Speech by the President of Russia at an expanded meeting of the SCO Heads of State Councila Plus Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

SEPTEMBER 17, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,

https://thesaker.is/speech-by-the-president-of-russia-at-an-expanded-meeting-of-the-sco-heads-of-state-council/I fully share the statements made by my colleagues and their positive assessments of the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its growing prestige in international affairs. Indeed, the SCO has become the largest regional organisation in the world. As previous speakers have pointed out, over half of the world’s population lives in SCO member states, which account for about 25 percent of global GDP and have a powerful intellectual and technological potential and a considerable part of global natural resources.

At the same time, the SCO is not marking time but continues to develop and build up its role in addressing international and regional issues and maintaining peace, security and stability throughout the vast Eurasian space. Colleagues, this is especially important in the current complicated international situation, about which we have talked in detail during our restricted-attendance meeting.

However, I would like to repeat that global politics and economy are about to undergo fundamental and irreversible changes. The growing role of new centres of power is coming into sharp focus, and interaction among these new centres is not based on some rules, which are being forced on them by external forces and which nobody has seen, but on the universally recognised principles of the rule of international law and the UN Charter, namely, equal and indivisible security and respect for each other’s sovereignty, national values and interests.

It is on these principles, which are devoid of all elements of egoism, that the joint efforts of SCO member states are based in politics and the economy. This opens up broad prospects for continued mutually beneficial cooperation in politics, the economy, culture, humanitarian and other spheres.

Fighting terrorism and extremism, drug trafficking, organised crime and illegal armed formations remains a priority of our cooperation. Other key areas include providing assistance in the political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts along our external borders, including in Afghanistan.

Strengthening economic cooperation has traditionally been a critical part of the SCO’s activities. Our joint efforts are designed to expand trade and investment exchanges, carry out mutually beneficial business projects in various industries, and to increase the volume of settlements in national currencies.

As noted above, including by the President of Kazakhstan, we are open to working with the whole world. The SCO is a non-bloc association. We help addressing the energy and food problems that are growing globally as a result of certain systemic errors in the world’s leading economies in the field of finance and energy. Our policy is not selfish. We hope that other participants in economic cooperation will build their policies on the same principles and stop using the tools of protectionism, illegal sanctions and economic selfishness to their own advantage.

The European Commission’s decision to lift sanctions on Russian fertilisers is a vivid example of such selfish behaviour. We are aware of the fertilisers’ important role in overcoming the food problem. Of course, we welcome the decision to lift the sanctions. But it turns out that, in accordance with the clarification of the European Commission of September 10, these sanctions were lifted only for EU countries. It turns out that they are the only ones who can purchase our fertilisers. What about the developing poorest countries around the world?

Taking advantage of the presence of UN Under-Secretary-General [Rosemary] DiCarlo, I would like to ask the UN Secretariat – I discussed this matter with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres the day before yesterday – to use its influence on the European Commission’s decision not in word, but in deed and to demand that they, our colleagues from the European Commission, lift these clearly discriminatory restrictions on developing countries and provide access for Russian fertilisers to their markets.

Also, the day before yesterday I apprised Secretary-General Guterres of the fact that 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertilisers are stocked at the EU seaports. We are ready to make them available to developing countries for free.

I would also like to note that Russia is increasing its grain exports to international markets. This year, it is going to be 30 million tonnes, and next year it will be 50 million tonnes with 90 percent of our food exports going to the markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Undoubtedly, the ongoing summit’s decisions and documents to improve the efficiency of international transport corridors, to expand intraregional, to advance industrial and scientific and technical cooperation, and to introduce high-tech solutions in agriculture and healthcare will promote further development of business ties within the SCO.

It is also important to advance cultural and humanitarian cooperation within the SCO.

Agreements and memorandums on cooperation in tourism and museology that will be signed during today’s meeting will serve as the next step forward on this path.

It appears that opportunities are good for stepping up sports cooperation and potentially holding major sporting events with SCO sponsorship. To do this, we could think about creating an association of sports organisations under our association.

Friends,

It was noted earlier today during the restricted-attendance meeting that the SCO states focus on expanding cooperation with countries that seek to establish an open and equal dialogue with our organisation and are interested in joining it. In this context, Russia, no doubt, favours the earliest possible accession of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the SCO, which is what the documents and the memorandum that will be signed today are designed to accomplish. We are convinced that Iran’s full-fledged participation will be beneficial for the association, as that country plays an important role in the Eurasian region and the world at large.

We also fully stand behind the decision submitted for approval by the Heads of State Council to start the process of admitting the Republic of Belarus as an SCO member. Let me be clear that we have always advocated that Belarus, which is Russia’s strategic partner and closest ally, should participate fully in the SCO. This will undoubtedly improve our ability to advance unity in politics, the economy, security and humanitarian matters.

Of course, we welcome the granting of SCO dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as the commencement of the procedure for obtaining this status by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Republic of Maldives, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and the United Arab Emirates. Notably, there are more countries desirous of cooperating with the SCO in various capacities, and applications from other states and international associations deserve our utmost attention and favourable consideration.

In closing, I would like to thank President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for the hospitality and excellent organisation of our work, and to congratulate Uzbekistan on its successful SCO chairmanship. I would also like to wish every success to our Indian friends who are taking over the chairmanship today.

Thank you for your attention.

Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

This video was translated and subtitled by Michael Rossi Poli Sci
Please support him on this Patreon channel: https://www.patreon.com/MichaelRossiPoliSci

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov : Member countries of the African Union

July 29, 2022

Editorial Comment: Mr Lavrov’s visits to Arab states, the Arab League, and African states can only be described as a stunning victory and a complete triumph for diplomacy. A short overview is included in the second part of this Operation Z situation report: http://thesaker.is/sitrep-operation-z-collapses-and-progress/
All of the various transcripts can be read at the MFA site: https://www.mid.ru/en/
Short comments and summaries can be found on the MFA Telegram Channel: https://t.me/MFARussia



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to the questions during a meeting with permanent representatives of the member countries of the African Union and the diplomatic corps, Addis Ababa, July 27, 2022

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Representatives of the media,

Thank you very much for coming here at our invitation. I believed that being in Addis Ababa, it is absolutely important to meet with the African Union members, like I did during all my previous visits. We could not do this at the headquarters for, as far as I understand, scheduling reasons. And I’m glad that you’ve accepted our invitation to come here to the Russian Embassy to discuss issues which are on the top of international agenda.

Many of our Western colleagues try to send the message that the key, if not the only, problem in international relations is the situation around Ukraine. I tend to disagree with such an assertion and during my visit here and  in my previous encounters with my foreign colleagues, I sense a broad understanding that the issue is much more complex and complicated.

What we witness now, especially as the West launches an unprecedented campaign of sanctions, accusations, threats, vis-à-vis Russia and anybody who dares to support Russia or even not to condemn Russia. This campaign indicates that we are living through a very important historical period, a period where we will all be deciding what kind of universe we are going to have and to leave for our children and grandchildren. The universe which is based on the United Nations Charter, which says that the United Nations is founded on the principle of sovereign equality of states, or we will have the world where the right of force, the right of the strongest dominates.

Actually, what it is all about can be described on the following example. Is it our choice to have the world where we have the so-called collective West, totally subordinated to the United States and feeling free, feeling that it has the right to decide when and how to promote its own interests without following the international law, without any respect to the sovereign equality of states?

When our American colleagues felt in the past that there was a threat to their interests, tens of thousands kilometers from the American coast, be it Yugoslavia in 1999, be it Iraq in 2003, be it Libya in 2011, and many other occasions, without any hesitation, without explaining anything to anybody, very often on false pretexts, they just started military operations levelling cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, like it happened in Iraq in the city of Mosul which was literally levelled. The same happened to Raqqa in Syria, where dozens and hundreds of corpses have been lying for weeks unattended and I don’t recall the progressive civilized community raising any big noise about that situation.

When the Russian Federation, not just overnight, but for the last ten long years has been drawing the attention of the United States and its allies to the unacceptable policy which they have been promoting on Ukraine, building Ukraine as a stronghold to contain Russia, pumping more and more modern arms in Ukraine, planning to build naval and military bases in that country and encouraging in all possible ways Russophobic policies of its leaders; when in 2014 we categorically protested to the West that in spite of its guarantees, the opposition in Ukraine staged a bloody coup and when they came to power, the first thing they did was to demand to cancel the status of the Russian language which has been the historical language of Ukraine from the very beginning. They also demanded the Russians to get out of Crimea. They sent armed groups to storm the Parliament of Crimea and then the eastern part of Ukraine protested against the coup.

The putchists called them separatists, terrorists and started a full-fledged military operation against them. And the West as I’ve said, which had guaranteed only a few days before that – guaranteed a peace deal between the former president and the opposition, the deal which provided for creation of a government of national unity and early elections, – this deal was disrupted overnight and the opposition bragged that they created the government of the winners.

See the difference: the government of national unity and the government of the winners. This was an invitation for the civil war because the opposition called part of its own citizens “losers” while the opposition became “winners”.

So when this all started we managed, together with some other countries, to stop it in February 2015 – Minsk Agreements were signed – keeping Ukraine one-piece.

The eastern territories of Ukraine that originally after the coup declared independence were persuaded not to insist on independence and to agree to stay inside Ukraine by these Minsk Agreements, provided they are given a special status. First of all, the right to use the Russian language.

This was endorsed by the Security Council and this was systemically and totally ignored and sabotaged by the Kiev regime with the encouragement of the West.

There was no direct dialogue between Kiev and those territories in spite of the fact that this was directly demanded from the Ukrainian regime by the Security Council.

And few weeks ago the former President of Ukraine P.Poroshenko who signed the Minsk Agreements, proudly stated to the media that “When I was signing it, I never intended to implement it. We just needed more time to get more weapons from the West in order to enable us to resolve the problem of Ukrainian East by the use of force.” Very honestly.

But this is totally neglected by the West. So we have been knocking on the door of our Western colleagues at least since 2013, telling them that this is absolutely a red line when you create a direct threat to the Russian Federation just on our borders. When you create a Russophobic state, which during all these years, managed to pass series of laws, prohibiting – physically, literally, – the use of Russian language in education, in culture, in media, and even in day-to-day life.

And at the same time, legislation was passed to legalize neo-Nazi theories and practices. Neo-Nazi battalions with swastikas and insignias of Waffen-SS, have been mushrooming in Ukraine and becoming the cornerstone of the Ukrainian Army.

It’s a very radicalized country. They glorify the collaborators of Hitler condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunal and all this is being done with silent encouragement by the United States and the European Union. And the process which I’ve described was accompanied by the Western attempts, not attempts – policy – to pull Ukraine into NATO.

Dozens of military exercises of NATO with Ukraine were held on Ukrainian territory with an obvious anti-Russian dimension. The efforts of Russia during all these years – it was not just, you know, we say today that this is a threat and excuse us, but we need to remove this threat. It has been happening for at least ten years.

When we’ve told our Western colleagues, “Guys, why are you pulling Ukraine to NATO? You know that this is a hostile organization vis-a-vis Russia, they were telling us, ‘Don’t worry, it will not be detrimental to your security.’”

Russia, as any other self-respectful country has the right to determine itself what is good for its security and what is not. In that case, NATO members led by the United States, opted to decide for us what is good for the Russian Federation.

We reminded them that many years ago in 2010, they all signed up a declaration saying that the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be based on the principle of equal and indivisible security, which means that any country can choose alliances, but no country has the right in choosing alliances to increase its security at the expense of the security of other countries. And that no single organization in Europe can pretend to dominate the security space.

NATO is doing exactly this. And NATO, of course, is strengthening the security of its own at the expense of the security of the Russian Federation, because the borders of NATO have been moved just to the borders of Russia.

So we told them, “Guys, political commitments to which your presidents and prime ministers put the signatures don’t work. Let’s make this principle that the security is indivisible and must be equal for all, let’s make it legally binding.”

And we suggested to them respective treaties several times. First, back in 2009 and the last attempt was in December of 2021. And they told us, “Look gentlemen, first there would be no legally binding security guarantees except for NATO members. And second, as regards Ukraine, the relations between NATO and Ukraine are none of your business.” And that was the end of it.

And parallel with this absolute rejection of constructive efforts we have been undertaking for many, many years, parallel to this the Ukrainians, in violation of the Minsk Agreements, started to accumulate huge military force on the line of contact with the eastern part of the country where the two republics have been under siege, basically. They intensified radically the shelling and bombing of those territories.

When we understood that there would be no agreement on security guarantees in Europe which would be equal, when we understood that there would be no implementation of the Minsk Agreements because the Ukrainian leadership publicly renounced this, and when we understood that the only way to save the people in the east of Ukraine was to recognize these two republics, we did so.

We signed the Treaty on Mutual Assistance with them and at their request, we are now exercising a special military operation aimed at saving lives of the citizens of the Donbass and removing any possibility for Ukrainian territory to be used to threaten the security of the Russian Federation.

I am sure that you have been following the events. I know that the Western media presents the situation in a totally distorted manner. If only to mention the so-called food crisis, as if nothing was of concern before February this year.

If you read the reports of the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, you will refresh your memory and establish the fact that the problems in the world food market started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when in an attempt to fight this virus and the pandemic consequences the US, the EU and Japan have made an emission for eight trillion dollars’ worth without any economic substantiation, and they use this empty money to buy food and all other goods which they believe would be necessary in case pandemic takes long and there will be closure of countries.

Then there were, of course, increases, long ago, of the price of fertilizers because of the reckless policy of the Western countries on the so-called Green Transition, because the energy supplies, the classical energy resources were more or less discriminated and all this has brought the price of fertilizers high, which of course affected the price of food, and so on and so forth. And then there were not very conducive climate conditions for a couple of years.

And yes, the situation in Ukraine did affect, additionally, negatively affected food markets. But not because of the Russian special operation, rather due to the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions, undermining the availability of the food on the markets.

When we explain this to them, they say, “Food and fertilizers are not covered by sanctions”. Yes, but you know, half-truth is worse than a lie. And the truth is that the list of sanctions does not contain an item saying “food”, but what it does contain is prohibition for the Russian ships to call to the ports in the Mediterranean, prohibition for the foreign ships to call on the Russian ports, to pick up food and other cargo, prohibition to insure the Russian ships, because of which insurance prices quadrupled overnight. And of course, prohibition for the main Russian bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, which has always served the payments for Russian food exports – it was listed in the European Union sanctions.

So the latest attempt by our Turkish friends and the Secretary General of the United Nations resulted in a deal between Russia and the United Nations, whereby Secretary General Guterres committed himself to press the Western countries to lift those restrictions, which I just quoted. We’ll see whether he can succeed.

And the same deal as you know, provided for Ukraine an obligation to demine its coastal line for the ships which have been locked there, I think 70 ships from 16 countries since February, to allow them out of the Ukrainian territorial waters, after which Turkish and Russian fleet will ensure their safe travel to the straits and then to the Mediterranean.

So those were the agreements, which could have been announced long, long ago, if not for the Western stubbornness in insisting that they are always right, and all those who don’t agree with them, of course, are always wrong.

A similar situation is taking place with the energy markets. Many years ago, before February this year, the West started discriminating Russian energy projects. First, the project called Nord Stream 1 was limited by 50% of its capacity for no good reason at all. Europe deprived itself of 50% of Russian cheap, accessible gas.

Then Nord Stream 2 was blocked by absolutely illegal action when the legal committee of the European Union ruled that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was built and financed and invested, fully aligned with the existing European norms.

But after that, the European Commission changed the rules retrospectively and applied the new rules to the investment which took place legally several years ago.

So Nord Stream 2 is also not available. Poland, several months ago, stopped taking gas from a direct pipeline from Russia. Ukraine stopped one of the two transit lines through its territory from Russia. And there was some hassle with that turbine which went for maintenance to Canada, then Canada didn’t want to bring it back.

I listed five or six factors which immediately negatively affected gas supplies to Europe volume-wise. And, of course, the less you buy from Russia through a pipeline, which is a price established for long-term, the more expensive prices on the spot.

It reached yesterday, I think, $2,200 for a thousand cubic meters. So the attempts to blame us for everything which goes wrong is an attempt with not very clean purposes and intentions.

What is my point? My point is that it’s a period of history where we will have to choose either to go down the current, which the West tries to move, saying that the world must be run not by international law, but by the rules.

They coined an expression “rules-based world order”. And if you analyze the behavior of our Western colleagues in the international arena, you will understand that these rules differ from case to case. There is no single criteria. There is no single principle, except one. If I want something, you have to obey. If you don’t obey, you would be punished.

This is the picture for the future offered to us by the rules-based world order promoted by the West. Basically, this is the unipolar world where the United States, which subordinated to its own will everybody else in the European Union and allies in Asia… This is the offer. Not even an offer, it is an ultimatum actually.

The alternative to this, and I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of the world countries do not want to live as if the colonial times came back, that the vast majority of the states want to be independent, want to rely on their own tradition, to rely on their own history, to rely on their old friends, don’t want to betray their old friends.

And this is basically evident from the fact that except two or three developing countries, no one else in Africa, Asia or Latin America joined the illegal American and European sanctions.

And back to the United Nations Charter. I believe, when we speak about more just, more democratic world order, we don’t need to invent anything. Once again, I quote the Charter which says that the United Nations is based on the principle of sovereign equality of states.

And to recognize that each state is independent, each state has the right to determine how it wants to live, what kind of economic, social, political system it wants to choose on the basis of the will of its people. And I have no slightest doubt that any normal state wants to be like this. Nobody wants to have enemies. This is also an absolute truth. Neither Russia nor any other country present in this hall – I have no doubt.

But if countries, like we witness now the behavior of the West, if they do want to have enemies, as they publicly declared in their doctrines, in the decisions of the latest NATO summit in Madrid – they do want enemies, they appoint enemies, they appoint the order in which they handle these enemies. Now Russia is the first, China is earmarked as the existential challenge for the long term. And all this manifests in renewed thinking about how the world economy and the world system operates.

If the US and the European Union – under the demand of the US – decided to freeze the Russian reserves – and now they seriously start a legal process to prepare the basis to confiscate the Russian money – who knows… If they become irritated by somebody else tomorrow or the day after, they might do the same.

In other words, the reliance on dollar as the instrument supporting the world economy is not very promising, frankly speaking. And it is not by incident that more and more countries are shifting to using alternative currencies, shifting to use national currencies more and more, and this process will be gaining momentum.

This is not to say that we are suggesting some kind of revolution against the dollar, against the United States – this is to state the obvious: the West created a system which was based on certain principles – free market, fair competition, sanctity of private property, presumption of innocence, and something else. All these principles have been thrown down the drain when they needed to do what they believe is to punish Russia.

And I don’t have the slightest doubt that, if need be, they will not hesitate to do the same in relation to any other country which would irritate them one way or another.

I mentioned China as the next target. It’s a very interesting example of how the Americans consider fair competition in practice. Actually, China developed into the number one world economy – everybody recognizes this – and China did so, China achieved those results, working and acting on the basis of the rules established by the West. The IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the rules to settle disputes, competition and the stuff. China accepted those rules in developing its own economy and China defeated the West, economically and trade-wise, investment-wise, on its own turf, on the basis of the rules invented by the West.

And what happened next? Already a couple of years ago, the Secretary of Treasury of the United States and some other officials started saying, “We need to reform the Bretton Woods Institutions, we need to reform the WTO and we need to organize this reform between the US and Europe not to allow anybody else to participate in developing new rules.”

Guys, it is absolutely obvious, how they want this world to be operated. And I believe, as long as it is not too late, we would be ready to talk to our Western friends when they come back to their senses about how they think they should live together with all of us in the future. But this conversation can only be made on full equality, with full respect to the legitimate interests of all of us.

If I took too long of your time, I apologize. And I understand there might be a couple of questions, right?

Question: Your Excellency, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,

On behalf of the people of South Sudan, the Government and on my own behalf, I wish to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ethiopia for inviting me and my delegation here.

We are grateful that our two countries, the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Sudan enjoy cordial bilateral relations, dating back to the day of our declaration of independence, where the Russian people and their Government were among those who recognized our statehood on July 9, 2011. Since then Your Excellency, the people and the governments of two countries have stood with the people and the Government of South Sudan in many ways.

The people of South Sudan wish to express their gratitude for your immense support in the UNSC, the Human Rights Council in Geneva and other activities where you supported us. First of all, as you explained, Your Excellency, you outlined your view on sanctions. Now we know what’s really going on.

On the current political situation in my country I would like to inform Your Excellency the Minister that the signed revitalized peace agreement of 2018 is holding despite the challenges that you have mentioned. These include numerous sanctions by Western countries and their allies, and an arms embargo. Other factors of concern are natural disasters, such as heavy rains…

Sergey Lavrov: I apologize, can you pass on this text? Because it would be useful and more polite to the others. Ok? Please, pass it. Thank you!

Just one remark. We are against those sanctions which are intended to punish people. And don’t forget that the initiators of these sanctions against you are exactly the same countries who wanted to create South Sudan out of Sudan.

Question: Thank you very much for giving a very detailed and covering all important aspects in your briefing. A short question: How the hegemony of dollar can be controlled by international community because right now the countries like Pakistan and many developing countries are suffering from huge debt that continues to grow. The problem is getting worse. I would like you to clarify the situation.

Sergey Lavrov: I am not an expert in monetary affairs. What I said was it’s an obvious feeling by many countries that the dollar is not reliable, because the capricious behavior could be aimed at anyone in the future.

I know that you can feel this on yourself, if you compare the situation of 20-30 years ago and now. So, it’s life. It’s life. And nobody wants to go to war because of the dollar and I believe this is crazy.  But people want to have some insurance as regards the reliability of their economic and trade relations with their partners. And there are examples, including the use of national currencies, including barter, including clearing mechanisms. Some might say this is going back to the past instruments of conducting trade. But there would be digital currencies, I don’t have the slightest doubt, which are already being developed in China, for example, in Venezuela, in Iran.

We are thinking about this as well. It’s the beginning of a process. Now we have accumulated the elements of the problem and we know that it must be addressed.

Question: With an approach of winter during which gas importations increase. How does Russia going to export its gas and circumvent the sanctions imposed? 15 African countries import more than 50% of their grain from Russia. The situation also affected the exports from African countries to Russia. How does Russia intend to manage trade relations with Africa?

Sergey Lavrov: I think I addressed both issues in my remarks. I hope you listened to me. Antonio Guterres personally promised to make sure that the US and EU remove any obstacles to the export of Russian grain. If you add your noble voice to his efforts, I think it would be useful.

And on gas prices – I also explained how Europe systemically, during the last almost ten years, was creating barriers on the way of bringing to European countries cheap and accessible Russian gas.

I listed five or six specific decisions which were cutting more and more of Russian exports, vacating the room in Europe for much more expensive LNG from the United States, just like, you know, the US insists that Europe sends all its weapons to Ukraine, vacating the arms market in Europe for the import of American weapons. It’s “nothing personal, it’s business.”

As regards your country (Algeria), the Europeans are now thinking of alternative sources of supply. They have suffocated themselves with their own hands the pipeline routes from Russia. Now they are  looking for alternatives. And I know that the Mediterranean, including Algeria, is one of those sources.

They would be asking you to help, and it’s up to your companies to decide, it’s up to your government to decide.

In our case, according to our experiences that when we had long-term contracts with Europe, these long-term contracts protected our interests. But, a few years ago, Europe started cutting long-term contracts saying, “Let’s shift to the spot market”. And the spot market does not guarantee that you will have a long-term investment justified.

So, what we see now is not a scientific, not a responsible approach to the energy markets – it’s a hectic search for something which can save you this winter, with the green agenda shelved for the time being.

The coal is coming back, polluting the atmosphere – it’s a mess, if you take a look at the energy and environment policy that Europe is promoting. I am sorry to say this. We are not getting any happiness or joy from what Europe is experiencing, but they have been doing this to themselves for quite some time already.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to apologize because the minister – my colleague from Ethiopia – is   waiting for me for the next event. Once again I want to thank you whole-heartedly for accepting our invitation. I hope it was not a waste of time. I tried to be as frank as I can, and we would be ready to promote dialogue with the African Union.

Unfortunately, we could not meet at the headquarters. And we would be ready for a dialogue on all these and any other issues of interest and of importance with you bilaterally. With all of you we have good relations and channels of communication.

I wish you all the best and keep healthy. Thank you very much.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article «Staged incidents as the Western approach to doing politics»

July 18, 2022

https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1822333/

Published in Izvestia newspaper

Today, the Russian Armed Forces, together with the self-defence units of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, are delivering on the objectives of the special military operation with great resolve to put an end to the outrageous discrimination and genocide of the Russian people and eliminate direct threats to the security of the Russian Federation that the United States and its satellites have been creating on Ukrainian territory for years. While losing on the battlefield, the Ukrainian regime and its Western patrons have descended to staging bloody incidents to demonise our country in the eyes of the international community. We have already seen Bucha, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and Kremenchug. The Russian Defence Ministry has been regularly issuing warnings, with facts in hand, about upcoming staged incidents and fakes.

There is a distinctive pattern that betrays the provocations staged by the West and its henchmen. In fact, they started long before the Ukrainian events.

Take 1999 – the village of Račak in Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. A group of OSCE inspectors arrived at the site where several dozen corpses dressed in civilian clothes were discovered. Without any investigation, the mission head declared the incident an act of genocide, even though making a conclusion of this kind was not part of the mandate issued to this international official. NATO immediately launched a military aggression against Yugoslavia, during which it intentionally destroyed a television centre, bridges, passenger trains and other civilian targets. Later, it was proved with conclusive evidence that the dead bodies were not civilians, but militants of the Kosovo Liberation Army, an illegal armed group, dressed in civilian clothes. But by that time the staged incident has already taken its toll, offering a pretext for the first illegal use of force against an OSCE member state since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975. It is telling that the statement that triggered the bombings came from William Walker, a US citizen who headed the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission. Separating Kosovo from Serbia by force and setting up Camp Bondsteel, the largest US military base in the Balkans, were the main outcomes of the aggression.

