a number of developing nations.

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Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 100 Questions for the Leader project at the Yevgeny Primakov Gymnasium

On May 23, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with students at the autonomous non-profit general education organisation Yevgeny Primakov Regional Gymnasium as part of the 100 Questions for the Leader project.

The project represents a special format for trustworthy conversations held by students with famous politicians and outstanding representatives of science, art and sports. It provides a priceless experience for direct dialogue between the rising generation and today’s leaders.

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Update on Ukraine

The special military operation continues in Ukraine. As Russian leaders have said more than once, it is going according to plan, and new territories are being freed from the Nazis every day.

The Ukrainian military personnel and militants in Azov nationalist units that entrenched themselves in the underground bunkers of the Azovstal Plant, began to surrender in Mariupol this week. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, 959 Ukrainian nationalists, including 51 with severe wounds, have laid down their arms over two days. They receive medical aid at the Novoazovsk hospital in the DPR, and the rest were sent to a pretrial detention centre in Yelenovka in the suburbs of Donetsk. Indicatively, on May 17, this centre was shelled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRSs). The Kiev regime has always treated its citizens like this, and this case was no exception.

Russian leaders had repeatedly stated that resistance was senseless and announced the opening of humanitarian corridors for militants and Ukrainian military personnel to leave the Azovstal Plant after laying down their arms. They were urged to stop the hostilities. In the meantime, the Kiev regime was doing all it could to prevent civilians, military personnel and militants from leaving the plant. Why? They were brainwashing the public.

It was Russia that urged the UN to look into this situation and persuade the Kiev regime to let people walk out. Later, Russia organised humanitarian corridors in cooperation with the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. I would like to emphasise that the initiative on announcing and opening these corridors was ours.

The wounded troops are provided with professional medical help. This fact is being turned upside down and misrepresented in the Ukrainian and international media. Remember the footage showing how the militants and the Armed Forces of Ukraine treat POWs in Ukraine? Everyone saw it. It horrified many, others pretended not to have seen it. Russian POWs were shot to death by militants from the nationalist units that became part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Russia has adopted a different approach. You see footage showing professional help being provided to the wounded [Ukrainian troops]. It is not being provided “for show.” It is provided to real individuals regardless of their background. Humanitarian law is not just something we abide by; it is of fundamental importance for us. No one should have any doubt about this.

According to Ukrainian POWs, the military leadership of Ukraine forbids the troops to retreat or surrender. Their key goal is to destroy as much civilian infrastructure as possible in order to leave behind uninhabitable ruins and make it hard to restore peaceful life. This is not our messaging, but the testimony received from the Ukrainian side over the past weeks.

The nationalists, who have long been using the tactics of ISIS terrorists, do not hesitate to use kindergartens, schools and hospitals as ammunition depots and strongholds. They are not hiding this. They take pictures inside preschools or with preschool buildings in the background to show how they fight there. The civilians are not allowed to evacuate. They are forcing people to leave their apartments so that they can set up firing positions there. They are driving people to basements that are used by militants or as weapons depots. The other day, Ukrainian nationalists began to bring in ammunition and deployed air defence systems on the grounds of the Odessa film studio. The territorial defence force militants go door-to-door in order to identify residents who do not accept the nationalist way of thinking. They are taken away to unknown locations and there’s no information about the fate of many of them.

Earlier, the Zaporozhye administration banned the evacuation of civilians under the pretext of security. All attempts by the citizens to leave the city in private vehicles and on foot are stopped by the territorial defence militants at checkpoints. Those who resist are subjected to physical violence. Their vehicles are seized and they are sent back on foot.

On May 16, Ukrainian nationalists used the Smerch MLRS to attack Kherson’s residential areas. There are no Russian troops in Kherson, which the Ukrainian side is well aware of. This means they specifically targeted civilians in retaliation for supporting Russia’s actions. This is yet another war crime committed by the Kiev regime. Fortunately, all 10 missiles have been intercepted by Russian air defence systems.

Unfortunately, we do not see the international organisations, Western countries or their media respond to the criminal methods used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. To be sure, it’s because there is no response. Moreover, the Western countries continue massive arms supplies to the Kiev regime. We consider this as direct support for neo-Nazis and an effort to make the fighting last as long as possible. We cannot ignore the fact that Western weapons are used to kill Russian troops and shell Russian territory.

Arms deliveries are running into the billions of dollars which is comparable to military budgets of large states. The United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Poland and the Baltic countries are doing the most to arm Kiev. Washington alone sent $3.8 billion worth of military equipment to the Kiev regime which is close to the military budgets of Austria, Portugal and Finland. The US Congress is considering a proposal to provide another $40 billion in “aid”, including about $25 billion worth of military equipment. This is half the military budget of Germany and France. I would like to draw the attention of the US public not so much to the size, which is comparable with the military budgets of other countries, as to the needs of the American people. They can put these funds to good use. If this money were sent as subsidies, aid, or sponsorship related in some way to humanitarian aid, one would understand it. But money is being sent to the Kiev regime for it to kill and to continue this phase of the crisis.

More and more weapons abandoned by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are becoming the spoils of war for the People’s Militia of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Armed Forces of Russia. These include Javelin and NLAW ATGMs, Starstreak and Stinger MANPADS, Bayraktar drones, Switchblade loitering munitions, Skynet Longbow EW systems, CAESAR and PzH 2000s self-propelled and M777 towed howitzers.

EU, US and UK officials keep saying that “victory must be achieved on the battlefield,” that “Russia must sustain a strategic defeat” and “cannot be allowed to win.” All these statements, in addition to the trade and economic blockade that has in effect been imposed on our country and the hybrid war unleashed against it, prove once again that the Western countries are waging war against Russia in Ukraine and that Ukraine itself and its citizens are an expendable resource for them. Our Chinese partners used the expression “cannon fodder.”

In their information war, the Western countries resort to outright lies. They are trying to accuse our country of creating a global food shortage. We commented on this many times. Each time we cite facts, figures and other information that cannot be refuted. But nobody is trying to refute them. Western-spread lies are not supposed to be refuted. They are too absurd to comment on. It is forgotten that crisis phenomena in the world food market are linked with the West’s accumulated mistakes and miscalculations in macroeconomic, energy and agricultural policy. The coronavirus pandemic has contributed as well. In the middle of 2020, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme David Beasley warned about the threat of “famines of biblical proportions.” Unilateral Western sanctions exacerbated this trend. So, millions of people will have to go hungry because of the geopolitical ambitions, egotism and stupidity of the collective West.

At the same time, we are seeing a striving of the Western curators to take out of Ukraine everything that may be of some value. This is also a repetition of history of 80 years ago. Hundreds of grain carriers are crossing the Ukrainian border on the way to Europe. The Kiev regime has organised massive daily exports of agricultural products to Europe in exchange for weapons by road and rail, as well as by river on the Danube to Romania via the port of Ismail.

Think of what is happening. Against the backdrop of statements by the collective West about the imminent famine (the Kiev regime is supposed to trust the West), the leaders of Ukraine are getting rid of food products. Ukrainian citizens need them now. The Armed Forces of Ukraine also need them since the Kiev regime is not going to stop hostilities. However, food products are being sent abroad instead. Where to? To NATO countries. The Ukrainians receive weapons in exchange for these products so that they can continue killing themselves. This is not Nazism. This are even more terrifying maniacal ideas that are even worse than the misanthropic concepts applied to the population of Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the former USSR in the middle of the 20th century.

These are tremendous amounts of grain, maize, oil crops and livestock animals. On May 10 of this year, US President Joseph Biden said that Washington was thinking about ways of exporting from Ukraine 20 million tonnes of grain, supposedly with a view to reducing prices in the world markets. You know how much the United States and the White House care about the needs of hungry people in Africa and Asia, how much they want all people in the world to live a better life, eat well and be wealthier. We know this bewitching American pacifism and striving to do good for everyone. But this is not the case. This is about robbing Ukraine, its citizens and military of the last things they have. Washington obviously is not concerned about what the Ukrainians will be left with after this feast. Ukrainian citizens did not believe us 10 years ago and five years ago. Maybe it’s time to wise up. To realise that they are being deprived of the last things they have. Food products, grain – the results of their labour – are being taken out of the country. When we were in school and university, we were told that the fascists and Nazis hauled away Ukrainian natural soil by railway and this was presented as the supreme manifestation of their hatred for Soviet citizens. Now the logic is even more gruesome – Ukrainian citizens are being deprived of the fruits of their labour at a time when their country is engaged in hostilities.

For our part, we are paying close attention to the humanitarian situation in the liberated areas and facilitating the restoration of peaceful life. Russian military are clearing Ukrainian mines in cities and farming lands. People in the DPR, LPR and a number of regions in Ukraine have already been supplied with 20,000 tonnes of basic necessities, food products, medications and medical devices.

We regret that the United States, Britain and several European countries are supporting and sponsoring those who are preaching in Ukraine the ideas of aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism. They continue supplying the Kiev regime with arms and robbing the Ukrainian people. However, these efforts will not change the situation.

As the Russian leaders said more than once, Russia will achieve the goals of its military operation on denazifying and demilitarising Ukraine, defending the DPR and the LPR and removing the threats to its own security.

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Involving minors in Ukrainian nationalist formations

As the nationalist formations of Ukraine continue to be driven out of Donbass, new facts have come to light which confirm the involvement of children in these hate-crazed units. We have repeatedly stated that right-wing radical organisations operating under the patronage of the Kiev regime have systematically spread extremism among minors in order to embed the ideas of militant nationalism in Ukrainian society.

Neo-Nazis from Azov began large-scale recruitment of children back in 2015 when, upon the initiative of the National Corps leader Andrey Biletsky, they set up the Youth Corps’ “children’s camps.” In 2015, they took in children aged 9 to 18 and since 2016, 7 to 18.

A military youth wing called National Squads was formed at the National Corps in 2018. Hundreds of young people over the age of 14 joined it. The instructors from Azov taught them how to fight the “enemies of Ukraine,” including with firearms.

The specialised Youth Corps’ needs are covered by the Ukrainian state budget. Does that sound familiar? In 2019, organisations associated with the National Corps received $17,000 to hold events for children and youth. We see it. And we know what kind of values people with Azov insignia on their sleeves and nationalist and neo-Nazi symbols are teaching ​​young people. There are training camps for teenagers such as Azovets, Bukovynets, and Dnepryanin in different parts of the country. Teenagers were lured through social media and messengers.

Eyewitnesses are saying that neo-Nazis from Azov do not limit themselves to “children’s camps” and have expanded their group by bringing aboard minor orphans which fact is corroborated by the situation at the Piligrim orphanage in Mariupol. Azov worked closely with the children from this orphanage training them in combat, including sharp shooting, during eight years beginning in 2014. Reportedly, in 2014, children from Piligrim helped the Ukrainian army dig trenches outside Mariupol and build checkpoints later in October. Residents of Mariupol say that during the events of February-April 2022, the Respublika Piligrim Children’s Rehabilitation Centre was the headquarters of the territorial defence, where militants from Azov and other radical groups were based. There’s video evidence showing that teenagers from Piligrim took part in the hostilities on the side of the neo-Nazis, and also set fire to civilian homes.

“The neo-Nazi Ukrainian group Azov-operated Piligrim orphanage in Mariupol is a prototype of Ukraine that the Nazis wanted to build and what it would inevitably become if it were not for the special operation by the Russian Armed Forces,” Alexey Selivanov, former (until 2014) Advisor to the Defence Minister of Ukraine and Deputy Head of the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the Zaporozhye Region, said. This is what someone who served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine had to say.

According to Selivanov, Piligrim can stand in for all of Ukraine, and the orphanage, in which children were converted into militants, is a clear confirmation of the fact that something drastic had to be done with this Ukrainian project.

These facts clearly show that Ukraine violated its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the involvement of children in armed conflicts. When ratifying this international treaty in 2005, Ukraine declared that the minimum age for voluntary (on a contract basis) enlistment into national armed forces was 19.

We call upon relevant international organisations, such as the UN and the OSCE, as well as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, to pay special attention to Kiev’s involvement of children in criminal neo-Nazi organisations and spreading of radical ideas among minors.

There is no need to pretend that in a surge of patriotism these children went to the barricades in February 2022. They have been trained to make war for many years. And the militants of the nationalist battalions are the ones who did it.

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Statement by Western leaders accusing Russia of cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure

The West continues its attempts to portray Russia as a cyber-aggressor. We perceive the recent statements, made on May 10, 2022, by foreign policy agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies in precisely this context. These statements accuse Russia of launching cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure in February 2022. Predictably, they did not provide any evidence. As usual, they follow their favourite “highly likely” logic.

Western capitals think of themselves as supreme rulers of cyberspace. They rubberstamp accusations that have nothing to do with reality. They probably believe that they will also get away with this anti-Russia provocation. They think all states will perceive this propaganda as a sufficient reason for bringing to account culprits arbitrarily appointed by the US administration. After depleting the potential of sanctions, they are now resorting to other ploys from their rich cinematographic legacy, including promises to pay handsomely anyone who will testify in favour of Washington’s allegations.

Obviously, the policy of intimidation and deception is called on to camouflage the futile US attempts to impose its own perception of an international political order, to conceal its own flaws regarding protection of personal data, the right to privacy and inability to maintain constructive cooperation between specialised agencies to thwart illegal activities in the IT sphere.  Consequently, they want to continue their long-term digital dictate against the public at home and in other countries and to plunder their intellectual resources with the help of companies and agencies affiliated with security services.

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EU allegations of Russia’s “responsibility” for global food insecurity

The EU, the United States and their supporters have unleashed a campaign accusing Russia of provoking a global food crisis. The main thesis is that Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, including the “blocking” of the Ukrainian grain exports via Black Sea ports, are leading to food shortages and hunger in the world’s poorest countries. We know how the “collective West” is “helping” these countries. They are considering ways to turn ordinary countries into poorest states (by transporting grain to their own countries), and they never or hardly ever think about the poorest countries.

As usual, Brussels is deceiving the international community by openly distorting the reasons for the current situation. The EU is openly trying to use the allegation of Russia’s “responsibility” for the deteriorating global food security to convince other countries to support the anti-Russia policies of the West. They simply tell the countries that have a neutral and balanced position that there is a dire shortage of food in their region and that this situation can be remedied if these countries assume the anti-Russia position. They ask them to sign certain documents, vote the “right way” or make a required statement, saying that this will ensure food supplies. It’s a staple of the genre, not a new invention. At the same time, Brussels is using open blackmail, offering food for loyalty.  It has not yet stooped to heavy-handed interference, but this approach cannot be ruled out in the ideological and political spheres. Countries are being forced to make a choice, and this is being done with media assistance.

Meanwhile, the EU has done nothing to prevent the “Ukrainian crisis” and continues to send weapons to Kiev, which makes it responsible for tensions on the global food market. There are numerous indications of this.

The EU has openly declared a total trade and economic war on Russia. We know that Washington actually pressured the EU into doing this, which the United States has openly admitted and trumpeted. The EU politicians who are advocating and shouting about new sanctions are comfortable with the fact that Russia is a global leader in the supply of basic agricultural products, which have no or very few alternatives, such as grain, barley, sunflower seeds and feed crops, as well as mineral fertilisers, a major share of which are exported to the low-income countries that are facing food shortages. The EU politicians do not care about this, because nobody has ever called them to account.

The disruption of trade, logistics and financial chains and, consequently, a sharp rise in food prices throughout the world are a direct result of the irresponsible adoption of even more anti-Russia restrictions and threats of increased sanctions pressure on Russia. Russia’s bank settlements and flights to and from EU countries have been blocked. Isn’t this a direct cause of the situation on the food market? Only those who live in a vacuum can think so. Brussels has adopted unprecedented restrictions on Russian fertiliser exports and individual sanctions on major Russian fertiliser producers and exporters. The declared goal of this policy is to undermine Russia’s economy, including agriculture, which moved into top gear over the past years. Blinded by their hatred for Russia, nobody stopped to think about the consequences for the countries which traditionally depend on our supplies. When they became aware of what happened, they attempted to shift the blame on Russia. It’s crossing the line beyond good and evil.

Cynically claiming to be concerned about humanitarian matters, Brussels is rushing to offer its help. They simply love to create problem and then break their brains over them. The question is who should tackle the current problem. The so-called “solidarity lanes” plan to improve EU-Ukraine connectivity for grain export, which the European Commission presented the other day, is nothing other than requisitioning. Actually, Brussels has declared a full-scale mobilisation campaign to remove the available Ukrainian grain to the EU. When Ukraine, prompted by the West, shouted about the Holodomor, when grain was taken from producers in a bad harvest year, and presented it as the genocide of Ukrainians, the West applauded and looked for other pretexts to accuse Russia of unimaginable sins. What will it do now? It has announced that “hungry times” are coming. Why are they trying to remove the last remaining grain stocks from Ukraine? This is impossible, but it’s a fact. This is requisitioning.

The EU plan provides for creating alternative lanes to export Ukrainian agricultural produce to the EU and other countries, because the sea route has been blocked through Kiev’s fault. The EU will ease the formalities, expedite the sending of additional freight rolling stock, vessels and lorries to the Ukrainian border for transporting grain, transfer mobile grain loaders, make rail slots available for these exports, and suspend customs duties on Ukrainian exports for a year. Is this a licence to take advantage of Ukraine’s situation? To grab what you can lay your hands on? That’s rich!

Brussels views the large-scale transportation of grain from Ukraine as part of its “fundamental geostrategic goal.” The EU intends to achieve it even though international experts believe that Ukraine’s grain harvest will be much smaller this year. They expect problems in Ukraine, and yet they are taking away its last grain stocks. To present this as a noble act, Brussels has announced that it is guided above all by a desire to protect the world from Russia, which allegedly wants to take advantage of the global insecurity problem it presumably created in the first place, and to “steal” Ukraine’s share on the global market, so as to gain geopolitical weight in its confrontation with the West by supplying food to the most vulnerable poor countries. This is inhuman. We would like to tell our EU neighbours that this is not our but their methods.

The soaring prices of grain, feed crops and fertilisers, not to mention energy, and the unprofitability of farming and fishing businesses were a major concern for the EU member states long before the current crisis. Take a look at your own statements, reports and television shows. In late March 2022, a regular EU summit adopted a decision on the need to ensure food affordability in the member states. Several weeks later, the European Commission presented a detailed initiative on the urgent transportation of 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, which can seriously undermine the food security of Ukraine. However, Brussels, which is being guided by “the worse for Ukraine, the better for the West” principle, is not concerned about that.

We urge the international community not to rise to Western provocations, to accept reality and to rely on facts, since the West is willing to use the global food security problems, which it itself is actively creating and which did not appear yesterday, to attain its time-serving political interests. This is a historical fact. The “collective West” is accusing us because it is “highly likely” that we did it because we “always did it.” They say that we “always” did it, but they are not providing examples, let alone any proof. The West is plundering Ukraine now, just as the colonial West plundered other countries in the past, taking whatever it needed. It is doing exactly the same now.

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Biological warfare research in Ukraine

The Russian Federation has obtained materials indicating that biological laboratories in Ukraine operating with support from the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and its affiliated companies – Black and Veatch and CH2M Hill – engaged in biological warfare research in violation of Articles I and IV of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC).

The laboratories conducted research into dangerous and highly dangerous pathogens in the interests of the Pentagon’s National Centre for Medical Intelligence, with the BSL-3 Central Reference Laboratory based at Ukraine’s Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute in Odessa playing the key role in these programmes.

The following research centres were also actively involved in their implementation:

– State Scientific and Research Institute of Laboratory Diagnostics and Veterinary and Sanitary Expertise,  Institute of Veterinary Medicine of the Academy of Agrarian Sciences, and the Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Station of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Kiev;

– Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, State Laboratory of Veterinary Medicine, and Regional Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Lvov;

– State Regional Laboratory of Veterinary Medicine in Dnepr;

– Regional Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Kherson;

– Sanitary and Epidemiological Station Laboratory in Ternopol;

– Transcarpathian Regional Laboratory Centre of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Uzhgorod;

– Regional Laboratory Centre of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Vinnitsa;

– National Scientific Centre Institute of Experimental and Clinical Veterinary Medicine in Kharkov.

Thirty Ukrainian laboratories in 14 cities were involved in full-scale biological warfare research in Ukraine. The registration card of the relevant programme was signed by Deputy State Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Viktor Polishchuk.  The legal framework was provided by the Agreement between the Department of Defenсe of the United States of America and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Concerning Cooperation in the Area of Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise That Could be Used in the Development of Biological Weapons.   The RC determined the commissioner of the work – the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency – and a list of biological facilities.

The employees working with dangerous pathogens in Ukraine were US citizens who had diplomatic immunity. The group included biological weapons experts; they established contacts with Ukrainians, who were previously involved in Soviet biological warfare programmes. For example, Project UP-8 studying the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and Hantaviruses is evidence that all serious high-hazard research was directly supervised by US specialists.

The documents obtained allow us to state that the Ukrainian biological laboratories (including divisions of the Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Directorate of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry) engaged in activities aimed at enhancing the pathogenic properties of agents inducing plague, anthrax, tularaemia, cholera, and other deadly diseases, using synthetic biology methods.

On February 24, 2022, the Ukrainian Health Ministry publicly issued instructions to immediately dispose of the reserves of dangerous and especially dangerous pathogens stored at biological facilities, which proves that the Kiev regime did try to sweep any traces of these operations under the carpet. The review of the disposal statements confirmed that these facilities worked with the plague, anthrax, leptospirosis, and brucellosis agents. In the Lvov laboratory alone, they destroyed 232 containers of leptospirosis agents, 30 of tularemia, 10 of brucellosis, and 5 containing plague pathogens, and in total, over 320 containers. This inventory, coupled with the excessive quantity of pathogens, demonstrates that we are dealing here with biological weapons programmes carried out in violation of Article 1 of the BWC.

We also obtained evidence that two biological laboratories in Mariupol were working with the Pentagon. The preliminary review of the remaining documents showed that Mariupol served as a regional hub for collecting and classifying cholera agents. The selected strains were then transferred to the Public Health Centre in Kiev, which then forwarded these biological samples to the United States. Carried out since 2014, this activity is evidenced by statements confirming the transfer of the strains. Why did it start in 2014? The reason lies in the anti-constitutional coup. It upended Ukraine’s independence in making decisions, and overseeing and analysing activities of this kind. People from the United States, Canada and other NATO countries flocked to Ukraine to take charge of the main domestic, foreign policy and economic activity and everything related to defence, military and strategic affairs, etc.

A statement was discovered in a sanitary and epidemiological laboratory. Dated February 25, 2022, it provides for the disposal of a collection of pathogenic microorganisms, demonstrating that the facility worked with cholera, tularemia, and anthrax agents.

In the rush to dispose of the inventory, part of it remained in this veterinary laboratory. The fact that it contained agents that are not typically found in livestock, such as typhoid, paratyphoid, and gas gangrene, is quite perplexing. This could mean that this laboratory, too, took part in the biological weapons programme.

We have every reason to assert that the DTRA focused its operations in Ukraine on collecting strains of dangerous microorganisms and exporting them to the United States, as well as studying naturally occurring agents in this region, which can be transmitted to people, with the aim of potentially using them in biological weapons. In 2020, two mobile laboratories arrived in Donbass in order to collect biological samples from the local population, primarily in the country’s eastern regions, and study them. Black and Veatch acted as DTRA’s contractor in this project.

It was with DTRA’s support that the laboratories in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa in Ukraine took part in the UP-4 project before 2020 to study the transmission of especially dangerous infections (highly pathogenic influenza A H5N1, which has a mortality rate of over 50 percent for humans, as well as the Newcastle Disease, which affects poultry) by wild birds migrating between Ukraine, Russia and other Eastern European countries.

In addition, the documents we obtained show that the United States planned to work on bird, bat and reptile pathogens in Ukraine this year, followed by a study of whether they could transmit the African swine fever and anthrax (P-781, UP-2, UP-9, UP-10 projects). This was a system-wide research effort carried out since at least 2009 and controlled directly by US specialists as part of projects P-382, P-444 and P-568. DTRA’s office head at the US embassy in Kiev was among those overseeing this activity.

One of the goals of the UP-2 project consisted of locating places where animal carcasses had been buried and collecting soil samples from burial sites of cattle infected with anthrax. The epidemiological situation in Ukraine as far as anthrax was concerned was quite positive, which begs the question: What was the Pentagon actually looking for? I would like to remind all geography buffs out there in NATO (we saw incredible people who thought that the Baltic and the Black seas form one big lake) that the United States does not share a border with Ukraine. Even if they want to find one, it is still not there. Attempts by the Pentagon to present this as a national security concern are groundless and do not hold water. But what was the Pentagon doing in the Ukrainian biological laboratories in the first place? The fact that the US military biologists were so keen to study disease-transmitting insects near cattle burial sites was not a coincidence, since during the 2016 anthrax outbreak in Russia there were cases where flies, including horseflies, transmitted the disease.

In addition, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation discovered three drones, equipped with 30-litre containers and sprays, in the Kherson Region on March 9, 2022. In late April 2022, they discovered 10 more devices of this kind near Kakhovka, after Russia released documents demonstrating Ukraine’s attempts to obtain drones equipped with sprays from the maker of the Bayraktars.

More than 4,000 people took part in studies under project UP-8. According to the Bulgarian media, some 20 Ukrainian soldiers died and 200 were hospitalised in the Kharkov laboratory alone during the experiments. The United States cannot carry out this activity on its own territory, so its military carry it out abroad. Where? Where they can, where there are no laws, where there is nobody to implement or enforce the law. This happened to be Ukraine.

It is an established fact that potentially dangerous biological agents were tested on the most vulnerable social group – patients at Kharkov’s regional psychiatric hospital No. 3. We have evidence describing in detail the Pentagon’s inhuman experiments with Ukrainian citizens at psychiatric hospital No. 1 (Strelechye, Kharkov Region).

The research results on the spread of dangerous deadly diseases like cholera, smallpox, anthrax, and botulinum toxins, were sent to military biological centres in the United States. These include the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Naval Medical Research Centre, as well as US Army Biological Warfare Laboratories at Fort Detrick, which used to be the key facilities in the US biological weapons programme. The US virologists focused on analysing the obtained samples to identify gene mutations in the agents and assess their virulence, pathogenic power and resistance to treatment.

Incidentally, about 2,000 blood serum samples taken from Ukrainian citizens of predominantly Slavic ethnic background have been sent to the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. More than 140 containers with bat ectoparasites such as fleas and ticks have been transferred to Germany.

The programmes were financed either directly under DTRA contracts with private American companies (mainly СН2М Hill) as part of the Defence Department’s project to counter especially dangerous pathogens in Ukraine until 2024, or through the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine. Overall, more than $1.5 billion has been allocated for the implementation of bioprojects over the past 10 years. In particular, the Rosemont Seneca investment fund with financial resources of at least $2.4 billion has been involved in financing this activity. At the same time, it has been found to be closely linked with the main Pentagon contractors, including Metabiota, which, along with Black and Veatch, is the main equipment supplier for Pentagon’s biolabs across the world.

According to reports, DTRA informed the Pentagon in early March that the facilities in Ukraine used by US biological research programmes were a growing danger for European countries due to the hostilities on Ukrainian territory.

Worse still, the experiments with dangerous and highly dangerous pathogens carried out in Ukraine in the interests of the Pentagon had long been attracting attention from Ukrainian nationalist groups. In case of a military defeat, the nationalists could use those materials to implement the so-called scorched earth tactic, which was an additional threat.

Furthermore, during the special military operation, Russia obtained materials that evidenced the deliberate use, in 2020, of a multidrug-resistant tuberculosis pathogen to infect the population, including minors, in the Slavyanoserbsky District of the LPR by distributing flyers that looked like counterfeit banknotes. According to the Lugansk Republican Sanitary and Epidemiological Station report, “… the banknotes have most likely been infected artificially because the sample contains extremely dangerous strains in a concentration that can ensure infection and the development of the tuberculosis process.” The chief physician of the Lugansk Republican TB Prevention Centre has confirmed in a letter that “there are all signs of deliberate, man-made contamination of flyers with highly pathogenic biomaterial.” Do you know what they are testing the Ukrainians’ samples for in the EU? Tuberculosis. Why? Because they know what NATO agencies have been doing there.

