RUSSIAN EMBASSY WEEKLY #106
The meeting participants summarized this year’s results of interaction within the Commonwealth of Independent States in trade, the economy and the social sphere, as well as in foreign policy and security.
Following the meeting, a series of multilateral documents was signed, including the following resolutions:
On the Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation of CIS Member States;
On the Address of CIS Heads of State to the Peoples of the Commonwealth and the Global Community on the 75th Anniversary of Victory of the Soviet People in the 1941–1945 Great Patriotic War;
On the Cooperation Programme of the CIS Member States in Countering Terrorism and Other Violent Manifestations of Extremism for 2020–2022.
Taking part in the meeting were President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov, President of Moldova Igor Dodon, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as well as Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Sergey Lebedev.
Vladimir Putin: Mr President Berdimuhamedov, friends,
Just like all our partners, Russia assigns high priority to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation with its CIS partners. This cooperation helps us to strengthen regional stability and is stimulating economic growth and good standards of living for our people.
Last year, the aggregate foreign trade of the CIS member states increased by over 17 percent to over $1 trillion. This shows that our cooperation within the framework of the CIS is not hindering but promoting our relations with other countries.
These are good indicators, but we must certainly keep moving forward. We must continue to lift various barriers to trade and promote industrial and technological cooperation between us. We never stop talking about this, and we also debate and discuss this issue within the EAEU…
I believe it is necessary to enhance and develop coordination among the CIS members in foreign policy. We have already heard a brief report today but I will take the liberty to say a few words because it directly affects Russia.
As you know, our American partners have now withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This seriously aggravates the situation in international security. That is an obvious fact. Back in 2002, the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Although that time, the situation was less complicated as they did not concoct anything or point fingers or invent reasons to blame Russia. They simply withdrew and that was it. Now they decided to be more ingenious. They made up an excuse. Although it has to do with their Asia policy rather than with Russia…
You know, this has already been said, Mr Lukashenko mentioned this, I sent an appeal to the heads of many states. We declared that if we build them (and we will, now that the Americans have them), we are not going to deploy intermediate-range missiles in those regions where there are no similar US-produced missiles deployed.
Strange as it may seem, there has been no response, nothing. I think the United States is not replying on purpose and without it, its allies cannot give any response because their sovereignty is seriously limited in this respect, in this area. They simply do not have a say in this or an opinion of their own on the matter. They may have an opinion but will not express it. All this causes us great concern.
With that in mind, we welcome the proposal made by Belarus at the 74th United Nations General Assembly. The President of Belarus already said that Belarus proposed drafting a multilateral declaration on non-deployment of ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in Europe. This proposal is fully in line with the initiatives of the Russian Federation.
With regard to NATO exercises, we need to think about our response. Recently we held drills as well – although not in the vicinity of NATO’s borders. We make sure that we hold drills deep inside the country. More than 100,000, or, to be precise, 128,000 troops were involved. Therefore, we do not welcome any attempts to build up tension near our borders. We believe it is detrimental but we will react calmly. We should further discuss our line of action.
We are grateful to our CIS partners for their support of the joint statement of CIS member states, initiated by Russia, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. We are witnessing a very dangerous trend. The US side has certain capabilities, I mean spacecraft and shuttles, which provide opportunities and advantages, including those in the military sphere, if space is militarized. <…>
We are sad to announce the passing away of Alexei Leonov, Soviet cosmonaut and an accomplished artist. Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov has died aged 86.
He was the first person to leave a space capsule when, on 18 March 1965, he left the Voskhod 2 orbital craft piloted by Pavel Belyaev. He also commanded the Soviet half of the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, in which the Soyuz capsule docked with the US Apollo capsule for two days in space, in the first joint space mission.
He was twice awarded with Hero of the Soviet Union title.
R.I.P. Alexey Arkhipovich.
Vladimir Putin conveyed his deep condolences to the family of cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on his passing.
The Russian leader also noted that "an arms race is a bad thing and it will not be good for the world.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope that there would be no new Cold War, stressing that in any case Russia would be affected to the least extent thanks to its advanced weapons, the Russian leader said in an interview with RT Arabic, Al Arabiya and Sky News Arabia TV channels on Sunday.
