RUSSIAN EMBASSY WEEKLY #116
Dimitri Simes (for Chanel One): Mr President, two days ago the US Congress passed bills on sanctions against Russia by such an overwhelming majority that it makes it difficult for President Trump to veto the bill.
And, as you probably know, the House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment yesterday. This is the context in which he has to make foreign policy decisions, and more specifically, those in relation to Russia.
In this situation, do you think you – and Russia – have any opportunity to try to maintain or strengthen dialogue with the United States before the end of Trump’s presidency? What can you do to enhance strategic stability, and more specifically, to extend the New START?
Vladimir Putin: As for the chances to continue our dialogue until the end of Trump’s presidency, you do sound like it is actually ending. I am not so sure about that. The decision still needs to pass through the Senate, where the Republicans, as far as I know, have the majority, and they are unlikely to want to remove the representative of their party from power for something I, personally, see as far-fetched.
This is just another move in that country’s domestic political campaigning, where one party that lost the election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results they want through other means, such as charging Trump with conspiracy related to Russia. When it turned out there was no conspiracy, there was no longer a sufficient reason to impeach. Now they have invented pressure on Ukraine. I do not know what this is all about. But your Congresspeople certainly know better.
As for the decisions that were made with respect to Russia, they are being made by people who hardly have any responsibility for these decisions. These are not executive authorities, but representative authorities, and their job is to pass laws. They are making such decisions regarding Russia.
This will certainly affect the level of interstate relations. We are aware of their general approach – the United States will work with us in areas where they have an interest and profit, while at the same time restraining Russia with decisions like this. Knowing this, we too will mirror their steps, we will do just that. I am not saying this is a good thing. These are very unfriendly acts in relation to Russia.
They want to help Ukraine keep its transits. As I have just told a colleague from Ukraine, we also want to keep transits. In any case, this is what we are interested in, and this is what we will do. If they wanted to help, they should have given them money. How come they do not give any money to Ukraine? This would have enabled them to provide subsidies.
You see, they give almost nothing, only guarantees for future loans. But this is not actual money, so the support they are getting is not real. At the same time, the IMF, where the United States rules, demands that all energy subsidies be cancelled, including for natural gas. This will once again drive consumer prices up.
Others in the West, I mean, the EU, want round timber to be exported to Europe. If they do so, very soon, there will be nothing left of the Carpathian mountains, with only bare rock remaining. It could seem that they are supporting the current Ukrainian regime and its leaders, but at the same time I believe that they are seriously hurting it.
Now they are asking Ukraine to start selling land. Land is sacred for Ukrainians, and I can understand this, since these are “golden” soils. Of course, the opposition was instantly all over this issue and is now attacking Zelensky on the domestic policy front.
They blame us for some actions towards Ukraine and pretend to be willing to help, but in reality what they want is to have Russia support the Ukrainian budget. Go ahead and give them the money, help Ukraine, grant it subsidised loans with lengthy repayment periods. But there is nothing of the kind.
Still, we are interested in expanding and maintaining relations with the United States and will move in this direction regardless of who is in the White House or who controls the two chambers of Congress.
Do we see any potential in this? I think so. You have mentioned global security, including the New START, as one of the foundations of our relations. We put forward our proposals, as I have already said, and will repeat: we stand ready until the end of the year to extend the existing New START as is.
They can send it to us by post, or we can sign it and send it to Washington so that their senior officials, including the President, sign it, if they are ready to do so. So far we have not received a reply to any of our proposals. Without the New START there will be nothing left in the world to contain the arms race. I believe that there is nothing good about it.
The President took part in the opening of the Crimea Bridge to railway traffic. Vladimir Putin ordered, via videoconference, the departure of the Tavria express passenger train from St Petersburg to Sevastopol.
Before the opening ceremony, the President rode along the bridge in the train driver’s cabin, inspected the entire railway section and also spoke with the bridge builders.
Vladimir Putin also familiarized himself with the information on the development of transport infrastructure in the south of Russia, in particular the Crimea Railway.
The 19-km Crimea Bridge is the longest bridge in Russia and Europe. Starting on the Taman Peninsula, it runs along a 5-km long dam and Tuzla Island, crosses the Kerch Strait and ends on the Crimean coast. The bridge ensures uninterrupted traffic between Crimea and other Russian regions.