DTRA has proposed to the Pentagon chiefs to take additional measures to monitor the epidemiological situation in Ukraine and neighbouring European countries. In case of any infection outbreaks, the recommendation is to immediately accuse the Russian Armed Forces of “attacking research and medical institutions,” or blame “Russian sabotage groups.” They have already established the necessary communication channels with the Pentagon’s partners in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

According to available information, DTRA demanded that the Ukrainian ministries of defence and health ensure the guaranteed destruction of all remaining materials from the bio-research projects in Ukraine. The people who are now in the EU countries, many of them suffering from tuberculosis, are not victims of airstrikes on Ukrainian research centres used by the Pentagon. They weren’t subjected to any of that. They are just carriers. Because the United States has been carrying out that activity on the territory of the country where they lived. DTRA was afraid the international community would interpret the information about the results of their experiments as a violation of the BTWC by the United States. Most of the documents have been removed from the labs in Kiev, Odessa and Kharkov to the Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene and American diplomatic institutions in Lvov.

The materials obtained by the Russian Federation suggest an unambiguous conclusion that private American companies affiliated with the Pentagon had been supporting the development of bioweapons in labs on the territory of Ukraine in the immediate vicinity of Russia. The urgent destruction of especially dangerous pathogens was required to prevent the discovery of violations of Articles 1 and 4 of the BTWC. This has confirmed the validity of Russia’s repeated claims, in the context of the implementation of the BTWC, about the biological warfare activities the United States and its allies have been conducting in post-Soviet countries.

We are preparing to invoke the mechanisms of Articles 5 and 6 of the BTWC, according to which the states parties must consult one another and cooperate in solving any problems that may arise in relation to the purpose of the Convention or the implementation of its provisions, as well as cooperate in any investigation of possible violations of BTWC obligations.

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Closing Canada’s CBC bureau in Moscow 

With deep regret we continue to note blatant attacks on Russian media in the countries of the “collective West.” They call themselves civilised, developed democracies. Among recent examples is Canada’s ban on the Russian television channels RT and RT France. We said that we would respond. The response would be symmetrical, similar, proportional, it does not matter. But it would be adequate.

We have repeatedly warned that such unilateral restrictive measures that defy the principles of freedom of speech and hinder the work of the Russian media will not be left unanswered. Everybody must realise that our response is inevitable and will happen following any such incident.

In this regard, a decision has been made to respond to Canada’s actions, namely, to close the Moscow bureau of CBC, the Canadian state television of radio broadcasting corporation, including cancelling the accreditations and Russian visas of its journalists.

Unfortunately, it is blatantly clear that the official Ottawa is pursuing an openly Russophobic course. It is understandable. Who had been steering the country’s foreign policy for many years? A person with roots going back to mid-20th century collaborationism. It is clear why they turn a blind eye to neo-Nazism in Ukraine: they were the ones who encouraged it. In addition to direct political, military and financial support of the Kiev regime, the attacks on dissenting views and media censorship have been part of their Russophobic course. Any alternate point of view is always dubbed the Kremlin’s disinformation.

Ottawa’s anti-Russia policy is reflected in the most negative way in the actions of Canada’s state television and radio. In fact, CBC has transformed into the voice of propaganda that distributes fake news and questionable information regarding Russia, consigning journalist ethnics and even elementary rules of decorum to oblivion. We would have put up with that. We did for many years; we ignored or disavowed fake information, disclosed and refuted it. But there have been actual restrictions against Russian media. So, we respond in kind.

Once again, we emphasise that Moscow’s retaliation measures towards the hostile actions of the Trudeau’s government are not aimed against the people of Canada, who our country traditionally respects. The problem is with Canada’s ruling elite and the media that serve it. They are deliberately destroying Russia-Canada relations to the detriment of its own national interests.

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Situation at the JCPOA reactivation talks

Despite a certain lull at the talks in Vienna, the countries, parties to the nuclear deal, as well as US representatives, continue to exert vigorous efforts, while searching for the most effective and mutually acceptable way of resuming the full-fledged implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under its initial parameters. All the concerned parties realise that there is no alternative to the nuclear deal.

The parties to the negotiating process continue to maintain their contacts. Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service and Coordinator of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, visited Tehran last week. European and Iranian colleagues positively assess the meetings that took place during this visit, and note incipient progress. This instils a certain hope that we have taken one more step towards our main goal, namely ensuring the full-fledged reactivation of the JCPOA.

In turn, we intend to continue doing everything possible to ensure the positive outcome of the talks in Vienna, which require wholehearted efforts from all the participants, including Iran, the United States and European countries. This is our firm and objective position. We are urging all healthy forces to use their energy to preserve the JCPOA and restore the calibrated balance of interests on which it hinges.

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The situation in the Republic of Moldova

We have noted a number of events in Moldova that are a cause for concern.

On May 11, 2022, Moldova’s TV-8 television channel broadcast a Skype interview with Leonid Volkov, a member of the Russian opposition. He is a person of interest in criminal cases that have been opened in Russia, and arrest warrants have been issued for him in CIS member states under the Agreement on Interstate Search for People of December 10, 2010, of which the Republic of Moldova is a party. At the same time, the country stipulates tough broadcasting restrictions for Russian media outlets, claiming “unbalanced” information content provision. Has Moldova banned CNN or BBC broadcasts? Has it banned the websites of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Financial Times? Or do they provide completely balanced information content?

On May 13, 2022, the Moldova Post said it was temporarily suspending the delivery of all letters and parcels to the Russian Federation, citing “technical reasons.” Over 220,000 Russian citizens now live in Moldova, and Moldovan diaspora in Russia has more than 200,000 members. The Moldova Post’s decision infringes upon the right of Russian and Moldovan residents to maintain business, cultural, humanitarian and personal contacts.

The above-mentioned actions of official Chisinau, as well as some of its other actions and statements, make one doubt that the country’s leadership is really committed to the Republic’s neutral status, to honouring the rights and interests of its residents, as well as to maintaining pragmatic and mutually beneficial partnership with Russia.  I know that Chisinau reacts sensitively to our statements, but we are no less sensitive to their actions.

Although the Moldovan authorities did not announce this, various national agencies are applying Western anti-Russian sanctions in the banking sphere and during the re-export of Russian goods. With the connivance of the Moldovan authorities, protesters have been staging daily anti-Russia rallies near the Russian Embassy in Chisinau for almost 60 days, and these rallies hamper the normal work of the diplomatic mission. A recent outrageous ban on using St George ribbons in the Republic caused a public outcry in Russia and Moldova.

We are once again urging the Moldovan party to refrain from actions that are detrimental to relations with Russia and not to follow in the wake of forces striving to involve the Republic of Moldova in the anti-Russia campaign. This negatively affects the citizens of our countries, in particular.

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Russia’s stance on Cyprus settlement

Once again, we are seeing certain media outlets spreading rumours that Russia is changing its principled stance on the Cyprus settlement. These provocative rumours have nothing to do with reality and pursue just one goal: to discredit our country and its foreign policy.

We have never questioned the principles of the peaceful solution to the Cyprus issue. We continue to consistently support a solution in line with international law and UN Security Council resolutions, which provide for creating a bicommunal bizonal federation with common international identity, sovereignty and citizenship.

Once again, our approach to the situation in Cyprus is widely known and remains unchanged concerning all aspects, including the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFYCIP), which plays an exceptionally important stabilising role in the current environment of uncertainty. We believe it is important to continue the operation of UNFYCIP as it was important to appoint a UN Secretary-General Special Representative in charge of the settlement that reports to the UN Security Council.

I would like to note for Cypriot media that we are always ready to comment on any leaks they may get to prevent misinformation on their pages.

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Growing terrorist activity in Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries

We are concerned about significantly intensified extremist activity in Burkina Faso and increasingly frequent cases of the extremists crossing over to the neighbouring countries.

In particular, on May 14‒16, 2022, a series of attacks on gendarmerie posts and self-defence groups, as well as attacks on a column of civilians near the border with Benin took place in the northern and eastern regions of Burkina Faso. The attacks resulted in more than 40 victims, including among civilians.

Earlier, in the early hours of May 11, 2011, as a result of a large-scale attack from the northern territory of Burkina Faso targeting an advance outpost of the Togolese armed forces, eight members of the military were killed and 13 sustained injuries of different severity levels. This was the first terrorist attack with casualties in the history of the state.

We strongly condemn these crimes and extend our condolences to the loved ones of those killed and wish speedy recovery to the injured.

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Desecration of Soviet military graves in Gdansk

We were outraged by an act of vandalism committed on May 11, 2022, in Gdansk, where perpetrators tore out and damaged 20 stars on the memorials to Soviet liberators on the graves of the Red Army soldiers killed while liberating the city.

The nature of this heinous act is absolutely clear: insulting the memory of the dead is now an integral part of Polish political provocateurs’ arsenal. This latest incident is not a random occasion but part of a deliberate campaign pursued by official Warsaw to disparage everything that is sacred for the people of Russia and those who fought against the brown plague.

Sadly, regular reports on criminal and immoral acts against the Soviet military legacy in Poland have long become ordinary news indicating that Polish officials have unleashed a Russophobic campaign. Recently, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki publicly confessed to his hatred of everything Russian thus revealing the nature of Warsaw’s policy against our country. Or is it just his personal opinion?

We can confidently say that Warsaw, neglecting all moral and international legal norms, has embarked on a course of state-supported vandalism against the memory of Soviet soldiers who gave their lives to save Poland from extermination by Nazis.

We want to remind any frenzied Russophobes that all their barbaric acts and dirty pillaging will not destroy the truth about the Victory. We will not allow it.

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Desecrating a memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died when crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge (Switzerland)

On May 15, 2022, unidentified individuals desecrated the memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died while crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge in Switzerland. The memorial cross and inscription were splashed with paint. What did Suvorov do to offend them?

We are deeply outraged by this horrendous act of vandalism. The incident demonstrates the level of culture in Switzerland. It has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with you and those who stand behind this kind of campaigns, condone them and fail to search for or covers for the perpetrators.

We sent a protest note to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation demanding that it takes urgent measures to rectify the damage caused, find and prosecute the guilty and ensure proper security of the memorial.

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13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022

On May 19‒21, 2022, the 13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022 will take place in Kazan. The event is held under the aegis of the Russia – Islamic World Strategic Vision Group, chaired by President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov.

KazanSummit is a well-established platform for presenting the Russian Federation’s economic opportunities and investment potential to its partners from Islamic countries. It serves as a modern dialogue platform for building new connections between representatives of international organisations, financial institutions and government bodies, embassies, and the senior managers of major Russian and foreign companies. Several events are scheduled on the sidelines of this year’s summit, including Russia Halal Expo 2022, the Machine Engineering Cluster Forum, World Halal Day and festivities marking the 1,100th anniversary of Volga Bulgaria’s adoption of Islam.

Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East Mikhail Bodganov and Ambassador-at-Large Konstantin Shuvalov will take part on behalf of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The 6th OIC Young Diplomats’ Forum (hereinafter the “forum”) will also take place during the summit, to be attended by representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Council of Young Diplomats, as well as invited guests and experts.

The forum will focus on issues of indivisible security, prospects for cooperation with OIC countries, countering new challenges and threats, and the role of young diplomats from the Islamic world in forming a major foreign political agenda. The International Association of Young Diplomats will hold its first induction ceremony.

The forum has been held since 2015, with more than 160 representatives of the OIC foreign ministries and agencies attending over the years. The forum is organised by the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Council of Young Diplomats, the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Academy of Youth Diplomacy public organisation.

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2nd Kostomarov Forum

One of our country’s priorities on the foreign humanitarian track is supporting and promoting the Russian language abroad. The Kostomarov Forum, organised by the Alexander Pushkin State Institute of the Russian Language, significantly contributes to developing international cooperation in this area.

This year, the forum will be held on May 24‒25 and will focus on the role of the Russian language and its functioning in the new conditions created by the information revolution and technological breakthrough of recent decades.

The forum programme includes a presentation of the Pushkin Institute’s research paper, 2021 Russian Language World Index, a panel discussion on preparations for the Year of the Russian Language as a Language of Interethnic Communication Across the CIS, to be held in 2023. The Cyril and Methodius Readings research and practice conference will comprise 30 sessions on sharing experience in linguistics, literature studies, teaching Russian as a foreign language, and social sciences and humanities. A roundtable meeting on the history and modern issues concerning the Cyrillic alphabet will be held. The detailed programme is available on the forum’s website.

Russian and foreign scholars, teachers, literature researchers and journalists, as well as representatives of government bodies, professional and public associations and business organisations are expected to attend.

The forum’s working language is Russian. The event will be held in the hybrid format. Sessions will also be streamed online on its website.

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Eurasian Economic Forum in Bishkek

On May 26, Bishkek will host the Eurasian Economic Forum. Its topic will be ‘Eurasian economic integration at the time of global change. New investment opportunities.’

We expect the forum to serve as a networking platform where businesses, government agencies, academia and experts can discuss the key matters on the development agenda of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), promoting entrepreneurship across its space and green energy, as well as strengthening region-to-region ties and cooperation.

The forum’s main programme includes six panel discussions covering the strategic prospects for Eurasian integration, ensuring economic stability for EAEU member states, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, and transport infrastructure, the digital agenda, as well as new areas of cooperation for the EAEU.

You can register for the forum and explore its programme on its website. You can also follow its online stream.

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Answers to media questions:

Question: Russia withdrew from the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, citing the lack of dialogue. What is your assessment of the diplomatic contacts in this region?

Maria Zakharova: Let me draw your attention to the statement that we made yesterday announcing Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

The situation within the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) has been deteriorating. NATO and EU countries within CBSS rejected equal dialogue and the principles that lie at the very foundation of this regional structure in the Baltic, consistently striving to turn it into a tool of their anti-Russia policy. Illegal and discriminatory decisions have been made in violation of the consensus rule. Russia has been suspended from further participation in the Council’s activities and projects, and Belarus, which has an observer status within the Council, was also suspended.

The CBSS has been riddled with contradictions for a long time now, and we pointed out many of them. You can find this in our briefings, statements and comments. Our former partners sought to politicise the Council’s activity by promoting their own ideology-driven agenda. Russia, in turn, focused on practical cooperation, prioritising stable socioeconomic development for the Baltic region. Unfortunately, the destructive logic of the other side prevailed.

The Western countries – to call them what they are – monopolised the Council for the sake of their momentary interests and they want to make it work against Russia’s interests. They project extra-regional issues onto the Baltic, pressure those who are interested in continuing full and unabridged cooperation, threatening to undermine everything that has been achieved over the past years, as well as regional stability. On May 25, 2022, Kristiansand, Norway, is expected to host the CBSS Ministerial Session without Russia. They de facto stole our contribution to the CBSS budget and refuse to return it, citing sanctions.

We don’t see any prospects for putting the Council back on track. Instead, it is sinking deeper and deeper into Russophobia and lies. We believe staying in the CBSS would be unreasonable and counterproductive for our country. Russia will not participate in turning this organisation into yet another platform for subversion and Western self-admiration.

In response to these hostile acts, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sent a message to CBSS ministers, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as the Council’s Secretariat in Stockholm to notify them of Russia’s withdrawal from this organisation. At the same time, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation took the decision to leave the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.

Ending Russia’s CBSS membership will not affect its regional presence. Attempts to expel our country from the Baltic are doomed to failure. We will continue working with responsible partners and hold events on the key issues on the development agenda of the Baltic region that we all share, as well as to defend and promote the interests of our compatriots.

The current situation within the CBSS rests on the conscience of those who undermined the very foundations of this organisation.

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Question: The United States, the EU and UN have stated they are willing to assist in the removal of grain from Ukraine. Have they discussed these initiatives with Russia?

Maria Zakharova: The EU member states were seriously concerned over the rapid rise in the prices of grain, fodder and fertilisers, let alone energy prices, even before the current crisis, as well as the unprofitability of private farming and fishing. All of this was put in black and white. The EU summit held in late March passed the decision on the need to guarantee, under the existing circumstances, the affordability of food in the EU member countries.  A few weeks later, the European Commission came up with a detailed initiative to this effect (I spoke about it earlier today).

We urge the international community not to succumb to provocations. I have no information confirming that the initiatives I have mentioned were in any manner discussed with Russia.

Question: What can you say about the murder of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh?

Maria Zakharova: This tragedy has stirred up the entire Arab world. Few people remain indifferent to it. The Palestinian journalist was killed in the line of duty as she was selflessly covering an Israeli raid on the refugee camp in Jenin on the West Bank.

Yesterday, while meeting in Moscow with Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), member of the Fatah Central Committee and Head of the General Authority for Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, Sergey Lavrov expressed condolences on the death of Shireen Abu Akleh and voiced his support of the Palestinian demand to hold an unbiased investigation into her death.

We should focus separately on the outrage that occurred during her funeral, when the military assaulted the people carrying the body and accompanying the funeral procession. I can tell you honestly that I have never seen anything like that.

As for a response to what was going on at the funeral from related international institutions… Were they there?

I would like to note that the lack of progress in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the stalemate in the negotiating process repeatedly explode into fierce standoffs that leave in their wake numerous victims among peaceful civilians, including women and children. These tragedies could be avoided by achieving mutually acceptable compromises regarding the final status via a direct dialogue based on the generally recognised international legal framework of Middle East settlement that provides for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The Russian leaders have repeatedly spoken about this.

Question: How will the Russian Foreign Ministry respond to the Lithuanian Foreign Minister’s call for a regime change in Russia? 

Maria Zakharova: This is an attempt to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs and destroy what remains of our bilateral relations. He is trying to curry favour with his overseas masters.

Mr Landsbergis, who lives in a state that tramples underfoot the basic human rights and freedoms, has clearly forgotten that the Russian President is elected by the people. This has nothing to do with his personal views or his country’s position. But the pathological hatred that he feels for Russia is blurring his vision and depriving him of the last of his reason. Consequently, he can’t see the obvious. This is Russophobia, pure and simple.

Let us take a look at the people who make these statements. We always comment only on statements. But who makes them? They are made by people who have Russophobia in their blood. It is inherited as a specific “legacy” or, possibly, a genetic trait.

I have a lot to say about the Landsbergis regime. They are a dynasty. Let me give you just a few widely available facts. You will understand who I am talking about. All materials are from open sources. They are also available in the archives.

Suffice it to recall the great-grandfather of the current Lithuanian foreign minister, Vytautas Landsbergis-Zemkalnis, who in 1941was the utilities minister in the Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis Government that collaborated with the Nazis. Landsbergis was directly involved in the effort to create concentration camps all over Lithuania, including in Kaunas. He was the Landsbergises regime’s great-grandfather. It was there, at Fort Nine, that on October 29, 1941, the Nazis committed a heinous crime, executing 9,200 Jews, including 4,273 children.

Landsbergis-Zemkalnis also collaborated with Gestapo, the German secret police. After the war, he fled to Australia (which also does not notice neo-Nazism in today’s Ukraine, but has introduced all sorts of sanctions against Russian citizens) but was granted the right to return to the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1959 after he contributed information about other Nazi fugitives to the Soviet security bodies.

The foreign minister’s grandfather, Professor of the Vilnius Philharmonic Society Vytautas Landsbergis, continued the family tradition of conformism and change of political position. He actively collaborated with the USSR secret services: at their recommendation he was appointed the leader of the movement of the Lithuanian intellectuals in support of the perestroika (Sajudis). At his will, it later transformed into a separatist movement for the withdrawal of Lithuania from the USSR. So much for the family.

Vytautas Petkevicius, Landsbergis’s colleague at the Sajudis action group, wrote the following about this grey eminence of Lithuanian politics: “From the very first days, Landsbergis sought to turn the organisation into his pocket political party, with membership, party cards and membership fees.”  In all evidence, he was motivated by his knowledge of the best totalitarian practices. Later he started mixing up Sajudis money with his own. This was something in the liberal economy genre. Still later, contributions from compatriots became this gentleman’s personal money box, a source of payments to his allies, extras for participating in rallies, and funds for foreign travel. The same pocket ate up one million dollars collected by Canadians for Lithuanian orphans and a Norwegian donation to the Lithuanian people. But Landsbergis again managed to get himself out of the mess, declaring that he had created a fund bearing his name.

Autocracy pales in comparison with the Baltic democracies and their representatives. If you only knew how Baltic officials start cringing when you come to citing facts from their biographies or those of their relatives who have directly influenced their civil service promotion or career advancement.  Do you know how much they dislike it? But why are you so embarrassed about it? These are the facts of your biography, and you should be proud of them. We didn’t invent anything. We have just facts and quotes. And you have disproved nothing. So, take it and sign for it.

Question: Could you comment on the Ukrainian authorities’ recent decision to nationalise the property of Russia’s banks VEB and Sberbank?

Maria Zakharova: The Kiev regime stopped caring about the norms and principles of international law and the Ukrainian Constitution long ago, both with regard to its own citizens and those of other states. It is hardly surprising that, on May 12, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the executive order of President Vladimir Zelensky on the so-called enforced confiscation of Russian property in the country. In effect, this amounts to a brazen theft of assets owned by subsidiaries of Russia’s Sberbank and the State Development Corporation of Russia VEB.RF located in Ukraine. These assets are worth $860 million. This is a continuation of the same logic. However, no one in Kiev has any misgivings about the fact that the nationalised subsidiary banks also manage the money of Ukrainian citizens and legal entities, and that the Ukrainian authorities are simply robbing them.

This unconstitutional escapade of the Kiev regime replicates the worst actions of this kind by Washington, Brussels and London. Let them call it whatever they like. In reality, this is banal theft.

Question: The President of Finland described Vladimir Putin’s response to his country joining NATO as surprisingly calm. How does this calm Russian response tally with the Deputy Foreign Minister’s statement that Russia will not simply reconcile itself to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO?

Maria Zakharova: This was how the Finnish party perceived reality. You should ask them why they got this impression and whether it was correct. This is their perception. Let’s not confuse things. Everyone has a right to perceive things the way he or she sees fit.

The Russian party has set forth its position regarding the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. We have published our arguments and statements.

Every state has a sovereign right to choose specific options to ensure its national security. However, no one should ensure its own security at the expense of other countries’ security.

The Russian Federation will respond, and the content of its countermeasures, including military-technical elements, will largely depend on specific NATO membership terms for Finland and Sweden, including the deployment of foreign military bases and strike weapons systems on their territory. Our response will feature less words and more actual steps.

Question: An 18-year-old neo-Nazi who shot at a crowd in the United States sported the insignia of the Azov battalion. Can you comment on this coincidence?

Maria Zakharova: This is not the first mass shooting based on such hatred. It goes without saying that a comprehensive investigation should be conducted, including confirmation of the fact that the shooter used Nazi symbols, the so-called “black sun.”  We saw the video and think that an investigation must be held. This is important because a lot of unverified information is now circulating. Let’s be guided by the facts.

However, the very atmosphere of a deep public fissure in American society, as well as neglected problems of racism and institutionalised violence, due to free access to weapons, generate new manifestations of crime that are horrendous in terms of their scale and the ways they are carried out.

Regarding the link with Nazi symbols and Azov, which you have mentioned, this amounts to the flirtation of the US administration and its security services with neo-Nazis all over the world, with obvious consequences. They forget that all this will also spill over into the United States. In fact, this has already been happening for a long time. If they see nothing unusual in the fact that neo-Nazi ideas are spreading in “client” countries, then why should they be surprised that such symbols are actively used in various US states? The problem lies elsewhere. This isn’t just about symbols, it is about a revival. Many do not grasp the gist of this. We are talking about the actions that these symbols provoke. They explain a person’s planned future actions, and they are like a warning danger sign or a semaphore.  Many perceive this as an endorsement of such symbols and the related actions in the United States. This flirtation, which we have mentioned, leads to such tragic results.

Question: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the 30th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy that “in the current environment, we are witnessing a serious shift in the mindsets of many of our comrades in all spheres of Russia’s life.” What effect is this having on the staff of the ministry’s central office, the embassies and consulates general?

Maria Zakharova: Like the rest of the country, we have rallied even closer together. Awareness of the historical shift underway in the world, which is life-changing for Russia, has given a fresh impetus to the resolve of our personnel to do their professional duties even more professionally and diligently.

Crises can catch you unawares, when you can’t think straight, feel at a loss and lose heart, or it can give you more inspiration. The latter is our case. We have rallied together and joined forces and efforts to attain the goals set for us by the nation.

The completely unprovoked outbreak of Russophobia in the West, the illegal trade and economic restrictions and the desire to demonise everything Russian have reinforced the belief of our staff and their families that truth, justice and moral probity are on the side of Russia and its people. They have found themselves at the forefront of the political stage, that’s for sure. You can’t imagine the situation they’re living in now and the actions that are being taken against them, from provocations and threats to open violence, psychological pressure and the creating of conditions that those behind these things believe will make their work impossible. We are proud of our people!

They have shown remarkable personality traits, such as comradeship and professionalism. I am referring both to our rank-and-file employees and to the senior officials in our foreign offices, as Sergey Lavrov pointed out.

We are reshuffling our personnel. Those who are returning home will be offered new positions. The relevant departments are regularly reporting on this to the minister.

As for foreign policy guidelines, we have redoubled efforts to strengthen our diplomacy on the eastern track and in Africa, Latin America and the CIS. The results will not be long in coming.

Question: Dmitry Birichevsky, director of the Department of Economic Cooperation at the ministry, noted recently that the EU’s decision to suspend Russian oil and gas imports would have an extremely negative effect on the European and global economies. What effect will this embargo have on Russia? What countermeasures can your ministry take?

Maria Zakharova: The physical volume of Russian hydrocarbon exports has decreased amid the foreign sanctions pressure. However, we believe that our export revenues will at least not decrease, due to rapidly rising oil and gas prices. The so-called embargo, which the EU is now considering, could send oil prices soaring.

Our obvious logical response in this event would be to reorient our oil and gas exports.  This is not an easy task. It will involve changing logistics routes, as well as legal and business matters. Russia is already reorienting its coal, oil and gas export infrastructure towards the East. It is worth noting that energy needs around the world, and especially in the Asia Pacific region, will be growing. We have no doubt about demand for Russian energy resources. The Foreign Ministry is helping Russian companies find counterparties, including in Asia Pacific.

Question: Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has pointed out that joining NATO will not strengthen the security of Sweden and Finland. As for economic ties, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has made several other unfriendly moves towards Russia, notably regarding the nuclear power plant project with Rosatom. Maybe a picture of possible economic losses should be provided to Helsinki?

Maria Zakharova: Finland is aware of its economic losses because of the European sanctions and our response measures. We regard the decision taken by Finland’s Fennovoima to stop cooperating with Rosatom companies within the framework of the agreement on the construction of the Hanhikivi 1 Nuclear Power Plant as openly politicised. It is obvious that the decision to stop that commercial project was forced on the client by the Finnish authorities, who were pressured by their foreign partners. It is not a coincidence that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, which is responsible for energy matters, hastily welcomed that decision, which it described as “principled and consistent.” We know very well where such instructions are issued.

Rosatom State Corporation put forth its position on that matter in a May 2 statement. It expressed disappointment at the decision of Fennovoima Oy, which was taken without any detailed consultation with the project’s shareholders, the largest of which is RAOS Voima, which has a 34 percent stake in the project. Rosatom concluded that it reserved the right to defend its interests in accordance with applicable contracts and laws.

Question: Can you provide any information about those who left Azovstal? We know of discussions on a possible exchange on the Ukrainian side. Is there any discussion underway in Russia? We heard that Russian lawmakers are considering reinstating the death penalty for these people. What is the real situation?

