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 RUSSIAN EMBASSY WEEKLY #126
 

PRESIDENT

 

<…> Vladimir Putin: Today we rank seventh as far as military spending goes. The US has outstripped us, Donald [Trump] told me, they have approved a huge budget for the next year, $738 billion, I think.
Andrei Vandenko: Did he brag?
Vladimir Putin: No, he said this with regret. He said the costs were too high. But he had to do it. He actually advocated disarmament, as he said.
Andrei Vandenko: Why then won’t he sign all those treaties?
Vladimir Putin: That is another question. This is a question of how one understands security and how to ensure it. We can discuss this topic.
Andrei Vandenko: With him or with me?
Vladimir Putin: I can discuss it both with him and with you. Doesn’t matter. I'm well-versed on this issue, I can discuss it with anyone.
I think this is actually a mistake. The New START should be extended. But this is another issue.
So, the US is ranked first in terms of spending, while China comes in second. Saudi Arabia, strangely enough, is ranked third, then comes Great Britain, France, and Japan. Japan has surpassed us, as we come in seventh. Moreover, our spending is falling each and every year. In contrast, other countries’ military spending has been rising.
And we are not going to fight against anybody, but we are creating such a situation in the defence sector so that nobody even dares to think about fighting us. And now there is a unique situation, I have recently spoken about it at the Defense Ministry. This is the first time in modern Russia. We always had to catch up with our strategic weapons competitors.

The first atomic bomb was created by the Americans. We caught up with them. Then the first strategic aircraft to deliver these weapons were also made by the Americans. We caught up to them, again. The first missiles were developed by the Americans. We still caught up. For the first time, we have created such offensive strike systems which the world has never seen. Now they are trying to catch up with us. This is a unique situation. This has never happened before. I mean, first of all, hypersonic offensive systems, including intercontinental ones.
In 2000, slightly over 1,300,000 people served in our army, now – a little more than a million. We increased the share of modern equipment by just 1 percent a year back then. The share of modern equipment was only 6 percent. And now, do you know how much, do you? Almost 70 [percent].
Andrei Vandenko: It's just like Chekhov’s principle, if there is a hypersonic rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it will unquestionably go off.
Vladimir Putin: That may be true for the theatre. Security and political reality are governed by another rule. Do you know which one? It will go off if it is hanging just on one stage. And if a similar rifle is hanging on a stage close by, it is unlikely that anyone near it would want to use it.
This is exactly the situation that is called strategic stability and the balance of power. Due to this strategic balance, the world has avoided major military conflicts after World War II. Precisely thanks to this strategic stability and strategic balance. By the way, while developing their anti-ballistic missile system, the Americans wanted to upset this strategic stability and balance thinking that if they created a missile defence umbrella, the other side wouldn’t be able to respond adequately if they use nuclear weapons. However, after having developed these modern systems, including those which easily evade any anti-missile ballistic system, we maintain this strategic stability and strategic balance. It is essential not only for us, but also for global security.
  

VISIT RUSSIA
 
 

Vladimir Putin held talks in the Kremlin with President of the Kyrgyz RepublicSooronbay Jeenbekov who was in Russia on a working visit. The two leaders launched the Russia-Kyrgyzstan cross years during a ceremony held at the Grand Kremlin Palace.
 
Vladimir Putin:The Russian Federation and the Kyrgyz Republic are strategic partners and allies, and are committed to consistently developing these relations in all spheres.
Our two countries maintain intensive political ties, and are proactive in their political dialogue. President Jeenbekov and I have regular meetings, and our talks today were held in a traditionally business-like and constructive atmosphere.

Let me note that Russia and Kyrgyzstan are working together to ensure regional stability, engage in military cooperation in a bilateral setting as well as within the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and coordinate their positions in international organisations. We have established close cooperation on integration-related matters within the Eurasian Economic Union.
Major joint projects are underway in the mining sector, transport and high technology. Russia is Kyrgyzstan’s main energy supplier.
Russian education institutions continue to train qualified professionals for the Kyrgyz economy.
Let me emphasise Russia’s commitment to make
every possible effort for further strengthening its diversified ties with Kyrgyzstan.
The programme of the cross years includes more than 200 events, to be held in Russia and Kyrgyzstan with a view to stepping up bilateral relations and promoting direct people-to-people ties between our two countries.
In particular, the programme includes business conferences and missions to discuss ways of expanding mutual trade and investment, exploring new avenues for cooperation in manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and other areas.

