Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper and radio, Moscow, May 31, 2016
Question: Let’s grab the bull by the horns. We have received hundreds of different messages and questions. Many of them show outright concern in connection with a very difficult situation regarding this country. They have tried to crush us with sanctions, NATO is moving closer to our borders, and a missile defence system is being developed. Our country is undergoing unprecedented demonisation by international media. They don’t want to hear us. The United States is leading this process. US President Barack Obama said that the American nation is exceptional, and other countries must play by the rules set by the United States. The role of a vassal is clearly inappropriate for us. Are we doomed to eternal rivalry and conflict with the consolidated West led by the United States, which at any moment could slip into confrontation, not to mention a darker scenario? The people are increasingly saying that there will be war. How substantiated are these concerns?
Sergey Lavrov: There will be no “world war”. President Putin said this in Vladimir Solovyov’s film World Order. I am convinced that responsible politicians in the West will not allow this to happen either, because they still remember well the horrors of the First and the Second World Wars. Russia suffered the greatest losses during the war in Europe, China suffered the greatest losses in the Pacific as it fought Japanese militarism. Again, the politicians cannot let that happen.
Of course, we can rely on others, but above all, we need to think about us being prepared to prevent another war. Such attempts are being made in regard to building excessive military capabilities and in violation of international treaties.
You mentioned the air defence system. In 2001, the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Back then, US President George W. Bush said, in response to concerns expressed by President Vladimir Putin, that Moscow need not to worry about it, as it is not aimed toward Russia, and the United States understands that Russia will be forced to respond. He also said that Moscow could take any steps and do what it wants. Our peaceful neighbours from Eastern Europe should also keep this in mind. We are issuing calm warning messages that we will take retaliatory steps if NATO military infrastructure moves closer to our borders. They tend to forget about this and blame Russia.
We, as a matter of course, are being blamed for the Ukraine crisis and the Syria crisis. They keep telling us what we should and must do. Now they want us to provide assistance with regard to the Libya crisis. Soon, perhaps, we will be accused of what’s happening in Yemen. This is a premeditated policy, I have no doubt about it. Frankly, from the beginning of the 20th century, and even earlier, from the time of Ivan the Terrible, no one wanted to see a strong and confident Russia. Throughout the last century, the British and the Americans have done their best to prevent Eurasia from maintaining its integrity, meaning the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and what is happening now in terms of the efforts to promote integration processes in the post-Soviet space. All of this fits into the concept that the American political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined in his book, The Grand Chessboard, where he directly set the task of not allowing the barbarians to unite. That’s how he phrased it. Clearly, this is a figure of speech, but it shows clearly enough the underlying train of thought.
Now, as for what we need to do. Clearly, Russia is being demonised, and that’s okay, because we should have gotten used to this: with rare exceptions, our partners have never been open with us throughout history. Remember the Fulton speech delivered a few months following the end of World War II, after the great victory of the Allies? During the war, Winston Churchill publicly admired Stalin, saying the Soviet Union was a solid partner and ally, and then made remarks that started the Cold War. I’m not even talking about information for which I could be accused of paranoia. In the wake of the G7 meetings in Hiroshima and as part of President Obama’s visit to Japan, our media and public had major discussions about the reasons behind the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is known that President Truman seriously considered consigning about 20 Soviet cities to the same fate.
Let me repeat that it is necessary to be friends and have good relations with everyone. This is our principle. Russia’s foreign policy is multi-directional and we are open to partnership and cooperation with all those who are prepared to work together on the basis of equity, mutual advantage and consideration of each other’s interests. However, in promoting this policy we should remember that our main allies are still the Army, the Navy and now also the Aerospace Forces.
Your question was very expansive – it touched on many things. As for sanctions, in the context of what I have said Ukraine was only a pretext to ratchet up sanctions. The policy of containing Russia began much earlier. As soon as they understood that President Vladimir Putin taking office in 2000 meant Russia wanted to be independent in foreign affairs, domestic affairs and economic policy, they started looking for ways to contain us. After all, the Magnitsky Act was adopted long before the events in Ukraine. A lot of facts have been revealed, including in documentaries that are banned in Europe for some reason. These films and the facts they depict show that Sergey Magnitsky’s death is the result of a huge scam by William Browder who is nothing but a sleazy crook, which, I am sure, many people who have dealt with him know. Sanctions were imposed. Later President Barrack Obama cancelled his visit to Moscow on the eve of the G20 summit in St Petersburg in September 2013 because he took offence over Edward Snowden, who had fled from the US National Security Agency and asked Russia for asylum. We had to grant it out of humanitarian considerations – one of the reasons was simply his lack of a passport – he did not have the documents allowing him to leave Russia. They also took offence, started bullying and threatening us albeit not as strongly as in Ukraine’s case.
We perceive the current economic restrictions imposed on us as a window of opportunity that we should make the most of in order to strengthen our food and technological security, continue diversifying the economy and foreign economic ties and finally create alternative effective financial mechanisms and payments systems.
I would say it is not so important for us when the anti-Russian sanctions are lifted – we haven’t imposed them and won’t discuss any criteria or terms for their removal but only how we can maximise our current position in the interests of our own economy and development.
Question: Why would a country that won the war beg a country that lost the war to sign a peace treaty? We should give Japan half of Russia’s territory to get it to sign a peace treaty with us? Why do we have to surrender the Kuril Islands and beg Japan to sign a peace treaty with us?
Sergey Lavrov: We do not need to do this, we are not doing this, and will not do this in the future. We are not surrendering the Kuril Islands, nor are we begging Japan to sign a peace treaty. As a reliable and responsible power and the successor to the Soviet Union, Russia at some point confirmed that we are committed to all obligations assumed by the Soviet Union. These obligations include the Soviet-Japanese Declaration of 1956, which was signed and ratified by the parliaments of the Soviet Union and Japan. The declaration states that the parties undertake to conclude a peace treaty, and only after that, the Soviet Union, as it had pledged to do back then, may, as a gesture of goodwill and based on expectations of the Japanese people, transfer the Japanese islands of Shikotan and Habomai to Japan. Above all, this move is predicated on our Japanese neighbours unconditionally recognising the outcome of World War II. Unfortunately, not only in connection with the islands, but more likely, regardless of it, our Japanese partners are not willing to do so. Japan remains, in fact, the only UN member country that has not confirmed the provisions of the UN Charter that says everything that was done by the victorious powers is immutable.
We are willing to look for ways to cooperate with our Japanese neighbours. Japan is a great country, a great nation that has a complicated history, including a history, to put it mildly, of bad relations with its neighbours. However, we are all interested in having the Japanese and the Russian people, as well as the people of all other countries, live in harmony and benefit from cooperation. Talking about a mutually acceptable solution to the territorial dispute without recognising the outcome of World War II is impossible. This is what we keep telling our Japanese partners every time we talk with them. We are also saying that there are many opportunities to improve this situation. In particular, during the last round of consultations, we proposed considering the historical aspect of this issue, so that everyone is clear that World War II put an end to the story of these islands changing hands.
We do realise that the graves of the relatives of Japanese people are on these islands. Some people who used to live on these islands are still alive. We have special visa-free travel programmes for Japanese people visiting the South Kuril Islands. The residents of the Sakhalin Region, by the way, can also go to Japan as part of visa-free groups. We have for a long time now been inviting our Japanese neighbours to engage in economic activity on these islands together with us. They can make investments and create special economic areas. They can do all of this. I hope that our Japanese colleagues will focus precisely on these activities. At least, we have made such invitations available to them. I think that this will clear many issues from the agenda. If what matters is that these islands are open to Japanese visitors and businessmen, Japan-sponsored humanitarian actions, then everything else is probably not as fundamental.
Question: What is the essence of the new approach to the so-called “northern territories” issue, which was spelled out by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Sochi not long ago?
Sergey Lavrov: There is nothing in it that has not been discussed before. This, in fact, means that our dialogue is returning to the track outlined back in 2003 during a Russian-Japanese summit and reaffirmed in 2013 when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Russia on an official visit.
The idea is that in order to address any problems that emerge or old problems, we need to step up our partnership in all directions and make it fully fledged and strategic. This concerns trade and economic ties, particularly the investment field (mutual investment) and the humanitarian exchanges that are strongly desired by our peoples. And this relates in no small part to our cooperation in matters regarding security and strategic stability. We would very much like our Japanese colleagues to set their foreign political course on their own.
Question: Who are harder to deal with, Western or Eastern diplomats?
Sergey Lavrov: As for what it’s like to deal with Western and Eastern diplomats, if by Eastern you mean Asia and Africa, I would say that everything depends on the person. There are Western colleagues who pretend to be unaware when they have nothing to say, or act very straightforwardly, and there are our Chinese or Japanese partners, who are more well-versed and better prepared. It all depends on the person.
The style of diplomacy in Asia slightly differs, of course, from that in the West. It is more delicate, subtle, refined and less rude. Earlier, only the United States dictated its will to everyone and still does. Not long ago, US President Barack Obama said that the United States should determine all global rules by itself, while the rest, including China, which he singled out (but evidently Russia as well), should obey those rules. Unfortunately, this long-standing disease will be hard to cure, but it will pass. Regrettably, Europe is following suit, resorting to similar methods and adopting similar habits, going straight to sanctions at the first sign of trouble. Earlier, this was characteristic only of the US. It will all sort itself out over time.
Question: One fifth of the more than a thousand questions we have received from our audiences concerns Ukraine. The Minsk process was launched over a year ago. Many believe that it is slipping and will not produce any positive results. Is there any hope for the Minsk Package to be implemented?
Sergey Lavrov: Of course, there is still hope. Moreover, we must demand its implementation, just as we have been doing. The Minsk Agreements were coordinated through very difficult top-level talks and were subsequently signed by Kiev, Donetsk, Lugansk, Russia, France and Germany. They are the only documents that spell out the conflicting sides’ obligations and the guarantees of Europeans and Russia. We must not allow these agreements to follow the path of the agreement signed by Viktor Yanukovych, Arseny Yatsenyuk, Vitaly Klitschko and Oleg Tyagnibok the night of February 21, 2014, in the presence of and witnessed by representatives of France, Germany and Poland, only to be violated the very next morning. Our French, German and Polish colleagues shamefully kept silent. If we allow those who staged the state coup and currently constitute the primary political force in the Ukrainian establishment to follow suit with the Minsk Package, all of us will lose face, including the UN Security Council, which approved the signed Minsk Agreements in their current form, without suggesting any amendments.
President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko and Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin make conflicting statements regarding their commitment to the Minsk Package, saying one thing to their people and trying to act more constructively at meetings with their foreign partners. We hope that at least part of these statements will be acted upon. The situation is very simple. They are again debating what came first, the hen or the egg, and what steps should be taken next. Security has unexpectedly become the key issue for President Poroshenko. He is now talking not only about the ceasefire but also about some international forces ensuring security throughout Donbass. The latter is not stipulated in the Minsk Agreements. Donbass will never agree, and under the Minsk Agreements, absolutely all steps towards a settlement must be coordinated with Donbass.