Maria Zakharova: This is the competence of the Russian Ministry of Defence. At the same time, we would like to note that all the wounded and seriously injured people and anyone who needs medical assistance has been receiving it. They are in the Novoazovsk hospital in the DPR. The rest have been placed in a pre-trial detention centre in Yelenovka, a suburb of Donetsk.

As for other issues, they will be resolved in due course. At this stage, the most important issue is the safe exit of everyone from Azovstal, and providing them with medical care, other necessary humanitarian assistance and accommodation.

As for other questions, we will certainly provide regular updates.

Question: Is an exchange being discussed?

Maria Zakharova: At this stage, the information I shared is all I have. I have nothing to add.

Our priority, the one we have been stating for three weeks, was their exit from Azovstal. We have persuaded people to come out every day, and made several announcements of humanitarian corridors for everyone including civilians, militants and military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Only now has the Kiev regime allowed them to do so. At the moment, our priorities are their safe exit and the provision of assistance to them. This problem needs to be solved, and it is being solved now.

Question: What happens to those civilians who came out through the humanitarian corridors, but were stopped by the “filtering” procedure? Where are they being held? Will they be entitled to due legal procedure? What are the conditions of where they are kept?

Maria Zakharova: You mean the people who came out – when? Today? Who are exiting now? Those who needed medical assistance are receiving it, or have received it by now. I can check where the rest went, because this matter is the competence of the Russian Ministry of Defence. I promise to find this information. I’ll check and get back to you.

Question: Why does Russia consider Ukraine’s NATO membership and its cooperation with NATO such a big threat, while, according to Sergey Lavrov, Finland’s NATO membership does not have such great importance for Russia?

Maria Zakharova: I do not remember Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying it the way you quoted. Let me find the exact quote.

We have long insisted that any expansion of NATO has a bearing on, and significance in the context of global international and, in particular, European security. This was the security guarantees we demanded, because we have seen the alliance expand and reach our borders. You certainly understand the difference between the situations in Finland and Ukraine.

I don’t know, maybe you have some additional information about growing numbers of nationalist battalions in Finland, for example? Maybe dozens of Pentagon biological laboratories are deployed in Finland and experimenting with dangerous pathogens? I am unaware of any information about Finland being pumped full of the same types of weapons that have been supplied to Ukraine under contracts or without contracts to an area of an armed intra-Finnish conflict, but perhaps you know about it? I don’t know anything about it. This is just a brief overview of the differences between Finland and Ukraine in the last decade.

The developments in Ukraine followed a dramatic scenario due to blatant interference by Washington, with the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev being one of the strongest catalysts. Perhaps you have information on a similar revolution in Finland? I don’t know anything about it. This is why the two situations are different, in broad strokes.

The choice of ways to ensure national security is (this is our underlying approach) the sovereign right of each country, but at the same time, it should not be ensured at the expense of other states.

We have no other choice left but to take retaliatory measures. The specifics – including the military-technical aspect – will depend on the terms of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership, including the deployment of foreign military bases and strike weapon systems on their territory.

As for the differences in our reactions to Finland joining NATO and Ukraine’s ambition to become a member of this military bloc, as the Russian side emphasised earlier, in particular, they stem from Kiev’s decision to include in its doctrinal documents its intention to return Crimea, a sovereign Russian territory, possibly by military means. Finland has no territorial claims to the Russian Federation. There are no documents where it would say it could use any means to return any Russian territory. This is another argument to add to the previous ones.

Question: What kind of military-technical measures does Russia plan to apply to Finland, and what might their timeframe be?

Maria Zakharova: It will be a surprise. A question is for the Defence Ministry. The corresponding decision will factor in the full scope of details and specifics of how Finland’s membership in NATO will unfold. The decision will be made based on all these parameters, and primarily, it will be up to the military.

Question: Is there any discussion on exchanging Azovstal prisoners for the Russian, DPR or LPR soldiers being held captive? We would also like to know something about the fate of Artyom Ryabovichev and Daniil Romanov from a DPR tank brigade. Some Russian journalists wrote about them. According to their reports, they have been prisoners since May 1. Ukrainian militants were torturing them on camera and posting the videos online. Earlier, Ukraine refused to exchange them, saying it would negotiate only with Russia rather than with the DPR. Is the Foreign Ministry aware of the fate of Ryabovichev and Romanov and are there plans to put them on the exchange lists?

Maria Zakharova: Normally, we join in when there are diplomatic relations. After February 24, when Kiev broke off diplomatic relations with Russia and closed the Russian foreign missions in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry lost its channels for dealing with issues like this. Nevertheless, during the special military operation, these problems are being handled by the Defence Ministry of Russia and Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova. The Foreign Ministry constantly informs them of any case of a Russian citizens being detained in Ukraine. All this information is being consolidated.

We are able to raise these issues at international venues. We put these questions to Kiev’s Western sponsors, drawing their attention to the Ukrainian neo-Nazis’ cruel and inhuman treatment of detained Russian soldiers and of People’s Militia fighters from the DPR and LPR. We demand that the standards of international humanitarian law be rigorously observed with respect to these men. We urge related international organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to take exhaustive measures for their protection, specifically to gain access to them and honestly inform the international community about the results. We hope these efforts will help us find out more about the fate of these two DPR servicemen.

Question: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went on record as saying that Moscow has information indicating that Ukraine lacks independence at the talks and that it is “guided” by London and Washington. He also said that Russia had received no concrete proposals on Ukraine from the West. Does this mean that Moscow is losing interest in direct negotiations with Ukraine and wants the “collective West” to join the process?

Maria Zakharova: We showed an interest and displayed a lot of patience, an interest in all types of talks, for eight years. We came up with many possible scenarios on how these talks could be conducted. Currently, everything is being decided primarily on the ground.

When Ukraine showed an interest and signaled a desire to hold talks with Russia, we responded. But they started doing all they could to drag out the talks. When there was interest on the Ukrainian side, it was supported by Russia. At this point – the Russian Foreign Ministry and other agencies have commented on this – the Kiev regime is doing everything it can to prevent the talks from being held in a normal negotiating format.

The West has always been behind the Kiev regime, both the current and previous authorities. A “Western hand” has always guided the pen that was allegedly held by any representatives from Kiev. There is nothing new here, no breakthrough.

Question: How would you assess the work of the trilateral working group engaged in unblocking regional economic ties and communications, which is co-chaired by the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan? What stage is the process at now and when can we expect obvious results?

Maria Zakharova: We have high regard for the work of the Trilateral Working Group (TWG). The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan gave similar assessments during their meeting with Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the CIS Foreign Ministers Council meeting in Dushanbe on May 12.

We believe that the unblocking of all transport and economic connections in the South Caucasus is one of the key goals in the context of the effort to normalise Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and, more broadly, to harmonise cooperation in the region.

The TWG co-chairs have regular meetings designed to work out solutions that will suit all sides. Last week, the Russian co-chair, Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk, visited Yerevan for talks with Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. Among other things, the officials discussed how to open communications in the region. The co-chairs inform the media of the specific results of the joint work on an individual basis.

Question: Are there any clear agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding a possible meeting of the Commission on Border Delimitation and Security, where Russia is expected to provide advisory support?

Maria Zakharova: We are consistently advocating the creation of a bilateral commission for the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, with its subsequent demarcation with Russia’s advisory assistance. Simultaneously, as the trilateral statement from the November 26, 2021 Sochi summit stipulates, steps are to be taken to increase stability and security on the border between the two countries.

This matter was discussed during the trilateral meeting of foreign ministers in Dushanbe. Our partners said they were close to completing the formation of their national delegations. Russia has already built an expert team. We hope that in the near future, we could launch practical work on the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

We would like to emphasise that Russia has unique expert potential in border delimitation and settlement of border disputes between post-Soviet countries. We will be happy to share our experience and practices with our Armenian and Azerbaijani friends as part of the commission.

Question: The Azerbaijani side continues to violate the ceasefire on the border. On May 7, at around 1.50 pm, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces fired from different calibre firearms at the Sotk gold mine, injuring one of the mine employees. How would you comment on the Azerbaijani side’s actions against the civilian population?

Maria Zakharova: We are confident that the expeditious launch of the commission on the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border would effectively prevent any further border incidents. The commission could contribute to developing confidence-building mechanisms, including, for example, by creating contact groups to ensure stability in the border areas.

Question: Recent photos of the Armenian Holy Resurrection Church in Hadrut, a province controlled by the Azerbaijani side, on social media show that its cross has been dismantled and the Armenian inscriptions erased. How would you assess the acts of vandalism against Armenian cultural and religious sites in Nagorno-Karabakh?

Maria Zakharova: I have no information on this score. As Russian representatives have repeatedly emphasised, we call on both parties to preserve the region’s cultural and historical heritage, involving specialised international agencies including UNESCO, if necessary.

Question: The situation in Afghanistan and border security was one of the main issues at the CSTO summit in Moscow. What measures are planned to ensure the security of member countries within the framework of this organisation?

Maria Zakharova: The situation in the CSTO area of responsibility and in the immediate vicinity of our borders makes us be as vigilant as possible and ready, if necessary, to respond timely and appropriately to emerging threats to the security of member nations. This is a task of the organisation.

Pursuant to the instructions given by the leaders at the CSTO Extraordinary Summit on August 23, 2021, CSTO member states prepared proposals for joint response measures to challenges and threats from the territory of Afghanistan. The Russian Federation has proposed a number of specific measures through its foreign policy departments, including:

– Strengthening foreign policy coordination to ensure a unified position of CSTO member states on the political settlement in Afghanistan. Involving representatives of the CIS and SCO secretariats in the meetings of the Working Group on Afghanistan under the CSTO Foreign Ministers Council;

– Intensifying contacts between the CSTO and the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia;

– Stepping up cooperation between the competent agencies and special services of CSTO member states in detecting and neutralising extremist and terrorist cells in the countries of the Organisation;

– Taking a range of preventive measures as part of the unscheduled operations Nayomnik (Mercenary), PROXY and Nelegal (Illegal Alien);

– Focusing Kanal (Channel), a CSTO’s anti-drug operation, on suppressing drug trafficking along the “northern route”;

– Implementing joint measures to counter subversive propaganda by terrorist organisations in cyberspace on the basis of the CSTO’s 2016 List of Additional Measures to Counter International Terrorism and Extremism;

– Increasing cooperation between the CSTO and the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee.

All these measures are being consistently implemented and serve to strengthen the security of all member states of the Organisation, as well as to maintain stability in the region as a whole.

Question: How does the Russian Federation view the escalating tensions in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan?

Maria Zakharova: We are concerned by the information provided by the official authorities of Tajikistan on the escalation of tensions in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, which, according to reports, was provoked by criminal elements and extremist sympathisers, who joined them. As a result, there were victims and casualties, including among Tajik law enforcement officers.

The Russian Embassy in Dushanbe is in constant contact with the country’s competent authorities. According to preliminary information, there are no Russian citizens among the victims.

The Tajik authorities promise to take the necessary measures to stabilise the situation and ensure the safety of Russian citizens who may be present on the scene.

FM Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 30th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy

May 16, 2022

Moscow, May 14, 2022

Mr Lukyanov,

Mr Karaganov,

Colleagues,

I am glad to be here again, at this anniversary assembly. Last time, we met in this room on October 2, 2021. But I have an impression that this was in a totally different historical epoch.

I would like to congratulate you on the 30th anniversary of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy. Its activities are a fine example of Russian expert involvement in the foreign policy process. From the very start, the Council has brought together professionals, including politicians, state officials, journalists, academics, and entrepreneurs.  Throughout these years, this has ensured an effective and rewarding combination of practical experience and impeccable knowledge of the subject matter. Therein lies the key to comprehending the most complex international processes, particularly at stages like the present one. Advice, analytical materials, and debates (occasionally heated debates involving a clash of opinions) are of much help to us. We invariably take them into consideration in our foreign policy activities.

It is a cliche to say that this meeting is taking place at a historical turning point. I agree with the experts (Mr Karaganov and Mr Lukyanov have written a lot about this), who say that we again have to choose a historical path, like we did in 1917 and 1991.

The external circumstances have not just changed radically; they are changing ever more profoundly and extensively (though not becoming more elevated, unfortunately) with each passing day. And our country is changing along with them. It is drawing its conclusions. The choice we have taken is made easier by the fact that the “collective West” has declared a total hybrid war against us. It is hard to forecast how long this will last. But it is clear that its consequences will be felt by everyone without exception.

We did everything in our power to avoid a direct conflict. But they issued a challenge and we have accepted it. We are used to sanctions. We have been living under one or another form of sanctions for a long time now. The surprising thing is a surge of rabid Russophobia in almost all “civilised” countries. They have thrown to the wind their political correctness, propriety, rules, and legal norms. They are using the cancel culture against all things Russian. All hostile actions against our country are allowed, including robbery. Russian cultural figures, artists, athletes, academics, businesspeople and just ordinary citizens are exposed to harassment.

This campaign has not bypassed Russian diplomats. They often have to work under extreme conditions, occasionally with a risk to their health or life. We do not remember anything like the current massive and synchronised expulsion of diplomats happening even in the grimmest Cold War years. This is destroying the general atmosphere of relations with the West. On the other hand, this is freeing up energy and human resources for work in the areas with which our country’s future development should be associated.

In accordance with the demands of the times, we are carrying out our professional duties conscientiously and to the fullest extent. There are no traitors among our diplomats, although such attempts have been made from abroad and within the country. We do our best to defend the rights and interests of Russian citizens abroad. When the West hysterically reacted to the beginning of our special military operation and all flights were cancelled, we immediately helped Russians who were abroad at the time to return home. The routine consular services to Russians (of which there have always been many) are provided as always. It is clear that the situation demands that the diplomatic service works in a special regime. This is required by the new tasks set by the country’s leadership to protect national interests.

This is not only and not so much about Ukraine, which is being used as an instrument to contain the peaceful development of the Russian Federation in the context of their course to perpetuate a unipolar world order.

The Americans started preparing the current crisis long ago, right after the end of the Cold War, having decided that the way to global hegemony was then open. NATO’s eastward expansion has been one of the key components of such a course. We tried hard to convince them not to do this. We showed where and why our red lines are drawn. We were flexible, ready to make concessions and look for compromises. All this proved futile. President Vladimir Putin reminded us of this once again in his speech on May 9 on Red Square.

Today Western countries are ready to oppose Russia, as they now say, “to the last Ukrainian”. At first glance, this is a very convenient position, especially for the United States, which is managing these processes from across the ocean. At the same time, they are weakening Europe by clearing its markets for its goods, technologies and military-technical products.

In fact, the situation has many layers. Russia, the United States, China and all others realise that it is being decided today whether the world order will become fair, democratic and polycentric, or whether this small group of countries will be able to impose on the international community a neo-colonial division of the world into those who consider themselves “exceptional” and the rest – those who are destined to do the bidding of the chosen few.

This is the aim of the “rules-based order” concept that they have sought to introduce into general circulation for years. No one has seen, or discussed, or approved these “rules”, but they are being imposed on the international community. As an example, let me quote a recent statement by US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, who called for a new Bretton Woods framework and said that the United States would practice “the friend-shoring of supply chains to a large number of trusted countries” that shared “a set of [liberal] norms and values about how to operate in the global economy.” The hint is absolutely clear: the US dollars and the “benefits” of the international financial system are only for those who follow these American “rules.” Dissenters will be punished. Clearly, Russia is not the sole target, all the more so as we will fight back. The attack is aimed at all those capable of conducting an independent policy.  Take, for example, Washington’s pet Indo-Pacific strategy, which is directed against China. In parallel, it seeks to firmly and reliably harness India to the US and NATO. In the spirit of the Monroe doctrine, the United States wants to dictate standards to Latin America. The inevitable question is whether the Americans are really able to follow the key principle of the UN Charter, which states: “The Organisation is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.”

The “rules-based order” envisions neither democracy, nor pluralism even within the “collective West.” The case in point is the revival of tough bloc discipline and an unconditional submission of the “allies” to Washington’s diktat. The Americans will not stand on ceremony with their “junior partners.” The EU will finally lose all attributes of independence and obediently join the Anglo-Saxon plans to assert the unipolar world order, while sacrificing the Europeans’ quality of life and key interests in order to please the United States. Just recall how Victoria Nuland defined the EU’s place in Washington’s plans to reformat Ukraine in her conversation with the US Ambassador in Kiev in December 2013, at the height of the Maidan riots. Her prediction came true in its entirety. In security matters, the EU is also blending in with NATO, which, in turn, is making increasingly louder claims about its global ambitions. What defensive alliance? We are being told and assured to this day that NATO’s expansion is a defensive process and threatens no one. The Cold War defence line ran along the Berlin Wall – concrete and imagined – between the two military blocs. Since then, it has been moved east five times. Today, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and others are telling us that NATO has a global responsibility to solve security problems, primarily in the Indo-Pacific region. As I understand it, the next defence line will be moved to the South China Sea.

It is being insinuated that NATO as the vanguard of the community of democracies should replace the UN in matters of international politics, or at least bring global affairs under its sway. The G7 should step in to run the global economy and from time to time invite benevolently the extras the West needs at this or that moment.

Western politicians should accept the fact that their efforts to isolate our country are doomed. Many experts have already recognised this, even if quietly and off the record, because saying this openly is “politically incorrect.” But this is happening right now. The non-Western world is coming to see that the world is becoming increasingly more diverse. There is no escaping this fact. More and more countries want to have a real freedom to choose their development ways and integration projects to join. An increasing number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are refusing to abandon their national interests and to pull chestnuts out of the fire for the former parent countries. An overwhelming majority of our partners, who have felt the effects of Western colonialism and racism, have not joined the anti-Russia sanctions. The West, which President Putin described as the “empire of lies,” has not been considered an ideal of democracy, freedom and well-being for a long time. By plundering other countries’ material assets, the Western countries have destroyed their reputation of predictable partners who honour their commitments. Nobody is safe from expropriation and “state piracy” now. Therefore, not just Russia but also many other countries are reducing their reliance on the US dollar and on Western technologies and markets. I am sure that a gradual de-monopolisation of the global economy is not a distant future.

We have taken note of Fyodor Lukyanov’s article published in the newspaper Kommersant (on April 29, 2022), in which he writes, with good reason, that the West will not listen to us or hear what we have to say. This was a fact of life long ago, before the special military operation, and a “a radical reorientation of assets from the west to other flanks is a natural necessity.” I would like to remind you that Sergey Karaganov has been systematically promoting this philosophy by for many years. It is perfectly clear to everyone that the process has begun and not on our whim – we have always been open to an equal dialogue – but because of an unacceptable and arrogant behaviour of our Western neighbours, who have followed Washington’s prompting to “cancel Russia” in international affairs.

Forging closer ties with the like-minded forces outside of what used to be referred to as the Golden Billion is an absolutely inevitable and mutually driven process. The Russia-China relations are at their all-time high. We are also strengthening our privileged strategic partnerships with India, Algeria, and Egypt. We have taken our relations with the Persian Gulf countries to a whole new level. The same applies to our relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other countries in Asia-Pacific, in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

We are fully aware of the fact it is at this juncture, which perfectly lends itself to be called a turning point, that the place for Russia and all other countries and forces in the future international architecture will be determined.

We believe the aim of Russia’s diplomacy is, on the one hand, to act with great resolve to fend off all adversarial attacks against us, while, on the other hand, to consistently, calmly and patiently reinforce our positions in order to facilitate Russia’s sustained development from within and improve the quality of life for its people. There is much to be done, as usual. We always have a packed agenda, but in the current environment we are witnessing a serious shift in the mindsets of many of our comrades in all spheres of Russia’s life. This makes meetings held by the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy especially useful because they help nurture ideas which make their way into Russia’s foreign policy.

No Putin ‘apology’ to Israeli PM found in Kremlin transcript

Tel Aviv earlier claimed that President Putin apologized for the remarks of his foreign minister, in which he suggested Adolf Hitler may have had ‘Jewish blood’

May 06 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during their meeting, in Sochi, on October 22, 2021. (Photo by Yevgeny BIYATOV / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by YEVGENY BIYATOV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

ByNews Desk

Moscow did not explicitly confirm or deny a claim made by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on 5 May, in which he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to him for the controversial comments made by the Kremlin’s top diplomat earlier this week.

Bennett claimed that during a phone conversation with Putin, the Russian leader had offered an apology over a claim by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Adolf Hitler possibly had “Jewish blood.”

Hours later, the Kremlin issued a statement that included the full content of the conversation, making no mention of an apology.

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also commented on this, saying that the conversation that took place between the two leaders was “exactly as disclosed” in the official statement.

Peskov did not directly affirm the absence of an apology in the Kremlin statement he referred to, opting for a more subtle approach.

“The [Israeli] prime minister accepted the apology of President Putin for comments by Lavrov and thanked him for clarifying the president’s view of the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett’s office said on 5 May.

Ties between Moscow and Tel Aviv have soured significantly since the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.

On 4 May, the spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that Israeli mercenaries have been fighting side by side with the Ukrainian neo-Nazis from the Azov Battalion.

“There are mercenaries from Israel fighting alongside the extremist Azov Brigade … Israel will not be able to ignore this, especially with the presence of videos and materials documenting this,” Zakharova told Sputnik.

She also said that this collaboration could not be happening without Israel’s knowledge, and that Tel Aviv was aware of footage documenting the situation.

On the same day, the Kremlin welcomed an official delegation from Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, led by the deputy head of the organization, Musa Abu Marzouk.

Recent reports indicate that Israel is also considering an increase in its military support to Ukraine, at the request of the US.

Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of the special military operation was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Mediaset, Italian television network, Moscow, May 1, 2022 (it is a Hot one!)

May 02, 2022

Ed Note:  This transcript will be completed as it becomes available.

Ed Note update:  This transcript is now complete.

Question: After your statement about the possibility of a nuclear war, of the third world war, the whole world is asking: is there a real risk of that happening?

Sergey Lavrov: It looks like by the whole world you mean Western media and politicians. This is not the first time I note how skillfully the West twists what Russia’s representatives say. I was asked about the threats that are currently growing and about how real the risk of the third world war is. I answered literally the following: Russia has never ceased its efforts to reach agreements that would guarantee the prevention of a nuclear war. In recent years, it was Russia who has persistently proposed to its American colleagues that we repeat what Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan did in 1987: adopt a statement reaffirming that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, and therefore it must never be unleashed.

We failed to convince the Trump Administration, because it had its own ideas on this issue. However, the Biden Administration agreed to our proposal. In June 2021, at a meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Joseph Biden in Geneva a statement was adopted on the inadmissibility of a nuclear war. Let me stress: this was done at our initiative.

In January 2022, five permanent members of the UN Security Council adopted a similar statement at the highest level, also at our initiative: there can be no winners in a nuclear war. It must never be unleashed. In order to achieve this goal, President Vladimir Putin proposed convening a summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. This proposal was supported by our Chinese colleagues and France. The United States and the United Kingdom, which always defers to it, are holding back this important event for the time being.

After I said this, I urged everyone to exercise utmost caution not to escalate the existing threats. I was referring to the statement made by President Vladimir Zelensky in February that it had been a mistake for Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons and it was necessary to acquire them again. There was also a statement made by the leadership of Poland about their readiness to deploy American nuclear weapons on their territory, and much more.

Somehow there were no questions from the media about the statements made by Vladimir Zelensky and Poland. Or after the statement by Foreign Minister of France Jean-Yves Le Drian, who said suddenly: Let us not forget that France also has nuclear weapons. This is what I was talking about. When Western journalists take words out of context and distort the meaning of what I or other Russian representatives actually said, this does them no credit.

Question: Several days ago, President Vladimir Putin said Russia had “unparalleled weapons.” What did he mean?

Sergey Lavrov: Everyone knows this well. Three years ago, during his Address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin presented the latest Russian innovations. First of all, these included hypersonic weapons. He gave a frank and detailed explanation that Russia began developing them after the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Back then President George W. Bush, answering the question why his country was destroying this essential document, which ensured global stability to a large extent, told President Vladimir Putin they were going to withdraw from the treaty to create an anti-missile system that would not be aimed against Russia. He said they were concerned about North Korea and Iran, and “you can do whatever you want in response.” They will also consider this as not aimed against the United States.

We had no choice but to work on hypersonic weapons because we knew perfectly well that the US missile defence system would not be aimed at North Korea and Iran but against Russia and then China. We needed weapons that were guaranteed to overpower missile defences. Otherwise, a country that has missile defence systems and offensive weapons may be tempted to launch the first strike thinking that a response will be suppressed by its missile defence systems.

This is how we developed these weapons. They are described in detail in specialised publications. We don’t hide that we have them. We were even ready to hold talks with the US on including a discussion on the new systems that have already been developed or will be developed in the future in the treaty on strategic stability that would replace the current New START. Today the Americans have suspended all these talks. We will rely on our own resources.

Question: When UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was visiting Kiev, the city was hit by missile strikes. What would you say in response to Western media and President Vladimir Zelensky who regard these strikes as a provocation against the UN?

Sergey Lavrov: We gave constant warnings. When he announced the launch of the special military operation, President Vladimir Putin said it will be aimed against the military infrastructure in Ukraine used to oppress civilians in the east of the country and create a threat to the security of Russia. They know very well that we are attacking military targets in order to deprive the Ukrainian radicals and the Kiev regime of the opportunity to receive reinforcements in the form of weapons and ammunition.

On the other hand, I have not heard President Vladimir Zelensky say a word about a situation that is in no way related to either a military plant (whatever it is called) or any other military facilities. I mean the Tochka-U missile strikes at the centre of Donetsk over the recent weeks, or the civil railway station in Kramatorsk and several other places, including Kherson (just the day before yesterday). The reason for these strikes was clearly to terrorise civilians and prevent the people living in these regions from deciding their fate. The majority of people there are tired from the oppression they have been suffering all these years from the Kiev regime, which is increasingly becoming a tool in the hands of neo-Nazis, the United States and its closest allies.

Those who came to power after a bloody unconstitutional coup launched a war against their own people and against everything Russian, banning the Russian language, education, and media. They adopted laws promoting Nazi theories and practice. We have warned them. All our warnings met a wall of silence. As we understand now, back then the West led by the United States already intended to encourage the Ukrainian leaders (Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky, who came after him) in every possible way in their desire to create threats for Russia.

Our warnings issued in November and December 2021 about the need to stop NATO’s reckless expansion to the east and agree on security guarantees that that will not be related to the accession of new countries to the military-political bloc were rejected. I would even say the answer we received was not very polite: “It’s none of your business,” “we will expand NATO as we wish,” and “we won’t ask for your permission.”

At the same time, the Ukrainian regime gathered about 100,000 troops along the conflict line with Donbass and intensified strikes thus violating the Minsk agreements and the ceasefire. We had no choice but to recognise these two republics, sign an agreement on mutual assistance with them and, upon their request, defend them from the militarists and Nazis who are flourishing in today’s Ukraine.

Question: This is how you see it, while Vladimir Zelensky puts it differently. He believes denazification doesn’t make any sense. He is a Jew. The Nazis, Azov – there are very few of them (several thousand). Vladimir Zelensky refutes your view of the situation. Do you believe Vladimir Zelensky is an obstacle to peace?

Sergey Lavrov: It makes no difference to me what President Vladimir Zelensky refutes or does not refute. He is as fickle as the wind, as they say. He can change his position several times a day.

I heard him say that they would not even discuss demilitarisation and denazification during peace talks. First, they are torpedoing the talks just as they did the Minsk agreements for eight years. Second, there is nazification there: the captured militants as well as members of the Azov and Aidar battalions and other units wear swastikas or symbols of Nazi Waffen-SS battalions on their clothes or have them tattooed on their bodies; they openly read and promote Mein Kampf. His argument is: How can there be Nazism in Ukraine if he is a Jew? I may be mistaken but Adolf Hitler had Jewish blood, too. This means absolutely nothing. The wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews. “Every family has its black sheep,” as we say.