There will be a forum of university rectors from Russia and Kyrgyzstan, a young leaders’ forum, and various research, academic and student workshops.
Promoting cultural and humanitarian cooperation is another priority. The programme provides for tours by theatres and musical ensembles, fine art and photo exhibitions and film screenings. All this will undoubtedly help our people learn more about each other’s culture, history and traditions.
The programme for the cross years includes a series of meetings between representatives of Russia’s and Kyrgyzstan’s regions. In September, Yekaterinburg will host the 9th Russia-Kyrgyzstan Inter-Regional Conference.
Of course, historical commemorations and patriotic events devoted to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War will be high on the agenda. It is extremely important that Russia and Kyrgyzstan are doing a great deal to preserve and honour the memory of the heroic past that we share, of the courage and military feats of our fathers and grandfathers, who won us peace.<…>
 

VISIT RUSSIA
 

Tobolsk is a cozy provincial city that was once the center of development of Siberia.
It is famous for its amazing architectural and historical monuments, most importantly the Tobolsk Kremlin, which happens to be the only stone Kremlin beyond the Urals.
We recommend combining your trip to Tobolsk with a visit to a small village nearby called Abalak, where you have to check out the Abalak Holy Znamensky Monastery and the fairy-tale atmosphere of the Abalak tourist complex. Completely immerse yourself in the era of medieval Russia!
Many trains pass through Tobolsk. When traveling from Moscow, the Yamal train goes through Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, and Yekaterinburg ... Sounds like a travel itinerary, doesn’t it?
 

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Turkish side’s initiative.
The leaders continued their substantive exchange of views on the developments in Syria. They voiced their concern about the escalation of tension in Idlib, which resulted in numerous casualties, including among Turkish military personnel. They emphasised how important it is to improve the effectiveness of coordination between the Russian and Turkish defence ministries.
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the implementation of the Russian-Turkish agreements reached in 2018 and 2019. They stressed that the priority task was to fight international terrorist groups.
Both sides reaffirmed that it was necessary to adopt additional measures in order to normalise the situation in northwestern Syria. They agreed to step up the corresponding interagency consultations and to examine the possibility of soon holding a meeting at the highest level.
 
 
GOVERNMENT
 

Mikhail Mishustin:  It is very important for us that despite the very busy pre-election period in Slovakia you managed to find the time to come to Moscow and discuss the most pressing issues of Russian-Slovak cooperation.
In general, our relations are developing well. We welcome the principled intention of your Government to continue strengthening ties with Russia, notwithstanding the complex political situation in Europe. Last June you visited Russia and met with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. I would like to take this opportunity to pass along his greetings and best wishes to you. There were talks between the heads of government of Russia and Slovakia. You also addressed a meeting at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
I want to emphasise that all members of the Russian Government are determined to continue the constructive dialogue with our Slovak partners on the issues of our bilateral agenda.
 

DEFENSE MINISTRY
 

Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov, and Mark Milley, United States Army general and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed the situation in Syria in a phone call on Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.
"The sides exchanged opinions on the situation in Syria and on other issues of mutual interest," the ministry added.
 
FOREIGN MINISTRY
 

<…>Today we are witnessing a vast number of attempts to call into doubt the outcome of World War II and to rewrite history and the decisions of the Nuremberg Trials. There is no need to talk about this at length.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made statements on this issue, for example, at the meeting with his CIS colleagues in December 2019. This work is very important and not only because we want to preserve the truth about history but also because this truth is directly linked with current practical policy. It would obviously be futile to try to lay the blame for unleashing WWII on this country and the people of the Soviet Union. Such attempts would not be acceptable to those who are honest about their past.
Our joint activities, aimed at opening archives and allowing anyone in any country to find out what really happened and to familiarise themselves with the historical facts, are of great importance today, in particular, in order to prevent any attempts to call into question the principles on which the United Nations was founded after WWII. The UN remains the main instrument for maintaining multilateral cooperation and overcoming any problems in interstate relations on the basis of political, diplomatic methods and without the use or threat of force. This work is directly related to the efforts to resolve current issues. President Putin suggested that the permanent members of the UN Security Council should realise their special responsibility for maintaining peace and security and should hold their first summit in the year of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the war and the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This initiative enjoys broad support in the world. We can see what high hopes the countries of the world have for this initiative. We will translate it into reality.<…>
 