"I don’t want this. In any case, this would affect Russia to the least extent because like I have already said we have got promising armaments, which are absolutely exclusive and which no one in the world has now. To a certain extent, we have already gone our own way in this sense and now we are thinking about prospects and we are working calmly," Putin said.
Putin drew attention to the difference in military spending in a number of states, noting that Russia was in the seventh place in the world in terms of expenditure estimated at nearly $48 bln. The US is the world’s top spender, with its military budget exceeding $700 bln, and is followed by China, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, France and Japan.
"However, we have weapons, which no one in the world has. This is the result of a focused work in crucial areas. We must give credit to our specialists for their ability to determine these areas and concentrate resources," Putin noted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on awarding the Order of Courage to NASA astronaut Nick Hague and other state decorations to staff members of Russian companies in the rocket and space sector.
The decree published on the official legal information portal says that US citizen Hague is to be awarded "for courage and high professionalism shown while performing his duties in the conditions of an increased risk to life when an emergency situation occurred at the Baikonur cosmodrome."
A Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with a manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 11, 2018. On board the spacecraft were Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the Soyuz MS-10) and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.
Following a smooth liftoff, the Soyuz’s booster malfunctioned between the first and second stages of separating, whereupon the crew was forced to abort the flight and switch to ballistic descent. The manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft ended up landing in the Kazakh steppe. The crew was not hurt. This was the first emergency situation with the launch of a manned spacecraft over the past 35 years.
Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Turkish side’s initiative.
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued their exchange of views on Syrian problems, including in the context of the agreements reached in September in Ankara during the meeting of the leaders of the guarantor states in the Astana process. In light of the plans announced by Turkey to conduct a military operation in northeastern Syria, Vladimir Putin urged his Turkish partners to carefully consider the situation so as not to damage the overall efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis. At the same time, both sides reaffirmed the importance of ensuring the unity and territorial integrity of Syria and respect for its sovereignty.
Several current issues of bilateral cooperation were also discussed.
It was agreed to arrange further contacts at various levels.
The number of fans of outdoor activities in Russia is constantly growing, and at the same time, its new types are emerging. The natural and climatic conditions of Russia allow you to do almost any kind of tourism practically in any conditions at any time of the year.
Here is a famous quote: "There's no Russian who doesn't like to travel fast!" Naturally, this statement is not true for everyone: there are Russians who like to quietly lie on the beach. But the number of active leisure fans is constantly growing, simultaneously with new trends emerging. The natural and climatic conditions of our country allow us to practice almost any type of tourism in any conditions at any time of the year, and this provides a great "creative freedom": even the most experienced people can make their dreams come true in the field of extreme tourism, independently or using travel company services.
Rock climbing classes will present an opportunity to check your endurance and willpower, and standing on a mountain top in the Crimean, Caucasus, Altai, or the Urals or other mountains of Russia you will feel like a subjugator of the world. Incredible sensations can be experienced by going down from the mountains on skis or doing one -snowboarding- types: free skiing, heli skiing, ski-touring, etc. Individual rocks, located above the sea, are suitable for cliff diving, which is jumping from natural heights. Where unavailable, you can simply jump into the water from any extreme height, and this will be called high diving.
Question: Turkey has, nevertheless, launched a military operation in Syria. How does Moscow see this scenario today? How could it affect a peaceful political settlement of the Syrian crisis?
Sergey Lavrov: From the onset of the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) we have invariably drawn attention to the fact that we understand the legitimate concerns of the Republic of Turkey about the security of its borders. At the same time, we have strongly stressed the need to settle these concerns within the existing agreements between Damascus and Ankara – the so-called 1998 Adana Agreement. Unfortunately, the effective practical implementation of the agreement, which envisioned joint efforts to thwart terrorist activity on the Turkey-Syria border, was complicated by the actions of the United States and the US-led coalition on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. We have been warning for many years about the extreme danger of the experiment launched there by the Americans who tried to set the Kurds against the local Arab tribes in every possible way. We cautioned against playing the Kurdish card because it could have a sorry end, and we were also warned about this by our colleagues from other countries in the region with large Kurdish communities.