In 2003, there was the infamous performance by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in the UN Security Council with a vial containing white powder of some sort, which he said contained anthrax spores, alleging that it was produced in Iraq. Once again, the fake worked: the Anglo-Saxons and those who followed their lead went on to bomb Iraq, which has been struggling to fully recover its statehood ever since. Moreover, it did not take long before the fake was exposed with everyone admitting that Iraq did not have any biological weapons or any other kinds of WMDs. Later, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was one of the masterminds of the aggression, recognised that the whole affair was a fraud, saying that they “may have been wrong” or something like that. As for Colin Powell, he later tried to justify himself by claiming that he was misled by the underlying intelligence. Either way, this was yet another provocation that offered a pretext for delivering on the plan to destroy a sovereign nation.

There was also Libya in 2011. The drama had specifics of its own. The situation did not go as far as direct lies, like in Kosovo or Iraq, but NATO grossly distorted the UN Security Council resolution, which provided for a no-fly zone over Libya in order to “ground” Muammar Gaddafi’s air force. It did not fly to begin with. However, NATO started bombing the Libyan army units who were fighting terrorists. Muammar Gaddafi died a savage death, and nothing remains of the Libyan statehood. Efforts to put the country back together have yet to succeed, with a US representative once again in charge of the process, appointed by the UN Secretary General without any consultation with the UN Security Council. As part of this process, our Western colleagues have facilitated several intra-Libyan agreements on holding elections but none of them materialised. Illegal armed groups still reign supreme on Libyan territory, with most of them working closely with the West.

February 2014, Ukraine – the West, represented by the German, French, and Polish foreign ministers, de facto forced President Viktor Yanukovich into signing an agreement with the opposition to end the confrontation and promote a peaceful resolution of the intra-Ukrainian crisis by establishing a transitional national unity government and calling a snap election, to be held within a few months. This too turned out to be a fraud: the next morning, the opposition staged a coup guided as it was by anti-Russia, racist slogans. However, the Western guarantors did not even try to bring the opposition back to its senses. Furthermore, they switched immediately to encouraging the coup perpetrators in their policies against Russia and everything Russian, unleashing the war against their own people and bombing entire cities in the Donbass region just because people there refused to recognise the unconstitutional coup. For that, they labelled the people in Donbass terrorists, and once again the West was there to encourage them.

At this point, it is worth noting that, as it was soon revealed, the killing of protestors on the Maidan was also a staged incident, which the West blamed either on the Ukrainian security forces loyal to Viktor Yanukovich, or on the Russian special services. However, the radical members of the opposition were the ones who were behind this provocation, while working closely with the Western intelligence services. Once again, exposing these facts did not take long, but by that time they already did their job.

Efforts by Russia, Germany, and France paved the way to stopping the war between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk in February 2015 with the signing of the Minsk Agreements. Berlin and Paris played a proactive role here as well, proudly calling themselves as the guarantor countries. However, during the seven long years that followed, they did absolutely nothing to force Kiev to launch a direct dialogue with Donbass representatives for agreeing on matters including the special status, amnesty, restoring economic ties, and holding elections, as required by the Minsk Agreements which were approved unanimously by the UN Security Council. The Western leaders remained silent when Kiev took steps which directly violated the Minsk Agreements under both Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky. Moreover, the German and the French leaders kept saying that Kiev cannot enter direct dialogue with the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, and blamed everything on Russia, although Russia is not mentioned in the Minsk agreements even once, while remaining basically the only country that kept pushing for the agreements to be implemented.

If anyone doubted that the Minsk Package was anything but yet another fake, Petr Poroshenko dispelled this myth by saying on June 17, 2022: “The Minsk Agreements did not mean anything to us, and we had no intention to carry them out… our goal was to remove the threat we faced… and win time in order to restore economic growth and rebuild the armed forces. We achieved this goal. Mission accomplished for the Minsk Agreements.” The people of Ukraine are still paying the price of this fake. For many years now, the West has been forcing them to accept an anti-Russian neo-Nazi regime. What a waste of energy for Olaf Scholz with his calls to force Russia to agree to an agreement guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. There already had been an agreement to this effect, the Minsk Package, and Berlin with Paris were the ones who derailed it by shielding Kiev in its refusal to abide by the document. The fake has been exposed – finita la commedia.

By the way, Vladimir Zelensky has been a worthy successor to Petr Poroshenko. During a campaign rally in early 2019, he was ready to kneel before him for the sake of stopping the war.

In December 2019, Zelensky got a chance to carry out the Minsk Agreements following the Normandy format summit in Paris. In the outcome document adopted at the highest level, the Ukrainian President undertook to resolve matters related to the special status of Donbass. Of course, he did not do anything, while Berlin and Paris once again covered up for him. The document and all the publicity accompanying its adoption turned out to be no more than a fake narrative promoted by Ukraine and the West to win some time for supplying more weapons to the Kiev regime, which follows Petr Poroshenko’s logic to the letter.

There was also Syria, with the 2013 agreement on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles in a stage-by-stage process verified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for which it received the Nobel Peace Prize. After that, however, there were outrageous provocations in 2017 and 2018 staging the use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun and Duma, a Damascus suburb. There was a video showing people calling themselves the White Helmets (a would-be humanitarian organisation which never showed up on territories controlled by the Syrian government) helping alleged poisoning victims, although no one had any protective clothing or gear. All attempts to force the OPCW Technical Secretariat to perform its duties in good faith and ensure a transparent investigation into these incidents, as required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), failed. This, however, did not come as a surprise. The Western countries have long privatised the Technical Secretariat by having their representatives appointed to the key positions within this structure. They contributed to staging these incidents and used them as a pretext for US, British, and French airstrikes against Syria. Incidentally, they carried out these bombings just a day before a group of OPCW inspectors arrived there to investigate the incidents at Russia’s insistence, while the West did everything to prevent this deployment.

The West and the OPCW Technical Secretariat it controls demonstrated their ability to stage fake incidents with the would-be poisonings of the Skripals and Alexey Navalny. In both cases, Russia sent multiple requests to The Hague, London, Berlin, Paris, and Stockholm, all left without a reply, even though they fully conformed with the CWC provisions and required a response.

Other pending questions have to do with the Pentagon’s covert activities in Ukraine carried out through its Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The traces that the forces engaged in the special military operation have discovered in military-biological laboratories in the liberated territories of Donbass and adjacent areas clearly indicate direct violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTWC). We have presented the documents to Washington and to the UN Security Council. The procedure has been initiated under BTWC to demand explanations. Contrary to the facts, the US administration is trying to justify its actions by saying that all biological research in Ukraine was exclusively peaceful and civilian in nature – with no evidence of any of this.

In fact, the Pentagon’s military-biological activities around the world, especially in the post-Soviet countries, require the closest attention in light of the multiplying evidence of criminal experiments with the most dangerous pathogens in order to create biological weapons conducted under the guise of peaceful research.

I have already mentioned the staged “crimes” of the Donbass militia and participants in the Russian special military operation. There is one simple fact that clearly shows how much these accusations mean: having shown the “Bucha tragedy” to the world in early April 2022 (we have suspicions that the Anglo-Saxons had a hand in setting the stage for the show), the West and Kiev have not yet answered the very basic questions about whether the names of the dead were established and what post-mortem examinations showed. Just as in the above-described Skripals and Navalny cases, the propaganda production has premiered in the Western media, and now it’s time to sweep it all under the rug, brazen it out, because they have nothing to say.

This is the essence of the well-worn Western political algorithm – to concoct a fake story and ratchet up the hype as if it’s a universal catastrophe for a couple of days while blocking people’s access to alternative information or assessments, and when any facts do break through, they are simply ignored – at best mentioned on last pages of the news in small print. It is important to understand that this is not a harmless game in the media war – such productions are used as pretexts for very material actions such as punishing the “guilty” countries with sanctions, unleashing barbaric aggressions against them with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, as it happened, in particular, in Iraq and Libya. Or – as in the case of Ukraine – for using the country as expendable material in the Western proxy war against Russia. Moreover, NATO instructors and MLRS aimers are, apparently, already directing the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and nationalist battalions on the ground.

I hope there are responsible politicians in Europe who are aware of the consequences. In this regard, it is noteworthy that no one in NATO or the EU tried to reprimand the German Air Force Commander, a general named Ingo Gerhartz, who got carried away higher than his rank and said NATO must be ready to use nuclear weapons. “Putin, do not try to compete with us,” he added. Europe’s silence suggests that it is complacently oblivious of Germany’s role in its history.

If we look at today’s events through a historical prism, the entire Ukrainian crisis appears as a “grand chess game” that follows a scenario earlier promoted by Zbigniew Brzezinski. All the good relations talk, the West’s proclaimed readiness to take into account the rights and interests of Russians who ended up in independent Ukraine or other post-Soviet countries after the collapse of the USSR turned out to be mere pretence. Even in the early 2000s, Washington and the European Union began to openly pressure Kiev to decide which side Ukraine was on, the West or Russia.

Ever since 2014, the West has been controlling, hands-on, the Russophobic regime it brought to power through a coup d’état. Putting Vladimir Zelensky in front of any international forum of any significance is also part of this travesty. He makes passionate speeches, but when he suddenly offers something reasonable, he gets a slap on the wrist, as it happened after the Istanbul round of Russian-Ukrainian talks. At the end of March, it seemed that light glimmered at the end of the tunnel, but Kiev was forced to back off, using, among other things, a frankly staged episode in Bucha. Washington, London and Brussels demanded that Kiev stopped negotiating with Russia until Ukraine achieved full military advantage (former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried especially hard, and many other Western politicians did too, still incumbent, although they have already proved just as inept).

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s statement about this war having to be “won on the battlefield” by Ukraine suggests that even diplomacy has lost its value as a tool in the European Union’s staged performance.

In a broader sense, it is curious to see how Europe, lined up by Washington on the anti-Russian front, has been hardest hit by the thoughtless sanctions, emptying its arsenals to supply weapons to Kiev (without even asking for a report on who will control them or where they go), and freeing up its market only to subsequently buy US military products and expensive American LNG instead of available Russian gas. Such trends, coupled with the de facto merger between the EU and NATO, make the continued talk about Europe’s “strategic autonomy” nothing more than a show. Everyone has already understood that the collective West’s foreign policy is a “one-man theatre.” Moreover, it is consistently seeking ever new theaters of military operations.

One element of the geopolitical gambit against Russia is granting the status of an eternal EU candidate country to Ukraine and Moldova, which, it seems, will also face an unenviable fate. Meanwhile, a PR campaign has been initiated by President of France Emmanuel Macron to promote the “European political community,” which offers no financial or economic benefits, but demands full compliance with the EU’s anti-Russia actions. The principle behind it is not either/or but “who is not with us is against us.” Emmanuel Macron explained the gist of the “community”: the EU will invite all European countries – “from Iceland to Ukraine” – to join it, but not Russia. I would like to stress that we are not eager to join, but the statement itself showcases the essence of this obviously confrontational and divisive new undertaking.

Ukraine, Moldova and other countries being courted by the EU today are destined to be extras in the games of the West. The United States, as the main producer, calls the tune and devises the storyline based on which Europe writes the anti-Russia screenplay. The actors are ready and possess the skills acquired during their tenure at the Kvartal 95 Studio: they will provide a voice-over for dramatic texts no worse than the now forgotten Greta Thunberg and play musical instruments, if needed. The actors are good: remember how convincing Vladimir Zelensky was in his role as a democrat in the Servant of the People: fighter against corruption and discrimination against Russians and for all the right things in general. Remember and compare it with his immediate transformation in his role as president. It is perfect Stanislavsky Method acting: banning the Russian language, education, media and culture. “If you feel like Russians, then go to Russia for the sake of your children and grandchildren.” Good advice. He called Donbass residents “species” rather than people. And this is what he said about the Nazi Azov battalion: “They are what they are. There is plenty of such people around here.” Even CNN was ashamed to leave this phrase in the interview.

This prompts a question: what will be the outcome of all these storylines? Staged incidents based on blood and agony are by no means fun but a display of a cynical policy in creating a new reality where all principles of the UN Charter and all norms of international law are attempted to be replaced with their “rules-based order” in an aspiration to perpetuate their dwindling domination in global affairs.

The games undertaken by the West in the OSCE after from end of the Cold War, where it considered itself a winner, had the most devastating consequences for the modern international relations. Having quickly broken their promises to the Soviet and Russian leadership on the non-expansion of NATO to the east, the United States and its allies nevertheless declared their commitment to building a unified space of security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region. They formalised it at the top level with all OSCE members in 1999 and 2010 within the framework of a political obligation to ensure equal and inseparable security where no country will strengthen its security at the expense of others and no organisation will claim a dominating role in Europe. It soon became evident that NATO members do no keep their word and that their goal is the supremacy of the North-Atlantic Alliance. Even then we continued our diplomatic efforts, proposing to formalise the principle of equal and inseparable security in a legally binding agreement. We proposed this a number of times, the last one in December 2021, but received a flat denial in response. They told us directly: there will be no legal guarantees outside NATO. Which means that the support of the political documents approved at the OSCE summits turned out to be a cheap fake. And now NATO, driven by the United States, has gone even further: they want to dominate over the entire Asia-Pacific region in addition to the Euro-Atlantic. NATO members make no effort to conceal the target of their threats, and China’s leadership has already publicly declared its position regarding such neo-colonial ambitions. Beijing has already responded by citing the principle of indivisible security, declaring its support for applying it on a global scale to prevent any country from claiming its exclusivity. This approach fully coincides with Russia’s position. We will make consistent efforts to defend it together with our allies, strategic partners and many other like-minded countries.

The collective West should come back to Earth from the world of illusions. The staged incidents, no matter how long they go on, will not work. It is time for fair play based on the international law rather than cheating. The sooner everyone realises that there are no alternatives to objective historical processes where a multipolar world is formed based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality of states, fundamental for the UN Charter and the entire world order, the better.

If members of the western alliance are unable to live according to this principle, are not ready to build a truly universal architecture of equal security and cooperation, they should leave everyone alone, stop using threats and blackmail to recruit those who want to live on their own wits and acknowledge the right to freedom of choice by independent self-respecting countries. This is what democracy is all about, the real democracy, not one played out on a shabbily built political stage.

Putin: Address to participants of 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum

June 30, 2022

Address to participants of 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum

Vladimir Putin gave a video address to greet the participants of a plenary session of the 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum. This year’s plenary session was themed Law in a Multipolar World. The video address was recorded during the President’s recent visit to St Petersburg.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues,

I would like to welcome you to the 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum, which, as always, has brought together leading jurists and practicing lawyers from many countries.

I am glad that after a forced interruption, the forum is again being held in person because even the most advanced communication technologies cannot replace a direct dialogue and face-to-face meetings.

Participants at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum recently discussed the most relevant political, financial, technological and cultural issues on the global agenda; many of these issues directly related to international law. It is important that you continue this conversation within this forum and discuss important topics like Law in a Multipolar World.

It is true, a multipolar system of international relations is now being formed. It is an irreversible process; it is happening before our eyes and is objective in nature. The position of Russia and many other countries is that this democratic, more just world order should be built on the basis of mutual respect and trust, and, of course, on the generally accepted principles of international law and the UN Charter.

At the same time, it is being said that law cannot adequately respond to the problems and challenges of today, to today’s turbulent and fundamental changes. There are also more radical assessments that the idea of international law is being dismantled. I fundamentally disagree with these conclusions.

Undoubtedly, the system of international law needs to be further developed, but we should not confuse cause and effect. Crises happen not because law is faulty, but because of attempts to replace law with dictate, and international standards with the national jurisdiction of certain states or groups of states in a deliberate refusal to follow essential legal principles – justice, conscientiousness, equality and humanity. These are not just legal ideals, but values that reflect the diversity of our civilisation.

Some states are not ready to accept losing their supremacy on the international stage, and they are striving to preserve the unjust unipolar model. Under the guise of what they call order based on rules, and other questionable concepts, they try to control and direct global processes at their own discretion, and hold to a course of creating closed blocs and coalitions that make decisions for the benefit of one country, the United States of America. The natural rights of others in international relations are being ignored; the fundamental principle of indivisibility of security is being used selectively. The West’s unilateral, illegitimate sanctions against sovereign states have reached an unprecedented scale.

I will add that the countries that advocate their own exceptionalism also overstep the law and cross out such concepts as inviolability of property and freedom of speech in their own domestic policy as well. In sum, the domination of one country or a group of countries on the global stage is not only counter-productive, but also dangerous and inevitably creates global, systemic risk.

The multipolar world of the 21st century does not have a place for inequality or for discrimination against states and peoples. Therefore, our country speaks for the practical realisation of the pivotal international legal principle of the sovereign equality of states and the right of each state to pursue its own development model.

The Russian foreign affairs agenda has always been and remains constructive. We develop multipolar relations with all who are interested in them and place great value on cooperation within the UN, the G20, BRICS, the SCO and other associations.

Russia is open to dialogue on ensuring strategic stability, preserving agreements on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and improving the situation in arms control. We are focused on joining efforts on crucial issues like the climate agenda, fighting famine, providing stability in food and energy markets, and fair rules in international trade and competition.

All of these areas require appropriate and flexible legal regulation and meticulous cooperation. With this approach, we could avoid crises such as the current one in Donbass that is happening to protect its residents from genocide – and there can be no other definition for the Kiev regime’s actions than “a crime against humanity.”

At the same time, Russia will continue to create a more democratic and just world where the rights of all peoples are guaranteed and mankind’s cultural and civilizational diversity is preserved.

I am confident that, by consistently following international law and joining our efforts, it is possible to resolve the most difficult problems that the world is facing and to provide for the stable, sustainable and progressive development of all states. Both practicing lawyers and jurists can and should bring a significant contribution to the recreation of the authority of law, strengthening its legal institutions and rebuilding trust in international relations.

I wish all of you productive work and interesting networking.

Thank you for your attention.

Sergey Lavrov: Roundtable discussion SCO Treaties

June 30, 2022

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s video address to the organisers of and participants in the roundtable discussion dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the SCO Charter and the 15th anniversary of the SCO Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation, June 29, 2022

Colleagues, friends,

I bid a most cordial and hearty welcome to the organisers of and participants in the roundtable discussion dedicated to two landmark events in the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. I am referring to the 20th anniversary of the SCO Charter and the 15th anniversary of the SCO Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation.

These fundamental documents establish aims and objectives, principles, rights and obligations, whereby the member states are guided in their joint efforts undertaken in the name of a safe and stable common future as well as the well-being and prosperity of their peoples. The values of mutual understanding and trust, equality and consensus, as well as the refusal to participate in hostile actions against each other or directed against third countries serve as a firm foundation for strengthening the spirit of mutual understanding and partnership inherent in the SCO.

Today, our Organisation is a dynamic international union of a new type, located in vast Eurasian expanses. It is distinguished by a creative philosophy and an ability to constantly generate creative energy in the name of achieving common goals. The SCO is by right perceived in the world as a recognised, authoritative, reliable and attractive partner, which is making a significant contribution to maintaining peace and stability, and ensuring sustainable development in Eurasia.

Russia’s foreign policy priorities include strengthening the SCO in a comprehensive way and promoting a meaningful dialogue and practical cooperation in the area of security, the economy, and humanitarian ties. We have consistently advocated greater coordination between the member states in international affairs and strengthening the impact of collaboration with observer states, dialogue partners, and interested multilateral organisations. It is important to continue the coordinated policy towards expanding the SCO, while carefully weighing each step, primarily from the point of view of whether it can really strengthen the Organisation.

Counteracting terrorism, drug trafficking and trans-border organised crime is a matter of particular importance on the SCO agenda.  Given the growing scale of interconnected challenges and threats, we continue the work to implement our leaders’ decisions on improving the mechanisms designed to counteract these risks, this in compliance with the relevant initiatives put forward by member states. Simultaneously, measures are being taken to expand the functional potential of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

A firm basis has been created for promoting economic interaction within the SCO. It is necessary to work hard to put the existing plans into practice and implement concrete measures intended to ensure food, transport and energy security, develop remote and rural territories, strengthen inter-regional ties, carry out digital transformation, and introduce high technologies and innovations.  It will be of use to approve, as expected, a roadmap on increasing the share of national currencies in mutual payments.

Yet another promising vector of joint work is setting up wide-ranging cooperative ties in the interests of creating the Greater Eurasian Partnership through the establishment of an open, mutually beneficial and equitable interaction with partners on our common continent, based on the norms of international law and a balance of national interests.

We are expanding humanitarian exchanges, including in education, science, culture, healthcare, the fight against epidemics, tourism, and human contacts, including contacts between young people.

A vast legal and contractual infrastructure, a huge human and resource potential, multilevel practical mechanisms and the accumulated rich experience of multifaceted cooperation remain a guarantee of the SCO’s further strengthening. Amid the continuing tectonic shifts in world politics and the economy, our Organisation can and must become one of the core elements of a new, more just and democratic polycentric world order based on the UN Charter, the principles of sovereign equality of all states, non-interference in internal affairs, and equal and indivisible security.

Russia has come up with an initiative to modernise the SCO and adapt it to the present-day geopolitical realities.  I am confident that the leaders of our countries will map out the priorities and measures to achieve the said goals at the upcoming September SCO Summit in Samarkand, which will be the culmination of Uzbekistan’s successful chairmanship.

In conclusion, I would like to wish you interesting and informative discussions and all the best.

Sergey Lavrov’s Presser at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian

June 24, 2022

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Tehran, June 23, 2022

Ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to thank my colleague, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for the hospitality extended to me and my delegation from the first minutes of my stay on Iranian soil.

Yesterday’s detailed conversation with President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi and today’s long talks have confirmed both countries’ focus on deepening cooperation in all areas in accordance with the agreements reached by our leaders. I am referring to Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Russia in January 2022 and his subsequent telephone conversations with President Vladimir Putin. The last call took place on June 8.

The presidents are unanimous that relations between Russia and Iran have reached the highest point in their history. At the same time, there is significant untapped potential for further advancement in our partnership. To this end, work is now underway on a new and comprehensive “big interstate treaty,” initiated by the President of Iran. Some time ago, Russia submitted its proposals and additions to the Iranian initiative to Tehran. Today we agreed that experts should coordinate this important document as soon as possible because it will determine the prospects for our strategic cooperation for the next two decades.

Particular attention during the talks was paid to trade and economic issues, investment, and the need to expand bilateral relations in a situation where the United States and its “satellites” are using illegal sanctions to hinder our countries’ progressive development and the interaction between Russia and Iran, as well as with other countries that reject diktat and refuse to follow Washington’s orders. Despite this discriminatory policy, trade between Russia and Iran showed a record growth of over 80 percent in 2021, exceeding $4 billion for the first time. This trend continued into 2022. We will do everything we can to support it.

A Russian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak visited Tehran at the end of May to promote economic cooperation. The delegation included representatives from the relevant ministries and agencies, the heads of Russian regions that cooperate with Iran, and business representatives. They met with their Iranian counterparts to discuss purely practical issues of expanding cooperation, outlining action plans for such areas as energy, transport, agriculture, finance, banking, and customs. At this point, these ambitious goals are being considered at the level of relevant experts.

We highlighted success in implementing our flagship projects, including  the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (the second and third units being under construction), the Sirik Thermal Power Plant that is being built with the state loans issued by the Russian Federation and a project to upgrade a railway section.

Just last week, a panel discussion dedicated to the Russian-Iranian business dialogue took place as part of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. A meeting of the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation will be held soon. As we agreed today, the foreign ministries of Russia and Iran will continue to provide political and diplomatic support to all joint economic undertakings every step of the way.

In this context, Russia has been facilitating the Iran-EAEU negotiating process that started out in 2021 to develop a free trade agreement. The working group in question will meet in Isfahan in early July.

We talked about fortifying the contractual and legal framework. Hossain Amir-Abdollahian mentioned an agreement on international cybersecurity and an agreement on creating cultural centres in our countries.

We also mentioned the importance of moving forward with drafting an agreement on cooperation in geological exploration and oil and gas production, as well as with ratifying the existing agreement on scientific and technical cooperation between our countries.

We discussed international issues in depth. We stand together in rejecting the concept of the rules-based order that is pushed forward by the United States and its satellites. This concept is designed for use as a substitute for international law and the UN Charter’s basic principles, primarily the principle of sovereign equality of states. Everything that the United States and its allies are doing in the international arena flat-out undermines this fundamental UN principle. Iran and Russia condemn the untenable practice of unilateral illegal sanctions that are imposed contrary to the UN Charter and need to be opposed by all independent members of the international community.

To this end, the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations was established which, among others, includes Iran and Russia and has more than 20 members. I’m sure the group will expand.

On behalf of the Russian Federation, we welcome the official process for Iran joining the SCO as a full member which was launched in 2021. A memorandum will be signed at a SCO summit to be held in Samarkand in September that will clearly lay out the legal scope and timeframe for this process. It should not take long.

We are convinced that Tehran will make a significant contribution to strengthening the SCO as one of the key centres of the emerging multipolar order.

We discussed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action designed to settle matters related to the Iranian nuclear programme. In conjunction with other nations that signed this plan, we have been striving for a long time now to correct the mistake made by the United States. Washington withdrew from this deal and from the corresponding UN Security Council resolution, once again trampling upon its commitments under international law. We will push for the JCPOA to be restored in its original configuration, the way it was approved in 2015 by a UN Security Council resolution, without exceptions or additions, to make sure that the illegal sanctions on Iran that are inconsistent with the JCPOA are lifted. We hope Washington will make a rational choice, although we cannot fully rely on that.

We spoke about our cooperation on a Syrian settlement, primarily in the Astana format that includes Russia, Iran and Turkey. We highly rated the regular session in this format which took place in the capital of Kazakhstan in early June of this year. We agreed to continue coordinating our efforts to achieve the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, resolve humanitarian problems in Syria and encourage the international community to start practical work on restoring the infrastructure, preparing for the return of refugees and in general, ensuring the country’s return to normal life.

