RUSSIAN EMBASSY WEEKLY #111
Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of heads of state and government of BRICS member countries.
Itamaraty Palace in the capital of Brazil was the venue of a meeting of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The Brasilia Declaration was adopted following the 11th BRICS Summit meeting.
Vladimir Putin also made a speech at the closing ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum
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Speaking at the meeting, Vladimir Putin outlined the priorities of Russia’s BRICS presidency in 2020 and invited the member states’ leaders to the next summit in Russia:
Over the past 10 years, BRICS has achieved serious results and has gained a reputation as a respected association. At the same time, the coordination mechanisms established within BRICS make it possible to cooperate effectively in politics, security, trade, finance and culture.
It is important that the BRICS countries closely cooperate in addressing global and regional problems. Together we speak in favour of strict compliance with the norms of international law and the central role of the United Nations in international affairs. Our countries promote the influence of developing countries in the global management system, as well the establishment of a more just global order.
<…>Starting on January 1, 2020, Russia will chair BRICS. This is why I would like to talk about Russia’s main approaches to the further development of cooperation.
Everything we plan to do will, in one way or another, continue Brazil’s efforts; we will carry on these trends and priorities. We regard among our tasks enhancing the efficiency of BRICS in providing for the continuity of implementing the projects approved in recent years.
Russia’s motto for its BRICS presidency will be BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Common Security and Innovative Growth. We plan to hold around 150 events at different levels. Apart from the key event, the BRICS Summit in St Petersburg, there will be many meetings, forums and sessions in Chelyabinsk and other Russian cities.
During its presidency, Russia will certainly pay special attention to expanding foreign policy coordination between our states on key international platforms, primarily at the UN where the BRICS countries have good experience of interaction.
We have common positions on a broad range of issues on the UN agenda, such as peacemaking and combating the terrorist threat and transnational crime. We invariably support each other’s initiatives and try to vote in solidarity on major resolutions.
However, it appears that the BRICS nations must show more initiative in taking the lead at the UN. We must more actively and persistently promote a positive international agenda by uniting around us like-minded nations to jointly solve key global and regional problems.
Thus, we consider working out international standards in terrorism prevention and countering the spread of terrorist ideology, including via the internet, to be an urgent issue for the BRICS countries’ interaction at the UN. The Russian presidency is set to closely cooperate with partners on the issues of money laundering and terrorism financing, and the return of illegally obtained assets.
As you are aware, next year marks the 75th anniversary of the Second World War and the establishment of the United Nations Organisation, and our countries could consider the possibility of drafting a joint statement on these landmark events. It is important to condemn attempts to glorify the Nazis and also to firmly stand up for a world order based on international law and the United Nations Charter.
<...>As for the May 9, 2020 celebrations in Moscow, if the President of the United States decides and is able to come [considering the election campaign in the United States], I believe that a visit for the celebrations of the end of World War II would become a positive and right step for the leader of a country that made a substantial contribution to fighting Nazism. But this is not up to us to decide. If the President of the United States arrives, then, of course, I will meet with him in Moscow, and we will talk. Full-format talks do not depend on the grandeur of the occasion when the meeting takes place. The success of the talks depends on sincerity and a desire to discuss key matters of bilateral relations. We are ready for this. If the United States also proves to be ready, then good talks are possible in this sense and in this case.
Another interesting place in Russia is the city of Tikhvin (Leningrad Oblast), which is famous for its ancient monasteries (Assumption and Vvedensky), as well as the Transfiguration Cathedral and the house of composer Rimsky-Korsakov. And don't forget to check out its picturesque promenade. The easiest way to get here is from St. Petersburg: it's just a three-hour train ride.
Question: It is believed that the role of BRICS is not clear in the context of the increasing global polarisation, and that people think about BRICS only when its leaders come together for their summits. On the other hand, the Western media write that BRICS is not merely an economic but a geopolitical alliance.
Do you think that BRICS can play a big part in international affairs and increase its influence on international developments, or it is not what BRICS should do? What interesting initiatives will we see during Russia’s presidency of the group?
Vladimir Putin: I do not agree that people think about BRICS only during its summits.
You surely remember what we say about BRICS, that it has become a factor of stability not only in politics but also in the global economy, because it stands for open markets, against any kind of protectionism, etc. You can read about this in our final document. I believe that BRICS is playing a stabilising role in this sense.