Regarding security on the dividing line, we stand firmly for strengthening the role and responsibility of the OSCE mission, for increasing the number of its observers so that they oversee the creation of a safe distance between the conflicting parties, as was agreed, and also monitor the sides’ permanent sites where heavy weapons are stored. Ultimately, you can delay the process indefinitely by talking endlessly about insufficient security. Kiev insists that political reform will only begin when security is maintained at 100 per cent for several weeks or even months. This is unrealistic. Nothing of the kind has ever been achieved in any other conflict, without first settling all political aspects. Regarding the political aspects, all the proverbial balls are in Ukraine’s court. I am referring primarily to the special status of Donbass, which was set forth in the Minsk Agreements and which now needs to be formalised in a law and protected by the constitution. There is also the issue of amnesty, because amnesty must be part of the settlement now that the tide in the conflict has turned. A law on amnesty has been drafted and adopted by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), but President Poroshenko has not signed it. I don’t know why. We are told that amnesty can only be approved based on the 1996 law, under which all suspects are to apply for amnesty individually and their applications will be heard by Ukrainian courts individually. This is not what we have agreed upon, and this will certainly prevent the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. And lastly, elections are to be held after Donbass’s special status is formalised in the constitution in keeping with the law on amnesty. All these issues – the elections, the law on this special status and the amendment to the constitution in keeping with the Minsk Package, which clearly stipulates this – must be coordinated with the conflict-affected areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
None of the above has been done, despite the efforts made within the Contact Group where direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk is only possible, and within the Normandy Format, which cannot replace the Contact Group no matter how much Kiev, or even Berlin and Paris, may want this. We are aware of their mood and have heard proposals that the four parties – France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine – negotiate a settlement, after which Russia will be expected to convince Donbass to join the negotiations. When we explain that a direct dialogue between Donbass and Kiev is what is needed, a German representative asked cynically and rather insolently, why do we insist on direct dialogue if it would take Russia 15 minutes to bend Donbass to its will. This is precisely what he said.
Question: It would be better if they bent Kiev.
Sergey Lavrov: This is exactly what I planned to say in conclusion of my answer to your question. I believe that not only the Germans, French, many others in Europe and the United States see that Kiev is avoiding the commitments made by the President of Ukraine.
Question: I have been working in Donbass since the beginning and witnessed the May 11 referendum. It is very hard to explain to people why the Crimea referendum was recognised and not the referendum in the Donetsk and Lugansk republics that was as fair and sincere as in Crimea and took place in the presence of journalists.
We have received phone calls on this subject:
Why has Russia been paying less attention to Ukraine’s southeast? Is devastated Donbass not as good as the blossoming Crimea?
I’m calling from Donetsk. Don’t give up on Donbass. This is Russian land where Russian people live. We are facing a hardship, and are waiting for your help. We won’t survive without it. Please, don’t give up on us.
Why doesn’t Russia make a statement to the effect that if Ukraine continues to sabotage the Minsk Agreements, Russia will have to officially recognise the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and enter into treaties with them, as with Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
Sergey Lavrov: First, we haven’t given up on southeast Ukraine, and always remember it. We are proactive in supporting it, and not just politically. These efforts include humanitarian aid and initiatives to resolve economic issues and to ensure adequate living conditions, including issues that France and Germany had promised to address. They offered to make the banking system operational, but were unable to do so, and acknowledged it. This goes to say that you should put your trust in partners, but rely on yourself. Russia is involved in resolving this and other issues related to the living conditions in Donbass, and will continue doing so.
Among the provisions of the Minsk Agreements on special status for Donbass, there is the right to direct and unrestricted economic and other relations with the Russian Federation. This is a key component that enabled both Russia and Donetsk to support the Minsk Agreements.
As for the referendums, you are aware of the conditions in which the referendum was held in Crimea and how it happened in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. After the Donbass referendum, the leaders of these self-proclaimed republics did not refuse to have a dialogue with Kiev. It was this dialogue that led to the Minsk Package.
Question: They were talking about independence.
Sergey Lavrov: Let me reiterate that they have never refused to talk to Kiev. It is true that they proclaimed independence, while saying that they were open to negotiations. Russia, Germany and France supported this conversation, which paved the way for the Minsk Agreements. You can slam the door and follow the example of those who threaten recognition, sanctions and the like while being unable to use diplomatic and political tools. I strongly believe an approach like this to be counterproductive. This would provide a pretext to the West to stop pressuring Kiev, be it very moderately. Kiev is under pressure. They are not eager to say so in public, but when they talk to Ukrainians behind closed doors (we know this for sure), they are quite tough in demanding that all the agreements reached in Minsk be honoured.
I think that it is very important to ensure that the documents that were signed and approved by the Security Council are implemented, even if it serves no other purpose than discipline. We are in a unique situation. There is currently no way that this document can be challenged by anything else, and no one is trying to counter it with any other document. It cannot be contested. If we now say that our patience is up and that we’ll go the other way, they will just say: fine, go ahead. In that case, the West would stop exerting pressure on the Ukrainian authorities.
Donbass is not the only reason for pressuring Ukraine. The OSCE mission mandate extends to all of Ukraine. Russia regularly insists that the mission issue reports not just about Donbass and the demarcation line, but also on other Ukrainian regions. Horrible things are happening there. Even though our OSCE colleagues make things look better than they actually are, they still acknowledge violations of minority rights, including of Hungarians, and mafia permeating regions like Transcarpatie. In many cases Verkhovna Rada MPs are behind the organised crime, even though the reports fail to mention it.
It is for that reason that we need to preserve this legal and international framework and safeguard it in all possible ways from attempts to undermine it from within or from the outside.
Question: I would like to continue about Maidan. I worked in Ukraine for eight years and saw the Maidan events unfold with my own eyes. I think it was an outright failure as far as Russian diplomacy is concerned. Back in April 2013, Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote that the general mood in Galicia was to go to war against the Russians. They did nothing to conceal their plans. We wrote about it, but nobody paid attention. All pro-Russian political observers that worked in Ukraine back then said that they were unable to influence in any way Russia’s Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov or meet with him. Meetings with the Ambassador are held once a year, on June 12, during Russia Day celebrations, usually accompanied by vodka and bears. There are no other opportunities. Russia was not ready when Maidan broke out, and just lost out in this situation. We have received many questions on why Russia’s Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov is still in office.
Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think that this is a matter that can be discussed in public.
Question: Why not? It concerns Russia’s international diplomacy.
Sergey Lavrov: Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov can and will report to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the State Duma of the Russian Federal Assembly. I’m not sure that I understand the essence of your question.
Question: What I want to say is that we were not ready for Maidan.
Sergey Lavrov: This is what I’m talking about. You say that we lost at Maidan. If you are so sure about this and if it is often said that Russian diplomacy failed, what alternatives are implied? What should we have done, if people are so sure that this was our failure?
Question: The US Embassy did not scrimp on propaganda against us and paid for sites costing a thousand dollars each (peanuts for such a large country as ours). These sites trashed our reputation for a decade. The Americans did not conceal that they spent $5 billion for propaganda against Russia and ostensibly for freedom of speech. Our embassies lack initiative in general. The voice of an American ambassador is always heard and the voice of ours is always silent – with few exceptions. I can cite Lebanon as an example where Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin is doing a great job. The situation in Lebanon changed dramatically when he was there because people continuously listened to his interviews. Our ambassadors and embassies are like bunkers; they live in their own little worlds and do not leave.
Or take another example. The current Ukrainian ambassador to Croatia simply “raped” the local media. He was even given a column in a newspaper where he smears Russia on a daily basis.
Our people do not speak out. Where are they? Why are they hiding? Why don’t they offer to do interviews? This is a big problem. I work in all kinds of countries and everywhere I go I am told about gatherings devoted to Alexander Pushkin and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Who is interested in them now?
Sergey Lavrov: I cannot agree with this because Russian ambassadors in the United States, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria and Russia’s special envoys at the UN in New York and the UN Office in Geneva are known as not just people who regularly appear on TV but who work extremely hard.
You should understand one thing: appearing on the front pages of newspapers, television and radio is far from all they do, and in most cases it’s not the main part of their work. You mentioned paying for different sites. As for the US Embassy in Kiev, there were not just payments but a whole floor of the security service was and is still occupied by FBI or CIA employees or both plus the National Security Agency.
What was the alternative? Were we also supposed to pay political scientists for working on some sites? When the thugs showed up on the Maidan we demanded that they obey the Ukrainian Constitution. They didn’t want to and as a result reached an agreement with Viktor Yanukovych through opposition figures. This agreement was signed on February 21 and actually required that Yanukovych give up his presidential powers to use force and his monopoly on the use of force, and agree to early elections. In other words, had this agreement been carried out, he would have been removed democratically a long time ago (needless to say, he wouldn’t have been re-elected as everyone assumes), and similar people would have been in power now but without so many victims and so much destruction. What are you suggesting? When these thugs began to commit excesses on the Maidan, should we have sent in troops or what? Please explain.
Question: We were holding all the cards.
Sergey Lavrov: What do you mean?
Question: A duly elected president fled to Russia. A military coup took place in a country that is close to us, a friend of ours. The president asked us to help. We had every right to help get things under control.. A bunch of thugs seized power – this is an armed coup. Why didn’t we do this?
I will tell you why – because we keep clinging to a theory of state sovereignty that binds our hands. The Americans have devised a theory of humanitarian intervention, which implies an obligation to intervene. Meanwhile, we keep talking about sovereignty and have already become entrapped by it. We do not produce ideologies. We also have the right to intervene.
Sergey Lavrov: Let us avoid jargon. Tell me directly, do you think we should have sent in troops?
Question: Yes, we should have. It was our duty to get involved, through humanitarian intervention.
Sergey Lavrov: I disagree. Do you want war between Russians and Ukrainians?
Question: It wouldn’t be war.
Sergey Lavrov: War against their own people was engineered by those whom the coup d’etat brought to the top. I think that Russians and Ukrainians are a single people. If you think we should make war on our own people, I categorically disagree.
Question: It wouldn’t be unleashing war, but dealing with a gang that seized power.
Sergey Lavrov: Now this gang has the support of a huge number of people, some of them wearing military uniforms, others not; suffice it to mention the national battalions, whatever you might think of them. There are tens of thousands of such people. So you are suggesting that we deal with tens of thousands of Ukrainians?
Question: They gathered tens of thousands only after we gave the matter up and let things take care of themselves.
Sergey Lavrov: The army swore allegiance to the new regime, and the new regime might have ordered this army to fight the Russian Army? That’s an awful idea, I can’t even bring myself to imagine it.