Iran and the Russian Federation are doing much in this area, helping to implement relevant projects on the ground in the Syrian Arab Republic. Unfortunately, the majority of the Western members of the international community are doing everything to delay fulfilment of the requirements of this resolution and impede the efforts of international organisations to this end, primarily the relevant UN agencies. This politicised course of action prevents the settlement of problems in Syria and, zooming out, in the Middle East and North Africa.

Russia and Iran have a common position on the need to resume direct talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis with a view to implementing all decisions of the international community, including the creation of the State of Palestine and the OIC-approved Arab Peace Initiative. We will uphold this position in the UN and closely cooperate with the OIC and the Arab League.

We talked about the developments in the South Caucasus, Afghanistan and Yemen. Russia and Iran have many opportunities to use their influence and contacts with a view to achieving a durable settlement and normalisation.

We reaffirmed our commitment to facilitate stabilisation in the Persian Gulf. As you know, Russia has introduced and continues promoting a concept for collective security in this important part of the world. We are willing to help promote dialogue between the Arab countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We are members of the Caspian Five. Next week, the Caspian states will meet for a summit in Ashgabat. We coordinated our preparations for this important event.

Talking yesterday with President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi and today with Foreign Minister of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, we described in detail the current developments in and around Ukraine. We thanked our Iranian friends for their entirely correct understanding of the events. Above all, they realise that during the past decade our US-led Western colleagues have been trying to turn Ukraine into a bridgehead for threatening and “deterring” Russia, in part, by developing Ukraine’s territory militarily. We repeatedly sought to engage with the West on this matter. All our concerns have been ignored. President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking officials explained many times that Russia simply did not have another choice but to ensure the interests of Donbass and its Russian residents in the face of a threat from the increasingly aggressive neo-Nazi regime that took power in Kiev after the anti-Constitutional coup d’etat. The Kiev authorities and those who put them in power and continue supporting officially refuted all our attempts to achieve the implementation of the Minsk agreements that were approved by the UN Security Council.

We are convinced that an overwhelming majority of the world’s countries understand the current situation. The Americans are trying to impose a “rules-based order” on all others. This concept is designed to subordinate the security of all countries to the interests of the Western world and ensure the total, “eternal” domination of Washington and its allies. Understandably, this concept goes against the entire historical process and the objective trend towards forming a multipolar world order under which countries, with their independence and self-worth intact, will uphold their interests in conformity with the principles of the UN Charter. The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation are among these countries.

Question: Given the constructive role played by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in the negotiations, they have managed to reach a sustainable agreement on the JCPOA. We see the current sabotage by the United States through the imposition of new sanctions and anti-Iranian resolutions. They are slowing down the process. What is your assessment of Washington’s destructive policy of slowing down the JCPOA negotiating process?

Sergey Lavrov: Not only on the JCPOA, but on virtually every issue on the international agenda, the United States is totally inconsistent, driven by short-term considerations, glancing back at the problems in the United States itself and how they can try to distract voters from them.

What the United States is doing in the negotiations to resume the JCPOA is an example of such actions, where the focus is on creating a “picture” designed to reaffirm the unquestioned leadership role of the United States on every issue on the international agenda. Such attempts to put a falsely understood reputation ahead of the merits of the issue are highly risky.

About a year ago, the United States tried to blame us for the fact that an agreement to fully resume the JCPOA was delayed. That was, to put it mildly, untrue. Everybody understands this very well. A year ago, the Russian Federation, like all the other parties to the agreement, reiterated its readiness to resume it in full. Since then, the United States has been single-handedly stalling the agreement. We have once again confirmed to our Iranian friends that we will support in every way possible their position on the need to resume the JCPOA in full, without any exceptions or unacceptable “add-ons”. This includes lifting all illegitimate sanctions.

Question (retranslated from Pashto): How close is Russia’s position on the Syrian crisis to that of Iran? Does the warning to Israel about an attack on Damascus International Airport mean that the positions of Iran and Russia are close on this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: We have repeatedly emphasised the need for all countries to strictly fulfil UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that relies on the basic principle of recognising the territorial integrity of the SAR and the need to respect Syria’s sovereignty.

During regular contacts with our Israeli colleagues, we constantly draw their attention to the need to stop violating this resolution and the air space of Syria, not to mention striking at its territory.

To our great regret, the latest incident is serious. It was a strike on a civilian airport, which put it out of service for several weeks and made it impossible to deliver humanitarian cargoes by air.

We sent a relevant note to Israel, emphasising the need for all countries to abide by Resolution 2254. We will continue upholding this position in our contacts with Israel and other countries that are involved in the Syrian settlement process in different ways.

You asked my colleague several questions, including one about the food crisis. I would like to emphasise again that there is no connection whatsoever between the special military operation in Ukraine and the food crisis. This is admitted even by US Government members and representatives of the international organisations dealing with food security. The crisis and the conditions for it were created several years ago. It didn’t start today or yesterday, but a couple of years ago when the Western countries embarked on imprudent, ill-considered, populist fiscal policies. President Vladimir Putin spoke about it in detail. I will not describe them at this point. I would merely stress that the efforts undertaken now by Turkey and the UN Secretary-General would have succeeded long ago if Ukraine and its Western patrons demined Black Sea ports. This issue is clear to any specialist. The attempts to establish an international coalition for these procedures are obviously aimed at interfering in the affairs of the Black Sea region under UN aegis. This is perfectly clear to us. There is no need for any complicated procedures. It is simply necessary to allow the ships locked by the Ukrainians in the mined ports of the Black Sea to leave. The main thing is to clear these ports of mines or provide clear passageways for them.

As for international waters, the Russian Federation guarantees the safe travel of these ships to the Strait of Bosporus. We have an understanding with the Republic of Turkey in this respect.

I will say again that the attempts to make a “worldwide tragedy” out of the amount of grain that remains in Ukraine are not above board. Everyone knows that this grain amounts to less than one percent of the global production of wheat and other grains.

Now it is important to compel the Ukrainians to let out the foreign ships that are being held hostage there. There is no need to turn this problem into a diversion to conceal the mistakes and failures of the West in its international policy on the food and fertiliser markets.

Question (retranslated from Farsi): A fortnight ago you mentioned a new political package from the US side. A week ago, Mr Zadeh said that “the train has not yet gone off the rails” and you said that in the future there was a possibility that negotiations could be resumed. Has anything changed recently?

Sergey Lavrov: If I understood the translation correctly, cooperation between Russia and Iran in the energy sector has a rich history and good prospects.

As far as bilateral cooperation is concerned, we have always found solutions to the problems that have arisen in this area because of the illegal actions of the United States and its satellites, who are trying to hinder the development of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s energy sector. At the present stage, they are trying to do the same with regard to oil and gas production and transportation in the Russian Federation. Our bilateral plans under consideration today are starting to take concrete form; they are beginning to be implemented. They are aimed at making sure that they do not depend in any way on the unlawful unilateral intervention of anybody else.

I can assure you: there is a reliable plan to work in this way. Together with Iran, we have traditionally worked together in the context of international efforts to stabilise the oil and gas market. There is a complete agreement within the OPEC+ group on the need to safeguard Iran’s interests in its future activities. We will be guided by this.

Question: Israel and the United States have announced a new regional air defence alliance in the Middle East to protect Israel and neighbours from Iranian rockets. How will this affect the Iran nuclear deal? Will Moscow and Tehran intensify military cooperation in this regard?

Sergey Lavrov: We are following statements made by our American colleagues, who are openly declaring their intention to try and forge a bloc between several Arab countries and Israel and target this new group against the Islamic Republic of Iran. I believe too much has already been said about the inconsistency of American foreign policy. I don’t want to repeat myself. But this idea is obviously at odds with their intention to normalise the situation in the region and resume full implementation of the JCPOA, through the efforts of the United States, if they are sincerely interested in this.

We prefer less contradictory arrangements, as compared to those the Americans are now promoting in various regions. Take their idea of ​​the Indo-Pacific. It runs counter to every universal format that has developed over the years around ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific region. Those formats included the US, Russia, China, Australia, India, Japan and Korea. It was a process whereby all interests, primarily those of the regional players and their partners, were brought to a common denominator. Instead, having disrupted all the bodies created under the auspices of ASEAN, the Americans are promoting conflict-generating, divisive formats, without hiding that their policy is aimed at restraining China and isolating Russia.

The same logic is evident in the initiative to create an air and missile defence system in the Middle East. This is the logic of division and confrontation. We prefer unifying logic. The underlying principle of our initiative to build a collective security system in the Persian Gulf region is unification. The system we propose should provide a framework for the Arab countries to establish a dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran, work out joint measures of confidence and transparency, and take other steps to ensure stabilisation. Our idea is to involve the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the EU, the Arab League, the UN and the OIC to facilitate these processes. This is an example of how we consistently propose resolving any problems through combining efforts and finding a balance of interests.

The example we are now discussing, which involves the US initiative in the Middle East, is not a case of finding a balance of interests; it is a case of planting confrontation, and an attempt to create dividing lines that will be there forever. Needless to say, this is a dead-end position. In any case, in the end, everyone will come to understand the need to return to the underlying principles of the United Nations, such as resolving problems through cooperation, and not through the creation of hostile and aggressive blocs.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions: news conference on current international issues

June 08, 2022

Source

Colleagues,

Last night and this morning, we received multiple questions from the media regarding our response to the unprecedented decisions made by a number of NATO members who blocked the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to the Republic of Serbia.

An unthinkable thing has happened. I understand the interest in our assessment of these outrageous actions. A sovereign state has been deprived of the right to carry out its foreign policy. At the moment, Serbia’s international activities, at least on the Russian track, are blocked.

Let’s not beat around the bush. This is another clear and cautionary demonstration of how far NATO and the EU can go in using the most low-grade methods of influencing those whose actions are grounded in national interests and who are against sacrificing their principles and dignity for the sake of the “rules” imposed by the West instead of international law. If the West sees a visit by the Russian Foreign Minister to Serbia almost as a threat on a universal scale, then, apparently, things are not so good there.

Lately, we’ve heard vociferous calls to the effect that Serbia needs to “make a final choice.” Yesterday, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt made a splashy statement saying that hosting the Russian Foreign Minister in Belgrade was the worst thing Serbia could do to advance its EU prospects. How do you like that? Several days ago (when my visit was announced), US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill published a big article titled “East or West: There is no third way,” where he used precisely these terms and logic with regard to Serbia’s future relations with the United States, the EU and the Russian Federation. Even an unsophisticated observer will understand that Brussels is not a place for the sovereign equality of states, as enshrined in the UN Charter, and even less so for the notorious freedom of choice, which Brussels constantly talks about.

During our discussions last year, we proposed signing a treaty on European security with the United States and NATO. We were told that NATO would not accept any principles regarding indivisible security, including the unacceptability of strengthening one’s own security at the expense of others. They will accept only the principle of freedom to choose partners. Now, the West has torn up this very principle, after centering it for so long.

The West believes that Serbia should not have freedom to choose partners. This cynicism is hardly surprising. The West is making it clear that it will continue to unscrupulously use pressure.

We’ve seen this kind of hypocrisy on many occasions, including during the tragic bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 by those who came to believe in their victory in the Cold War and their right to build the world exclusively according to their own design. This mentality manifested itself in the incident that we are now discussing.

I know they will come up with multiple explanations (we haven’t heard any so far). The countries that didn’t allow a flyover for the Russian aircraft will say that they received orders from the European Union or NATO. Those, in turn, will say that these countries were independent in their decision-making. You are well aware of all that. However, most importantly no one will be able to destroy our relations with Serbia.

We had plans to hold important and time-sensitive meetings with President Aleksandar Vucic, Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic, National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic, and the clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church. That would be very helpful. These contacts did not go anywhere on other tracks. Nikola Selakovic was invited to pay a visit to Russia soon. I hope that the plane on which he will fly (a regular or a special fight) will not be subjected to another shameful “punishment” by Brussels and its “clients” that have lost all decency.

We planned to discuss a broad agenda, including the rapidly expanding bilateral strategic partnership and international affairs. Clearly, the Brussels puppeteers were not comfortable with providing us with a platform in the capital of Serbia where we could confirm Russia’s position on Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. They did not want us to express support for Belgrade’s initiative to implement the Open Balkan project in the interests of improving and bolstering relations between all the countries of that region.

Clearly, Brussels (NATO and the EU) wants the Balkans to become a project of its own called Closed Balkans. It is hard to draw other conclusions looking at the situation at hand.

Question: What measures will be taken for this meeting to be held? You said the closure of the air space by three countries is an unprecedented step. Is there a threat of this becoming a norm? That the air space will be shut for ministers to protect these countries?

Sergey Lavrov: This has already become the norm for the European Union and NATO. I mentioned the “sound effects” that accompanied this decision. They were made in the Western media and by some politicians.

They are increasingly afraid of the truth and are trying to escape into an invented, fake reality that is filling screens, social media and any information resources. They have completely shut down all alternative media at their own initiative. They want to resolve their electoral challenges by brainwashing their voters. If such a choice was made (no doubt about it), Brussels is going to decide the destinies of all European countries by itself.

This shows once again the worth of the status sought by the EU applicants. The explanation is simple. It was declared more than once (including by  Josep Borrell, the bellicose EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, who said this war must be won “on the battlefield” in order to “defeat Russia”) that while merely preparing to join the EU, the applicants must fully and unquestionably follow the European policy on security and defence. It is common knowledge that this policy is emphatically anti-Russian. This is what awaits the countries that are trying to find a balance of interests in preserving and developing their relations with the EU and non-EU countries.

We value Serbia’s courageous position in this respect. President Alexandar Vucic has emphasised that he will not engage in anti-Russia activities. But this is exactly what the EU wants – for all applicants to assume Russophobic commitments.

This case showed the worth of NATO membership for Montenegro and North Macedonia and the reasons why NATO needs such countries – only to punish Russia, expand the anti-Russia bridgehead in Europe and create threats and mechanisms of containment. This does not square in the least with the requirements of Article 10 of the Washington Treaty on NATO. This article states that new members must meet the criteria and, most important, contribute to the security of all members of the alliance.

Whose security did Montenegro and North Macedonia contribute to? But they have coped with their role really well as an instrument for deterring Russia and stooges of the big guys. I feel sorry for these countries. These are two friendly nations. They have a wonderful nature and history that they cherish. They valued our relations in the past. But the current political realities have put them into a sticky situation.

As for responses, we will never do anything that will further complicate ties between nations. This is what our Western partners are doing. They are facing problems at home not only because they are creating a socio-economic quagmire but also because more and more sensible Europeans are asking the question: Why turn Russia into an enemy? More and more people are recalling the great, proud and glorious history we have made in cooperation with many European countries.

Speaking about history, I would like to return to the failed visit to Serbia. As part of the itinerary, I was supposed to attend a ceremony at the Eternal Flame in memory of the liberators of Belgrade. I was also supposed to make an entry in the Honoured Guest Book. I planned to write the following. Imagine I am sending it to the Serbian people now.

“Let us be worthy of the memory of the Soviet and Yugoslav warriors who perished in the struggle against Nazism. Serbia and Russia stand in solidarity in their efforts to preserve the truth about the history of World War II. We will not allow the rebirth of Nazism.”

Please consider these words my message to all those who visit this magisterial monument in Belgrade.

Question (retranslated from Serbian): Will you please comment on how it has come to the point that you were literally denied the opportunity to fly on a visit to Serbia as three countries closed their airspace to your plane? What was the reason for this? Does it mean that you might encounter an obstacle like this on any other route over EU or NATO member countries? Or does it only have to do with your visit to Serbia?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not engage in speculation about other routes across EU and NATO member countries. Currently, we have no plans to meet [with any officials from these countries]. As for now, there are no invitations from NATO countries, nor am I expecting anyone in Moscow.

As for the reason you asked about, there was much speculation about it several days ago in the Serbian and Croatian press and in the press in other countries in the Western Balkans. For example, it was suggested that Sergey Lavrov was one of the most unwelcome guests in Serbia now because he decided to “go ahead” of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is planning to visit the Balkans in the next few days. The head of the German Government was allegedly disappointed and even felt hurt by this impolite, in his view, step on the part of Serbia. It is on the conscience of analysts who write things like these. I believe it is humiliating not only for the people whom they write about and whose response they try to predict but, primarily, for the media outlets that are trying to reach more readers and viewers through this type of “exercise”.

Question (retranslated from Serbian): Serbia has been pressured by both sides since the very start of the conflict in Ukraine in the context of the events it has nothing to do with. Will Russia show more understanding for the national interests and position of Serbia as distinct from some Western countries?

Sergey Lavrov: My response is a definite yes. We see how fiercely the West is reacting to what is happening in Ukraine. This proves that we are right. We have explained to the whole world why the special military operation was launched. In retrospect, we showed our efforts for many years to avert threats and not 10,000 km away but right on our borders. The United States considers it possible to declare “today” that Belgrade is posing a threat (to global or European security) and start bombing Belgrade “tomorrow.” Then, in a couple of years, the United States decides that one more country, also located 10,000 km away – Iraq – is posing a threat. Cities are erased from the face of the Earth and hundreds of thousands of civilians are killed. Then they decide that there is one more country across the Atlantic – Libya – that is also posing a threat to the US and must be destroyed for this reason.

We have long been saying that it is unacceptable to expand NATO eastward, support the coup d’etat in Ukraine and tolerate the subversion by Pyotr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky of the Minsk agreements that had been so hard to reach. All these warnings were ignored. The Russian people in Ukraine continued to be discriminated against across the board. Laws banning the Russian language were adopted and Nazi practices (theory and practice of Nazism) were established. The West applauded all this, presenting this process as an achievement of true democracy. It continued supporting the neo-Nazi armed forces of Ukraine that were shelling civilians and civilian infrastructure in Donbass every day. We had no other choice left.

I spoke about all this in detail and now I am reiterating what I said. But Brussels’ line in the Balkans and in Ukraine is the same. The only difference is that in the Balkans the EU favours those who impinge on the Serbian interests, while in Ukraine, NATO and the EU support the regime that has long declared a war on all things Russian. This is an interesting observation. I mentioned it during my interview with the media of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the gist of the EU’s mediation. Some process started in the Balkans after Kosovo proclaimed “independence” unilaterally and without any referendum. The UN General Assembly invited the EU to mediate between Pristina and Belgrade and its effort was rather successful: in 2013, the agreement was reached on establishing the Community of Serbian Municipalities of Kosovo. In 2014, when a coup was staged in Ukraine and the “counterterrorism” forces launched an operation against Donbass and Russians in Ukraine, the EU also acted as a mediator. This led to the signing of the Minsk agreements that established certain rules, just as with regard to the Serbian municipalities in Kosovo.

The EU made a solemn promise to support a special status for northern Kosovo and eastern Ukraine. The status did not imply any complicated things: to let people speak their native tongue (Serbians were supposed to be allowed to speak Serbian and Russians in Ukraine to speak Russian), teach children in schools in their native tongue, use it in daily life and have a certain autonomy as regards law-enforcement and economic ties with neighbouring regions (northern Kosovo with Serbia and eastern Ukraine with Russia). Identical agreements were made, which urged respect for national minorities in full conformity with international European conventions on the rights of these groups. The EU announced that it had succeeded in both cases. But it shamefully failed in both cases and had to admit it later on by saying it could not persuade Kiev to fulfil the Minsk agreements or make Pristina abide by its agreements with Belgrade. There is something in common as regards the EU’s treatment of different areas in our common geopolitical space, its goals, its competence and its ability to make deals.

Question: What role do you think Turkey could play in normalising the situation around Ukraine, especially since it aspires to the role of a mediator? How promising is the format that was initially established with Ukraine and that it subsequently torpedoed? What do you think about Ankara’s position on Sweden and Finland’s potential accession to NATO?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not even comment on the last question. This is Ankara’s sovereign business, just as it is for any other country that is a member of an alliance, union or organisation. I heard somewhere that some overzealous EU members from the Baltic states demanded during the discussion of the sixth package of anti-Russia sanctions that Hungary be deprived of the right to vote because it abused the rule of consensus. But this is a paradoxical claim. Consensus means only one thing: that everyone concurs on an issue. If a single member is against something, there is no consensus. Therefore, by voting against something, nobody can undermine the principles of consensus. I will leave this aside; let the NATO members figure it out among themselves. I already had an opportunity to comment on this. Let us see how this process will develop. As for us, this concerns Russia in just one regard: Will Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO create direct physical and material threats to Russia’s security? I think every sensible politician is aware that this will not make the situation any better politically.

As for the military aspect of this deal, we will see what will be done in this respect.

As far as Turkey’s role is concerned, yes it has its own position that it does not conceal. We do not have identical views on all issues; far from it. We have serious disagreements on many aspects of the regional situation. As our cooperation on Syria and later on the Libyan crisis showed, our presidents, while clearly outlining their views, respect each other’s positions. Instead of aggravating the existing differences, both leaders are trying to take into account each other’s concerns. This is how Moscow treats Ankara and Ankara reciprocates. This was the gist of a recent telephone conversation on the problems on food security the West has created over the past two years. Later it aggravated them further by imposing senseless sanctions. Having introduced them, the West suddenly started thinking about how they will affect food deliveries to different countries.

Yes, Russia and Turkey are interested in resolving these problems. In his recent interview, President of Russia Vladimir Putin explained in detail how to unblock food shipments from the Black Sea ports that had been mined by the Ukrainians, and from the ports of the Sea of Azov that have been demined and are now controlled by the Russian Federation. There are safe routes from there via the Kerch Strait to the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. Specialists are leaving for Turkey today. Tomorrow, my delegation will head there. I hope we will manage to examine in detail all the options mentioned by President Vladimir Putin, and our countries’ leaders will dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. This depends exclusively on who will work with Ukraine and compel it to remove the mines in its own ports, as well as those who must remove all obstacles to shipments, their insurance and servicing of ships that will deliver grain and other food products to European ports and from there to developing nations.

Question: The UK has announced that it will supply multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russian forces. The United States is doing the same. You said that this was a risky path to take. But if Russia had not attacked Ukraine and there had been no Russian invasion, there would be no deliveries of rocket launchers. Do you agree?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not even try to step into America’s or Britain’s shoes. You don’t even want to hear our arguments. The issue is not that “if someone hadn’t attacked, you wouldn’t have done something.” The thing is that for twenty years, both you, the British, and the Americans, and all other NATO countries were urged to do what all of you subscribed to in 1999: no country shall strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others. Why can’t you do that? Why is it that the commitments signed by your prime minister, the presidents and prime ministers of all other OSCE countries proved to be lies? Instead, you are saying that we should leave NATO alone and that it is “none of our business,” for you will accept whoever you want. You moved closer to our borders on five occasions (a defensive alliance!). The Warsaw Treaty and the USSR are no more. Who are you defending yourselves against? Five times you decided all on your own where your lines of defence would be. What’s that? This smacks of megalomania.

Today Jens Stoltenberg is saying that NATO’s responsibility should be ensured on the global scale in the Indo-Pacific region. This means that your next line of defence will be in the South China Sea. If we look at what is happening, it becomes patently clear that during all these years you believed you had the right to wreak havoc far from your borders. I understand that you are nostalgic for the British Empire and that there are seeds planted somewhere deep down. You are wistful, of course. Regions are picked out an ocean away from the United States, where allegedly there is a threat to Washington, and they are razed to the ground. Now it is Mosul in Iraq, now Raqqa in Syria, now Belgrade. Libya is in chaos, and countries are destroyed.

Just imagine for a minute that your neighbour, Ireland, which occupies half of the island of the same name, upped and banned the English language, or that Belgium banned French, or Switzerland outlawed French, German, or Italian. How would Europe look at that? I will not even expand on this. But Europe was looking on passively at them banning Russian. This took place in Ukraine. All things Russian – education, the media, everyday contacts, etc. – were prohibited. Moreover, the regime that openly professes and glorifies Nazism bombed and shelled ethnic Russians for eight years.

I understand, you must use cut and dried phrases to drum into the heads of your audiences this truth of yours: “if you hadn’t attacked, we wouldn’t have supplied the MLRS.”  Vladimir Putin has commented on the situation that emerged in connection with the arrival of the new weapons. I can only add that the longer-range arms you supply, the farther will we push from our border the line where the neo-Nazis will be able to threaten the Russian Federation.

Question: At the talks with Ukraine in March, Russia demanded that Kiev recognise the independence of Donbass and the Russian status of Crimea. Does Russia intend to demand that Kiev additionally recognise independence of the Kherson Region and part of the Zaporozhye Region currently controlled by the Russian forces, or their accession to Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: This question will be answered by the people living in the liberated territories. They are saying that they want to choose their future on their own. We fully respect this position.

As for the declared objectives, let me reiterate the following. The West has decided to supply weapons that, in all evidence, are capable of reaching not only the border areas of the Russian Federation but also its more remote points. Politicians and legislators in Ukraine itself are laughing at the Americans, who said they believed Vladimir Zelensky’s promise not to shell Russia. If this is how the United States and its satellites react to what is happening, I will stress once again: the longer-range are the systems supplied to the Kiev regime, the farther will we push the Nazis from the line from which threats emanate for the Russian population of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

Question: What expectations do you have for your upcoming visit to Ankara? Will a mechanism to resolve the grain issue be announced? Will the continuation of the Russian-Ukrainian talks in Istanbul be discussed?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already answered this question. The range of topics for the talks was outlined during a telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and Turkey.

In his recent interview, President Vladimir Putin gave a detailed description of the best options for exporting grain. We have been doing everything that is up to us for a long time. For more than a month, Russian servicemen both in the Black and Azov seas have been opening humanitarian corridors for foreign ships to leave, which are in fact kept hostage there by the Ukrainian authorities. The Ukrainians have to clear the mines for the ships to use these corridors. Our Turkish colleagues declared their readiness to help us in this. I think our military will come to terms on the best way to organise this, so that the ships pass to the open sea through the minefields that have to be cleared. Next, we guarantee – on our own or with our Turkish colleagues – that they will reach the straits and move further into the Mediterranean Sea.

