While this press conference contains a shorter Belarus update, it has a wider context and is posted to illustrate Foreign Minister Lavrov’s clear expression of irritation with the west, which he now covers in each of his routine press conferences. In this one, he handles among other topics, protests across the world, Heiko Maas, Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CMCE), International agencies, including the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner being silent and not doing their jobs, as well as strategic stability.
Joint session of the collegiums of the Russian and Belarusian Foreign Ministries, November 26, 2020
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have held a joint session of the collegiums of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Belarusian Foreign Ministry. By tradition, it took place in a confidential and truly friendly atmosphere.
Using this opportunity, I would like to thank again our Belarusian friends for their traditional hospitality and excellent organisation of work. We highly value these annual meetings in the format of members of the collegiums and other representatives of the two ministries’ top management. They allow us to discuss in detail the most urgent international issues that involve the interests of our countries and need to be addressed.
Despite the complicated epidemiological situation, we managed to meet offline and talk face to face. We had four items on our agenda: relations of our countries with the European Union, participation in UN peacekeeping missions (in part, in the context of the prospects of the CSTO’s involvement in the UN peacekeeping activities), cooperation in the EAEU on forming the Greater Eurasian Partnership and ways of ensuring international information security.
We achieved specific agreements on all of these issues. They are reflected in a resolution that we signed in addition to the plan of consultations between our foreign ministries in 2021. We also spoke about broader cooperation in international organisations, including the CIS, CSTO, EAEU, UN and OSCE.
We and our Belarusian colleagues had to state that unfortunately our US-led Western partners continue persistently promoting their narrow selfish interests in a bid to preserve their hegemony in the world arena. They are using the concept of the “rules-based” world order, setting it directly against universal, commonly recognised standards of international law, including the UN Charter.
We are concerned about the attempts by the Western countries to establish control over international organisations, up to and including privatisation of their secretariats. When this fails, they try to replace collective work in universal formats with private get-togethers where all those who agree with the Western policy make decisions that are later presented as multilateral and binding. It is hardly possible to make us follow these rules. The overwhelming majority of countries are firmly committed to the old, tried-and-tested principle – respect for international law, primarily the UN Charter.
We noted numerous facts of crude interference by the US and those who follow in its wake (I am referring to some European capitals) in the internal affairs of sovereign states. The dirty methods of colour revolutions continue to be used. These include manipulation of public opinion, instigation and support of overtly anti-government forces and contribution to their radicalisation. We are seeing how these methods are being applied to the Republic of Belarus. We spoke about this in detail today both with Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who received us before this meeting.
We were informed in great detail about the current developments in Belarus. We are not indifferent to them. The Republic of Belarus is our ally and strategic partner and also a fraternal nation. We are interested in a calm and stable situation in that country. This will be facilitated by the Constitutional reform that was launched by the Belarusian leadership as a major transformation of the political, economic and legal systems.
We believe the Belarusian people are wise and always act in a balanced manner. They are capable of resolving their problems without any outside prompting or obtrusive proposals on unwanted mediation. It is obvious that attempts to jeopardise normalisation are being made. There are many examples of this: a desire to radicalise the protesters, encouraging people to engage in subversion and high treason, which are made, in part, from abroad.
Today we again reviewed in detail the entire range of our ties and ways of protecting the interests of each of our countries, as well as the interests of the Union State of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation.
I would like to emphasise again that we are content with our joint discussion. We will carry out everything we have agreed on today.
Question (addressed to both ministers): On November 18, 2020, your German counterpart Heiko Maas accused the authorities of Belarus of violently suppressing peaceful protests. Having said this, he urged the Council of Europe to use its instruments for monitoring the situation even in those European countries that do not want to join the organisation. Could you comment on this, please?
Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Vladimir Makei): We took note of how Germany took over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CMCE). German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas first made a speech at a closed CMCE meeting and then held a news conference. His speech was unconventional for the presidency of this pan-European body because the main goal of the Council of Europe, which is recorded in its statute, is to promote greater unity of all European countries. By definition, the President, all the more so in the Council of Europe, must focus on enhancing unity in his future work rather than stir up confrontation.
It is no secret that at the CMCE meeting prior to that news conference, Heiko Maas presented his programme for the next sixth months in a politicised vein and unacceptable tone, in a crude, undiplomatic manner. He made a number of Russophobic statements. He had grievances not only as regards the Republic of Belarus but also made groundless Russophobic accusations in respect of Crimea, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and southeastern Ukraine. His opinion on the Nagorno-Karabakh agreement also sounded rather strange.