This is why we are now insisting on opening a dialogue between Turkey and the SAR. We have grounds to believe that this will serve the interests of both sides. We will simultaneously be making efforts to somehow establish contact between Damascus and Kurdish organizations that reject extremism and terrorist approaches in their activities. We heard that both Syrian officials and representatives of Kurdish organizations expressed interest in Russia using its good relations with all parties to the process in arranging such talks. We will see what we can do.
As you know, President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prior to that, I had a telephone call from the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. We have a de-conflicting channel, a regular communications channel. Our militaries are in contact with each other. We are interested in quelling this situation quickly, but based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the SAR. <…>
Question: I would like to know your opinion on what the Americans are saying and doing regarding the current developments on the Syrian-Turkish border. US President Donald Trump first said that the Americans should not be involved in unnecessary wars, and US troops seem to be leaving the area. But later it was reported that a small group of special forces would be redeployed from the border zone. The US State Department says one thing, and Trump offers a different interpretation of that. How can one develop interaction with the US on Syria given these contradictions? What is wrong with them?
Sergey Lavrov: I cannot say what’s wrong with US operations in Syria. It is a fact, as I see it, that they are full of contradictions and that our American colleagues are unable to honour their agreements. We have urged them more than once to end their illegal occupation of the Al-Tanf area, where they set up a military base. It is a vast 55-kilometre area where very bad people have found safe haven, including terrorists, extremists and those who are terrorising the refugees and internally displaced people in the Rukban camp. We have tried to resettle people from that camp more than once, working with the UN and the Syrian government, but the Americans have not honoured their promises regarding this, just as they broke their promise to reduce and subsequently shut down the Al-Tanf zone…
The Americans organized and maintained pseudo-state structures there and highlighted the Kurdish problem in a manner that caused the wrath of the Arab tribes who have always lived there. This is a dangerous game. I saw this the other day when I was in Iraq and met with Iraqi Kurds, including the leaders of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They are deeply concerned that this careless attitude towards an extremely delicate subject could set the whole region in turmoil, which must be avoided at all costs. We have informed the Americans about this point of view. I hope they have heard us. However, we have not yet seen any practical changes in their inconsistent and contradictory policy.
Tensions on the Syrian-Turkish border have escalated to an alarming level in the past few days.
On October 9, after US troops pulled out of their strongholds in the border area, the Turkish armed forces entered the Syrian Arab Republic in the vicinity of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad and moved on to a distance of 3-5 kilometres from the border. Artillery strikes and air raids have been directed at surface targets in the area. Casualties have been reported among the Kurdish armed groups and the Turkish military. Civilians have been killed and wounded; many civilians had to flee their homes and move deeper into Syrian territory.
We are seriously alarmed over the armed clashes in the border area and, in general, the escalation of tension and violence east of the Euphrates River. We consider it vital to prevent further destabilisation and the suffering of civilians in north-eastern Syria. In this connection we urge all the sides involved to show maximum restraint and to carefully consider their moves in the spirit of respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.
We do not question the need to fight terrorists and to protect the security of Turkey, as well as all the other regional countries, from terrorist attacks. However, we believe that peace and stability in that part of Syria can only be ensured through a constructive dialogue based on respect between the government and the Kurds, who are an integral part of Syrian society. Moscow confirms its readiness to assist this dialogue, as well as any moves to normalise relations between the regional countries.
Vladimir Due to the unprecedented measures taken by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to solve the problem of the Rukban refugee camp and to bring Syrian citizens out of it to places of permanent residence, so far half of the inhabitants of this "death camp" have been saved and returned to their homes. Currently, more than eighteen thousand (18,270) Syrians have returned from the camp to their places of permanent residence. This process has been launched solely through Syrian-Russian efforts…
In conditions when residents of the Rukban camp are held by US-controlled gangs hostages, neither humanitarian convoy with food would be able to resolve the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe there. Only the complete elimination of this camp can stop the suffering of the Syrians who stay there not because of their own free will.