The concept is absolutely clear. We have been talking about it for a long time. Attempts are being made to present the case as if Russia does not want something, as if it is necessary to involve some organisation like the UN or adopt a UN Security Council resolution. We have been through all these games. Everyone who can be even a little bit serious about the task of exporting grain from Ukrainian ports knows very well that only one thing must be done to achieve this: to order Vladimir Zelensky to give the command to clear the ports and stop hiding behind statements that Russia will take advantage of this. President Vladimir Putin said that we are not going to take advantage of this and are ready to tackle this problem earnestly. Let me stress that we have been doing everything in our power for a long time.

Question: An increasing number of countries are trying to join the attempts to settle the disagreements between Moscow and Kiev amid Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine and the problems it has caused. What proposals for mediation is Moscow currently considering as the most realistic and acceptable alternatives?

Sergey Lavrov: The most realistic proposals that did not provide for mediation were put forward at a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul on March 29, 2022. These proposals were made by the Ukrainian party. We immediately accepted them as a foundation. Afterwards, the Ukrainian party walked out on these proposals either on its own initiative or under orders from Washington, London or Brussels. Western analysts say “mediation” is impossible as Ukraine’s only demand is that the situation be reversed to the state of affairs on the ground as it was on February 24, 2022. Fantasies are talked about every day, sometimes contradicting one another.

Ukraine is unwilling to hold negotiations. It has declined to do this. We have every reason to believe that in this way Kiev is following the wishes of the Anglo-Saxon leadership of the Western world. We were ready to work honestly based on our Ukrainian colleagues’ proposals. A draft agreement drawn up on the basis of those proposals has been shelved by the Ukrainian side for six weeks now.

Question: As for the provocation by Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro, do you think their position was agreed on with Brussels or directly with Washington? Or was it these countries’ desire to gain favour with Washington and Brussels? Has Europe been closed to our diplomacy altogether?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not know what lies behind this move – either an order or the desire to gain favour – but you have hit the mark. I believe it is a combination of both. They may have long since been ordered not to diverge from the policy of containing Russia, so the desire to be servile is part of it. Or maybe they received these orders yesterday. We do not know.

We are still maintaining diplomatic relations with the majority of western countries, including the unfriendly ones. At the same time I have repeatedly emphasised the main geopolitical conclusion from this situation: it is now impossible to agree with Europe on anything and be sure that they will deliver on their obligations. When these “demons” are driven out and Europe comes to itself, we will see what their perspective on our future ties are. We are not going to impose ourselves on them. Of course, we will weigh and consider what they propose. If their proposals do not disagree with our interests, we will be ready to resume our contacts.

Sergei Lavrov: Sixth International Conference Russia and China: Cooperation in a New Era

June 03, 2022

Mr Wang Yi,

Mr Ivanov,

Colleagues, friends,

The further development of strategic partnership with China is one of our  top priorities. It is stipulated in the Foreign Policy Concept, which President of Russia Vladimir Putin approved in November 2016. We are grateful to our colleagues from the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) for organising a regular, sixth joint conference. We regard it as an opportunity to review the current state and development outlook of our bilateral cooperation and its increasing influence on global developments.

This is a special year for us: 20 years ago on July 16, 2001, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Jiang Zemin met in Moscow to sign the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation. By turning this new page in their relations, the parties demonstrated their resolve to pass their friendship down through the generations. The treaty formalised the previously applied political definition of bilateral relations as “a partnership of (…) equality and trust and strategic collaboration.” In other words, this truly historical international document has put on record the development of a new model of our interstate relations and their progress to a fundamentally new stage.

I would like to note that the Treaty is based on the universally recognised norms of international law, first of all the goals and principles of the UN Charter. It seals the parties’ agreement on mutual support in the defence of the national unity and territorial integrity, as well as their commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other and not to target strategic nuclear missiles on each other. The document also formulated the principle of “respecting each other’s choice of the course of political, economic, social and cultural development.” The parties pledged to immediately contact and consult each other in the event of the threat of aggression and not to allow their territory to be used by third countries to the detriment of the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other party. In this way, Russia and China provided a legal framework for the closest possible collaboration on strategic matters bearing on their fundamental interests without creating a formal military-political alliance. In fact, a comprehensive Russian-Chinese partnership is more than just a classical military-political union.

Another vital provision mentions the absence of any territorial claims to each other and the parties’ resolve…“to make the border between them into one where everlasting peace and friendship prevail from generation to generation.” The incorporation of this principle promoted the final settlement of the so-called border dispute and greatly strengthened mutual trust.

Colleagues,

The Treaty played a huge role in boosting mutual trade and economic interaction.  We can report positive results to the public. During the past 20 years, our mutual trade increased more than thirteen times, from $8 billion to $104 billion in 2020. Work is underway within the framework of the Intergovernmental Russian-Chinese Commission on Investment Cooperation on 70 projects worth in total more than $120 billion.

Our energy partnership has acquired a strategic dimension. A Russian-Chinese oil pipeline has been functioning for nearly 10 years now, and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline was launched in late 2019. China is taking part in large-scale LNG projects in the Russian Arctic zone. Just a few days ago, on May 19, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping launched the construction of four new Russian-designed power units for the Tianwan and Xudapu nuclear power stations in China.

Our industrial and agricultural cooperation is developing constantly. Our interaction in science and innovation is especially important in light of the continued Western attempts to contain our countries’ technological progress. It is for this reason that we are holding the Years of Science, Technology and Innovation in 2020-2021 as part of the successful practice of themed cross-years.

The Treaty also has a great role to play in promoting cultural and humanitarian ties. These activities are helping to maintain the relations of good-neighbourliness and reinforce the social basis of strategic partnership between Russia and China.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impaired contacts between our citizens. I am sure that, as the epidemiological situation becomes normalised, we will be able to quickly restore and expand them. In our opinion, efforts to promote Russian language studies in China and Chinese language studies in Russia should become an unconditional priority. The same concerns dialogue with young people, who will soon carry on efforts to develop and expand the traditions of Russian-Chinese friendship.

The Treaty, which is ahead of its time in some respects, is not limited to bilateral ties. Its provisions help expand our foreign policy cooperation. Bilateral dialogue is becoming particularly important on the international scene today, when some Western states are trying to demolish the UN-centric system of international law and to replace it with their own rules-based order. Moscow and Beijing consistently advocate the creation of a more equitable, democratic and therefore stable polycentric international order. This system should reflect the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world and the natural striving of nations to independently determine their development path.The very fact of the Russian-Chinese accord on this issue serves to stabilise and balance the entire system of international relations.It opens up broad opportunities for truly equitable and free cooperation between large and small countries jointly shaping their historical destiny.

I am satisfied to note the coinciding or largely similar approaches of Moscow and Beijing towards an absolute majority of challenges facing the world today, including efforts to maintain global strategic stability, arms control and counterterrorism operations. We cooperate successfully and fruitfully at such multilateral venues as the UN, the SCO, BRICS, RIC, the G20, APEC and the EAS. We coordinate our steps during the Syrian and Afghan peace processes, the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and on the Iranian nuclear programme. Russia and China advocate the peaceful development of the Asia Pacific region and the creation of reliable regional mechanisms for ensuring equal and indivisible security there based on non-bloc approaches.

Today, the Eurasian region is implementing a number of innovative integration projects, including the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Work to combine their potentials has good prospects. Notably, it [The Treaty] … lays a solid foundation for establishing a new geo-strategic contour of peace, stability and economic prosperity based on principles of international law and transparency on our shared continent from Lisbon to Jakarta.This contour would be open for all countries, including members of the Eurasian Economic Union, the SCO, ASEAN and, in the future, the EU. The initiative of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership aims to accomplish this truly historic task. We highly value cooperation with our Chinese friends on its well-coordinated implementation together with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Colleagues,

The Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, whose 20th anniversary we are going to mark in July 2021, is an unshakeable foundation of Russian-Chinese relations. We are convinced that it remains a living and working document that makes it possible to expand, finetune and adjust our strategic cooperation in line with the changing realities of the new epoch. This epoch demands that all of us, including experts, diplomats and politicians, always pay attention to new challenges and opportunities, trends and forecasts. Your conference is a good platform for a calm, detailed and professional exchange of opinions and ideas, without which is it is hard to chart the road forward and to determine a joint algorithm of subsequent actions.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to wish you fruitful discussions and intellectual insights and revelations for the benefit of strengthening neighbourly relations and friendship between Russia and China.

Thank you.

The Future to the Back

June 02, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

‘For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places’.

Words recorded by Matthew in his Gospel, chapter 24, verse 7, April 33

‘It is Russia that is now at the forefront of the clash of civilisations’.

Boris Mezhuyev, Professor of Russian Philosophy at the VIII Russian Philosophical Congress in Moscow, 26 May 2022

We were promised the future. That of globalism. This was one in which the whole world would become ever more prosperous, though nobody would become as prosperous as the already prosperous elite of the Western world. So those living off a dollar a day would live off two dollars a day and those living off 10,000 dollars a day would live off 20,000 dollars a day. Sounds fair? And all this in a world where all would have the chance, if they wished, to dress like Americans, watch Hollywood films, eat at MacDonalds and drink coffee at Starbucks, that is, to live in a unipolar world, the only pole being the USA. And this world would by 2100 have reached its maximum population of perhaps 11 billion, up from today’s nearly 8 billion.

Then came some annoying people who pointed out that not everyone can live like that, even 8 billion of us, let alone 11 billion, in a world of finite resources and a warming climate (regardless of whether that warming was manmade or not).

And then there came covid (regardless of whether that was manmade or not) and some people of all races died from it. And then came some very annoying people who pointed out that if there is one pestilence, there can be another and another, far, far worse, like the American/Kansas flu of 1918-1920. Unlike covid, this killed perhaps 60 million, ten times more than covid, on a planet with a population less than a quarter of today’s, so was 40 times more lethal. And so, they concluded, anything people do is infinitely fragile, here today, gone tomorrow, and all our much-vaunted vast technology is useless against a mere tiny microbe. The balloon of arrogance was rather punctured.

And then, after pestilence, there came war in the Ukraine and the increasing realisation that actually the future that we were being promised, or rather, that was being imposed on us, was not one that we wanted. There had been just too many injustices down the centuries, not least inside Europe and caused by Europe outside Europe. Such were the ‘World Wars’, that is, the European Wars which Europe exported worldwide. What sort of future can you build, if it is built on the bones of the hundreds of millions of victims of genocide and injustice down the ages? And then came some even more annoying people who pointed out that not everyone wants to live according to that unipolar model. We do not want to be the slaves of Antichrist. And as we do not want that, then to defend Russia is actually to defend the world.

And so the future that had been proposed to us has gone to the back of our minds.

And so now we have to think about the future that we do want, in the front of our minds.

First of all, we know what we do not want. In the words of Sergei Lavrov in his interview with RT Arabic in Moscow on 26 May 2022:

‘Instead of delivering on their obligations under the UN Charter and honouring, as is written in this charter, the sovereign equality of states and abstaining from interfering in their domestic affairs, the West churns out ultimatums every day, issuing them through their ambassadors or envoys….blatantly blackmailing ….The reaction of Arab countries and almost all other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that we are seeing shows that these countries do not want to disregard their national dignity, running errands, in a servile manner, for their senior colleagues. This situation is yet another example of colonial thinking….It is wrong and regrettable, and flies in the face of the historical process, which objectively shows that a multipolar world is now taking shape’.

What does this mean, politically, economically and socially?

Firstly, politically we think that in the future every country, people, culture and religion should be respected. That does not mean that we will agree with each other, that there are no differences, it means that we accept the differences of others in freedom, but that we in no way feel obliged to follow other ways. In other words, our relations should be those of good neighbours, live and let live is what we do. We are not superior and narcissistic busybodies who carry out Blairite ‘humanitarian interventions’ in the sovereign rights of others, arrogantly trying to enforce our domination on the deluded pretext of do-gooding. Because we respect ourselves, so we respect others.

Secondly, economically we think that trade between different countries is normal, following the law of supply and demand, but that in the future all trade should be sustainable. Free trade very often becomes the law of the jungle. Free trade has to be regulated, to avoid exploitation, profiteering and the impoverishment of those countries which have fewer resources and advantages. Justice must reign in all international trading relations.

Thirdly, socially, we think that social justice for all in every country is essential. We realise that if you gave a million dollars each to twenty individuals, very quickly you would find that one had ten million dollars and that others had nothing. People are different. It is therefore part of the role of the State to provide some kind of safety net for the weak, without demotivating them from work, and also making sure that those who become rich do not abuse their wealth in order to obtain tyrannical power and commit injustices like gangsters. Money should be a tool to do good. Sadly, often it is not. We no longer want to live in a world in which there are massive gaps between rich and poor. The word ‘oligarch’ has been associated with Russia, only not the Russia we knew, but with the westernised and corrupt Russia of Yeltsin, which is now disintegrating. There will always be richer and poorer, yes, there will always be such. But why should there be multimillionaires, billionaires and even centibillionaires? There is something wrong with such a world, when at the same time there are so many desperately poor.

This is not an ideology, this is not an ism, it is a balance. If you press down on one end of a seesaw without a counterweight on the other end, there is no balance, no possible play. When the world is out of balance, disasters, especially wars, come. This is what has happened in the Ukraine. Retrieve the balance and all will work better. This is what the phrase ‘a multipolar world’ means, a balanced world.

So, the unipolar future to the back. And forward to the multipolar future.

Lavrov x two

May 30, 2022

Source

Introduction by Amarynth

This posting contains one recent interview and one recent address by Mr Lavrov.  One is extensive and the second contains a few comments not included in the first.  One is directed to an international audience (more specifically the Arab world) and the other to a domestic audience.  Why should we look at these very carefully, and why do we post them on the Saker Blog?   Mr Lavrov is arguably one of the best diplomats in the world today.  In that role, he is a pleasure to read or listen to.  But, that is not the main reason.  He has a fine facility with language and explains exactly Russia’s position and further, the world position in its process toward multipolarity and a new financial system in a pragmatic realpolitik style, undergirded by an encyclopedic knowledge of world affairs.

Sidebar:  While Mr Lavrov is speaking to the Arab countries, his counterpart in China, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, is speaking to all of the smaller Pacific island countries (PICS).  Comparing the welcome that these statesmen receive, it is beginning to clarify that the other geopolitical axis (which we roughly and in shorthand refer to as Zone B)  of this war for the world is active and up and running.  Mr Lavrov mentions the organizations.   It is then worthwhile to mention that BRICS is expected to grow by at least two countries during the next general meeting.  It is expected that Argentina will be next, which will then start including the new Latin American groupings such as Celac (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) or ALBA-TCP.  Thus we see a coalescence of countries around the principles of international law, the true principles in the UN Charter, and a world community built on cooperation and collective values, instead of one ruler of the world.

First up is an interview with RT Arabic, clearly for an international audience.

Second up is remarks to the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, clearly a domestic audience.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT Arabic, Moscow, May 26, 2022

Question: Your recent visit to Algeria and Oman generated a lot of interest. What can you say about its results? Why did you decide to visit these states?

Sergey Lavrov: We communicate with all interested countries. As for this tour, it was planned long ago. The programme of my visits and their timeframe were coordinated some time ago.

In Algeria, I had good, lengthy talks with President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra. We emphasised that for many years our relations were based on the Declaration on Strategic Partnership that was signed by our presidents in 2001. Since then we have intensively developed our strategic ties as partners in many areas. It is enough to mention our regular political dialogue, trade (it went up by several percent in 2021 to exceed $3 billion despite the pandemic), the economy, joint investment, our work in the OPEC+ and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, extensive military-technical ties and cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

We concluded (at the prompting of Algeria) that our relations are reaching a qualitatively new level. This should be reflected in a document that is already being drafted. We hope to sign this document when President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune visits Russia at the invitation of President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

We appreciate that the countries of the Arab world are refusing to follow in the wake of the West and are objectively assessing the events in Ukraine and refusing to join the anti-Russia sanctions. They understand that the current situation was caused by the flat refusal of our Western colleagues to reach an accommodation on equal and indivisible security in our common region.

As for Oman, this was the first visit since its new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said acceded to the throne. The Sultan received me with good grace and devoted much time to me. I was particularly grateful to his Majesty for this gesture (the protocol of the Sultanate of Oman does not envisage communication with ministers in this format). Our detailed talks showed that we have a good potential for developing trade and economic ties. We want to raise them to the level of our trust-based political dialogue. We have many opportunities in energy and ICT and interesting cultural projects. A half-year exhibition of Islamic Art in Russia ended in the National Museum of Oman last March. This museum and the Hermitage have been closely cooperating since 2015. Both museums display their own expositions on each other’s territory.

These two planned visits to both countries at the planned time were useful, in my view.

Question: What about a top-level visit?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already said that during a telephone conversation with President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Russia Vladimir Putin invited him to visit the Russian Federation. Now we are preparing the documents required for this visit.

Question: And what about Oman?

Sergey Lavrov: No top-level visits are envisaged for Oman for the time being. We are planning to develop practical cooperation, make it more intensive and productive.

Question: Will there be additional agreements on military cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: Our military-technical cooperation with many countries develops according to their wishes. We are always ready to examine ways to strengthen their defence capabilities. We consider them as we receive relevant requests.

Question: We are talking about Algeria, which also produces both gas and oil. The OPEC+ countries have shown firmness about the previously agreed positions within the organisation on the parameters of oil production and pricing on the oil market. Do you have confidence in the stability of your partners’ position?

Sergey Lavrov: We have discussed our further cooperation not only within OPEC+ but also the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), where Russia and Algeria are also included. All OPEC+ and GECF members without exception publicly affirmed their commitment to the agreements reached in these formats and their intention to continue working in this direction in order to stabilise the energy market.

Question: Where will you visit next?

Sergey Lavrov: The next visit will take place very soon. On May 31 and June 1, based on my invitations, I plan to visit Bahrain first. Later, on June 1, Riyadh will host a regular meeting of the Russia-GCC Foreign Ministers Forum. This forum has been around for a long time. Due to the pandemic, there was a break in our meetings. Now our friends have proposed resuming them. In addition to the Russia-GCC meeting, there will also be bilateral meetings with almost all members of this organisation.

Question: How do you find Arab countries’ position on the Ukrainian crisis?

Sergey Lavrov: Just now, answering the previous question, I said that all Arab countries have a responsible position. This proves that they rely solely on their national interests and are not ready to sacrifice them for the sake of anyone’s opportunistic geopolitical adventures. We have mutually respectful relations. We understand the vital interests of the Arab countries in connection with the threats to their security. They reciprocate our feelings and understand the threats to the security of the Russian Federation that the West has been creating right on our borders for decades, trying to use Ukraine to contain Russia and seriously harm us.

Question: Do you think these countries will continue to pursue this policy, despite the pressure from the West, particularly, from the Anglo-Saxon alliance?

Sergey Lavrov: The arrogance of the Anglo-Saxon alliance has no limits. We are offered evidence of that every day. Instead of delivering on their obligations under the UN Charter and honouring, as is written in this charter, the sovereign equality of states and abstaining from interfering in their domestic affairs, the West churns out ultimatums every day, issuing them through their ambassadors or envoys to each, without exception, capital not only in the Arab world but in other regions of the world as well, and, in so doing, blatantly blackmailing them, citing some subjective situations. The West is directly threatening their interlocutors, saying they will regret failing to join the sanctions against Russia and will be punished for this. It is blatant disrespect for sovereign countries. The reaction of Arab countries and almost all other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that we are seeing shows that these countries do not want to disregard their national dignity, running errands, in a servile manner, for their senior colleagues. This situation is yet another example of colonial thinking. The habits of our Western colleagues have not vanished. In their traditional style, the United States and Europe are still preaching the colonial customs they adhered to at a time when they could dictate to all others. It is wrong and regrettable, and flies in the face of the historical process, which objectively shows that a multipolar world is taking shape now. It has several centres of economic growth, financial power and political influence. Everyone understands now that China and India are fast-growing economies and influential countries, just like Brazil and other Latin American countries. The tapping of Africa’s enormous potential of natural resources has been held back by the colonialists during the period of neo-colonialism as well, which is not over yet. That is why Africa is also making its voice heard. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Arab world is objectively one of the pillars or one of the centres of a multipolar world that is being shaped now.

Question: We are talking about good relations between Russia, China and India. Can these countries form an alliance against US hegemony?

Sergey Lavrov: We never form alliances against anyone and never make friends with someone against others. We have a ramified network of partner organisations established many years ago. I will mention the organisations established after the Soviet Union’s disintegration. These are the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU and the SCO on a broader geopolitical plane. The SCO has established and is developing close ties with the EAEU and as part of the linkage of Eurasian integration projects with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. The EAEU and the PRC have signed an agreement. The linkage of these integration projects is embracing more and more territories. Thus, in addition to EAEU-SCO cooperation, these organisations have memorandums on cooperation with ASEAN. The Greater Eurasia project (or the Greater Eurasia Partnership) should embrace the whole of Eurasia. President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke about this at the Russia-ASEAN summit six years ago. It is based on the processes on the ground and has a Eurasian dimension.

Many countries of the Arab world are interested in establishing partner relations with the SCO that represents all other leading sub-regions of our enormous common continent. These are efforts to build constructive and positive (not antagonistic) alliances that are not aimed against anyone. They are gradually acquiring a global character, which is reflected in the development of the BRICS Five (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Our Saudi friends and Argentina are interested in it. Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero expressed his country’s desire to become a full member of BRICS.

BRICS is preparing for a regular summit. It will create an outreach format in which a dozen developing nations will take part. These processes are underway. We know that our Western friends have many phobias and complexes of their own superiority and infallibility. But they are also paranoid. The West sees opposition and a threat to its domination in any process in which it does not take part and which it does not control. It is time to get rid of these manners and customs.

Question: What about the recent Russia-China military exercises? What do they show?

Sergey Lavrov: This is the continuation of our cooperation aimed at enhancing security in this region. They supplement regular military undertakings: drills and training sessions with counterterrorism aims, efforts to strengthen the security of our common borders within the SCO. Russia-China bilateral military cooperation already has a long history. This is not the first year that we are holding events in the zone of our common borders where our security interests directly overlap; we do it regularly. They show that both Russia and China have a responsible attitude to fulfilling these tasks.

Question: Despite the evidence cited by Russia, the development of biological weapons by the United States in Ukraine has not evoked any concern in the West. What should be done for the world to understand how dangerous this is? The Arab press writes about the historical importance of Russia’s efforts to show how these laboratories operate.

Sergey Lavrov: This is a direct violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons. Enjoying support of all countries except the US, we have long been advocating the formation of a universal transparent verification mechanism within its framework that would allow all states to be sure that no participants of the Convention violate it. The United States has simply blocked this initiative since 2001 (for more than 20 years). Now it is clear why it occupies this position. During all these years, the Americans have been setting up their military bio laboratories all over the world. The Pentagon’s unit – the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) – is in charge of these activities. In developing a network of such laboratories, the Pentagon is focusing on the post-Soviet space and Eurasia. Available information shows that these laboratories have been or are being established along the perimeter of the Russian Federation and closer to the PRC. We initially suspected that the experiments made in these laboratories were not entirely peaceful and innocent. When the Russian Armed Forces and the militias of Donetsk and Lugansk liberated Mariupol during the military operation, they discovered laboratories left by the Americans in a rush. The Americans tried to get rid of documents and samples but didn’t destroy all of them. The samples of pathogens and the documents found there clearly pointed to the military character of these experiments. It is clear from the documents that there are several dozen such laboratories in Ukraine. We are pursuing two goals. First, we will convince the UN Security Council to take seriously the information we presented to it (you noted that the overwhelming majority of the developing nations do take it seriously). Second, we want this information to lead to specific actions that must be taken under the Biological Weapons Convention. It requires that the United States explain what it was doing there. We held five special briefings in the UN Security Council, one of them quite recently. We will work to make the US take specific actions proceeding from its commitments under the Convention. We will also analyse additional information about the involvement of other countries in these experiments and military bio laboratories in Ukraine. According to some sources, these are Great Britain and Germany.

Question: If you don’t mind my asking, where are other similar laboratories located in the vicinity of Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I don’t mind. There are such laboratories in Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asian countries. Russia and these countries have been analysing these problems both bilaterally and at the CSTO. We are signing (or have signed, or are preparing) memorandums on interaction in biological security with practically all CSTO and other CIS countries.  These documents stipulate that the signatories will inform each other of how biological programmes develop in each country.

What is important is transparency, which makes it possible to ascertain that these programmes have no military dimension, since this is prohibited under the Convention. These memorandums imply that the parties will pay mutual visits and familiarise themselves with the activities conducted by these laboratories.  In addition, it is stipulated that there should be no military representatives of any third party at the biological facilities in each of our countries.

Question: How are these countries motivated in having such laboratories? Will this bring them any material or political benefits?

Sergey Lavrov: The USSR pursued a large-scale biological programme. After the Soviet Union joined the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, this programme was stripped of its military aspects, but the scientific value of the biological research is retained.  We all remember the state in which this country was in 1991, when the USSR ceased to exist. We faced the problem of preserving the Russian Federation’s integrity. There were no state reserves to repay the national debt or even to purchase the basic necessities for the Russian population’s everyday life. At that time, our Western partners “hopped to it,” as we say, offering their services in all areas of life. They penetrated all spheres of the newly independent states, sending their advisers and advice-givers. Today we are experiencing the aftermath of those times. Major changes have occurred. There are no Soviet republics, which became independent overnight. They had no experience of independent international activity. But now all of this is a thing of the past. All the post-Soviet republics have consolidated their stand, asserting themselves as absolutely sovereign, independent states.  They decide what partners to choose on their own. We have agreements with them to the effect that the commitments assumed within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Eurasian Economic Union should be fully respected by other countries interested in developing relations with all post-Soviet states. We discussed the problems that all of us encountered during the emergence of the new statehood.  Various agencies exchange information about the risks involved in this sweeping cooperation with foreign countries in sensitive spheres. Biology is, of course, one of these spheres.  There is awareness that we have a unified biological security space. The CSTO’s purview includes security issues that are directly related to public health and the environment.  We will continue our constructive cooperation based on these statutes.