 

This year we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Its creation, as you know, was owed to the Victory in World War II. Thus, it is the Great Victory that laid the foundation for the modern world order based on the supremacy of international law. This solid foundation was used for shaping the system of multilateral agreements on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation (ACDNP) which guaranteed maintenance of international peace and security for many decades. A unique UN disarmament machinery was established, with the CD being its key element. Here, at the Geneva forum, the most important international instruments, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), had been developed. We are to mark the 50th anniversary of its entry into force on 5 March.
Regrettably we remember that nearly 75 years ago, by dropping nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US became the only State to have ever used that most horrible weapon and triggered the nuclear arms race the effects of which still linger. Yet, we need to underline that in the second half of the 20th century we did the utmost by join efforts to ensure strategic stability and prevent such tragedies.

Regrettably during this century dangerous and destructive trends caused by the resurgence of the aggressive foreign-policy egocentrism of one state have been accumulating. The Washington's withdrawal in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, that was crucial for strategic stability, was a heavy blow to the entire ACDNP architecture. Recently, the desire to dominate everywhere and to impose its own "rules" on the international community at the expense of other States' interests and international law has become a prevailing element in the US policy. All multilateral agreements or mechanisms that challenge such a dominance are declared "obsolete and ineffective".
Last year the US denounced the INF Treaty. This was immediately followed by flight tests of the US weapon systems that had been earlier prohibited under the Treaty. Intentions to place such systems in various regions of the world are being declared. Russia, while having stated that it would be forced to take symmetrical steps, exercised the highest degree of responsibility and committed it self unilaterally not to deploy ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles in the regions where the similar US systems will not appear. We urge the US and its allies to declare the same moratorium. We are aware of attempts to undermine the credibility of our initiative. But let me remind you that we proposed to dispel suspicions through elaboration of a possible verification regime for such a mutual moratorium. Ignoring this honest offer means that true causes of the INF destruction have nothing to do with Russian position and actions.

The plans of the US, as well as those of France and NATO as a whole, to place weapons in outer space are taking shape. We are convinced that it is not too late to develop measures acceptable for all to prevent confrontation in outer space. The Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects remains the only relevant constructive proposal which is on the table at the CD. The document is comprehensive and ready for full-fledged negotiations. In the meantime while the work on that treaty is underway, political commitments on No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space are to play a stabilizing role. The initiative is steadily gaining more and more supporters.
Another reason for concern is uncertain future of the New START Treaty. Speaking last year from this podium I outlined why we consider it important to preserve it. Extending the Treaty would be a reasonable step to prevent further deterioration of the strategic stability, to avoid a complete collapse of mechanism for control and limitations nuclear and missile domain and to buy some time for deliberations on approaches to methods for control of new weapons and military technologies. Given all these circumstances Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to the US to extend the New START Treaty without any preconditions. We are waiting for a response.

We note with concern that new doctrinal provisions adopted by Washington significantly lower the "threshold" for use of nuclear weapons. Notably it is taking place against the backdrop of the US refusal, I would like to stress an official refusal, to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, on-going placement of its nuclear weapons on the territory of some NATO allies and continued so-called "nuclear sharing missions". It got to the point that the US conducted military exercises to imitate use of nuclear weapons against targets on the Russian territory. Europeans are also engaged in these exercises.
 
 
Question: Russia has time and again protested infringements on the rights of persons illegally arrested by Americans in other countries, in particular Konstantin Yaroshenko, Viktor Bout and Roman Seleznyov. Do you plan to raise this topic once again at international venues? Do you intend to sign more extradition agreements, possibly with the United States and Israel?