As the command of American troops in the area of Al-Tanf demonstrates the inability to secure the US taken commitments to implement the UN operational plan, we demand that the American side immediately leave the occupied territory of Syria and allow the legitimate Syrian government to establish constitutional order and clear the area of terrorists. <…>
On October 7, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a working visit to the Republic of Iraq. In Baghdad, Sergey Lavrov met with President of Iraq Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Speaker of the Council of Representatives (Parliament) Mohamed al-Halbousi. He also held talks with Foreign Minister Mohamad Alhakim. While in Erbil, the Russian Foreign Minister held talks with President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Masoud Barzani.
During an in-depth discussion of the goals of the further development of the traditionally friendly relations between Russia and Iraq, the sides confirmed their resolve to strengthen and broaden their business partnership in energy, industry and agriculture and highlighted a growing interest of Russian companies in contributing to the post-conflict restoration projects in Iraq. In this context, they also noted the effective work of the Russian-Iraqi Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which held its eighth meeting in Baghdad in April of this year. The sides underscored a mutual desire to continue to strengthen bilateral military technical cooperation. <…>
Question: Mr Ryabkov, 10 members of the Russian delegation to the UN General Assembly session have been denied visas. Is this a visa war? What will be Russia’s response?
Sergey Ryabkov: It should be said that two of the Russian delegates who have been denied visas are Chair of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachyov and his counterpart at the State Duma, Leonid Slutsky. Visas have been also denied to our experts and members of the foreign minister’s team. This US action has brought an acute problem into focus. The United States has no respect not only for international law as a whole, but also for the obligations of the country that signed an agreement to host the UN Headquarters in 1947. I don’t remember Washington ever acting in such flagrant disregard for the accepted norms before. This is a new US low when it comes to its position on the international stage.
We can expect the United States to deliberately create barriers to a normal political process and the work of the UN, especially the member states which Washington views as its geopolitical opponents, because the position these states have taken does not suit the United States. One has to ask in this connection: What response do our American colleagues expect from the countries which receive such welcome from Washington, or rather, which are denied welcome? Do Americans really think that their actions will force us to revise our approaches, to adjust them to US “demands”? I believe that they will produce the opposite effect and that the United States is acting contrary to its own interests in this particular case. <…>
Question: What can you tell us about statements in the US Congress regarding the US’s potential withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies?
Maria Zakharova: There have been no official statements regarding a US withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies at this point. US representatives make statements like this from time to time but the Foreign Ministry does not comment on them. We consider the treaty to be an important instrument in ensuring European security on the same level as the 2011 Vienna document on confidence- and security-building measures. We welcome the resumption of full implementation in 2019 and the preliminary distribution of active quotas for the monitoring of flights in 2020.
Russia is committed to its obligations under the treaty and exhibits the utmost flexibility for maintaining it. One example of this is our lifting the ban on flights in 10 kilometer zones along the borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia with the understanding that the permanent nature of this decision depends on Georgia’s conscientious fulfilment of its commitments on receiving Russian missions.
Regrettably, Tbilisi has not changed its position so far.
On October 9, Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov received a telephone call from US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun.
The officials discussed the latest developments in the Korean peace process. They agreed to intensify multilateral coordination in order to support the political and diplomatic process to solve Korean Peninsula problems.
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Performances of the Mariinsky ballet, which is among the world’s leading ballet companies, on the main concert stage of the U.S. capital have become a good tradition. This year we have already seen the outstanding “Corsair” ballet performed by everyone’s favorite dancers and new young talents.
Popularity of Russian artistic groups proves that Americans are highly interested in our culture, which is beyond politics. And it is great, since the ties formed through culture are the key to peace and help strengthen good relations between the peoples of Russia and the U.S.
The Mariinsky ballet company is itself an example of international synergy of efforts as it successfully unites representatives of different countries.