Question: There was news last week, which alarmed many of our readers and listeners, concerning Nadezhda Savchenko. Readers ask what you think of the release of a criminal who killed our journalists. They think she will snatch every opportunity to provoke Russia. Have we done the right thing?
Sergey Lavrov: I think we have. We had to bring our citizens back, and we did. It is our principled position to exchange all for all, not only in such situations as that of Savchenko and our citizens, but also, and more importantly, for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. I think it should be Ukraine’s own headache if Savchenko plays dirty tricks on us (but then, who would not play dirty tricks on us in Ukraine? There are practically no Ukrainian politicians left who would speak with us normally).
Question: It’s true.
Sergey Lavrov: She is a very particular woman. She looks well-nourished, for that matter. I think everyone sees now what her hysterical hunger strikes were worth. She wants to become president, make war on us, and she wants something else too.
Question: Meanwhile, she walks around everywhere barefoot.
Question: All countries of the Middle East are closely monitoring the Russian-Turkish confrontation. Local political experts remember well Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning that they “would not get away with tomatoes.” Now, however, things have taken an unexpected turn. A few days ago we were the first to say that we would like to resume contacts. This might be very Christian but what about the principle of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?” My Eastern friends and political experts ask the following. You were not the one who began the war with Turkey and you are not to blame for it. The Soviet Union would never have let anyone go unpunished for one of its planes being shot down. Why are the Russians now the first to offer the olive branch? Oriental political scientists see this as Russia being humiliated by Islam.
Sergey Lavrov: Let’s not take this any further. It is like scoring a goal on yourself. You or your correspondents make assessments that are fundamentally untrue, and proceeding from their own error, draw conclusions on how to evaluate our actions.
We have never said that we would offer Turkey the olive branch or anything else. Why would we? We said that Turkey should apologise and compensate the losses incurred as a result of this criminal act, this military crime. When President Vladimir Putin was asked whether Turkey was taking any steps, he said that they are advancing along different channels.
Question: Are we ready to restore relations?
Sergey Lavrov: No, President Vladimir Putin said that we are ready to review the possibility. But, first, Turkey should do what it’s supposed to do. But why is this brought up out of context?
If you only want to see a panicky, defeatist mood among Russian leaders then it’ll be a difficult conversation. See, you don’t have to be insulting to show that you disapprove of your partner’s actions, and this is what was done. And, of course, they didn’t just get away with a tomato ban; there is much more to it. So now they are trying to contact us through various secure channels and are suggesting that certain committees be established. In December, when the Turkish Foreign Minister met with me in passing at the OSCE, he suggested that we establish a committee or a group that would include diplomats, military experts and intelligence officers, and I don’t know whom else.
Question: Have they made any headway over the past six months?
Sergey Lavrov: Of course not. So our stance remains unchanged.
Question: We are demanding three things – an official apology, liability for those responsible and compensation for damages, right?
Sergey Lavrov: Of course.
Question: Regarding Syria, I have visited Syrian Kurdistan. Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds want to know whether Russia has come to stay or whether this will be a temporary operation. They want Russia to stay, so a second centre of power can emerge in the Middle East. Are we there to stay?
Sergey Lavrov: A centre of power has already been established in the Middle East. I don’t know whether this is the second or, maybe first centre of power. You see, the US-led coalition which is perceived by many as the first centre of power is simply marking time. I spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry the other day and asked why they have stopped bombing the terrorists and why they have not flown a single combat mission to prevent the illegal shipment of oil to Turkey.
Question: And what did he say?
Sergey Lavrov: He said they were doing this. They are once again guided by the faulty logic that terrorists are mixed with friendly opposition forces, that you hit this friendly opposition, while attacking terrorists, and that this should be avoided. But I reminded him that, in late February, they had pledged to us that units considered patriotic and loyal by them and cooperating with them would be removed from positions occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra. Over three months have passed, and nothing has been done. They have now asked us for several more days before their plan, under which everyone who has not joined the ceasefire is a legitimate target, regardless of whether they are listed among the terrorists or not, swings into action. They asked for several more days in order to respond, and these several days expire this week.
At this point, the coalition is almost idle, with militants and equipment continuing to move via the Turkish border. An offensive which is banned by various agreements and UN Security Council resolutions is obviously being prepared. They are telling us that the so-called “good” units are ready to stop violating the ceasefire but that a political process should be launched for this purpose. Members of a delegation that has been established primarily with Turkish support – the so-called High Negotiation Committee – are saying that they cannot take part in the talks because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not resigned. This circus act has been dragging on for a long time.
I told my colleague that, honestly, in our opinion, they are simply trying to mislead us. He swears that this is not so, and that the military authorities will, at last, start coordinating their operations. I repeat, we have already told them straight that this doesn’t suit us, and that we can no longer listen to these stories. We have obligations with the legitimate Syrian Government and authorities, we are there at their request, and no one invited the coalition. The US-led coalition was invited to Iraq, and it was not invited to Syria. But Syrian leaders have said (and the US was informed about this) that, if the coalition coordinates its operations with the Russian Aerospace Forces, then they would not officially protest and would consider them to be our partners in the fight against terrorism. To be honest, this is the only, although fragile, legal foundation for the coalition’s presence.
Everyone admits that the initial Russian operation and its first few months drastically improved the situation. Turkey and our Western colleagues want this tide to stop and probably to reverse itself. They don’t want to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remain in power simply because they said five years ago that he must step down, and they now care nothing about the people of Syria. But everyone now understands that there will be no political process without al-Assad. The UN Security Council resolution and various decisions on Syria, adopted since 2012 with our proactive involvement, contain no demand or hint that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must resign. On the contrary, they say that the people of Syria alone have a right to decide their future, and that the political process should involve all forces of Syrian society without exception, including ethnic, political forces, religious denominations and all opposition groups.
Two months ago, President Vladimir Putin announced a decision to scale down Russia’s military presence in Syria after objectives, aiming to prevent the state’s gradual disintegration that was leading to the seizure of Damascus by terrorists, had been mostly accomplished. I assure you that there are enough forces and resources in the country to neutralise the current terrorist threats. We are addressing this issue. It is only important that our US colleagues comprehend their responsibility. I believe that we are seriously pressing them against the wall. But it is true that they are capable, crafty and evasive people.
If you watch news reports about the deployment of Russian military units there, you will see that they did not just arrive, pitch tents, do some shooting, remove their tents and leave. This should answer your question as to whether we have come to stay or not.
Question: So is US Secretary of State John Kerry able to give you an answer to our president’s question: “Do you realise now what you’ve done?”
Sergey Lavrov: You know I’ve spoken to him quite a lot about it. US Secretary of State John Kerry is a very nice person to talk to. Since January, we have had over 30 telephone conversations and met four times in person. I am sure there will be more meetings and telephone talks.
But when we have the opportunity to discuss the situation in Syria, he insists that something has to be done now. I in turn need to remind him of the steps taken thus far: in June 2012, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, European, Chinese, Arab and Turkish representatives and I signed the Geneva Communique. The document stipulated the need to launch a transitional political process to form a joint government-and-opposition structure based on their mutual consent. Then Russia brought this paper to the UN Security Council for approval but the Americans declined to sanction it because it didn’t contain a provision allowing them to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad or introduce sanctions against him if he fails to leave. I asked him: “Was it supposed to be included? We spent seven hours in Geneva discussing it?!” Then the Americans bluntly refused to approve the Communique. A year later, the chemical weapons threat turned up. We helped to resolve the situation and insisted that the resolution establishing the Russian-American plan, with the consent of the Syrian government, to remove and eliminate chemical weapons should include a section approving the Geneva Communique. Now they say Syrian President Bashar Assad is violating the Communique. It is exactly like in Donbass – a principle of direct dialogue. But they prefer to avoid it. In Donbass, the authorities evade the dialogue while here the opposition avoids it. This is our Western colleagues for you.
During the discussions with US Secretary of State John Kerry, I asked him why they were making the same mistakes as they did in Iraq in 2003. He said he was a senator then and voted against the move. Great, fine. Barack Obama also voted against. Yes, Iraq was a mistake. And what about Libya? It was under Hillary Clinton and was also a mistake. They violated the UN Security Council’s mandate that sealed the airspace to prevent air strikes – but they still bombed the country from the air and eventually brutally murdered Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, no matter what sort of person he was. This was also a war crime. And now Libya is flooded with terrorists supplying militants, weapons all the way up to Mali, the Central African Republic and Chad. But the mistake was, Kerry said, not in violating the UN mandate but in failing to deploy land troops in the wake of the air strikes, to consolidate the situation and suppress the terrorists. I reminded him of how troops were brought into Afghanistan and Iraq earlier to combat terrorists and how they had to pull out, leaving these countries in disarray, as Zhvanevsky would say, like a woman who has been left in distress. Afghanistan and Iraq were abandoned in a far worse situation: the former is on the brink of disintegration, while the latter has been torn apart by the civil war. The Americans agree it was a mistake but prefer to let bygones be bygones. They want us to follow their agenda but we also have our own agenda in Syria. It is clear that we must try to coordinate our approaches with at least some respect for the lessons history has taught us.
Question: The Turkish Kurds have urged Russia to make public its position on the ongoing Kurdish genocide. For example, the city of Diyarbakir has been fully destroyed, along with many other cities. A civil war is underway in Turkey, yet Russia has not interceded.
The Syrian Kurds wonder why Russia is supplying arms to [Iraqi Kurdish leader] Massoud Barzani but not to the Syrian Kurds who are really fighting ISIS. Iraqi Kurdistan is the US playground, and Massoud Barzani is a pro-Turkey politician who has allowed Turkish troops to enter Iraqi Kurdistan.
Guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, who are fighting in the Qandil Mountains, have also asked for assistance, at the least by diplomatic means as the Soviet Union did, if we can’t help them militarily.
Sergey Lavrov: We are providing this kind of assistance. It is possible that we should speak about this more often, although the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, regularly mentions the issue of the Kurdish genocide in Turkey during her briefings.
In principle, we often speak about Turkey’s position on the Kurds. We only demand one thing – that Turkey withdraw the troops it sent to Iraq allegedly to strengthen Iraq’s sovereignty, as former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed. This is unacceptable. I believe that what Turkey is doing deserves broader public attention from our Western partners. They believe that the “allies” will settle the problem between themselves. This is not a good position. When Turkey violated Greece’s airspace, following which Russia made several tough statements, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “both are NATO allies” who can settle their problem themselves. First, what about Cyprus, which is not a NATO member and whose airspace Turkey regularly violates? Second, what kind of a position is this? Does it mean that you are free to do anything you want if you are a NATO member? The EU has the same problem: EU members are not accountable to the Council of Europe. They say they will only consider human rights violations of the non-EU members because they have a special procedure for violations within the EU countries.