The transport crossing consists of a motorway and a railway running parallel to each other. The bridge’s motorway section opened in May 2018, and freight traffic was launched in the autumn of 2018. There are plans to start operating freight trains in the summer of 2020.
Vladimir Putin: Today we have a pleasant and a very important occasion. It is important for Crimea, Sevastopol, the entire south of Russia and the whole of Russia, because, of course, such infrastructure facilities as this tremendous bridge will influence the entire economy. <…> Not just that millions of cars have used the bridge since it was opened or that millions of passengers will travel this way next year. This is also a great occasion. Almost 14 million passengers and 13 million tonnes of cargo are expected next year.
There is something more important. It is more important that your hard work, talent, perseverance and determination have proven that Russia is capable of implementing infrastructure projects at the global level. This is not just the largest bridge in Russia, but also the longest in Europe.
You have shown that we can carry out such large-scale projects using our own technological base. Without exaggeration, this gives almost everyone confidence that we will be able to implement such projects in the future.
Thank you very much for your persistence and your talent, thanks to everyone: builders, engineers, scientists, archeologists and environmentalists. This is a great, enormous and powerful team uniting people from all across Russia from the Far East to its European part.
Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, First President of Kazakhstan and Honorary Chairman of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov held a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. President of Moldova Igor Dodon also attended the meeting in expanded format.
The participants discussed the current issues concerning the activities of the Eurasian Economic Union and outlined tasks for further deepening cooperation. A package of documents was signed following the meeting.
In particular, they signed the Directive On Work on the Draft Strategic Directions for Eurasian Economic Integration Development until 2025 and resolutions on the Chairman and composition of the Eurasian Economic Commission Board.
Other documents concern the pensions of workers in the EAEU member states, lifting barriers to the operation of the EAEU domestic market, liberalisation of some service sectors within the EAEU, establishing a common electricity market in the EAEU and some administrative issues.
In addition, they reviewed the work of the Eurasian Economic Commission during the past four years. Mikhail Myasnikovich, Speaker of the Council of the Republic of Belarus, the upper chamber of the Belarusian parliament, will take over the post EEC Board Chairman from Tigran Sarkissian.
During the meeting, Vladimir Putin awarded Tigran Sarkissian with the Order of Friendship to note his contribution to the development of the EAEU.
Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation with Foreign States held to discuss its performance in the outgoing year and plans for military technical cooperation with the key partners.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: It should be said that our exports of weapons and military equipment have grown to a total of $13 billion this year. This is more than $2 billion more than in the same period last year. Russia’s position on the global arms market is strengthening despite the increased sanctions pressure and unfair competition.
International trade fairs contribute to promoting our exports. During this year, Russia was the venue of seven such events, including the Army-2019 International Military-Technical Forum, the International Maritime Defence Show in St Petersburg and the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2019 held at Zhukovsky.
Our foreign partners could go and look at the latest achievements of our defence industry, including the latest fifth-generation Su-57 fighter plane, the Mi-38T helicopter with enhanced lifting power, the fourth-generation Viking medium range missile system, and the Tigr armoured vehicle, among others. The contracts signed following these trade fairs are estimated at around 35 billion rubles.
The overall portfolio of contracts has been stable at more than $50 billion. A high demand for Russian defence products is a major impetus for improving the forms and methods of our work to maintain our leading positions in this high-tech sector.
We should analyse the situation on regional markets constantly, in real time, noting the buyers’ changing requirements and meeting their growing demand.
The goals of the state policy in the field of military technical cooperation and the main spheres of our activities have been formalised in the military technical cooperation strategy approved in October. I would like to ask the Government to adopt a roadmap on its implementation.
You should focus primarily on the CSTO and CIS member states and our other traditional partners, including those in Africa. They account for over one-third of Russian military exports.
The end of the year is the perfect time to plan your vacation!
What could be better than traveling through almost all of Russia by train from west to east? Contact Russian Railways Tour for any questions.
Russia is a mysterious country and many tried to understand it but even Lev Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote about the Russian restless soul torn between oriental traditions and western civilization. To understand Russia one should get on a train and cross it from the West to the East. For this purpose the Trans-Siberian Railway will be perfect — the most famous railway in the world — the path to the heart of Russia.
