Speech and answers to media questions by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov during a press conference on the results of Russian diplomacy in 2023, Moscow, January 18, 2024
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome you to our traditional meeting. It is held annually immediately after New Year’s Christmas holidays. Congratulations to everyone who celebrates these holidays with the onset of 2024, which we all want to do better in every sense. About this in detail spoke Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Our plans for internal development are clearly outlined. Actively works Government of the Russian Federation. The other day, several meetings President Vladimir Putin with members of the Government in various areas of ensuring the sustainable movement of our economy in the current conditions due to the aggressive illegal policies of the United States and its satellites. The task is clear – to get rid of any need to depend on supply, financial, banking and logistics chains that are somehow controlled or are heavily influenced by Western colleagues. This course is clearly defined in decisions that are made and will be made.
On the foreign policy front, the main directions for the foreseeable future were also identified. President Vladimir Putin approved in March 2023 The concept of foreign policy of the Russian Federation in its new radically revised edition, based on the realities of the modern world. The West has proven its complete lack of unconditionalness, insecurity as partners in any endeavor. The world majority does not want to put up with such a selfish approach and wants to develop in full accordance with its national interests, with the interests of each country and with full respect for the principles UN Charter, starting with respect for the sovereign equality of the state. Since the adoption of the Charter in 1945, not a single foreign policy action of the West in the international arena has taken into account or respected the principle (as stated in the Charter) of the equal rights of all states, large and small, no matter what values they profess, religions and, in general, what traditions they have.
On the foreign policy front, we have clearly defined guidelines for the development of relations with those who are ready to do this on an equal, mutually beneficial, mutually respectful basis through a frank dialogue, negotiations aimed at finding a balance of interests, and not decisions that meet exclusively someone’s one-sided selfish plans, as in the vast majority of cases manifests itself in discussions in which the West, led by the United States, participates.
The past year showed rejection of manners traditional for western hegemon, completely based on their selfish interest and not taking into account the opinion of everyone else. Yes, 500 years to rule the whole world, not to have almost all of this period (with the possible exception of the Soviet period) some serious competitors, probably contributes to getting used to the role of hegemon. But life is moving forward, new centers of economic growth, financial power, political influence are appearing and have already strengthened, significantly ahead of the same United States and other Western countries in their development.
I am sure that you know about our assessments of the development of relations with the People’s Republic of China. This is the fastest growing economy along with the Indian. Relations with China are experiencing the best period of centuries-old history. It is especially valuable for us that Xi Jinping paid his first state visit after re-election as President of the PRC in March 2023. to Moscow. In turn, President Vladimir Putin in October 2023. visited China to participate in Third International Forum « One Belt, One Way ».
Relations of a particularly privileged strategic partnership with India are steadily advancing. Here, too, a regular dialogue at the highest level, contacts between line agencies through foreign ministries are established.
If we are talking about our close environment, then of course these are the countries of the Middle East, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar. Of course, we are interested in developing relations not only through bilateral channels, but also with regional structures created by many of our partners. I mean the Gulf Cooperation Council, the League of Arab States, ASEAN, the African Union, the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean, etc.
We bring our partnership with African countries to a truly strategic level. This was confirmed in the second Russia-Africa Summit, Held in July 2023 in St. Petersburg.
An important stage in the development of our relations with the Latin American continent has become international parliamentary conference « Russia – Latin America », last fall of 2023. We consider Africa, Latin America and Asian countries as nascent independent centers of the multipolar world.
Actively worked at the UN site. It was created and has been successfully operating for several years Friends of the Charter of the United Nations. Within its framework, joint statements are adopted on the fundamental issues of world development. This group actively stimulates the work of the General Assembly as a whole, promoting joint initiatives, including Russian ones. We support the ideas of our partners in this new education.
I note a very important event – acceptance for 78th session of the UN General Assembly resolutions « Fighting the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to the escalation of modern forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance ». Despite the tricks of the West, it was adopted by an overwhelming majority of votes. But I emphasize the fact that for the second time in a row, Germany, Italy and Japan voted against this document. The countries of « osi », which at one time after the defeat in World War II publicly repented of crimes committed during the years of that war, and assured everyone that this would not happen again. The fact that over the past two years these states have voted against a resolution requiring the revival of Nazism leads to serious thoughts and makes us think, in what direction are these ideological processes developing not only in these states, but also in the West as a whole.
They worked constructively in other formats. Here it is necessary to distinguish our closest allies. It concerns Union State of Russia and Belarus, as well Collective Security Treaty Organization, within the framework of which we promoted the tasks of ensuring stability in all its dimensions, including purely military, biological and, in general, protection against new challenges and threats, such as terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime. B Eurasian Economic Union important decisions were made aimed at deepening Eurasian integration, at combining these processes with projects such as Chinese « One belt, one way », interaction with Shanghai Cooperation Organization, s ASEANand with all other structures and countries located on our common, vast Eurasian continent.
This year Russia became chairman in the CIS. We mean to continue useful projects that started in 2023. In particular, we will pay special attention to the one established at the summit in Bishkek in the fall of 2023. International Organization for the Russian Language. This initiative of Kazakhstan was approved by all members of the Commonwealth. The established organization is open to the participation of any state in the world. We know that the Russian language is popular on all continents, we hope that there will be many interested participants in it.
Mentioned Shanghai Cooperation Organization like such a « umbrella » project, within which, along with Eurasian Economic Union, in the context of interaction with ASEAN and other subregional structures, we contribute to an objective, natural formation Greater Eurasian Partnership, what Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at the first Russia-ASEAN summit. The outlines of such a partnership are already visible.
In the current environment, an economic partnership is important that meets the interests of all countries of our common continent. God Himself told us to use these objective competitive advantages of being in one space, and one that has been the engine of global economic growth for a long time. It will maintain this role for many years. But in addition to mutually beneficial economic projects, it is important to ensure, on this basis, regardless of other factors, military-political security in Eurasia. We will advocate that this task be solved by the countries of the continent without attempts by non-regional states to infiltrate these processes with their « » setting. We are convinced that the countries of Eurasia are quite able to cope with all this independently.
Listed various regional structures, but there is also a supraregional, global structure. It is called BRICS and symbolizes the wealth of a multipolar world. A particularly significant step in strengthening the position of BRICS was decision last year’s summit in South Africa to expand the number of participants in this association. Russia, which is with January 1 this year.entered the rights of the BRICS chairman will pay special attention to ensuring that newcomers and recruits organically fit into the overall work and thereby contribute to strengthening positive trends not only within the association as such, but also in the international arena in the interests of the World Majority. If we take into account that more than 20 (even closer to 30) countries are interested in rapprochement with BRICS, we see a great future for this association with the global membership.
They still gave priority to protecting the legitimate interests and rights of Russian citizens abroad. You know well how they are discriminated against in the countries of « collective West ». Many of you write about this, unlike your Western colleagues, who are increasingly trying to hide the truth about how journalists in « established democracy » feel (sorry for the expression). But in addition to the everyday problems faced by our citizens in the USA, in Europe, in other states, emergencies, both natural and human, do not disappear anywhere.
Recently actively promoted evacuation Russians and citizens of the CIS countries and some other states from the Gaza Strip. And a few months before and from Sudan, where internal conflict also erupted.
In terms of public diplomacy, I will highlight such a milestone in its development as creation in March 2023. International Rusophilic Movement – an informal association of people living on different continents, continents and feeling spiritual and cultural proximity with Russia. The constituent assembly of this Movement took place. His first full-fledged congress is scheduled for the first half of this year.