We will continue to insist that Turkey stop its arbitrary activities in Iraq, primarily with regard to the Kurds. Apart from obvious neo-Ottoman aspirations, there are also economic considerations: Turkey is seeking to gain a foothold [in Iraqi Kurdistan] and wait for the outcome of the battle for Mosul in order to take control of its oilfields. And then Turkey will wait for the international community’s reaction. Iraq could fall apart by then, but Turkey will already be entrenched there. This is obvious. Therefore, I fully agree with you and your Kurdish dialogue partners.
As for Iraqi Kurdistan, we send weapons to fight against terrorists to Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan with the agreement and consent of the Iraqi government. This is the only principle by which we operate.
The Syrian Kurds are receiving air support and other kinds of assistance. Frankly, we have been actively, and not entirely unsuccessfully, working to convince the Syrian government to cooperate with the Kurds instead of trying to restrict the Kurds’ future role in the Syrian state.
Of course, nobody was happy when the Democratic Union Party (PYD) declared a federal region, but it was the Kurds’ reaction to Turkey’s position. We have agreed that the Geneva talks on Syria must be inclusive in terms of participants. However, the PYD, which represents 15 per cent of Syria’s population, has been banned form the talks because one country – Turkey – vetoed its participation. When we expressed our outrage over the matter, saying that the Kurds should be allowed to attend the talks, our American and other partners and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told us that if the Kurds come to Geneva the Riyadh group (High Negotiations Committee) would leave and stop cooperating. But that group didn’t cooperate but walked out of the talks anyway. And Mr Staffan de Mistura did not protest against this, although we had instructed him to hold the next round of talks before Ramadan. He plans to resume the talks in two weeks, or even after Ramadan, because of ultimatums advanced by this wilful party. They thought the Kurds’ presence at the talks would have a negative effect, but the effect was the same even without the Kurds. The [opposition] has shown its true colours.
There has been a second case of desertion: Mohammed Alloush from Jaysh al-Islam has walked out of the peace talks. Jaysh al-Islam is a terrorist and an extremist group. However, attempts have been made to justify its actions, possibly because Jaysh al-Islam’s operations were expected to weaken President Bashar Assad’s positions. The tactic of using terrorists to attain one’s goals and deciding their fate after they have done their bit is a dead-end strategy. Also, several members of the High Negotiations Committee who represented the moderate opposition have left the peace talks, too. I believe that all the radical opposition negotiators will eventually leave the talks. Yet we need to act fast, and the Kurds must participate in the Geneva process. Discussing the constitution or any other structure that should be formed by the Syrian government jointly with the opposition without the Kurds will result in the collapse of the talks.
Question: You are one of the three most respected political figures in Russia. What are your plans for the future?
Sergey Lavrov: To be honest, I have never made plans for my life, rather, things have just happened of their own accord. I was offered work in various places, but all through the Foreign Ministry. First, I had a proposal to work in Sri Lanka, then it was in the Department for International Economic Organisations. When Andrei Kozyrev left for the RSFSR Foreign Ministry, the late deputy minister, Vladimir Petrovsky, offered me the post of head of the UN Department in 1990. After the [August 1991] coup and before the Belavezha Accords, Andrei Kozyrev invited me to join the RSFSR Foreign Ministry and become his deputy. This is not a secret now and I don’t think he will mind my speaking of it. I said then that I was not ready for such a move and did not have the desire in any case. He asked me why not. I said that I had only been department head for a year and had brought with me people whom I knew and on whom I could rely. He proposed that I bring them all with me into the RSFSR Foreign Ministry. I said that they wouldn’t leave. He asked why not, and I said that they had sworn an oath to serve their country. In quite emotional tones, he said that we were all hiding ourselves behind the Soviet Union’s sign, sitting there, scared, with no idea of what might happen next, and meanwhile, he had all these delegations coming. You might recall that various Western visitors were busy doing the rounds for all the Soviet republics back then. I reminded him of the joint agreement between Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin that the Soviet Foreign Ministry would provide assistance to the Soviet republics’ foreign ministries. We helped them if they needed interpreters, helped them with their transport needs. The foreign ministries in the different republics were still just tiny at that time and could not cope with all the tasks at hand, but we helped them out.
I left the office. Andrei Kozyrev was upset, unhappy, but even so, no one fired me after those events, and in April 1992, Vitaly Churkin and I were appointed deputy foreign ministers overnight without our having to ask for anything.
The only time that I turned down an offer was when Yevgeny Primakov suggested that I move to Washington. I had already spent 18 months in New York at that moment. He was a great man, but I had no choice but to argue with him then. When I tried to turn down the offer, he said I was politically ignorant and simply did not understand the situation. I asked him why he was so insistent I should take this job. He said he thought I was the best person. I asked him what was so special about Washington that I ought to go there. He said Washington was the most important place. I asked permission to quote Yevgeny Primakov the great thinker, the one who said that “we are seeing the emergence of a multipolar world, which will become a counterbalance to the unipolar world”. I said that this multipolar world was indeed taking shape, but not in Washington, where if you needed to do something, you first had to make an appointment, without being sure that you’d actually get one, but in New York, where you just have to enter the UN building for everyone to come running your way, bringing you information, people you need to talk to and who need to talk to you. There is room to manoeuvre in the UN, because you have 15 people in the Security Council (five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members), and you have the General Assembly, where you can throw ideas around directly, without having to go through someone else first. Yevgeny Primakov really was a great man and he agreed with me in the end and left me in New York.
Question: How can we translate foreign policy successes to the domestic political stage?
Do you think we should erect a monument to Yevgeny Primakov? Perhaps not in Moscow, but in one of the regions, in Perm, say?
Sergey Lavrov: As far as combining and interlinking foreign and domestic policy goes, the priority is to guarantee security and the best possible economic conditions for Russia’s development. This is our Foreign Policy Concept’s main priority and we are keeping this same objective in place in the new draft of the Foreign Policy Concept that we are currently preparing on President Vladimir Putin’s instruction. This means that we must ensure an environment in which our business does not face discrimination and our citizens can travel around the world without fear of discrimination or unlawful acts against them. Sadly, we do not always manage to guarantee this. The Americans, for example, literally ‘steal’ our people in violation of the laws of the countries on whose soil these abductions take place. This was the case of Viktor Bout, Konstantin Yaroshenko, Roman Seleznev and dozens of other people ‘snatched’ from Europe and other countries.
But I am sure that this work will bring results, and indeed, we are already starting to see the fruits. If some cybercriminal is arrested, we would be the last to try to protect him. After all, these people steal money in Russia and abroad. But he should be put on trial here. We have the Russian-US consular convention and other agreements that provide for the reciprocal transfer of suspects in criminal cases. But this has become a big problem now. We are concerned in general for the safety of our citizens travelling abroad for tourism or simply on private business. This is an important aspect of our work.
Another aspect of our work is to do all we can to ensure that governments in countries where we have interests treat Russian business with goodwill and fairness. We also have some concrete results in this area. Of course, this must be reciprocal and business has to be active in these efforts too. Rosatom, for example, works very actively in many parts of the world and has a record number of orders. This immediately helps to create a long-term, stable and solid base for developing strategic relations with the country in question. The nuclear energy sector is a long-term sector involving big projects and covering construction, training, and storage and treatment of spent nuclear material.
We see in this work a chance to make use of our capabilities and our possibilities for helping with domestic reform, but of course, it is ultimately not the Foreign Ministry’s job to carry out domestic reform and development.
As for Yevgeny Primakov, we already have a project for erecting a monument to him. We started thinking about this idea immediately after the sad event of his passing. In addition to the decisions President Vladimir Putin has already taken about immortalising Mr Primakov’s memory (there is the Yevgeny Primakov medal and the Yevgeny Primakov scholarships for study at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and Moscow State University, and his name has been given to the Institute of World Economy and International Relations), we think that it would be good to raise a monument to him, and I plan to make this proposal to the President.
As for where to do this, Mr Primakov was prime minister, director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, foreign minister, and an academician. There is the building where he lived, but we would rather see a monument on Smolenskaya Square, in the square between the Belgrade Hotel and the Foreign Ministry building. This is a place where people would always be to see the monument and pay Mr Primakov’s memory their respects. As I say though, this matter has not been examined yet. This is the first time I have formulated this proposal out loud. Perhaps it would have been better to make the official proposal first.
Question: Do you have presidential ambitions, or do you swim with the stream?
Sergey Lavrov: I feel at ease in a job that is entrusted to me. This may sound arrogant, but I try to answer questions honestly.
Question: You have been given the right to smoke wherever you want to at the UN. Can you do the same at the Russian Foreign Ministry?
Sergey Lavrov: I cannot violate Russian laws, but I would say that these laws are somewhat in excess of what is done in this area in Europe and comparable countries. There are many ways in which you can indulge in this harmful habit without creating any problems for others. I believe this should be stipulated in our legislation.
Question: Do you want to smoke now?
Sergey Lavrov: No, I don’t. Actually, I don’t smoke often.
Question: Today is World No Tobacco Day, which has been approved by the UN. When will you quit smoking?
Sergey Lavrov: I haven’t smoked today. I smoke only rarely. I do sports and play football.
Question: Do you enjoy rafting? Will you be able to go rafting this year?
Sergey Lavrov: I really hope so.
Question: We would like to see Russian diplomats without double or triple chins and dressed in modern suits. After all, they represent a great country. Can you order them to take up sports?
Sergey Lavrov: I don’t like making anyone do anything. But I know that there is a very good gym in this building, where our employees play tennis, volleyball, basketball and five-a-side. We also have a swimming pool. By the way, this project was suspended. Construction began back in 1986 and was completed just a couple of years ago. But now we have everything we need to get rid of “double and triple chins.”
Question: Do you swim?
Sergey Lavrov: No, I prefer team sports. I play football and go rafting, which is a very demanding sport. I also work out in the gym. In short, I try to do different sports.
Question: The Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, has danced to the Kalinka folk song. Did you see her performance? If so, did you like it?
Sergey Lavrov: Yes and yes.
Question: Do you dance?
Sergey Lavrov: No, I’m not a dancer.
Question: Diplomacy is good, but we are all made of flesh and blood. Have you ever wanted to punch someone during your meetings with your Western partners?
Sergey Lavrov: This is more or less what Ivan Urgant asked me when I came to his show three years ago, when it was just getting off the ground. He asked me if I ever wanted to swear at any of my colleagues. I answered this question then.
Question: What is the best way to teach a child to be a responsible person? How did your parents teach you when you were kid? Did they spank you or did they try to explain things to you?
Sergey Lavrov: They never spanked me. As for explaining, some words were like a carrot, but other words were like a stick. It’s inevitable.
Question: Many people have bought T-shirts with your portrait and a caption “We love Lavrov.” What do you think about this “political fashion”?
