RUSSIAN EMBASSY WEEKLY #114
The President opened a series of meetings on the current state and development prospects of the Russian Navy.
As per tradition, the President holds consultations with senior officials of the Defence Ministry and top executives of defence industry enterprises twice a year.
<…> it is necessary to expand the Navy’s combat capabilities in the next few years. This largely depends on the scheduled adoption of upgraded frigates and submarines that can launch Zircon hypersonic missiles (these weapons are becoming crucial for maintaining strategic stability), as well as destroyers and multirole amphibious warfare ships.
<…> the NATO summit is being held in London on November 3–4. It is devoted to NATO’s 70th anniversary. Let me recall that it was established on April 4, 1949 as a major component of the unfolding Cold War and in opposition to the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union does not exist any longer and there is no Warsaw Pact, either. The military pact was set up in response to the creation of NATO but today NATO not only exists but is continually being developed. It was created with 12 states and now includes 29 countries. The aggregate military expenses of its members exceed 70 percent of the world’s total military spending.
Needless to say, the bloc mentality stereotypes of the past cannot be a good instrument for searching for and adopting effective decisions in the rapidly changing conditions of the modern world.
At the same time, as you know, we have repeatedly expressed our willingness to cooperate with NATO for jointly countering real threats, such as international terrorism, local armed conflicts, and WMD proliferation. We have repeatedly taken steps to meet the alliance halfway and offered it a positive agenda. We held a number of joint events but after 2008 cooperation was actually curtailed because the alliance’s actions towards Russia were inappropriate, if not blatant, and didn’t take into account Russia’s interests. Nevertheless, I hope that the interests of common security, as well as the stable and peaceful future of the planet will still prevail.
Right now we have to proceed from the fact that NATO’s expansion, the development of its military infrastructure near the Russian border, pose a potential threat to our national security. Therefore, coming back to this meeting’s agenda, I would like to note that the technical overhaul of the Russian Armed Forces has been and will remain the focus of our closest attention.
Under the state defence procurement order, this year the Navy will receive over 480 major models of arms and equipment. They include two submarines, 23 surface ships and logistics vessels, three aircraft, four coastal missile systems and more than 400 units of various missile and torpedo weaponry.
The strategic naval nuclear forces are being re-equipped with state-of-the-art nuclear powered Borei class submarines with Bulava ballistic missiles. The Borei-A flagship submarine, Knyaz Vladimir, is in the final stage of its state trials. Four more submarines under this project are in development.
As concerns the Russian Navy’s strategic non-nuclear forces, the core fleet consists of ships carrying the Kalibr high-precision long-range missiles. As you know, these missiles can hit targets as far as 1,500 km away. Fulfilling the State Armament Programme will allow us to double the number of these missiles by 2023.
As for the US military-political leaders, they actually quite openly consider outer space as a theatre of war and, accordingly, are planning military operations there.
To maintain strategic superiority in this area, the United States is accelerating the development of space forces, which are already carrying out operational training for this purpose.
Russia has consistently opposed and will continue to oppose the militarisation of space. At the same time, the developments in this context require us to focus on strengthening the orbital group, as well as the aerospace industry as a whole.
We will also discuss measures to counter potential threats stemming from the United States’ withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
To reiterate, Russia is not interested in launching an arms race or deploying missiles in environments where no missiles are currently deployed. As you may be aware, we announced a unilateral moratorium on deploying such missiles and invited our colleagues in Europe and the United States to join in. So far, only the President of the French Republic, Mr Macron, has responded. There is no response from our other partners. This forces us to take measures to counter these threats.
By the way, we are all well aware of the fact that the United States unilaterally withdrew from another major treaty on limiting missile defence systems from 2002. They acted in a straightforward manner back then and took responsibility for this step and did not even try to shift the blame to Russia. This was fairly difficult to do back then, it seemed.
Now, they have also withdrawn from that unilaterally, but as we can see, attempts are being made to shift the responsibility onto us. This position has no grounds whatsoever, but nevertheless, the attempt is being made.
The New START treaty, which expires soon, is another item on the disarmament agenda. All of our proposals to renew this treaty are on the table. So far, we have not received any response from our partners. In this regard, I would like to reiterate our position: Russia is willing to immediately, as soon as possible, before the year is out, renew this treaty without any preconditions. I am stating this officially so that there are no double or triple interpretations of our position later on.
Vladimir Putin met with German business leaders at the Bocharov Ruchei residence. The participants discussed the development prospects for Russian-German trade and economic relations.