Sergey Vershinin
: The cases you have mentioned are a cause for indignation and concern. Regrettably, they all happened years ago. The arrest of Konstantin Yaroshenko was a shameless seizure of a Russian citizen in a third country. No other people have been seized in this manner recently, but Americans have mounted pressure on their allies to extradite several Russian citizens – you know their names – to the United States. Moreover, Americans do not even bother to behave in a civilised way towards them, but instead force them to make false confessions and the like. We do not accept this. We denounce this, and we believe that such actions run completely contrary to Americans’ attempts to pose as the advocates of democratic values, in particular in the fields of human rights and law enforcement.
I do not remember a single contact with Americans when we did not raise these questions absolutely aggressively. We will continue to do this on the international stage. We do this primarily at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, as well as in New York, making use of various international human rights protection procedures. We are doing all of this.
I believe that extradition agreements should be part of normal relations with normal countries. It is another matter that it should be a two-way street, but we do not see other countries putting forth equal efforts. Besides, such agreements obviously require a great deal of intradepartmental coordination in any country, including Russia and the United States. I can assure you that we are keeping our people under close supervision. Our consulates and embassies in these countries, first of all the United States, have been instructed to closely monitor the situation, press for meetings with our people and prevent any discrimination against Russian citizens.
 
EMBASSY
 
 
Welcoming remarks by Ambassador Anatoly Antonov
at the #Maslenitsa celebration at the Russian Embassy

 
Dear ladies and gentlemen, esteemed guests,
It’s a pleasure to welcome you at the annual “Russian Maslenitsa” celebration. Thank you for joining us at today’s charity event.
It’s amazing how an ancient pagan tradition of the Slavs to bid farewell to winter and welcome spring has fit into the Russian Orthodox calendar and for many centuries remained a cherished public holiday in our country. We feel nostalgic about our Motherland, especially such holidays which are truly popular and attract thousands of people of various nationalities.

Here, many miles away from Russia, Maslenitsa has become a unifying factor for the Russian-speaking community, and year after year it helps popularize Russian folk traditions. The holiday is celebrated in many U.S. cities. In New York, for instance, our compatriots hold an ice-skating carnival in the Central Park. In such cities as Charlotte, Austin and Livingston these celebrations are attended by mayors and representatives of local administrations, public festivities include sack racing and burning of a straw effigy. This year a wide celebration for the first time will take place in Ninilchik, a Creole village located in southern Alaska.
This is the twenty second Maslenitsa celebration at our Embassy. This holiday serves an occasion to get together for a noble cause – to help families in need, sick children and nursing homes through the charitable fund of our Russian Orthodox parish.

Regardless of the venue and the format, Maslenitsa is always celebrated with blini, or pancakes, which we will treat you today, and, of course, with lots of fun. The tradition to cook blini during Maslenitsa dates back to the pre-Christian days – they symbolized the Sun and were believed to help accelerate the coming of spring and awakening of the nature. When Russia adopted Christianity, Maslenitsa took on a new meaning: people had a chance to eat their fill before the Lent. Nowadays the holiday is associated with family feasts: men never miss a chance, as we say it, “to enjoy blini at the mother-in-law’s”, and ladies would serve the tables with their best treats.
For many years the parish of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St John the Baptist has preserved the fine Maslenitsa tradition. I would like to cordially thank Maria Potapova, Maria Tolstaya-Sarandinaki and Xenia Woewodsky for their tireless efforts in organizing this event. My sincere gratitude also goes to one of the main sponsors of today’s evening – Susan Carmel.

Embassy school ensemble "Sudarushka" performed at a gala evening in honor of the International Mother Language Day at the Embassy of the Republic of Bangladesh.
 

During a telephone conversation Konstantin Yaroshenko confirmed to our diplomats that the prison medical staff has not yet provided him any assistance. The state of his health is deteriorating. Konstantin does not exclude he has a minor stroke.
It is shocking that in these conditions, repeated requests are simply ignored. Our compatriot was suggested to wait for a doctor for another week or two. Apparently, the very fact that he moves without assistance is perceived by the prison administration as the absence of an urgent need for treatment. This approach is completely unacceptable.

We regard this as a blatant violation of human rights. We demand to stop the abuse of Konstantin Yaroshenko. We are waiting for a response to our note addressed to the U.S. Department of State dated February 26 and the immediate provision of medical care to the Russian citizen.
The dull silence of human rights organizations is very disappointing. We asked for help and support. No one responded.
 