Sergey Lavrov: We are all human, and, of course, this is flattering. One of my old friends back from school days has even asked me why I don’t register the copyright and receive revenues.
Question: Who ruffled you at that famous news conference?
Sergey Lavrov: I wasn’t ruffled. I later watched the video and saw I was sitting unperturbed.
Question: But you did let the word slip out, didn’t you?
Sergey Lavrov: Sorry, but I’m not the only one caught in a situation where you think the mike is off when it’s on. UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama both have had their microphone slips. One of Obama’s mic slips had to do with ballistic missile defence.
Question: Do you have any food preferences regarding national cuisines? Do you enjoy good food?
Sergey Lavrov: No, I can eat almost anything. If I go to a country with a distinctive cuisine, for example China, Japan, Italy or Hungary, I enjoy tasting their national dishes. I’m omnivorous.
Question: If you could send a letter to yourself as a child, what would you say?
Sergey Lavrov: “Seryozha, you have an interesting life ahead of you.”
Question: You have been Russia’s foreign minister for a long time. Would you like to spend one day as the foreign minister of some other country in some other age?
Sergey Lavrov: This could be interesting. There are several countries that have been annoying us. I’d like to get there for a day to stop this outrage.
Question: The idea deserves a Hollywood movie.
Sergey Lavrov: Why a Hollywood movie? We’ve learned to make good films too.
Question: Do you ever go to the movies?
Sergey Lavrov: Hardly ever. But I watch films regularly.
Question: What was the last film you saw, and what do you remember from it best?
Sergey Lavrov: Nothing seems to come to mind. I’d like to watch Flight Crew, but it hasn’t come out on DVD yet.
Question: Can Mr Sergey Lavrov go to the movies?
Sergey Lavrov: I used to go from time to time. The last time I watched a movie at the Khudozhestvenny cinema, but it was a long time ago.
Question: Mr Lavrov, it is common knowledge that you write verses and are the author of the official anthem of MGIMO University. Do you still write verses? Are you preparing a new book of verses for publication?
Sergey Lavrov: No, I used to write verses. But I haven’t written a meaningful verse since my appointment as foreign minister. I wrote verses for informal parties and my friends’ birthdays. But I have very little time since my appointment. On the other hand, my time in New York wasn’t a walk on the beach either.
Question: Some people wonder if you sleep at all.
Sergey Lavrov: I do sleep at night.
Question: And when your plane lands, it’s already morning.
Sergey Lavrov: I try to live by the local time of a host country.
Question: It must be hard to adjust to a new rhythm of daylight and darkness.
Sergey Lavrov: I manage. I don’t know how, but people are different.
Question: Good. Another of your hobbies. We have a call.
For the benefit of our listeners, I can say that Mr Lavrov is sitting against the backdrop of our corporate KP banner. I understand why it is red and white. Presumably, this is a hint at your football preference. And now here’s the call from our listener: “Hello, Mr Lavrov. It’s no secret that you’re a football fan, a Spartak Moscow man. Today there’ll be a Board of Directors meeting at our favourite club. It will become clear who’ll be the next coach and what the club’s development strategy will be. Do you have your own ideas on the matter? Perhaps you’d like to give some advice to club management or even join the Board?”
Sergey Lavrov: Frankly, I didn’t know about a board meeting today. After the most recent coaching change, I try to look on from the sidelines. I have no opinion here. I haven’t been invited to join, but I know most of its members. We meet regularly, including at the stadium, when Spartak plays in Moscow. I can’t predict or second-guess the choice. I firmly believe that Spartak’s coach should be a person who symbolises Spartak, at least for my generation. There are quite a few such people, including Dmitry Alenichev.
Question: But in your opinion as a fan, yes or no?
Sergey Lavrov: I just said no, didn’t I?
Question: By the way, Mr Lavrov, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. There’s a famous photo of you talking on a mobile phone with the Spartak logo on the reverse side [of the phone].
Sergey Lavrov: This i-Phone was a present from my daughter. There’s a “tuning company” in Moscow that can put any logo on the back cover.
Question: Is it still working?
Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it is.
Question: Mr Lavrov, the search for Russian identity is a pressing issue today. What helps you personally see yourself as a Russian: the language, culture, education or something else?
Sergey Lavrov: All of the above. I believe there’s simply no getting away from the language. The same goes for culture and education, because education is a tool for your immersion into the language and culture – what’s more, the kind of immersion that makes you feel as much at home as a fish in water.
Of course, it is essential to look, see and feel your country in the flesh, so to speak. I liked hiking a lot. When I was at school, after Grade 7, we regularly went hiking, first with a teacher and then on our own. In my university years, there were student construction teams in the summer: Khakasia, Tuva, Vladivostok, Yakutia. During the winter holidays, we went skiing in the north: Karelia, the Arkhangelsk Region. I have the greatest memories of this. There are abandoned villages, houses in Karelia, because logging companies closed up and people moved elsewhere. We picked up a dog there, put together a box, mounted it on a sled, and the dog pulled the heavy stuff for us. Details always come up in such reminiscences. They’re precious. So it’s vital to see and get to know your country.
It’s a very good thing that the Russian Geographical Society prioritises this, and a special TV channel has even been created. President Putin supports this effort and sets a personal example. Being a member of the Russian Geographical Society, I try to make a useful contribution to their work.
Question: How important is the development of ties between sister cities today? Are these ties still alive?
Sergey Lavrov: Very much so. To be sure, there are some extreme cases, like when Kiev and certain European cities have abandoned the programme – mostly new NATO and EU members. I hear that a couple of cities have by way of protest terminated or frozen their ties with their sister cities in Russia. However, we actively support these programmes. We aren’t into micromanagement. They have direct contacts. This is allowed by all our laws. They do this based on a document in which they directly coordinate their economic exchanges. For the most part, sister cities do not engage in economic activities (this is the domain of interregional ties) but maintain cultural, humanitarian and educational exchanges. I believe this is a wonderful form of cooperation. In certain cases, it helps overcome problems that impede communication in the event of crises and conflict. For example, there’s the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. It’s a club of Black Sea cities. The organisation’s statutory documents include no bans, for example, on Sukhum’s participation. Generally, at the unofficial, grassroots level, at the level of these cities and population centres, a lot of things can be dealt with far easier than on the level of official representatives of the organisation’s member states. Sometimes, new approaches can be found within the framework of sister cities that will lay the groundwork for the resolution of some serious political problems.
Question: Thank you for your comments. There’s another little request from a KP reader. We can’t help but read his question: “I’m Alexander Anuchin. I’m 16. Next year, I’ll be in Grade 11 at School No. 1414, the former No. 607 that you went to. Could you visit our school on September 1 in honour of its 80th anniversary?”
Sergey Lavrov: First of all, I’m pleased that this question went on the air. Indeed, it’s a wonderful school. I try to help it, although perhaps not always as well as I should. Nevertheless, we regularly meet with our schoolmates. Next year, we’ll be marking the 50th anniversary of finishing school. The school has set a special day in February for an alumni reunion and this is when we meet. As for September 1, I can’t commit to this because I’ve been signed up for an annual presentation at the MGIMO University. But I will definitely visit the school for the February holidays.
Question: Mr Lavrov, we agreed with our readers that the person who asked the most interesting question would receive a gift from the Foreign Ministry. Which question was the most interesting to you?
Sergey Lavrov: I liked the question about which foreign ministry I’d like to join for a day. It was the most stimulating.
Question: The author will receive a special diplomatic umbrella and a photo with the minister’s personal signature.
Mr Lavrov, for our part, on behalf of the KP publishing house, we’d like to give you a set of 25 CDs with the best Soviet and Russian singers/songwriters. We all know that you like songs accompanied by guitar around a fire.
Sergey Lavrov: I’d like to send my best wishes to all KP readers and radio listeners.
Russia is lucky to an extraordinary level to have such an extremely intelligent, well versed and knowledgeable foreign minister as Mr. Lavrov. I have said for some years now that this gentleman is head and shoulders above any other FM on this earth and in my opinion this lengthy interview confirms my thoughts. With such as this gentleman working for us I can see a dim glimmer of hope in the darkness. Toss in the entire troika, VVP, S Lavrov and Tovarich General Shoigu and it is no wonder the adversaries are, in spite of all their bluster, soiling their knickers daily from rage or frustration and generally both.
Never The Last One https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZGCY8KK
An Incident On Simonka https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ERKH3IU
My friend, your way with words is a charm.
Sorry, you forgot the most powerful person, Maria Zakharova. I don’t need to spell out details but in her presence male opponents go totally limp, the female ones speechless with envy.
Do svidanya, Spiral
Above all, I appreciate and admire his calm and truly “diplomatic” demeanor. It’s not easy dealing with a bunch of arrogant liars and backstabbers and not sink to their level.
Maybe he doesn’t get a desire to punch the living daylights outta them, but I’m sure he at least sometimes gets a desire to grab them by the collar and YELL some juicy Russian curses at them :)
Lavrov is the greatest diplomat in action today, and probably one of the great diplomats of history.
He has a unique and powerful personality, intellect and humanity that is evident in this interview.
Lavrov is a gift to peacemaking. He never ceases to amaze.
He can cut like a surgeon and dazzle like an Olympian.
What a Russian export! Tough as any Russian tank, as vibrant as a Russian composer.
I would welcome more of this kind of speaking to western press, especially when in public with Kerry, and ‘express our outrage’ much more openly and forcefully………………..?
Thanks for posting this here.is Rus patience is endless ,one wonders re Syria, Minsk etc etc……would they ever give up on the UN?
Check out Peter Lavelle’s interview with PCR in the Duran:
Very good interview with FM Lavrov.
He was very unimpressive in what he said regarding the Donbass, namely, not admitting that Russia was caught with its pants down, and a major failure, which he should have acknowledged. He also had no answer as to why the Donbass was treated differently to Crimea.
He also goes on about Minsk 2, but not stating the US’s blatant lying, deception and dishonesty, like in Syria, and that it is only what the US *does* – not says, that matters; the Europeans are totally irrelevant, merely acting like powerless ‘good cops’.
I don’t think I would say Russia was caught ‘with her pants down’, far from it, the two situations were as different as night and day.
Sevastopol and Krim made their feelings abundantly clear before the final debacle on Maidan and this was even while snipers were killing their own on the last day the orcs positioned in Sevastopol and Krim were being quietly rounded up by the locals, sometimes rather roughly if the orcs did not accept their fates quietly. Not all of them were found and taken but enough were to put the fear of God in the rest of them.
Donbas, it was unknown what the general populace would do after the coup. Remember, there was fighting in Kharkov, Mariupol, Odessa, and other cities. The orcs met such resistance with overwhelming force and violence everywhere including in Donbas. Only in Donbas was the violence, after the shock of the first few killings by the Neanderthals, returned handsomely.
