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RUSSIAN EMBASSY WEEKLY #157

 
PRESIDENT
Vladimir Putin sent a message of encouragement to the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, wishing him and the First Lady a speedy recovery and expressing sincere support at this difficult moment. “I am sure that your inherent vitality, vigour and optimism will help you overcome the dangerous virus,” the President of Russia wrote.
 

The President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, the President of the United States of America Donald Trump and the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, representing the Co-Chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, condemn in the strongest terms the recent escalation of violence along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
We deplore the loss of human lives and extend our condolences to the families of those killed and injured.
We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the relevant military forces.
We also call on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to commit without delay to resuming substantive negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
 


Vladimir Putin pointed out that China was confidently moving along the path of socioeconomic, scientific and technical progress, rightfully enjoyed high authority on the international arena and was playing a major constructive role in international affairs.
The President noted that Russia attached great importance to the relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic collaboration between the two states and was committed to promoting bilateral dialogue and fruitful cooperation in various spheres, as well as coordinating mutual efforts against regional and global security challenges, including the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“This certainly meets the fundamental interests of the Russian and Chinese people and is consonant with the importance of strengthening security and stability throughout the world,” the President noted.
 

CULTURE
Vladimir Putin sent his greetings to the participants, organisers and guests of the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival.
The message reads, in part:
“It is fortunate that the challenging epidemiological situation has not prevented you from gathering in Moscow, socialising in a warm and informal setting, exchanging creative plans and ideas, and most importantly getting to know new works by Russian and foreign film directors, actors, screenwriters and artists. 
The Moscow Film Festival is known for its outstanding tradition of hospitality and cordiality, invariably offering a rich and packed programme that includes films representing various genres, schools and styles. And of course, the festival will uncover new stars and create unexpected and pleasant surprises for everyone.

I am certain that this year’s festival will be a success, and will become a cultural landmark, helping jump start inspiring and promising projects.”
 
Please accept my warmest greetings to the organisers, participants and guests of the 5th BRICS Film Festival.
The strategic partnership of the five BRICS countries is successfully developing in all areas across the board, from politics and economic cooperation to science and culture. Its humanitarian component invariably plays a special role. It is no coincidence that one of the priorities of the Russian chairmanship is working to improve the living standards and the quality of life in our countries.
The BRICS Film Festival makes a valuable contribution to the common effort – although a relatively new initiative, it has already won recognition among cinema lovers and the public in general. It is hard to overestimate its importance for developing professional contacts, promoting national films, and, ultimately, strengthening our five countries’ prestige in the global cultural landscape.

I am certain that the festival’s eventful programme will help consolidate friendly ties between our citizens even more. I wish the organisers and participants every success in their creative work and all the best, and may the audience members keep bright, unforgettable memories of the event.
 
 Vladimir Putin congratulated nuclear sector workers and veterans on their professional holiday:
I am happy to congratulate all workers and veterans of the nuclear industry of Russia on their professional holiday.
This year the nuclear industry celebrates its 75th anniversary and therefore I would like to extend my most heartfelt congratulations and wishes to veterans – those who laid and developed the solid foundation of the nuclear industry, both in the difficult post-war years and even during the war, as well as into the decades that have proceeded.
We are justifiably proud of our outstanding scientists, construction specialists, engineers and workers who were there at the very onset of the Soviet nuclear project. When so much was at stake for the destiny of our Fatherland, when literally every month, every week mattered, these people accomplished what then seemed impossible: they created an entirely new field from scratch and within the shortest term possible.
 
The country became a nuclear power and this held great significance – the once disrupted strategic balance had now been restored. Any aggression against our people that otherwise would have gone unpunished was now impossible – peace and the national security of our superpower nation was now guaranteed for decades to come.
I would like to stress that in those years it was our country that became a pioneer in using nuclear energy toward peaceful goals, which opened colossal horizons for the socioeconomic development of our country’s regions, industries, social spheres and for the exploration of the Arctic’s area.
I would like to express my special gratitude to those people who preserved the nuclear industry in the 1990s for their devotion to the profession. They continued to man their posts, sometimes without pay, driven by their sense of duty alone, which ensured the safety of our facilities. They simply could not have acted otherwise.
 