Vladimir Putin: Germany is among our most important economic partners. We highly value German business pragmatism and willingness to work together and we want to continue the consistent development of bilateral ties, which of course will be in both countries’ long-term interests.
Today, German investment in the Russian economy exceeds $20 billion, and the Russian investment in the German economy totals almost $10 billion.
There are about 5,000 companies with German capital operating in Russia. Their cumulative business volume is $50 billion.
Germany is Russia’s second largest foreign trade partner after the People’s Republic of China. Quite recently Germany has been ranked first. I hope we will return to this. <…>
Vladimir Putin met with Prime Minister of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh in Sochi.
Vladimir Putin: …Our relations have been developing consistently and steadily. Last year, trade grew by 21 percent, and by another 15 over the first 8–9 months of this year. In addition, our relations continue to diversify, and this is a good sign. They cover engineering, agriculture, mineral fertiliser and, of course, energy. Gazprom has begun to supply liquefied natural gas. Rosneft covers 80 percent of the demand for oil products. Electricity is supplied, too. Agriculture plays an important role in our bilateral trade.
Speaking about energy, we have good opportunities for development, including with third countries. And, of course, Mr Prime Minister, we are ready to promote Mongolia’s dialogue with the Eurasian Economic Union. I know that our Mongolian friends are interested in this dialogue. <…>
In Sochi, Vladimir Putin held talks with President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic who is in Russia on a working visit. The presidents discussed topical issues of bilateral cooperation, regional and international agendas.
Russia was represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Chair of the Russian-Serbian Intergovernmental Committee on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation on the Russian side Yury Borisov, Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The international consultations later continued with the participation of the two countries’ delegations. Following the Russian-Serbian talks, Vladimir Putin and Aleksandar Vucic made press statements and answered media questions.
<…> The Russian leader reaffirmed the importance of applying the positive experience gained within the Union State in a broader format of the Eurasian Economic Union, and expressed confidence that mutually beneficial integration processes and bilateral interaction in all areas will continue to advance.
Sakhalin is a mixture of various cultures, landscapes and climate zones. This real-life treasure island draws visitors who are eager to experience everything at once.
Bratislava hosted a regular meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council. The OSCE that was based on the 1975 Helsinki Final Act is not going through its best times today because of the problems that have accumulated in security and strategic stability in the common Euro-Atlantic space…
Of course, we are bound to be concerned over what is happening in NATO. Several days ago President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin commented on this situation at the meeting with Russian Defence Ministry senior officials. The problem is that NATO apparently considers itself a source of legitimacy and is trying to persuade everyone that this role has no alternative, that it can only be played by the North Atlantic Alliance, and that it has the right to determine who is guilty of everything that is taking place around us and that the West does not like for some reason. Boundless expansion continues; military infrastructure is rapidly moving eastward, close to Russian borders; tensions are constantly escalated, and Russia is permanently accused of aggressive intentions. This is taking place against the backdrop of decisions on the further buildup of the NATO countries’ military budgets, which were adopted at the summit held in London. Meanwhile, the current budgets exceed Russian military spending more than 10-fold.
The available facts point to a simple and easy-to-understand situation: NATO wants to dominate not only in the Euro-Atlantic region but, judging by its actions, in other regions as well, for instance in the Middle East. This is why we wanted to draw your attention to this obviously unsound situation. The bottom line is that it runs counter to the lofty declarations that the OSCE leaders adopted after the organisation turned from the conference into the current entity. First and foremost, this applies to the principle of indivisible security. <…>
I believe that traditional resistance to fluctuations in the political situation is the hallmark of the Russian-Italian dialogue. We have successfully interacted with the center-left and center-right governments. I am pleased to note that Italy, in turn, also adheres to a balanced and pragmatic approach to bilateral relations, including the economic component. All of that yields significant practical returns with about 500 Italian firms and banking institutions operating in our country, and the Government providing them with the necessary support.
Unfortunately, the dynamics of our interaction are being adversely affected by external factors, primarily, the sanctions spiral unwound by the Brussels bureaucrats at the behest of Washington, which runs counter to the interests of the European nations. We are aware that business and sociopolitical circles in Italy are increasingly supportive of returning to full-format cooperation in all areas. We believe that Italian diplomacy could use its clout and authority to help improve the situation in Europe and build relations between Russia and the EU on a pragmatic and non-confrontational basis.
On December 3, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov met with former Ambassador of the United States of America to the Russian Federation Thomas R. Pickering. The parties addressed various issues related to Russian-US relations and the international agenda.