Russia could not and would not openly invade and take Donbas and other lands. It is all well and fine to kvetch and pontificate from the warm safety of your soft chair in front of your computer but that begs the question of if you feel so strongly about the situation in Novorossiya did you go to help, either there of Krimu? If you did, my hat is doffed in your honor.
Mr. Lavrov is the consummate diplomat. I certainly could not hold my tongue when faced with the baldfaced lies of Kerry et al told to the gentleman’s very face, I’d have to lace them with some good 7.62 x 39. How Mr. Lavrov maintains his professional demeanor I have no idea, BUT, that is his chosen vocation and he fulfills the wishes of Russia to the best of his abilities and compared to every other FM on this sphere he is, as I said, head and shoulders above all the rest.
Never The Last One https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZGCY8KK
An Incident On Simonka https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ERKH3IU
Yes, I have been heavily involved with the Donbass since August 2014, sent/given money, and visited Donetsk in October 2015, and still am. I want to do a lot more.
Insofar as what happened in Russia’s backyard, what was Moscow doing about American interference in Ukraine for up to 25 years (in Eastern Europe), letting the evil Americans run amok, and consequently yes, caught with their pants down for so long! Since I knew about the original wolfowitz doctrine and PNAC for years, so too should Moscow, and in particular Lavrov; sometimes I wonder how they could be so naive regarding the true nature of the USG and its MO in foreign countries.
Russia reacted fast wrt Crimea, but oh so slow wrt the Donbass, this is undeniable, since the events taking place in the Donbass was evidentially forseeable, as it lasted months, not to mention that Moscow was supposed to have so many spies in kiev able to obtain its plans.
In that case my hat is off to you for your assistance and support. Would that more would do so but that was and is not to be. Sometimes fighting the good fight in this AO is a long and thankless task fraught with unforeseen consequences.
While there was no ‘official’ support for Donbas in the beginning there was, and is, deep support from both Mother and Krimu. I remember ‘Strelkov’ lamenting in early summer of ’14 about the lack of volunteers to fill his ranks. That was a maskeerovka, there were plenty of young volunteers, almost all of whom were sent east for extensive training. It was the local greybeards and veterans who bore the brunt of the action through summer and fall and the Saur Mogeleh and Ilovyansk battles. It was the experienced greybeards and the newly returned and well organized youngsters who consummated the total route, defeat and slaughter of the orcs in the Debaltsyevo Cauldron. None of this could have been done without extensive help and support from Mother, however much that was behind the curtain.
As for the diplomatic end of the ongoing crisis, I have no idea as to who said what, to whom and when, those heady halls of power are a bit above my rank and level. However, I would say that all in all the diplomatic arena has been a bit of a success for Mother. There is no WW3 although there is a real war going on, and the two main players are openly shooting at each other.
Shucks, I’m tired and time to call it a day. In that last sentence, read:
There is no WW3 although there is a real war going on, and the two main players are NOT openly shooting at each other.
My major disappointment, is that I have received so little help from the Donbass people, insofar as being able to contact officials there (since I can’t speak/write Russian). I have some major help lined up, which fortunately this month may see a breakthrough on this (details withheld till afterwards).
Regarding Russia/Lavrov etc, what I stated above is my only real criticism of them; since then I am eternally grateful to Putin in particular, for his assistance/support for the Donbass people (I wish he had been months earlier with it, mainly the military side of things).
@Ralph: After the local’s “experiences” with OSCE and all sorts of other Westerners, isn’t it understandable that they don’t trust foreigners who cannot even tell them that they are on their side?
I recommend you the best teacher of the Universe [t.m.] :
QUESTION – ANSWER #1 | Am I BAD TEACHER?! ENG CC
LEARN RUSSIAN PRONUNCIATION – Sound “P” | РррРрР
BTW, I heard of Europeans that allegedly have been expelled to Kiev after visiting Donbass. Not confirmed however.
Beware! We live in a Nazi world.
I would suggest you contact ‘Little Hiroshima’. She is actively and single handedly doing relief work in that area and she gets the aid to those who need it the most. She is good people although I do not know her personally.
From Fort Russ:
“If you want to join in helping the people of the Donbass, write me in person through LiveJournal, facebook, or email: [email protected], or Paypal to [email protected]
From the editor:
Dunya (Littlehirosima) tells me she’s headed to the Donbass again this week. Help her out if you can, or wish her luck at least.
Also, here is her Humanitarian Aid FAQ – check it out if you’re thinking of ways to help.”
Contact with TPTB up there is difficult to establish simply because there has been numerous attempts at ‘relief work’ by those who could be called ‘charlatans’ and that term includes some who are ‘well known’ whom I shall not name. However, at least two of them are on the ‘don’t come here any more’ list because they could not keep their mouths shut in regards to things they saw up there.
I do not have a knee jerk reaction of compliments to Mr. Lavrov and the Troika in general, however I do compliment where compliments are due and his interview was excellent.
Auslander, I have been in contact with her since June last year, sent her about 6 emails. She is very, very good.
However, I want to get aid from England to the Donbass, hence why I want a Government contact (who speaks/writes in English) in Donetsk preferably.
I know about certain persons being expelled from the Donbass, and while I think theDPR officials don’t get it 100% right, I am fully in agreement with what they do, because there are saboteurs etc – both out of kiev and also Western, think NATO members – and even spies in the OSCE SMM.
Yesterday, I received info that by next month I should be able to be put into contact with someone in the DPR, using a very credible person.
“””””Russia could not and would not openly invade and take Donbas and other lands. “””””
The Soviet Union’s so called “dissolution” has never been valid, neither according to intl law, nor in compliance with the Soviet constitution nor in compliance with the Union-wide March 1991 referendum!
Collapse of USSR – Three days that shook the world in August 1991
Black October ’93: Tanks in Moscow, Blood on Streets (RT Documentary
> Black October ’93
The August 1991 video is actually too anti-communist.
I only showed it because the original video (RT Stabbing the Empire – The Last Days of The Soviet Union) has been removed from youtube.
More interesting is October 1993: Unidentified snipers on the roofs, in civilian clothing, targeting innocent persons (at first mostly journalists) on both sides of the divide, much like in Kiev on Maidan or in Venezuela in 2002.
Interesting also: While in 1991 Yeltsin that traitor was on the side of the crowd, in 1993 he was on the other side. And in 1991 those idiots blended by America’s propaganda demonstrated against communism, in 1993 it was the other way around.
Well – two years of Capitalist Russia under Yeltsin and the crowds finally began to realize what they had lost.
Whatever – in the March 1991 Referendum the vast majority of Soviet Citizens had voted to keep the Soviet Union alive:
Soviet Union referendum, 1991
Most of what happened later in 1991 and thereafter was illegal.
Actually it started with bringing Gorbachew to power in 1985.
There were or are court trials in Russia over this, but in the mid 90ties most of such efforts were sabotaged.
Just like rigging the 1996 election to prevent Zyuganov’s KPRF from winning (polls indicated that a win was certain).
However – it’s not just nostalgia.
Listen even to Capitalist Putin:
Report: Putin Claims that the Dissolution of the USSR was Illegal
Interesting, huh: Russia itself keeps preventing it:
Russian national contests Soviet Union’s dissolution
“””””MOSCOW, April 4 (RAPSI) – On April 8, Russia’s Supreme Court will hear a complaint filed by Dmitry Tretyakov against the court’s refusal to hear his request to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Union illegal, the court said in a statement posted on its website.
The Supreme Court refused to hear Tretyakov’s lawsuit filed in January 2014 after studying the documents he provided. The plaintiff is now contesting the court’s decision.
According to the media, Tretyakov wants the court to oblige the defendant – the Russian government – to hold a new referendum on the restoration of the Soviet Union and to urge the post-Soviet states’ executive authorities to hold such referendums too.
During a referendum on March 17, 1991, 76.4% voted for preserving the Soviet Union. However, in December 1991 the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine met in Belvezhskaya Pushcha, Belarus to sign a document on the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The document acknowledged the independence of the 12 Soviet republics and the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).”””””
You need to calm down and realize one fact that is engraved in stone: SSSR is gone, never to return, triumph or tragedy in your mind notwithstanding.
Your little link to ‘pjmedia’ is specious at best. The supposed statements made in March 2014 by VVP are from Mustafa Dzhemilev who spent twenty years looting the aid sent from Kiev ‘for the Tatari’ and who made those statements during and after the time when he ran from Krimu. This is the same worthy who actively and on the spot assisted in the destruction of the power supply to Krimu from Orcland and actively prevented repair of same, who actively and in person started and participated in the ‘blockade’ of Krimea at the two main border crossings (read bribe from each truck allowed in), who is supposedly recruiting another gang of islamists to ‘liberate’ Krimu and the Tatari in Krimu.
The electric supply was paid in advance and I find it interesting that the towers were blown the morning after the payment was made to Kiev.
with the pjmedia link you are totally correct.
I shouldn’t have sent it (I saw Dzhemilev but didn’t know he is that bad).
I only posted it because 1 had heard at the time on vkontakte that allegedly VVP made those statements. Now I wanted to send them, but found out that there isn’t much waterproof evidence.
What he in reality said was a bit diffeent, but went into the same direction.
There is a video somewhere on yt from the early/middle 1990ties where he states in Russian what he thinks (I understood 60% of what he said, no Russian let alone English subtitles).
Also there are numerous articles where he is quoted as saying that the dissolution of the CCCP was the largest tragedy of the 20th century (something like this).
I wasn’t awere that this Dzhemilev is such an unworthy creature. And that he is connected to the blowup of your power line which almost led to a 20 times Chernobyl/Pripyat and Fukushima together (Zaporoshye is the largest nuclear plant in Europe!)..
So far so good, one correction though:
> engraved in stone: SSSR is gone, never to return,
> triumph or tragedy in your mind notwithstanding.
Wrong, that’s not possible, because how can you predict that something will never be revived again which legally never ceased to exist?
To turn theory and paper back into practice might not be trivial, but is not impossible. The KPRF is Russia’s 2nd largest political force, and hadn’t Yeltsin in 1993 shot with tanks against the legal parliament and significantly incresaed his own presidential powers afterawrds, and hadn’t the 1996 elections been rigged, the CCCP would not be a practical reality again (not only jsutice on paper in some dark archives).
WW2 has never ended, Germany doesn’t have a single peace treaty with any single country, and realize one fact that is engraved in stone: SSSR is _NOT_ gone, never can be prevented to return as practical matter of daily life, triumph or tragedy in your mind notwithstanding.