As for increasing its influence, we are not pushing it or trying to turn the group into a closed alliance. However, the role of BRICS will definitely increase in the context of global changes.
Colleagues, I invite you to take a look at the economy. Just look at the figures. This year BRICS has surpassed the G7 in terms of GDP PPP by 12 percent, I believe. And next year we will have $50 trillion more than the G7 countries.
Is there anyone who does not see this? It is a very real and substantial factor of international affairs, and it will continue to grow.
Question: Your agenda also includes a meeting with the President of Brazil. However, we could not help but notice the current Brazilian leadership’s lack of interest in developing relations with Russia. Our political dialogue is slowing down; there are hardly any new projects in trade and the economy while the old ones have lost momentum. Is it possible to change this situation, especially considering that Brazil is clearly seeking closer relations with the United States? Do our two countries have a common ground for advancing our relations?
Vladimir Putin: I do not think that there is any lack of interest in each other right now, be it from Brazil towards Russia or the other way around. We have not picked up on it. Yes, as you know, there is a new leader in the country, a new president who has been in office for only a year. This job takes time to get some perspective and set your priorities. This is the first point.
Second, under BRICS, we have never committed to working exclusively with each other. BRICS is not a self-contained closed organisation. Each of the countries has its full sovereignty and independently determines its development priorities and partners. Needless to say, the United States as a global power and a power located in the Americas is obviously an interesting partner for Brazil. This is completely natural.
As concerns our relations, they are developing and doing so rather successfully, in my opinion. Russia continues to remain an attractive partner for Brazil when it comes to agriculture and especially the supplies of Brazilian meat to our market. On our part, we also offer a variety of goods, including fertilisers that Brazil needs for its agriculture, at competitive prices and of very high quality. There are other areas of mutual interest as well.
Speaking about our contacts, right now we are expecting a visit by the first Brazilian Minister of Citizenship, who is, based on Russian standards, the head of government. We will discuss many interesting issues, including Brazil’s development plans. If our Brazilian partners are looking, they will be able to find interesting partners in Russia for investing in infrastructure and other promising projects.
The US strategy of national cybersecurity declares the principle of "preserving peace through strength," which means readiness to use all available means of armed fight in response to cyberattacks against the US information infrastructure. "Besides, the Americans have made it clear on many occasions that they will be appointing those responsible for these attacks arbitrarily," he pointed out.
According to the security chief, "the sovereign rights of the states to the development of their own technological base for Critical Information Infrastructure and to the management of the national segment of the Internet world network" are often ignored.
"In the interests of Western intelligence agencies, hidden malware and software vulnerability are embedded and used in IT products. The policy adopted by the West towards using information and communication technologies for military-political purposes, towards hostile activities aimed to undermine the sovereignty of certain states is of particular danger," Patrushev stressed.
The West is using information technologies (IT) for military-political purposes and for undermining the sovereignty of certain states, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said in an article published by the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily.
: The US military have concentrated Abrams tanks and armoured vehicles around oil fields in northern Syria. How does this complicate Russian-Turkish cooperation in these territories?
: Concerning anything that the United States is doing in the north of Syria, I no longer even have time to follow the never-ending zigzags of American politics, especially on the ground. Of course, their attempt to rob Syria and take control of the oil fields is, by and large, illegal and does not help the Syrian settlement, but only perpetuates an additional major irritant and serious threat in this part of Syria. We will insist that the Syrian army gain control of the entire territory of the country as quickly as possible. Only this will help ultimately put an end to terrorism and resolve the issues hindering a final political settlement.
Question: And no concern that Russia may be seen as a new colonial power in the Middle East?
Sergey Lavrov: We have been invited, unlike the United States, France, Germany and other members of the so-called anti-terrorist coalition, who are present in Syria illegitimately. We have been invited by a legitimate government. I don’t believe that this fits into the description of colonialism.
Question: How do you view what’s happening in Iraq in terms of the revolution or uprising, whatever term you use, as well as what is happening in Lebanon? Does Russia support or oppose these movements? Are they healthy for the evolution of the country or not?