RUSSIAN TECH
 
In 2020, St. Petersburg International Economic Forum will, for the first time, host the SCIENCE FEST Science and Innovation Festival organized by the Roscongress Foundation.

The event will take place on 4–5 June at three venues: Planetarium 1, the largest one in the world; open technology lab at the planetarium; and Lumiere Hall exhibition space. The main themes of the Festival will be artificial intelligence, green economy, futurism, industry 4.0, scientific-technical creativity of youth, selection and financing of tech projects.
We drew attention to another reality-challenging statement made by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo concerning Crimea. We would like to note that American authorities over the past six years have not still bothered to visit the peninsula and see the real state of affairs with their own eyes. On our part, we are ready to welcome official delegations comprised of administration representatives in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. We are sure that after such a visit all the Washington concerns would be permanently resolved. The attempts to ignore or deny the nationwide decision made during the referendum by reproducing the overused clichés about “annexation” and “occupation” are incorrect and artificial.

It is high time for American colleagues to remember that Crimea is Russia. The matter is closed completely and irreversibly. We urge the United States to stop misleading the public. It is better to direct American efforts towards ensuring that Kiev fulfills its obligations under the Minsk agreements.
Over the past years Crimea has been rapidly developing. The quality of life of the Crimean citizens has improved compared to this of the Ukrainian period. All the interests of the national minorities are fully accommodated in the region. The federal government on a regular basis pays close attention to the realization of the interests of Crimean Tatars. The significant support is provided to the spiritual and religious life of the community. The mechanisms of ensuring the rights of the people were legislated, and its language, under the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, acquired a status of one of the state languages. The principle of establishing the equal conditions for the development of all the national cultures is also enshrined in the document.
By the end of 2020, a cathedral mosque in Simferopol should be completed. Specialists are already working on mihrab. We would be glad to see guests from the U.S. at the opening ceremony.
 
 
The Russian Embassy in the United States expresses its deep concern about the new twist of speculations on the alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.

It is especially striking how political forces in Washington are exploiting this myth for their opportunistic gain. Making totally ungrounded and fictitious "Russia-linked" allegations against each other is becoming a bad American political tradition.
Our position is simple and straightforward. The Russian Federation does not "interfere" in other countries’ internal political processes. We appeal to politicians to stop playing blame-game.
The anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S. partisan struggle has already led to the unprecedented degradation of the bilateral relations.
We remind that the Russian Federation and the United States are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and bear special responsibility for international peace and security.
Constructive and pragmatic dialogue between our countries is crucial for the whole international community.
We reaffirm our commitment to the substantive discussions with the U.S. on information security as well as other issues.
 

HOCKEY
 

 
 
There is no reason to wait another 40 years to celebrate #MiracleOnIce! You hav e a unique chance to beat the mighty Russians again!
1980 Miracle Hockey Team, help EuroChem Cup to find a team from the US to join EuroChemCup2020 International children's Ice hockey Tournament!

 
 
HISTORY
 

On February 26 , 110 years ago, Sergei Georgiyevich Gorshkov was born. In Washington Post interview in 1975, Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt described Soviet Admiral as the most effective naval leader of modern times. 
 
 
156 years ago, on February 28, February 1864, the visiting Russian officers and seamen helped city of Annapolis Fire Department put out the fire. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (future famous composer), a midshipman aboard the Russian clipper 'Almaz' was supposedly among them. 

 

RUSSIAN CULTURE
 

A World War II movie that's not truly about war...

Director Grigori Chukhrai's Ballad of a Soldier (1959) follows a young Soviet Army private on a pilgrimage home from the front lines. Along the way, he encounters various symbols of love: a young couple, a married couple, a mother and child and falls in love himself. Winner of the BAFTA Award for Best Film and nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, Chukhrai's timeless Everyman tale, brimming with poetic visual imagery, has been hailed as a milestone in Russian Cinema.

Come enjoy delicious Russian food and great cinema. Bring a friend for a special night out with The Carmel Institute of Russian Culture & History at AU!

 

"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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