As for Azov, there is evidence being published now confirming that the Americans and especially the Canadians played a leading role in training the ultra-radical and clearly neo-Nazi units in Ukraine. During all these years, the goal was to insert neo-Nazis into the regular Ukrainian troops. Thus, the Azov fighters would play a leading role in every unit (battalion or regiment). I read such reports in Western media. The fact that the Azov battalion is clearly a neo-Nazi unit was recognised by the West without any hesitation until the situation in early 2022, when they began to change their minds as if on cue. Japan even apologised to Azov recently for having listed it as a terrorist organisation a few years ago because of its neo-Nazi ideology.

Journalists (from some Western media outlet) interviewed Vladimir Zelensky and asked him what he thought about Azov and the ideas that Azov preaches and puts into practice. He said there were many such battalions and “they are what they are.” I would like to emphasise that this phrase – “they are what they are” – was cut out by the journalist and it was not included in the interview that was aired. This means the journalist understands what this person says and thinks. He thinks about how the neo-Nazis can be used to fight Russia.

Question: There are several thousand or perhaps tens of thousands of neo-Nazi militants. Can their presence excuse the denazification of a country with the population of 40 million? There are such battalions as the Wagner Group, who also draw inspiration from neo-Nazi ideas, serving with the Russian troops.

Sergey Lavrov: We have discussed the Wagner Group a number of times with those who are interested in this topic. Wagner is a private military company that has nothing to do with the Russian state. We explained this to our French colleagues, too; they started to get nervous when the Wagner Group agreed with the Mali government to provide security services. Back in September 2021, my esteemed colleague Jean-Yves Le Drian, as well as Josep Borrell, said directly that Russia had no business in Africa, neither as a state nor with private military companies because Africa is the EU and France’s zone. This is what they said to me almost word for word.

We also explained the situation in Libya, whose authorities invited this private military company to the city of Tobruk, where the Libyan parliament is situated. Italy knows the Libyan situation very well. They are there on commercial terms, like in Mali. There is nothing like that in Ukraine, which has a huge number of mercenaries from Western countries. I believe the talk about the Wagner Group’s presence in Ukraine is nothing but a trick to distract attention from what our Western colleagues are doing. The situation around the confrontation at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, as well as the stubborn, even hysterical desire of Vladimir Zelensky, his team and their Western patrons to evacuate all these people and send them to Ukraine can be explained by the fact that there are many people there who would confirm that there are mercenaries and maybe even acting officers of Western armies on the side of the Ukrainian radicals.

You have asked whether the elimination of several dozen (even thousand) Nazis’ influence is worth putting a country with a population of 40 million at risk. This question is not entirely correct. It is a matter of Russia’s fundamental security interests. We have been talking about it for several decades. Long before the coup, the West came to Ukraine (this was 20 years ago) and began to tell them that on the eve of each election they must decide whose side they are on: Europe’s or Russia’s. Later they started encouraging the initiatives that the Ukrainian leadership promoted to be as unlike the Russian Federation as possible. I have mentioned the persecution of the Russian language and the Russian media, the shutdown of Russian-language television channels, the ban on the sale of any printed products in Russian (both from Russia and those published in Ukraine), the Russian Orthodox Church, which is a sacred institution in our state and society, and the adoption of laws to promote Nazi theories and practice. These laws are not adopted for several tens of thousands of militants in radical battalions, but for the whole country.

Western Ukraine stopped celebrating the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. It happened a long time ago. The latest developments have nothing to do with it. They started destroying monuments to those who liberated Ukraine from the Nazis when they started celebrating the birthdays of those who collaborated with Hitler as national holidays (Shukhevich, Bandera and others, Waffen-SS fighters). They started to celebrate as a national holiday the day when the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was created, which was found guilty of collaborating with the Nazis at the Nuremberg Tribunal. This did not happen in the last two or three months but started many years ago. Even before the coup.

The coup took place the day after the French and Polish foreign ministers guaranteed a peaceful settlement in February 2014. The following morning, when the opposition overthrew the government, declared a hunt for the president and occupied the administrative building, we asked them why they could not use the power, the influence and authority of the EU to force the opposition to cooperate. The answer was incomprehensible: Viktor Yanukovych had left Kiev. Many people left their capitals. That same year, in 2014, there was a coup in Yemen. President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi also left the capital. The difference was that Viktor Yanukovych left Kiev for another city [in Ukraine], while Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia. Since that time and until recently, for eight long years, the entire progressive humanity headed by our European liberals demanded that President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi return as the legitimate leader of Yemen. But in Ukraine, when the President went to another city, there was no need to do anything anymore. We noted that the first statement made by those who staged the coup was about abolishing the regional status of the Russian language. They called on armed militants (also ultra-radicals) to storm the Supreme Council of Crimea. This is how it all began. Nobody wants to remember this now. The EU was humiliated by the thugs who seized power in Kiev following the coup just as the EU is now humiliated by its failure to enforce its decision to create a community of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo. With the EU’s mediation, Pristina and Belgrade agreed on this back in 2013, but the EU has shown its incompetence once again.

Question: What do you think Italy’s role is now?

Sergey Lavrov: Italy is at the forefront of those who not only adopt anti-Russian sanctions, but also put forward all sorts of initiatives. It was really strange for me to see it, but now we have become accustomed to the fact that Italy can be like that. I thought Italy and the Italian people have a slightly different view of their history and justice in the world, that they can tell the difference between black and white. I don’t want to be inaccurate, but in any case some statements made by politicians, not to mention articles in the media, go beyond all diplomatic and political propriety and far beyond journalistic ethics.

Question: Could you tell us what and who you are referring to?

Sergey Lavrov: Our embassy has sent us such materials and even filed a lawsuit because there was a violation of Italian law. I don’t want to go into detail now or repeat the nasty things that are being discussed. At least I don’t associate it with the Italian people, for whom I have the warmest feelings.

Question: Let us talk about the role of the United States. Joe Biden continues to openly support Ukraine, supply it with money and weapons; he says that there is an aggressor and Ukraine is under attack.

Sergey Lavrov: I have read a lot of things in the American and European media about the connections between Joe Biden’s family and Ukraine, so his attention to the current situation comes as no surprise. However, in addition to his personal interest, I cannot rule out that it is also about the fact that Washington is aware of the failure of its long-term strategy to turn Ukraine into a real threat to the Russian Federation and to make sure that Ukraine and Russia are not united and relations between them are not friendly.

In fact, this is not just about Joe Biden. When the Soviet Union broke up, the entire American elite was guided by the “legacy” of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who said Russia without Ukraine is just a regional power, nothing serious. They were guided by this logic when they pumped Ukraine with offensive weapons, encouraging its militarisation with a clear anti-Russia slant in every possible way, and drawing it into dozens of annual military exercises under the auspices of NATO. Many of those exercises were held in Ukraine. In 90 percent of cases, they were directed against Russia. We can also see now that the United States wants to bring its “anti-Russia” project (as President Vladimir Putin said) to a conclusion. We are increasingly hearing statements that “Russia must be defeated,” “we must defeat Russia,” “Ukraine must win,” and “Russia must lose.”

We agreed to the talks at the request of Vladimir Zelensky, and they started to gain momentum. In March, agreements were outlined at a negotiators’ meeting in Istanbul, based on what Vladimir Zelensky said publicly. He said Ukraine was ready to become a neutral, non-bloc, non-nuclear country if it is provided with security guarantees. We were ready to work on this foundation given the understanding that the agreement would envisage that the security guarantees do not apply to Crimea and Donbass, as the Ukrainians had themselves suggested. Immediately after this proposal of theirs, which they signed and handed over to us, they changed their position. Now they are trying to hold talks in a different way. In particular, they want to receive security guarantees from the West first, although initially these guarantees should have been agreed upon by everyone together, including Russia.

When Vladimir Zelensky said he was ready for Ukraine’s neutral non-bloc status, he made a serious step forward, which we welcomed. However, after that, his ministers and the Parliament speaker of Ukraine started saying that they should receive security guarantees but the goal of joining NATO (as stated in their constitution) will remain. Now NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the British started saying that if the Ukrainians want to preserve this goal, they have the right to do so. This is what I am talking about.

Now even NATO does not suit the Americans. They didn’t hold their last meetings within the framework of NATO (a meeting on support for Ukraine), but simply gathered delegations, because NATO decisions are made by consensus, and they need to decide on all issues quickly and single-handedly.

Question: Perhaps their behaviour was affected by what happened in Mariupol and Bucha. In both cases, you spoke about a staged production, a performance. But, for example, a few days ago CNN broadcast a video recorded by a drone on March 13, which shows that there were Russian troops on those streets with the bodies. Could this have caused a change in their approach? Where is the truth regarding these war crimes?

Sergey Lavrov: There is only one truth here. On March 30, Russian troops left Bucha. The following day, on March 31, Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk proclaimed victory in front of television cameras saying that the city had returned to normal life. Only three days later they began to show photographs of these bodies. I don’t even want to go into detail, because it is so obviously fake that any serious observer can see it at a glance.

I don’t know what affected the US. When the US declares solemnly and dramatically that it is impossible to endure “all this,” no one remembers how the US decided that there was a threat to its security 10,000 kilometres away from its borders: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, or Yugoslavia in 1999. No one has any doubt that the US has the right to neutralise those made-up threats (like in Iraq, where it turned out to be fake) in any way it likes.

We warned many times over the years that they are posing a threat to the Russian borders, that this is a red line; we have been saying it for many years. They just nodded. But now I believe they thought the world should only listen to the US, because NATO and the entire European Union accepted that their master sits in Washington. And Washington decided that the world should be unipolar. If you read the statements made by their Secretary of the Treasury, for example, they say so directly.

Question: Several days ago, your Ministry published a photo of your predecessor, Andrey Gromyko, meeting with Pope Paul VI. Is this a call for Pope Francis to act as mediator?

Sergey Lavrov: I think it was simply the anniversary of their meeting. The Foreign Ministry is posting photos of events from 20, 30, or 40 years ago on its social media accounts.

Question: Who can bring peace? Is there such a person, institute, or country? President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and President of France Emmanuel Macron, and Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi have tried. Who can get a peace process started that will result in Russia, the West and Ukraine signing a treaty?

Sergey Lavrov: It is a good question, but long overdue. All problems could have been solved peacefully by Petr Poroshenko who was elected in 2014 under the slogan “Peace in Donbass.” Then he started the war. It could have been solved by Vladimir Zelensky. During his election campaign, he presented himself as the “president of peace.” In December 2019, he promised to fulfill the Minsk agreements and adopt a law granting a special status to Donbass within the unbroken territorial integrity of Ukraine. He had every chance. All the cards and even the trump cards were in his hands.

Vladimir Zelensky chose to say publically and arrogantly that he will never abide by the Minsk agreements because allegedly this would mean the fall of the Ukrainian nation and state. Everyone who drafted and approved the Minsk agreements at the UN Security Council kept silent. They said that he could stop implementing them if he wanted but Russia should continue to. That’s who could have brought peace.

Vladimir Zelensky can also bring peace now if he stops giving illegal orders to his neo-Nazi battalions and makes them release all civilians and stop resisting.

Question: Do you want Vladimir Zelensky to surrender? Is this the condition for peace?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not demanding that he surrender. We are demanding that he give the order to release all civilians and to stop resisting. Our goal does not include regime change in Ukraine. This is the specialty of the US. They do it all over the world.

We want to ensure the safety of people in eastern Ukraine, so that they won’t be threatened by militarisation and nazification and that no threats against the Russian Federation emanate from Ukrainian territory.

Question: Italy is concerned that Russia is suspending gas supplies. What is going on?

Sergey Lavrov: A simple thing that all the critics of our actions and everyone who condemns us these days do not want to talk about for some reason. Money was stolen from us (over $300 billion). Just stolen. A large part of the sum was payment for gas and oil supplies. It was only possible because Gazprom had to keep money in accounts in Western banks (according to your rules). They wanted to punish Russia, so they stole it.

Now they suggest we continue trading as before, and the money remains in their accounts. They will steal it again when they want to. This is the reason. Somehow no one talks about it. What happened to honest journalism?

What we are now proposing is that supplies should be considered paid for not when Gazprombank receives euros or dollars but when they are converted into roubles, which cannot be stolen. That’s the entire story. Our partners know this very well. Note that nothing changes for the buyers. They still pay the sums specified in the contract in euros and dollars. It is converted after that.

We have no right to let our own people down and allow the West to keep up its thieving ways.

Question: There is a lot of speculation in the West about President Vladimir Putin’s health.

Sergey Lavrov: Please ask foreign leaders who have talked with President Putin recently, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. I think you will see what I mean.

Question: May 9 is nearing. You will be celebrating the liberation from Nazism in 1945. Moscow is holding a parade. What will happen by this time? Is the end of the “war” near?

Sergey Lavrov: There was a tradition in the Soviet Union, to do something big and loud for some holiday. Our actions in Ukraine are focused solely on the objectives I have mentioned. They were set forth by President of Russia Vladimir Putin: to protect civilians and ensure their safety, and neutralise threats to them and to Russia related to offensive weapons and nazification, which the West is trying hard to downplay.

I have seen reports on NBC and read the American magazine National Interest. Serious articles are beginning to appear there, warning and cautioning against flirting with the Nazis like in 1935-1938.

Question: Will the conflict end by May 9? Is there any reason to hope it will?

Sergey Lavrov: Our servicemen will not artificially time their actions to any date, including Victory Day.

We will solemnly observe May 9, like we always do. We will remember everyone who died to liberate Russia and other former USSR republics, to liberate Europe from the Nazi plague.

The pace of the operation in Ukraine depends first of all on the need to minimise risks for civilians and Russian military personnel.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Xinhua News Agency (China), April 30, 2022

May 01, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1811525/

Question: What do you think is at the root of the Ukrainian crisis? What can the international community do to solve this problem?

Sergey Lavrov:  When we talk about the Ukrainian crisis, first of all we need to look at the destructive policy of the Western states conducted over many years and led by the United States, which set a course to knock together a unipolar world order after the end of the Cold War. NATO’s reckless expansion to the East was a key component of those actions, despite the political obligations to the Soviet leadership on the non-expansion of the Alliance. As you know, those promises were just empty words. All these years, NATO infrastructure has been moving closer and closer to the Russian borders.

The West was never concerned about the fact that their actions grossly violated their international obligations not to strengthen their own security at the expense of the security of others. In particular, Washington and Brussels arrogantly rejected the initiatives put forward by Russia in December 2021 to ensure our country’s security guarantees in the west: to stop the expansion of NATO, not to deploy armaments that pose a threat to Russia in Ukraine and to return the Alliance’s military infrastructure to the 1997 configuration, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed.

It is well-known that the United States and NATO member states have always viewed Ukraine as a tool to contain Russia. Over the years, they have actively fuelled anti-Russia sentiments there, forcing Kiev to make an artificial and false choice: to be either with the West or with Moscow.

It was the collective West that first provoked and then supported the anti-constitutional coup d’etat in Kiev in February 2014. Nationalists came to power in Ukraine and immediately unleashed a bloody massacre in Donbass, and set the course on the destruction of everything Russian in the rest of the country. Let me remind you that it was precisely because of this threat that the people of Crimea voted in a referendum for the reunification with Russia in 2014.

Over these past years, the United States and its allies have done nothing to stop the intra-Ukrainian conflict. Instead of encouraging Kiev to settle it politically based on the Minsk Complex of Measures, they sent weapons, trained and armed the Ukrainian army and nationalist battalions, and generally carried out the military-political development of Ukraine’s territory. They encouraged the aggressive anti-Russia course pursued by the Kiev authorities. In fact, they pushed the Ukrainian nationalists to undermine the negotiating process and resolve the Donbass issue by force.

We were deeply concerned about the undeclared biological programmes implemented in Ukraine with Pentagon’s support in close proximity to the Russian borders. And, of course, we could not disregard the Kiev leadership’s undisguised intentions to acquire a military nuclear potential, which would create an unacceptable threat to Russia’s national security.

In these conditions, we had no other choice but to recognise the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and launch the special military operation. Its aim is to protect people from genocide by the neo-Nazis, as well as to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine. I would like to stress that Russia is acting to fulfil its obligations under bilateral agreements on cooperation and mutual assistance with the DPR and LPR, at the official request of Donetsk and Lugansk under Article 51 of the UN Charter on the right to self-defence.

The special military operation launched on February 24 is progressing strictly in accordance with the plan. All its goals will be achieved in spite of our opponents’ counteractions. At the moment we are witnessing a classic case of double standards and hypocrisy of the Western establishment. By publicly supporting the Kiev regime, NATO member states are doing everything in their power to prevent the completion of the operation by reaching political agreements. Various weapons are flowing endlessly into Ukraine through Poland and other NATO countries. All of this is being done under the pretext of “fighting the invasion”, but in fact the United States and the European Union intend to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian.” They do not care at all about the fate of Ukraine as an independent subject of international relations.

The West is ready to jeopardise the energy and food security of entire regions of the globe to satisfy its own geopolitical ambitions.

What ither explanation is there for the unrestrained flywheel of anti-Russian sanctions launched by the West with the start of the operation and which they aren’t thinking of stopping?

If the United States and NATO are truly interested in settling the Ukrainian crisis, then, first, they must come to their senses and stop supplying weapons and ammunition to Kiev. The Ukrainian people do not need Stingers and Javelins; what they need is a solution to urgent humanitarian issues.

Russia has been doing this since 2014. During this time, tens of thousands of tonnes of humanitarian cargo have been delivered to Donbass, and about 15,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid have already arrived in the part of Ukraine liberated from the Kiev regime, the DPR and the LPR, since the launch of the special military operation.

Second, it is essential that the Kiev regime stops cynical provocations, including in the information space. Ukrainian armed formations are barbarically shelling cities using civilians as living shields. We saw examples of this in Donetsk and Kramatorsk. Captured Russian servicemen are being abused with animal cruelty, and these atrocities are being posted online. At the same time, they use their Western patrons and global media controlled by the West to accuse the Russian army of war crimes. As they say, laying the blame at somebody else’s door.

It is high time for the West to stop unconditionally whitewashing and covering up for Kiev. Otherwise,

Washington, Brussels and other Western capitals should consider their responsibility for complicity in the bloody crimes perpetrated by the Ukrainian nationalists.

Question: What measures has Russia taken to protect the lives and property of civilians? What efforts has it made to establish humanitarian corridors?

Sergey Lavrov: As I mentioned earlier, the special military operation is proceeding according to plan. Under this plan, the Russian military personnel are doing everything in their power to avoid victims among civilians. Blows are carried out with high-precision weapons, first of all at military infrastructure facilities and places where armoured vehicles are concentrated. Unlike the Ukrainian army and nationalist armed groups that use people as living shields, the Russian army provides the locals with all kinds of assistance and support.

Humanitarian corridors open daily from Kharkov and Mariupol to evacuate people from dangerous districts, but the Kiev regime demands that the “national battalions” in control of those areas do not release the civilians. Nevertheless, many are able to leave with the assistance of Russian, DPR and LPR servicemen. During the special military operation, the hotline of the Interdepartmental Coordination Headquarters of the Russian Federation for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine has received requests for assistance in evacuating 2.8 million people to Russia, including 16,000 foreign citizens and employees of UN and OSCE international missions. In total, 1.02 million people have been evacuated from Ukraine, the DPR and LPR, of which over 120,000 are citizens of third countries, including over 300 Chinese nationals. There are over 9,500 temporary accommodation facilities operating in Russian regions. They have space for rest and hot meals, and everything that may be necessary. Newly arrived refugees are provided with qualified medical and psychological assistance.

Russia is taking measures to ensure civilian navigation in the Black and Azov seas. A humanitarian corridor opens daily, a safe lane for ships. However, Ukraine continues to block foreign ships, creating a threat of shelling in its internal waters and territorial sea. Moreover, Ukrainian naval units have mined the shore, the ports and territorial waters. These explosive devices disconnect from their anchor lines and drift into the open sea, so they pose a serious danger to both the fleets and the port infrastructure of the Black Sea countries.

Question: Since the special military operation was launched in Ukraine, Western counties have adopted a large number of unprecedented sanctions against Moscow. How do you think these sanctions will affect Russia? What are the main countermeasures taken by Russia? Some say that a new Cold War has begun. How would you comment on that?

Sergey Lavrov: It is true that the special military operation was used by the collective West as a pretext to unleash numerous restrictions against Russia, as well as its legal entities and individuals. The United States, Great Britain, Canada and EU countries do not conceal that their goal is to strangle our economy by undermining its competitiveness and blocking Russia’s progressive development. At the same time, the Western ruling circles are not embarrassed by the fact that anti-Russian sanctions are already beginning to harm ordinary people in their own countries. I mean the declining economic trends in the United States and many European countries, including growing inflation and unemployment.

It is clear that there can be no excuse for this anti-Russian line and it has no future. As President Vladimir Putin said, Russia has withstood this unprecedented pressure. Now the situation is stabilising, though, of course, not all risks are behind us.

In any case, they will not succeed in weakening us. I am confident that we will restructure the economy and protect ourselves from our opponents’ possible illegitimate and hostile actions in the future. We will continue to give a fitting and adequate response to the imposed restrictions, guided by the goal of maintaining the stability of the Russian economy and its financial system, as well as the interests of domestic businesses and the entire nation. 

We will focus our efforts on de-dollarisation, de-offshorisation, import substitution, and promotion of technological independence.

We will continue to adapt to external challenges and step up development programmes for promising and competitive industries.

During the period of turbulence, our retaliatory special economic measures needed to ensure the normal functioning of the Russian economy will be continued and expanded. As a responsible player on the international market, Russia intends to continue scrupulously fulfilling its obligations under international contracts on export deliveries of agricultural products, fertilisers, energy carriers and other critical products. We are deeply concerned about a possible food crisis provoked by the anti-Russian sanctions, and we are well aware how important the deliveries of essential goods, such as food, are for the socioeconomic development of Asian, African, Latin American, and Middle Eastern countries.

I will be brief as regards the second part of your question. Today we are not talking about a new “cold war,” but, as I said earlier, about the persistent desire to impose a US-centric model of the world order coming from Washington and its satellites, who imagine themselves to be “arbiters of humankind’s fate.” It has reached the point where the

Western minority is trying to replace the UN-centric architecture and international law formed after World War II with their own “rule-based order.” These rules are written by Washington and its allies and then imposed on the international community as binding.

We must realise that the United States has been carrying out this destructive policy for several decades now. It is enough to recall NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia, attacks on Iraq and Libya, attempts to destroy Syria, as well as the colour revolutions that Western capitals staged in a number of countries, including Ukraine. All of this came at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and resulted in chaos in various regions of the planet.

The West tries to crudely suppress those who carry out an independent course in their domestic and foreign policy. Not just Russia. We can see how bloc thinking is being imposed in the Asian-Pacific Region. We can recall the Indo-Pacific strategy promoted by the United States, which has a pronounced anti-China tendency. The US seeks to dictate the standards according to which Latin America should live, in the spirit of the outdated Monroe Doctrine. This explains many years of the illegal trade embargo on Cuba, sanctions against Venezuela, as well as attempts to undermine stability in Nicaragua and other countries. The pressure on Belarus continues in the same context. This list can go on.

It is clear that the collective West’s efforts to oppose the natural course of history and solve its problems at the expense of others are doomed. Today the world has several decision-making centres; it is multipolar.

We can see how quickly Asian, African, and Latin American countries are developing. Everyone is getting a real freedom of choice, including where it comes to choosing their development models and participation in integration projects. Our special military operation in Ukraine also contributes to the process of freeing the world from the West’s neocolonial oppression heavily mixed with racism and a complex of exceptionalism.

The faster the West accepts the new geopolitical situation, the better it will be for the West itself and for the entire international community.

As President Xi Jinping said at the Boao Forum for Asia, “We need to uphold the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security.”

Question: Russian-Ukrainian talks have attracted close attention of the international community. What are the main obstacles to the talks today? How do you regard the prospects of a peace treaty between the two parties? What kind of bilateral relations does Russia intend to have with Ukraine in the future?

Sergey Lavrov: At present the Russian and Ukrainian delegations are holding discussions on the possible draft almost daily, via videoconference. This document should contain such elements of the post-conflict situation as permanent neutrality, the non-nuclear, non-bloc and demilitarised status of Ukraine, as well as guarantees of its security. The agenda of the talks also includes denazification, recognition of the new geopolitical reality, the lifting of sanctions and the status of the Russian language, among other things. Settling the situation in Ukraine will make a significant contribution to the de-escalation of the military and political tensions in Europe and the world in general. The establishment of an institution of guarantor states is envisaged as a possible option. First of all, they will be the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China. We share information on the progress in the talks with Chinese diplomats. We are grateful to Beijing and other BRICS partners for their balanced position on the Ukrainian issue.

We are in favour of continuing the talks, although the process is difficult.

You are right to ask about the obstacles. For example, they include the militant rhetoric and incendiary actions of Kiev’s Western patrons. They are actually encouraging Kiev to “fight to the last Ukrainian,” pumping the country with weapons and sending mercenaries there. Let me note that the Ukrainian security services staged a crude bloody provocation in Bucha with the help of the West, to complicate the negotiation process among other things.

I am confident that agreements can only be reached when Kiev starts to be guided by the interests of the Ukrainian people, and not the advisors from far away.

Speaking about Russian-Ukrainian relations, Russia is interested in a peaceful, free, neutral, prosperous and friendly Ukraine. Despite the current administration’s anti-Russian course, we remember the many centuries of all-embracing cultural, spiritual, economic and family ties between Russians and Ukrainians. We will definitely restore these ties.

Sitrep: A few of Mr Lavrov’s comments

April 11, 2022

While we wait for a video and transcript to be available, I’ve gathered these quotes from Mr Lavrov’s interview with Rossiya 24 –

Amarynth


“Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the reckless expansion and reckless course towards complete domination by the United States and, under them, the remainder of Western countries on the world stage.

This domination is built on gross violations of international law and under some rules, which they are now hyping so much and which they make up on a case-by-case basis,”

“Kosovo can be recognized as independent without a referendum. Crimea cannot, despite holding a referendum observed by [many international monitors],”

“In Iraq, 10,000 kilometers away from the US, they imagined some threat to their national security. They bombed it, found no threat. And didn’t even say they were sorry,” “But when right at our border they grow neo-Nazi ultra-radicals, create dozens of biolabs … working on bioweapons, as documents prove, we are told we are not allowed to react to those threats,” he added.

The EU’s role has shifted during the Ukraine security crisis.  Previously it didn’t act as a military organization “fighting collectively against an invented threat.” Lavrov said the change was the result of pressure put on the bloc’s members by Washington, which has pushed it closer to NATO.

“This is an utterly serious change, even in the policy that the EU and the West under US leadership – there is no doubt about it – began to pursue after the start of our special military operation. A policy that reflects anger, in some ways even frenzy, and which, of course, is determined not only by [the situation in] Ukraine, but by Ukraine being transformed into a foothold for the final suppression of Russia”,

Regarding Josep Borrell

When a diplomatic chief … says a certain conflict can only be resolved through military action… Well, it must be something personal. He either misspoke or spoke without thinking, making a statement that nobody asked him to make. But it’s an outrageous remark,”

“Western propaganda shifted gear into depicting Russia as pure evil and [Ukraine] as pure good. The current Ukrainian regime is presumably a beacon of democracy, justice, freedom that is drawn to everything European, to the values that Europe claims it always adhered to,” the minister said.

Syria’s Return to Arab League to Be Resolved As Soon As Possible – Lavrov

April 5 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hoped for the restoration of Syria’s membership in the Arab League, saying Arab nations would be able to reunify their positions and resolve their differences if Damascus is readmitted to the organization.

Lavrov made the remarks during a press conference with the foreign ministers of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Sudan — members of the Arab Contact Group on Ukraine — in the Russian capital city of Moscow on Monday.

“We expressed our hope for Syria’s return to the Arab League. The issue will be resolved as soon as possible as it will help Arabs unify their positions in the region and the whole world,” Lavrov said.

The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011, citing an alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria has denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

The Arab republic was one of the six founding members of the Arab League in 1945. In recent months, an increasing number of countries and political parties have called for the reversal of its suspension from the Arab League.