We continue to promote the ideals of truth, justice in international affairs. We will do everything to make international relations more democratic. In this sense, our Ministry actively supports the initiative « United Russia » to conduct an international inter-party in Moscow Forum of Supporters of the Fight against Modern Practices of Neocolonialism. The current topic, given that the neocolonialist essence, the essence of Western politics, is largely present in the current actions of the United States and its allies. Its meaning remains the same – to use the resources of others in their favor, in their interests and to live off the rest. The upcoming Forum promises to be a very interesting and important event.
A number of major international events on the cultural agenda are being prepared in Russia. Among them World Youth Festival. There is very little time left before it begins. Games of the future – a combination of physical sports and cybersport, BRICS sports games. Both games will be held in Kazan (Games of the Future in February this year, and BRICS – in the summer of 2024).
An international song contest « Intervision » is being prepared. Many countries of the World Majority have shown interest in participating in it. We will do our best so that all our guests who come to the mentioned and other numerous events fully feel Russian cordiality, hospitality, as it was in 2018., when we took the final part of the World Cup.
In conclusion, I want to confirm our openness to communication with representatives of the media in various formats. I hope that the representatives of the Ministry present here do not deserve reproach for avoiding communication with journalists. But other members of the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, heads of departments, our employees (especially when they leave as part of a delegation to international events) are simply obliged to talk about our work and do so, so that our activity is understandable and open. This is what we are striving for.
Question: What do you think, if elections are held in Ukraine this year, can a person come to power there who will be ready to talk with Russia? How fundamental is it for Russia on the future settlement of the conflict that Kiev will conclude a security agreement with London and subsequently with other countries « sevens »? Does this mean that Ukraine will not have a neutral status?
Sergey Lavrov: Honestly, we are not very concerned about the « bickering » observed in the context of the discussion of the political life of Ukraine. Election Question « Sailed ». They heard that the West strongly recommends that V.A. Zelensky hold such elections, apparently hoping that the election campaign and the vote itself will allow him to be brought into line with the interests of the West. Because he is increasingly fighting off.
V.A. Zelensky publicly announced that he would not organize any elections, because there was a war. This resembles another dramatization and reflects the exclusively desire of this person and his « friendly », which everyone is well aware of, to hold on to power as much as possible. I see just such a desire.
The West would like more flexibility. They apparently already realized that the so-advertised « blitzkrieg » with the ultimate goal of applying « strategic defeat » Russia – is all illusions, and the situation has changed dramatically. First of all, in the western minds. They understood their mistake. It’s hard to recognize. This is expressed in the fact that they are now looking for some external signals that allow Ukraine to support, and on the other hand push Kiev to, so that he becomes a more complaisant and obeys his western bosses. How much this will be realized is hard for me to say.
Regarding the second part of your question, this story is no longer new. A few months ago, when there were « clashes in the West » about whether to accept Ukraine into NATO or the European Union. Not everyone was « for », not everyone was happy, everyone perfectly understood that this was another completely meaningless, irresponsible and risky step for European security. As a « semi-finished product », the conclusion of bilateral agreements with individual Western countries was invented. I heard about what is contained in the document agreed between V.A. Zelensky and British Prime Minister R.Sunak. I did not see in his analysis any legally binding provisions, unless we consider such obligations of Ukraine in the event that someone attacks the UK, to protect these islands. Anecdotal enough. But on the other hand,this can be seen as a continuation of the Studio genre « Quarter-95 ». Maybe now he will be called somehow differently.
We do not mind the agreements that other countries conclude with Ukraine. But this does not change our goal at all. This was recently confirmed by President Vladimir Putin. We will achieve goals special military operation consistently and persistently. We will reach them.
The West periodically sends some signals, and then they respond. We treat them philosophically. President Vladimir Putin repeatedly said that Russia does not refuse negotiations. He said this back in 2022, when, at the direction of B. Johnson and other Anglo-Saxons, Kiev was forbidden to sign an already agreed settlement agreement with the Russian Federation. This story is well known. This happened back in April 2022. Speaking in 2022 year.on this occasion, President Vladimir Putin once again said that we are not refusing to negotiate. But those who refuse should understand that the longer they pull, the harder it will be to negotiate. Now we see the fulfillment of this prophecy. There is no hope that Russia will be « defeated ». This was discussed many times. Those who have not learned history (there are many in the West) and geography know little, they can fantasize on these topics. Or write another script for the mentioned « Quarter-95 ». But this will have nothing to do with real life.
Question: Let me first congratulate you on the New Year and wish you and the Russian people victories on all fronts.
The United States is creating « international political and military coalitions » that commit aggression against Yemen, continue to support and encourage Israel in the genocide of the Palestinian people and in hostilities against the peoples of Syria and Lebanon. How does Moscow evaluate these actions?
Sergey Lavrov: They repeatedly made public statements with assessments of what is happening in the Middle East. Not only in the Gaza Strip, but in general in the Palestinian territories and around Lebanon, Iraq, including around Yemen.
Of course, the United States, together with the British and some of its other allies, violated, trampled on all conceivable norms of international law, including a resolution of the UN Security Council. She only called for the protection of commercial shipping. Nobody authorized to bomb Yemen. Actually, just like no one authorized NATO to bomb Libya in 2011. Then there was a resolution announcing the creation of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory. It was understood that the Libyan Air Force would not fly. They did not fly. There was no reason to use force there even far-fetched. But the country was bombed, turned it into a « black hole ». Until now, no one can bring together the Libyan state. A huge number of refugees rushed to Europe, from which she suffers. And the Americans and the British do not suffer.In the direction of the center of Africa, terrorists surged, whom the West used to overthrow M. Gaddafi.
The same lawlessness is observed in what is now being done in relation to Yemen. This is clear to everyone. The justifiable statements made from Washington look, I would say, very sorry.
The other day in Davos, US Secretary of State E. Blinken said that all countries in the Middle East want the United States to be present in the region and want the United States to play a leading role there. It’s hard for me to judge how much the countries of the region want it. We must ask them. But one country – Iraq – already a few years ago made a decision that states that, they say, dear gentlemen Americans, thank you very much, you stayed with us, your military bases were here, let’s finish it somehow and we will take you home. The Americans just don’t leave.
More recently, words again sounded from Baghdad about the unwillingness of the Americans to simply get out of there, although they have long been invited to the exit. It is particularly sad that Secretary of State E. Blinken also mentioned that only the United States can play a mediating role and can reach a settlement between Palestinians and Israelis. He talked about it. We hear and know about such « half-closed » contacts with the participation of the United States, Israel, and individual Arab states. But all these contacts do not imply a direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis. They suggest that « adult uncles » will agree somewhere on how to continue to live for Palestinians, and then they will be « ». It will not be any success. Only a direct dialogue that needs to be resumed. He walked, was heavy, but progress was achieved with the support of « Quartet » international mediators.We have consistently advocated that representatives of the League of Arab States be necessarily involved in the activities of « Quartet » (USA, Russia, UN and the European Union). This, unfortunately, was blocked by Americans and Europeans. And then the United States generally dissolved, as they believe, « quartets » monopolized the entire mediation process.
By the way, back in September 2023, US National Security Advisor J. Sullivan stated that there had never been such a calm development of the situation in the Middle East as in the last couple of years. A month later broke out conflict in the Gaza Strip. Here we must rely on collective work, from which the United States has already lost its habit. They are used to dictating.
A special meeting of the UN Security Council on this issue will be held on Tuesday next week. We plan to participate. I have to go to New York for this purpose. We will present our proposals there, aimed specifically at the resumption of collective principles, and not at attempts « to solve » all alone. And not only there. After all, the United States wants to advance its agenda around the world. We will see.
