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 RUSSIAN EMBASSY WEEKLY #131

 

PRESIDENT 

   
Vladimir Putin and President of the United States of America Donald Trump had a lengthy conversation during a call initiated by the US.
The two presidents expressed serious concern over the scale of the spread of the coronavirus in the world and informed each other about measures taken in Russia and the United States to counter this threat. Opportunities for closer cooperation between the two countries on this problem were discussed.
They also exchanged views on the current state of the global oil market and agreed that Russian and American energy ministers should hold consultations on this topic.
Certain bilateral issues were also addressed.
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump agreed to maintain personal contact.
     

 

The President held a meeting, via videoconference, on the situation in global energy markets. The participants discussed measures to ensure sustainability and development of the national fuel-and-energy industry.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Judging by your reaction, everyone can see and hear each other. Welcome, once again.
We are working hard to ensure the safety of our people, to guarantee their health, to facilitate the failsafe operation of the healthcare system and to be prepared to take on the challenges brought on by the coronavirus infection.
But life goes on, and I said this in my latest address. I said we must do everything we can to ensure sustainability and, what’s important, the development of the Russian economy.
So, today we will deal with an issue that is very important to the world economy and that is vital to our economy. We will discuss the situation in global energy markets and what should be done to ensure the unconditional development of the energy industry in Russia.
As you know, generally the situation in global energy markets remains complicated. The coronavirus epidemic has affected the entire global economy, thereby reducing consumer demand for energy, especially in transport, industry and other sectors.
This situation is negatively effecting the financial and economic sustainability of the oil industry all over the world. Moreover, it is undermining investment programmes and may also affect employment. There are also other grounds for concern. Needless to say, all this will trigger high technological and even environmental risks. We should not forget about this, either.<…>
 
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Citizens of Russia, friends,The non-work week in Russia is coming to an end. However, doctors, nurses and all medical personnel continue to work intensely.It is a difficult time for them now. They are holding the line of defence against the advancing epidemic: they are treating and saving people as well as preventing the contraction and development of the disease. I am confident that all Russians will share my heartfelt gratitude to our medical personnel.People working in other fields that are vital for Russia and society are also doing their duty now. I would like to sincerely thank you all, without exception.And, of course, I would like to thank volunteers and people who care, everyone who understood and felt their personal responsibility in countering the epidemic and who strictly follow the recommendations of the authorities and medical specialists, take care of themselves, their families and the safety of those around them.The nationwide non-work week as well as the self-isolation regime declared in many regions made it possible for us to gain time to take preventive action, to mobilise all the government bodies and to increase the healthcare system’s resources to counter the epidemic as effectively as possible using our own experience and the best practices from other countries.I believe it of great importance that overall we have managed to protect the elderly from the serious threat so far and prevent outbreaks of the epidemic at kindergartens, schools, universities and other educational institutions.Of course, now we have to think about our next steps and decisions. Let me stress that when making decisions we have to understand that the threat is still present. Virologists believe that the global peak of the epidemic is still ahead of us, including in Russia.In this context, I have decided to prolong the official non-work period until the end of the month, or through April 30. Let me stress that wages will be retained.<…>
 
Vladimir Putin sent a message of greetings to President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on the Day of Unity between the Peoples of Russia and Belarus.
“For over two decades since the signing of the Treaty on Establishing the Union State of Russia and Belarus, our countries have managed to develop mutually beneficial integration mechanisms, significantly strengthen bilateral cooperation in trade, the economy, scientific, technical, cultural and other fields. We have been implementing mutually beneficial joint projects, as well as coordinating our foreign and defence policies,” Russia’s President notes in his message.
Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that the accumulated experience of joint work will help the two countries find optimal approaches to all, even the most complicated issues that are hindring the development of the Union State.
 

MINISTRY OF ENERGY

 
Following the phone talks between the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the President of the United States of America Donald Trump, a conversation was held between the Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Alexander Novak and the US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.
The parties discussed the current state of the world oil market and promising areas of cooperation between the two countries on the energy market through the framework of G20 and the World Bank. Ministers noted that plummeting demand and surplus on the oil market do not contribute to the progressive development of the global energy sector and pose risks to stable supply to the market after the start of global economic recovery. Moreover, the heads of energy departments noted the need for a constructive response to existing challenges and further dialogue.
 