Question: Turkey and Italy have proposed a plan for organising talks between Russia and Kiev. Is Russia ready to continue the talks, which have not yielded any results lately?

Sergey Lavrov: We pointed out on numerous occasions that our Western colleagues want to use Vladimir Zelensky and all citizens of Ukraine to the last Ukrainian, which has become proverbial, to damage Russia as much as possible, to defeat it on the battlefield. This has been openly declared in Washington, Berlin, London and especially loudly in Warsaw. Poland has proposed that the Russian world must be destroyed like a “cancer” which is a deadly threat to the whole world. I would like to look at this world as it is represented by our Polish neighbours. For many years Russia has tried to explain why NATO’s eastward expansion and the drawing of Ukraine into the bloc are unacceptable to us. They listened to us but did not comprehend what we said.

When the coup was staged in 2014, the [Ukrainian] opposition trampled on the agreements reached despite the EU’s guarantees. The EU proved unable to force the putschists to respect the signatures of France, Germany and Poland. In 2015, the war in Donbass unleashed by the new Ukrainian authorities, who seized power in the coup, was stopped. The Minsk agreements were signed and guaranteed by France and Germany. All these years we called on Kiev to honour its commitments. Since the West had the decisive influence on it, we also worked with the Europeans and Americans, appealing to their conscience. Regrettably, they have no conscience.

Instead of forcing Kiev to implement the agreements, which should have been done through a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, the West tried to justify Zelensky and his team, even when they said publicly that they would never talk with “those people,” although this is stipulated in the UN Security Council resolution approving the Minsk agreements. They said that they would never implement the Minsk agreements or give a special status to these republics. At the same time, they adopted laws that prohibited the Russian language in education and media. Media outlets were shut down. The Russian language was even prohibited in everyday life. Only the Ukrainian language was allowed as the medium of interaction between people in Ukraine.

Moreover, Vladimir Zelensky stated that those who feel Russian must go to Russia. He said this in September 2021. We drew the attention of some Western countries, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the relevant UN bodies to these aggressively Russophobic and racist statements made in the spirit of the neo-Nazi policy which was gaining a foothold in the Ukrainian legislation. They did not react in any way. Some officials sometimes called for respect for international commitments. But Zelensky doesn’t give a damn about international commitments or the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine. They showed no respect for the Constitution and international conventions and adopted a lot of anti-Russian laws.

As for Russia’s readiness for talks, we have already explained why we couldn’t sit on our hands any longer. What we found on the Ukrainian army positions during the special military operation proved that we were barely in time with starting it, because Ukraine’s Plan B was to be enacted on March 8. A huge group of the Ukrainian armed forces, which was deployed on the contact line with Donbass by mid-February, planned to attack and occupy these territories in flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements and the UN Security Council resolution.

I have no doubt that had they succeeded the West would have turned a blind eye to these violations, just as it pretended not to notice Kiev’s disregard for all the agreements during the previous eight years.

When the Ukrainian authorities proposed negotiations several days after the operation began, we agreed immediately. We held several in-person rounds of talks in Belarus, trying to understand Ukraine’s position and what it wants to achieve at the talks, because we had presented our approach. After several rounds were held in Belarus and online, the idea of meeting in Istanbul was put forth, and the Ukrainian delegation brought, for the first time, written proposals signed by the head of the delegation to the meeting we held on March 29. We analysed these proposals, reported our opinion to President Putin and told our Ukrainian colleagues that we were ready to proceed on that basis. Since they didn’t present a complete agreement but only its individual provisions, we used them to quickly draft an agreement that was based on the Ukrainian proposals and turned it over to the Ukrainian delegation. The following day a flagrant provocation was staged in Bucha, where dead bodies were found in the streets three days after Russian troops had left the city, after three days of peaceful life. We were accused of killing those people. You remember what happened next.

The West adopted a new package of sanctions, as if it had been waiting for it to happen. The Ukrainians said that they had reviewed their position and would reformulate the principles underlying the agreement. Nevertheless, contacts between us continued. The latest draft agreement, which we submitted to Ukraine nearly a month ago, is gathering dust. If you ask who wants to hold and is ready for talks, Vladimir Zelensky said in an interview the other day (he does this almost every day) that he is ready for talks, but they must be held between himself and Vladimir Putin, because there is allegedly no use doing this at any other level. He said the talks should be held without any intermediaries and only after Ukraine resumed control of its territory as of February 23, 2022. Anyone can see that this is not serious. But it suits the West to keep up this unreasonable and unsubstantiated obstinacy. This is a fact.

The West has called for defeating Russia on the battlefield, which means that the war must continue and that increasingly more weapons must be provided to the Ukrainian nationalists, to the Ukrainian regime, including weapons that can hit targets in the Russian Federation. It is such weapons that Vladimir Zelensky demands publicly. We have issued most serious warnings to the West that it is, in fact, fighting a proxy war against the Russian Federation with the hands, bodies and brains of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, which can become a major step towards an unacceptable escalation. I hope that the remaining reasonable forces in the West are aware of this.

As for Turkey and Italy, Turkey doesn’t have a plan. At least nobody has presented it to us, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has noted on many occasions that Turkey is ready to provide a venue just as it did in Istanbul on March 29.  In fact, it was a useful contact. For the first time the Ukrainians presented their vision of a peace agreement on paper in response to our numerous requests, which we accepted and translated into the legal language. I have told you what happened after that. President Erdogan stands for peace and is ready to do all he can to bring it about. But Vladimir Zelensky has said that he doesn’t need intermediaries. That’s his business. He is as fickle as the wind: first, he rallied the support of all the G7 countries, and now it appears that former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is creating an advisory group at Kiev’s request that will provide proposals on security guarantees for Ukraine in the context of a peace settlement.

I would like to remind you that initially the Ukrainians’ concept was to draft a comprehensive agreement which would include Ukraine’s pledge not to join any blocs or have nuclear weapons, as well as guarantees of its neutral status. It would also stipulate the guarantor countries’ guarantees that will take into account the security interests of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and other countries in the region. As I have mentioned, Kiev is moving away from that concept. If Andreas Fogh Rasmussen has been recruited to formulate certain “guarantees” in a narrow circle of the Ukrainian regime’s Western sponsors and to subsequently try to submit them to Russia, it is a path that leads nowhere.

Question: Is this a non-paper? Just an initiative of former [NATO] officials?

Sergey Lavrov: We are looking into this now. This has already been promoted as a breakthrough step. The same applies to the Italian initiative.  Luigi Di Maio is quite active in the media landscape promoting the Italian four-point initiative. All we know about it is that it can bring the long-awaited peace, and not just suit both Russia and Ukraine, but launch something like a new Helsinki process, a new agreement on European security, and that it already enjoys the support of the G7 and the UN Secretary-General. I don’t know whether this is true, or to whom he has shown it. No one has sent us anything. All we can go by is speculation, descriptions of this initiative as they appear in the media.

But what we have read (if it is true, of course) makes us regret that the sponsors of this initiative show so little understanding of what is happening or knowledge of the subject, the history of this matter. Allegedly, it says that Crimea and Donbass should be part of Ukraine, which should grant those regions broad autonomy. Serious politicians who want to achieve results, not just grandstand to impress their voters, cannot be proposing such things. Donbass could have returned to Ukraine a long time ago if the Ukrainian regimes (Petr Poroshenko, and then Vladimir Zelensky) had fulfilled the Minsk agreements and granted a special status to the people that refused to accept the coup. The package included the status of the Russian language. However, instead of granting that status, Ukraine banned the Russian language. Instead of unblocking economic ties, Poroshenko announced a transport embargo on those regions, making retirees travel many kilometres to receive their pension benefits.

This Italian initiative you asked me about – as reported by the media – also calls for launching a new Helsinki process, in addition to reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine, to ensure the safety of everyone and everything.  Our colleagues in Rome came to their senses too late. The Helsinki process has given a number of important gains to the world, to our region, to the Euro-Atlantic region, including declarations signed at the highest political level, at the OSCE summits, in particular in Istanbul in 1999, in Astana in 2010 – declarations on indivisible security. Those documents said security can only be equal and indivisible. Further elaborating on this, they said all participating states have the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance, but no country can join any alliances or otherwise strengthen its security if it affects the security of any other state. The third component of this formula is that no country, no organisation in the OSCE area will claim to dominate security issues.

Anyone familiar with the situation in Europe understands that Western countries have been grossly violating the key components of that commitment by strengthening their security in violation of Russia’s right to its own security. They claim that only NATO can call the tune in this region, and no one else. We have tried to make those beautiful political words become reality, to make them work rather than keep them on paper signed off by the presidents of the United States and European countries. We proposed making that political commitment legally binding. As far back as in 2009, we proposed an agreement to NATO countries. They said they wouldn’t even discuss it because only NATO could provide legal security guarantees. When we asked about the OSCE’s role, they said those were just political promises and slogans. That showed how Western politicians treat the signatures of their presidents. But we did not stop there.

We made another attempt last year. In November 2021, President Vladimir Putin instructed his team to draft new documents to agree with the United States and NATO on the principles that would be approved by all at the highest level. We drafted those treaties and transferred them to Washington and Brussels in early December 2021. Several rounds of negotiations followed. I met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We were told that we could discuss the arms control agenda, but NATO expansion was not our business or anybody’s business, for that matter. When we again quoted their commitment not to strengthen their security at the expense of others, they dismissed that as immaterial. What mattered was NATO’s so-called open door policy. We have warned them repeatedly – in 2009, then in 2013, 2014 (when a coup d’état occurred in Ukraine), and in 2015 (the Minsk agreements). All these years, we have been telling our Western colleagues that it will end badly because they continue to ignore our legitimate interests and rudely tell us no when we ask them to take us into consideration – not somewhere tens of thousands of kilometres away, but right on the borders of the Russian Federation. This arrogance, this air of being exceptional, this colonial mentality (I can do anything and you will do what I tell you) is not manifested only in their attitude to our interests.

Remember 1999, when the United States suddenly decided that Yugoslavia, lying 10,000 kilometres away from its coasts, posed a threat to its security? They bombed it to dust in a heartbeat. They used OSCE Mission leader William Walker from the United States to loudly declare that several dozen corpses discovered in the village of Racak were a crime against humanity. As it turned out later, these corpses were not civilians, but militants who were disguised as civilians and scattered around the place.

The same setup was used in Bucha near Kiev on April 3. It works regardless of whether the public finds it convincing or not. They didn’t need to convince anyone. They bombed Yugoslavia, created an independent Kosovo violating every OSCE principle in the process and then said it would be like that from then on.

They said no after the referendum in Crimea. According to them, self-determination in Kosovo is a good thing, but self-determination in Crimea is not. This is being done as if nothing were wrong. No one is even blushing, although it’s a shame for Western diplomacy which has lost its ability to provide elegant explanations for their grossly reckless moves.

In 2003, the United States decided that a threat was coming from another country located 10,000 kilometres away and produced a vial with what I think was tooth powder. Poor Colin Powell later lamented that he had been set up by the intelligence. Several years later, Tony Blair, too, said it was a mistake, but nothing could be done about it. Nothing can be done about it. They bombed the country killing under a million civilians. Until now, Iraq’s integrity has not been restored. There are enough problems there, including terrorism, which did not exist there before. Indeed, Iraq and Libya were authoritarian regimes, but there were no terrorists, ongoing hostilities, or military provocations.

Libya is on that list, as well. In 2011, President Obama said that they would be “leading from behind” Europe.  France, the most democratic nation in the Old World (freedom, equality, fraternity), led the NATO operation to destroy the regime. As a result, they destroyed the country. It is hard to put it back together now. Again, the French are trying to do so as they come up with initiatives, convene conferences and announce election dates. All in vain, because, before going in, they needed to think about what would become of Libya after the West ensured its “security” in that country.

I’m citing this example not to say: they can, but we can’t. That would be simplifying matters. What I’m saying is that the Western countries believe that the entire world is part of their security, and they must rule the world.

As NATO was crawling up to Russia’s borders, it told us not to be concerned about it, since NATO is a defensive alliance and does not threaten our country’s security. First, this sounds like a diplomatic effrontery. We must decide for ourselves on our security interests, just like any other country. Second, NATO was a defensive alliance when there was someone to stand up to like the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. There was the Berlin Wall between Western and Eastern Europe. Everyone was clear about the line of defence. After the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, any lieutenant with basic training knew there was no longer any such thing as a defence line. All you need to do now is live a normal life based on shared values and a common European space.

We put our signature under multiple slogans including “from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean,” “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” and “we are brothers and sisters now.” However, they retained their military nature as they continued to move the “line of defence” closer to our borders. We have just had an in-depth discussion on the outcomes of this policy. In recent months, the NATO Secretary General and warmongering politicians like the British Foreign Secretary have been publicly stating that the alliance must have global responsibility. NATO must be in charge of security in the Pacific. This may mean that next time NATO’s “defence line” will move to the South China Sea.

Not only NATO, but the EU leaders also decided to “play soldiers.” Ursula von der Leyen, who is rivalling EU top diplomat Josep Borrell in terms of bellicosity, claimed that the EU must be in charge of security matters in the Indo-Pacific region. How are they going to accomplish this? They keep talking about an EU “army.” No one will let them create this “army” as long as NATO exists.

To all appearances, no one is going to even reform NATO. They are going to turn this “defensive alliance” into a global alliance claiming global military dominance. This is a dangerous path that is definitely doomed to failure.

Question: To what extent are these developments affecting the Russian army’s presence in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We are present in Syria at the request of the legitimate President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the legitimate government of that country. We are there in full compliance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and are addressing the tasks set by UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We will stick to this policy and support the Syrian government in its efforts to fully restore Syria’s territorial integrity. The armed forces of the countries that no one had invited to Syria are still deployed there. Until now, the US military, which has occupied a significant portion of the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, is openly building a quasi-state there and is directly encouraging separatism taking advantage of the sentiment of a portion of the Kurdish population of Iraq. Problems are arising between the various entities that unite the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. All of that intensifies tensions in this region. Of course, Turkey cannot stay on the sidelines.

We want to address these issues solely on the basis of respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are talking to the Kurds. We have channels which we use to communicate with all of them. We encourage them to take a closer look at recent developments where the United States promised something to someone and then failed to deliver. Starting a serious dialogue with Damascus and agreeing on arrangements of living in a single state is a much more reliable approach even from these purely pragmatic considerations, not to mention international law.

Of course, Russia will continue to provide humanitarian aid. The United States is trying to keep the crisis situation unchanged and to encourage the sides to resume hostilities. The notorious Caesar Act is designed to strangle the Syrian economy. We see that a growing number of Arab countries are starting to understand the utter futility of this policy and are interested in resuming relations with Syria. Recently, the UAE restored its embassy’s activities in full. A number of Arab countries have never withdrawn their embassies from Damascus. Preparations are underway for a summit of the League of Arab States, which I discussed with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The vast majority of the League members (as far as we can tell from our contacts) are in favour of a solution that will make it possible to resume Syria’s full Arab League membership.

Refugees are another issue. The UN mediators are trying to get involved in this matter, but the United States and the compliant Europeans are doing their utmost to make the return of these people impossible. Remember when Syria held a conference in Damascus a couple of years ago to raise funds and make it possible for the refugees to return, the Americans went out of the way to keep everyone from attending this conference. Not everyone listened to them and about 20 countries, primarily Arab countries, as well as the People’s Republic of China and other countries, took part in it.

The UN showed its weakness by refusing to participate in that conference and only sending its representative in Damascus to sit there as an observer. That decision hit the United Nations’ reputation hard because its Resolution 2254 explicitly calls for the return of refugees. Both the UN Secretariat and the Secretary-General personally have an obligation to contribute to this directly. Until recently, the European Union held its own conferences on refugees (and they were not devoted to creating conditions for their return, but to raising money to pay the host countries). The purpose of those conferences was to make the current situation permanent and prevent any chance of positive developments in Syria. Yet, the Secretary-General did not just send representatives to them, but participated in these conferences as a co-chair. We have been pointing out that serious misinterpretation of his direct responsibilities.

As for the process that is taking place in Geneva, including the Constitutional Committee, its Drafting Commission – I keep in touch with Geir Pedersen, who represents the UN as a mediator in this process. He visited Russia not long ago. We also communicate through our mission in Geneva. There is an agreement that the next meeting of the Drafting Commission will begin at the end of May. I believe that President Bashar al-Assad’s recent decision to grant amnesty to Syrians charged with terrorism-related crimes was an important positive step. As far as I understand, a lot of work has been done, and the amnesty was announced. It will be a good chance to see how it goes. Geir Pedersen as well as many of our Western colleagues said Bashar al-Assad should take some steps. Okay. Whatever prompted the Syrian president’s decision, he did take a step. Let’s reciprocate now. Let Geir Pedersen talk to the opposition and those who control it, and persuade them to show some constructive action in this regard.

Question:  Is Russia keeping the same number of troops in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We have not had any requests from the Syrian government. If any such decisions are deemed expedient, they will be implemented. The numbers on the ground are determined by the specific objectives our force is tasked with there. It is clear that there are practically no military objectives left, but only ensuring stability and security. As for the remaining military objectives that the Syrian army is working for, with our support – there is the terrorist threat in Idlib, and it has not gone anywhere. Our Turkish friends and neighbours are trying, as they are telling us, to fulfil what presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a few years ago. As we all see, things are going hard. This objective remains on the agenda. However, thanks to the actions by our contingent and the Syrian armed forces, we have not seen any provocations from Idlib lately targeting the Syrian army strongholds or our bases in Syria.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 38th meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, Moscow, May 27, 2022

Colleagues,

We are holding a regular meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation. The meeting is taking place against the background of the special military operation in Ukraine, which is being conducted in connection with the tasks set by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, tasks involving the protection of civilians, the elimination of the Ukraine-posed security threats to the Russian Federation, and the denazification of this kindred country whose people have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of a regime which encourages extreme neo-Nazi sentiments and practices.

You see the United States and its satellites double, triple and quadruple their efforts to contain Russia with the use of a broad range of tools, from unilateral economic sanctions to utterly false propaganda in the global media space. Popular Russophobia has taken on an unprecedented scale in many Western countries, where, to our regret, it is nurtured by government circles.

Under these circumstances, it is of crucial importance that the foreign policy course approved by President Vladimir Putin is based on a broad national accord and supported by the key political forces of Russia and the leading public and entrepreneurial associations. We also feel daily the support from all Russian regions. This country is witnessing the consolidation of all healthy and patriotic forces. This is an important aspect of the present stage.

Colleagues,

At our last meeting, we discussed regions’ cultural diplomacy. The recommendations that we approved have made it possible to give a new impetus to international cultural ties maintained by Russian regions and expand the geographical reach and range of partners (of Russia’s republics, regions and territories). But the situation has changed since that time: the West has declared a total war on us and the entire Russian world. No one is concealing this any longer.

The cancel culture directed at Russia and all things Russian is reaching the apogee of absurdity. Russian greats, including Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin, are banned. Russian cultural figures and artists representing our culture today are persecuted.

It may safely be said that this situation is here to stay. We should be ready to accept the fact that it has revealed the West’s true attitude to those fine-sounding slogans concerning human values and the need to create a united Europe, a “common European home” stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which were put forward 30 years ago after the end of the Cold War. Today we see the true worth of all these empty words.

Let us not become self-complacent. Under the current circumstances, we need a detailed analysis of the Foreign Ministry’s effort to promote cooperation with civil society, including at the level of regions.

A sufficiently effective system of collaboration between the Foreign Ministry and non-profit organisations focusing on international issues has been established. For example, the recent assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy has clearly demonstrated the high expert potential of scientific diplomacy. Our joint work has made it possible to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the highly intricate and complex developments in the world.

That said, the presence of NGOs from regions at international venues is insignificant. However, the inclusion of certain regional NGOs in Russian delegations to the UN General Assembly has been a success. This experience shows that this partnership has a promise. We would like to make it regular and broad in nature.

I would like to highlight a number of priority areas concerning interaction with civil society institutions:

1. Mobilising Russian NGOs’ capabilities to promote recovery and to provide humanitarian aid to residents of the DPR and the LPR, as well as the liberated Ukrainian territories.

2. Engaging public diplomacy channels for outreach activities with constructive international partners, including stepping up efforts to debunk fakes about the special military operation and promoting our views in social media and the blogosphere.

3. Using NGO resources, in particular, regional associations of entrepreneurs and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to minimise the consequences of unilateral sanctions, and to promote ties with the friendly countries, primarily, our allies and like-minded partners in the CSTO, the SCO, the CIS, the EAEU and BRICS.

On a separate note, regional consultative mechanisms with the participation of top executives from national cultural associations are working productively. Clearly, this helps maintain inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and accord. I think broader use of this set of tools should be made in order to strengthen business ties with the expat communities’ countries of origin, primarily in the CIS.

4. Working with our compatriots residing abroad is particularly important. They are at the forefront of dealing with the phenomenon known as Neanderthal Russophobia. Our foreign-based communities are facing unprecedented pressure and are being discriminated against on national and linguistic grounds. In spite of everything, our compatriots are holding their own and bravely defending their right not to sever contacts with the Motherland even in the most challenging times. The Immortal Regiment drive that took place in over 80 countries, including the United States and Europe, clearly showed it. Our duty is to continue to support our compatriots, and we count on the regions’ proactive moves in this regard.

It is gratifying to know that many regions, in particular, Moscow, St Petersburg, Tatarstan, Crimea, the Altai Territory and the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomous areas (the list goes on) are effectively working with the Russian expat communities and their coordinating bodies. The most recent examples include the Moscow Government holding, in conjunction with other regions, round table discussions on the topic “Interactions with compatriots abroad at the regional level.” Such events took place in certain regions, in particular, Kaliningrad in late March, and Khabarovsk and Vladikavkaz in April. More such meetings will be held this year. We strongly support these initiatives and will sponsor such events. We are ready to provide advice to our colleagues from non-governmental organisations on the corresponding issues. We will update them on the situation of their compatriots, including instances of their legal rights being violated.

5. The developments in Ukraine confirm the importance of continued efforts to counteract the falsification of history and glorification of Nazism. The absurd content of modern Ukrainian school textbooks is a case in point. However, the problem is not limited to Ukraine. The West does not stop trying to pit the peoples of the former Soviet Union against each other through a biased interpretation of historical facts.

The other day the German government approved plans for a World War II and the German Occupation of Europe documentation centre. At first glance, this concept raises serious questions regarding its historical truthfulness. The planned centre is structured not only to downplay the Soviet Union and the Soviet people’ decisive role in defeating German Nazism, but also to play down the crimes committed by the Third Reich against the Soviet people. These themes are not indicated in the planned expositions. The plans also contain language that seeks to equate German criminals to liberators of Europe. This is yet another step within the policy adopted by modern Berlin which seeks to rewrite the history of World War II and to rehabilitate the Third Reich.

It is important to focus on preserving the common chapters of history, primarily, the Great Patriotic War, and to promote shared memories of the war and the fallen war hero search movement, as well as the ongoing CIS historians’ dialogue on existing platforms.

Proper resources and staff are required in order to overcome these challenges, and the broad involvement of NGOs that should be issued targeted grants and subsidies to this end as well. Let’s not forget about this, either.

Many Russian regions are addressing these issues adequately, including through the use of extrabudgetary sources. We are ready to support this work and supplement these initiatives with increased funding from the federal budget.

In conjunction with Rossotrudnichestvo and the Civic Chamber, we will continue to help the regions use public and people’s diplomacy in the interest of promoting our foreign policy.

Russia’s Necessary and Legal Military Response to US/ NATO Aggression in Ukraine

May 28, 2022

Source

By Maria Gritsch

Evidence shows that Russia’s special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine is a legally justified, critically necessary, and predictable response to the US’ recent escalation of its decades-long aggression against Russia in Ukraine–militarily, in the international corporate media, in cyberspace, and in the political-economic arena.  The US’ hostile actions against Russia were summarized in a 2019 US-Army funded RAND Corporation blueprint for “Over Extending and Unbalancing Russia.”  Underlying US actions is its aim is to dismember and asset-strip Russia–to appropriate its coveted oil, gas, and mineral resources and vast agricultural lands–and to enable US investors’ access to Russia’s economy. This is a step towards the US’ overarching goals of controlling Central Asia and achieving full spectrum dominance or global hegemony. Although the US war against Russia in Ukraine started years ago, US aggression escalated under the Biden administration and created conditions that posed an immediate existential threat to Russia and necessitated its military response.

In 2014, the US initiated a proxy war against Russia by engineering the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected president. This ignited a bloody civil war on Russia’s border in which the US-installed and US-armed Kiev regime attacked the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk whose largely ethnically Russian residents opposed the US coup. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) documented the Kiev regime’s attacks that killed thousands of civilians and terrorized the populace. In 2015, the US-installed then-president, Petro Poroshenko, publicly articulated Kiev’s anti-Russia stance and its policy for the Donbass:

“We will have jobs—they will not. We will have pensions—they will not. [….] Our children will go to schools and kindergartens—theirs will hide in the basements.”  Popular Ukraine pundits openly called for Donbas residents’ extermination. In 2015, Congress lifted its ban on funding Ukraine’s neo Nazi militias and placed US military trainers on the ground inside Ukraine. NATO and the CIA also began training Ukraine regime forces–effectively establishing Ukraine as a de facto US/NATO mercenary state. During the past eight years, Russia exhibited enormous restraint as the US and Ukraine violated the Minsk Protocols and rejected requests for diplomacy. In 2021, US aggression against Russia increased dramatically once Biden took office–in Ukraine and in the Black Sea. US actions and Ukraine President Zelensky’s public statements generated immediate threats to the survival of the Russian nation-state.