Probably life should teach Western colleagues. And the countries of the region must insist that they live here, and for them the security of all the states located there is crucial. Outdoor tips are probably not going to ban anyone, but the regionals themselves must make final decisions.
The main focus of efforts should be creation PalestinianStates in full compliance with decisions of the UN Security Council. A state that (as recorded in these decisions) would be capable and would exist in security and good neighborliness side by side with Israel and other countries in the region. Without this, no matter what happens, we will see the relapse of violence that is now observed in Gaza. Without the creation of a Palestinian state, its people will continue to feel disadvantaged, live in conditions of injustice. Generation after generation of young Palestinians will feel this injustice and pass it on to their children. Need to put an end to it. Such a point should be the creation of a Palestinian state. I hope that the Israeli leadership will ultimately come to this conclusion. So far, not everyone there considers this acceptable to Israel. As they say,there is nothing to be done but to conduct explanatory work. But without the creation of a Palestinian state, the reliable security of Israel cannot be ensured.
Russia is interested in Israel and its people living in safety. This is our longtime partner. Our country was the first to recognize the independence of Israel. There are now about two million citizens who are simultaneously Russian citizens, from our country. Of course, we do not care. We are ready to play an active role in ensuring a full settlement that will guarantee the security of Israel in the context of the full implementation of the UN resolution on the Palestinian issue.
Question: There was information that last year the United States handed over to Russia some written proposals to launch an arms control negotiation process. Then the Foreign Ministry confirmed that the question of sending an official answer to the American side is indeed being worked out. In the end, was the answer sent?
What are your prospects? How much are they present today? Is it possible to resume dialogue with the United States on strategic stability? Is it appropriate now, is it useful given the current circumstances, in the context of the conflict with the West and against the backdrop of Washington’s openly hostile policies?
Sergey Lavrov: Recently, much has been said about the prospects of resuming strategic dialogue with the United States. This topic pops up every now and then in conversations, contacts with the media.
It is impossible to talk about these prospects seriously (as adults) in isolation from the general state of affairs in the field of international security and the very strategic stability. Today in this area is an extremely negative trend. This trend is compounded. This is primarily due to the aggravation of the struggle around without exaggeration of historical processes that accompany the world order shift from a unipolar model to a polycentric world order.
The West, which has been leading all processes on Earth for 500 years, is now very fiercely resisting. We are watching this. He does not want to allow the transition to multipolarity. Thus goes against the natural, objective course of history and tries to maintain global dominance, which eludes. Moreover, when trying to restrain these objective trends, the West does not limit itself in choosing means of pressure on those who do not accept these hegemonic manners and uphold the principles of equality enshrined in UN Charter.
Instead, the West is trying to maintain undivided world domination. First of all, this line is drawn by Washington, but it runs into an increasing number of obstacles. One of them is Russia, which has shown determination to prevent the infringement of its interests, the interests of a great power, one of the world civilizational centers. Proportionally, the firmness of our course in upholding our identity, our interests, and the degree of hostility of the United States also increased. Washington headed for the unbridled expansion of the anti-Russian charged NATO bloc into the post-Soviet space, provoked a conflict around Ukraine.
We, as you know, did not put up with the use of the Kiev regime as a tool to create direct threats to our security, and not somewhere across the ocean, but directly on the borders of our country. They did not put up with the use of the Kiev regime for a frontal attack on everything Russian: language, education, culture, people who lived for centuries in territories developed by their great-grandfathers and great-great-great-grandfathers and always remained Russian land, part of the Russian world. Kiev wanted to turn into a tool to destroy this story, shared memory and destroy any ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. This is also a direct threat to our interests.
In response to our measures to protect our interests, its « external circuit », the United States launched a total hybrid war in order to, to achieve political and economic « strangulation » (let’s call a spade a spade) of Russia and inflicting on the already mentioned « strategic defeat » on « battlefield ». All this has been announced publicly.
We see neither the slightest interest in either the United States or NATO in reaching a just settlement of the current Ukrainian conflict. They don’t even want to hear about our concerns, they don’t want to seriously talk about eliminating fundamental contradictions. On the contrary, the West is in every possible way leading to an escalation of the Ukrainian crisis. This now creates additional strategic risks.
The former commanders of the US Armed Forces in Europe B. Hodges and F. Bridlav recently gave public advice to the Kiev regime that « should be bombed » Crimea to such a state when it will be impossible to live there. These are the retirees. As for the current politicians, we reliably know that the same advice, recommendations and even plans are promoted by the British in contacts with the Kiev regime. As usual, life teaches little. They used to say that they will support Kiev « as much as they have to », now they say, « as much as possible ». This is a nuance reflecting a slight change in the assessment of the situation. For God’s sake. This is their business.
A similar turn of events is Afghanistan. 20 years there were Americans. Is this – « as much as they needed » or « as much as possible »? What did they achieve there?
Iraq, Libya – any countries in which the United States and its satellites made adventures. Where did it get better? Where did the very democracy for which it was all started established?
Unfortunately, Ukraine will face the same fate. Relying on « host », not realizing that he thinks « only about himself, and not about you », you cannot count on the interests of your people to be somehow taken into account. Not only « tinkering », pushing for an increasingly aggressive use of long-range means to strike the Crimea to make it « unsuitable for living », and inland in the Russian Federation, but the transfer of appropriate weapons – this suggests that the West does not want any constructive solution that takes into account the legitimate concerns of the Russian Federation.
The destructive policies led by the United States have led to a deep, frankly, degradation of Russian-American relations and a radical change in security circumstances compared to those that existed at the time of the conclusion of the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty. Washington simply threw aside all the understandings, the principles on which our countries once agreed to establish cooperation, including arms control.
In the preamble Of the contract on strategic offensive arms reflects our agreement on adherence to the principle of the indivisibility of security, when no one strengthens their security at the expense of the security of the other. The principle was trampled in the context of the preparation and unleashing of the Ukrainian conflict. In the same place (in the preamble), the obligation of Russia and the United States to build relations on the basis of trust and cooperation is recorded. What kind of trust can we talk about now? All understand this perfectly.
In reality, the United States has long relied on achieving military superiority, sought to secure « free hands », and step by step dismantled the entire system of arms control agreements: Treaty between the USA and the USSR on the limitation of missile defense systems, The agreement between the USSR and the USA on the elimination of their medium-range and shorter-range missiles, Open Skies Agreement. The same thing happened with Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and by ourselves START due to the fact that the United States has created unacceptable conditions for their implementation.
Let me remind you that it was the American side that at one time « froze » the bilateral strategic dialogue, referring to the unfavorable military-political background. In the fall of 2022, they canceled the round that we were ready to hold.
Not so long ago, they suddenly again remembered the importance of nuclear arms control and began to send us, including in the paper you mentioned, some « signals » about their alleged willingness to resume dialogue on these issues. Moreover, they proposed to separate the negotiations on strategic stability from the general military-political context. And he, as you can see daily, is irreconcilable-hostile towards us. They blaspheme us on every corner, call us an aggressor, demand that we go to the borders of 1991, lag behind « poor », democratic Ukraine. They recognized that they all do this, but suggested, continuing to do this, sit down and talk on the specific topic of limiting strategic weapons, and generally the topic of strategic dialogue.
Some time ago, they touched on this topic solely in order to resume inspections and visit our nuclear facilities. At the same time, they supplied the Ukrainians with weapons with which they were shelled by the bases of our strategic bombers. These people do not even know basic decency. I am not talking about a comprehensive understanding of national interests and possible in international negotiations. Here, even elementary decency is not respected. This does not surprise us.