 

FOREIGN MINISTRY 

 
 

On March 30, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the US side’s initiative.
As a follow-up to the telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and the United States that took place several hours earlier heads of foreign offices continued an exchange of views related to the situation in the world caused by the coronavirus pandemic. They reaffirmed their intention to assist in implementing the decisions of the G20 summit held during a video conference call on March 26.
They also touched upon other topical issues regarding the international agenda, including the situation in strategic stability, the Syrian settlement process and other questions concerning bilateral relations.

 

A videoconference of the Contact Group for a settlement in Donbass was held on March 26. Regrettably, it ended in failure, as Russia’s representative in the Contact Group Boris Gryzlov described in detail. We would like to discuss some important aspects of this teleconference.
Russia takes seriously its role under the Minsk Package of Measures and the decisions of the summit in the Normandy format that was held in Paris last December. We are actively working with all sides of the conflict – Donetsk, Lugansk and Kiev. We are coordinating our actions with Germany and France as members of the Normandy Quartet.
Owing to direct contacts with the Ukrainians, it became possible to launch a settlement process. In February-March of this year, the sides narrowed the gap in their positions on the disengagement of forces and exchange of detainees, began drafting a roadmap and decided in principle to set up a Consultative Council and record the decisions of the Contact Group in written protocols.
The first written protocol with clear-cut tasks for the future was signed by Donetsk, Lugansk, Kiev and the OSCE on March 11 with the personal participation of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak and Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office Andrei Yermak.
Regrettably, strange things began to happen after the initial breakthrough. During telephone conversations, Berlin and Paris offered different excuses to hedge its support for the Kiev-Donbass agreements. Kiev also renounced these agreements at the Contact Group meeting on March 26. One gets the impression that the Ukrainian negotiators were put up to it.  This rollback destroys the initial positive momentum.
Four days later, on March 30, the foreign ministers of German and France made an extensive statement with yet another helping of unfounded accusations against Donbass. They blamed it for slowing down the talks and taking an unconstructive position. All else aside, the ministers demanded that Donetsk and Lugansk grant the OSCE Special Monitoring Group unlimited freedom of movement on their territory. The right of the republics to introduce restrictions due to the coronavirus like Ukraine and other European countries is rejected out of hand. These are dubious democratic values.
All but simultaneously with this statement, Ukrainian representatives in some international organisations, including the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe, accused Russia of ostensibly using the pandemic to get anti-Russian sanctions lifted, for propaganda purposes.
All these events look like a well-orchestrated effort. We hope this is not an attempt to torpedo progress at the talks on overcoming the domestic crisis in Ukraine while blaming Russia and Donbass for the deadlock.
We are urging our Normandy partners to stop the political games and start serious talks on reaching a settlement in Donbass in line with the Minsk Package of Measures and the decisions of the Paris summit of the Normandy Four last December.
 