Early this year, the secretary general of the central committee of the Palestinian Fatah political party denounced the suspension as “disgraceful” for the entire Arab world, especially as the war-ravaged country is a founding member of the regional organization.

Speaking at a press conference in the Syrian capital of Damascus on January 10, Jibril Rajoub added that Syria must return to the Arab League.

He said that his visit to Damascus at the head of a high-ranking Palestinian delegation is a turning point in light of the ‘Israeli’ regime’s stepped-up aggression and attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

Rajoub noted that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to visit Syria in the near future, extending his gratitude to the Syrian people and leadership for their hospitality towards Palestinians living there and for their firm stances vis-à-vis the Palestinian cause despite all the difficulties they have gone through over the past years.

FM Sergey Lavrov’s presser after talks with India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, New Delhi, April 1, 2022

April 02, 2022

Ed Note:  Mr Lavrov held various pressers in his travels to China, India and the meetings between Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries (Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).  If you are interested, that speech contains the rebuilding of Afghanistan and the progress being made.  It is here:  https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1807302/

The main take-away (and there are many) from Mr Lavrov’s visits, is of course this:

A new reality is taking shape: the unipolar world is irretrievably receding into the past and a multi-polar world is being born. This is an objective process that cannot be stopped. There won’t be one single ruler in this new reality. All key states with a decisive influence on the world economy and politics will have to come to terms. Being aware of their special status, they will ensure the observance of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, including the main one – the sovereign equality of states. Nobody on Earth will be considered a second-rate player. All nations are equal and sovereign.

Instead of featuring all the pressers and speeches, this time we focus on India, because the detail level of a new financial system becomes clearer.  This is the source:  https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1807582/

Posted by Amarynth


1 April 2022 18:13

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions following talks with Minister of External Affairs of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, New Delhi, April 1, 2022

Question: How would you assess your talks with the minister? How can Russia support India at a time when it faces security challenges from its neighbours?

Sergey Lavrov: The talks can be characterised by the relations which we have developed with India for many decades. Our relations are a strategic partnership, even a specially privileged strategic partnership, as our Indian friends called it some time ago. And this was the basis on which we have been promoting our cooperation in all areas: the economy, military-technical, humanitarian, investment and many other fields.

And I believe that India’s foreign policy is characterised by independence and by concentrating on its own legitimate national interests. The same policy foundation exists in the Russian Federation, and this makes us, as big countries, good friends and old partners, an important part of international relations.

We have always respected each other’s interests and we always tried to accommodate the interests of the other. This was the underlying approach to our discussion, which covered all bilateral areas of cooperation, and covered, of course, international and regional issues. The situation in the region is not perfect, as with any other place in the world. We support Indian efforts to consolidate the regional countries and promote mutually beneficial projects in South Asia in particular.

Question: For a long time, Russia has been building close relations with the Western countries. Today, economic cooperation has been virtually destroyed. You are on your first Asian tour since the start of the special operation in Ukraine. First you visited China, and now India. Does this mean Russia will seek replacement markets for oil and gas in this region?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe China and India are natural destinations for this tour. Both countries are Russia’s close partners. The three of us participate in a number of international formats, including BRICS, the SCO, and formats that have developed around ASEAN: the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Security Forum (ARF). There is also the RIC (Russia, India, China) format. RIC Foreign Ministers have met a couple of dozen times since its inception (more than twenty years ago). The last meeting took place in the autumn of 2021. A detailed document was adopted reflecting our common approaches to a number of international issues. It paves the way for further actions in this direction.

In China, my colleague, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and I discussed the further activities of the RIC association. Today, Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and I discussed ways to develop this format and use it more intensively in the interests of stabilising international relations and ensuring equality in international affairs. This is especially relevant given that all the three countries – Russia, India and China – are members of the UN Security Council now. So we have many plans.

As for markets, we have never imposed our products on anyone. If countries that are interested in trade with Russia have specific needs and want to expand their range of imports, we are always ready to make agreements based on a balance of interests and mutual benefit.

Question: A question regarding potential talks between Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky. Do you know which country they might be held in? The talks started in Belarus and were continued in Turkey. Israel offered mediation as well. When might a peace treaty be initialised between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministries?

Sergey Lavrov: There are no approved plans for this. The talks must continue. Our negotiators commented on the latest round of talks in Istanbul where the Ukrainian representatives “put on paper,” for the first time, their vision of the agreement that must be reached. This needs to take shape first. We are preparing a response. There is some progress there. Above all, they recognised that Ukraine cannot be a bloc country, that it cannot “find happiness” by joining the North Atlantic Alliance. Nuclear-free, bloc-free, neutral status is already recognised as an absolute must. Likewise, we saw much more understanding of one more reality. I am referring to the situation with Crimea and Donbass. We are still working on the next potential meetings. We will announce updates on this.

Question:  What were the key subjects of your conversation with Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar? Did you discuss the introduction of an efficient rouble and rupee settlement mechanism for bilateral trade, including India’s purchases of Russian oil? Was the issue of cooperation between Russia, India and China touched on at the talks in Beijing and in New Delhi?

How do you assess India’s fears of a possible delay in supplying Russian military equipment, including the S-400, due to the crisis in Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, as regards the use of the rouble and rupee in our financial and trade transactions, I would like to remind you that many years ago we started moving away from the dollar and the euro to the more extensive use of national currencies in our relations with India, with China and many other countries.

Under the circumstances, I believe this trend will be intensified, which is only natural and obvious. We are ready to supply India with any items it wants to purchase. I already referred to this. We have very good relations between the trade ministries, the ministries of finance, and I have no doubt that this would be a way to bypass the artificial impediments that have been created by the illegal unilateral sanctions by the West.

This relates also to the area of military-technical cooperation. We have no doubt that a solution would be found; the respective ministries are working on this.

Question: The United States is exerting pressure on India to involve it into an anti-Russia campaign. Does this pressure affect relations between Russia and India? Are you confident that our countries’ partnership will not be damaged?

Sergey Lavrov: I am confident about this because our partnership does not depend on opportunistic considerations. Moreover, it does not depend on illegal methods of dictate and blackmail. It is absolutely pointless to apply such a policy to countries like Russia, India, China, and many others. This shows that those who are offering and implementing such a policy, who impose it on others do not have a good understanding of the national identity of the countries they are trying to talk to in a language of blackmail and ultimatums.

Question: How do you look at India’s position on this ongoing war? What did you tell your Indian counterpart? Did you offer oil supplies to India?

Have you reached a compromise on the rupees and roubles arrangement for payments?

Even Mr Putin and you are sanctioned by the US and the EU: How do you look at this scenario?Sergey Lavrov: Every Russian has been sanctioned by the US and the European Union, so there is no surprise to me. The Western colleagues just made their real face known these days. I do not have the slightest doubt that most countries on Earth understand what is going on and understand the inadmissibility of the manners which are being demonstrated by our Western – very, very unreliable – partners.

As regards India’s position on the developments in Ukraine, – you called it a war, which is not true, as it is a special operation, which is being conducted with maximum attention being paid to not do any damage to the civilian infrastructure. The military infrastructure is being targeted, and the aim is to deprive the Kiev regime of the capacity to pose any threat to Russia. This capacity has been built and strengthened for many years by the United States and other NATO countries, which wanted to make an “anti-Russia” out of our neighbouring and fraternal country.

I already mentioned [payments in] roubles and rupees. This process is going on for many years. The reason for moving to national currencies is again the absolutely unreliable nature of our Western counterparts. We do not want to depend on a system, which could be closed at any time; and we do not want to depend on a system which has masters who can steal your money overnight.

I already mentioned oil supplies and the supplies of high-technology to India. If India wants to buy anything from us, we are ready to discuss it and reach mutually acceptable forms of cooperation.

Question: Considering the Western sanctions, will Russia boost trade with India and in which areas?

Sergey Lavrov: This is the normal course of events. We are open to mutually beneficial and mutually respectful relations in all areas, including trade and investment activity. When you encounter absolutely unjustified hostility and reaction that goes beyond all reasonable limits in one part of the world, it is, objectively, only natural that your partners elsewhere start playing a greater role in you trade and economic activity. This is not surprising. This has happened before. The sanctions were not imposed yesterday. We have been under intense sanctions imposed by the West and some other countries for many years now – at least, ten years. We already have experience in living under such circumstances and living in a way that is good for both us and our partners. Rest assured that this is how it will be this time as well.

Question: Does it bother you what Western countries think of Russia’s plan “B”? Refusing to pay for gas in roubles, France and Germany said they would not accept such an approach by the Kremlin since it violates the current contracts. What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: As regards gas supplies to Europe, President Vladimir Putin was very elaborate: he announced the signing of a decree, which provided for a scheme acceptable, as far as I could understand, to the Western countries. We cannot use the old scheme, because, as I said, they paid us in their currencies and then they seized our accounts. It is like the gold rush in the United States at some point when the country was founded by those who fled Europe because they were outlaws, as far as I recall. So the scheme that was presented is an honest scheme. It allows us to, eventually, get payments for gas in roubles, and that was the original goal.

Question: Do you think that India has not taken a hawkish stand against Russia, despite the pressure from Western capitals, because of its dependence on the discounted crude oil and also the import of S 400 missiles and kalashnikovs?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, I cannot even imagine that India is taking some stands because India is under pressure. We respect, as I said earlier, India’s concentration on its basic principles, namely, that the Indian foreign policy is built upon the legitimate national interests of that country and its people. That is, basically, all I can say in response to your question.

Question: There is much talk that India may act as a mediator between Moscow and Kiev. More than that, they say that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may mediate talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents. Did you discuss this issue and is it possible?

Sergey Lavrov: I did not hear talks like this. We respect the well-considered position of India, which does not give in to pressure through blackmail and dictates. Many other serious countries, which do not accept language like this, are taking the same approach. Probably, India will see a role for itself in finding a solution to the problems that have led to the current situation, I mean the issue of equal and indivisible security in Europe, and will help assert the principles of justice in these matters, and explain to our mutual partners that their attempts to deny Russia the right to security guarantees are futile.

We want security guarantees to be provided to Ukraine, all European countries and Russia, in keeping with the documents which have been approved by the OSCE over many previous years and have declared the principle, according to which no country should seek to strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others. The root of all problems lies here.

The West has ignored its obligations and worked to present Russia as a direct military and ideological threat, playing up to neo-Nazi trends and practices in Ukraine. I think if India with its position of justice and rational approaches to resolving international issues manages to support these processes, nobody is likely to object.

Question: It has been reported around the world for several weeks now that the Russophobic sentiment is sweeping entire regions. People are suffering from things not seen since the Middle Ages and things they bear no responsibility for. How does the Foreign Ministry respond to this? Perhaps dedicated centres for collecting information or assistance centres will be formed? What will happen next on this track and what else needs to be done?

Sergey Lavrov: We have commented on this situation many times. It really is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, real Russophobic mayhem. It’s as if the West was masquerading as a polite and well-mannered partner in the international arena for all these decades. In fact, this outwardly presentable mask was hiding its true face. It has now manifested itself on a scale that no one could even imagine. Everything Russian face ostracism and prohibition.

We put all these instances on record. We use the tools that exist in our state system, the resources of the Investigative Committee, the Prosecutor General’s Office and other departments.

The Foundation for Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad has been operating in dozens of countries for a long time now helping organise legal assistance to compatriots in challenging circumstances.

Modern challenges call for global efforts at the level of international organisations. They must highlight the unacceptability of such “actions” on the part of our Western partners.  Discrimination is rampant and the “values” that the West has been touting for many years (presumption of innocence, inviolability of property, free market rules, etc.) have been torn up.Not to mention what is being done to religion and the Russian Orthodox Church not only in Ukraine, but also in the EU countries which consider themselves civilised. This conversation is overdue. Everything that is happening now is directly undermining the obligations of the organisers of these “actions” under the UN Charter and the OSCE. Without this conversation, we will not be able to overcome the situation the West has created not only in its relations with Russia, but also in international relations. This is a message for all of us.

Over the past couple of years, the United States has completely thwarted all attempts by Europe to strive for independence or strategic autonomy. Lone voices that are heard, in particular from France, no longer decide anything. Germany has completely reconciled itself to its role as US ally, blindly following in the wake of US policies. Everything is being done to recreate a unipolar world and proclaim this process as a “fight of democracies against autocracies.” What kind of democracy is this? As things stand, with Washington in the lead, they themselves, collectively, have become an autocracy in the international arena. They believe they can do anything and get away with it.

Should the United States claim to face a threat somewhere around the globe (as was the case in Iraq, Libya, or Syria thousands of kilometres away from their coasts, which usually turns out to be fake or based on false evidence) Washington is “entitled” to do what it wants, such as kill hundreds of thousands of civilians or level whole cities to the ground, such as Raqqa, Syria. This approach will inform the West’s future actions in all regions unless it is stopped.

Should any other country, not only Russia, see a direct threat in weapons, military biological programmes (as it lately transpired), or the creation of foreign military bases in a neighbouring country (in this case, right on the border with our country), the West considers this, as well as the fact that Russia defends its own interests, unacceptable. This is much deeper and broader than just the special military operation in Ukraine and ensuring its neutrality under collectively assumed security guarantees. This is a matter of the world order, in which all the rules of decency, international law and their own “values” (the West promoted them as part of its model of globalisation) were trampled upon by the West itself.

You can’t get away from having this conversation, and China, India and other countries realise this.I read the speech by Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at yesterday’s meeting on Indian-British cooperation. He noted that the newly arisen issues in international affairs touch on the very foundations of the world order, which must change to become equal and multipolar, without sovereigns and dictators.

Question: My first question is, why India? Secondly, Russia is actually hammered by a lot of sanctions, including on SWIFT-code. Will you recommend India or any other friend country to use an alternative payment gateway?

Sergey Lavrov: Why India? Because we are friends and we regularly exchange visits.

As for SWIFT, for many years, as I said, when the nature of our Western partners, who are entirely unreliable, became more and more obvious and known, we started developing national payment systems. In Russia, the Central Bank several years ago established a system of communication of financial information. India has a similar system which is called RuPay. And it is absolutely clear that more and more transactions would be done through these systems using national currencies, bypassing the dollar, euro and other currencies, which proved totally unreliable.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Serbian media, Moscow, March 28, 2022

March 29, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1806841/

Question: As you know, Serbia has not joined the sanctions [against Russia]. Did it come as a surprise to you that some of the Balkan nations who have recently had a good relationship with Russia have joined the sanctions against it? What is your perspective on the efforts to bring relations with these Balkan countries back to normal later?

Sergey Lavrov: We are seeing unprecedented pressure as part of a general campaign, which some Western politicians call an all-out war against Russia where all means are justified. This did not just start now – far from it.

Over the previous ten years, the European Union, in its relations with the countries seeking to join it, has been demanding – the Serbs know this well – that they join all their foreign policy initiatives that of late have been increasingly anti-Russia in character. This has nothing to do with a single economic space or with introducing the rule of law or anything else like that. There is only an ideologically-charged approach that allows them to continue to put pressure on Russia to emasculate its independence in the international arena and have it accept European values, which Europe has long since been inculcating [in others], despite its Christian roots.

Allow me to remind you that when they were working on the European Union Constitution, which, in the end, was not approved and was replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, the first version began with a reference to Europe’s Christian roots. The European “grandees” refused to support this wording, having repudiated their race and religious traditions. They can hardly be expected to have respect for the traditions of other faiths.

We are seeing this pressure being exerted on the Balkan countries, including Serbia, to have them join the anti-Russia sanctions, which cover almost all economic, cultural, humanitarian, political and other activities. President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic has spoken about this in detail in public several times, emphasising that Serbia will be guided by its own interests. There are also countries like this in the European Union. I just want to mention the recent statement by Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, who said that Hungary would stand up for its own interests.

This multi-ethnic self-reproducing bureaucracy with a seat in Brussels is trying to subjugate all countries without exception and concentrate all efforts to establishing rules and standards at the headquarters of the European Union, reducing to a minimum what its member countries can do on their own. This is a flawed policy. It shows yet again that, essentially, a certain trend is emerging in the European Union to strengthen autocracy as represented by Brussels in its relations with the member countries.

Montenegro and North Macedonia have been drawn into the sanctions war. They were tempted by the promise of fast rapprochement with the European Union, but this did not happen. They were drawn into NATO and anti-Russia actions and campaigns. Then they were patted on the shoulder, as it were, and told: “Good job, fellas, keep it up.” This is a serious problem. The EU’s reputation and the real goals of its policy in the Balkans are at stake. I believe the United States has given the EU complete control over the Balkans. The US is fully satisfied with the EU’s aggressive anti-Russia line.

Do you remember this statement by Josep Borrell’s predecessor Federica Mogherini? She accused Russia of being too active in the Balkans and said that if the EU started getting involved there, there was no room for others. Her successor Josep Borrell promotes the same idea. He has always urged the EU not to allow Russia to build stronger relations with those countries where it feels like “the boss of the show.”

We are seeing attempts by the US, the EU and NATO to impose their hegemony on others, not only in the Balkans but also in the rest of the world –virtually everywhere else. I am convinced that most of the countries around the world realise that this is the path to a deadlock. It will eventually be necessary to find a way out. There are not too many countries in Europe that can consider themselves sovereign and independent. Those that refuse to join the sanctions in favour of other states to protect their own national interest are fully entitled to be called independent regardless of their size.

Question: Did Russia envision such isolation and military losses, things we rarely hear precise information about?

Sergey Lavrov: The sanctions against Russia have never stopped. In Soviet times, we lived under the sanctions of the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom). Under this, the West did all it could to prevent the purchase and supply of high-tech equipment. The Jackson-Vanik amendment existed for many years. It was repealed to allow us to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because the United States and other countries were interested in this. It was instantly replaced by the Magnitsky Act that continued the tradition of pressuring the Russian Federation through sanctions. These sanctions were valid until 2014.

A coup took place in Kiev in 2014 contrary to the guarantees of the EU and with Washington’s direct support. Now there is no longer any doubt about it. The coup evoked indignation in both Crimea and in the east of Ukraine. The Crimeans held a referendum to return to Russia, protecting themselves against the armed militants that were bound for Crimea. The people in eastern Ukraine also proclaimed the creation of republics that refused to accept the anti-constitutional government coup. At that time, the Russian Federation was again blamed for everything. The West was disappointed that its plan to finally use Ukraine for its anti-Russia needs fell through.

The introduced sanctions simply reflected the West’s irritation. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has said more than once that since then the EU and the US have imposed sanctions on us almost every month, at least two or three times a year. I think it is always easy to find an excuse. The goal of the sanctions is not to resolve some specific problem but to curb Russia’s strategic and geopolitical development. We know that the West is good at finding excuses.

The surge in unprecedented Neanderthal-like Russophobia that has come to life in almost all Western countries whose leaders are vigorously encouraging and cultivating it was something that struck me particularly in the circumstances at hand. I’m aware that there are reasonable people in the EU who understand the danger of inciting this kind of Russophobia. They are issuing reminders to the effect that Europe saw a similar attitude towards a certain ethnicity over 80 years ago and they know how it ended. This obsession with regard to how they see everything Russian, be it culture, art, education, or Russian citizens (as soon as they start speaking their language in many European countries), has taken over almost all European countries. This struck me, because it revealed the Neanderthal entrails of Russophobia. It appears to have been brewing for a long time now. It’s impossible to bring to life a sentiment like that in just one day. So it was carefully hidden. We will make corresponding conclusions.

Isolation doesn’t exist and is brought up exclusively by those who, mentally and ideologically, have resigned themselves to the inevitability of a Western dictatorship on the global stage. This dictatorship is supported primarily by the West itself which is loath to lose its positions. The West has been the world’s dominant player for over 500 years now. A different era – the forming of a multipolar international order – is now here. The global economic development hubs pursuing a nationally oriented policy have risen, and they do not want to accept the impersonal neoliberal values ​​imposed by the West on the world. They want to be grounded in their history, traditions and values, including religious values. By and large, they are common to all world religions.

Russia has many partners in the Asia-Pacific region, Asia, Africa and Latin America. We have good relations with the vast majority of organisations created by the developing countries, including the African Union, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and many others. As you are aware, organisations with the participation of the Russian Federation have been created and are successfully functioning in Eurasia which is a critically important, strategically developing region: the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In cooperation with ASEAN, these organisations are vigorously promoting interaction among them and developing a network of cooperation projects in conjunction with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, among others. We are building the Greater Eurasian Partnership. Our relations with China are at their all-time best. Russia has a particularly privileged strategic partnership with India. We have ties with the majority of the Middle Eastern, Latin American and African countries.

The West is trying to showcase the so-called “isolation” in which the Russian Federation allegedly found itself by presenting the mathematical results of the UN vote. We are aware of how they get these results and the kind of shameless blackmail the developing countries are subjected to, and personal threats against the representatives of these countries at the UN or other organisations. For us, this means only one thing: the United States and the Western countries that are playing along with this crude and undisguised blackmail are themselves afraid of being isolated. If they are that confident in their ideals and values that can win their way to the hearts and minds of all people around the world, then let them state their position and allow the countries to make a choice. These countries are aware of the position adopted by the West, Russia, China and other major global players. Let them choose freely without any pressure.

During his recent visit to Europe, US President Joseph Biden said that we were entering an era of long confrontation between democracy and autocracy. Look at how the modern West is functioning, look at the countries that have declared themselves a model of democracy. The United States has subdued the entire Europe. It is leading not only NATO but actually also the EU, using its infrastructure and potential for strengthening US military and political positions in the Old World. As for democracies and autocracies, this “community of democracies” represented by the US, NATO and the EU has become an integral whole (under US command). It is an overt autocracy if not a dictatorship as regards other members of the international community.

Our Western colleagues have urged us and other countries for many years to ensure the supremacy of law and democracy in the US interpretation. But whenever we suggested discussing democracy in the world arena, they were against it – there can be no democracy in the world arena. The Westerners have even cancelled the very term “international law” that implied respect for the principles of the UN Charter, primarily, the principle of the sovereign equality of states. Our Western colleagues did not give a damn (excuse me for this expression) about the sovereign equality of states or international law, generally speaking. They no longer use the latter term. They are saying now that all countries must follow the laws of a rules-based order. The rules mean only one thing – they are established by the West. Everyone else must obey. This is a typical example of autocracy and dictatorship that uses an ultimatum.

We don’t feel isolated. Isolation is the lot of those who couldn’t imagine their life without so-called “Western values” and without the welcoming embrace or at least a more or less warm reception in the West. Meanwhile, there are much more important things in life. They are a loadstar for the overwhelming majority of states and civilisations on this planet.

It is necessary to respect each other rather than impose one’s pseudo values in an aggressive manner. These have only existed for a short time. They appeared with the development of neo-liberalism and are used to discontinue millennia-old cultures and civilisations. This path is a dead-end. These attempts will continue for a while, but they are doomed in the historical perspective. Strategically, this policy will find itself in complete isolation.

Question: I know Russia now has more important things to worry about, but “everyone is out for himself.” Now Serbia has to harmonise its foreign policy. It has not introduced sanctions against Russia. For us Russia is the most important foreign policy partner when it comes to upholding our sovereignty in international organisations. How do you visualise Serbia’s possible political prevarication between the two geopolitical poles, and does this phenomenon have time limits?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s not up to us to be responsible for decisions made by Serbia, the Serbian leadership or the Serbian people. We are fraternal nations. We are united by common history and victories against common enemies. We feel how deeply these feelings are rooted in the soul of the Serbian people, in their historical memory. And now we are seeing this. We never impose anything by force. The West is trying to impose on Serbia its own policy and interests by force of economic pressure, threats, blackmail and ultimatums. It is telling Serbia that it must oppose Russia if it wants to join the EU. This is unseemly. This is not how one should behave in society, at home, with friends or in the world arena. This is an example of their policy of arm-twisting. President Aleksandar Vucic has mentioned this more than once. He said honestly that Serbia is a small country but it has its own pride and its own interests. Attempts are being made now to simply forget these interests and turn you into an instrument of Western policy. This is what happened with North Macedonia and Montenegro. This is what the West is now trying to do with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We have deep respect for the Serbian people, its commitment to its traditions, history and its historical friends. I am convinced that the Serbian people will continue making wise decisions in any situation, based on their fundamental interests.

Question: Is President Vladimir Putin ready to sit down at the negotiating table with President Vladimir Zelensky?

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has commented on this topic many times. He raised this subject yet again not that long ago when answering questions by his foreign colleagues with whom he maintains regular dialogue, including on the situation in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin said that he has never refused to meet with President Vladimir Zelensky. It is just that he believes in the importance of making sure that these meetings are well prepared. Considering the current crisis situation in Ukraine, its internal conflict which has been building up over all these years and the multiple challenges, simply arranging a meeting to discuss what one thinks and what the other thinks does not cut it. In fact, it would be counterproductive. When Ukraine suggested talks after we launched our special military operation, we agreed. These talks carried on and are ongoing. They will resume today or tomorrow in person in Istanbul after a series of videoconferences. The outcome we seek must deliver on our principled objective of stopping the killing of civilians in Donbass which has been going on for eight long years. The Western community has remained silent despite all its progressivism and has not issued even a single comment to condemn what was going on, even though everyone saw the shelling of civilian infrastructure in Donbass: hospitals, kindergartens, clinics and residential housing. Civilians were dying by the thousands. Still, the “enlightened” West remained silent. All it did was call for fulfilling the Minsk agreements. When Kiev refused, the West started saying that it was up to Russia to fulfil them. This is sheer mockery in terms of common sense, international law, human rights, you name it.

When negotiating with Ukraine, it is our duty to ensure that the people of Donbass never suffer from the Kiev regime again, while the West and NATO stop their military build-up in Ukraine, which creates physical, military threats to the Russian Federation. Ukraine must cease being subject to a constant militarisation effort and attempts to deploy strike capabilities there to threaten the Russian Federation. Ukraine must also stop encouraging neo-Nazi ideology and practices.

This has happened before, and we know these examples. In fact, they are rooted in Ukrainian law. Let me mention the discriminatory laws which run counter to the Ukrainian Constitution and all international commitments. These laws prohibit the Russian language in education and the media. Ukraine has recently adopted laws banning the Russian language from everyday life. Demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine constitute an indispensable component of the agreements we are seeking to conclude. I hope that Ukraine understands that the developments which have been running rampant there since the country’s independence are extremely toxic. This includes honouring the memory of Shukhevich and Bandera, who were Nazi criminals. The “decommunisation” drive includes demolishing monuments to the great people who liberated Ukraine from the Nazis. Western instructors helped train “nationalist” battalions whose members not only wore Nazi symbols but practiced Nazi methods of war. Seeing how Ukrainian Nazis from the Azov and Aidar battalions treat Russian prisoners of war should have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s for you. We will need to arrange this meeting once a solution regarding all these key matters comes into reach.

For many years, we sought to raise awareness on these issues. The West remained impervious to our efforts, but they have heard us now. This is already something. What matters the most right now is to stop indulging the Ukrainians who want to use talks and solutions as a smokescreen. They have succeeded in this posture when they derailed the Minsk agreements immediately after signing them in February 2015. In the end, they said that they refused to fulfil them. We know how good they are at pretending to be involved. This time, they will not get away with it. We need to make sure that the talks yield results, and once they do, the Presidents will formalise them.

Question: I have a question about mercenaries in Ukraine. It is a hot subject in Russia, and it is being discussed around the world as well. Hundreds of people from Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina fought on the side of the Islamists in Syria. However, the West did not criticise Pristina or Sarajevo. These people are now willing to fight in Ukraine, and there are also Croatian volunteers there. The Kosovo Albanian authorities and Pristina have supported Kiev. We would like you to comment on this.