It turns out that Russia – is their enemy, they declared us so, but are ready to talk about how they would again look at our strategic nuclear arsenal. Like, this is different. Their goal is understandable – under the slogan of reciprocity, try to somehow ensure control over our nuclear arsenal, minimize for themselves the nuclear risks arising from force pressure on our country. In the West, more and more speak of the likelihood of a direct clash of nuclear powers. There are fewer and fewer constraints in this regard. The Poles, the British are seriously talking about the need to prepare some NATO units so that they go to Ukraine and take certain positions there. This is stated by people in power.
We consider American ideas unacceptable. When talking about strategic stability, they do not hide their intentions to bring « to the brackets » non-nuclear component of military confrontation, non-nuclear forces. The goal is obvious – thereby consolidate the existing « collective West » in this area a serious quantitative advantage.
In the context of the hybrid war against Russia led by Washington, we see no reason not only for additional joint measures in the field of arms control and strategic risk reduction, but in general for any conversation with the United States about strategic stability.
For the future, we do not reject this idea, as well as the possibility (we never did) of political and diplomatic regulation of existing differences. But we firmly and firmly condition such an opportunity for a preliminary full-fledged refusal of the West from an malicious course to comprehensively undermine Russia’s security and our interests and from a demonstrative public disrespect for our fundamental interests.
Any hypothetical interaction on strategic stability in the future would require the United States to be ready to consider this topic, taking into account the whole relationship of factors significant for strategic stability, and not just those aspects of it, who are specifically interested in Washington. Americans never gravitated to such a comprehensive consideration of the problems of strat stability. Moreover, this cannot happen in the current conditions.
The critical security contradictions that NATO’s expansion to the east will need to be addressed. Let me remind you that we talked about this back in December 2021. Rather, we talked about this for a long time. In December 2021, specific suggestions, that could prevent the current conflict, thereby saving the economy of Europe, which the Americans are now actively and effectively « drown ». But, as you know, those of our proposals were rejected.
Regarding the question of whether we informed the Americans about this. Yes. The thoughts that I have now described in general terms, we set out on paper, as well as those written proposals submitted to us by the Americans, and in December 2023 sent them. We warned Washington that these estimates are uncontested for us. We proceed from the fact that there is no understatement in this matter.
Question: If you were asked in one or more words to evaluate the results of Sino-Russian relations in 2023, then what word or words would you choose and why? What do you expect from bilateral relations this year?
Sergey Lavrov: He already said in his opening remarks that Russian-Chinese relations, as our leaders have repeatedly emphasized, are experiencing the best period in their history. In a number of declarations adopted at the highest level, it was recorded that these relations are stronger, more reliable and more advanced than the military union in its former understanding of the « Cold War » era.
In fact, this reflects the real situation. There is no such sphere of human activity where our relations with the People’s Republic of China would not survive a rapid rise.
Economy. The $ 200 billion barrier identified as a target was significantly exceeded last year. This trend will continue. It will be facilitated by the fact that in conditions when the West destroys all the foundations of the globalization that it has promoted and resorts to sanctions tools and other illegitimate measures, we are moving on to the mechanisms for the development of our trade, investment cooperation that will not be subject to any Western influence. In particular, over 90% of settlements have been transferred to national currencies. This process is ongoing with many other countries.
Mechanisms are in force not only from the summits of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of China Xi Jinping. There is a mechanism for annual meetings of heads of government, in which preparatory work is carried out in five intergovernmental commissions headed by deputy prime ministers. We do not have such an extensive mechanism of cooperation at such a high level with any other side.
The structure of Russian-Chinese strategic cooperation and comprehensive partnership allows not only to coordinate mutually beneficial projects, but also to provide constant support for the work necessary for their implementation.
Every year, events are held in the field of culture, humanitarian, educational cooperation. I see these relations as having very good prospects in accordance with the guidelines set in March 2023 in the Russian Federation, when Xi Jinping arrived in Russia with the first chairman of the PRC after his re-election visit, and in October 2023, when Russian President Vladimir Putin as the main guest visited Third International Forum « One Belt, One Way ».
A number of events have already been agreed for the current year, which will continue opportunities for dialogue at the highest and highest levels in all areas of the Russian-Chinese partnership and interaction.
You can choose many words that will characterize our cooperation in excellent colors. I would not want to now choose one, or two, or three words. The exception, perhaps, is the word « friendship ». Since ancient times « Russian with Chinese brothers forever ». There was such a saying in the Soviet Union. Maybe then it was a little artificial. Then the relationship began to develop far from the best. At this stage, our citizens (and there are more and more) visit China as tourists or for business purposes, as part of cultural, educational exchanges. They share their impressions of communication not at the level of ministries, some other departments, but in the context of contacts with Chinese citizens. Russian citizens in excellent tones describe mutual sympathy.
We are now actively promoting cross-border relations between neighboring regions of China and Russia. It also contributes to positive trends.
Of course, there are issues of economics, trade, which must be addressed. Everyone wants to agree on more favorable conditions. But always, in all cases, the interests of Russia and China, following the results of the negotiations, come down to a common denominator. This is a model for resolving any issues by any other participants in world communication.
Question: The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan recently exchanged harsh statements. « The stumbling block » was the issue of communication between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. Baku demands that goods and people move along this path without checks, otherwise the border with Armenia will not be opened anywhere else. In Yerevan, they do not agree with such rhetoric. How can you comment on this? Would such an exchange hinder the process of normalizing relations between Baku and Yerevan?
Sergey Lavrov: Indeed, in recent days, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in their public comments touched on the topic of establishing communication between the main part of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. Armenian Prime Minister N.V. Pashinyan said somewhere that Armenia is categorically against « Zangezur corridor ».
In a statement signed November 9, 2020 and who stopped the war, it was said that « all economic and transport links in the region are unblocked. The Republic of Armenia guarantees the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the aim of organizing a non-prop
the natural movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions. Traffic control is carried out by the Border Guard authorities FSB of Russia». This quote from document, which was signed in a trilateral format on November 9, 2020.
N.V. Pashinyan said that he wants the same conditions for transit through Armenia, which will be used in transit from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan through Iranian territory. Frankly, I did not see any logic here. It is hardly appropriate to compare these routes.
Within the framework of the tripartite Working Group, created in 2021 at the level of Deputy Prime Ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, it was agreed that when unblocking all ties and all routes of the country, through the territory of which any such unlocked route passes, fully retain sovereignty and jurisdiction over them on their territory.
In the tripartite Working Group at the level of Deputy Prime Ministers back in June 2023, they agreed to resume such a message for start with rail. This was agreed and discussed by President Vladimir Putin in Yerevan when he was there with visit. « On the sidelines » the CSTO summit was separate meeting with the Prime Minister of Armenia N.V. Pashinyan. I perfectly remember how it was met very positively, but then somewhere everything again « left ».
We well understand that such « kickbacks » from the agreements reached, – unfortunately, this is not uncommon. I don’t know what prevented the completion of these agreements on paper on the principles of opening movement between major Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. We well know that « good » advice from Western friends is always present in the South Caucasus. They are sometimes perceived by one or another participant in the process. Everyone also knows that Western councils are always aimed not at finding an agreement between the countries of the region on the basis of a balance of their interests, but at promoting their geopolitical tasks.
I am convinced that there is no alternative to resuming such a message. Its parameters are enshrined in a tripartite agreement. The route passes through the sovereign territory of Armenia under the control of the border service FSB of Russia. In principle, the procedures for border and customs control at the entrance to Armenia from Azerbaijan and at the exit from Armenia to Azerbaijani Nakhichevan were agreed in principle.
Question: In recent days, a number of publications have appeared in the media about possible, almost direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Moreover, Geneva is called as a platform that could suit both sides. Is it so? Is Moscow ready for such a scenario?