We continue recording Washington’s attempts to push, both directly and via its controlled media, the allegation that the Russian authorities are keeping Paul Whelan imprisoned for no reason and are denying him proper medical aid. Whelan, a citizen of the US and another three Western countries, was arrested on spying charges. This is yet another mass-scale disinformation campaign aimed at smearing Russia’s image.
As we have reported more than once, Whelan entered Russia as an American citizen with a tourist visa. He was detained in Moscow on December 29, 2018. Whelan was caught red-handed performing an intelligence operation. His spying activities have been fully documented. <…>
Yaroslavl is not a million city, and it there are no ski resorts or sea beaches. But it still manages to attract tourists year-round. In summer, they go to the capital of the Golden Ring route to see ancient Russia. In autumn, the city speaks different languages thanks to the Fyodor Volkov International Theatrical Festival. And when winter is departing, everyone fly here to celebrate the real Russian Maslenitsa, because the main Russian Razguliay is conducted here.
Syrian government with comprehensive support of Russia continues extensive work to create conditions conducive to returning of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homeland.
The number of Syrians arriving in the country is constantly growing. Currently, 2 013 807 Syrian citizens have already returned to their homes, of which 1 306 095 are internally displaced persons and 707 712 are refugees from foreign countries.
There are function shelters for all citizens whose homes are ravaged by war where all the necessary conditions for dignity life are created, fully consistent with the humanitarian standards of the United Nations, which are constantly improving. Representatives of international humanitarian organizations have been ascertained in this on many occasions. Taking into account the desire to verify the worthy level of the conditions created in these shelters again, we express our readiness to receive delegations of any level on their territory at a time convenient for them.
It’s surprising that the implementation of the next United Nations plan for the evacuation of the Rukban camp population has once again been disrupted first of all, due to refusal of the United States and the militants under their control to fulfill its obligations. <…>
I would like to draw your attention to the grave situation with Russian citizen Roman Seleznev serving a long-term prison sentence in the United States.
Mr. Roman Seleznev was detained by the US authorities in 2014 in the Maldives. He was convicted to a severe sentence (27 years in prison). Humanitarian aspects of the case were not taken into consideration. Mr.Seleznev is a disabled victim of the 2011 terrorist attack in Morocco and has to take medication and remain under the care of physicians. Instead, in prison he must comply with special safety requirements and appear at a security check-point every two hours from 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. This even prevents him from taking his meals normally or having rest. If he is not complying with such cruel requirements he is locked away at an isolation ward.
Immediate steps to conduct medical examination of incarcerated and effective medical treatment are also required, as Mr.Seleznev suffers from hepatitis and epilepsy. Nevertheless, an MRT has never been taken.
Your organizations are well-known for the noble mission to defend and preserve human rights. Therefore I would like to draw your special attention to the abovementioned case. I would be grateful if I can rely on your kind assistance in making this issue known to public. Each prisoner has a right for human treatment and conditions regardless of charges and their nationality.
November 30, 2019
"We call not for rivalry, but for peace and mutually beneficial cooperation in the region."
Ambassador Anatoly Antonov's article specially for Arctic Today - December 4, 2019:
In 2021 the Russian Federation will assume the presidency in the Arctic Council — a forum of Arctic countries focusing on the development of intergovernmental cooperation in the region.
Russia persistently considers the Arctic as a zone for collective interaction and good neighborliness. We act on the basis of strategic documents adopted by our leadership — the Fundamentals of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic until 2020 and Beyond as well as the Strategy for the Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation.
Climate conditions, flora and fauna of the Arctic region are unique. It is rich in natural resources. More than 20 percent of the world’s oil and gas reserves are located in the Arctic Ocean’s bed. Developing these resources and ensuring their continuous supply are the key to steady and sustainable growth of the global economy. <…>
Bashkortostan is one of the leading regions with a great experience in conducting different kinds of international events – festivals, forums and conferences
Remarks by Ambassador Anatoly Antonov:
It’s hard to overestimate the significance of the Center’s activities, since public diplomacy plays a special role in promoting a positive and unifying agenda in bilateral affairs. In this regard it is necessary to come up with new channels for communication at the civil society level and expanding cultural exchange between Russia and the U.S., relying, in the first place, on friends of our country – many of whom are here with us today.
Over the past years, in a complicated international environment, the Center has continued to introduce Russia’s social life, modern achievements in education and science to U.S. citizens, helped people learn the Russian language and preserve national and cultural heritage of our compatriots.