Sergey Lavrov: We were among those who for years warned our Western partners about the recruiters of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups working in several Balkan countries. We warned them about the consequences of such connivance for Europe. Statistics show that Pristina is holding the per capita anti-record by the number of militants fighting in Syria and Iraq. But nobody wanted to hear about that. Later our Western colleagues wondered where the cutthroats who staged terrorist attacks and massacres in European cities had come from. Mercenaries will not remain in Ukraine after their inglorious mission ends there. It is perfectly clear that they will move on to European cities, where they will continue their so-called work. You may know that participation in hostilities in foreign states is a punishable offence in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Kosovo Province. Some of those who fought in Syria and Iraq have even been punished upon their return home. But today Europe is acting differently. The policy of double standards has taken priority when it comes to Ukraine. The West has banked on it to contain Russia. It would use any means to achieve this end.

We don’t see any reaction to this. We have been trying to draw the attention of our Western partners and colleagues from other countries and parts of the world to the Ukrainian embassies’ activities to recruit mercenaries for Ukraine on their websites, which is a blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and is discrediting the status of a diplomatic office. Some of these mercenaries have made statements on the social media and have appeared on several television networks. It is obvious that they are not volunteers. They are fighting for money. Therefore, they do not have the right to the status of combatant or prisoner of war under international humanitarian law. They are not entitled to protection.

As for Pristina’s support for Kiev, the matter is clear. Kosovo, which is a criminal self-proclaimed quasi-state, does not care for international law. It only wants to take advantage of the situation to win recognition for its pseudo-independence and is posing as just about the main ally of the United States and NATO in the Balkans.

Our attitude to this is well known. We warned about the inadmissibility of pandering to Pristina’s unacceptable actions, and we have always called for settling the Kosovo issue in strict compliance with UN Security Resolution 1244. When the UN General Assembly gave the European Union the mandate to facilitate dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade in 2010, this raised our hopes. In 2013, the EU convinced Pristina and Belgrade to sign an agreement on the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo. It guaranteed the Serbs’ language and cultural rights, as well as their rights in local governments and their special relations with Serbia. However, the Community has not been established. When we remind our Western colleagues about this, they are embarrassed and say that “the matter is still on the table” and that efforts should continue to be taken to implement the decision. I believe that the EU has discredited itself as the guarantor of any agreements.

In February 2014, the EU guaranteed the agreement on a settlement in Ukraine between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. When the opposition overturned the agreements the following morning, the EU said nothing and only cited certain democratic processes.

In 2015, France and Germany signed, together with us, a document that is known now as the Minsk agreements. During the subsequent years, Kiev did nothing to implement that document. It said openly that it would not do it.

[Prime Minister of Kosovo] Albin Kurti has said that he would not implement the agreements on the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo.

The EU, which guaranteed the implementation of all of the above documents, has failed completely. I am sure that it will not do anything to force Pristina to implement the documents co-signed by Europe. The EU and the United States will not place any pressure on Pristina on the issue of mercenaries. The United States is feeling just fine. It used the situation to establish Camp Bondsteel, the largest military base in the Balkans. Pristina has not questioned the need to keep that base and has instead indicated its interest in keeping it. I believe that Pristina will be forgiven for anything it does and will be allowed to do anything it wants.

Question: The ultimate goal of your special operation is not quite clear. Originally it was stated as denazification and protection of the people of Donbass. Today, it seems, at least from abroad, that this is not the only goal being pursued by Russia. Many Russians cannot say what these goals are. Some of them are unable to agree with the rationale for this conflict.

Sergey Lavrov: Each person has the right to choose and define his or her position with regard to some or other events that take place in their own country or in other states.

As for our aims, they are certainly about removing the threats that over these long eight years have caused thousands of deaths and the destruction of civilian facilities in Ukraine – schools, hospitals, plants, factories, etc. This is what the Ukrainian regime has been doing against the population of Donbass with the West’s tacit approval. If today the West is suddenly concerned about the need to respect international humanitarian law and save people’s lives, I will only welcome it, but they should act in such a way as to see the causes and roots of the situation we are facing now.

The root cause of the matter is that an effort was launched to transform Ukraine into an anti-Russia immediately after its independence, its withdrawal from the USSR. You can see it for yourself if you look at the Kiev regime’s lawmaking: its laws in effect ban the use of the Russian language and encourage the development of openly Nazi organisations.

The Nazi ideology and practices have deep roots in Ukrainian society. Officers from the “national volunteer battalions” have permeated Ukraine’s army and armed forces; they publicly preach Nazi ideas, calling on others to follow the behests of Adolf Eichmann, a person notorious for his role in Europe during the Nazi rule.   Even their symbols and tattoos reproduce the swastikas and emblems of the Nazi SS battalions.  If we want to abide by the European values, I do not think they can include this sort of ideology and practices. Europe must put an end to this, if it does not want to find itself once again in a situation where it will be inundated by this “wave,” be it brown or of any other colour that the neo-Nazis favour.

The whole thing is much more serious than just solving a single problem.  Russia cannot accept NATO’s plan to turn Ukraine into its outpost chock-full of offensive arms aimed at our territory. We cannot accept the West’s effort to encourage the eradication of all things Russian in Ukraine (language, culture, etc.). Where were our Western colleagues when Kiev banned the Russian media, TV channels, and not only printed matter but also books published in Russia? They shut down three Russian-language TV channels owned by Ukrainian citizens.

You have mentioned the fact that some Russian citizens cannot accept what is happening today and express their concern. But others – journalists, cultural figures, artists, and athletes – do not voice anything and just do their job. Ukraine puts hundreds of them on sanctions lists.  Yesterday, the Ukrainian regime blacklisted another 46 Russian cultural figures, artists, athletes and journalists. And everyone believes that this is normal. Being Russian in Europe today means running a tremendous risk of violence. There have already been such cases.

Our task is to ensure long-term security in Europe. This cannot be done without cutting off attempts to draw Ukraine into NATO, or without agreeing on security guarantees that will take into account the interests of Russia, Ukraine and European countries. We were confident of this when we tried (unfortunately, to no avail) to start a serious conversation with the United States and NATO in 2021 about providing security guarantees, including for Ukraine, without expanding the North Atlantic Alliance. Nobody would listen.

We have heard repeated promises that NATO would not continue to expand. For example, when it came to the unification of Germany, then the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist. They just lied to our face. When we reminded them about those promises, they said they had never made any. Later on, when we presented proof, they said, well, there might have been some verbal agreement – meaning they just said things to “calm us down,” because they had more important concerns – to ensure that the Soviet Union would “shut down” without any “consequences” for Europe.

When they decided everything had “calmed down,” it was time to get moving. Now they are saying we “should not be afraid” because “NATO is a defensive alliance.” So it was when it was created. But they continued to explain, “NATO is protecting its territory.” We knew where their territory was when there was the Berlin Wall – both concrete and imaginary – between the North Atlantic Alliance and the Warsaw Pact. But when the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, NATO suddenly thought it wanted to “protect the territory” further east. Then it moved a little more to the east, and so on. What kind of defensive alliance is it that draws its own line of defence? Moreover, it keeps adding countries that no one was ever going to attack – actually, no one had ever even thought of threatening these countries.

Jens Stoltenberg (the Norwegian Central Bank is unlikely to have him back any time soon, as the Alliance has extended his term) declares that NATO should take responsibility for global security. This is where the line of defence is, and where democracy turns into autocracy and dictatorship. He says the alliance needs to increase its role in the vast Indo-Pacific region – that’s what they call the Asia-Pacific region, a direct allusion to the South China Sea. This is where their line of defence will be now.

We want NATO to return to sanity. We have reason to believe that Russia’s most serious concerns, having to do with our fundamental, legitimate interests, have finally been heard. They begin to understand now. If this is so, they will try to influence the Kiev regime, which listens to them, and in fact does everything the West tells them to. I hope that the Ukrainian negotiators will show a constructive approach, and at some stage, we will be able to achieve the desired result.

My colleague, UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss has actually confirmed with fantastic, amazing, naive frankness that those negotiators, like the Kiev regime itself, are not acting independently. She actually said they were assisting the Ukrainians in working out their negotiating position. Indeed, who knows the situation in our common region better than London? She went on to say they needed to continue to use the “hard lever” on Russia and “to double down on sanctions.” And when negotiations begin, the UK should be the country that will provide the necessary solutions. An amazing “revelation.” No need to comment.

I can see there are chances to reach an agreement. There is an understanding of the grossest mistakes our Western partners have been making for years. Although, for obvious reasons, they would hardly say this out loud.

Question: What do you think, wouldn’t Belgrade be a perfect place for the negotiations?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe Belgrade is a great city in terms of its position and status. It is quite suitable for talks at any level.

The venue for the negotiations must be acceptable to both teams. Three rounds of in-person talks were held in Belarus, followed by a break due to technical reasons. It was difficult to meet directly; therefore, we held several videoconferences. Now we have agreed to meet in Istanbul. It is a point on the map where both parties were able to arrive. We are ready to consider other locations, including Belgrade.

Question: These days Serbian people remember NATO bombings and many say that the reasoning President Vladimir Putin used to “attack” Ukraine is identical to the reasoning the alliance used in its aggression against Yugoslavia. What is your response to these claims?

Sergey Lavrov: Our Western colleagues are known for twisting facts without batting an eye or as much as a blush. They always want to justify their stance and demands by distorting the real picture.

We have already spoken about the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, when the settlement guarantees provided by the EU were trampled to pieces. The neo-Nazis who came to power immediately afterwards demanded revoking the status of the Russian language in Ukraine, getting out of Crimea, and sent combat units to Crimea to storm the Supreme Council. Only then did the Crimean people revolt against such attacks and held a referendum. Now, reviewing that period, the West starts its story not with the failure of the European Union, whose signature, apparently, meant nothing to the opposition that staged the coup, and not with the attacks on the Russian language and Russians committed by the putschists that came to power. The West begins the timeline of those events with what it calls an “annexation” of Crimea. The truth is it was not an annexation but a free expression of will that took place as a result of the coup staged with the support from the West. However, the West has crossed out those several weeks leading up to the referendum in Crimea, from history. They say Crimea was “annexed,” hence the sanctions, when in fact, they wanted to punish Russia for their own failures and inability to keep their promises.

For them, the timeline of everything that is happening in Ukraine right now begins on February 24, 2022, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a special military operation. The years of abuse targeting Russians, the Russian language and culture in Ukraine, ignoring Russia’s appeals to NATO and the United States about the fact that further “exploration” of the territories bordering the Russian Federation is unacceptable, direct calls to prevent Ukraine’s accession to NATO and to stop pumping Ukraine with weapons, building naval bases and, as it now turns out, biological warfare laboratories – nobody is talking about that. They claim that Russia started the operation against the Ukrainian state for no reason at all. What about the fact that the Ukrainian state could not care less about the Minsk agreements for eight years, bombing cities, towns and killing civilians? All this is now behind the line from which the West now marks off its angry and principled positioning.

I heard that President Vladimir Zelensky gave an interview to several Russian media outlets and, when asked about the biological warfare labs, he said it was all a lie and they did not exist. If the West is ready to buy into this kind of commentaries it means that our own experience with the modern Western politics will only be reaffirmed. There are multiple pages of documents that we submitted to the UN Security Council and President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky claims they are a lie.

To be continued…

Russia sets ruble gas payment deadline موسكو سنبيع الغاز بالروبل حصراً والعزلة الغربية لا معنى لها

Russia sets ruble gas payment deadline

28 Mar, 2022 09:14

President Putin says ‘unfriendly countries’ must switch to its currency by March 31

Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorized the government, the central bank, and Gazprombank to take the necessary steps to switch all payments for Russian natural gas from “unfriendly states” to rubles starting March 31.

The measure targets “member states of the EU and other countries that have introduced restrictions against citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian legal entities,” the mandate published on the Kremlin website reads.

Russia will stop shipping natural gas to countries refusing to settle payments in rubles, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

The decision, first announced last week, came as Russia’s oil trade has been left in disarray as importers put orders on hold due to the latest sanctions introduced against Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Gas payments in rubles would backfire on EU sanctions – media

The conflict in Ukraine and the anti-Russia sanctions that followed have raised concerns of a global economic crisis. Skyrocketing commodity prices are sending the costs of consumer goods, energy, and food ever higher, giving rise to fears of a possible recession in many countries and even hunger in some parts of the world.

Russia’s decision to switch payments to its domestic currency has been made in response to the unprecedented penalties imposed by the US and its allies on the country’s financial system.

The ruble plummeted to record lows after Western nations and Japan blocked Russia’s access to some of its international reserves. Since last week’s currency-switch announcement, the ruble has reached its strongest level against the US dollar and the euro in nearly a month.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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الثلاثاء 29 آذار 2022

موسكو: سنبيع الغاز بالروبل حصراً والعزلة الغربية لا معنى لها

البناء

في إطار الرد على العقوبات الغربية، أصدر الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، تعليماته إلى مجلس الوزراء والبنك المركزي وشركة «غاز بروم» لاتخاذ التدابير الضرورية لتغيير عملة الدفع لإمدادات الغاز إلى الروبل بحلول 31 آذار/ مارس.

في غضون ذلك، أفاد المتحدث باسم الكرملين، ديمتري بيسكوف بأنّ محادثات السلام بين روسيا وأوكرانيا قد تبدأ في تركيا اليوم الثلاثاء، مضيفاً أنّه “من المهم أن تعقد المحادثات وجهاً لوجه».

وأشار بيسكوف، في تصريح أمس، إلى أنه “لم يتم إحراز أي تقدم بشأن عقد اجتماع بين بوتين والرئيس الأوكراني فلاديمير زيلينسكي”، معتبراً أنّ “المحادثات فشلت حتى الآن في تحقيق أيّ انفراج».

وعن قرار الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين بتقاضي ثمن الغاز المصدر بالروبل، أكد بيسكوف أنّ “روسيا لن تقدم الغاز مجاناً إذا رفض الأوروبيون الدفع بالروبل».

من جانبه، صرح وزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف، بأن الغرب كان يبرر بشكلٍ دائم فرض العقوبات على روسيا بهدف كبح تطورها.

وأضاف لافروف، خلال مؤتمرٍ صحافي مع قنوات تلفزيونية صربية، أمس، أنّ روسيا لديها عددٌ كبير من الشركاء والحلفاء في العالم، وبالتالي لا معنى للعزلة الغربية.

ولفت لافروف إلى أنّ “موسكو ترى وتشعر بالضغط الذي يفرضه الاتحاد الأوروبي على دول البلقان للانضمام إلى العقوبات المفروضة على روسيا”، مشدداً على أنّ “الولايات المتحدة الأميركية تطالب الدول الأخرى بالديمقراطية، بينما تفرض على الدول نهجاً ديكتاتورياً».

وأوضح لافروف أن الاتحاد الأوروبي يمارس ضغوطاً سياسية كبرى على صربيا لتغيير موقفها السياسي وفرض عقوبات اقتصادية على روسيا.

وعن آفاق المفاوضات الروسية الاوكرانية، شدد لافروف على أنّ لقاء الرئيس الروسي ​فلاديمير بوتين مع نظيره الأوكراني سيكون ممكناً فور الحصول على توضيحات بشأن المسائل الأساسية التي قدمتها روسيا، مضيفاً «أننا نرغب في نجاح المفاوضات مع الأوكرانيين في إسطنبول، وأن تؤدي إلى وقف قتل المدنيين في دونباس من قبل نظام كييف».

كما أشاد لافروف بالعلاقات الروسية الصينية، معتبراً أنها “في أقوى مستوياتها على الإطلاق”.

بدوره، قال عضو لجنة السياسات الاقتصادية لمجلس الاتحاد في بالبرلمان الروسي إيفان أبرامون إنَّ “رفض مجموعة السبع دفع ثمن الغاز الروسي بالروبل سيؤدّي إلى توقّف الإمدادات من دون شكّ».

إلى ذلك، أظهرت نتائج استطلاعٍ جديد للرأي، ارتفاع نسبة المواطنين الروس المؤيدين للعملية العسكرية الخاصة في أوكرانيا، من 65% إلى 73%.

وبحسب الاستطلاع، الذي أجري في 20 من الشهر الجاري، فقد “دعمت نسبة 73% من العينة الاستطلاعية قرار بدء العملية العسكرية، بينما كانت نسبة 14% ضد القرار” في استطلاع سابق للرأي أجري في شباط/ فبراير الماضي.

وأظهرت نسبة 71% من المستطلعين إعتقادها أنَّ “روسيا تريد ضمان أمنها، وتحقيق نزع سلاح أوكرانيا، ومنع حلف الناتو من نشر قواعده هناك” من خلال العملية العسكرية في أوكرانيا.

ميدانياً، أعلن المتحدث باسم وزارة الدفاع الروسية، اللواء إيغور كوناشينكوف، تدمير مستودعاتٍ ضخمةٍ للذخيرة في مقاطعة جيتومير، مشيراً إلى إنّها “كانت تُستخدم لإمداد القوات الأوكرانية في ضواحي العاصمة كييف”.

وأضاف كوناشينكوف  أنّه “خلال الساعات القليلة الماضية، أسقطنا 3 طائراتٍ أوكرانيةٍ إضافيةٍ” فوق مناطق في جيتومير ودونيتسك.

وأشار كوناشينكوف إلى إسقاط مروحيةٍ أوكرانيةٍ من طراز (Mi-8) فوق ماريوبول، الواقعة على بحر آزوف، إلى جانب إسقاط طائرةٍ أوكرانيةٍ من دون طيار بالقرب من قرية تشيرنوبايفكا.

وأكمل كوناشينكوف أن قواته ضربت 41 موقعاً عسكرياً في أوكرانيا، بينها 2 للصواريخ، ومحطةَ حربٍ إلكترونيةٍ، ومخازنَ ذخيرةٍ».

ولفت المتحدّث العسكري إلى أنّه “منذ بداية العملية العسكرية، تمَّ تدمير 123 طائرةً و74 مروحيةً، و309 طائراتٍ من دون طيّارٍ، و1721 دبابةً وعربةً قتاليةً، إضافة إلى مئات المدافع، وعشرات راجمات الصواريخ.

على صعيد مواز، قالت رئيسة الهيئة الفيدرالية الروسية لرقابة حماية حقوق المستهلكين، آنا بوبوفا، إنّ “أكثر من 300 مختبر بيولوجي تنتشر في العالم بتمويلٍ أميركيٍّ».

وأضافت أنَّ “هناك مناطق يوجد فيها تركيز عال من المختبرات الأميركية العسكرية والمدنية على حد سواء، ويزداد عددها يوماً بعد يوم”، مشيرةً إلى أنّ عددها يبلغ في الوقت الحالي أكثر من 300 مختبر.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT, Moscow, March 18, 2022

March 19, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1805134/

Question: The sanctions that are currently imposed on Russia are of course unprecedented. And they are really negatively affecting the lives of ordinary Russians, even though Washington is saying that it’s not targeting Russians. What can you say about what the goals of these sanctions are and who the target really is?

Sergey Lavrov:

 I believe the goal of the sanctions is much more strategic than just Ukraine. I think what we witness in Ukraine is the quintessence of the western course, strategic course to marginalise Russia, to contain Russia, to stop Russia’s development and to reduce Russia to a zero role in world politics and world economy, world trade, world sports, art, science, education

And we observe unprecedented steps our Western colleagues are taking. One of the underlying trends is the United States’ desire – which has been much more manifested by the Biden administration – to come back to a unipolar world. And, if you wish, they are trying to take the melting pot concept from the United States soil and make a melting pot from the entire world, and they would be the smelters. The European Union already, I think 99 percent, stopped trying to be independent. President Macron, of course, keeps repeating that strategic autonomy for the European Union is his goal and he would be fighting for it, but my guess is that he would not succeed. Germany is already absolutely ready to obey instructions from the United State. The situation with North Stream 2 clearly indicated what exact place in world politics Germany occupies now, when the Americans in fact have “persuaded” the Germans and others that they, the Americans, know much better what Europe needs for its energy security than Europeans themselves. And there are many examples like this. So the sanctions drive is going to continue, they are threatening the fifth wave, maybe there would be another wave, but we’re used to it. I will recall that, long before the Ukrainian crisis erupted because of the illegal anti-constitutional coup d’etat, the sanctions were already imposed on us. It was, you know, when the Jackson–Vanik amendment was repealed, the Magnitsky Act was immediately introduced and the sanctions, in one way or another, stayed. And then there was a series of sanctions, as you mentioned, to punish us, basically, for supporting the legitimate cause of Russians in Ukraine, Russians in Crimea, you know this story, I wouldn’t rehearse the events and the sequence of events.

The latest sanctions wave was really unprecedented and, as President Putin recalled, we are now champions in the number of sanctions introduced against the Russian Federation – more than 5,000 individual acts, almost twice as many as was introduced against Iran and North Korea. But sanctions, or all of this, made us stronger. After the sanctions were announced in 2014, when the West could not accept the free vote of Crimeans to rejoin the Russian Federation, when the West basically supported the illegitimate and unconstitutional coup d’etat. You know what was very interesting to me when I talked about those events to my Western colleagues? They very often use the tactic of cutting off an unwanted historical period. The situation in Ukraine they start discussing only with what they call annexation of Crimea. If you remind them that it all started with the European Union being unable to insist on the implementation of the deal, which they guaranteed, by the opposition, and then the opposition just threw away the deal signed and guaranteed by the European Union, and then the leaders of the opposition and of the so-called Maidan, the radicals, like Dmitry Yarosh were saying “We stand for a Ukraine without Russkis and katsaps” (which means Muscovites), and he publicly stated that if the Russians – well, he said the Russians in Crimea would never think Ukrainian, would never speak Ukrainian, would never glorify the heroes, meaning Bandera and Shukhevich and other collaborators of Hitler – and that’s why Russians must be swiped out of Crimea. Actually, this was said a couple of weeks before the Crimeans eventually decided to go to referendum. And these words were accompanied by deeds. They sent armed groups to take control of the Crimean parliament, and that’s how it all started. Not to mention the initiative – immediately, on the first day of this coup d’etat, the putschists introduced an initiative to do away with the status of the Russian language in Ukraine, which was in the Ukrainian Constitution. So all these instincts were immediately translated into very Russophobic policies.

The idea that Russians should get out of Ukraine is still very much on the minds of politicians in this country. Oleg Tyagnibok, the leader of the ultra-radical party, Svoboda (“Freedom”), has repeatedly said that “we must have de-Russification”, as he calls it. And de-Russification means that ethnic Russians must not have their own language, history and identity in Ukraine and so many similar things. But what is more important for us to understand in the current state of play are these statements by Zelensky himself. So I said that the ultra-radicals called for Russians to be wiped out of Crimea, and President Zelensky, in September last year, said, if you believe you’re a Russian, if you believe you want to be a Russian and if you want to be friendly with Russia, go to Russia. He said this just a few months ago.

So, coming back to sanctions: sanctions we will survive. The measures which the president and the government are developing, elaborating, are being announced. This is only the beginning of our economy getting adjusted to the new situation. After 2014, as I started to say, we did gain experience to rely upon ourselves. And the biggest lesson from this particular historical period is, unlike what we saw after 2014, that now, 

… if there was any illusion that we can one day rely on our Western partners, this illusion is no longer there.

We will have to rely only on ourselves and on our allies who would stay with us. This is the main conclusion for Russia in the context of geopolitics.

Question: I think it’s safe to say that Russian culture specifically has become accustomed to being part of, you might say, a global village of countries that share deep economic ties and enjoy travelling between each other. How do you think these sanctions are going to influence the everyday life of Russians in the long term in relation to that?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, as I said, the assessment of what is going on, in my view, clearly indicates that what America wants is a unipolar world, which would be not like a global village, which would be like an American village and maybe American saloon where who is strongest is calling the shots. And they said they are succeeding to mobilize behind themselves and, on the basis of their own interests, the entire Western world, which is indicative of how independent NATO members and European Union members are and which is indicative of what place the European Union, as I said, would have in the future configuration of the world situation and the world system.

There are players who would never accept the global village under the American sheriff …

and

China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico – I am sure these countries do not want to be just in the position where Uncle Sam orders them something and they say “Yes, sir.” And of course, Russia is not in the category of countries who would be ready to do so. Actually, when people say – when the Americans and Western Europeans and others say that Russia was defeated in the General Assembly because the vast majority of countries voted against the Russian action in Ukraine, it’s misleading because, if you take the population represented by the countries who were not voting against Russia, and especially if you take the number of countries who introduce sanctions against Russia, a majority of those who voted against us did so under huge pressure, under blackmail, including – I know this for sure – including threats to individual delegates regarding their assets in the United States, bank accounts, children studying in universities and so on and so forth. It’s absolutely unprecedented blackmail and pressure without any scruples. So a majority of those countries who voted with the West, they did not and they would not introduce sanctions against Russia. They believe that it’s, you know, not a very big price to pay for their own practical cooperation with Russia, just to vote on something which is needed for the West for entirely propagandistic purposes. So we will be, as always, open to cooperation with anyone who is ready to do so on the equal basis, on the basis of mutual respect and searching for balance of interests, and the countries to the east of Russia are much more disposed to act on this basis, and we will certainly reciprocate for the benefit of both us and our partners. We are not closing the door on the West. They are doing so. But when they come back to their senses and when this door is reopened, we will be looking at proposed projects of cooperation with a very important thing in mind to which I alluded to already – that we will be going into cooperation with them knowing very well that we cannot be sure that they are reliable and that they are credible as long-term partners.

Question: Well, I’d like to take the discussion now to a sort of different topic: these US-sponsored biolabs in Ukraine. I mean, for years already, Russia has been trying to bring the world’s attention to them. And the latest piece of evidence connected to them the Russian military just put forward not too long ago, with documents signed by US officials in connection to them. Why do you think is the world not paying so much attention to these biolabs? And will Washington and its allies be held accountable for what they’re doing there?

Sergey Lavrov: Actually, it’s interesting that the special military operation launched by the president of the Russian Federation helped discover many things which are very important for understanding what is going on. Recently, the military of Russia, together with Donetsk and Lugansk forces, discovered documents of the Ukrainian general staff indicating clearly that they were preparing a massive attack against the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. So the operation, which was launched by Russia, in fact, preempted this threat and did not allow them to implement what they wanted to do, and they wanted to do exactly what they failed to do implementing the Minsk agreements. They were trying to use what they called Plan B and to take these territories by force with bloodshed on an unbelievable scale, in addition to what they have been doing to civilians for the last eight years.

But another set of documents which was discovered – as you said, documents related to military biological activity of the United States in Ukraine – documents with signatures of Ukrainian officials, US military. 

Those laboratories have been created by the United States all over the world. More than 300 laboratories in various countries, many of them on the perimeter of the Russian Federation – in the former Soviet republics, including Ukraine. Ukraine is probably the biggest project for the Pentagon, who is running this show.

The special Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the Pentagon is in charge of this biological activity, and they are developing very dangerous pathogens, including plague, brucellosis, anthrax and many others, which are really very dangerous. And we know that they were experimenting on potential infections, which could be related to the ethnic groups living in the east of Ukraine and in neighboring regions of Russia.

We have been raising this issue in international organizations for a while, I would say almost more than 20 years. In 2001, we suggested that the countries participating in the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons should develop a verification mechanism which would be transparent, which would be understood by everybody and applied to everybody because the convention itself provides for consultations if any participating state has some suspicions or some information which the state would like to clarify. And if these consultations indicate that there is a good reason for some kind of investigation, then an investigation is supposed to be launched. But there is no mechanism to investigate, and there is no mechanism which would require each and every country, in response to an address, to provide information and to guarantee transparency of its biological activity anywhere, be it on your own territory or abroad.

By the way, 

… the Americans some years ago decided that it is too dangerous to do these things on their own soil. So they moved all these threatening and dangerous activities to other countries,

and more and more they concentrate their research and experiments around the borders of the Russian Federation and China. So we will be insisting on this issue to be picked up by the Biological Weapons Convention, but also by the Security Council, because it’s a clear threat to international peace and security. We will be again emphasising the importance of negotiating a legally binding protocol to the Convention on Biological Weapons, which would require obligatory transparency measures by any participating state. The Americans, I have no slightest doubt, would be against it, but this position of theirs is not defendable. I am convinced that more and more countries understand how dangerous these plans are, and we will continue to fight them.