Sergey Lavrov: Rumors they are rumors. Everyone understands that Ukraine will not decide when to stop and start seriously talking about realistic conditions for the completion of this conflict. This implies a rejection of Nazi ideology, Nazi rhetoric, racism towards everything Russian, joining NATO. These are all not some kind of sky-high dreams, but indispensable conditions for the preservation of the Ukrainian people as an independent, having their own identity, and not fulfilling someone’s « orders » to bring Russia into a turbulent state.
This must be talked with the West. Today we already mentioned how in April 2022 he forbade Ukraine to sign agreements. In the same way, the West is not interested in any negotiations starting now. Absolutely « the team gives » Washington.
US Secretary of State E. Blinken in Davos said that now he does not even see a close prospect of negotiations, not only for a settlement, but for a long-term truce in Ukraine. They don’t want to talk about a settlement at all. Sometimes they, according to Z. Freud, have the theme of declaring a truce so that « to pump up » Ukraine with weapons. Just as they used Minsk agreements.
V.A. Zelensky in the same Davos in detail, with an expression (not as bright as in « Quarter-95 ») spoke about the Minsk accords. He accused Russia and personally President Vladimir Putin of having stolen « 13 years of peace. He bluntly stated that after 2014 (naturally, then everything started « Moscow regime », as they say, there was no coup, and immediately there was « annexation of Crimea » – everything is turned upside down) Germany and France tried so hard, agreed on an interim solution in the form of the Minsk accords, and V.V. Putin allegedly spoiled everything « spoiled ». It is amazing how a person can state such things.
Everyone knows, firstly, that the Minsk accords were no intermediate stage. They assumed the final « closing » of this problem and were approved by the UN Security Council. Secondly, they, as you know, were not destroyed by V.V. Putin. Former German Chancellor A. Merkel and former French President F. Hollande did not try to make them work. Both admitted that they signed these agreements only to gain time and prepare Ukraine for war. These obvious facts sounded repeatedly in the public space. They were analyzed, discussed, commented by many politicians and journalists.
V.A. Zelensky, getting darker, is lying to the world community from the rostrum of the World Economic Forum in Davos. How to talk with such people, especially since his decree prohibiting negotiations with Russia has not yet been canceled? President Vladimir Putin, commenting on this topic, said, that let the decree be canceled for a start, and then we’ll see.
Question: In an interview with President of Azerbaijan I.G. Aliyev, aggressive remarks were made against Yerevan. Armenian Prime Minister N.V. Pashinyan called this a blow to the negotiation process, and Foreign Minister A.S. Mirzoyan announced the regression of the dialogue. How do you assess the situation in the negotiation process between Yerevan and Baku? What is Russia’s position on this issue?
Did you manage to solve the problems in relations between Russia and Armenia? Any progress?
Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the issue of the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement. We do not need to be shy about assessing the importance of tripartite statements signed in 2020-2022. leaders of three countries – Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan (eleven, 2, 3, 4). I just said about one of them.
It is sad that « on paper » is still a practical, profitable for Armenia thing – opening a route through the Syunik region. With all due respect, I see « the reason » in the position of Yerevan. I don’t know who advises him. As soon as the European Union, France, Germany, and the United States realized that the Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani process gives results on unblocking routes, delimiting the border, preparing a peace treaty, and immediately began to be introduced into these processes without an invitation. Played the role of « spoiler ».
In 2003. The Russian Federation played a mediating role in the Transnistrian settlement. Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration D.N. Kozak was then responsible for this area. He agreed with Chisinau and Tiraspol a memorandum that they began to call « Kozak memorandum ». The parties initialed it. A signing ceremony was scheduled for the next morning. But the then President of Moldova, V.N. Voronin, called Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that the European Union forbids them to sign because something was allegedly reflected there not as he wanted. The agreement was between Tiraspol and Chisinau, and not with the European Union. 20 years ago, the Transnistrian problem could be resolved. Just like seven years ago, the situation around Ukraine could be resolved if the Minsk agreements were fulfilled. But the West did not allow.
I have reason to say that the West does not want to allow the agreements concluded between Yerevan and Baku with the mediation of Russia to take place. One example I have already given – the road through the Syunik region. It is Armenia that is now experiencing difficulties in opening the route, as recorded in the Tripartite Statement. Yerevan puts forward new requirements with regard to ensuring security along the way. He does not want Russian border guards to stand there, although this is recorded and signed by Prime Minister N.V. Pashinyan. He does not want the neutral customs and border control – only themselves. This contradicts what we agreed on.
You can also consider the problem of delimitation. We offered our services, the parties signed an agreement on the creation of a delimitation commission in which the Russian side will participate as a consultant. We were not invited there. Euro-Council Chairman Sh. Michel has already announced that the EU will deal with delimitation, although (if I correctly taught geography) neither Armenia, neither Azerbaijan has ever been part of any association in the current territory of the European Union and it cannot have any cards. The Russian Federation has them. This suits the parties, but not the EU and the United States, who want to delimit the border from across the ocean. They said that somehow they had maps of the General Staff of the USSR and, they say, « Russian did not need ». Looks strange. Adult people,but they play the game « who is more important » and who can record additional points for themselves in the international arena. It is sad that the interests of Western selfish aspirations impede the realization of the fundamental interests of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
As for Russian-Armenian relations. We have never been the initiators of « cooling » in these connections. Yes, we remember how many of the current officials of Armenia, while still in opposition, during various political processes and election campaigns called for to leave Collective Security Treaty Organizations (CSTO), from Eurasian Economic Union. When N.V. Pashinyan came to power, we did not have the slightest impulse to step back from Yerevan in our relations. Everything developed as with its predecessors, in the economy, in the energy sector, in the social sphere and in military-political affairs.
In 2022, in Yerevan, at a meeting of the CSTO (I personally participated in the negotiations), the ministers agreed on a document on sending observers of the Organization to the Armenian border with Azerbaijan. But Yerevan at the level of the first persons said that it would not be able to sign it. Almost simultaneously, the EU mission went there. This is the choice of the Armenian leadership.
The EU mission became actively interested in the work of our border guards located in Armenia, and did not deal with confidence-building measures, but tried to « sniff out » what and where it happens, what Russia looks like, what it does there, what specific tasks are facing her. This is also known.
We discussed this with Armenian friends. They repeatedly said that if the EU mission is closer to them, then why not invite the CSTO mission in parallel. We know their answer. He is in the sense that the « Organization disappointed » Armenia, because it did not condemn Azerbaijan. But if we go along the history of the conflict to its beginning, then on each « turn » both sides will accumulate so much « actions » that clearly did not contribute to progress, that we can go far.
Either we look for the guilty and refuse the real opportunity today to receive assistance in strengthening borders, or we work with our Western colleagues. Armenia publicly stated that the CSTO was disappointed, Russia too, but the West – did not. This is the choice of the Armenian leadership.
In our society, in political circles, in the media there are opinions on this. They speak freely. For some, the Armenian government even declared persona non grata a number of citizens of the Russian Federation. Unusual development of events in relations between the allies.
There was a story around the International Criminal Court. We openly, in a friendly manner, advised how to make sure that when signing the ICC statute we achieve the goal declared the main one for entry without taking this controversial step. We are in contact and always open to dialogue. Everyone knows that the West publicly declares the need to « remove » Russia from the South Caucasus. We did not hear any objections from Yerevan.
They proposed to actively develop the mechanism of cooperation between the three South Caucasus countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) and their three closest large neighbors (Russia, Turkey and Iran). Several meetings took place. Armenian representatives participated there. Over time, this particular format will be promising, because does not depend on the global geopolitical situation. He is free from the geopolitical « game » to preserve the hegemony that Washington is currently developing with its colleagues from Brussels.