Today, Russia’s nuclear industry, the staff of our specialised enterprises, research institutes and design bureaus achieve major results that are important for the entire country – first and foremost in developing nuclear power generation, and do so in strict compliance with highest security requirements and standards.
Seamless, uninterrupted power supply is ensured in full, including this year, a year of many challenges, including the fight against such a dangerous outbreak.
The state corporation Rosatom plays an active role in resolving many other relevant and long-term objectives. It does so by creating digital and innovative products that are in demand and by carrying out in-depth research in metallurgy, medicine and ecology. Rosatom is at the centre of the development of technologies for handling hazardous waste and its disposal and plays a key role in the comprehensive exploration of the Northern Sea Route and the renewal of a nuclear ice-breaking fleet.
International projects in the construction and maintenance of nuclear power units abroad are extremely important too as they promote Russia’s reputation as a country of high technologies and intellect, as a serious and responsible partner. We are the world’s leader in modern, pure nuclear power engineering and possess the unique combination of reliability and safety. Currently Rosatom has – at varying stages of implementation – projects for the construction of 25 power units in nine countries, which is the highest result in the industry’s entire history.
And, of course, I would like to highlight the contribution of the industry’s specialists in consolidating Russia’s nuclear shield, in developing and testing new types of armaments that have no analogue. And in order to produce such results, one must often venture into the unknown, into uncharted, at first glance, territory. This quest requires not only the best qualifications but also personal courage. I know that such people, many of whom are very young, solve tasks of utmost importance in order to ensure our country’s defence.
History has shown that breakthrough achievements in such a complicated sphere as the nuclear industry are no coincidences. They are the result of our scientific and engineering schools and the systematic work of dozens of enterprises and thousands of people, our first-rate education and vocational training system.
The current dynamic development of the national nuclear complex, the fact that working in this industry has again became prestigious and attractive for young people, proves that Russia has the necessary potential. And we will gradually strengthen it in order to meet the geopolitical and technological challenges of the 21st century.
 

FOREIGN MINISTRY
Question: The United States is toughening its sanctions pressure on Cuba. In light of the coronavirus pandemic spreading around the world, the traditional vote on a resolution to lift the US embargo against Cuba at the UN General Assembly has been postponed from November 2020 to April 2021. What is your position on the toughening of the US embargo against Cuba?
Sergey Lavrov: We condemn Washington’s inhuman and illegitimate policy on Cuba. The illegal sanctions pressure imposed on it is infringing on the natural inalienable rights of not only Cuban but also American citizens and is in flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter.
This has become especially clear now that all countries should be displaying political will, wisdom and foresight amid the spreading coronavirus infection, abandoning the practice of trade wars and sanctions to join forces in the fight against this common threat based on mutual understanding, solidarity and support.

Regardless of this, Washington has yet again acted in accordance with its belief in its exceptionalism and all-permissiveness, exacerbating anti-Cuba hysteria and continuing to toughen the trade, economic and financial blockade of the island despite the international condemnation of these activities, as is evident from the almost unanimous vote of the UN General Assembly on the draft resolution on ending the US embargo against Cuba.
I would like to point out once again that Russia is always prepared to provide whatever support the Republic of Cuba, which is our strategic partner and friend, may need.

 
 
HOCKEY DIPLOMACY
 
Congrats to the Russian Four in Tampa Bay Lightning - Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev, Andrei Vasilevsky and Alexander Volkov - on winning Stanley Cup 2020!
 
On October 2, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The foreign ministers discussed in detail the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. They expressed serious concern over the continuing large-scale military hostilities and the involvement of militants from illegal armed units fighting in Syria and Libya in them. They urged an immediate ceasefire, de-escalation of tensions and prevention of provocative bellicose rhetoric.
Mr Lavrov emphasised that Russia will continue its mediation efforts, both as an individual country and as one of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, in support for settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through political and diplomatic means.
The foreign ministers noted the important role that the countries in the region, especially Azerbaijan and Armenia’s neighbours, can play in creating conditions for returning to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
The diplomats reviewed urgent bilateral issues and agreed to keep in touch.
 