At the news conference Mr Maas urged everyone “to respect the rules-based order.” Our Western colleagues are not going to respect international law as a matter of principle. He did say that the principles of the Council of Europe must be imposed by using relevant instruments, including on those countries that are not members of the Council of Europe. I consider this absolutely unacceptable.
It is indeed strange that of all countries it is Germany that has recently decided to act as a driver of aggressive approaches to the countries that are not NATO or EU members.
Those who are objective and pay attention to double standards will note that neither Mr Maas, nor other Western representatives or UN human rights agencies have said a word about rather serious incidents in France and Germany. There were protests by yellow vests in France, demonstrations against COVID restrictions in Germany and some other countries, and protests against a ban on abortions in Poland. They were dispersed in a very tough manner.
International agencies, including the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner, stayed silent. Human rights champions in France covered the yellow vests protests in a completely different manner than they cover events in Russia and Belarus. Only in the beginning did they cautiously urge the sides to overcome their differences. But later the yellow vests began to encounter a tough police response. In the estimate of French human rights activists, almost 15,000 rubber bullets were shot at the protesters; 2,500 people were wounded and 12,000 detained, including 2,000 who were sentenced, in part, to real prison terms. But nobody speaks about this. This is considered normal because these are their compatriots. It is necessary to get rid of this attitude, especially for those who head the Council of Europe.
About a month ago, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric asked us in Moscow about our assessments of the events in the Republic of Belarus. She received our answers and inquired whether the Council of Europe can contribute to normalisation there in some way. We promised do convey her wish to those concerned. She emphasised that this will be possible only if the Republic of Belarus makes this request itself. But as you can see, the German Presidency has different plans in this respect. This is regrettable.
We will try to compel the Council of Europe, all the more so under the German Presidency, not to forget about the issues that the West is trying to hush up in many different ways. This applies to discrimination against Russian speakers in the Baltic states, the disgraceful lack of citizenship, and the so-called reforms in the field of education and language in Ukraine that are aimed only against the Russian language, as distinct from the languages of other national minorities because they are EU languages. We will not accept the efforts of the Council of Europe (or some of its members) to hush up the facts of the purposeful harassment of the Russian media, not to mention the glorification of Nazism. The German Presidency must remember all this and must not divert the Council of Europe to the discussion of issues that are more comfortable for the West and justify its positions, while ignoring the problems that have become chronic for our Western colleagues.
Question: What are the prospects for concluding new strategic stability treaties with the United States once the new administration is in office? Last year, President Trump mentioned a new trilateral document involving Russia, the United States and China. What will happen now?
Sergey Lavrov: This is a long-standing matter. True, the Trump administration was consumed (I can’t come up with any other word) by a desire to involve the People’s Republic of China in disarmament talks. Initially, they talked about the need to include the PRC in the START Treaty which is still in force, although this is impossible by definition. Then, they proposed creating a new treaty and not renewing the current one, because it’s outdated and bilateral, whereas they would like to take a step towards multilateral disarmament and arms control. Their position was erratic. As a result, they came up with a proposal to extend the treaty for another year, but on the condition that we recount each other’s warheads and put in overseers at the defence plants’ checkpoints. Counting warheads and ignoring carriers and innovative technologies that directly affect strategic stability is a frivolous and unprofessional approach.
Earlier this year, we made proposals to our US colleagues about structuring our future dialogue on arms control and non-proliferation. They stood their ground and insisted on warheads alone. They have long been interested in Russian tactical nuclear weapons, hence their interest in warheads at the expense of everything else. We say we will be ready to discuss non-strategic nuclear weapons, including warheads, when the Americans withdraw their tactical weapons from other countries. In Europe, these weapons are deployed in five NATO countries. Also, NATO structures conduct training in handling nuclear weapons for military personnel from non-nuclear countries in flagrant violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
With regard to the People’s Republic of China, President Putin has repeatedly stated that we have nothing against it, but the decision is up to the PRC. China has officially and publicly stated on several occasions that it is not going to join the talks with Russia and the United States, since its nuclear arsenal is an order of magnitude smaller than the corresponding arsenals of Moscow and Washington. We respect this position. If and when the Americans persuade China to join multilateral talks, we will have no objection to that. We will be willing to participate in them if the PRC agrees to this of its own accord. But we are not going to persuade Beijing to do so just at the whim of the Americans. But if and when a multilateral format in disarmament and arms control talks is created, we will push for France and the United Kingdom to join it as well.