Russia’s Military Response Was Over-Determined By Four Existential Threats 

The US government and the corporate media falsely characterize Russia’s special operation as entirely ‘unprovoked’ and an ‘illegal invasion’. These allegations ignore four conditions which each independently compelled President Putin and the Duma to initiate Russia’s denazification and demilitarization operation and which establish this intervention as consistent with international legal norms.

Chief among the factors necessitating Russia’s immediate military response were indications of an imminent new massacre as 125,000 Ukraine forces amassed along the border of Donbass in December of 2021. This was never reported in the US corporate press.  Instead, the US government and corporate media repeatedly stated that Russian troops were gathering on Ukraine’s border (inside Russia) and predicted an impending Russian invasion. In hindsight, US intelligence could make this accurate claim because it was aware of the menacing buildup of Ukraine forces. Anticipating an imminent massacre, Russia was obligated to intervene militarily because it had a Responsibility to Protect (R2P) the citizens of Donbass.  R2P is a political commitment to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; it was endorsed by the United Nations at its 2005 world summit.

Second, on February 19, 2022, Ukraine President Zelensky announced that Ukraine would seek to acquire nuclear weapons, saying, “I want to believe that the North Atlantic Treaty and Article 5 will be more effective than the Budapest Memorandum.” Zelensky’s expressed desire to acquire nuclear weapons represented a dangerous threat to Moscow and signaled that the window of opportunity for conventional military intervention was closing.  It is unlikely that Zelensky operates completely autonomously; Biden publicly bragged about his control over Ukraine government policies and has remunerated Zelensky following Zelensky’s implementation of anti-Russia policies and actions.

Third, Zelensky’s repudiation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was a reminder of Ukraine’s intent to join NATO. For years, US President Biden advocated NATO membership for Ukraine, assuring Zelensky as recently as December 11, 2021 that this was in Ukraine’s own hands. NATO membership would entail NATO nuclear missiles inside Ukraine, aimed at Moscow. Ukraine’s geographic proximity to Russia eliminates the crucial minutes in which Moscow could verify and respond to an attack and would effectively place Russia and the US at DEFCON Level Two. The US dismissed Russia’s December 17, 2021 verbal and written requests for a diplomatic response to its security concerns. Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken deliberately rejected Russia’s entreaties and ignored the predictable consequences of Ukraine’s potential NATO membership. Renowned international relations scholars, diplomats and politicians, including John Mearsheimer, Jack Matlock, George Kennan, Henry Kissinger, and William Perry warned that NATO membership for Ukraine was a dangerous provocation which would trigger Russia’s military response.

A fourth threat requiring Russia’s intervention was the presence of US Department of Defense-operated biolabs inside Ukraine. Russia’s concerns were validated on March 11, 2022 when Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland admitted during Congressional questioning that the Ukraine biolabs contained ‘biological materials’ which the US ‘did not want to fall into Russian hands’. While the pathogenic biological agents in these biolabs do not technically constitute bioweapons, they can become bioweapons once there is a ‘mechanism for spreading the agent.’ A delivery mechanism need not be sophisticated to be effective.  Bioweapons researcher, Jeffrey Kaye, described the extreme level of US secrecy surrounding the biolabs. Kaye noted that the Director of the Pentagon’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, Robert Pope, did not reassure when he stated that, “the Ukraine biolabs currently did not have the ability to manufacture bioweapons.”

Russia’s Intervention Is Consistent with International Law

These four US-generated conditions represented urgent existential threats to the Donbas and to the Russian nation-state and contradict US claims that Russia ‘illegally invaded Ukraine’ and that Russia’s intervention was unprovoked. Russia was compelled to intervene militarily to neutralize these threats and its response is consistent with the United Nations Charter of 1945 concerning international rules governing a state’s use of military force. The United Nations allows two exceptions to its prohibition of the use of force in international law: “self-defence under Article 51, and military measures authorised by the Security Council in response to “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression.” In particular, the UN Charter notes, “there is no problem – and never has been – with that state, without first seeking Security Council approval, using military force ‘preemptively’.’ Both exceptions apply to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine: Russia perceived an imminent threat to the Donbas and an imminent threat to the Russian nation-state.  The immediacy of these threats obviated any requirement that Russia seek prior UN Security Council approval. Seeking UN approval would be futile, in any case, because the United States, a permanent UN Security Council member, is the principal combatant generating the hostilities.

Under the Biden administration, what began in 2014 as a US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine transformed into the US’ direct war against Russia. The US’ covert and overt military actions establish it as a legal “co-belligerent.” Now, the US continues to flood Ukraine with billions of dollars of heavy weapons and provides intelligence to guide Ukraine’s attacks on Russian forces. The US blatantly states that it wants to “weaken” Russia and that Russia must be defeated.  This is the US whose regime change wars in the Middle East killed 5 million; whose 1955-1975 war against Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia cost 3.4 million military and civilian lives. This is the US CIA whose coups and illegal interventions around the globe since its 1947 inception left a trail of bloodshed and chaos. Russia is legally and crucially defending the Donbas and the Russian nation-state against the US quest for global domination. The US generated four existential threats to the Donbas and to the Russian nation-state that necessitated Russia’s immediate intervention. The US—not Russia—is the illegal aggressor in Ukraine.

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.

Empire of Lies Eager to Receive Mr. Sarmat’s Business Card

April 29, 2022

Source

The only antidote to propaganda dementia is served by sparse voices of reason, which happen to be Russian, thus silenced and/or dismissed.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Especially since the onset of GWOT (Global War on Terror) at the start of the millennium, no one ever lost money betting against the toxic combo of hubris, arrogance and ignorance serially deployed by the Empire of Chaos and Lies.

What passes for “analysis” in the vast intellectual no-fly zone known as U.S. Think Tankland includes wishful thinking babble such as Beijing “believing” that Moscow would play a supporting role in the Chinese century just to see Russia, now, in the geopolitical driver’s seat.

This is a fitting example not only of outright Russophobic/Sinophobic paranoia about the emergence of peer competitors in Eurasia – the primeval Anglo-American nightmare – but also crass ignorance about the finer points of the complex Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership.

As Operation Z methodically hits Phase 2, the Americans – with a vengeance – have also embarked on their symmetrical Phase 2, which de facto translates as an outright escalation towards Totalen Krieg, from shades of hybrid to incandescent, everything of course by proxy. Notorious Raytheon weapons peddler reconverted into Pentagon head, Lloyd Austin, gave away the game in Kiev:

“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”

So this is it: the Empire wants to annihilate Russia. Cue to War Inc.’s frenzy of limitless weapon cargos descending on Ukraine, the overwhelming majority on the road to be duly eviscerated by Russian precision strikes. The Americans are sharing intel 24/7 with Kiev not only on Donbass and Crimea but also Russian territory. Totalen Krieg proceeds in parallel to the engineered controlled demolition of the EU’s economy, with the European Commission merrily acting as a sort of P.R. arm of NATO.

Amidst the propaganda dementia cum acute cognitive dissonance overdrive across the whole NATOstan sphere, the only antidote is served by sparse voices of reason, which happen to be Russian, thus silenced and/or dismissed. The West ignores them at their own collective peril.

Patrushev goes Triple-X unplugged

Let’s start with President Putin’s speech to the Council of Legislators in St. Petersburg celebrating the Day of Russian Parliamentarism.

Putin demonstrated how a hardly new “geopolitical weapon” relying on “Russophobia and neo-Nazis”, coupled with efforts of “economic strangulation”, not only failed to smother Russia, but impregnated in the collective unconscious the feeling this an existential conflict: a “Second Great Patriotic War”.

With off the charts hysteria across the spectrum, a message for an Empire that still refuses to listen, and doesn’t even understand the meaning of “indivisibility of security”, had to be inevitable:

“I would like to emphasize once again that if someone intends to interfere in the events taking place from the outside and creates threats of a strategic nature unacceptable to Russia, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning fast. We have all the tools for this. Such as no one can boast of now. And we won’t brag. We will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know about it – we have made all the decisions on this matter.”

Translation: non-stop provocations may lead Mr. Kinzhal, Mr. Zircon and Mr. Sarmat to be forced to present their business cards in select Western latitudes, even without an official invitation.

Arguably for the first time since the start of Operation Z, Putin made a distinction between military operations in Donbass and the rest of Ukraine. This directly relates to the integration in progress of Kherson, Zaporozhye and Kharkov, and implies the Russian Armed Forces will keep going and going, establishing sovereignty not only in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics but also over Kherson, Zaporozhye, and further on down the road from the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea, all the way to establishing full control of Nikolaev and Odessa.

The formula is crystal clear: “Russia cannot allow the creation of anti-Russian territories around the country.”

Now let’s move to an extremely detailed interview by Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, where Patrushev sort of went triple-X unplugged.

The key take away may be here: “The collapse of the American-centric world is a reality in which one must live and build an optimal line of behavior.” Russia’s “optimal line of behavior” – much to the wrath of the universalist and unilateralist hegemon – features “sovereignty, cultural and spiritual identity and historical memory.”

Patrushev shows how “tragic scenarios of world crises, both in past years and today, are imposed by Washington in its desire to consolidate its hegemony, resisting the collapse of the unipolar world.” The U.S. goes no holds barred “to ensure that other centers of the multipolar world do not even dare to raise their heads, and our country not only dared, but publicly declared that it would not play by the imposed rules.”

Patrushev could not but stress how War Inc. is literally making a killing in Ukraine: “The American and European military-industrial complex is jubilant, because thanks to the crisis in Ukraine, it has no respite from order. It is not surprising that, unlike Russia, which is interested in the speedy completion of a special military operation and minimizing losses on all sides, the West is determined to delay it at least to the last Ukrainian.”

And that mirrors the psyche of American elites: “You are talking about a country whose elite is not able to appreciate other people’s lives. Americans are used to walking on scorched earth. Since World War II, entire cities have been razed to the ground by bombing, including nuclear bombing. They flooded the Vietnamese jungle with poison, bombed the Serbs with radioactive munitions, burned Iraqis alive with white phosphorus, helped terrorists poison Syrians with chlorine (…) As history shows, NATO has also never been a defensive alliance, only an offensive one.”

Previously, in an interview with the delightfully named The Great Game show on Russian TV, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had once again detailed how the Americans “no longer insist on the implementation of international law, but on respect for the ‘rules-based world order’. These ‘rules’ are not deciphered in any way. They say that now there are few rules. For us, they don’t exist at all. There is international law. We respect it, as does the UN Charter. The key provision, the main principle is the sovereign equality of states. The U.S. flagrantly violates its obligations under the UN Charter when it promotes its ‘rules’”.

Lavrov had to stress, once again, that the current incandescent situation may be compared to the Cuban Missile Crisis: “In those years, there was a channel of communication that both leaders trusted. Now there is no such channel. No one is trying to create it.”

The Empire of Lies, in its current state, does not do diplomacy.

The pace of the game in the new chessboard

In a subtle reference to the work of Sergei Glazyev, as the Minister in Charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union explained in our recent interview, Patrushev hit the heart of the current geoeconomic game, with Russia now actively moving towards a gold standard: “Experts are working on a project proposed by the scientific community to create a two-circuit monetary and financial system. In particular, it is proposed to determine the value of the ruble, which should be secured by both gold and a group of goods that are currency values, to put the ruble exchange rate in line with real purchasing power parity.”

That was inevitable after the outright theft of over $300 billion in Russian foreign reserves. It may have taken a few days for Moscow to be fully certified it was facing Totalen Krieg. The corollary is that the collective West has lost any power to influence Russian decisions. The pace of the game in the new chessboard is being set by Russia.

Earlier in the week, in his meeting with the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, Putin went as far as stating that he’d be more than willing to negotiate – with only a few conditions: Ukrainian neutrality and autonomy status for Donbass. Yet now everyone knows it’s too late. For a Washington in Totalen Krieg mode negotiation is anathema – and that has been the case since the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine meeting in Istanbul in late March.

So far, on Operation Z, the Russian Armed forces have used only 12% of its soldiers,10% of its fighter jets, 7% of its tanks, 5% of its missiles, and 4% of its artillery. The pain dial is set to go substantially up – and with the total liberation of Mariupol and the resolution one way or another of the Donbass cauldron there is nothing the hysteria/propaganda/weaponizing combo deployed by the collective West can do to alter facts on the ground.

That includes desperate gambits such as the one uncovered by SVR – Russian foreign intel, which very rarely makes mistakes. SVR found out that the Empire of Lies/War Inc. axis is pushing not only for a de facto Polish invasion to annex Western Ukraine, under the banner of “historical reunification”, but also for a joint Romanian/Ukrainian invasion of Moldova/Transnistria, with Romanian “peacekeepers” already piling up near the Moldova border.

Washington, as the SVR maintains, has been plotting the Polish gambit for over a month now. It would “lead from behind” (remember Libya?), “encouraging” a “group of countries” to occupy Western Ukraine.

So partition is already on the cards. Were that ever to materialize, it will be fascinating to bet on which locations Mr. Sarmat would be inclined to distribute his business card.

President Putin and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: Meeting

April 27, 2022

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/68287

April 26, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr Secretary-General,

I am very happy to see you.

As one of the founders of the United Nations and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has always supported this universal organisation. We believe the UN is not simply universal but it is unique in a way – the international community does not have another organisation like it. We are doing all we can to support the principles on which it rests, and we intend to continue doing this in the future.

We find the expression of some of our colleagues about a world based on rules somewhat strange. We believe the main rule is the UN Charter and other documents adopted by this organisation rather than some papers written by their authors as they see fit or aimed at ensuring their own interests.

We are also surprised to hear statements by our colleagues that imply that some in the world have exceptional status or can claim exclusive rights because the Charter of the United Nations reads that all participants in international communication are equal regardless of their strength, size or geographical location. I think this is similar to what the Bible reads about all people being equal. I am sure we will find the same idea in both the Quran and the Torah. All people are equal before God. So, the idea that someone can claim a kind of exceptional status is very strange to us.

We are living in a complicated world, and, therefore, we proceed from reality and are willing to work with everyone.

No doubt, at one time the United Nations was established to resolve acute crises and went through different periods in its development. Quite recently, just several years ago, we heard it had become obsolete, and there was no need for it anymore. This happened whenever it prevented someone from reaching their goals in the international arena.

We have always said that there is no other universal organisation like the United Nations, and it is necessary to cherish the institutions that were created after WWII for the express purpose of settling disputes.

I know about your concern over Russia’s military operation in Donbass, in Ukraine. I think this will be the focus of our conversation today. I would just like to note in this context that the entire problem emerged after a coup d’état staged in Ukraine in 2014. This is an obvious fact. You can call it whatever name you like and have whatever bias in favour of those who did it, but this was really an anti-constitutional coup.

This was followed by the situation with the expression of their will by the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol. They acted in practically the same way as the people living in Kosovo – they made a decision on independence and then turned to us with a request to join the Russian Federation. The only difference between the two cases was that in Kosovo this decision on sovereignty was adopted by Parliament whereas Crimea and Sevastopol made it at a nationwide referendum.

A similar problem emerged in south-eastern Ukraine, where the residents of several territories, at least, two Ukrainian regions, did not accept the coup d’état and its results. But they were subjected to very strong pressure, in part, with the use of combat aviation and heavy military equipment. This is how the crisis in Donbass, in south-eastern Ukraine, emerged.

As you know, after another failed attempt by the Kiev authorities to resolve this problem by force, we arrived at the signing of agreements in the city of Minsk. This is what they were called – the Minsk Agreements. It was an attempt to settle the situation in Donbass peacefully.

To our regret, during the past eight years the people that lived there found themselves under a siege. The Kiev authorities announced in public that they were organising a siege of these territories. They were not embarrassed to call it a siege although initially they had renounced this idea and continued military pressure.

Under the circumstances, after the authorities in Kiev actually went on record as saying – I would like to emphasise that the top state officials announced this in public – that they did not intend to fulfil the Minsk Agreements, we were compelled to recognise these regions as independent and sovereign states to prevent the genocide of the people living there. I would like to reiterate: this was a forced measure to stop the suffering of the people living in those territories.

Unfortunately, our colleagues in the West preferred to ignore all this. After we recognised the independence of these states, they asked us to render them military aid because they were subjected to military actions, an armed aggression. In accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, Chapter VII, we were forced to do this by launching a special military operation.

I would like to inform you that although the military operation is underway, we are still hoping to reach an agreement on the diplomatic track. We are conducting talks. We have not abandoned them.

Moreover, at the talks in Istanbul, and I know that you have just been there since I spoke with President Erdogan today, we managed to make an impressive breakthrough. Our Ukrainian colleagues did not link the requirements for Ukraine’s international security with such a notion as Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders, leaving aside Crimea, Sevastopol and the newly Russia-recognised Donbass republics, albeit with certain reservations.

But, unfortunately, after reaching these agreements and after we had, in my opinion, clearly demonstrated our intentions to create the conditions for continuing the talks, we faced a provocation in the town of Bucha, which the Russian Army had nothing to do with. We know who was responsible, who prepared this provocation, using what means, and we know who the people involved were.

After this, the position of our negotiators from Ukraine on a further settlement underwent a drastic change. They simply renounced their previous intentions to leave aside issues of security guarantees for the territories of Crimea, Sevastopol and the Donbass republics. They simply renounced this. In the relevant draft agreement presented to us, they simply stated in two articles that these issues must be resolved at a meeting of the heads of state.

It is clear to us that if we take these issues to the heads of state level without even resolving them in a preliminary draft agreement, they will never be resolved. In this case, we simply cannot sign a document on security guarantees without settling the territorial issues of Crimea, Sevastopol and the Donbass republics.

Nevertheless, the talks are going on. They are now being conducted online. I am still hoping that this will lead us to some positive result.

This is all I wanted to say in the beginning. I am sure we will have many questions linked with this situation. Maybe there will be other questions as well. We will talk.

I am very happy to see you. Welcome to Moscow.

(In his remarks, the UN Secretary General expressed concern over the situation in Ukraine, while emphasising the need for a multilateral world order based on the UN Charter and international law. Antonio Guterres also presented the two proposals he had put forward the same day during his meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. These proposals concern humanitarian matters, including humanitarian corridors, in particular, for Mariupol residents, as well as setting up a humanitarian contact group in which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Russia, and Ukraine would work together to discuss the situation in order to make these corridors truly safe and effective.)

Vladimir Putin: Mr Secretary General,

Regarding the invasion, I am well-versed in the documents of the International Court on the situation in Kosovo. In fact, I have read them myself. I remember very well the decision by the International Court, which states that when fulfilling its right to self-determination a territory within any state does not have to seek permission from the country’s central government in order to proclaim its sovereignty. This was the ruling on Kosovo, and this is what the International Court decided, and everyone supported it. I personally read all the comments issued by the judicial, administrative and political bodies in the United States and Europe – everyone supported this decision.

If so, the Donbass republics, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, can enjoy the same right without seeking permission from Ukraine’s central government and declare their sovereignty, since the precedent has been created.

Is this so? Do you agree with this?

(Antonio Guterres noted that the United Nations did not recognise Kosovo).

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course, but the court did. Let me finish what I was saying.

If there is a precedent, the Donbass republics can do the same. This is what they did, while we, in turn, had the right to recognise them as independent states.

Many countries around the world did this, including our Western opponents, with Kosovo. Many states recognised Kosovo. It is a fact that many Western countries recognised Kosovo as an independent state. We did the same with the Donbass republics. After that, they asked us to provide them with military assistance to deal with the state that launched military operations against them. We had the right to do so in full compliance with Chapter VII, Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Just a second, we will talk about this in a minute. But first I would like to address the second part of your question, Mariupol. The situation is difficult and possibly even tragic there. But in fact, it is very simple.

I had a conversation with President Erdogan today. He spoke about the ongoing fighting there. No, there is no fighting there; it is over. There is no fighting in Mariupol; it has stopped.

Part of the Ukrainian armed forces that were deployed in other industrial districts have surrendered. Nearly 1,300 of them have surrendered, but the actual figure is larger. Some of them were injured or wounded; they are being kept in absolutely normal conditions. The wounded have received medical assistance from our doctors, skilled and comprehensive assistance.

The Azovstal plant has been fully isolated. I have issued instructions, an order to stop the assault. There is no direct fighting there now. Yes, the Ukrainian authorities say that there are civilians at the plant. In this case, the Ukrainian military must release them, or otherwise they will be doing what terrorists in many countries have done, what ISIS did in Syria when they used civilians as human shields. The simplest thing they can do is release these people; it is as simple as that.

You say that Russia’s humanitarian corridors are ineffective. Mr Secretary-General, you have been misled: these corridors are effective. Over 100,000 people, 130,000–140,000, if I remember correctly, have left Mariupol with our assistance, and they are free to go where they want, to Russia or Ukraine. They can go anywhere they want; we are not detaining them, but we are providing assistance and support to them.

The civilians in Azovstal, if there are any, can do this as well. They can come out, just like that. This is an example of a civilised attitude to people, an obvious example. And anyone can see this; you only need to talk with the people who have left the city. The simplest thing for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.

We maintain contact with them, with those who are hiding underground at the Azovstal plant. They have an example they can follow: their comrades-in-arms have surrendered, over a thousand of them, 1,300. Nothing bad has happened to them. Moreover, Mr Secretary-General, if you wish, if representatives of the Red Cross and the UN want to inspect their detainment conditions and see for themselves where and how medical assistance is being provided to them, we are ready to organise this. It is the simplest solution to a seemingly complex issue.

Let us discuss this.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with India Today television channel, Moscow, April 19, 2022

April 20, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1810023/

Question: The big question that most are asking is the reason for this operation, the reason for President Putin to take the country to war at a time when we have seen negotiations and talks taking place. What was the reason? We know that America said that Russia was going to carry out operations. New Delhi certainly was not aware of it. Many countries said that it is not something that is going to happen, but it did happen.

Sergey Lavrov: The real reason is the complacency of most countries of the world after the end of World War II, when our Western colleagues, led by the United States, declared themselves winners and in violation of the promises to the Soviet and Russian leadership started moving NATO eastward. They kept saying: “Don’t worry, this is a defensive alliance, it is not a threat to Russian security.” It was a defensive alliance when there were NATO and the Warsaw Treaty, and there was the Berlin Wall, as you remember, both physical and geopolitical. It was very clear what was the “line of defence” for this “defensive alliance.”

When the opponent disappeared, both the Warsaw Treaty disappeared and the Soviet Union disappeared, they decided that they will move the “line of defence eastward.” They did this five times without explaining against whom they are going to defend themselves, but in the process building up their advanced assault capacities and choosing the former Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, as the springboard against the Russian interests.

As early as 2003, for example, when they had a presidential election in Ukraine, the West was publicly and blatantly demanding Ukrainians: you must choose, are you with Russia or with Europe? Then, of course, they started pulling Ukraine into the European Union Association Agreement. The agreement provided for zero tariffs for Ukrainian goods in Europe, and European goods in Ukraine. We had a free trade area agreement with Ukraine in the context of the Commonwealth of Independent States. So, we told our Ukrainian neighbours: guys, we have zero tariffs with you, but we have protection with the European Union, because we negotiated WTO entry for 18 years. For some time, we did manage to protect some sectors of the Russian economy – agriculture, insurance, banking, and some others – with considerable tariffs. We told them: if you have zero [tariffs] with Europe and zero [tariffs] with us, we are not protected against European goods, which was part of the deal when we entered the WTO.

Then in 2013, when the Ukrainian President understood the problem, he asked the European Union to postpone the signature of the Association Agreement. We suggested that the three of us – Russia, Ukraine, and the EU – could sit together and discuss how to proceed. The European Union in a very arrogant way said that this is none of your business, we do not put our nose in your trade with China or other countries, so this is going to happen. Then the President of Ukraine decided to postpone this ceremony. The next morning, the demonstrators were on Maidan in Kiev.

In February 2014, the European Union helped negotiate a deal between the President and the opposition. Next morning, the signatures of the European Union representatives – France, Germany and Poland – were absolutely ignored by the opposition, who staged a coup and declared that they are creating a “government of the winners,” that they will cancel the special status of the Russian language. They threatened to throw ethnic Russians out of Crimea, they sent armed groups to storm the Crimean parliament. That is how the war started. The Crimeans said: “We don’t want to have anything [to do] with you, leave us alone.” As a I said, there was a threat from armed groups. The eastern areas of Ukraine said: “Guys, we do not support your coup, leave us alone.” They never attacked the rest of Ukraine. The putschists attacked them, having called them terrorists. They called them terrorists for eight long years.

We managed to stop this bloodshed in February 2015 – the so-called Minsk Agreements were signed, providing Eastern Ukraine with some special status, language, the right to have some local police, special economic relations with the adjacent Russian regions. It was basically the same as [the agreement] the European Union negotiated for the north of Kosovo where Serbs live. In both cases, the European Union failed totally to deliver on what was guaranteed by the signatures of its members. For eight long years, the respective governments of Ukraine and Presidents of Ukraine were saying, blatantly and publicly, that they were not going to implement the Minsk agreements, that they will move to Plan B. They continued to shell the territories of these [self-] proclaimed republics during all these years. We warned the Europeans, the Americans, and Ukraine that they are ignoring something which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. To no avail.

People do not want to go back into this history because they prefer to take events on their immediate merit, but these particular events are rooted in the desire of the United States and what we call the collective West, to rule, to dominate the world and just show everybody that there would be no multipolarity. It would be only unipolarity.

And that they can declare Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yugoslavia, located tens of thousands of miles from the United States, threats to their security, and can do whatever they please there, levelling cities, like they did with Mosul in Iraq, and Raqqa in Syria. Russia has been warning all its colleagues that just on our borders you have been creating a springboard against us: you have been pumping arms into Ukraine, you have been totally ignoring the legislation of Ukraine, which prohibited, completely prohibited the Russian language, you have been encouraging neo-Nazi ideologies and practices. The neo-Nazi battalions were very much active against the territories which proclaimed themselves independent and who were promised special status. It’s inside Ukraine.