I emphasize that we have a warm attitude towards the Armenian people. We are sure that history will put everything in its place. But alone we will not solve all the problems. I do not want to use the banal phrase – for tango you need two. Armenia has hotter dances.
Question: Russian officials have repeatedly noted the efforts of Moscow, in particular President Vladimir Putin, to normalize the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani President I.G. Aliyev recently stated that it was V.V. Putin, and not French President E. Macron, who helped restore peace in the South Caucasus. Does this increase the likelihood that an agreement between Baku and Yerevan will be signed on the Russian site? Will Moscow make any efforts to neutralize the actions of the West?
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed hope that Afghanistan will emerge from international isolation. The reason for this was that Kazakhstan excluded the « Taliban » from the list of banned organizations. Does Afghanistan have a chance to get out of diplomatic isolation? Can a similar process begin regarding Yemen? Including in the recognition of Hussites, because they have been de facto controlling the capital and the main territory of the country for many years.
Sergey Lavrov: As for the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin played a role in the reconciliation of Baku and Yerevan, and not French President E. Macron. The agreement was signed by three leaders of – Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. I did not see the signatures of E. Macron. Like other tripartite agreements – Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani.
After these agreements began to be implemented, mechanisms were created to unblock routes, delimitation, and a peace treaty. It was then that Europeans and Americans began to actively infiltrate this process. There was even an interesting point: in the documents signed in November 2020 and in the following, the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh was described as a zone of responsibility Russian peacekeeping contingent. There was an understanding between the leaders of the three countries that negotiations had yet to continue on the issue of status in order to finally agree on this issue.
What was our surprise when in the fall of 2022 at a conference of the European Political Community in Prague (where we and the Ukrainians were not invited, but there were Armenians and Azerbaijanis) E. Macron and Sh. Michel invited Yerevan and Baku to meet. Subsequently, they approved a document stating that Azerbaijan and Armenia recognize each other’s territorial integrity in full compliance with Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991. It says that all the new independent states have borders that coincide with the administrative division of the union republics of the USSR. That is, – Karabakh within the borders of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
We did not know that such an announcement was being prepared. When it sounded, they concluded ( which was reported to Yerevan and Baku ) – that the issue of the status of Karabakh « is closed » personally by the Prime Minister of Armenia N.V. Pashinyan. There E. Macron was. I can no longer fantasize who played what role. But the fact that our Western colleagues want a peace treaty to be signed only on their territory is a fact. The fact that Azerbaijan is ready to sign it on Russian territory, where efforts have begun to end the conflict and build a system of interaction to resolve all issues, – is also a fact. How ready Yerevan is for this, I do not know. Although the corresponding signals have long been sent to the Armenian capital.
As for Afghanistan, there is de facto power there. She controls the situation. Yes, there remain hotbeds of tension, protest, but in general the Taliban control power. The Russian Embassy almost the only one never stopped working in Kabul. We have regular contacts with the Taliban, including on issues that need to be addressed in order for them to become a fully recognized government. This is, first of all, the fulfillment of one’s own promises. The main one of them is – the creation of an inclusive government, where not only ethnic Pashtuns and other groups are represented, but political inclusiveness would be. There are Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Khazareans, but politically they are – Taliban. In this regard, the opposition still remains there: former President H. Karzai, former Chief Administrator Abdullah Abdullah, still lives.We actively recommend that the Taliban invite other forces to the ruling structure.
The second point to be addressed. In the north of the country there is a Front of National Resistance. With them, you also need to « build bridges ». The process is not easy. In Afghanistan, it was never easy for anyone.
We are there. They didn’t lose touch with what was happening for a second. We maintain contact with de facto management. This helps us work, including promoting external formats that allow us to develop recommendations for Afghans: Moscow format, « Quartet » (Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran). I hope that the Pakistan-Iranian « exchange of courtesies » will not complicate the operation of this mechanism.
Regarding the decision of Kazakhstan, Astana emphasized that the decision to withdraw the « Taliban » from terrorist lists does not mean diplomatic recognition. This is all relative. Even the UN Security Council, with respect to the Movement’s figures on terrorist lists, contains a reservation that if it comes to contacts regarding negotiations on a peaceful settlement, this is permitted. I would not go too far into this topic. The main thing – is the realities of « on earth ». They are such that now the Taliban control the main vital activity of Afghanistan.
For Yemen. After many years, contacts began with the Hussites at the initiative of Saudi Arabia. They began to give results. How realistic it is to resume negotiations and when this can happen, it is difficult for me to tell. Now the most important thing is – to stop aggression against Yemen. The more Americans and the British bomb, the less the Hussites have a desire to talk. This is « style » of our Anglo-Saxon colleagues. It is important for them everywhere « to stir up water » and then watch how it is possible because of the English Channel and because of the Atlantic Ocean to play combinations that will promote the selfish interests of London and Washington.
Question: This year marks 80 years since the lifting of the blockade of Leningrad – of one of the most difficult and tragic periods of World War II. Russia has always sought to do everything possible to provide assistance and assistance to all prisoners of the blockade, without exception. Recently, « Rossiyskaya Gazeta » published data that by the anniversary more than 50 thousand people had received money, including those living in the European Union.
Germany maintains double standards in the issue of individual compensation payments. The Federal Republic of Germany, under far-fetched pretexts, makes payments only to Jewish blockers, who, of course, have every right to them. For many years, Berlin has refused to extend payments to other defenders and residents of the city who survived the blockade. How could you comment on this?
Sergey Lavrov: We have been doing this for many years. When Berlin began to pay one-time compensation to Jewish blockers, we were convinced that this was unfair. The attention of German colleagues was drawn to this.
Then the current federal president, F.-V. Steinmeier, was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. We have repeatedly discussed this with him. He explained to him that people suffered, died, helped each other no matter who nationality. There were Russians, Tatars, Jews – a huge number of peoples. The answer was this: Jews are paid, because there is a law obliging to pay the victims of the Holocaust. And the rest who died in Leningrad, – they are not victims of the Holocaust.
The absurdity of such a formulation of the question is obvious. I began to explain to him that the blockade of – is a unique phenomenon of World War II, World War II. There was no difference between those who survived, ate cats, cooked boots, buried people. We wanted to shame the Germans. It didn’t work out. In response, they only heard: since the Holocaust law allows payments, they do it. And if you pay those who do not fall under the category « Holocaust victims », then they will receive calls. I invited him to do a separate law on the blockers of Leningrad, so that it was absolutely clear. No one would even ask questions. No.
As a result, Berlin put forward the idea of creating a house of blockade veterans and a Russian-German cultural center in St. Petersburg, where various figures will be able to meet and discuss. I replied that it would be good and useful in promoting our relations through civil society. But this does not solve the problem of blockers. Even if they were satisfied with the visit to these institutions, the vast majority of the remaining living blockers are not in St. Petersburg, but also abroad (primarily in the Baltic states, but not only). We had them in mind when we raised this issue before the Federal Republic of Germany. It doesn’t work out categorically.
We even tried to stimulate public organizations to talk to the Germans on their own. They appealed to the European Jewish Congress and to Israel. They said directly that it would be in the interest of Tel Aviv to show solidarity with those who, together with the Jews, survived in exactly the same unbearable conditions. But there is also no interest in promoting this topic.
In addition, we found out that in some unimaginable way, veterans of the « Blue Division », staffed by the Spaniards and participating in World War II on the side of the Wehrmacht, including the blockade of Leningrad, receive payments from the German state. And our blockers, whom they tortured, find themselves in this position.