As for WW2 pls. revisit my posts in the comments section of
Germany SITREP researcher C. talks to Scott May 18th, 2016
Хор Турецкого – Комсомольское попурри
Коммунисты, вперед! 20-летию КПРФ посвящается
Today’s communist party in Russia
BelaRus 2013: Верасы Любовь,комсомол и весна
Колонна КПРФ на шествии 1 мая 2015 года
Геннадий Зюганов, митинг 1 мая 2015 КПРФ
Геннадий Зюганов, КПРФ . .Gennady Zyuganov KPRF
Андрей Фурсов – Что скрывают мировые СМИ (01.06.2016)
Don’t deny the fact: The Soviet Union is alive and will dominate the entire Kocmoc!!!
It’s a question of when, rather than if.
What we need:
close the borders,
make the Rouble a Russian currency again,
Oligarchs into Gulags!
Freedom and work for the proletarians.
TV needs to be shut down and a real education and training system must urgently be put into place.
Ouch, one “not” too much (left over at a wrong location)
“””””and hadn’t the 1996 elections been rigged, the CCCP would not be a practical reality again (not only jsutice on paper in some dark archives”””””
and hadn’t the 1996 elections been rigged, the CCCP *would* be a practical reality again (not only justice on paper in some dark archives
I too think Lavrov strides like a giant amongst pygmies. However, the whole Ukraine business was rather odd, and Lavrov’s answer less than satisfactory. His words were defensive and he raised a few strawmen in response to the questioner. Since when do “thugs” give the Kremlin pause? Since when are Galician Nazis or foreign snipers “our own people”?
His words struck me as disingenuous. Either excuses for failure, or protecting a deeper truth.
At the end of the day, the Russians had at least a decade of warning. That NATO & the EU’s lickspittles were hell bent on turning Ukraine into a outpost of Empire on Russia’s front porch was plainly obvious since the lead up to the 2004 election. $5B buys a lot of very visible activity, and the Kremlin probably saw it all.
Every pundit’s theory is that the Kremlin should have had 100s of NGOs and agents all over Kiev and Novorossiya offering structured support to the people who could resist. Apparently, Crimea required very little support. All well and good, but the others did, and they didn’t get it in anything like an amount to make a difference pre-Maidan (from what we know).
Kharkov, Odessa, Mariupol, et al had shown signs of popular resistance to any future coup, and Russia’s deep penetration should have been leveraged hard to create and augment that resistance, and to frustrate their opponents. The media, and especially the UA military should have come in for intense attention. Anti-Maidan movements, well financed, professionally organized, and (yes) well armed should have been popping up like mushrooms by H2 2013. They were nowhere to be seen until a few civilians raised a spontaneous resistance on their own after the coup, and left to suffer horribly for it. So what happened?
I come up with 3 possibilities:
 The Kremlin underestimated the depth of the West’s penetration into UA’s public life, and judged that the threat was “manageable”. Perhaps they also underestimated the levels to which the West would go to achieve their goals. Unleashing murderers, Nazis, and wanton wholesale targeting of civilians and destruction of infrastructure perhaps strained the Kremlin’s imagination. Well, it all happened, so fail is fail.
 They assessed the threat correctly, but were unable to reverse it. That is, they pored in resources and failed to get a critical level of support. The US anted up $5B, and my guess is that the Kremlin could have got as much bang for the buck by spending 10% of that, say $500M. Though I see no evidence of it, perhaps their best professional efforts were no match for the West’s professional agitators, or the West’s chequebook. Nevertheless, fail is fail.
 They knew the West wanted UA, and the Kremlin purposely made it easy – like drawing the enemy into an encirclement by pulling the center of your line back. The Kremlin may well have erred in not anticipating the 1000s of dead and the wholesale destruction, but this is realpolitik and the goal was to put a monkey on the opponent’s back to vex him. As the West celebrated their little “victory”, the Kremlin snatched the most edible morsel, Crimea off the plate as insurance against something going wrong later.
Oh, I almost forgot… later, while it remained occupied with the monkey’s mischief, the Kremlin snatched the West’s lead role in the Middle East away. So, the Kremlin got Crimea, the Middle East, and eventually, both the West and a chastened monkey will beg the Kremlin to take him back. Win, win, win.
So, is it No. 1, no. 2, or no. 3? Or none of the above?
Ralph, very unimpressive indeed – Lavrov as usual.
If that’s then already “better” than the rest of the administration, what can DonBass then expect, other than at best staying a frozen (not entirely!) conflict under sanctions and intl. blockade forever … ??
His eternal “our partners” “our collegues” etc makes me mad! Especially if is is referring like that to Berlin’s caspars or let alone Kiev or Washington!
If the NATO leaders hear him like that it must be very funny entertainment.
“This goes to say that you should put your trust in partners, but rely on yourself.” – Lavrov
Martin, as per the video of Peter Lavelle (the Duran interviews…) and Paul as posted today by the Saker, it is what Paul says about his criticism too of the Russian leadership, that the USG cannot be considered as ‘partners’.
Check this news: Russia Is Set to Build 12 New Monster Warships Armed with 200 Missiles Each
The 1 June 2016 article concludes:
…Assuming that Russia can build the Leader-class given its current economic situation, the massive new warships would outgun the largest surface combatants in the U.S. Navy’s fleet—carrying roughly double an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer’s missile tubes. Moreover, the Leader-class’ nuclear propulsion system would allow the enormous new warships the ability to sortie around the globe without the need for auxiliary refuelers or any requirement to make a port call. That would afford Moscow a potent power projection tool that’s just short of a carrier strike group.
Whether this will help the Russian people of Novorussia, is an entire different matter…
Please provide a link to the article. Thanks. Mod
Really! 200 missiles each? Wow! Is that 200 launchers or 200 missile capacity in the magazines. What kind of missiles? Ummm. Doesn’t US have a couple boats bigger than a DD? I would like to see a link so I can look at what is coming.
Never The Last One https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZGCY8KK
An Incident On Simonka https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ERKH3IU
“… Is that 200 launchers or 200 missile capacity in the magazines? What kind of missiles?…”
The above article in “The National Interest” links to the Russian РИА Новости item http://ria.ru/defense_safety/20160601/1441617344.html , but it is just as general.
The Russian military affairs weekly “Military-Industrial Courier” (Военно-промышленний курьер) sometimes gives more details, but here ( http://vpk-news.ru/news/29134 ) says only: it will have “about 60 anti-ship cruise rockets [= missiles], 128 anti-air guided rockets, and 16 anti-submarine guided rockets” (60+128+16=204), not being more specific. That would at least answer the question, what kind of missiles.
But while I would take the above to mean the total # of rockets the ship carries, and not launch pads, it does strike me as very strange: what does the ship do after it fires those paltry 204? At the height of battle sail back home half around the Globe to get more?…
Perhaps a military analyst on this site could clarify this. Saker perhaps?
This is like Saddam Hussein firing a couple of dozen big “Scud” missiles into Israel during the first Gulf war. No nukes. Not even gas. Did practically no damage, destroyed a chicken coop in someone’s back yard. Though the big problem Russia now has is not missiles but the big fifth column round and in Kremlin.
P.S. Oh, sure … here is the link:
How many convoys have been sent to Donbass now? Does anyone have an update on the refugees that have gone to Russia. Or the ones who just life there as long term migrants with family.
I do not know the count of the Russian relief convoys to Novorossiya but it is significant and the official count does not include the steady and daily stream of two or three truck units arriving.
We keep in close contact with our evacuees from ’14 and all are doing well. All but a little group of two have been on the Mainland since late ’14. The husbands are alive. One was seriously wounded after the Ilovyansk Battle and returned to his family now in Russia for convalescence. When he totally healed he returned to his unit and is serving.
Thank you for the response.
A lot goes on behind the scenes that is not announced I know. But it is good to get an update.
We can fall into the trap of thinking that just because its not in the media, or not said in some grand speech, that nothing is happening.
Russia sends 52nd humanitarian convoy to occupied Donbas
10:17, 26 May 2016
The convoy will be sent to occupied Luhansk and Donetsk through separatist-held territories of east Ukraine
The Russian Federation has sent its 52nd humanitarian convoy to temporary occupied territories of east Ukraine, press service of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry reports.
The convoy consists of over a hundred trucks carrying over 1200 tons of cargo. The convoy will divide in two parts and cross Ukraine’s border through separatist-held check-points in Donetsk and Matviiv Kurgan, from where it’ll further head to Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Russia assures, the convoy carries food products, medication, firefighting equipment and literature.”
The OSCE incorrectly – and arrogantly – stated on May 26 that there had been ‘A fifty-first Russian Convoy’, not acknowledging one it had missed, so getting it wrong. Facts only exist if the OSCE says so, otherwise it disregards them.
Some of today’s headlines from Russian press:
(1) RIA Novosti, 2 June 2016 ( http://ria.ru/interview/20160602/1442020055.html ):
Evo Morales: Bolivia ready to support Russia concerning the recognition of Crimea
(2) Nil Nikandrov, Strategic Culture Foundation, 2 June 2016 ( http://www.fondsk.ru/news/2016/06/02/usa-gotovjatsja-ustranit-prezidenta-evo-moralesa-40630.html ):
U.S.A. is preparing the removal of President Evo Morales
(3) Vzglyad, 2 June 2016 ( http://vz.ru/news/2016/6/2/814118.html ):
Zaharchenko announced massive issuing of passports of Donyetsk People’s Republic
(4) RIA Novosti, 2 June 2016 ( http://ria.ru/world/20160602/1441882651.html ), concerning German talk about easing sanctions against Russia:
Talks about easing sanctions on Russia “drive Savchenko rabid”
(So accurate… The Russian word бешенство means exactly – rabies…)
I agree with both assessments of this interview: Lavrov is a statesman of supreme abilities; and his responses regarding Ukraine were disingenuous and insufficient. He doesn’t address why, despite 20 years’ warning, Russia was so unprepared to deal with this situation and is now confronted with a CIA state right at its doorstep. I think we have to look more deeply to find the answer to this: The Soviet Union was not brought down by bullets, tanks or bombs, but my mental insufficiency of its leadership. They idolized the west and believed its propaganda. Even Putin has admitted that (despite his position in the foreign intelligence service) he believed that once the Soviet Union was dismantled and ‘communist ideology’ was discarded, Russia would be welcomed with open arms and the world would be one big happy family of cooperating ‘partners and colleagues’.
These leaders profoundly misunderstood the real motives of the West. Which of course is very odd, considering the history of the 20th century. Gorbachev still seems to not really get it, and a substantial portion of the Russian political and financial elite still seems to harbor dreams of a cooperative world where they, especially, will cash in on all that western investment. I think this is the real reason underlying the massive failures with regard to Ukraine.
Personally, I think Putin and Lavrov might want to have a look at Lenin’s book, Imperialism, if they haven’t all been thrown away by now.
In repect of Lavrov you write, “his responses regarding Ukraine were disingenuous and insufficient. He doesn’t address why, despite 20 years’ warning, Russia was so unprepared to deal with this situation and is now confronted with a CIA state right at its doorstep.”