Thirty years ago, on December 18, 1989, Brussels hosted the signing of the Agreement on Trade and Commercial and Economic Cooperation between the USSR and the European communities. This date became the point of departure for official relations between Russia as the successor state of the USSR and the European Union.
Symbolically, the Agreement was signed slightly over a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event that came down in history as a landmark signifying the end of the Cold War, a period, when the continent was divided into two opposing ideological blocs. The founders of the Russia-EU partnership knew that it would be impossible to erase the centuries-old divides on the continent unless a broad framework for cooperation was created in Europe. Both sides intended to make it mutually beneficial, long-term, and resistant to economic and political fluctuations.
The subsequent years were marked by painstaking efforts to create a multi-level architecture of collaboration between Russia and the EU. A solid legal infrastructure evolved based to this day on the 1994 Russia-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. In May 2003, during the Russia-EU summit in St Petersburg, yet another step forward was taken in overcoming the division of Europe, with the parties reaching an agreement on establishing a strategic partnership based on four common spaces – economic; external security; freedom, security and justice; science and education, including cultural aspects. We worked together on long-term projects, which, had they been brought to a logical end, would have yielded tangible dividends to all those who live on our shared continent and substantially enhanced the level of their security, prosperity and comfort. Among other things, the case in point was easing the terms – up to a visa-free regime – of reciprocal travel of Russian and EU citizens, establishing close cooperation between the law enforcement agencies in fighting the terrorist and organised crime threats, coordinating efforts to settle regional crises and conflicts, and forming an energy union. But the sides failed to ensure stability of the declared partnership between Russia and the EU.
Regrettably, many people in the West looked at the prospects of a common European future exclusively from the viewpoint of “winners” in the Cold War. The principles of equal cooperation have given way to the illusion that Euro-Atlantic security can only be based on NATO, and that Europe can only be associated with the European Union, with everything else as nothing more than the concentric circles around these “centres of legitimacy.”<…>
Sergey Lavrov: <…> We have a vested interest in promoting all-out cooperation with Japan on foreign policy as well as international and regional agendas. A particular sphere of interest is dialogue on the situation in the Asia Pacific Region and debates on security architecture in this region. Today, we certainly could not but touch upon issues emerging in connection with plans to establish an Asian segment of the US global missile defence system, which are implemented with Japan’s involvement.
We are interested in a regular exchange of views with our Japanese neighbours on other issues, including the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear problem, the implementation of the JCPOA on the Iranian nuclear programme, and the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We have arranged to maintain contacts at the key international venues, primarily the UN, where we have much to do to improve the coordination of our approaches to specific agenda issues.
Moscow doesn’t rule out that the United States may deploy its intermediate-and shorter-range missile in the Asia Pacific region in the vicinity of the Russian borders, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Sunday.
He said he had discussed this topic with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and at a meeting with US President Donald Trump.
"The situation is worrisome because having defiantly withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty the United States made no secret that it had been developing the weapons banned by that treaty for a long time," he said in an interview with the Bolshaya Igra (Big Game) program on Russia’s television Channel One. "The fact that they test launched such a missile quite swiftly and recently launched an offensive cruise missile from a system meant, as they have been telling us, for missile defense only proves what we have been saying for years - that this is a double-use system, as its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, says on its website. Here you are: you buy one system, which is both anti-missile and offensive. Now it is fact of life."
"The American say they cannot sit back doing nothing when China (they always keep on mentioning it) is building up such weapons and the United States has nothing of the kind. They also said such weapons should be deployed in the Asia Pacific region and named openly Japan and South Korea," he said, adding that he has recently discussed this topic with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi. "He keeps on stressing that it will be up to Japan to operate the Aegis Ashore systems it is buying from Washington."
We are watching with interest how the US is crossing a landmark line in foreign policy by launching sanctions, which Russia has long become accustomed to, against their own allies. It is exactly what the provisions stipulate in the December 20 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 which contains a section entitled Protecting Europe’s Energy Security.
The title is totally misleading. In reality, the Act is not about assisting Europeans in ensuring uninterrupted fuel supplies at acceptable prices but rather about a desire to dispossess them of guaranteed supplies from Russia. Moreover, the desire to hurt Russian exports is not the only and the main goal. Equally noticeable is their desire to impose American LNG on Europe, which costs much more than pipeline gas supplies from Russia, and thus will slow down Europe’s economy and undermine its ability to compete with the US on global markets. The Europeans will ultimately lose in every respect.