 
Comment by the Information and Press Department on North Macedonia joining NATO

On March 27, after depositing its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Washington, North Macedonia officially became NATO’s 30th member. By necessity the event had a lower profile and less pomp than previous waves of the alliance’s expansion due to ongoing concerns over the coronavirus.
Despite the emergency declaration in North Macedonia, its leaders still took time out to rhapsodise on the historic nature of the country’s accession to NATO, which supposedly will ensure stability and security of Skopje. Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov even called the country’s NATO membership “the testament of our fathers and grandfathers.” What was not mentioned, however, was how close the formal date of accession was to the anniversary of the start of NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia.
From the moment the Prespa Agreement was signed with Greece in June 2018, the process of North Macedonia’s integration into NATO – the self-proclaimed “alliance of democracies” – has been marked by a great many procedural and legislative irregularities. According to national law, turnout for the referendum on EU and NATO membership on September 30, 2018 was too low for the result to be valid. Various cases of interference in North Macedonia’s domestic affairs, even blackmail and intimidation, became known to the public. All of this went unnoticed by our Western partners, who are usually such sticklers for detail when it comes to legislative procedure.
It is evident that Skopje’s membership in the alliance yields no added value to European, regional or national security. This step certainly will not make it any easier to join efforts to counter common threats and challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic. It will only create new lines of separation.
A clear rationale for North Macedonia joining NATO has still yet to be given. Its people are promised economic growth, increased foreign investment and greater rule of law. But it is not necessary to join a military-political alliance for this. Now Skopje is required to immediately increase spending on defence and purchases of Western, primarily American, arms and equipment. This is the price the Macedonian nation will have to pay for ceding its sovereignty on military-political and other matters.
Regarding the promised security dividends, the alliance is not always able to reliably protect its members or even put an end to old disputes between them, instead mastering the art of sweeping such things under the rug.
According to procedure, Skopje is expected to confirm acceptance of its NATO obligations under documents signed with Russia, in particular the 1997 Founding Act and the 2002 Rome Declaration.
 
 

STOP COVID-19



 
A Russian plane carrying medical equipment for the United States landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday.On Monday, the presidents of Russia and the US, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, reached an agreement in a phone call that Russia would send an aircraft with aid to the United States.
Russia’s Ambassador in Washington Anatoly Antonov said that the pandemic is threatening the whole world, so nations should team up to combat it.
 
The Russian Aerospace Forces completed the operation to transfer to the Republic of Serbia Russian military specialists, the necessary equipment and machinery to assist Serbia in the fight against the spread of coronavirus infection.
For these purposes, the crews of military transport aircraft Il-76 of the Russian Aerospace Forces completed 11 flights from the Chkalovsky airfield (Moscow region) to the Batainitsa airfield, located 20 kilometers northwest of Belgrade (Republic of Serbia).
87 servicemen of the Russian Ministry of Defence, including military physicians, specialist virologists of the NBC protection troops, special medical equipment, protective equipment and 16 pieces of military equipment, were delivered to the Republic of Serbia.
On April 4, in Belgrade, at the base of the military medical academy of the Serbian military department, a meeting will be held with the participation of representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defence of Serbia, at which the most priority objects for the work of Russian military specialists and the arrived equipment will be determined.
The day before, the first consultations of Russian and Serbian military experts took place at the Batainitsa airfield to identify possible areas of application for Russian aid that arrived in Serbia, at which it was proposed to use Russian medical and nursing teams in the settlements of the Republic of Serbia with the most difficult epidemiological conditions - Belgrade, Chupria, Valjevo, Novi Sad, Nis, Kragujevac, Kikinda.
It is planned to use the specialists of the NBC protection troops to disinfect a military camp in the city of Bachka Pola, where cases of the coronavirus of Serbian military personnel have been detected.
 
 
On April 3, Russian military specialists carried out complete disinfection and decontamination in four boarding houses for elderly people in the towns of Lombardy west of Bergamo in the cities of Vila de Adda, San Pelegrino, Vila de Alme, Zogno. All internal rooms and surrounding territories of medical institutions were treated with aerosol disinfecting solutions.
Doctors and epidemiologists developed recommendations for the management and medical staff of boarding houses on maintaining the anti-epidemic regime and preventing the spread of infection.
In total, Russian military epidemiologists and NBC troops specialists of Russian Defence Ministry, together with Italian military specialists, conducted a complete sanitary treatment and disinfection of 24 boarding houses for the elderly in the cities of Lombardy.
Processed 29 buildings and structures, more than 119,000 square meters of internal premises. 13,000 square meters of roads.
Crews of mobile aerosol disinfection systems and auto-filling stations are involved in anti-epidemic measures on a daily basis.
 