It was all linked with Ukraine becoming NATO’s springboard, and NATO expansion. They were saying that Ukraine will be in NATO. Nobody can stop Ukraine if it so wishes. Then President Zelensky said that he might think about coming back to possess nuclear weapons. In November last year, my President suggested to the United States and to NATO to sit down, to cool off, and to discuss how we can agree on security guarantees without NATO’s further eastward expansion. They refused. In the process, the Ukrainian army radically intensified the shelling of those republics in violation of all the ceasefire agreements. We didn’t have any other choice but to recognise them, to sign mutual assistance treaties with them, and, in response to their request, to send our troops as part of special operation to protect their lives.

Question: You provided the basics: the history, as well as the present context. But you also said, President Putin himself said, that this is not targeting civilians or the citizens, people of Ukraine. It is to do with the administration. We know that in international foreign policy parlance it is used quite often: not in my backyard. America says it all the time, and many other countries say it. But should an entire people, and entire population be punished for an administration wanting to carry out independent foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think it’s about any independence. Since 2013, and maybe even earlier, hundreds and hundreds of US, UK, and other Western security and military experts have been openly sitting in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence and the Ukrainian security apparatus. They basically were running the place.

As for the civilians, immediately when this special operation started in response to the request from Donetsk and Lugansk in full compliance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, when it was announced by President Putin, he said that the sole purpose of this operation is to demilitarise and denazify Ukrainians – these two problems of the country are intimately linked. We have been targeting only military infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian army and the so-called nationalist battalions, which are using Nazi insignia, swastikas, which was borrowed from Indian history, but twisted the wrong way, and insignia of Waffen-SS battalions, these people were using and continue to use civilians as human shields. They were placing heavy weapons in the middle of towns and cities, next to schools, next to kindergartens, to hospitals. The internet is full of the testimonies of the people who were living in these places, and who were asking these people not to do this.

Unfortunately, nobody in the West actually pays attention to the facts, which we have been providing. Instead, they are staging some fake situations, like a couple of weeks ago with the place called Bucha. The Russian troops left on March 30, I think, and for three days the city was back in the hands of the Ukrainian administration. The mayor of Bucha Anatoly Fedoruk was publicly saying that the city is back to normal life. Only on the fourth day, they started showing images of dozens of corpses lying in the street, which was only a few days before shown as being back to normal. Then a few days later in the city of Kramatorsk, which was fully in the Ukrainian hands, they summoned people to the railway station, and attacked them with a Tochka-U missile. It was proven beyond any doubt that the missile was fired by the Ukrainian army. That’s why the next morning it was out of the news in the West because everybody understood the obvious nature of this provocation. Now, The New York Times says that they have the proof that cluster bombs were used by the Ukrainian army.

Speaking of civilians and the rules of international humanitarian law, I can once again assure you that our army operates against the military infrastructure and not against civilians.

Question: Mr Lavrov, you said that Russian forces have only targeted military facilities. Even if there were military facilities or tanks that have been placed in civilian areas, Russian forces did not show restraint in taking them down. Hence, there are civilians who have been killed. There has been bloodshed, whether it is the outskirts of Kiev, primarily Mariupol, Volnovakha – absolutely raised to the ground. Some responsibility has to be taken by the Russians also on the bloodshed?

Sergey Lavrov: It is always terrible when military activities bring damage to the civilians and to the civilian sector, to civilian infrastructure. As I said, when people have been killing ethnic Russians, citizens of Ukraine, in the east for eight years, no TV representatives, be it Asian, be it African, be it Latin American, be it European, be it the United States, paid any attention to this. The Russian journalists have been working on the contact line, on the side of the republics, round the clock, showing the atrocities committed by the Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Ukrainian armed forces. And during all those years not a single foreign journalist cared to come to the other part of this line of contact to see what was going on there.

The statistics available from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe indicate that the damage afflicted on the civilians and the civilian infrastructure on the side of the republics, the [self-] proclaimed republics, was five times more and bigger than the same figure for the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government.

This is not to say that we can just ignore the victims and the damage to the civilian infrastructure, but once again I want to emphasise a very important thing. This outcry started only when the Russians decided to protect Russians who are citizens of Ukraine and who were absolutely discriminated. There was no outcry when the city of Raqqa, for example, in Syria was levelled with dozens and hundreds of corpses lying there unattended for weeks and weeks. The American military never had any scruples about achieving their military goals, be it in Syria, be it in Iraq, be it in Afghanistan, for that matter.

This is a tragedy, when people die. But we cannot tolerate the situation when our Western colleagues say that they can do anything they want. They can encourage the government in Kiev to be as Russophobic as it takes. They would not tell them to stop prohibiting the Russian language in education, in media, stop banning all Russian speaking channels, including Ukrainian channels, they would not tell them not to prosecute the opposition, who favours dialogue with Russia, and to stop violating the commitments to give special status to the territories where the Russian speaking population dominates.

Question: You made a very important point because India Today has travelled to Donetsk and we have been putting out these reports. It is very important because it is important to understand the plight of Russian descent and Russian speaking people in Ukraine. There is no taking away from that. We will talk about Donbass. But coming to the allegations against Russia of genocide, of war crimes, and on the fact that chemical weapons have been used by Russian forces, what do you have to say to the visuals? You said that there were no bodies. There were bodies in the basements that have been found much later that would have been found anyway much later. Will there be no investigation that will be carried out? Why just say that it did not happen?

Sergey Lavrov: We are investigating the atrocities of the neo-Nazi battalions of Ukraine and of Ukrainian armed forces. There is a special commission created by the Russian chamber – there is a public organisation which is very experienced. They have been discovering the fakes staged by the so-called White Helmets in Syria, in many other cases. We will not cease our efforts to establish the truth.

We are used to the fact that the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries have a very interesting habit: they just throw in news when they believe this news will work ideologically for their benefit, and then, when it comes to the facts, and when more facts are discovered, putting a big question mark on their assertions, they just lose interest.

2007, London. Poisoning of Mr Litvinenko. Huge outcry. The investigation begins, and after a few weeks a public inquiry is announced, which in the UK  means that it is secret. Until now, we cannot get the facts about what had happened to Mr Litvinenko.

2014, Malaysian Airlines Boeing. Shot down over Ukraine. We presented a huge amount of facts. We requested that we be part of the investigation – no way. Ukrainians who did not close their skies during the conflict were invited to this investigation group, Russia was not. Malaysia, as the owner of the plane, was invited only five months later after the Australians, the Dutch. They and the Malaysians agreed among themselves that anything coming out of this room must be subject to consensus, meaning that Ukraine, which did not close the skies, had a veto power on this investigation. We could not get the truth on this one as well.

2019, Salisbury poisoning. The people disappeared. The only proof which was made public is “highly likely,” as Theresa May said. The Brits insisted on the expulsion of Russian diplomats by most of the European countries. When I asked my friends, did they provide proof beyond the public statements about “highly likely” it was Russia, they said “no, but they promised to.” I checked one year later, whether this was done, it was not done. And so on, and so forth.

2020. Our opposition blogger Mr Navalny was poisoned. We asked the Germans. We immediately responded to the German request to let him go to the Berlin hospital. Twenty-four hours after the request he was flown to Berlin. We don’t have any confirmation who was flying with him, where did they get the bottle which is the key element in this investigation. When we asked the Germans to show us the formula which they discovered in his blood, they said this is a military secret.

It is us who until now insist on the truth about Litvinenko, about the Skripals, about Malaysian Boeing, and about Navalny. The stories that they stage in Ukraine these days are of the same nature.

Question: Going back to the investigations, you are saying that that Azov battalion is absolutely shameful, yes, they should be investigated. They are neo-Nazis, and they should not have been incorporated or integrated into any military regime in any country. But if you introspect and look at your own people as well, is there any instance of denying and rejecting claims? Will there be investigations against your own people if they have done wrong? Will they be held accountable?

Sergey Lavrov: We have a law that prohibits the military to do anything which is not allowed under international humanitarian law. Any violations are registered and investigated.

On Azov, it is interesting that you mentioned it. Azov was listed in the United States in 2014 or 2015 as a group that cannot be supported, that cannot legitimately operate, and it was prohibited by Congress to provide any assistance to this battalion. Everybody forgot about this or rather they certainly remember what this group is about, and they decided to put their money on this group.

In Japan, as you know, they passed a special decree by the government that Azov is no longer a neo-Nazi group, and the Japanese government apologises for listing Azov as such. And of course when President Zelensky in his camouflage was asked about Azov by some journalists, who felt that something was wrong with these neo-Nazi trends, Zelensky said quietly: Azov, they are what they are, we have many groups like this. They are part of our army.

You, I mean the media, started asking questions about Azov only when the military operation was launched. For eight long years, nobody lifted a finger, nobody bothered about what was being groomed in Ukraine, as a continuation, or rather a resurrection, of what was boiling in Europe in 1930s.

Question: President Zelensky said that Russia plans to use tactical nuclear weapons.

Sergey Lavrov: He says many things. Depends on what he drinks and what he smokes. He says many things.

Question: Do you think it was a strategic miscalculation by President Zelensky to take on Russia when there was no certain assurance from NATO and the European Union that they would actually back Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: President Zelensky came to power with the promise of peace. He said that he will reach peace on the basis of the Minsk Agreements. A few months later, he said he cannot implement the Minsk Agreements because the Minsk Agreements are “unimplementable.”

Question: It was the Russian forces, the DPR.

Sergey Lavrov: No, he never said that it was because of the military situation on the ground. He said that it is unthinkable for Ukraine to give special status to any part of his territory. But it was very “thinkable,” if I may say so, when Ukraine was created, to put together the territories which now (those in the west) never celebrate Victory Day, May 9, and the eastern territories, which would never celebrate the heroes honoured in the west: those who collaborated with Hitler. With this difficult composition of territories, to say that Ukraine can only be a unitary state, and that it would not give special status to these people even if the Security Council demands so, I believe that this was not very far-sighted.

Had he cooperated as he promised to his electorate when he was elected, had he cooperated in implementing the Minsk Agreements, the crisis would have been over long ago.

Question: Did the West betray Zelensky?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I think the West played Zelensky against Russia and did everything to strengthen the desire to ignore the Minsk Agreements.

The “West” is a broad notion. It’s the United States and the Brits. The rest of the West, including the European Union, is just an obedient servant.

Question: Tactical nuclear weapons. Will Russia ever use them?

Sergey Lavrov: Ask Mr Zelensky. We never mentioned this. He mentioned this. So, his intelligence must have provided him some news. I cannot comment something which a not very adequate person pronounces.

Question: As a P5 member, as a nuclear power, will nuclear be an option at all, on the table at all?

Sergey Lavrov: When the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987, Gorbachev and Reagan, decided that they have special responsibility for peace on this planet, they signed the solemn declaration that there could be no winners in a nuclear war, and therefore a nuclear war must never be launched.

After the Trump administration came to office, we have been telling them, because tensions were aggravated: “Why don’t we try to send a positive political message to the entire universe and to reiterate what Gorbachev and Reagan pronounced?” During all the four years of the administration, they refused to do so.

But we were really encouraged when President Biden was inaugurated. Five days after his inauguration, we repeated this offer, he first agreed to extend the [New] START treaty without any preconditions. In June 2021, when they met with President Putin in Geneva, they issued this declaration. This declaration was issued on our initiative. After the Americans and the Russians said that there must be no nuclear war, that they won’t think about it, we started to promote the same commitment in the context of the P5. Not the United States, not UK, not France – Russia. Eventually, earlier this year, in January this year, the P5, at the level of presidents and heads of government, issued the statement which we initiated and which we were pushing through for all these years.

Question: So nuclear is off the table?

Sergey Lavrov: This statement, both the Russian-American statement, and the P5 summit statement, were issued on the strong insistence of the Russian Federation.

Question: Coming back to the Donbass region, DPR, LPR. The independence of these republics is non-negotiable for Russia when you talk to Ukraine. What happens if the negotiations succeed between Ukraine and Russia and should there be a settlement, will Russia withdraw from other areas: Sumy, Kharkov, Zaporozhye, Kherson, Nikolayev?

Sergey Lavrov: I thought you are a journalist, but you can be a spy. I am not discussing the military operation, for obvious reasons it is never the case.

On the territorial situation, we recognise DPR and LPR within the administrative boundaries of the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Minsk agreements were signed when these two territories were split roughly half and half. Now the militias of these republics are fighting to get their territory back.

When they had a referendum in 2014, it was held on the entire territories of the former regions. But then the coup leaders started the war, which they called an anti-terrorist operation, and they took a considerable chunk of both regions. So, yes, we recognise LPR and DPR within their declared territories as a result of the referendum.

Question: Which in fact includes Mariupol and Volnovakha, as part of Donetsk.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Question: My question is, if there is a settlement between the two sides, and they recognise, which President Zelensky said he would not, he said that they are going to fight for Donbass to the very end, so where are the red lines?

Sergey Lavrov: I cannot intelligently discuss what President Zelensky says because he always changes his mind diametrically.

He was the initiator of the negotiations, which we accepted. At some point we were disappointed because they were changing their mind every time, coming late, leaving early, but then in Istanbul, about one month ago, it was on March 29, they brought a paper, saying that we are not going to be a member of any military alliance, that they will be neutral. In return, they asked for security guarantees, preferably P5, maybe some others, and it was written and initialled by the head of the heads of delegations. The security guarantees they were asking for would not cover Crimea and the territories in the east of Ukraine.

It was not our language, it was their language. Now President Zelensky says “no way.” They started backtracking even earlier. But this is a paper with the signature of the head of the Ukrainian delegation. So, before we can intelligently discuss what he says one day or another, we need to have clarity about the credibility of this person and about his team.

Question: Was there any understanding in Istanbul on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kiev, as well?

Sergey Lavrov: We changed the configuration of our presence. This was announced immediately after Istanbul that since we believed that they brought something which could serve as a basis [of an agreement], we made a goodwill gesture, and we changed the configuration in the Kiev and Chernigov areas.

This was not appreciated at all. Instead, this Bucha thing was immediately staged and played, like Skripals were played in Salisbury, like the Malaysian Boeing, like Navalny, played, but immediately put aside when the hard facts were presented which they cannot challenge.

Question: There are mayors who have been appointed now by Russia in Berdyansk and Melitopol, and they are saying that they will hold a referendum, that they are not going to go back. Is that the plan?

Sergey Lavrov: That’s the outmost democracy, right? A referendum – people saying what they want.

Question: Which means that you are securing your land boundary in Sumy and Kharkov, but also the waters, if you look at Zaporozhye, Nikolayev.

Sergey Lavrov: People have been suffering in all these places for eight long years, when neo-Nazis were prohibiting them to speak their own language, prohibiting them to commemorate the heroes of World War II, of the Great Patriotic War, prohibiting to have parades and to have any events to commemorate the fallen, the parents, the grandparents of these people.

Now when they have thrown away these neo-Nazis, and say that now we will decide who will be running the place – this is our mayor, this is our legislature, I believe that this is a manifestation of democracy after so many years of oppression.

Question: It seems that Ukraine has lost more land than it would have gained by negotiating on Donbass.

Sergey Lavrov: It’s the decision of those who have been running Ukraine, of those who have been sabotaging the Minsk agreements, in spite of the UN Security Council decision. We are not up for regime change in Ukraine. We have said this repeatedly. We want the Ukrainians themselves to decide how they want to live further in a way, which would not repeat the Minsk agreements, when they did decide that they did not want to do anything with the coup leaders, who immediately said that they are against anything Russian: culture, language, everything what these people cherish. Then they were promised something by the European Union and cheated.

We want the people to be free. To decide how they want to live in Ukraine.

Question: Russia is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. How long can you sustain?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think we are thinking in the context of sustaining. Sustaining means, you know, you sustain, you take some hardships, and hope that, sooner or later, this would be over.

Russia has been under sanctions all along – Jackson–Vanik, then it was repealed, but Magnitsky Act was introduced, then we were punished for the free vote of the Crimeans, we were punished for supporting those who were in favour of keeping the Minsk agreements, but the Ukrainian government did not want them to get what they promised, and so on and so forth.

So, now we have come to a very straightforward conclusion. We cannot rely on our Western colleagues in any part of our life, which has strategic significance, be it food security, which we managed to ensure ourselves after 2014, be it, of course, defence, and be it some strategic sectors where high-tech is developing and indicating the future of the mankind. We did not have time to achieve self-sufficiency in all these areas, but in most cases, we resolved this issue. Of course, we are open to cooperation with all other countries who do not use illegal, illegitimate unilateral measures in violation of the UN Charter.

India is among those. We cooperate bilaterally. I visited a couple of months ago, and we cooperate in many international organisations.

Question: Speaking of India, India is under immense pressure to sever ties, to cut down imports of energy, of fuel, but India has stood its ground. In terms of reliability, is there a concern that India should have with regards to the kind of defence cooperation both countries have? Could there be delays in deliveries of critical weapons systems that India is buying from Russia, such as the S-400s? What is the conversation you have been having with New Delhi on this ground?

Sergey Lavrov: India is our very old friend. We called our relationship a long time ago a strategic partnership. Then, about 20 years ago, the Indian friends said: why don’t we call it a “privileged strategic partnership?” Sometime later, they said that this was not enough. Let’s call it “especially privileged strategic partnership.” This is a unique description of the bilateral relations between India and Russia.

With India, long before all this became such a hot potato, we supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s concept “Make in India” and we started substituting simple trade with local production, shifting production of the goods needed by India on your territory. It was for quite a number of years already that we have been promoting the use of our national currencies in settlements between the governments of the two countries.

We promoted national information systems, transmission systems, like SWIFT. You have your own, we have our won. They are being used more and more. Payment cards: we have MIR, you have RuPay. They are mutually supportive. It is not, you know, a huge percentage, of the overall volume of trade, but it is steadily growing. On defence, we can provide anything India wants. Technology transfers in the context of defence cooperation are absolutely unprecedented for any of India’s outside partners.

Question: We have got away with a waiver from the United States for the S-400s, but future collaborations, could they become difficult?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, when the Americans say that they are in favour of democracy all over the world, they mean only a very specific thing – that it is up to them to decide who is democracy, and who deserves to have some good attitude on behalf of Washington. When they convened this summit of democracies, you only need to look through the list of invitees, to understand that it is not about real democracies, it is about something else. The Americans now run all over the world, their ambassadors have priority number one to go to the foreign ministry, to the government of the country where they serve and say: “You must stop talking to Russia, you must join sanctions against Russia.”

Well, long before this crisis, I have been talking to the Americans, to the Europeans, I told them: when you say democracy, democracy, and at the conferences you always want this language on rule of law and democracy, I asked them about adding that apart from the national level, we want democracy and the rule of law internationally. They don’t like it. When they push everybody in this anti-Russian camp, when they go to India, when they go to China, to Turkey, to Egypt, countries with their own thousands years of history of civilization, of culture, and when they are not even ashamed to publicly tell you what to do, I believe something is wrong not only with manners, which always has been the case, but something is wrong with the mentality.

When Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, says publicly: “We, the United States, has not yet decided whether to introduce sanctions against India for the S-400s,” they have not decided what is good for you. His under-secretary Wendy Sherman later said: “We must help India understand what is important for its security.” How about that?

Question: I suppose your counterpart gave them a befitting reply on how to conduct one’s foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: Absolutely. I respect Subrahmanyam Jaishankar very much. He is a seasoned diplomat, and he is a real patriot of his country. He said that we will be taking the decisions on the basis of what India believes it needs for its development, for its security. It’s respectful. Not too many countries can say something like this.

Question: You mentioned China. For us, the China factor is very important. Russia has a unique relationship when it comes to ties with China and ties with India. You mentioned the United States of America, so again, I am going to go back to the US. Recently, in one of the visits, deputy national security advisor said that should India continue ties with Russia, there will be consequences. If, he said, there is another incident at the LAC, then the US will not come to India’s rescue. The statement is flawed, because there are two points. One is that he said “should there be another incident,” not recognising that the Chinese are still on Indian soil. Secondly, he said that they will not come to India’s rescue, but they did not come in the first place. But where does Russia stand?

Sergey Lavrov: We stand in favour of resolving any conflicts on the basis of arrangements negotiated directly between the parties, like, just like it was in Ukraine, when the two parties, the rebels, as they are called, the separatists, as they are called, for us they are self-proclaimed republics, on the one side, and the government, which came to power as a result of the coup, on the other side had a deal, negotiated and endorsed by the Security Council. It is another matter that the government, with the instigation of the West, failed to deliver, but the method is the one which we believe should be applied everywhere.

After those incidents on the border, we welcomed the resumption of the discussions between the military of India and China, the discussions between the politicians, at the level of the foreign ministers, and we hope that this would be resolved. We cannot use those threats, which are absolutely normal for the Americans, who say “or else, there would be consequences.” It is their favourite statement.

What we would like to do, as Russia, we would like to promote the formats where India, Russia, and China participate together. It started in 1996-1997, when Russia’s Foreign Minister at that time, Yevgeny Primakov, suggested the RIC format – the troika formed by Russia, India, and China. It happened, and we continue to convene in this format. I think, last November there was probably the 20th ministerial meeting. Not only foreign ministers, but also ministers of economy, ministers of trade, political scientists meet, which may not be very much publicised, but it is a very useful format.

We were very much in favour, even we were the leading force in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to promote this, of the full membership of India, together with Pakistan, in this organisation. This is another premise for China and India to be together in the company of their neighbours, and to build more confidence.

Question: Finally, before I let you go, sir, Europe is looking to halt gas from Russia. Come summer, policies might get harsher. But you are looking for the dedollarisation of the global energy market by dealing in roubles. How do you propose to do that, should they start halting?

Sergey Lavrov: There will be no change for the Europeans and other countries who buy our gas. The reason for this decision was very simple and obvious. When they froze the Russian assets in dollars, euro, yens, and the pound sterling for the amount of more than 300 billion euros or dollars, those were mostly the money kept in Western banks after we received payments from them, from the Western countries, for our gas deliveries.

In other words, they paid us, and they stole the money from us because those were the currencies which are linked to the Western banking system. So what we told them to do: they would not be paying directly to Gazprom’s accounts abroad, but they would be paying to a bank called Gazprombank. It is an independent entity. They would be paying the same amount which they have to pay under the existing contracts, but they will pay these amounts to a special account which they have to open with this bank. There would be a parallel account in roubles. So they pay euros, and then inside this bank these euros are transferred to the rouble account, and from this account Gazprom receives roubles.

Question: So you are not running losses at all on the money Russia is to receive from Europe? There is no money that has been stopped?

Sergey Lavrov: Exactly. As of now, they would not be able to keep the money in their banks, the money that they not even owe us, but which they paid to us already. I believe this is something which does not contradict contracts. They would still be paying in euros or dollars or whatever was the currency of the contract, but we will have insurance that this robbery would not happen again.

Question: Finally, sir, before I let you go, I have to go back to that question on eastern Ukraine. Intensification of war efforts now in eastern Ukraine – is the trigger the flagship warship Moskva that sunk. What really happened there? Is that one of the triggers now why we see more intensification against Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: No, this operation in the east of Ukraine is aimed, as was announced from the very beginning, to fully liberate the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. This operation will continue. Another stage of this operation is beginning. I am sure that this will be a very important moment of this entire special operation.

Question: What happened to the warship?

Sergey Lavrov: It is for the Ministry of Defence. They explained what happened and I cannot add anything to this.

Question: On that note, many thanks for joining us here on India Today. It was indeed a pleasure, sir.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you very much.

Question: That was the Foreign Minister of Russia speaking exclusively to India Today.


Notes on information availability from the Russian Federation:

The best video is on Telegram:  https://t.me/MFARussia/12362
This is the first complete address from the Russian MFA that they posted on Telegram since the attack on the availability of Russian information started.  It is also a complete interview in English and without translators.

The Indian interviewer is smart and respectful.  Mr. Lavrov is patient and clear.

It is still a hit-and-miss exercise to get complete information from Russian professional sources.   You can see these interviews live on Ruptly but there is no playback.  The videos and transcripts are on the Russian Foreign Ministry site, but frequently there is no playback.  In copying this transcript just a while ago, the Russian MFA site went down again.

It is important to see or read these completely in order to find nuance and context. It seems to be a fashionable journalistic method to report on one or two snippets only. In that, the Russian media sources are not helping us to help them. Here is an example.  Mr. Lavrov’s takeaway quote on being asked about Zelenski, is:  “He says many things, depending on what he drinks or what he smokes.”   RT decided to shorten that, and said:  “He says many things, depending on what he drinks.”   Incorrectly reporting even direct quotes does not serve the Russian cause.

Amarynth

Two Cheers for Realism

April 19, 2022

Source

By Francis Lee

One of the unstated and extant features of the contemporary age has been the demise of the Westphalian Treaty. This arrangement had in times past regulated the relationship and clashes of interest among the great powers. We should remind ourselves that the key precepts of the system were preceded by the carnage of the 30 years’ war in Europe circa 1618-1648, and eventually agreed upon at the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 – an arrangement which brought an end to the wars of the Reformation and agreed upon and binding on all parties. These precepts were:

‘’The Westphalian peace reflected a practical accommodation to reality, not a unique moral insight. It relied on a system of independent states refraining from interference in each other’s domestic affairs and checking each other’s ambitions through a general equilibrium of power. No single claim to truth or universal rule had prevailed in Europe’s contests. Instead, each state was assigned the attribute of sovereign power over its territory. Each would acknowledge the domestic structures and religious vocations of its fellow states and refrain from challenging their existence. A recognition of the existence of sovereign states within their own clearly defined borders and sphere of influence.’’ * So argued Henry Kissenger (2014)

Alas this is no more, and the system had undergone a long decline throughout its inception for reasons which in time were to become obvious. It was earlier in the wake of World War I that the Westphalian system began to falter. US President Woodrow Wilson joined the war not so much to defend American territory as to “make the world safe for democracy”. If “democracy” was a religion, rather than an ideology or a system of government, then Wilson would not sound very different from the most zealous Crusaders of medieval Europe. Despite Wilson’s idea for a League of Nations failing to gain congressional approval at home, the leaders of Europe went ahead and formed the organization themselves. While the main purpose of the League was to make war obsolete, it utterly failed to do so.