You are unfair and wrong in this assessment. Russia was in effect a failed state for much of that period. Its predecessor had collapsed (as well it needed to) and that collapse saw instability, fundamental change, reckonings and suffering. The bill had to be paid for years of rotten corruption, inefficiency, deprivation, impoverishment, declined productivity, deficits and overspending on waste. People who lived through these times had much more to consider than whether the CIA was up to something or not. Survival first and then restructure were the priority necessities. Russia was like a cancer patient after a six month chemo campaign followed by radiotherapy, radical surgery and several bouts of opportunistic infections from hospital super-bugs. The patient was weak. He wasn’t watching whether the hospital orderly was making moves on his teenage daughter or not. He was battling to survive and then look forward to recover.
With regards to the Ukraine, Lavrov asks us what we would have him do. Send in troops to murder fellow Russians wholesale? THAT is what many seem to have wished for. Killing. More killing. Yet more killing still. Is it ever enough killing?
And what is this killing for exactly? What is it expected to achieve? Where will the killing lead you to? And that last question is never considered by the proponents of initiating violence like this. Where does the unleashing of your favoured violence lead you? More questions to consider. What is the end game of all the killing? What is your exit strategy? How do you stop the killing? How do you get out of it? Can you stop? Will you be able to? Will circumstances allow you to stop the violence once you have it unleashed? What is the result? What are the reactions by others to your killing? What consequences does that deliver against you? Those questions are not seriously considered by the table pounders calling for violence, violence and yet more violence. They never quite seem to get around to looking into those questions in an honest fashion. They never get that far. Never at all.
I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but Lavrov, like Putin et al, operates according to high principle. He is a man of principle. He has stated many times, as has Putin, that the Russian govt seeks a multi-polar situation wherein individual states (whether small or large, whether wealthy or of modest means, whether advanced or backward) are sovereign and their sovereignty is respected absolutely. Reread his statements, then reread this interview in the light of this context and you’ll understad his answers are direct, honest and powerful.
You write, “The Soviet Union was not brought down by bullets, tanks or bombs, but my mental insufficiency of its leadership.”
It was bought down by a defective, immoral and corrupt ideology- unfit for humans. Putin once referred to the “the bomb in the basement” which is as apt an analogy as could be found I reckon. The consequence of the daft ideology was a collapse of the economy. Once the ordinary people lost faith in the system and no longer believed in its falsehood (they could see it was false from their daily experiences of the state of the economy) it was all over red rover. The mental insufficiency of which you speak is best recognised in the founders of the system; Marx, Lenin et al. Oh yes, do not forget to add Stalin to the list.
Quoting, “These leaders profoundly misunderstood the real motives of the West.”
There is an aspect of truth to that. They believed what they were promised. Why not? What they had experienced in their own recently failed political system was that it was all based on lies. They sure could see that the West provided a superior life in most every way. They sought improvement. They went with what they saw as a way forward and that was to embrace the West. At the time it was the best option available. Don’t forget that their entire situation was worsening around them as everything collapsed and had to be restructured from scratch. During times of huge change you have to concentrate on mere survival any way you can. They were living through such a time.
What they did not forsee was how rapidly the neocons would ascend to influence and power in the West and how rabidly russophobic they’d be. I don’t think anyone outside Washington really understood how this has happened. Certainly no-one expected it around here.
There was another major consequence of the USSR. I don’t think the Russian leadership understood just how much fear and hatred the USSR had created with its policies in Eastern Europe and elsewhere around the World. In fact many of the behaviours and policies within the USSR itself in regards to how its own people were treated were known about outside the USSR. All of this built a formidable aversion to Russia which is only now ebbing. It is ebbing in no small measure due to the consistent, principled actions of the present leadership of Russia.
You write, “a substantial portion of the Russian political and financial elite still seems to harbor dreams of a cooperative world”.
So too do I. Please explain what you see as wrong with such an objective.
You continued, “where they, especially, will cash in on all that western investment.”
Russia lacks capital. It lacks financial infrastructure and depth in certain areas. The opportunity for the West to invest was there. It is not available on such favourable terms any more. China is in a good position in regards to this.
Understand though, in order to cash in on investment from whatever source, you have to be productive. You have to be able to use the investment to produce and generate return. If you can’t, then soon enough you will be in receivership. Broke.
You write, ” I think this is the real reason underlying the massive failures with regard to Ukraine.”
You are wrong in this analysis. There was not a massive failure in the Ukraine by Russia. The failure was by the NATO countries led by the US. The failure was by Ukrainians themselves. None of that is Russia’s doing or responsibility.
Russian government does not claim exceptionalism…. What it does claim is partnership and diplomacy. So far that is leading towards the high ground and victory (in that its goals are attained one by one).
I leave you with a saying, worth reflecting on, a mangled version of a proverb from Ghana:
Softly, softly catchee monkey.
I’ve read several of your posts on the subject of Ukraine now. And while I find them interesting ,I have problems with them. On one hand you talk of Russia not wanting to kill “Russians” by liberating Ukraine. But what do you think is happening there right now. Good Russians are being killed daily by “bad Russians”. So its not a question of Russians being killed. Its a question of our sides Russians being killed by the other sides Russians.If “Russians” are dying anyway,it is better for the anti-Russian Russians to be the ones dying. You ask when would the killing stop. The answer to that is obvious,when Ukraine is liberated. Just as in any war when one side defeats the other,the war stops.This isn’t a case of endless war like we see when there is no clear victory. This is more a case of a WW2 type conflict. When the country is liberated and the “bad guys” defeated the war stops.
I also think you underestimate Russians. They are quite aware of the West’s lies. Just how naive do you think they are (and were). They are a 1000 year old society. They’ve been lied to countless times over the centuries. The last 25 years is only a ripple in their history. They were lied to in the Tsar’s time,during the Soviet days. And then during Yeltsin, and now Putin’s time.Not reacting isn’t a question of being shocked because they were lied to. Its a question of “forgetting history”,a huge error.
And concerning your condemnation of the Soviet Union. Certainly it had many faults.But it also had many pluses.And from the day it was created until the day it collapsed it was never free from attack .Sometimes militarily,but at all times economically. I don’t believe there is any point to talk of success or failure of socialism. Unless,you have an equal “playing field” to evaluate systems by. When one is constantly handicapped you can not evaluate its ability to function correctly. Though even so it is beyond question the system you condemn took a backward uneducated country. And made it a World super-power.Made the World’s second largest economy. Possibly the World’s strongest military (if not the second,beyond question). Made one of the most educated countries in the World. And did all that while under attack,and after suffering through two soul crushing World Wars,that devastated the country. So yes,they didn’t have some of the “gadgets” that were found in the West. But could they be expected to after all that. Instead they had housing for all,education for all,medical care for all,employment for all,retirement pensions for all,clothing and food for all (maybe not Gucci and Prime Rib,but clothing and food).I can’t think today of societies that can seriously say that. After all the years since the collapse of the USSR, in 2013, the US pollster Gallup did a poll in the former USSR. And an average of 62% of the people said their country was better off in the USSR and wanted it to return (55% in Russia,and 56% in Ukraine). I think that says a lot about the society you condemn.
Lastly about Eastern Europe.Before WW2,that region was a “third World” region,”light years” behind Western Europe. Most of the countries were dictatorships of one kind or the other.And many allied with the nazis during the War. For all the failings of the socialist systems that replaced them. They brought vast improvements to those nations in the living standards of the common people. They like the USSR,suffered far more devastation than Western Europe from the War. And unlike Western Europe they were denied massive rebuilding aid after the War. So all the social benefits they gained, was paid for by their own efforts.Certainly small neighbors of great powers fear them. You could get the same reaction from Latin Americans if you polled them on their feelings for the US’s involvement in their countries. The US interventions and aggression in Latin America was far more often and egregious than Russia’s in Eastern Europe.
Very interesting interview. He is a thoughtful man of great intellect and carefully weighed answers.
I note the complaints regarding the situation in the Ukraine and the assertions that “Russia didn’t do anything” or got somehow got “caught unprepared.” I also see people comparing Ukraine, or portions of it, to Crimea and demanding that Russia ought to have “sent in troops”. Guys, those dogs don’t hunt.
Sergey Lavrov’s answers are correct. What would the promoters of violence and destruction and hatred expect him to do? Send troops to murder fellow Russians? Because that is exactly what such emotional outbursts demand. Kill off many fellow Russians. Snuff out their lives. Behave exactly as barbarically as MSM propaganda insists. Deliberately fall into a morass of violence and isolation, in the trap so artlessly set for Russia.
Lavrov and co are far too clever for that. They do not fall for such easily avoided traps as that one. They do not substitute emotion, wishes, mythology and fairy tales for reality. They do not trap themselves within a cage of comfortable falsehoods.
In regards to Crimea. Crimea is Russian. It has been so for hundreds of years. It was throughout the time of the USSR, notwithstanding the “gift” of its administration awarded to Khrushchev’s Ukrainian political chums by Premier Khrushchev. Now its administration has reverted whence it came. Simple enough, surely. Still, if you want to consider the return of Crimea to Russia as requiring recent legal basis, then you might want to review how the lease of military bases to Russia by Ukraine was a contract and the nature of remedy Russia possessed when it became certain that Ukraine was about to breech that contract. That is one good place to begin.
The tragedy for Donbass and Lugansk etc was that they were and are firmly part of Ukraine and not merely for administrative reasons either. Ukraine is a sovereign state, independent to Russia. It is not a part of Russia. This is the reality and it is recognised by the govt of Russia.
Always remember that it is the Russian government which is promoting (and holding to) the principle of state sovereignty. That principle is important if the objective is a multi-polar world of independent states co-operating peacefully. If it is not, then there are two other choices and both are bad. One is perpetual war, as states attempt to overcome other states. The other is a unipolar world with the exceptional state ruling above all others by whatever means it has at its disposal. Neither of those is what Lavrov seeks for the World. Read his comments and see for yourself.
Final point. Communism and socialism failed. They fail everywhere they are attempted without exception. It is merely a matter of how long you have before the system consumes whatever wealth is available and then collapses under its own corrupt, immoral, unproductive weight. The USSR failed when its economy snuffed itself out. It failed when those trapped within it perceived its immorality. It failed when its self-contradictions and corruption were ignored no more. There was no way to resurrect it then and, thankfully, there is no way to resurrect it now. That system couldn’t even provide enough good food, let alone consumer goods, durables or assets, for its people. Lining up for hours for even the basics is a non-starter. An archipelago of prison camps is not an attribute of a successful, humane system either. Fortunately the common people gave up on it and consigned it to the ashcan of history. Time to stop looking back at abject failure- instead seek a far more promising future without the shackles of these tragically nonsensical ideologies.