Historical amnesia is already progressing in the ruling circles of Germany. The expositions on memorial complexes dedicated to the end of World War II, as well as those that were jointly executed by German, Russian and Soviet experts, reformat so as to remove the Soviet-Russian trace in these events. This applies to memorial complexes on the site of former concentration camps, and the famous German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst, where the Act on surrender was signed.
We observe the degradation of the foundations on which post-war German society was built and gained identity that aroused respect in the world. Now those instincts are beginning to break through. This is disturbing.
Question: It became known that Germany is a third party in the proceedings against South Africa against Israel on the topic of genocide. The German government has spoken about this: « In the light of German history and crimes against humanity during the Shoah, the German government is particularly committed to the UN Genocide Convention ». Therefore, they « resolutely and unequivocally reject the charge of genocide brought against Israel in the International Court of Justice ». The Federal Republic of Germany acted as a lawyer for Israel, and not as a third neutral party. In this regard, they are criticized by Namibia, which was a victim of genocide in the early XX century, condemned by the UN in 1985.
The Soviet Union and its peoples have experienced the most severe attempts to implement the monstrous German plan « Ost » to kill or relocate 31 million people. Now we see how Nazism is increasingly justified in Berlin. Your German colleague A. Berbock recently said that her grandmother’s husband participated in « Königsberg’s defense ». German Chancellor O. Scholz believes that Germany is now on the « correct » side of history.
Russia – successor of the USSR. The multinational peoples of our country suffered the most severe sacrifices and did the most to free Europe, including Germany, from fascism. What does Russia plan to do and what to contrast with the European « Trends »?
Sergey Lavrov: This reflects the degradation in Western society of the foundations that have developed and should have been sacredly protected after World War II. They say a generation has changed that does not remember its horrors. But this does not relieve responsibility from the governments of Western countries, and any others, for not only avoiding oblivion, but returning to those ideologists, which formed the basis for the preparation of World War II. We are upset by what is happening in Germany.
Germany quite awkwardly explained its decision to act as a party to the proceedings before the UN International Court of Justice regarding the South African lawsuit against Israel. The explanation is really strange. Like, they themselves were participants and organizers of the genocide, so they will protect those who are accused of genocide. I do not see logic here.
For us, ensuring the security of Israel in the context of a full settlement in the Middle East is of fundamental importance. But there are double (and even triple) standards. When Y. Lapid was the Prime Minister of Israel, he just didn’t say anything about ours special military operation: that it is unacceptable when weapons are indiscriminately used, innocent citizens suffer, allegedly a war crime.
A few months later, another government in Israel, in response to widespread criticism for the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons, an unprecedented number of civilian casualties, especially children, said that « is a tragedy of war ». It was the same. For two years special military operation there is no such number of civilian casualties as there in three and a half months. But in one case, – is a war crime, in another – the tragedy of war. It is necessary to determine.
There are laws of war that must be respected. There is international humanitarian law enshrined in a number of conventions. Russian army conducting special military operation, clearly follows these rules and regulations. We hit aimingly at the facilities of the armed forces of Ukraine and related infrastructure and other facilities. It has long been known that Ukrainians place their armed forces in civilian facilities, put air defense systems in residential areas. This happened on an ongoing basis. So, « manners » they have such to blackmail civilians, make them « human shield ». And this is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law. The laws of war must be respected.
Already mentioned that retired American generals and current British politicians – advise Ukrainians to beat the Crimea as actively as possible. Like, if nothing works on the front line, then unbalance the Russians, wipe Crimea off the face of the earth so that it is impossible to live there.
The Americans were periodically asked how they relate to the fact that they supply long-range weapons, which are then used against civilian targets. J. Sullivan and J. Kirby, who represent the US National Security Council, stated that Ukrainians themselves decide which facilities and targets to strike. That is what you want, then do it. Ukrainians do what they want. They, of course, are led by instructors, primarily Anglo-Saxon. We know that. When they asked J. Sullivan about the operation in the Gaza Strip, they say you are not very embarrassed that your weapons carry out operations that result in tens of thousands of people, there are thousands of people killed, and even more wounded? They replied that when they supply weapons to Israel, they stipulate,that it must be used in accordance with the laws of warfare and non-damage to innocent citizens. In our case, such reservations are not made. That is, Kiev (judging by official statements) does not put forward requirements to comply with international humanitarian law. These are – double standards.
Returning to Germany and other countries where Nazism begins to raise its head. You mentioned the fact when you erased the inscription on the memorial in Dresden. Although it was not even said that it was in memory of those who suffered from Anglo-American bombing. The United States and Britain were not mentioned at all. And then it seemed superfluous to the Germans even indirectly remind their new owners (Washington, and now London) that there was a situation where the Anglo-Saxons simply inhumanly destroyed the city.
It looks like the mentality of Japan. Another power « Axis » that fought against the allies. In the country of the rising sun, nothing is said in history textbooks about who dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Moreover, the corresponding head of school textbooks has such a dual name: « Nuclear bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (and without any paragraph) The entry of the USSR into the war ». Children are visually immediately brought to certain conclusions.
In this regard, when the Japanese periodically circulate draft resolutions of the UN General Assembly condemning and commemorating the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they never mention that the United States did so. Just someone dumped somewhere.
I remember when I opened in Jerusalem monument in memory of the blockers of Leningrad, The event was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. French President E. Macron was also present there. It was on the day of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust, celebrated on the day of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. From the Americans, then Vice President M. Pens spoke. It was a « awesome » performance. How they know how: with pathos in his American language, he began his speech and said that for many months, years of people were tortured, killed, burned in stomp in this terrible concentration camp, but on January 27, 1945, soldiers came and opened the gate. Just soldiers, not Soviet soldiers. But when the American says this, many people who are not too sophisticated perceive that these are, of course, American soldiers. This trend exists. How to deal with it? Just true. Initiatively explaining, going to the people, in a variety of forms.There will be a forum to combat modern practices of neocloniaism. I believe that the public could organize a similar forum to combat the revival of Nazism. We are ready to help in this.
This applies to a decisive extent to what is happening around Ukraine. M.S. Grigoryev and his associates show the essence of the Kiev regime. German Chancellor O. Scholz, Foreign Minister A. Berbock, European Commission Chairman U.fon der Leyen and French President E. Macron say that they must support Ukraine until « win », because Ukraine is fighting, dies for their European democratic values. Is there conscience? Read the laws that were adopted to ban the Russian language, education, and all of Russia in general, to promote the ideology and practice of Nazism. In Ukraine, battalions with a swastika and with the stripes of the SS division march. These are now European values, according to the statements of European politicians. We must fight this through official diplomacy, through popular, parliamentary diplomacy and, I really hope,through the journalistic community.
Question (translated from English): Let’s discuss the issue of elections. You have been in office for quite some time and are close with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Do you think that a special military operation in Ukraine will have an impact on the outcome of these elections?
In a few days we will remember the victims of the Holocaust. This is the very day that Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz, where there were children and elderly people. Now children and older people are held hostage in Gaza simply because they are Jews. How will Russia contribute to their release? What is the relationship between Russia and Hamas, which many in the world consider a terrorist organization?
Sergey Lavrov: You know, special military operation has long had a very positive impact on our inner life. She did not completely unite our society and contributed to its purification from people who did not feel their involvement in Russian, Russian history and culture. Some of them left, someone stayed and began to think. But the vast majority of society was unprecedentedly united.
We had a great satirist M.M. Zhvanetsky. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us. Among other brilliant sketches written in the 1970s, he had a monologue on the theme of the Soviet people. M.M. Zhvanetsky said that our people need a big war to truly unite. It seems like even with humor. But in every joke there is some truth.