 

IN SPACE WE TRUST
The International Space Station’s next crew wrapped up training in Star City, Russia:
 
Roscosmos’ Sergei Ryzhikov, Sergei Kud-Sverchkov and
NASA’s Kathleen Rubins are set to launch on October 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
 

The coronavirus pandemic, which has changed the lives of billions of people within a matter of several weeks, has become a real test for humankind. It is impossible to say with any degree of certainty when the pandemic will end. It would be logical in this situation to digitalise many aspects of everyday life, including state governance, business activities and education. The sphere of international ties has responded to this trend as well. It therefore makes perfect sense that ensuring reliable international information security (IIS) has moved to the top of the global agenda.
The situation in this sphere is far from ideal. Moreover, the international community is facing a real cyber pandemic, which can be seen not just in the invasion of the privacy of ordinary people throughout the world. We are deeply concerned about acts of cyber terrorism, that is, the increased number of hacking attacks on healthcare, fiscal and education establishments and international organisations recorded during the pandemic. Cyberattacks, which have been identified by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one of top five global risks, are threatening the successful operation and very existence of entire industries. The figures are self-explanatory. According to the WEF, in 2019 alone the cost to the economy of cyberattacks was $2.5 trillion and the figure could reach $8 trillion by 2022.
Information and communication technology (ICT) is being widely used to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states. Some countries are openly discussing their alleged right to deliver preemptive cyber strikes on their potential adversaries, including their critical infrastructure.
The absence of a universal international code of conduct in the cyber sphere is jeopardising the sustainable socioeconomic, scientific and technical development of absolutely all states without exception.  Humankind risks being drawn into a dangerous large-scale cyber confrontation, which could not be limited to any local area due to the cross-border nature of modern communications and the interdependence of national economies.
It is high time the international community drew the necessary conclusions about the use of ICT for regulating state cyber activities in a civilised manner, without hindering progress or infringing on fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Russia’s guidelines for supporting IIS take into account all aspects of this problem. We distinguish three groups of threats: military-political, terrorist and criminal ones.

It bears repeating that more than 20 years ago, in 1998, speaking at the United Nations, Russia was the first to warn the world about the risks posed by cyberspace, then in its early development, and to propose specific solutions for countering those risks. Our stance remains unchanged today and is as follows:
– All states without exception must be involved in resolving and discussing this global problem. It is also important to consider the opinions of other stakeholders (businesses, civil society and the scientific community);
– It is only possible to find a universal solution through talks under the auspices of the United Nations;
– The main objective of these negotiating efforts is to prevent conflict in the information space and to ensure that information and communications technologies are used solely for peaceful purposes. In this context, it becomes increasingly important to promptly reach agreement on rules of responsible conduct for countries to secure, in the digital environment, the principles of respect for sovereignty, non-interference in domestic affairs, non-use of force or threat of force, the right to individual and collective self-defence, respect for the primary human rights and freedoms, and equal rights for all states to participate in internet governance.
Unfortunately, a number of countries oppose this inclusive course with a different logic that substitutes fighting for equal and indivisible cybersecurity with a barely disguised intention to impose its own rules. In this way, they wish to preserve their technological advantages and continue taking unilateral coercive measures when it comes to ICT, and to ultimately arrogate the right to assign responsible parties in cyber incidents. Eventually, all this could turn the global information space into a new battleground.

For example, some are strongly against developing international legal instruments that would prevent the use of information technologies for strictly military and political purposes and would clarify which cyberattacks could be qualified as an armed assault and, therefore, be subject to Article 51 of the UN Charter on countries’ right to self-defence. They do not support the idea of strengthening the role of this world organisation in regulating political issues related to the use of information and communication technologies, including the establishment of international cyber arbitration or another permanent body dealing with international information security under its aegis. They deny the importance of involving the UN Security Council in analysing and settling international incidents and conflicts related to the use of ICT. They dispute the right of countries to sovereignty in ensuring national information security and over the information and communication infrastructure located on their territory.