 
EMBASSY

 
Question: Information on cases of coronavirus infection in American prisons has appeared in the press. How can you comment on this?
Anatoly Antonov: We have noticed the information on the cases of the disease spreading out in American prisons.
We immediately sent a request to the U.S. Department of State on the state of health of the Russian citizens held in local penitentiary institutions.
Of course, the Embassy is thoroughly monitoring the health of Russians serving sentences in the United States. We continue to maintain close contact with local authorities.
We urge Washington to be guided by the principles of humanity and take all the necessary measures to prevent coronavirus as soon as possible and provide qualified medical care to our compatriots. The life and health of Russian citizens has always been and will be a top priority in our work in this difficult time.

 

 
Arms Control Today: What issues were discussed in the recent U.S.-Russian strategic security talks in Vienna? When do the two sides plan to meet next? Does Russia find this dialogue on issues affecting strategic stability useful and, if so, why?
Amb. Anatoly Antonov: Russia and the United States are the largest nuclear weapons powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council. They bear a special responsibility for preserving world peace and security. That is why it is crucial to maintain the bilateral strategic stability dialogue at any given circumstance, regardless of political situation. It goes without saying that such engagement should be conducted on a regular basis.
While discussing security issues, one must keep in mind that any conversation, no matter how substantial it might be, should focus on achieving tangible results. Reaching agreements on reducing tensions and mutually acceptable arms control solutions could help meet this goal. The primary task is to rebuild confidence in this area, attempt to preserve treaties that are still in effect, [and] mitigate crisis dynamic.
As for the consultations in January, our reaction can be described as “cautious optimism.” On the bright side is the fact that the meeting did take place, even though it exposed serious disagreements between our countries on a number of topics. Without going into detail, I must note that on many occasions we heard our partners talking about a concept of conducting dialogue within the framework of the so-called great power competition. In our view, such a formula could hardly serve as a foundation for building constructive cooperation on security issues between nuclear powers.
Nonetheless, Russian and American negotiators managed to discuss factors that significantly impact strategic stability (even though our partners somehow prefer the term “strategic security”). In our perspective, they include, above all, deployment of global missile defense, implementation of the “prompt strike” concept, threat of placement of weapons in outer space and designation of space as a “war-fighting domain,” quantitative and qualitative imbalances in conventional arms in Europe, development and deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads, and adoption of new doctrines that lead to lowering the threshold of using nuclear weapons.
In our view, another positive outcome of the renewed Russian-U.S. dialogue on strategic stability was the agreement reached in Vienna on conducting expert group discussions on specific topics, which we have to go over and agree on. <…>
 
 
 