When we told the Americans about this, they told us that these counties are their allies and they vouch for them. Precisely because they are allies of the United States, we would like to see them at the negotiating table, if the talks become multilateral. Washington’s absolutely hostile doctrine towards Russia cannot but raise questions about the motives of the US allies, whether in Europe or Asia. When they enter into a military alliance with a country that declares us a hostile state, we must draw our own conclusions regarding these allies.
I don’t see how we can seriously discuss anything related to the continuation of the arms control process with the Trump administration. We do not know yet what kind of administration will move into the White House or what kind of policy it will conduct. The voting results have not yet been announced officially, but there’s already an understanding that the change-of-command process is underway. Let’s wait and see what kind of assessments will eventually form in the minds of those who will shape the US strategic stability policy after January 21, 2021.
Question (addressed to both ministers): Popular protests have been growing around the world for various reasons, including political ones. The law enforcement reaction is the same everywhere, going as far as the use of force and special equipment. At the same time, such events in Belarus are receiving heightened attention from foreign politicians. What do you think is the reason?
Sergey Lavrov: I have already cited examples of protests being suppressed in France. Those drastic figures are rarely revealed to the general public. Human rights agencies in the UN system, as well as numerous human rights rapporteurs are trying their best to avoid any topics that are uncomfortable for Western representatives.
Speaking of the protests in Paris, there is a huge wave of protest against the global security bill, which includes a ban on photographing, filming or otherwise identifying law enforcement officers. I can imagine the kind of racket a bill like that would have sparked if it were proposed in Russia or Belarus. The French public and human rights groups are concerned, yet we can see no reaction from international bodies. The police used water cannons and noise grenades during rallies against the bill. The protesters, too, provoked the police, using stones and sticks. One police officer was injured. And yet, I repeat, this does not prevent the West from lecturing anyone who is not their ally.
Voting processes in Russia and Belarus have been scrutinised through a magnifying glass. When a similar story happens in the United States, it is declared “normal, it’s democracy, and everything is just fine.” Though, even respected and influential think tanks in the United States openly write about “the problems with the US electoral system.” To put it mildly, that system does not fully comply with the principles of democracy or the rule of law. They write these things themselves, but our international partners prefer to ignore them and concentrate on the countries whose “regimes” they find undesirable.
When UN rapporteurs, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, describe violent clashes in Western capitals, they urge everyone to find a solution through dialogue. When they criticise us or Belarus, they demand a change of the system. This difference is visible to the naked eye. We have long lost any illusions about what kind of standards the West is promoting and how they use double standards. We will fight, and will defend our position at the UN bodies, where these issues should be considered. We will not allow the vices that the Western community is demonstrating to be forgotten.
Question (addressed to both ministers): How can you comment on Pavel Latushko’s last interview, where he spoke about the possibility of unofficial contacts with Moscow?
Sergey Lavrov: Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has just shown me part of that interview. Not only did he mention the possibility of unofficial contacts with Moscow – he said such contacts were underway and were coordinated. He shamelessly declared he could not cite any names, but mentioned “contacts at a sufficiently high level.” He speculated whether I will be allowed to tell my Belarusian friends about it. I will answer briefly: this is a blatant lie, and it once again says something about those trying to make some kind of career with foreign handouts.
”We were informed in great detail about the current developments in Belarus. We are not indifferent to them. The Republic of Belarus is our ally and strategic partner and also a fraternal nation. We are interested in a calm and stable situation in that country. This will be facilitated by the Constitutional reform that was launched by the Belarusian leadership as a major transformation of the political, economic and legal systems.”
In short: Tikhanovskaya banging her head against a 10 meter brick wall as required by the Pindos and the Euro-trash. Excellent case study of the importance of leadership quality with Lukashenko and Putin dealing most appropriately with a Guaidó style misfit having nothing to show for her (with the very obvious exception of her awesome Western sponsors, of course).
Personally, I don’t think Tikhanovskaya (or, for that matter, Navalny) believes in the utter nonsense of which she happens to be the figurehead. What matters to her is her much improved private economy — although she is just a cheap quisling. Navalny’s ”High Heaven” has cocaine intoxication. as its side effect. Was that the substance which is forever masquerading as ”Novichok” ?