With this in mind, it is particularly telling that Russia’s principled approaches are the ones being most widely supported in the world. The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in 2018 adopted our resolution by an overwhelming majority of votes. The resolution not only outlined an initial list of rules of conduct for countries in the information space but also created an effective negotiation mechanism under the auspices of the UN in the form of an ad hoc working group with an open composition to find practical solutions to the international information security issue.
Acting on a parallel track, Russia initiated the drafting of a comprehensive international convention to counter the use of information and communication technology for criminal purposes within the UN framework. In this context, a draft resolution Countering the Use of Information and Communication Technologies for Criminal Purposes was submitted to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. In all, 47 states co-sponsored the document. Approved by most Asian, African and Latin American countries, the resolution called for the establishment of an ad hoc intergovernmental expert committee with an open composition to draft the above-mentioned convention, with due consideration for existing international documents, as well as national and regional efforts to fight cybercrime.

The international community’s receptivity to the Russian initiative shows that the conclusion of such an agreement is a demand of the times, an awareness of a new reality linked with the rapidly increasing role of the information and communication technology and the challenges arising in this connection.
Russia will continue working to expand bilateral and multilateral cooperation on the entire range of topical matters of international information security, including in the interests of countering threats that arise during the large-scale use of the information and communication technology for military and political purposes. Our priorities include efforts to help draft and approve international acts regulating the use of the principles and norms of international humanitarian law in this area, the creation of favourable conditions for establishing an international law regime for the non-proliferation of information weapons, the drafting and implementation of multilateral programmes helping overcome information inequality between industrial and developing countries.
We are urging our partners to borrow the best aspects of the relevant experience for uniting the international community against the coronavirus pandemic and to creatively use this know-how in the cybersphere. It is important not to shelve pressing matters, not to engage in a political tug-of-war, but to focus on practical work and to pool efforts.
We are convinced that the 75th anniversary session of the UN General Assembly, opening in September, is called on to become a good opportunity for creating the foundations of an effective system of international information security. We hope that its participants will contribute to this work while developing solutions aimed at ensuring a stable post-COVID future for humankind.
 

Given the situation around the “poisoning” of Alexey Navalny that Berlin and its Euro-Atlantic allies are saying has taken place, on October 1, a proposal was forwarded to the top officials of the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), through the Russian Permanent Mission at the OPCW, to consider the possibility of sending Secretariat experts to Russia to cooperate with Russian specialists on this issue.
We are looking forward to receiving a positive response to our proposal. We expect our cooperation with the above specialised international organisation to be effective and to allow us to look carefully into the rather inconclusive circumstances leading up to what happened. 
 

VISIT RUSSIA
 
 
 
We consider the decision of the Twitter social networking service’s management to forcibly downgrade the search results’ status of the RIA Novosti agency’s account as yet another act of discrimination and censorship with regard to Russian media outlets. This violates the fundamental democratic principles of freedom of expression and equal access to information.
As a result of this unfriendly act, users who are not subscribed to the RIA Novosti page were unable to find it in the platform’s Russian or any other segments.
The biased actions of the American IT Corporation continue the politically motivated campaign launched earlier by Twitter and Facebook to label the pages of Russian media outlets as affiliated with the state.
In August 2020, a similar action was taken with regard to the RT television channel. At the same time, such measures are not applied to Western media resources that are financed by the government. It appears that they are implementing a purposeful line, prompted by Washington, to oust Russian media outlets from the international information space.
We urge the Twitter management to revise their policy that limits the audience’s right to access to information and to renounce the use of anti-democratic tools of unfair competition between American mainstream news outlets and alternative media sources.
We hope that specialised international and human rights organisations will respond properly and objectively assess the restrictive actions of the USA IT Corporation.
 