Sergey Lavrov: You wouldn’t believe me, but only yesterday I was dwelling upon these issues, because we got used to the allegation that we are involved in everything that is going on on earth: the Salisbury poisoning, Brexit, Catalonia, etc. Recently we’ve been mentioned as the ones who meddle in the situation in Chile – this is why the APEC summit was cancelled. And I was wondering why we are not mentioned in relation to the developments in Iraq, Lebanon and now in Bolivia. Somehow we have not been accused of the coup in Bolivia, and this is strange. Something is happening in the minds of those who normally create the geopolitical agenda.
I believe that what we see in Iraq is regrettable. It is very regrettable to see Lebanon in the state of distress. But don’t forget that in Iraq the people still try to overcome the consequences of the American invasion and of the ruthless political engineering, which Paul Bremer introduced in Iraq, throwing away all Baath party members from anywhere. By the way, the best fighters in ISIS are former Saddam Hussein officers, who lost their jobs because of what Paul Bremer did. As Winston Churchill said, the Americans always do the right thing after they have tried everything else. In Lebanon, we support the efforts of Saad Hariri to establish a government, a caretaker government. But as far as I understand, his idea, and the idea of some of his friends, is to make this government entirely technocratic, without any political affiliation. I don’t believe that this is realistic in Lebanon right now.
Today, alignment of efforts of our countries is particularly important. The global politics continues to reel. Various regions of the planet still retain significant conflict potential. The arms control architecture is deliberately undermined – the US unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was a rather dangerous step. Structural imbalances in the world economy are yet to be overcome. A serious threat to global economic growth is posed by such unfair competition practices as unilateral economic sanctions, trade wars and flagrant abuse of the US dollar status as the world reserve currency. The international community is yet to find effective responses to a whole number of critical challenges of our time – from terrorism to climate change.
Multipolarity is not a recipe for competition and chaos in international relations, as some of our critics say. On the contrary, this is the only order attuned to present-day realities, which should promote the comprehensive development of all States – both big and small – and enhanced mutually beneficial cooperation among us on the basis of shared interests.
Evening in memory of Anatoly Dobrynin
- On November 20, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend an evening dedicated to outstanding Soviet diplomat Anatoly Dobrynin, who headed the Soviet Embassy in the United States for almost 25 years. He would have turned 100 on November 16.
Update on Syria
- The situation in Syria has largely stabilised. We continue to work to prevent surges in tension in the areas that are not controlled by the Syrian government, primarily northeastern Syria and Idlib. The Russian-Turkish Memorandum of October 22 is being gradually implemented. The Kurdish forces have been withdrawn from the Syrian-Turkish border.
Update on Bolivia
- The situation in Bolivia remains tense and fraught with new complications.
Unfortunately, clashes between supporters and opponents of the removal of the former head of state from power continue. We strongly condemn the use of violence to solve political problems.
Recommendations for Russian citizens
- I would like to share recommendations for Russian nationals in the light of the social and political instability in Bolivia. Due to complicated political developments in the country and the aggravated security situation, which, among other things, highly restricts opportunities for providing consular assistance, trips to this country and transit through its territory pose a great risk.
Statements by US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt on religious matters -
We have taken notice of recent statements made by the well-known US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt to the effect that “Russia is using religion as part of its hybrid warfare strategy, as a tool to achieve political objectives and spread false narratives.” Of course, we share the concern about some countries’ unacceptable interference in religious matters, but I believe that the US Ambassador has directed his reproach to the wrong party.
Outstanding Soviet diplomat Anatoly Dobrynin headed the Soviet Embassy in the United States for almost 25 years. He would have turned 100 on November 16.
Anatoly Dobrynin was named Soviet ambassador to the U.S. in 1962 and remained in the post until 1986.
Dobrynin held talks with then U.S. president John Kennedy during the 1962 crisis, which began when the Soviet Union deployed nuclear weapons in Cuba.
He also held secret negotiations with Kennedy's younger brother, U.S. Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, which resulted in Washington dismantling its missile shield in Turkey in exchange for the removal of Soviet nuclear weapons from Cuba.
Joint Coordination Committee of Russia and Syria continues to work actively to provide comprehensive assistance to Syrian citizens in returning to their homeland and restoring peaceful life in the country. Undertaken measures in this direction are yielding positive results.