Here is that famous Russian character, on full display – amazing patience and tolerance, to a point, but when the line is eventually crossed – run for cover! The gloves are off. Russia has had ENOUGH(!!!) of western atrocious russophobic mendacity and the west will suddenly realise just WHAT they are dealing with here. The response was long overdue – and at last we are seeing it. Thank you Russia! They SO need to be put in their place. And they will be..
Very true. And what’s adding a copious dose of refined amusement and Schadenfreude to it is that the West’s mental and moral midgets will be foaming, moaning, and groaning in 100% real pain. Becomes extraordinarily unpleasant when that doesn’t add any ”cred” whatsoever to their cause. Ergo: If you are forever lying and shouting, that very habit is bound to backfire on you as your richly deserved ’reward’ eventually.
Where is there a response at all ? Nobody in the Reich hears anything about it – they are ecstatic how easily they could trick Putin in handing them over Navalny and thus giving them the opportunity to drench Russia in poisonous vitrolic accusations, threats and stern demands, all the Orks here (thus the majority) hate Russia, China, to the bone, because they all are born rascists, only unconditional surrender is an acceptable option.
We will see how the Russians will welcome the scum on their return to Syria (which is a given), most likely with more ‘partner’ sweet talk as usual, instead of instant annihilation on arrival as they are entitled to.
”all the Orks here (thus the majority) hate Russia, China, to the bone, because they all are born racists, only unconditional surrender is an acceptable option.”
Which is very good as it serves to keep up the patriotic spirit and sense of purpose within the targeted nations — leadership and the broader masses alike. I almost get the feeling that ’blunders’ like the Navalny shitstorm are in fact a way to ”drive home the message” at little cost. As long as Russia and China continue their joint efforts expanding their global power, influence, and prestige, the West’s silly propaganda noises are nothing to worry about. If stupid Westerners sincerely want to believe that the EU’s greedy, soulless neoliberal apparatchiks care about manure such as the Novichok hoaxes and rage and fume out of their deepest humanitarian concerns, what’s the problem? If Russia actually wanted to be accepted, that would have been achieved by consenting to the (aborted) Maidan in Belarus. It failed miserably despite all the doom and gloom about Lukashenko on this forum.
”Voting processes in Russia and Belarus have been scrutinised through a magnifying glass. When a similar story happens in the United States, it is declared ’normal, it’s democracy, and everything is just fine’.”
Actually, the verdict at the end is quite accurate. And it applies not just to voting processes, but to corruption in every conceivable field of human endeavour: normal, democratic, and everything is just fine as long as it’s the Western kakistocracy showing its moral conduct.
Very good. I’m encouraged that Lavrov is explicitly calling attention to how the proponents of Western hegemony are actively dismantling the real international consensus which has long been embodied in the UN institutions and protocols. The Nato powers are on the wrong side of history. The right side of history is the one that has resisted universal empire by means of counter alliances on the part of independent and sovereign political powers. The first major instance of this was the league of mainly Protestant states, but which included France, allied against the Catholic league of the Papacy and the Habsburgs. In 1648 they basically won and thereby established the essential forms of the plural states system as we know it. The next challenge to this came from Louis XIV who again lost, followed by Napoleon’s bid to achieve pan European imperium, and closer to our time the same endeavour on the part of the Third Reich, once again defeated by ‘the United Nations’ formed during the Second War to do just that. We should thus understand that the UN had and still has a purpose, and that purpose is precisely to prevent what Lavrov is calling attention to, namely America and Europe’s bid to follow in the footsteps of the Third Reich to establish what is in effect a Forth Reich based on the North Atlantic Alliance. Therefore it is exactly this ‘rules based international order’ which in fact is actively subverting the real thing, in true Orwellian fashion. As well, we should understand that the Shanghai group, mainly China and Russia, continues without significant change the real thrust of the original United Nations. We should recall that Russia, then the USSR, and China were original signatories of the UN when it was formed during the War (and did the real heavy lifting, making the greatest sacrifices). These countries are not ‘revisionist’ powers, as is hypocritically claimed by Nato mouthpieces. It is the North Atlantic Alliance that is revisionist. Very quickly after the end of the war in Europe they took up the policy recommendations of the Nazi leadership and combined forces to resume the Western offence against Russia. The real policy of the West was loudly articulated by high ranking Nazi leaders and quietly supported on both sides of the Atlantic until it was openly declared by Winston Churchill in his infamous Iron Curtain speech of 1946.