Question: What can you say on the topic of Washington’s role in all of this? President Zelensky called for weapons to come to his country from the West. He’s talked about a demand for establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, and this is something that Joe Biden just recently again said is not going to happen because that would lead, no doubt, to outright war between Russia and NATO and the United States. Why do you think is Ukraine so desperately trying to make some sort of scenario like that happen?

Sergey Lavrov: Whatever you think of some of Joe Biden’s statements, he is a very experienced politician and he understands that it is absolutely inadmissible to establish something like a no-fly zone, to provide planes to Ukraine and to do other things which will bring the risk of direct confrontation between NATO and Russia just, you know, immediately. But Zelensky also understands that there are much less responsible politicians in the United States who are being agitated by the Ukrainian lobby and just driven by Russophobic feelings, and many of them are in Congress. They adopt every now and then resolutions condemning Russia, threatening Russia. I believe Zelensky is counting on them pushing the president in the direction of a more confrontational approach.

We clearly said that any cargo moving into Ukrainian territory which we would believe is carrying weapons would be fair game. This is clear because we are implementing the operation the goal of which is to remove any threat to the Russian Federation coming from Ukrainian soil. This was part of our proposal in December last year when we suggested that we negotiate with NATO security guarantees – the way which would be codifying the old agreement reached at the highest level that no one, no country should increase its security at the expense of the security of others. So they know what it is all about.

They also speak about missile defense. Kiev authorities think of asking NATO members who possess Soviet air defense systems to share this with them.

I would like to remind the countries who might be playing with this idea that 

the Soviet and Russian-made systems of missile defense or of any other purpose are there on the basis of intergovernmental agreements and contracts, which includes an end user certificate. The end user certificate does not allow them to send these weapons to any third country without our consent. This is a legal obligation.

I understand that legality and legal obligations is not something which our Western colleagues respect these days. They’ve already thrown away the presumption of innocence, private property being sacred and many other “pillars” on which the “liberal values” have been resting for so many centuries and decades.

But this is a serious matter, and I can assure you that we would not allow these risks to be materialised. The purpose of our operation is to protect civilians, who have been bombed and shelled and murdered for eight years, and to demilitarise Ukraine so that it does not pose a serious threat to the Russian territory, and to find security guarantees, which would be based on this equal, indivisible security principle for Ukraine, for Russia, for all European countries. We have been proposing this for many years. Denazification is an absolute must. And that includes not only canceling laws encouraging Nazist ideology and practices, but it also includes withdrawing any legislation which discriminates the Russian language and other national minority languages and, in general, national minority rights in Ukraine which have been hugely discriminated and offended.

Question: Well, we’ve talked a lot about the kinetic war, but I wanted to ask another question about the information war actually. A few days ago, the White House had a briefing with several popular TikTokers in the United States, and they were basically briefed on a new anti-Russian narrative that Washington wants to put forward. What do you think about such sort of underhanded propaganda technique when it’s usually Russia that they’re accusing of misinformation and underhanded tactics?

Sergay Lavrov: Well, we are a very, very small player in the international information war. It’s the information… World information is dominated by media belonging to the Americans, the Brits, and also the Germans, the French and others. It’s another matter, what the quality of those information outlets is. If you take CNN, they prefer to avoid analytical materials and they more and more concentrate on some reports which would be made of slogans “Russia is an aggressor,” “Russia is murdering civilians,” “Russia is abusing sports” and so on and so forth.

When they concentrate on TikTok and other resources like this and other platforms and when they target kids because TikTok is about young boys and girls, I believe this is an attempt to brainwash them for the rest of their lives. And this is indecent and not fair.

If you want information and competition, if you want competition among media outlets, then there at must be some rules.

I would remind you and your viewers that in 1990, when the Soviet Union was living under this “new thinking” concept and the human values, common values for humankind, the Western colleagues in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe were pushing very actively, and finding support on the Soviet side, a series of documents of the OSCE on freedom of speech and on access to information. Such documents were endorsed by consensus in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. These days, when your channel and Sputnik many years ago were banned from attending, for example, press conferences and briefings in Élysée in Paris, and when we were drawing the attention of the French colleagues that this was against the commitment in the OSCE, they were saying, “No, no, no, no, no. Access to information is applicable only to mass media and RT and Sputnik are not mass media, they are propaganda tools.”

Another example of abusing the commitments and obligations – when a couple of years ago in London there was a conference on freedom of media in the modern world, no Russian media were invited.

So we know the manners and the tricks which are being used by the Western countries to manipulate media. We understood long ago that there was no such thing as an independent Western media. If you take the United States, only Fox News is trying to present some alternative points of view. But when you watch other channels and when you read social networks and internet platforms, when the acting president was blocked, as you know, and this censorship continues in a very big way and the substitution of notions. Whenever something is happening by the way of mass protest, mass demonstrations, which they don’t like, they immediately call it domestic terrorism. So it’s a war, and it’s a war which involves the methods of information terrorism. There is no doubt about this.

A very interesting example was yesterday, when the Bild newspaper in Germany published a piece saying that myself on the evening of March 16 left Moscow by plane to go to China, but in the area of Novosibirsk, the plane turned back because either Putin told me to come back or the Chinese said, “We don’t want to talk to you.” It was published by, yes, a tabloid, but with millions of copies. And it’s a shame that we have these habits being introduced into the information world by our “friends.

It is not by incident that President Putin said about the existence of the Empire of Lies.

Question: Well, just one more question for you, Mr. Lavrov. Of course, this conflict in Ukraine is not going to go on forever. When it does come to an end, what do you foresee as the main challenges in future Russia–Ukraine relations?

Sergay Lavrov: Well, we never had any issues with the Ukrainian people. I have many Ukrainian friends, the two peoples are very close culturally. Practically all of them speak, and those who don’t, they understand the Russian language. Culture, common history, way of life, attitude to life, traditions of families and communities. So I hope that when this anomaly is over, this will gradually come back. It will have to be gradual.

It cannot come back fast because the efforts of our Western colleagues to make Ukraine a Russophobic and anti-Russian instrument – anti-Russia, as President Putin called it – they started long ago, and they are already rather deeply rooted in Ukrainian mentality, especially the young generation which was born after the demise of the Soviet Union. They have been indoctrinated in a very, very heavy way.

The efforts were taken systemically to train military officers on the basis of radical Bandera and Shukhevich-style methodology. The purpose being – to make sure that they would not become friendly to Russia again and that they would build their nationalism, nationalistic feelings as the means to strengthen the statehood of their country.

The purpose was always to make sure that Russia does not have Ukraine as a friend. It’s like Zbigniew Brzezinski in the late 1990s said, “Russia with Ukraine, a friendly Ukraine next to it, is a superpower. Russia with Ukraine which is not friendly to Russia, is just a regional player.” This concept is very deeply rooted in the minds of American policymakers, and it will take time to get rid of these negative legacies.

Even now, when the armed forces of Ukraine are fighting, trying to procrastinate the crisis. The leaders of Ukraine with the help of American and other Western advisors have reformed the army in the way which puts these radicals, Bandera-like trained officers, to lead all more or less meaningful units in the Ukrainian army. And these people radicalise and terrorise others, especially those who don’t believe that this should be the fate of their country.

Their actions in Mariupol is an example of that. The refugees coming from Mariupol to Russia in dozens of thousands tell such stories. It’s really threatening how this kind of people command armed men and women.

But I am sure, at the end of the day, the historic closeness of two fraternal nations will certainly prevail.

More on this Topic

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RBC TV channel, Moscow, March 16, 2022

March 17, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/press_service/minister_speeches/1804655/

Question: Initially, the in-person talks were held in Belarus followed by online talks. You met with Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba in Antalya, Turkey, on March 10. What’s your take on the negotiating process?

Sergey Lavrov: I did not fly to Turkey in order to forestall the Belarusian negotiating track agreed upon by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky which is now being implemented via video conference. President Zelensky asked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to speak with President Putin in order to set up a meeting between Dmitry Kuleba and me in Antalya, since we both planned to take part in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum.

Based on this request, President Vladimir Putin instructed me to hold a meeting and find out what Dmitry Kuleba has to offer (which is what I asked him to do). He stated that he did not arrive there to reiterate public statements. This statement got my attention. Dmitry Kuleba failed to vocalise any new ideas during the 90-minute conversation in the presence of Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, despite multiple reminders to the effect that I wanted to hear things that had not been said publicly. I did my part and made myself available to listen to what he had to say. Anyway, we had a conversation, which is not a bad thing. We are ready for such contacts going forward. It would be good to know the added value derived from such contacts and how the proposals to create new channels of interaction correlate with the functioning of an existing and steady negotiating process (the Belarusian channel).

I’m not going to comment on the details, which are a delicate matter. According to head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Medinsky, the talks focus on humanitarian issues, the situation on the ground in terms of hostilities, and on matters of political settlement. Overall, the agenda is known (it was repeatedly and publicly announced by President Vladimir Putin in his elaborate remarks) and includes matters of security and saving lives of the people in Donbass; preventing Ukraine from becoming a permanent threat to the security of the Russian Federation; and preventing the revival in Ukraine of neo-Nazi ideology, which is illegal around the world, including civilised Europe.

I base my opinion on the assessments provided by our negotiators. They state that the talks are not going smoothly (for obvious reasons). However, there is hope for a compromise. The same assessment is given by a number of Ukrainian officials, including members of President Zelensky’s staff and President Zelensky himself.

Question: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky said that the positions of Russia and Ukraine during the talks have become more “realistic.”

Sergey Lavrov: This is about a more realistic assessment of the ongoing events coming from Vladimir Zelensky. His previous statements were confrontational. We can see that this role and function has been reassigned to Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, who started saying that Russia’s demands are “unacceptable.” If they wish to create additional tension (as if the current tension were not enough) in the media space, what can we do?

We saw a similar tendency with respect to the Minsk agreements. Dmitry Kuleba was riding ahead on a dashing horse, along with those who were hacking the Minsk agreements into pieces. He publicly stated that the agreements would not be fulfilled. I would give negotiators an opportunity to work in a calmer environment, without stirring up more hysteria.

Question: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky said that they are “reasonable people” and they realise that they are no longer welcome in NATO. What made him change his rhetoric? NATO aspirations are stated in one of the articles of the Ukrainian Constitution. They have been saying it all along that Kiev actually wants to be part of the alliance.

Sergey Lavrov: The rhetoric has changed because more reasonable thinking is paving its way to the minds of the Ukrainian leaders. The issue of dissolving the Soviet Union was resolved in a very odd manner: very few parties were asked; the decision was split “between three,” so to speak, and it was done. Later, certain common ground was achieved in the form of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It is good that the other former Soviet republics were shown some respect, at least post factum.

In the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, adopted before the Belovezh Accords, it was stated in black and white that Ukraine would be a non-aligned and militarily neutral state. In all the subsequent documents characterising the formation of Ukrainian statehood, the declaration was always listed among fundamental documents. After the anti-constitutional coup in February 2014, the Ukrainian Constitution was amended to include statements on continuous movement towards NATO (in addition to the European Union). That undermined the integrity of the previous process and the fundamental documents that the Ukrainian state is based on – because the Declaration of Sovereignty and the Act of Ukraine’s Independence are still listed among the founding documents of the Ukrainian state.

This is not the only inconsistency. The provision of the Ukrainian Constitution on ensuring the rights of the Russian and other ethnic minorities remains intact. However, a huge number of laws have been adopted that run counter to this constitutional provision and flagrantly discriminate against the Russian language, in particular, against all European norms.

We remember that President Zelensky recently said that NATO must close the sky over Ukraine and start fighting for Ukraine, recruiting mercenaries and sending them to the frontline. That statement was made very aggressively. The reaction of the North Atlantic Alliance, where some clear-headed people still remain, had a cooling effect. This reasonable approach in the current situation deserves to be welcomed.

Before the final decision was made to begin the special military operation, President Vladimir Putin spoke about our initiatives concerning the security guarantees in Europe at a news conference in the Kremlin, explaining that it is unacceptable that Ukraine’s security be ensured through its NATO membership. He clearly said that we are ready to look for any ways to ensure the security of Ukraine, the European countries and Russia except for NATO’s expansion to the east. The alliance has been assuring us that we should not be worried as it serves a defensive purpose and nothing threatens us and our security. The alliance was declared as defensive in its early days. During the Cold War, it was clear who was defending whom, where and against which party. There was the Berlin Wall, both concrete and geopolitical. Everybody accepted that contact line under the Warsaw Pact and NATO. It was clear which line NATO would protect.

When the Warsaw Pact and later the Soviet Union were dissolved, NATO started, at its own discretion and without any consultations with those who used to be part of the balance of power on the European continent, working its way to the east, moving the contact line further to the right each time. When the contact line came too close to us (and nobody took our reasoning seriously in the past 20 years), we proposed the European security initiatives which, to my great regret, were also ignored by our arrogant partners.

Question: Many people in Russia and Ukraine are asking themselves whether the situation could not have been resolved peacefully. Why didn’t this work out? Why did it become necessary to conduct a special operation?

Sergey Lavrov: Because the West did not want to resolve this situation peacefully. Although I have already discussed this aspect, I would like to highlight it once again. This has absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine. This concerns the international order, rather than Ukraine alone.

The United States has pinned down the whole of Europe. Today, some Europeans are telling us that Russia started behaving differently, that Europe had its own special interests differing from those of the United States, and that we have compelled Europe to share the United States’ fervour for the cause. I believe that what has happened is entirely different. Under President Joe Biden, the United States set the goal of subordinating Europe, and it has succeeded in forcing Europe to implicitly follow US policies. This is a crucial moment, a landmark in contemporary history because, in the broad sense of the word, it reflects the battle for a future international order.

The West stopped using the term “international law,” embodied in the UN Charter, many years ago, and it invented the term “rules-based order.” These rules were written by members of an inner circle. The West incentivised those who accepted these rules. At the same time, narrow non-universal organisations dealing with the same matters as the universal organisations were established. Apart from UNESCO, there is a certain international partnership in support of information and democracy. We have international humanitarian law and the UN Refugee Agency dealing with related issues. The European Union is setting up a special partnership for dealing with the same matter. However, decisions will be based on EU interests, and they will disregard universal processes.

France and Germany are establishing an alliance for multilateralism. When asked about the reason for setting it up at a time when the UN – the most legitimate and universal organisation – embodies multilateralism, they gave an interesting reply that the UN employed many retrogrades, and that the new alliance prioritised avantgardism. They also stated their intention to promote multilateralism in such a way that no one would hamper their efforts. When asked what the ideals of this multilateralism were, they said that they were EU values. This arrogance and misinterpreted feeling of one’s own superiority also rule supreme in a situation that we are now reviewing, namely, the creation of a world where the West would a priori manage everything with impunity. Many people now claim that Russia has come under attack because it remains virtually the only obstacle that needs to be removed before the West can start dealing with China. This straightforward statement is quite truthful.

You asked why it was impossible to peacefully resolve the situation. For many years, we suggested resolving the matter peacefully. Many reasonable politicians from the US and Europe responded in earnest to Vladimir Putin’s proposal at the 2007 Munich Security Conference. Unfortunately, decision-makers in Western countries ignored it. Numerous assessments by world-famous political analysts, published in many leading US magazines, such as Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs, and European magazines, were also ignored. A coup took place in 2014. The West unconditionally backed Ukraine and the coup’s perpetrators who had gained power in Kiev. The West emphatically refuses to set any framework in relations between NATO and the territory of Russian interests. These warnings were also voiced but were disregarded, to put it mildly.

You should read the works of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who said back in the 1990s that Ukraine would become a key issue. He said openly that a friendly Ukraine would make Russia a great power, and that a hostile Ukraine would turn it into a regional player. These statements concealed geopolitical implications. Ukraine merely acted as a tool for preventing Russia from upholding its legitimate and equal rights on the international scene.

Question: Not long ago, I heard the current adviser to the President of Ukraine, Alexey Arestovich, speak. A couple of years ago, he said that neutral status was too expensive for Ukraine. “We can’t afford it,” he said. What do you think about this statement? Is that true? Following up on what worries ordinary Ukrainians – security guarantees – what is Russia ready to do? What kind of guarantees can it provide?

Sergey Lavrov: Neutral status is being seriously discussed in a package with security guarantees. This is exactly what President Vladimir Putin said at one of his news conferences: there are multiple options out there, including any generally acceptable security guarantees for Ukraine and all other countries, including Russia, with the exception of NATO expansion. This is what is being discussed at the talks. There is specific language which is, I believe, close to being agreed upon.

Question: Can you share it with us yet or not?

Sergey Lavrov: I’d rather not, because it is a negotiating process. Unlike some of our partners, we try to adhere to the culture of diplomatic negotiations, even though we were forced to make documents public that are normally off-limits. We did so in the situations where our communication with the German and French participants of the Normandy format was misrepresented to the point where it was the opposite of what really happened. Then, in order to expose the culprits before the international community, we were forced to make things public. No attempts at provocation are being made now as we discuss the guarantees of Ukraine’s neutrality. Hopefully, the first attempts at a businesslike approach that we are seeing now will prevail and we will be able to reach specific agreements on this matter even though simply declaring neutrality and announcing guarantees will be a significant step forward. The problem is much broader. We talked about it, including from the point of view of values such as the Russian language, culture and freedom of speech, since Russian media are outright banned, and the ones that broadcast in Ukraine in Russian were shut down.

Question: But they can always tell us that they are an independent country and it’s up to them to decide which language to speak. Why are you – Russia and Moscow – forcing us to speak Russian?

Sergey Lavrov: Because Ukraine has European obligations. There is the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. There are multiple other commitments, including in the Council of Europe, which we are leaving (this has been announced officially). However, we will never renounce our obligations regarding the rights of ethnic minorities, be they linguistic, cultural, or any other. We will never “withdraw from the documents” that guarantee freedom of access to information.

In the 1990s, everyone was rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the Soviet Union becoming an absolutely obedient and obsequious partner of the West. Back then, we did our best to show that perestroika and new thinking were opening up a groundbreaking chapter in the history of our state. We signed everything that the West wanted us to sign at the OSCE, including the declaration proposed by the West and supported by us which contained obligations to ensure freedom of access to information in each country and to transboundary information sources. Now, we are unable to get through to the West so that it itself starts fulfilling this obligation, which they themselves initiated.

This Russian language-related requirement is enshrined in the obligations. Ukraine did not turn them down. Can you imagine the consequences of Finland banning the Swedish language? There are 6 percent of Swedes in Finland, and Swedish is the second official language. Or, Ireland banning English, or Belgium banning French? The list goes on and on. All these minority languages ​​are respected, regardless of the fact that they have a parent state, whereas our case represents an exception. This is a case of outright discrimination, and what is known as enlightened Europe is just keeping quiet about it.

Question: We have decided to withdraw from the Council of Europe before being expelled. Why?

Sergey Lavrov: By and large, this decision was formulated long ago. Not because of a series of suspension and reinstatement of our rights, but because that organisation has fully degenerated. It was established as a pan-European organisation of all countries, with the exception of Belarus which was given observer status. We did our best to help Belarus participate in several conventions, which is possible in the Council of Europe. In general, Belarus was considering the possibility of joining it.

However, over the years the Council of Europe has turned into a kind of OSCE, (excuse my language), where the initial idea of interaction and consensus as the main instruments of attaining the goal of common European cooperation and security was superceded by polemics and rhetoric, which was becoming increasingly Russophobic and was determined by the unilateral interests of the West, in particular, NATO countries and the EU. They used their technical majority in the OSCE and the Council of Europe to undermine the culture of consensus and compromise and to force their views on everyone, showing that they have no regard whatsoever, do not care one iota for our interests and only want to lecture and moralise, which is what they have actually been doing.

Our intention to withdraw matured long ago, but our decision to withdraw has been accelerated by the recent events and the decision enforced through voting. The Parliamentary Assembly issued recommendations for the Committee of Ministers, which has voted to suspend our rights. They told us not to worry, that we would only be unable to attend the sessions but can still make our payments to the budget.  This is what they have openly said.

The Foreign Ministry pointed out in a statement that our withdrawal from this organisation will not affect the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens under the European Convention on Human Rights, from which we are withdrawing as part of our withdrawal from the Council of Europe. First of all, there are constitutional guarantees and guarantees under the international conventions to which Russia is a party. These universal conventions are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which the United States has not signed); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the US is not among its signatories) and many other conventions and covenants most of which have been incorporated into the national legislation. Our lawyers are working with the Constitutional Court and the Justice Ministry on additional amendments to Russian laws to prevent any infringement on the rights of our citizens as the result of our withdrawal from the Council of Europe.

Question: Several counties have been trying to develop dialogue between Moscow and Kiev. France was the first to do this, followed by Israel, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will come to Moscow today. Turkey has stepped up its activity. Why are these three countries so active on this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: They are not the only ones to offer their services. The President of Russia had a telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel yesterday. He has had contacts with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President of France Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett. My foreign colleagues have contacted me as well. For example, Switzerland, which has traditionally posed as a country where compromises are reached, is ready to mediate.

In this context, it is strange that mediation services are being offered by the countries which have joined the unprecedented sanctions against Russia and have proclaimed the goal (they make no bones about stating this openly) of setting the Russian people against the Russian authorities. We take a positive view on the mediation offers coming from the countries which have refused to play this Russophobic game, which are aware of the root causes of the current crisis, that is, the fundamental and legitimate national interests of Russia, and which have not joined this war of sanctions. We are ready to analyse their proposals. Israel and Turkey are among these states.

Question: Do they come with proposals, asking if they could help establish dialogue?  Or how is this taking place in reality?

Sergey Lavrov: This happens in different ways. Right now, I cannot go into detail, but both want to help achieve accord at the talks conducted via the “Belarusian channel.”  They know the state of the talks, what proposals are on the table, and where there is a bilateral rapprochement.   They are sincerely trying to speed up the rapprochement. We welcome this, but I would like to stress once again that the matter of key importance is having a direct dialogue between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations and  solving what we consider fundamental issues related to the effort not only to ensure the physical security of people in eastern Ukraine and for that matter in other parts of Ukraine, but also to enable them to live normal, civilised lives in the country that has a duty to ensure the rights of  those who are known as ethnic minorities, rights that have been trampled underfoot in every sense.

Let us not forget about the tasks of demilitarisation. Ukraine cannot have weapons that create a threat to the Russian Federation. We are ready to negotiate on the types of armaments that do not present a threat to us. This problem will have to be solved even regardless of the situation’s NATO aspect. Even without NATO membership, the United States or anyone else can supply offensive weapons to Ukraine on a bilateral basis, just as they did with the anti-missile bases in Poland and Romania. No one asked NATO. Let us not forget that [Ukraine] is perhaps the only OSCE and European country that has legislatively legalised the neo-Nazis’ right to promote their views and practices.

These are matters of principle. I hope that the realisation of their legitimacy, justifiability and key importance for our interests and therefore the interests of European security will enable those, who are graciously offering their good offices, to promote relevant compromises in contacts with Ukraine, among others.

Question: We have named certain countries that are helping to settle this crisis. Has the United States offered any services in this connection, like “let us help to establish contacts?” After all, it is no secret to anyone that Russia-US relations were at a very low level. Now they have hit rock bottom, haven’t they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, there is such a figurative expression. Of course, the situation is unprecedented. I can’t recall anything like the frenzied policy that Washington is conducting right now. To a considerable extent, this policy is generated by Congress whose members have lost all sense of reality and are throwing all conventions to the winds. I am not even mentioning the diplomatic proprieties that have long since been abandoned.

The United States certainly has played the decisive role in shaping the position of the Kiev authorities. The Americans have maintained a huge “presence” in Kiev’s “corridors of power” for many years, including the uniformed agencies, the security service, and the top brass. Everyone knows this. The CIA and other US secret services have their missions there.

Like other NATO members (the Canadians, the British), they have sent hundreds of their instructors to train combat units not only within the Armed Forces of Ukraine but also in the so-called volunteer battalions, including Azov and Aydar. However, some seven or eight years ago, in 2014, immediately after the coup d’etat, the Azov battalion was officially struck off the list of recipients of US aid.  This was done precisely because it was regarded as an extremist, if not terrorist, organisation. Today, all pretences have been removed.

Now any person or group in Ukraine that declares Russia its enemy is immediately taken under the wing of overseas and Western patrons.

They are talking about the supremacy of law and about democracy. What supremacy of law, if the EU, in violation of its own law on the inadmissibility of arms supplies to conflict zones, takes the decision to do the opposite and send offensive arms to Ukraine?

We do not see any sign that the United States is interested in settling the conflict as soon as possible. If they were interested, they would have every opportunity, first, to explain to the Ukrainian negotiators and President Zelensky that they should seek compromises. Second, they need to make it clear that they are aware of the legitimacy of our demands and positions, but do not want to accept them, not because they are illegitimate but because they would like to dominate the world and are unwilling to restrain themselves with any commitments to take into consideration the interests of others. They have already brought Europe to heel, as I have said.

The US has been telling Europe for years that Nord Stream 2 could undermine their energy security. Europe responded that they should find out that on their own. They took the decision and their companies invested billions of euros. The Americans were claiming that this was contrary to the EU’s interests. They offered to sell them their liquefied gas. If there are no gas terminals, they should be built.  The Germans told me this a few years ago. It was during President Trump’s administration. Europe was complaining that this would considerably increase gas prices for their consumers. Donald Trump replied that they were rich guys and will compensate the difference from the German budget. That’s their approach.

Today, Europe was shown its place. Germany eventually said that its regulator was taking a break, and this precisely defines the FRG’s place in the arrangements that the Americans are making on the world scene.

Question: Has Germany become a less independent state under the new chancellor? Would it have acted the same under Angela Merkel?

Sergey Lavrov: The Nord Stream 2 was commissioned, albeit temporarily suspended afterwards, under the new chancellor. I hope that experience will bring an understanding of the need to uphold national interests, rather than to fully rely on the overseas partner who will make all the decisions for you and then do everything for you as well. Clearly, the enormous number of US troops on German soil is also a factor that interferes with independent decision-making.

Articles are being published to the effect that the “politics of memory” is vanishing. It has always been considered a sacred thing in Germany and meant that the German people would never forget the suffering they brought during World War II, primarily to the peoples of the Soviet Union. After I read this, I realised that many people are aware of it. These are open publications. German political scientists are talking about this and, of course, ours do so as well. Several years ago, I spotted something that was probably the early phase of this emerging trend. We were holding ministerial and other consultations with the Germans (I’m talking about foreign policy talks) at the level of department directors and deputy ministers. I never saw this at the ministerial level. The thought that was conveyed to us during the talks was that “we, the Germans, have paid our dues to everyone and owe nothing to anyone, so stop bringing this up.”

Speaking of the Germans, there is a thing that is worth mentioning. We are now talking a lot about attributes of genocide or racial discrimination. Take, for instance, the siege of Leningrad. For many years and with all my colleagues, starting with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Guido Westerwelle, Heiko Maas, and most recently Annalena Baerbock, I very persistently, with each of them, raised the topic of paying compensations to the Leningrad siege survivors. The German government has made two one-time payments but only to Jewish survivors. We asked why only Jews, because many ethnic groups, including Russians and Tatars, lived in Leningrad and continue to live there. Many of them are still alive. How are they supposed to understand the fact that only the Jews have received some kind of help from the German government when at the time they were boiling shoes, burying children and transporting corpses on sleds together? The payments in question are not big. But, first, for many of them they matter, and second, they serve as the recognition of the fact that everyone has been impacted by the siege. Their answer was interesting. The Jews, they said, are victims of the Holocaust. These payments cannot be made to other survivors, because they are not Holocaust victims. Our attempts to reach out to the German legislators and politicians and tell them that the siege of Leningrad was an unparalleled event in the history of WWII, where there was no distinction between Jews, Russians or other ethnic groups, failed. We reached out to Jewish organisations. It is a matter of honour for them as well. We will continue this work going forward. January marked yet another anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad. The President of Russia signed an executive order on one-time payments to all siege survivors, including the Jews. We have not seen any sign of conscience awakening in Germany so far.