Up to the date, 1 999 848 Syrian citizens have already returned to their homes, of whom 1 304 919 – internally displaced persons and 694 929 – refugees from foreign countries.
32 372 socially significant and industrial facilities have been reconditioned and put into operation on the territory of the Syria.
The figures presented show the effectiveness of measures taken by the Syrian government to create decent living conditions for its citizens, as well as the voluntary and safe return of refugees to their homeland.
A large-scale state housing program has been launched, providing for the population preferential conditions for mortgage lending.
Significant progress has been made in national reconciliation. Complicated and long-term diplomatic work at all venues, including the Astana and Sochi was marked by the beginning of the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee under the auspices of the UN in Geneva.
Taking care for the health of citizens the Syrian government has launched a campaign in struggle with various diseases in the governmental of Aleppo, Raqqa, Haseke, and Deir Ez-Zor, which provides for the founding of a joint registry of patients. The Syrian government also providing assistance to the citizens from other provinces.
<…>At the same time, the United States and its allies do not stop destructive interference into the internal affairs of Syria. On the direction of President D. Trump, part of the American forces was returned on the territory to the east of Euphrates allegedly “to protect the oil rigs”. In fact, the appropriation of hydrocarbon raw materials is taking place with the aim of gaining and supporting of anti-government forces in the region. The blatant misappropriation of the national property of the Syrian people directly hindering the process of a soon revival of the economy of the republic.
In addition, the United States has significantly stepped up the opposition to the Russian-Syrian initiative on the return of refugees from border states, including Jordan and Lebanon, where the citizens of Syria are imposed an opinion about the difficult socio-political and economic situation in the country. The programs aimed to assimilate Syrians abroad are funding.
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Russia and the United States, as the largest nuclear powers and permanent members of the Security Council, bear a special responsibility for this. The mutual isolation that has gripped politics and economic issues should not affect our cultural relations.
Our countries can develop stereotype-free perceptions of each other only through frequent and authentic cultural exchanges, and most important, by shaping the common values that are necessary for ensuring a safe and prosperous future for the entire world.
Russian culture is portrayed as a powerful tool of the Kremlin to manipulate American public opinion and burnish the image of Russia. The allegations have been substantiated by zero evidence.
The amount of Russophobia in the American media has been unprecedented in recent years. While anti-Russian rhetoric is used for internal political struggles in the United States from time to time, this propaganda campaign has reached absurd levels, spilling over into areas that have little to do with politics.
According to Michael G. Kozak, Acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, “diplomatic facilities deserve protection and respect in ALL countries”, “inviolability of diplomatic missions is a cornerstone of international relations”.
Remarks by Minister Counsellor of the Russian Embassy Sergey Trepelkov at the wreath laying ceremonies in Anchorage and Seattle:
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Next year the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in World War II. In that war, our countries together defeated Nazi Germany and its allies. Millions of soldiers and officers gave their lives for this Victory. To pay tribute to their memory, a special project has been launched in Russia. As a part of this memorial project, soil from the graves of Soviet soldiers who perished in WWII is being collected at their burial places in Russia and in other countries and delivered to the memorial complex of the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces in Moscow.
In the United States there are two Soviet military burials. At Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Alaska, the Soviet pilots who perished in plane crashes while ferrying lend-lease aircraft from the USA to the USSR are buried.
At the veterans section of Evergreen Washelli Hospital in Seattle, there is a grave of the Soviet sailor who served in the lend-lease convoys carrying cargoes from the USA to the USSR during #WWII
. He died in Seattle Navy Hospital in June 1944. Today, we honor their memory and the memory of all servicemen who paid the ultimate price to save the world from Nazism. A handful of soil from their grave sites will go to their home country – as a symbol of sacrifice and bravery.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Virginia Walker, Director of Fort Richardson National Cemetery, Mr. Scott Sheehan, General Manager of Evergreen Washelli Cemetery, and Mr. Aaron Sholes, Superintendent of the Evergreen Washelli Cemetery for respectful caring for the graves of soldiers who gave their lives in service to their countries.
LEARN MORE: Russian and Soviet memorials in the U.S.
On November 16, 1933, the Soviet Union and the United States established diplomatic relations. Two countries clearly put on record the principle of non-interference in internal affairs. The USSR People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov, who had arrived in Washington for the purpose, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt exchanged special personal notes
. (They say that each state has an indisputable right to order its own life within its own jurisdiction in its own way.