In pursuit of these goals, the US is going to sanction European companies, not Russian, taking part in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines. Washington decided that no one, even its closest NATO partners, should be spared for the sake of geopolitical ambitions and commercial gains.
Russia has been pursuing and will continue to pursue its economic projects regardless of anyone’s sanctions. However, it is fascinating to see how really sovereign European countries are, when they, like Germany, for example, receive orders from Washington to meekly finance the US energy industry and forget about their own economic interests.
RUSSIAN SAILS 2020
The Peace Sails round-the-world voyage is dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by the Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, known in Russia as Faddey Bellingshausen, and Mikhail Lazarev and the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazism. It involves 692 students of naval schools and 56 sea cadets.
The ships will call at more than 40 ports in North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. In all, the three ships are to cover a distance of about 100,000 nautical miles.
Two centuries ago Russian seafarers lead by Captain II rank Thaddeus Bellingshausen and Lieutenant Mikhail Lazarev found a new continent and completed the era of Great Geographical Discoveries. Crews of the sloops Vostok and Mirnyy in the severe navigational conditions were able to prove the existence of ice-free area in the South pole – Antarctica.
The round-the-world expedition of the training sailing ships of Rosrybolovstvo - the Sedov, the Kruzenshtern and the Pallada starts this year in honor of continent discovery and the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic war. It will be finished in the year 2020, which in accordance with the instructions of the President of Russia is declared as the "Year of Antarctica".
On December 18, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General of the Army Valery Gerasimov met with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Army General Mark Milley in Bern, Switzerland.
Military leaders exchanged their views on strategic stability, the situation in Syria and other regions, as well as measures to prevent incidents during the military activities of the parties.
The Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos will provide NASA astronauts with two seats aboard Russia's Soyuz-MS spacecraft for traveling to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020 and 2021, Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin told Sputnik on Friday.
"We have decided to provide NASA with seats aboard our spacecraft for the ISS flights. They have so far requested two seats for the end of 2020 - the spring of 2021," Rogozin said.
The United States promotes a thesis on Russia’s "negative" role in Libyan settlement - We remain focused on the situation in Libya which was discussed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. Russia's position remains unchanged: we stand for stopping hostilities and conducting an inclusive political intra-Libyan dialogue, which is the only viable way to resolve this conflict. In this context, Russia is ready to make a weighty contribution as it maintains contact with all current Libyan political forces.
Provocative statements by former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Wesley Clark on Russia’s role in the Balkans - We have noted what former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Wesley Clark said in an interview with US media. This is a person who the Balkan countries know very well. He believes Russia is using the Balkans and trying to maintain its positions practically by bribing local politicians. Is this serious? Who said this? Don’t blame us for what you do.
Update on Venezuela - Regarding Venezuela, we have repeatedly pointed at the counterproductive and inhuman nature of the unilateral sanctions imposed on this country. We have stressed that such restrictions affect the social and humanitarian situation, create an artificial shortage of food and medicines. This fact cannot be argued with references to political goals and tasks set by the nations that impose such restrictions.
Proposed US sanctions against Turkey over Russian S-400 systems - We are against any sanctions that have failed to be verified and legalised by the relevant structures of the UN Security Council. From our point of view, unilateral sanctions are illegitimate. The sanctions pressure brought to bear on various countries contradict the norms of international relations enshrined in a great number of international bilateral legal documents and the basic instruments that serve as a foundation for international organisations.
Russia will continue to implement its economic projects, despite sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement of Saturday in connection with US sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipelines.
"Russia has implemented and will continue to implement its economic projects regardless of anyone’s sanctions," the diplomatic service said.
The Ministry added that the United States, by imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipelines, is trying to deprive its European allies of a guaranteed supply of energy from Russia and to impose its liquefied gas.
The ministry emphasized that the United States seeks to deprive its European allies of "guaranteed sources of supply" of energy from Russia. "Moreover, the desire to harm Russian exports is by no means the only or even the most important," the diplomatic service noted. "There is a tendency to impose US liquefied gas on Europe, which costs it much more than pipeline deliveries from Russia, and thereby slow development of economies, undermining the ability to compete with the US in global markets. As a result, Europeans are losing out on all counts," the ministry added.