"Paquita" is an exciting story for all generations. It goes without saying that we are particularly proud that it was the stage production of the prominent Russian-French choreographer Marius Petipa performed by Saint Petersburg Imperial company that brought the "Paquita" ballet world fame…
I also would like to draw your attention to the photo exhibition in this room. The photos depict moments of life of Galina Ulanova – a legendary Soviet ballerina and educator. Thanks to her efforts, Russian ballet succeeded in maintaining its high standards even in the hardest of times – during the Great Patriotic War. It is noteworthy that all the photos were taken by American writer and photographer Albert E. Kahn, author of “Days with Ulanova”.
The photo exhibition along with other photos of Galina Ulanova was provided by Albert’s son – Brian Kahn who is also a famous journalist and radio host. The photo archive will be passed later to Russian museums. It is yet another example of how art can unite people of different countries, bringing us closer to each other.
Today’s event would not have been possible without the support of Russia’s great friend – Susan Carmel. We value and admire her energetic efforts aimed at developing Russia-U.S. cultural ties.
During the informal discussion, issues of international security and negotiation practices were discussed. Students got the opportunity to familiarize themselves in detail with Russian approaches to strategic stability issues.
Strategic stability issues have always been the cornerstone of the relations between the USSR and the U.S. and later between Russia and the United States. Global peace and security depend on the state of our dialogue and agreements in this area. It was this way before. The same holds true for today’s world as well.
It is no coincidence that strategic stability issues were the key discussion topics at the meeting between Minister Lavrov and Secretary Pompeo in late September on the sidelines of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly.
The Russian side repeatedly voiced its concerns over the state of strategic stability, especially in recent years. We are troubled by the U.S. decisions and actions in this area. We regard the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty as a serious mistake. Washington’s decision to abandon the JCPOA has resulted in much turbulence in international affairs and nuclear non-proliferation uncertainty. Additional anxiety is caused by a clear signal coming from the
U.S. administration that it is not ready to ratify the CTBT – one of the key disarmament and non-proliferation instruments.
Washington shows a clear intention to develop its global missile defense and place its elements in space. The indissoluble link between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms was clearly agreed upon by both countries in the New START. Regrettably, the U.S. side refuses even to discuss our initiatives on No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space or the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space.
Serious concern is raised by the situation that emerged after the demise of the INF Treaty, which used to be one of the foundations of the arms control system since 1987. Washington’s one-sided decision to abandon the Treaty which could still be of good service not only to Russia and the U.S., but to the entire global community is deeply disappointing. Obviously, this step will incur far-reaching negative consequences for the entire architecture of international security and strategic stability. <…>
Lecture and a book signing was held at the Museum of the Albemarle on October 12, 2019 in collaboration with the Elizabeth City Historic Neighborhood Association’s 23rd Annual Ghost Walk.
Author M. G. Crisci provided a lecture on the book Project Zebra: Roosevelt and Stalin’s Top-Secret Mission to Train 300 Soviet Airmen in America.
According to M. G. Crisci’s book, “In 1942, Hilter’s U-boats destroyed 60 percent of allied war materials on the high seas. To re-open those supply lines, Roosevelt and Stalin devised Project Zebra – a top-secret mission to build 185 huge, advanced Soviet war planes in Philadelphia and train over 300 Soviet airmen in Elizabeth City to fly them”.
“The 18-month military mission exceeded expectations. In the process, Project Zebra also became a historical human event that demonstrated the power of mutual respect and trust for ages”.
Russia—Africa Economic Forum to be held on 23–24 October 2019 at the Olympic Park Main Media Centre in Sochi in conjunction with the Russia—Africa Summit. The official event program will feature a plenary session, and a range of high-level roundtables and panel discussions, as well as a multitude of opportunities for business contacts.
The Forum is an important and much anticipated milestone in laying foundations for the promotion and enhancement of trade and economic relations among the economies across the African continent and enabling the diversification and deepening of economic collaboration between Russia and Africa.
The event will be attended by African Heads of State and government officials, leaders of Russian, Eurasian, and international business communities, as well as representatives of governments and economic integration organizations from Africa.
Senior officials from the Russian MFA, US Embassy in Moscow met with Sister Cities International