A further point. The establishment of the UN itself marks a major stage in the evolution of the sovereign states system first established in the mid 17th century. To begin with it was a purely anarchic affair which relied upon balance of power arrangements to secure what was hoped would be a dynamic equilibrium of countervailing forces, and thus an ongoing moderation of aggressive tendencies. Sometimes this worked; often it didn’t. The long term tendency was to establish political bodies to facilitate ongoing diplomacy to prevent war of which the UN is the present instance. But the point that needs to be made clear is that the UN is not a ‘Union’ as is the case with the USA or what the EU is attempting to be. It is not a government of all governments. It is a confederacy of sovereign states that are committed to an order of pluralistic sovereignty characterised by a policy of non interference in the affairs of other states. In political terms this is a confederacy, not a union. There’s a significant difference, a decisively significant difference.
To conclude, Foreign Minister Lavrov is presently the most prominent voice in defense of state sovereignty, which is arguably Europe’s lasting contribution to world in general. It’s a bit like ‘Russian Ark’. We need clear and principled thinking to counter the confused idiocies born of systematic lies which presently pollute the communications of our time.
Thank you Kevin! This is what Saker’s blog is all about – astute analysis and much needed information. Please contribute more.
Katerina; thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I do hope to make further contributions now and then.
”Foreign Minister Lavrov is presently the most prominent voice in defense of state sovereignty, which is arguably Europe’s lasting contribution to world in general. It’s a bit like ‘Russian Ark’. We need clear and principled thinking to counter the confused idiocies born of systematic lies which presently pollute the communications of our time.”
Well stated, KF.
The words I put in bold are important with regard also to the nonsense about ”revisionist powers”. Actually, I think neither Russia/China nor the Anglo-Zionazis could be said to be ”revisionist”. What it all comes down to is the growing/waning power of each one and how the perception of this change expresses itself among those on the wrong side of history. On this basis, ”revisionist powers” — used about Russia and China — solidly comes across as a confused idiocy ”born of systematic lies which presently pollute the communications of our time”. If I were to enlist as a speechwriter for Western inperialism, I would instantly toss out the uninspiring, blurry concept of ”revisionist powers” and replace it with the much bolder ”filthy garbage”. Fair enough?
Lavrov speaks so clearly on any issue, it is hard to believe he is a diplomat. Truth, clarity, no spin. This is why Lavrov has no peers.
Russia is blessed.
Lavrov is TOP-NOTCH. Heiko Maas could learn a thing or two from him.
I’m glad Russia has decided not to put up with Western crap anymore.
Diplomacy is a two-way street.
This is a good place to put the statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry on the US Navy Destroyer entering Peter the Great Gulf.
27 November 202019:15
Statement by the Foreign Ministry in connection with a US Navy destroyer entering the territorial sea of the Russian Federation
On November 24, the US Navy destroyer John S McCain sailed more than 2 km into the territorial sea of the Russian Federation in the Peter the Great Gulf, in connection with which a tough demarche was made to the United States through military-diplomatic channels. In this water area, ships must comply with international law and Russian legislation regarding peaceful passage across its territorial sea. These requirements were deliberately violated with the intention of calling into question the international legal status of the Peter the Great Gulf.
The Foreign Ministry lodges a strong protest in this regard. We consider this incident to be an outright provocation designed to violate peace and order.
Washington is well aware of Russia’s position with regard to this water area, which constitutes our country’s internal waters and to which the sovereignty of the Russian Federation extends. Any attempts to claim otherwise are unacceptable.
Clearly, using this kind of saber-rattling, the United States deliberately escalates tensions, reaffirming that they prefer military methods of upholding their foreign policy positions in the current historical period.
The fact that a US warship entered the territorial sea of the Russian Federation does not and cannot create any international legal ramifications for the status of the corresponding water areas. We urge the United States to refrain from such acts of reckless behaviour in the future. Otherwise, responsibility for the possible consequences will lie entirely with the United States. We reserve the right to take reciprocal action.
Request for a good map received:
the official territorial waters (the black line)
over the green line no border checks are made
The sooner these “carriers” derived from ‘foreign handouts ends the better, May it be soon.