According to the Foreign Ministry, not Russian, but European companies that participate in construction of the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines will be subjected to sanctions. "Washington has decided that for the sake of geopolitical ambitions and commercial gain, you can spare no one, even your closest NATO partners," the ministry concluded.
AGAINST GLORIFICATION OF NAZISM
“We wanted to make a documentary which would unify people in fighting against the glorification of Nazism" - film producer Ilnur Rafikov.
The film, "School of Executioners," which has won prizes at several international festivals, tells the story of an SS training camp in the village of Trawniki where thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, were killed in 1941-1944.
On December 18, 1943, Kharkov trial concluded with guilty verdicts. It was the first time that Nazi personnel had been tried for WWII crimes by the Allies.
On December 18, participants in a plenary meeting of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York passed a resolution titled “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, which was submitted by the delegation of the Russian Federation. Members of the Third Committee of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly approved the document’s text in November.
This year, the number of the document’s co-authors reached 62. An overwhelming majority of states (133) supported the resolution. As in the previous years, only the delegations of the United States and Ukraine voted against, and 52 countries, including EU member states, abstained.
This is undoubtedly a subject that should help unite UN member states, especially in the context of the upcoming 75th anniversary of Victory in World War II, due to be celebrated next year. The establishment of the UN was as a response by states, parties to the Anti-Hitler Coalition, to the horrors and crimes of Nazism. We are convinced that the history-making Victory is a shared heritage of all UN member states.
One of the resolution’s key provisions denounces the increasingly active war on monuments to those who fought against Nazism and fascism in some countries against the backdrop of unveiling and building monuments in honour of SS members and various collaborationists, as well as the holding of marches and torch processions by nationalists and neo-Nazis. The document also voices profound concern over attempts to glorify members of the Waffen SS, recognised as a criminal organisation by the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, as well as those who fought against the Anti-Hitler Coalition, cooperated with the Nazi movement and committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Broad support for the Russian initiative and the annual increase in the number of the document’s co-authors reaffirm the importance of the fight against the glorification of Nazism and neo-Nazism in modern conditions, as well as the preservation of the historical memory of nations regarding the lessons of World War II that inflicted untold suffering on humankind and those who gave their lives for the Victory. Against this backdrop, the position of states that do not support the resolution, allegedly under the pretext of concern about the freedom of expression, evokes great regret.
Atraditional New Year’s show for children - Yolka – tooks place at the Russian Embassy on December 21.
The event is on the go throughout Russia before the New Year holidays, in venues ranging from the Kremlin to the Russian diplomatic missions around the globe.A holiday concert where children watch costumed performances, take part in competitions, and receive gifts makes Yolka one of Russian children’s favorite holidays.
On December 19 Brazilian violinist of Russian origin Andrei Matorin performed his one of a kind improvisations with his Special Christmas Programm at the Russian Embassy
RUSSIANS IN WASHINGTON, DC
Alexander Ovechkin has recently visited Dream Aero – Russian made Boeing 737 avia-simulator based at Westfield Montgomery near Washington, D.C. Because of his winning attributes and his desire to never give up due to his professionalism in sports, Alex successfully completed a flight with Dream Aero.
Vivid, long-awaited, new-year!
The Journey to Christmas festival has started in Moscow. What a beauty!
Join us and Elizabeth City Historic Neighborhood Association
on January 11, 2020 from 2 - 5 pm, for Project Zebra Day, for the 75th anniversary of the crash of a Project Zebra PBN-Nomad plane into the Pasquotank River. We will commemorate the anniversary with a wreath-laying ceremony at Waterfront Park.
"Allies in Wartime: The Alaska-Siberia Airway During World War II." – now available online!
This publication by the Alaska-Siberia Research Center is free for the public. You are welcome to download and share this book with your friends, colleagues and affiliated institutions, and keep this title in your e-library.
This book is a collection of articles, essays and speeches that together illuminate a remarkable chapter in human history—the Alaska-Siberia Airway during World War II. The distinguished writers found herein include well-known historians, anthropologists, diplomats, and political leaders representing the United States, Russia, Great Britain, Canada and France—all among countries allied against Nazi Germany and its Axis powers during the war. Their inspirational memories and observations remind us of a time when cooperation and good will among peace-seeking nations arose victorious over evil.
DOWNLOAD THE BOOK