EMBASSY
The United States, which practically created the time pressure situation in talks on extending the New START treaty, is now putting forward obviously unacceptable preconditions for Russia, Russia’s US Ambassador Anatoly Antonov told TASS on Tuesday, when asked to comment on a recent Politico article.
The POLITICO article  looked into the possibility of increasing the number of deployed US nuclear warheads if the New START treaty with Russia is not extended. Therefore, Washington made an attempt to put pressure on Moscow and force it to accept the US terms for extending the bilateral agreement.
"We took note of Politico’s article published on September 28. The article, which cites unnamed sources, claims that the [US] administration is looking into scenarios of fitting strategic carriers with additional nuclear warheads now in storage in case the New START is not extended," the diplomat said.
In his words, "<...> the embassy does not comment on rumors and leaks of various sorts, not backed by official statements."
"At the same time, we note that it was the [US] administration’s inaction, which, in fact, created the time pressure situation in the issue of extending the New START, despite our numerous calls and proposals to extend the agreement, voiced by the Russian side in the past years," the Russian diplomat said.
In that regard, he recalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin described the New START extension as "the issue of primary importance that should and must be promptly dealt with" in his recent video address to the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
"However, Washington decided to ‘wake up’ only in the run-up to the [November 3] presidential election," the ambassador said. "At the same time, the possibility of extending the treaty is conditioned by requirements which are obviously unacceptable for Russia and do not take into account our concerns in the strategic stability domain."
According to the ambassador, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "pointed out the unfeasibility of Washington’s demands" back on August 23. Speaking at a nationwide youth forum, Territory of Senses, Russia’s top diplomat said: "It will be a big mistake is our American colleagues decide to ruin the last document."
Read more   
 
 
 
The Russian-US relations are unlikely to change drastically after the US presidential election, Russia’s Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in a televised interview with Rossiya’24 channel on Wednesday.
"I do want to believe that we will wake up in a different world tomorrow, but any dramatic changes will hardly take place in the relations between the United States and Russia, whoever would be at the helm in the White House," Antonov said.

"[Russia and US] presidents used to set a goal to improve [economic] relations and to expand them, but their potential has not been used up by today," he added.
Apart from that, he pointed out that the US sanctions create obstacles for local businesses which are interested in cooperation with Russia and in their expansion into its market.
"Well, and of course, our political contacts need to be renewed," the ambassador concluded.
 
Question: On September 14, the NBC News released an article that mentions the US’ support for "Ukrainian units" in Crimea. Was there any reaction of the US officials to this publication?
Anatoly Antonov: The TV-channel referred to "Ukrainian units in Crimea" in the context of the bounties to Afghan militants for the killings of US military personnel groundlessly attributed to Moscow by the American press. Citing unidentified officials in Washington, NBC argued that Moscow's actions were reciprocal to the US’ support for Ukrainian units in Crimea.
We could not help but react to such a passage. After all, the point was that the United States supports terrorist activities in third countries. In this particular case, in Russia, against our fellow Crimean citizens.
We remember the attempts to organize terrorist attacks. Detentions of extremists in Crimea occur once in a while. The State Department stands up for them. In other words, we have grounds for concern.
We know that the Russian media tried to get comments from the U.S. Department of State, the Pentagon, and other authorities on this issue, but to no avail. A silence is a bit too long. 
It is in Washington's interests to publicly disavow these 'revelations' as soon as possible, to make clear assurances of non-involvement in subversive and terrorist activities on the peninsula, that is, in Russia. 
Can we rule out that the 'hot heads' in Kiev will not try to drag Washington into some next adventure? Not yet. 
It's time to put an end to this episode. The United States must decide which side it is on: peace or war.


HAVE A NICE WEEK
 

 

This publication by the U.S. National Park Service and 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.

The heroism and dedication of the Soviet and American participants of the Alaska–Siberia Airway will not be forgotten. It is our civic duty to express our deep respect to those whose efforts led to the program’s success and, in the process, brought the war to a close. This is our history. Future generations should be brought up with a respectful spirit of patriotism to understand this history of cooperation between our countries. This edition will preserve awareness of that massive effort for all time.

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