To be continued…

Sitrep : Sanctions and quite major economic news

March 15, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held an important joint press-conference following talks in Moscow.

The links are here:  The Ruptly link was on their live stream and now simply shows that the event has concluded.  I have not been able to get to the other link, as shortly after the following sanctions news, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs site went down again.

https://www.ruptly.tv/en/events/202203151000-LIVE10285-Lavrov-Amir-Abdollahian-hold-press-conference-in-Moscow
https://www.mid.ru/ru/press_service/video

2.  Russia just did tit for tat sanctions.  This is from various press releases as the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs site is down, and so far this cannot be confirmed at source :

Appearing at the top of the 13-name list is President Biden, followed by Blinken and Austin. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, CIA Director William Burns, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki are also named. Further down the list, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Biden’s son Hunter – whose dealings with a Ukrainian energy firm have previously been questioned and criticized – are also included.

Inclusion on the list denies any of these people entry into the Russian Federation. However, the Kremlin’s statement said that Moscow would not rule out contact with American officials “if they meet our national interests.”

More names will be added to the list “in the near future,” the statement continued, warning that “top US officials, military officials, lawmakers, businessmen, experts and media personalities who are Russophobic or contribute to inciting hatred towards Russia” will also be blacklisted.

3.  Economic News:  Translation from http://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2022/03/this-is-important.html#disqus_thread

Translation: YEREVAN, March 14 – Sputnik. The member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China will develop a project for an independent international monetary and financial system. This was agreed upon by the participants in the economic dialogue “A New Stage of Monetary, Financial and Economic Cooperation between the EAEU and the PRC. Global Transformations: Challenges and Solutions”, which was held on March 11 via videoconference. It is envisaged that the system will be based on a new international currency, which will be calculated as an index of the national currencies of the participating countries and commodity prices. The first draft will be submitted for discussion by the end of March. As Sergei Glazyev, Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the EEC, emphasized, China was the first in the world to move to the stage of national economic recovery.

The background here is bigger.  This was noted by Godfree Roberts:

In two weeks, China, Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan will reveal a new, independent, international monetary and financial system.

It will be based on a new international currency, calculated from an index of national currencies of the participating countries and international commodity prices. [Mar. 14, 2022, Sputnik News].

Russia and China will also reveal their Unfriendly Nation Lists.

Reliable links are still hard to come by in general.


Amarynth

FM Lavrov holds press conference after meeting with his Ukrainian and Turkish counterparts

March 10, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is giving a news conference after his meeting in Antalya with his counterparts : Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu & Ukrainian Head of MFA Dmitry Kuleba.

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After the meeting

More on the Topic

Latest Comments from the Russian MFA

March 02, 2022

Source

Collated and posted by Amarynth

These are short-form comments as the Russian governmental sites are still under attack. It is a collection of the latest comments from the Russian Foreign Affairs office.

 FM Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the high-level segment of the Conference on Disarmament, March 1, 2022

 Today, the dangers that the Zelensky regime poses to neighbouring countries and international security in general have increased significantly after the Kiev authorities started dangerous games involving plans to obtain their own nuclear weapons.

Rest assured that as a responsible member of the international community Russia is committed to its non-proliferation pledge, and is taking every necessary measure to prevent the emergence of nuclear weapons and related technology in Ukraine.

Foreign Ministry statement on the EU’s role in the developments in Ukraine

 For many years, the European Union, posing as a peacemaker, lavishly financed the Kiev regime, which came to power in an anti-constitutional coup. The EU stood in silence while the population of Donbass was being exterminated and the Russian language was being strangled in Ukraine. It disregarded our endless calls to take notice of the predominance of Nazis in the Ukrainian authorities, and the socioeconomic blockade and murder of innocent civilians in the southeast of Ukraine. The EU conditioned its future relations with Russia on the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures but has done nothing to encourage Kiev to start implementing its main provisions. At the same time, the EU gave Kiev money and visa-free travel and extended anti-Russia sanctions under far-fetched pretexts. The EU took part in Kiev’s performances, which put in question the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

Masks have now come off. The February 27 decision to send lethal weapons to the Ukrainian militarists is self-exposing. It has marked the end of Euro-integration as a “pacifist” project allegedly launched to reconcile European nations after WWII. The EU has irrevocably taken the side of the Kiev regime, which waged a policy of genocide against part of its own population.

Unbeknownst to themselves, the Brussels officials started using Orwell’s newspeak. They have announced the intention to “invest” in the war launched in Ukraine in 2014 through a mechanism with a self-explanatory name, the Europe Peace Foundation. The EU leadership unashamedly describes missiles, small arms, munitions and even combat aircraft as “defensive” systems.

<…>

The EU citizens and agencies involved in the delivery of lethal weapons, fuel and lubricants to the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be held responsible for any consequences of these actions during the ongoing special military operation. They should be aware of the severity of these consequences.

Another myth that has been exposed is the EU’s claim that its unilateral restrictions, which are incompatible with international law, are not directed against the Russian people. The Brussels officials, who only recently posed as a “strategic partner” of Russia, are saying openly that they intend to inflict the maximum possible damage on Russia, hit its weak spots, batter the Russian economy and “suppress Russia’s economic growth.”

 We are sure that this is not going to work. We will provide a tough response to the EU’s actions. Russia will continue to ensure the implementation of its vital national interests, notwithstanding the sanctions or threats of sanctions. The Western countries should wake up to the fact that the days of their undivided rule in the global economy are long gone.

Maria #Zakharova:

The #EuropeanUnion has not gone as far as barring the Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov from travelling as a diplomat; there can be exemptions from EU sanctions. This is what the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said on Monday in response to a question from a journalist on whether the EU sanctions prevent the Russian Minister from travelling to Geneva.

 But they did go too far. They are lying and scrambling to get away with it.

Russia prepared two routes which Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his delegation could take to attend meetings of the Conference on Disarmament and the UN Human Rights Council at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

 #Poland and #Estonia denied them passage, and the UN Secretariat knew this. Both countries cited EU sanctions.

Mr Borrell, what betrays the doublespeak in your position is that when Sergey Lavrov asked countries in their national capacity to express their positions on security matters, which are critical to us, you answered for all EU member states, although no one asked you or the EU as an organisation to do so. You even provided a lengthy explanation to demonstrate that the EU has a “collective position” based on the majority opinion.

But when the same countries denied the delegation passage for attending UN events in Geneva on the basis of the EU restrictions that you have announced, you said that it is their sovereign right 

Doublespeak from a doublespeaker.

 Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s comment on the expulsion of diplomats from Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN

 We regard the expulsion of 12 diplomats from the Russian Permanent Mission in New York as a deliberate and cynical escalation in Russia-US relations provoked by Washington in violation of US obligations under the corresponding agreement with the host country.

The Biden administration is continuing a policy that seeks not only to completely destroy the foundations of interstate relations, but also to undermine the central role of the #UN in an attempt to impose the notorious “rules-based order” dictated by the United States and its satellites. The purpose of the unfolding developments and the timing of this utterly hostile action are clear to us and are supposed to increase pressure, blackmail and intimidation in order to weaken our position and deprive us of the opportunity to be fully functional on the UN platform.

 Dirty tricks by the Americans do not come as news to anyone. Losing again and again on the diplomatic field, #Washington seeks revenge by abusing its position as the country on whose territory the UN headquarters happens to be located.

In view of what has occurred, there can be no more place for excuses and delays in immediately launching an official arbitration procedure between the United Nations and the United States in connection with their flagrant violations of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement. We remind the UN Secretary General of this again.

 With regard to the expulsion of Russian diplomats, it will not remain without a proper response which will not be necessarily symmetrical. Our advice to decision-makers in Washington is to think about the consequences of their destructive policy.

Russia expresses nuclear fears

Moscow hopes that atomic Armageddon is not on the cards

1 Mar, 2022 

Combat training launch of the Topol-M ballistic missile from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region. © Sputnik/Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

By Alexey Viryasov

A nuclear war would be catastrophic for humanity and Moscow prays that the tense situation in Ukraine will not spiral into this, one of Russia’s top diplomats has claimed after President Vladimir Putin placed the country’s arsenal on high combat alert.

Speaking at a press conference at the UN on Monday, Russia’s permanent representative Vasily Nebenzya responded to journalists’ questions as to whether an atomic strike is looming.

“As for the use of nuclear weapons, I hope God will not allow this,” he said.

Speaking via video-link at the Geneva disarmament conference on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued that there will be no winner if a nuclear war were to erupt.

Moscow’s top diplomat also expressed hope that such a conflict would never take place and called on the US to remove its warheads from Europe. He also accused Kiev of threatening to violate its non-nuclear status.

“It is unacceptable to us that, contrary to the fundamental provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, US atomic armaments are still located on the territory of some European countries,” the official remarked.

He added that “the dangers posed by [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky’s regime to neighboring countries and international security have increased significantly after Kiev’s authorities played dangerous games related to plans to acquire their own nuclear weapons.”

On Sunday, Putin ordered placing the country’s ground units, equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as vessels from the Northern and Pacific Fleets, on high combat alert. He explained the decision comes in the wake of “illegitimate sanctions” against Moscow and “aggressive statements” coming from US and EU officials.

Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine last Thursday following the president’s address to the nation. The goal of the offensive, according to the Kremlin, is “to protect the people [of Donbass] who have been tortured for eight years by the Ukrainian regime.” After several days of fighting, Moscow and Kiev held the first round of negotiations in Belarus on Monday. Further rounds of discussions are expected to resume in the near future.

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Lavrov: US Nuclear Weapons in Europe are Unacceptable, Time to Return Them Home

March 1, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that the presence of US nuclear weapons in Europe is simply unacceptable for Moscow.

In the current situation, Lavrov argued, it is important to prevent a new round of the arms race, and said that Russia calls upon the United States and its allies to join a moratorium on the deployment of short- and intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

“It is unacceptable for us that, contrary to the fundamental principles of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, US nuclear weapons are still present on the territory of some European countries,” he said while addressing the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva via a video call.

Lavrov also criticized the practice of the so called “joint nuclear missions” that involve non-nuclear NATO members, and which he said include scenarios where nuclear weapons are used against Russia.

“It is high time the US nuclear weapons are return home, and the infrastructure in Europe related to them be completely dismantled,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the head of the Russian diplomacy also warned that his country is doing everything it can to prevent Ukraine from acquiring nuclear weapons.

He argued that Kiev’s statements about procuring nuclear weapons are not just empty bravado as Ukraine has Soviet nuclear technology and delivery systems.

Also, Lavrov suggested that Western powers should refrain from creating military installations in former Soviet states that are not members of NATO.

He further expressed hope that Ukraine will realize the seriousness of the current situation, and that it needs to show independence during the negotiations with Russia.

The Russian foreign minister did remark, however, that the “neo-Nazi government” in Kiev currently does not represent the entirety of Ukraine’s people.

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Russian Reset

February 26, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Osama Eltrabolsi 

Though American public opinion is cliche-filled with phrases and slogans of democracy, it seems that the American Dream fades into nothing but an echo of the media network and their propaganda.

Russian Reset

The relationship of the ordinary American citizen with politics is strange. It is based primarily on the principle of giving to Caesar what is for Caesar so long as he delivers upon the bright promises of individual liberty and human rights which would undoubtedly assuage many destructive foreign policy blunders around the world such as Iraq or Afghanistan being just two amongst many others. 

And when I talk to people from the other side of the world about international politics or even American politics in the world, the simple facts may seem shocking to many of them. Perhaps the most prominent of these issues is US-Russia relations. While Russia can influence any current conflict in its regions or say, Central Asia, the China Sea, the extent of Russian influence continues to arrive in US politics and is certainly confirmed by the policies of the current US administration. 

Though American public opinion is cliche-filled with phrases and slogans of democracy, it seems that the American Dream fades into nothing but an echo of the media network and their propaganda. However, from the local perspective, we see the world from the heart of the conflict where it is easier to see the true reality.

What is now very obvious and very surprising is that the American public does not read between the lines of obvious media propaganda. Mainstream news sources in the US continue to propagate a coming escalation hyped up by news cycles that an American-Russian conflict is imminent and bravely has a responsibility to respond to Putin accordingly. These media outlets claim Russian interference happened through Donald Trump being compromised by the Russian bear. The strange irony is that those who are issuing these rumors are the same ones who have in recent history championed a reset of the US-Russian relationship. 

Looking back, it is a true statement that a reset did happen, but it was the Russians who we know have reset America through the Biden administration & his predecessors. In fact, although it seemed a diplomatic joke, Hillary Clinton officially admitted in her memoir entitled “Hard Choices” that she and Obama’s administration were the owners of an American project to reset the Russian relationship, indicating that she gifted the Russian Foreign Minister a now-infamous red button with the word RESET. At the time, it seemed symbolic and somewhat hopeful or that the reset button in her meeting with Sergey Levrov was a kind of diplomatic joke, but now we know it was regarding what we currently see in US-Russia relations and what she already declared in her memoir! Putin was able to rebrand & sit with the Americans on a world stage; a monumental achievement by Russia to the United States since the Cold War. Putin stepped away from power for years, leaving the chair to one of his associates, President Medvedev, branded to the Americans as an easy-going person. It was under Medvedev the system was reset affording Putin the keys to everything from computers to secret emails.

As Hillary Clinton stated in his memoirs, “President Obama and I believed in 2009 that we could achieve key American national interests with Russia, by adopting an approach based on three elements: finding specific areas of cooperation where our interests converged, maintaining a consistent position where our interests differ, and continuous engagement with the Russian people themselves, this approach became known as the ‘Russia Reset’.”

The first area of ​​cooperation was the establishment of a high-tech corridor in Russia, similar to Silicon Valley in the United States, even suggesting a visit to the proposed site for America to inspect, and that is what happened in 2010. Skolkovo was established in 2010, and it is the most important technological project in the world. This was followed by cooperation in facilitating the supply process for American forces in Afghanistan. This directly led to Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization.

But in her memoir, Clinton admits in a very nonchalant, pseudo-diplomatic manner that it was all indeed a hoax. On how they were defrauded by the Russians, Clinton describes, “I have been bitterly disappointed by those who expected the reset approach to usher in a new era between the United States and Russia based on goodwill.”

We note her own words as if it absolves her for being the godmother of the project since its inception. This very strange reset pioneered by Hillary Clinton helped Russia advance & develop its technology projects and expand in Central Asia and enter the Crimea in exchange for allowing American forces to cross their territory. These arrangements were made with the executive assistance of William Burns, who was working during the Obama administration as an Ambassador of the United States of America to Russia. He previously served as the United States Deputy Secretary of State from 2011 to 2014. Today, Mr. Burns is Director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Biden who adopts the same worldviews as Obama himself. 

This security breach in US intelligence confirms that all American threats to Russia are only a deflection away from President Biden and his Democratic failed policies which gave us Morsi. Burns himself had previously participated in the fake Russia reset. Rather, he said at the Munich Security Conference, “It is time to press the reset button and reconsider the many areas.” We can work with Russia and we have to work together, which is interesting because this was Trump’s diplomatic call to Russia. 

Skolkovo is technology
Russian interference is tech-based
Hillary lied about Russia then she is likely lying about the MB influences in the states. 

American politics today

The recently damming report called The Durham Report proved Hillary is a liar and she paid for tech information while accusing Russia & Trump only a few years after she initiated Skolkovo. It is an ironic reset, unlike we expected. 

Durham’s filing states that Joffe tasked a small group of university researchers to mine internet data to establish “an inference” and “narrative” tying Trump to Russia. Durham said that in doing so, Joffe “was seeking to please certain ‘VIPs’.” According to Durham, Joffe identified these VIPs as individuals at Sussmann’s law firm, Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign

Special counsel John Durham, who is probing the origins of the counterintelligence investigation against Donald Trump’s campaign, filed late Thursday a response to former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann’s motion to strike six paragraphs from Durham’s case against him. Sussmann filed a motion (pdf) on Feb. 14 to strike six paragraphs that comprise the “Factual Background” section in Durham’s filing on Feb. 11. Durham’s filing alleged that Trump’s residences and the White House were spied on by a tech executive aligned with the Democratic Party, who is identified in reports as Rodney Joffe.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

West Turned Blind Eye to War Crimes by the Kiev Regime, ’Genocide’ in Ukraine, Lavrov Says

February 25, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned the West for their unwavering defense of the Ukrainian regime and turning a blind eye to its war crimes against civilians in the country’s east.

In a press conference on Friday, Lavrov voiced his country’s readiness to negotiate once Russian President Vladimir Putin’s conditions are applied, when Ukraine lays down its weapon and form a government that represents all of the Ukrainian society’s components.

He stressed that nations in the West covered Kiev’s back even as it decided to take the Donbass people’s republics by force, declared a resolve to join NATO, and threatened to build nuclear weapons.

“They have been turning a blind eye to war crimes against the civilian population, to the murders of women, children, the elderly, to the destruction of civilian infrastructure and silently encouraging the rapid emergence of neo-Nazism and Russophobia [in Ukraine], which ultimately plunged the country into its current tragic state,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister went on to slam the West for “unanimously” denying the obvious fact that a “genocide” was taking place in Ukraine, where Kiev’s forces have been waging a war against and killing the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics [DPR and LPR].

He also announced that Russia will be organizing a special photo gallery at the UN for the participants of a new session of the UN Human Rights Council. This gallery will be devoted to the situation in the Donbass region and the suffering of its residents, Lavrov said.

He further explained that Russia could not remain indifferent to the DPR and LPR’s appeal for defense against the aggressor. He noted that the Russian special operation in Donbass is being carried out to allow Ukrainians to choose their own future once they are freed from the oppression of the current regime, and stressed that the Russian military is not attacking civilian infrastructure as part of this operation.

Lavrov separately added that he does not believe Western politicians could seriously hope that Moscow would tolerate the oppression of Russians in Ukraine.

The Russian foreign minister further underscored that “nobody” plans to occupy Ukraine in the course of the special operation and added that Russia is interested in the Ukrainian people maintaining their independence.

The minister stressed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is lying when he claims that Kiev is ready to discuss Ukraine’s “neutral status.” He added that Zelensky also lied, when he said that Russia refused to engage in dialogue and that the Ukrainian president himself missed the opportunity to start negotiations on security guarantees.

“We have always stood for negotiations. The chance [to hold them] remained until the last moment,” Lavrov said.

Upon completion of Russia’s military operation, the situation in Ukraine will return to the stage of negotiations, the Russian foreign minister said.

Lavrov also addressed the NATO alliance accusing it of ruthlessly going into Ukraine in order to “subject” the country’s east. He also lambasted the bloc’s claims of allegedly caring for the desires of the Ukrainian people, noting that NATO should have done that in 2008, when it first said that Ukraine would eventually be allowed to join the alliance.

Putin on 24 February ordered the Russian armed forces to conduct a special operation in the Donbass region aimed at the defense of the DPR and LPR, and “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine. He stressed that Russia was left with no option other than to intervene in the situation in Donbass after its republics began reporting shelling by Ukrainian forces for over a week.

Western nations and their allies condemned Russia’s decision and labelled it an “invasion.” The EU, UK, Canada, Japan, and the US have all announced new sanctions on Moscow, which affect its access to financial markets, harms its banks, airlines, and limits imports of high-tech products into the country.

Moscow has repeatedly urged Western nations to pressure Kiev to stop the shelling of the Donbass republics, which they have been reporting for over a week now. The Kremlin has also condemned the West’s failure to convince Ukrainian leaders to fulfill the Minsk agreements.

Lavrov gives news conference after talks with LPR, DPR officials in Moscow English

February 25, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gives a news conference after a meeting with the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republic (LPR, DPR) officials, LPR Foreign Minister Vladislav Deinego, and DPR First Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Peresada, in Moscow, on Friday, February 25.

روسيا: نحاول منع حرب شاملة.. وبوتين: لا ننوي الإضرار بالنظام العالمي

2022 الجمعة 25 شباط
المصدر: وكالات+الميادين نت

المتحدّثة باسم الخارجية الروسية، ماريا زاخاروفا، تقول إن “العملية العسكرية الخاصة، والتي تنفذها روسيا في أوكرانيا، هي محاولة لمنع حرب شاملة”.

الكرملين: مستقبل أوكرانيا هو خيار الشعب الأوكراني

عقد الرئيس الروسي، فلاديمير بوتين، مؤتمراً صحافياً، بعد ظهر اليوم الخميس، في العاصمة موسكو، قال فيه “نحن لا ننوي الإضرار بالنظام العالمي، وعلى شركائنا فهم هذا الأمر”.

وأكَّد بوتين أنَّ “روسيا لا تزال جزءاً من الاقتصاد العالمي”، مضيفاً “نحن لا نعتزم إلحاق الضرر بالنظام الذي ننتمي إليه”. وأوضح الرئيس الروسي أنَّ “جميع المحاولات التي قمنا بها، من أجل تغيير الوضع، لم تكن مثمرةً”.

الخارجية الروسية: تلميح كييف إلى أنها تمتلك أسلحة نووية قلب الوضع برمته

من جهتها، أعلنت وزارة الخارجية الروسية، اليوم الخميس، أنه “قبل بدء العملية العسكرية، أخبرتنا واشنطن بأنها ترفض مطالبنا بشأن الضمانات الأمنية”.

وقالت المتحدثة باسم الخارجية الروسية، ماريا زاخاروفا، إن “العملية العسكرية الخاصة، والتي تنفّذها روسيا في أوكرانيا، هي محاولة لمنع حرب شاملة”.

وشدّدت زاخاروفا على أن “هذه ليست بداية حرب، بل محاولة لمنع وقوع حرب عالمية شاملة”.

وأضافت، في حديث تلفزيوني، أن “هذه ليست بداية حرب. هذا أولاً، وهذا مهم للغاية. رغبتنا هي منع التطورات التي يمكن أن تتطور إلى حرب عالمية. وثانياً، هذه نهاية الحرب”.

وأكدت المتحدثة باسم الخارجية الروسية أن “تلميح كييف إلى أنها تمتلك أسلحة نووية قلب الوضع برمته، رأساً على عقب”.

وقالت المتحدثة الرسمية باسم وزارة الخارجية الروسية إن “الولايات المتحدة بالذات، رفضت إجراء حوار مع روسيا بشأن أوكرانيا والأمن العالمي”.

وأوضحت أنه “في هذا اليوم بالذات، كان من المفترض أن يكون الوفد الروسي، الرسمي، برئاسة وزير الخارجية سيرغي لافروف، في المنصات الأوروبية نفسها، التي نسمع منها جميع أنواع الاتهامات الموجهة إلينا”.

وأضافت أنه “كان من المفترض أن يكون هناك إجراء لمفاوضات مع الوفد الأميركي، برئاسة وزير الخارجية الأميركي السيد (أنتوني) بلينكن، والجانب الأميركي بالذات هو الذي رفض إجراء مزيد من المفاوضات” .

وأشارت زاخاروفا إلى أن ذلك يشمل المفاوضات بشأن قضايا الأمن العالمي، والاستقرار الاستراتيجي والوضع الراهن.

وأضافت زاخاروفا “لكن، بالطبع، لم يكن ذلك ممكنا ًبمعزل عن أوكرانيا. أرسل الجانب الأميركي رداً رسمياً إلى الجانب الروسي في صورة رسالة من وزير الخارجية الأميركي، ذكر فيها بالتفصيل، وبطريقة فظة تماماً، عدم استعداده للتفاوض مع روسيا. كل ذلك تسلمته موسكو قبل بدء العملية الخاصة. والعالم كله يجب أن يعرف ذلك”.

روسيا ستردّ على العقوبات الغربية

وأعلنت المتحدثة الرسمية باسم وزارة الخارجية الروسية، ماريا زاخاروفا، اليوم الخميس، أن روسيا سترد على عقوبات الدول الغربية، والتي لا يمكنها أن تفعل شيئاً أكثر من التلويح بعقوبات.

وقالت زاخاروفا أنه “عندما تُخرج أوروبا مرة أخرى من الصندوق حزمةً أخرى من العقوبات وتلوّح بها، فمن الواضح أنها لا تستطيع فعل أي شيء آخر. لكن يجب أن يفكر (الأوروبيون) الآن فيما يمكن أن يؤدي إليه الوضع، إذا انفجرت دولة (أوكرانيا) من الداخل، بسبب مشاكل داخلية”، والتي يمكن أن “تتلعثم فجأة بشأن امتلاك أسلحة نووية”.

وأضافت “سوف نرد (على العقوبات) بالطريقة نفسها التي رددنا بها من قبل. سنرد بالمثل، بصورة متماثلة، أو غير متماثلة، وبحسب ما يتطلبه الموقف. سننطلق من مصالحنا الخاصة”.

لافروف: روسيا منفتحة دائماً على الحوار مع كل الدول

من جهته، رأى وزير الخارجية الروسي، سيرغي لافروف، أن “الإجراءات التي اتخذتها موسكو في أوكرانيا تهدف إلى ضمان أمن الشعب الروسي”، قائلاً إن “روسيا مستعدة للحوار مع كل الدول”.

وقال لافروف، خلال لقائه نظيرَه الباكستاني، شاه محمود قريشي، إن “الرئيس الروسي، فلاديمير بوتين، أدلى ببيان مفصَّل هذا الصباح يتعلق بإجراءات الناتو، وبأنها لم تعد مقتصرة على أراضي الدول الأعضاء، بل على نطاق واسع”، مضيفاً أن “الناتو” يدّعي أنه “مسؤول عن أمن العالم”.

وأضاف أن “الطريقة التي يروّجونها لما يسمى الاستراتيجيات في منطقتي المحيطين الهندي والهادئ هي بالتأكيد دليل على أن لديهم شهية لكوكب الأرض بأكمله”، موضحاً “أننا أجرينا مناقشات متوترة ومفصلة مع زملائنا الأميركيين وأعضاء آخرين في حلف شمال الأطلسي. ونأمل أن تظل هناك فرصة في العودة إلى القانون الدولي والالتزامات الدولية”.

وتابع لافروف “بما أننا نتخذ الإجراءات التي أعلنها الرئيس لضمان أمن البلاد والشعب الروسي، سنكون بالتأكيد مستعدين دائماً لحوار سيعيدنا إلى العدالة، ومبادئ ميثاق الأمم المتحدة”.

الكرملين: مستقبل أوكرانيا هو خيار الشعب الأوكراني

بالتزامن، أعلن الكرملين، في بيانه، أن “مستقبل أوكرانيا هو خيار الشعب الأوكراني”، لافتاً إلى أنه “لا مجال للحديث عن غزو أوكرانيا”.

وناشد مجلس الدوما الروسي أبناء أوكرانيا ألا يلبّوا نداء التعبئة “حقناً للدماء”.

يشار إلى أنّ الرئيس الروسي، فلاديمير بوتين، أعلن صباح اليوم الخميس، بدء عملية عسكرية في دونباس، قائلاً إن “المواجهة بين روسيا والقوى القومية المتطرّفة في أوكرانيا لا مفر منها”.

وقال الرئيس الروسي إنّ “مجمل تطورات الأحداث وتحليل المعلومات يُظهر أن المواجهة بين روسيا والقوى المتطرفة في أوكرانيا لا مفر منها.. إنها مسألة وقت”، مشيراً إلى أنّ “روسيا لن تسمح لأوكرانيا بامتلاك أسلحة نووية”.

وأمس الأربعاء، طلبت جمهوريتا لوغانسك ودونيتسك من الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين المساعدة على صدّ عدوان نفذته القوات المسلحة الأوكرانية، لتجنّب وقوع خسائر في صفوف المدنيين، ومنع وقوع كارثة إنسانية في دونباس.

وقال المتحدث الصحافي باسم الرئاسة الروسية، دميتري بيسكوف، إنّ بوتين “تلقى رسائل من قادة الجمهوريتين بالنيابة عن شعبيهما، يعبّرون فيها مرة أخرى عن الامتنان لرئيس روسيا على الاعتراف بدولتيهم”.

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