The putative new world ‘order’ in the shape of the UN Charter was first established in 1945 and was an explicitly globalist organization. Whereas Westphalian nationalism held that each country was its own sovereign unit, post-war globalism instead held that certain concepts such as ‘liberal democracy’ and ‘civil rights’ were universal to all humanity, and therefore any nation that restricted such things lost the protections of sovereignty. All very noble but roughly translated this should read.

The two or three great powers had the ability and resolve to structure the world in their own image and in doing so maximise and extend the reach of their power. As for humanity and the subaltern classes and nations; they were to be subordinated to the interests of larger powers and serve those interests. End of.

The great powers would go through the motions in pursuit of their interests – they always do, but the outcome would be tailored to those interests. For example. In 1991, US President George H. W. Bush announced a war against Iraq, which had invaded and occupied the neighbouring nation of Kuwait. However, when push came to shove the great power(s) – in this instance the US – did not hesitate to use their formidable resources – including war, annexation and starvation – against the weaker smaller states who became the objects of war.

Cold War 1 lasted until the break-up of the USSR in 1991. This was manna from heaven for the imperial juggernaut who saw a game-changing opportunity to push ahead with its global hegemonic agenda whilst Russia was entering the Yeltsin disaster years. This was made perfectly clear in a ground breaking directive issued by the then US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy at that time (neo-conservative) Paul Wolfowitz. This was to become known as The Wolfowitz doctrine:  Not intended for initial public release, it was leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992. It read:

‘’Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat of the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defence strategy and requires that we endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.’’(1)

In short: Me Tarzan, you Jane. The US and its satellites were top of the pile and would remain so. Other potentially hostile states will be surrounded, threatened, and intimidated into accepting their subaltern status. This was described by Senator Edward Kennedy as “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.” (2) And just to rub salt into the wound the US and its vassal states expanded NATO to include former Soviet republics and ex Warsaw pact states and pushed right up to Russia’s western borders.

Suffice it to say this geo-political arrangement involved a complete rejection of Westphalian principles and has imposed global liberal practise of hegemony and interventionism under the command of the principal global hegemon, the United States. This pursuit of global hegemony represents the implementation of the belief in America’s so-called ‘Manifest Destiny’ – a divine providence to spread the liberal-democratic global order to the rest of the planet and usher in a global Shangri-La of peace, prosperity … and so on and so forth. Of course, this puts the world on a permanent war footing. This has been instanced by wars waged by the empire against Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia and Syria with more in the pipeline as well as a cyber-attack on Iran – the Stuxnet attack – and a number of colour revolutions paid for and organized by the US, Georgia and Ukraine being the most obvious and well-known. But the big prize is and always has been the Eurasian bloc. This of course may well involve a nuclear exchange, but hey, America’s intentions are noble and worth fighting for are they not? It should be understood that the United States is the indispensable, exceptional nation, the shining city on the hill. Blah, blah, blah.

What is particularly disturbing is that this absurd and dangerous doctrine has become akin to a religious orthodoxy. Comparable perhaps to the fanaticism of Wahhabist cults in parts of the Muslim world. It is suggestive of an infantile mindset which views international relations as a Manichean struggle between good and evil. Whether the non-adult proponents actually believe in this doctrine is a moot point. But the pervasiveness of this cult is all but total; this is a 21st century inquisition complete with heresy hunts and a fanatical priesthood of the media and their security handlers in the deep state, in their attempts to close down any other or any independent counter-narrative.

However, once the ideological stranglehold on policy has built up momentum it becomes very difficult to change course. In the language and ideology of neo-con exceptionalism, diplomacy is akin to appeasement, the West is threatened, Russia-Putin is on the rampage, proof (sic) of this was his ‘’invasion’’ of Ukraine. China also is becoming a threat to the western way of life; Carthage must be destroyed. Of course, every one of these assertions are extremely contentious and could/should be countered, but of course they are not; the dominant narrative shall not be profaned or challenged.

As the US and its vassals therefore prepare for war, its populations must be conditioned to believe and accept such an inevitable outcome. The propaganda machine has been stepped up to unprecedented levels. The message is simple. Our side = good, Their side = bad. Our side does good things, their side does bad things. Thus, the media – now an asset of the deep state – plays an essential role of propagating this political construction among the populations of the Anglo-Zionist heartlands.

All of which is very reminiscent of Orwell’s short novel Animal Farm. After the Animal Revolution and the eviction of Jones the Farmer, the sheep were instructed by the ruling group – the pigs – into reciting the goodness of the animals and the badness of humans. The short and endless bleat of the sheep went as follows: ‘’Four legs good, two legs bad,’’ repeated endlessly.

That is about the level of western foreign policy. Good guys, bad guys, white hats, black hats, no compromise, no surrender. Result war. The question we must now ask is has this menacing process gone too far to go into reverse? This of course remains an open question. But the thrust of neo-conservative foreign policy would suggest this war would be a logical outcome. Either that or the whole thing is a bluff. Up to this point the US performance in attacking recalcitrant weak states has not been a roaring success. The same goes for Israel. Bombing countries with no air defence or shooting Palestinian kids with sniper rifles is easy-peasy. Taking on Iran is a different matter entirely. The irresistible force seems to be meeting its immovable object.

From a realist as opposed to a neo-conservative foreign policy the idea of an American world empire is frankly deranged. Pursuit of this pipedream can only result in mutually assured destruction; yes, M.A.D. still applies. The United States and its minions might not like it, but it will have to learn to live with other great powers. Russia, China have legitimate spheres of influence and this should be respected. This will involve an end to the gross provocations in the South China Sea and in Poland, Romania, and the Baltics, not to mention the ongoing series of colour revolutions.

This is true in spades with regard to Israel – a country of a mere 8 million souls with an ambition to create a greater Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile. This objective, involving a ruthless ethnic cleansing has been unremittingly pursued since the British left Palestine in 1948. According to one David Ben-Gurion about how to deal with Palestinians in their midst: ‘’There is a need for strong and brutal reaction’’ (to Palestinian opposition) ‘’ … We need to be accurate about timing, place and those we hit. If we accuse a family, we need to harm them without mercy, women and children included, otherwise this is not an effective reaction … there is no need to distinguish between guilty and not guilty.’’(3) This of course has been par for the course since the late 1940s. But Israel like its American sponsor, must learn to live within its own sphere of influence and not tempt fate by embarking on a Zionist crusade against its near neighbours. It would do well to remember that the Crusades were in their neck of the woods for nearly 200 years, but the invaders were finally driven out in 1291.

The liberal-imperialist Anglo-Zionist regime change ideology is supplemented by the appeal to ‘human rights’ and Responsibility to Protect – R2P. Human Rights apparently override national sovereignty. According to one Francis Fukuyama:

‘’Dictators and Human Rights abusers like Serbia’s Milosevic could not hide behind the principle of sovereignty to protect themselves as they committed crimes against humanity particularly in multi-ethnic states like Yugoslavia where the borders of the sovereign state in question were themselves contested. Under these circumstances outside powers, acting in the name of human rights and democratic legitimacy, had not just the right, but the obligation to intervene. (4)

There you have it. The ‘intervention’ a 78-day bombing offensive by NATO resulted in the deaths of in excess of 5000 civilians in Serbia and elsewhere. But of course, this was not a crime against humanity. Doublethink!? Of course, the glaring anomaly in the regime change R2P ideology lies in its inconsistency. But this is to be expected. It should always be borne in mind that the mission of the AZ-Empire is world domination, not coexistence or democracy. This, however, must never be openly admitted. The veneer of a crusade to make the world a Garden of Eden, is simply a cover for imperial aggrandisement.

‘’Liberal democracies have little difficulty in conducting diplomacy with illiberal states when they are acting according to realist dictates, which is most of the time. In those circumstances, liberal democracies do whatever is necessary to maximize their survival prospects, and that includes negotiating with authoritarian leaders. They sometimes even support or form alliances with murderous dictators as the US did in WW2 when it worked with Joseph Stalin to defeat Nazi Germany, or when it cooperated with Mao Zedong after 1972 to contain the Soviet Union. Occasionally they even overthrow democratic regimes (all over Latin America – FL) which they perceive as being hostile. Liberal democracies go to great lengths to disguise such behaviour with liberal rhetoric, but in fact they are acting contrary to their own – professed – principles.’’ (6)

However, this unstable combination of outward authoritarianism and domestic democracy has inbuilt destabilising forces. Long ago it was pointed out by the Greek historian Thucydides that Empire and Democracy cannot co-exist in the long-term. Moreover, the methods of empire would be brought home to deal with the destabilising effects of empire on the state. (5)

Nowhere is this more an ever-present fact than in the great hegemon, the United States itself. It would appear that the United States polity has, at every level, descended into a variety of collective insanity. Witness Rachel Maddow, I know it’s difficult, but bear with me, asserting with complete conviction and sang-froid, night after night, that Donald Trump was a Russian agent! What made this worse was that no-one challenged this idiocy? Ms Maddow’s rant can be compared to the ‘two minutes hate’ in 1984 (only unfortunately it lasted for more than 2 minutes) and of the level of a latent pathology in the media in particular and the body politic more generally.

Speaking of Orwell, his essay Notes on Nationalism nailed this particular political phenomenon. He firstly made it clear that what he meant by nationalism was a more general description of particular religious, or political outlooks.

‘’By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – But secondly – and this is much more important – I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.’’

Thus Neo-Conservatism, Pacifism, Political Catholicism, Zionism, and curiously enough, Anti-Semitism, are all types of nationalism, broadly understood.

Of course, the unprepossessing Ms Maddow is a virulent specimen of this type of mental aberration. The nationalist has to perform the most intricate forms of mental gymnastics in order to believe that their particular beliefs are true and will not tolerate profanation. As Orwell writes:

‘’The nationalist does not only disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has the remarkable capacity of not even hearing about them …All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Conservative will defend self-determination in Europe but oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ’our’ side … Some nationalists are not far from clinical schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest, which have no connexion with the physical world … ‘’

Not far from clinical schizophrenia! I would say well ahead.

And there’s the rub. Realist foreign policy was often cruel and callous but rational, cold and calculating and unlike neo-conservatism it was at least generally non-ideological, which is to say, sane. Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, were ideological projects and Western Imperialism, particularly of the white settler variety, the US, UK Israel, Australia, NZ, were openly racist and murderous in both practise and theory.

In the present geopolitical configuration, it is difficult to assess the outcome of the Anglo-Zionist crusade against the Eurasian bloc. Russia and China are reading from a Westphalian text, the US is reading from a neo-conservative playbook, with its European allies being reluctantly dragged along. In this situation it is difficult to know how this titanic struggle will eventually pan out and to whose benefit. One of the problems which besets any appraisal lies in the fact that the Westphalian system depended upon dialogue with rational actors. These have become as rare as hen’s teeth, if not extinct species in the western centres of power. The US and its reluctant allies will seemingly not give up on its strategic objective of world domination and Russia and China are going to defend themselves. Something has to give, but what?

NOTES

(1)  Defence Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years (dated February 18, 1992)

(2)   Orlando Caputo Leiva and Marlene Medrano- Latin American Perspectives Volume. 34, No. 1, The Crisis of U.S. Hegemony in the Twenty-First Century (January 2007), pp. 9-15

(3) Quoted in Pappe, – Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine – p.69. For background on Ben-Gurion’s comment, see Ibid, 61-72. Quoted in – The Israel Lobby – John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt p.99, fn.95

(4) Francis Fukuyama – State Building, Governance and World Order in the 21st Century – p.131.

Other US Realist Diplomats saw things somewhat differently. Commenting on the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe In 1996, the 92-year-old veteran US geopolitical realist, George Kennan, warned that NATO’s expansion into former Soviet territory was a “strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” I think it is the beginning of a new cold war … ‘’I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. NATO expansion was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.” (5) John J Mearsheimer – The Great Delusion, Liberal Dreams and International Realities – p.157.

The US’ Hegemonic Pushback in Europe Prompts Asian Rivals to Enter a Rapprochement

April 3, 2022

Source: OneWorld

The preplanned consolidation of the US-led Western bloc in response to Russia’s special operation in Ukraine that Washington itself provoked ended up breathing new life into the game-changing rapprochement between China and India that might otherwise not have happened so soon, let alone at all.

The US exploited Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, which Washington itself provoked by refusing to respect Moscow’s national security red lines in that country in particular and in the region more broadly, to reassert its declining hegemony over Europe. The continent surrendered its strategic sovereignty to its transatlantic patron without firing a shot, and they’re now all increasingly pressured to follow Poland’s “de-Russification” lead by drastically curtailing and ultimately completely cutting off their ties with that Eurasian Great Power. The consolidation of this US-led Western bloc amidst the latest tensions in the New Cold War’s Western Eurasian theater between Russia and the US couldn’t be without consequence for its Eastern Eurasian theater between China and the US.

China astutely observed that regional rival India with whom relations have entered an unprecedented low in recent years following summer 2020’s clashes over the Galwan River Valley has impressively practiced a policy of principled neutrality by refusing to take its Western partners’ side against Russia. Some in Beijing were growing concerned that their counterparts in New Delhi were prepared to play a similar vanguard role against the People’s Republic as Poland plays against Russia but those worries were removed after watching how confidently India defied its partners’ pressure in defense of its objective grand strategic interests. Furthermore, the complications in Indian-American relations since summer 2020 also contributed to New Delhi recalibrating its multi-alignment policy in favor of Russia.

Ironically enough, at precisely the moment when the US could have decisively turned India into its top anti-Chinese vanguard in Asia, former President Donald Trump’s administration inexplicably abandoned it and began abusing this Great Power as though it were just another Global South state. Being the proud civilization-state that it is, India couldn’t tolerate this for long and ultimately realized that it was being manipulated as a proxy against the People’s Republic without receiving anything of tangible benefit in return. This insight contributed to its strategists’ recalibrating their country’s multi-alignment policy by inviting President Putin to visit last December and thus beginning the new era of Russian-Indian relations whereby these two Great Powers are informally attempting to assemble a “Neo-NAM”.

The revival of the Old Cold War-era Non-Aligned Movement in the New Cold War context is intended to create a third pole of influence in the present bi-multipolar transitional phase between unipolarity and multipolarity so as to maximize the strategic autonomy of those Great Powers and comparatively smaller countries caught between the American and Chinese superpowers’ global rivalry. Nevertheless, only one of those two primary protagonists is in support of the international principles enshrined in the UN Charter, and that’s China. This means that the People’s Republic can actually assist the Neo-NAM to a certain degree as a means of reducing its members’ dependence on the declining American unipolar hegemon and thus accelerating the ultimate transition to multipolarity.

That insight explains one of the reasons behind the unexpected rapprochement between Asian rivals China and India that became undeniable following Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s unscheduled trip to New Delhi after first visiting Islamabad for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Foreign Ministers Conference and then paying a similarly unscheduled trip to neighboring Kabul. This historic South Asian sojourn was intended as a peace mission overseen by the top diplomat of the People’s Republic, all with the intent of ensuring stability and certainty in this geostrategic region through which multiple global processes are presently converging. It can therefore be rightly described as game-changing since it signals that the US’ efforts to divide and rule China and India have failed.

In fact, one can even conclude that the preplanned consolidation of the US-led Western bloc in response to Russia’s special operation in Ukraine that Washington itself provoked ended up breathing new life into this game-changing rapprochement that might otherwise not have happened so soon, let alone at all. After the US prompted India to flex its strategic autonomy through its policy of principled neutrality and thus showing the world that it’s still truly as independent as it’s always claimed, China keenly took note and realized that now was the perfect time to initiate a high-profile outreach to its rival in pursuit of their shared interests related to accelerating the ongoing global systemic transition to multipolarity. United by their equally excellent strategic partnerships with Russia, China and India began talking again.

It’s this resumption of interpersonal dialogue between the top Chinese and India diplomats that represents one of the most counterproductive consequences of the US-led West’s preplanned response to Russia apart from President Putin’s geo-economic judo move announcing that his country will only accept rubles from newly designated unfriendly countries for their energy payments. Taken together, these outcomes prove that America hadn’t fully thought everything through when it decided to provoke Russia into commencing its ongoing operation in Ukraine to uphold the integrity of its national security red lines. Other than the symbolically prestigious consolidation of the US-led Western bloc, everything else runs the risk of being utterly disastrous for America, especially if China and India end up reconciling.


By Andrew Korybko

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.

President Joe’s remarks about President Putin are inappropriate.

March 29, 2022

Source

By Zamir Awan

Although official denial of President Joe Biden’s remarks about President Putin, yet, it has a severe impact on geopolitics. Even his close allies like UK and France have not appreciated such remarks. China has also objected to such furious remarks. Public opinion around the globe is also criticizing his remarks. It is not the first time, he used harsh words for President Putin in the past like “Killer”, “Butcher” etc.

It is unusual in politics to use sarcastic remakes in international politics. Especially, for his counterparts, he needs to follow diplomatic antiquates. Even, during the cold-war era, no one has used abusive language toward each other at this high level. How so ever he may explain, it has harmed the international political atmosphere and heated up the political environment already.

It is true, the US has been playing a dirty role in changing regimes and manipulating elections in adversary countries. Sometimes, a direct military action, or indirect covered operations, has been changing regimes in many countries. The more polite way used was manipulating during the elections and helping the candidates of their own choice in elections. During the cold war era, the US has changed more than seventy regimes. However, in the post-cold war era, the reports are not publicized yet. American interference in developing countries or underdeveloped countries is a matter of routine, but, this time his remarks about a superpower, with nuclear weapons are a rather serious matter and concern of every sensible person around the globe.

For more than a decade, the US has been following a policy to contain China and counter Russia. The creation of “Quad” and “AUKUS” is designed to counter China, but, the expansion of NATO was to counter Russia. After the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, there was no justification for keeping NATO. Yet, the US not only kept NATO intact but also expanded involving many members of former Warsaw Pact nations. Although Russia was objecting to an expansion of NATO and opposed its immediate neighboring countries to join NATO. But, the US ignored all genuine security concerns raised by Russia. Even though, Russia has been warning Ukraine of a red line, which was also ignored by the US. What so ever is happening in Ukraine, the US, NATO, UK, EU are responsible. Unfortunately, the victim is Ukraine alone. Despite security guarantees, Ukraine has to face this situation alone.

It is a lesson for many countries and nations in the rest of the world, who is looking at the US as a true and sincere friend and depend on them for protection in case of any aggression from any other country. All nations and countries having security pacts or promises with the US, need to think twice. It is not only Ukraine who has been betrayed, but, India being the major defense partner with the US has not got any support when was at war with China in Ladakh. Pakistan being a non-NATO close ally, was not helped in 1971 during its war with India and lost half of the country. The US has a history of embarrassing friends. It is also a warning for Taiwan, which depends on the US in case of war with China.

President Joe Biden almost 80 years old is a very mature politician, and since 1972 is part of various administrations in various capacities. He is a law graduate and understands international politics very well. He was part of many wars and conspiracies in the different roles during the cold war era as well as the post-cold war era. He has met President Putin as vice president too. He has sufficient interaction with President Putin and then, his remarks with this background are really unacceptable.

It is hoped that President Putin shows greatness and ignores his remarks and should not react or overreact. In fact, he is a wise person and responsible politician. His calmness and ignoring President Joe’s remarks will elevate his stature. He might become more popular in Russia as well as globally. He may emerge as a hero and popular global leader.

The US should do something practical to defuse tension and mere statements of denial will not fulfill the requirements. American behavior will decide how sincere they are and how responsible they are. The world has been focusing on US performance and on-ground actions closely. It is time to demonstrate “Peace” and measures to attain peace for all.

If President Joe Biden’s administration focuses on a domestic issue, millions of America will uplift their standard of life. And the rest of the world will feel great relief. Live your own life and let others live in peace. Domestic issues are rather complicated and deserve more attention.

It is desired that both sides dilute the tension and ensure global peace, stability, and security. Otherwise, the consequences of World War III may be a total disaster for humankind. We must learn lessons from WWI and WWII. Wars are not a solution to any issue. No one is the beneficiary of wars. Even the winner is also a net loser. The only option is to resolve all differences and disputes through diplomatic and political dialogue under the UN Charter. In today’s world, with the advancement of hi-tech and Science and technology, both have developed lethal weapons and possess enough pile of weapons to destroy the whole world. Wars are scaring scenario!

The most precious thing in this universe is the human being, the rest of everything is to serve humankind. It is our prime duty to protect human lives. The loss of human lives is a net loss of humanity. It is worth mentioning that all human beings are born through an identical biological process, all mothers face the same pains. Irrespective of race, religion, color, ethnicity, or nationality, all human beings are the same and equal. All human beings deserve respect and equal rights. All lives Matter!

It is appealed to all scholars, intellectuals, thinkers, and sensible nations as well as individuals to stand up for the protection of human being around the globe.


Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC Briefing on the Political and Humanitarian Situation in Syria

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360°  

Mme.President,

We thank Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Geir Pedersen, Head of UN OCHA Martin Griffiths, as well as Assistant Secretary-General of the Leagues of Arab States Hossam Zaki for their insights.

We welcome the beginning of the 7th round of the Editorial Board of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva. We are convinced that there is no alternative to Syrian-owned and Syrian-led political settlement under UN assistance that should be free of external interference and artificial deadlines, and should remain within the framework of UNSC resolution 2254.

We do hope that “methodological” reservations will not impede fruitful conclusion of this round, and the work will mainly focus on dialogue between the Syrian delegations and their readiness to come to an agreement on the issue of constitutional reform. We call on Geir Pedersen to concentrate on this without getting distracted by other initiatives.

Mme.President,

Progress of political settlement is in even greater demand now that the situation on the ground remains tense and potentially explosive. Main security threats to Syria have to do with the rise of activity of terrorists who found refuge at Damascus-uncontrolled territories in Idlib, cross-Euphrates area, and Al-Tanf. This problem can be solved if the uncompromising fight against internationally-recognized terrorist groups, first of all ISIL and HTS continues; illegal foreign military presence that violates Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is put an end to; and Israel’s arbitrary air strikes stop for good.

We believe the key reason creating this hazardous situation is the West showing indulgence towards terrorists and trying to use them for own purposes. Among the resent consequences of this dangerous stance we can name a large-scale terrorist attack on al-Sinaa prison in Hasakeh. When cleansing the prison and surrounding urban areas from militants, US aviation and armored vehicles were used. Measures for protection of civilians were ignored, which is richly illustrated by mass outflow of peaceful population from combat zone: more than 45,000 people by OCHA estimates.

Even though Washington poses its military presence as a counter-terrorism operation, we see no active fight against terrorists there. Besides, by available records, ISIL and other extremists from across the Euphrates are being transferred to other hotspots where spreading chaos is beneficial for the US. It is worth reminding that the United States and its allies repeatedly launched massive missile and bombing raids against Syria’s military and industrial infrastructure in violation of the international law and the UN Charter – on a far-fetched pretext of eliminating chemical weapons. Apparently, this is what West-promoted “rules-based order” looks like.

This being said, and also in view of the fact that the Secretary-General stepped back from conventional “neutral language” that is appropriate for an international civil servant in the context of Ukraine, we request A.Guterres to be consistent and give an assessment to whether the presence of the US and other forces in Syria meets the UN Charter. We count on him to call the names of those who illegally occupies the Syrian territory, first of all in Al-Tanf, and specify who is responsible for the situation in IDP camps that are out of control of Damascus. Otherwise we will have to perceive his silence as a manifestation of double standards.

We also remind the Secretary-General that we never heard him give an assessment to the US bombardments of Raqqa, Hajin, and Baghouz. By UN data, there was no single medical facility in Raqqa left unaffected by hostilities. At least 80 people (most of them women and children) died during the bombardment of Baghouz. After his emotional assessments of the developments in Ukraine that were based on unverified or even unverifiable data, Head of the United Nations is obliged to call things by their real names in the context of continuing US occupation of Syrian territories based on data that is confirmed by international agencies.

Mme.President,

At the humanitarian track, we share the assessments of M.Griffiths that the international community is failing Syrians from year to year. Implementation of UNSC resolution 2585 that is called to boost comprehensive humanitarian assistance to Syria is stalled. Planned cross-line convoys from Aleppo to Sarmada were blocked by militants in Idlib. According to the incoming reports, Nusra fighters openly say that they would not let through any internal convoys (that carry aid to approximately 43,000 people in need) until the renewal of the cross-border mechanism (CBM) in July, of which they are somehow convinced. There is also no access to the three other zones of Turkish operations – even COVID-19 vaccines cannot be delivered there.

In parallel to this, our Western colleagues try to connect member states’ obligations under the unanimously adopted resolution 2585 with political preconditions. While politicizing humanitarian assistance, Europeans and Americans keep suffocating Syria with unilateral sanctions that erode the humanitarian situation and seriously complicate efforts of specialized organizations, i.a. due to related chilling effect and overcompliance by banks, insurance companies and economic operators. Again, didn’t we make decisions defining hunger as an unacceptable method of warfare that contradicts the IHL?

We must not relax our attention to assisting Syrian IDPs and facilitating refugee return – this task remains on the agenda. Host countries – Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey do not conceal that there are limits to their accommodating capacities.

We believe we need to uphold the fundamental right of refugees to return, as stated in UNSC resolution 2254 and given scrupulous coordination of such efforts with Damascus.

Colleagues,

As we all know, the CBM mandate expires this summer. Of all provisions of the resolution, only one is being implemented at the moment – cross-border humanitarian deliveries. It seems no one is going to implement the other provisions. At the same time, Damascus has proven that cross-line deliveries to Idlib are possible and that peaceful population can receive humanitarian aid if it departed from the territory of Syria. We strongly call you to not forget this and not expect that we turn a blind eye to nonfulfillment of resolution 2585 that becomes more and more outspoken.

Thank you.

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