The USSR and the United States pledged to “refrain, and to restrain all persons in Government service and all organizations of the Government or under its direct or indirect control, including organizations in receipt of any financial assistance from it,” from any act overt or covert, including any agitation or propaganda having as an aim the bringing about a change in the political or social order of each other. It was also agreed to take preventive measures against any other groups having a similar aim.
The initiative to exchange the notes came from the US authorities, who feared the USSR’s influences amid the Great Depression. The two countries also agreed not to permit the formation or residence on their territory of any organisation or group which makes attempt upon the territorial integrity of the other side or has the aim of armed struggle against it.
Under the new circumstances, the United States has been warned about the unacceptability of its interference in Russia’s internal affairs since the 1990s. This was done, in particular, in connection with the developments in Chechnya and the outside attempts to influence our elections
Russian ballet is known throughout the world, and many people even think that ballet was born in Russia. However, the real birthplace of this art is Italy where it appeared during the Renaissance. The first ballet school was established in France, and this is why all ballet terms have French origin.
The first dancing master who came to Russia was also a Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Landé. On his recommendation, the Imperial Ballet School was founded in 1738, now known as the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet. Ballet performances quickly became popular, especially in Saint Petersburg, and leading dancers enjoyed celebrity status.
The Russian ballet reached its zenith in the beginning of the 20th century, while in the rest of Europe this art was in decline. Russian dancers started touring across the globe with great success. After the Russian Revolution, many of them refused to return, including the creator of American ballet George Balanchine and Serge Lifar, who served as a ballet master of the Paris Opera for almost 30 years.
Throughout the last century, Russian ballet was highly praised for its mastery and elegance. The fame of Soviet-born ballet stars Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova in Europe and the US was huge. Up to this day, The Nutcracker and The Swan Lake with a score by Piotr Tchaikovsky remain among the most popular ballets worldwide.
The Orenburg shawls are among the best-known examples of traditional Russian crafts. Those fine knitted textiles made of goat down-hair originated in Orenburg region in the 18th century. The fiber is so thin that the whole shawls can be pulled through a wedding ring!
The Orenburg shawls were first introduced in Europe in the middle of the 19th century. And in 1862 at the Great London Exposition, Cossack craftswoman Maria Uskova was awarded a gold medal for her outstanding skills in knitting those shawls.
The fiber made from Orenburg goats was a valuable export item for the Russian Empire because of its unique properties. France alone bought nearly a hundred tons each year. During the Soviet times, it was almost impossible to buy an authentic Orenburg shawl in Russia because they were all sent for export. The famous shawls were presented as gifts to opera prima Montserrat Caballe, actress Annie Girardot and singer Madonna.
The Battle of Moscow is one of the greatest examples of unity of the Soviet nations. Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Kazakhs, Armenians, Georgians, Azerbaijanis, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmens, Moldavians, Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians – representatives of all Soviet republics stood up to defect their capital in a unified heroic call. At the end of 1941 their unprecedented bravery allowed to stop Hitler’s hordes, and change the tides of the War.
Military units redeployed from Central Asia played a significant role in halting the Nazi troops approaching Moscow. Among them was the renowned 316th rifle division commanded by major-general Ivan Panfilov, which was formed in Kazakh and Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republics. Its fierce resistance in late fall – winter of 1941 shattered the aggressor’s master-plan. The legendary words said by one of the Panfilov’s guardsmen – Vasily Klochkov “Russia is a vast land, but there’s nowhere to retreat – Moscow is behind us” – became a motto of all who defended the capital of our Motherland.
The immortal heroic act of the Panfilov’s guardsmen
is glorified in literature, documentaries and feature films. Across all former Soviet republics one can find monuments, streets, parks, alleys and even mountain passes named after General Panfilov and the guardsmen of his valiant division.
Ryazan is the capital of the airborne forces, the capital of ancient cities. These statuses have become classics. This winter, another will be added to them: the city will be the main meeting place of the New year. The most magical holiday will be celebrated fun and huge. Street festivals, interactive programs, theatrical performances-a set of entertainment is very diverse. There will be even new year's Olympic games.