Question: A plane from Russia carrying humanitarian aid to the American people is in the sky right now. When to expect its arrival?
Anatoly Antonov: The estimated landing time in New York is around 1.30 p.m. An-124 plane of the Russian Air Force carries humanitarian aid provided through the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade. This issue was agreed by the presidents of our countries. The arrival of the aircraft has already been announced by Donald Trump. Russian and U.S. authorities have promptly resolved all logistics. It is highly anticipated here.
Question: How crucial is our help for America right now?
Anatoly Antonov: The whole world is facing a new deadly threat. Obviously, we can cope with it only by joining our efforts. The scale of the problem is so big that everyone has already realized the impossibility to rescue on their own.
There have always been and will be those who, even in the face of such a danger, will continue to question the need for cooperation. This irresponsible approach inevitably increases the number of victims of the pandemic. Any delay in providing aid can be fatal for those who can be saved.
Russia hasn’t spared this disaster either. We also have the sick and casualties. But we began to close borders and take necessary and tough measures much earlier. We understand that our ill-wishers would like to see a catastrophic scenario in Russia, but they can only generate fake news and operate with conspiracy ideas.
At the moment, we have resources that can be allocated to support other countries who suffered most from the coronavirus. The possibility that we would also need help from abroad can’t be ruled out. We have friends who are ready to help us.
Question: In America, too, they criticize Russia’s assistance to Italy suspecting of its intention to split the unity of the West. What do you think about this?
Anatoly Antonov: Unfounded criticism and distrust of the assistance that Russia already provides to Italy is cynical, immoral and ruthless to those who fight for their lives. Our military doctors and nurses put themselves at risk daily, in contrast to those who dare to consider their work efficiency as a percentage.
Russian experts in Bergamo are struggling with global danger, saving not only Italians, but also the citizens of their country, reducing the scale of the threat. Those who politicize our willingness to help the residents of the Apennines simply have little knowledge of history. They should be reminded of the landing of Russian sailors in Sicily in 1908 after the devastating earthquake (neither NATO nor the EU hadn’t yet existed) and the rescue and restoration mission of Russia in Aquila after the tragedy of 2009.
Question: Russia has previously helped the U.S. on many occasions. Are there any grounds for politicizing the assistance now?
Anatoly Antonov: We are intertwined with the U.S. by an even deeper history of mutual assistance. We aided each other in emergencies both during wars and in peacetime. At the end of the 18th century, the Armed Neutrality proclaimed by Russia contributed to the victory of the North American colonies in the War of Independence. We remember the help of American doctors during the Crimean War and admiration of the Unionists when Russian squadrons arrived in New York and San Francisco in the midst of bloody Civil War. We remember the food supplies sailed in across the Atlantic, which saved many lives in Russia during famines. During World War I and World War II we stood together as allies, and this also reduced the number of casualties among our nations.
Grand celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Victory of the greatest generation over Nazism are under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is seen as sad symbolism. The new global challenge prevents us from paying tribute to the feat of those who defeated the main plague of the 20th century, bow to those who are still alive. And for their sake, we must consolidate our efforts to demonstrate that the "Spirit of the Elbe" is very much alive.
Last year I was fortunate to visit Fairbanks, Alaska, which is home to the only monument in the U.S. to our alliance during World War II.
ALSIB passed through this city - an air route that delivered the Land-Lease. Now the time has come for our generation to show that we too can overcome the differences and establish a new ALSIB, but this time across the Atlantic.
My country reaches out a helping hand to the people of the U.S. This is a historic moment and continuation of a centuries-old tradition. Now is not the time for quarrels. We can provide emergency equipment needed to save Americans. The Russian humanitarian mission can already be successful even if a single life is saved.
We are sure that the U.S., if necessary, will also assist us and we will gladly accept the aid. Without any politicization.
We consider it necessary to express our confusion with such a selective approach of respectful human rights organizations as CPJ and Reporters Without Borders. Trust to their impartiality has been seriously undermined by the fact that they ignore the most severe violations of the freedom of the press. For example, in the Baltic states which systematically literally liquidate Russian-speaking media.


 
 

RUSSIAN CULTURE

 
On March 31, 1981, Vladimir Menshov's masterful melodrama Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears won the AcademyAward. Ronald Reagan watched this movie several times "to better understand the Russian soul". To this day it remains a timeless classic beloved by generations.
Stay Home & Watch the Movie online with Englis Subtitles: Part 1, Part 2.
Stay Home and celebrate 88th birth anniversary of the Soviet-Russian world-class filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky with us!
He is considered to be one of the best directors in history, praised for visual style and attention to details.
 
 One of world’s most visionary, celebrated, and influential filmmakers at the time of his tragic death at the age of 54, Tarkovsky made just seven feature films. All of them are metaphysical and spiritual explorations of humanity and each film is recognized worldwide as an artistic masterpiece.

 

 

HISTORY

 

Information Bulletin of the Soviet Embassy in the USA

 
 
In April 1945, Information Bulletin of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC reported on:
  •  The Path of the Liberator Army
  •  RedArmy emerges on Austrian Border
  •  Combating King Tiger Tanks
  •  France and the San Francisco Conference
  •  Chimkent - "Island of Cotton" in Central Asia
 
 
Moscow is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Slovak capital Bratislava during WWII with a firework. The capture of Bratislava opened a direct route for the Red Army to Prague. The German command planned to use the city as a long-term stronghold.
The Soviet troops, however, avoided a straightforward assault and after a deep maneuver attacked the city from the north-west. It took two days to liberate the Slovakian capital.
 

"Pipeline to Russia: The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in World War II" – now
available online!

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.

DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

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