The Russian Cultural Center in Washington regularly hosts meetings of our compatriots and attracts Americans of all ages who are interested in Russia. It has become a popular venue for holding conferences, concerts, recitals and movie screenings, as well as many other cultural and educational events.
In December, 1999, the Russian Cultural Center opened in Washington, and today we celebrate its 20th anniversary in the U.S. Throughout all these years, regardless of the changing political situation, the Center has remained a place that embodies Russian culture, education, science – everything Russia is rightfully proud of.
I’d like to thank each of you for being with us throughout all these years, for your best efforts to promote the common goal in the name of goodwill and peace.
Russian cultural presence in the U.S., undoubtedly, helps shape a positive image of Russia. At the same time, we do not impose anything on anyone. Americans seek to learn our history and culture themselves. As my colleagues joke: “they catch a chronic Russian disease”, which cannot be treated even with the most sophisticated anti-Russian propaganda.
It’s an honor for me to introduce to you one of these individuals, professor of Slavic studies of the Tulane University William Craft Brumfield, who has contributed and continues to contribute to the development of the Russia-U.S. relations.
Professor Brumfield is an American historian and photographer, who specializes in Russian architecture and literature. <…>
We’ve been long suggesting to the U.S. side to establish a direct dialogue on cybersecurity issues, reach an accord on a joint response to the corresponding threats. However, Washington deliberately ignores this idea, preferring to label Russia as “a cybercriminal”. Such rhetoric clearly does not help stabilization of bilateral relations.
At the same time the U.S. officials again made groundless accusations against the Russian Government. Allegedly stating that sanctioned “hacker groups” and their associates provided direct assistance to our authorities’ “malicious cyber effort”. However, no proof is provided to support the allegations. Such practice became common to our partners.
Today the U.S. administration under a pretext of countering cyberthreats expanded its “black lists” once again adding Russian citizens and several of our companies. Two of our compatriots are indicted with criminal charges.
Many thanks to our guests for smiling faces, wonderful mood and great atmosphere!
The premiere of TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman’s documentary titled ‘Anatoly Dobrynin. 24 Years and 14 Days from Ambassador’s Life’ filmed to mark a centenary of the diplomat’s birth has taken place at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
In addition to foreign diplomats, experts and journalists, the premiere was attended by former US Ambassadors to Russia James Collins and John Beyrle and William Brumfield, Professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University (Louisiana), who was earlier awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship.Addressing the audience, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov spoke about Dobrynin, a prominent diplomat and public personality who represented the Soviet Union in the United States for almost a quarter of the century.
Antonov admitted that it was difficult for him to imagine how he would have worked in Washington under such circumstances and for such a long time. He also recalled that the Cuban Missile Crisis had occurred during Dobrynin’s tenure as Soviet Ambassador to the United States.
Russian Film Week in New York was co-founded and successfully re-launched by the non-profit arts organization, Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation (USA) and Rock Studio Films (Russia) in 2018. This partnership aims to develop a multi-state, annual week-long showcase, in an effort to present independent, commercial, documentary and arthouse Russian films with subtitles to mainstream US audiences.
The Treaty was of unlimited duration and came into force on June 1, 1988. The Soviet and American ground based ballistic and cruise missiles covered by the Treaty were destroyed within the first three years of the Treaty. The sides also destroyed their launchers and related auxiliary facilities and equipment, as well as operational bases. The implementation of the INF Treaty resulted in the liquidation of two classes of the sides’ nuclear weapons, which has greatly contributed to nuclear disarmament within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
On December 8, 1987, General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed the Treaty on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty) during a summit meeting in Washington.
On December 5, 1941, Soviet Ambassador Litvinov arrives in Washington,
DC. It was the 3rd day of the Red Army's counter-offensive in the Battle for Moscow.
The annual winter festival Journey to Christmas will run from 13 December till 12 January. This year, Moscow will have about 40 festival venues in different Moscow districts. The main festivities will traditionally take place on Manezhnaya and Red squares, Novy Arbat Street and others. The venues will be open daily, 11:00 am till 09:00 pm on weekdays, 10:00 am till 10:00 pm on weekends and holidays.
'Journey to Christmas is the most popular Moscow Seasons festival. Last year, the venues had the record-breaking 18.6 million visitors, which is more than half a million visitors daily! The festival will offer beautiful Christmas trees and magic light installations, magnificent ice ballets, theatrical performances and pop stars' concerts, a Christmas quest with gifts, as well as exciting master classes, curling, snowboarding and other winter sports training sessions. Visitors can taste the most delicious foods and buy unusual souvenirs from all over Russia'.