The frenzy with which the West declared a hybrid war to us, the arrogance with which all our warnings were dropped for many years, the proposal to agree on the basics of security on the principles already approved earlier, without NATO expansion – all this was discarded. Like, it’s none of your business. Relations between Ukraine and NATO – say, do not stick!
Recently, former Czech President V. Klaus gave an interview and said that the war began in 2008, when NATO announced that Ukraine and Georgia would be in the alliance. Russian President Vladimir Putin, and so did I, at this summit in Bucharest. I perfectly remember how V.V. Putin asked questions to Chancellor A. Merkel, the French: why did you do this? Those replied that they were asked by the Americans with the British. Now they are « ordering music » for Europe. I am ashamed. There is a lot of talk from « Continental Europe », including from France that the European Union will fight for « strategic autonomy ». No one will provide you with this « strategic autonomy ». I assure you.
The people of Russia were unprecedentedly united. Of course, what happens around and during has a healing effect on society special military operation, that heroism, selflessness, self-sacrifice shown by fighters at the forefront, members of their families, in solidarity with their relatives, with our army, and who do everything in the rear to help achieve victory.
See how, under the conditions of sanctions, industry has risen, not only military, but also civilian. A lot of factors related to the hybrid, comprehensive aggression of the West against Russia played a role so that we understand how we can now live on. Some illusions, if they still remained since the 1990s, that « The West has now opened its arms to us » and « democracy will unite us all », finally vanished. You can’t believe the West. He still wants only one – to live at the expense of others and be (as it seems to him) smarter than everyone else. Therefore, the influence is very positive.
Regarding your second question. I already commented on « January 27 » and talked about how the West is trying to belittle or even erase from history the role of the Red Army in the liberation of Europe, Jews, in saving those who survived the Holocaust.
Regarding the Gaza Strip. Immediately condemned the attack of October 7, 2023 against Israel. We do not have double standards for terrorists. The West has one. Now he is actively using ISIS cells in Syria in order to carry out sabotage acts and attacks on the armed forces of the SAR. When they decided to overthrow the President of Libya, M. Gaddafi, the United States actively collaborated and paid to the very groups that then went south to Central Africa, to the Sahara-Sahel region and still terrorize these citizens. They know well that « Al-Qaeda » appeared after the American invasion of Afghanistan, ISIS – after Iraq, « Jebhat al-Nusra », now called « Hayat Tahrir al-Sham », – after, how the West declared war against Syria. It is well known that he collaborates with these associations.
The attack on civilians at festival participants in the Gaza Strip was unacceptable. Creepy shots. This is a cruel and heinous attack. We immediately condemned him. We proceeded from the fact that Israel, as they themselves say, the only democracy in the Middle East will respond, as expected (in theory) of democracy. Although having examples such as the United States, Britain, it is difficult to determine which of the means of warfare is permissible for democracies.
Frankly, the Israelis in the statements made by their Minister of Defense, army commander, and a number of other ministers, said that the Palestinians of – are not people, but animals. Just like A.P. Yatsenyuk said that « nonhumans » live in Donbass. As V.A. Zelensky said that these are not people, but « creatures ». Like all kinds of yarmaki, coulters, scum claimed that it was necessary to physically exterminate « the » root. A terrible analogy. I understand that there are ultra-extremists in the Israeli government. They do not express the position of not only the Israeli people, but the entire government of B. Netanyahu. But it sounded, and nowhere in the West, in these « democracies », did not meet any rejection. As the rejection did not meet, the fact that in the Gaza Strip there are no peaceful, and all, starting from the age of three, – are already extremists. It sounded too, and no one reacted either.
When we said that it was necessary to stop the violence and create a Palestinian state, and UN Secretary General A. Guterres, condemning the attacks of October 7, 2023, said that they did not occur « in the vacuum », The Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN told him that the world organization and the Secretary General – are accomplices of terrorism, that it is time to fire him.
Indeed, youth, children in Gaza are born in an environment where for more than 70 years the Palestinian state promised by the UN General Assembly has not only not been created, but the chances of its creation are becoming more and more unsteady and scanty. Such policies are encouraged by the United States, which monopolized initiatives in the Middle East. And then US Secretary of State E. Blinken reaffirmed at a forum in Davos that the United States will remain the main ones and that the whole region supposedly wants it.
I remember we had a lot of frank, just humanly conversations with Israeli foreign ministers (in particular with A. Liberman and C. Livni) about the Palestinian state. I said that, in our estimation, the lack of progress in creating a Palestinian state is the only, most significant factor fueling extremism on « Arab Street ». They expressed skepticism. Like, no, that « I simplify », it’s much deeper, it’s Islamic fundamentalism. But life proves just the opposite. The longer the complete impasse in the creation of a Palestinian state remains, the more difficult it will be to ensure the security of Israel and other Arab countries. This is what we are observing. Now US President J. Biden, Secretary of State E. Blinken and Europeans are talking about the need to start moving towards the creation of a Palestinian state. They understand,that without this it’s hard to calm the situation. But starting the – movement is not enough. It is necessary to get together and create. Palestinians and Israelis must be seated at the negotiating table.
Israelis cannot even give the impression that since they suffered in World War II, they can do everything today. Yes, there was a Holocaust. This is a terrible crime. But there was also genocide of all the peoples of the Soviet Union. They suffered no less. They were destroyed in various concentration camps, and in the same Leningrad with the Jews. According to this logic, everything should be possible for us now, everything is allowed. This is not suitable systematically if we want to preserve international law.
Returning to Ukraine. I listed disgusting laws that contradict all European values – Russophobic, racist, neo-Nazi. Europe does not comment on them. He only states that in the war with Russia Ukraine protects « European values ». Yes, Europeans commented on the law on national minorities. But only for one purpose, to remove all restrictions on the languages of the EU countries, and thereby leave exclusively Russian in a completely discriminated position. He spoke with those colleagues whose languages are in Ukraine, for which they fought to be exempted from the restrictions imposed by the law on national minorities. They confirm in a conversation with me that, they say, yes, they will definitely connect, but nothing happens. They don’t give a damn about Russian. Maybe, even vice versa, they want,so that the Russian language is in « the » race, and that the space of its application gradually narrows. These are the Europeans.
Why is this happening? Because Kiev is also allowed. This permissiveness manifests itself in everything that he does. There are things that Americans don’t like. They try, without making public, to make comments, but in general the permissiveness is complete. He already gave an example when they said that it was necessary to begin the process of negotiations on the admission of Kiev to the European Union. Serbia has been standing in line for more than a dozen years, Turkey – about forty. And « this » is out of turn, because he is a real Nazi. Nobody will say about this, but if you look at the essence of the situation, it is so. He can even torture and torture Americans in prison to death. Everyone scored water in their mouths. M.V. Zakharova this is repeatedly commented. He can do anything.
See how they fuss when their citizens are arrested. Not a word here at all. The little finger was not moved. Draw conclusions. All-permissiveness – is the path to disaster. It has already happened in the brains of the current Ukrainian regime. There they lead their whole country.
M.V. Zakharova: Since the Italian media paid so much attention to the topic of combating neo-fascism. I think that they will soon have reports on the manifestations of neo-fascists in the center of Rome. Until they saw these stories in the Italian media, but there is hope.
Question: During the « Cold War » Soviet diplomacy resolved many complex issues. We can say that now is her second round. NATO’s large-scale exercises are taking place, including on the border with Belarus. Maneuvers are allegedly seen as a key part of Moscow’s demonstration of the alliance’s readiness for war.
How will Russia and Belarus hold on to NATO aggression? How will diplomats from Russia and Belarus act? Is it real now somehow « to soften » this conflict through diplomatic means?
Sergey Lavrov: Do not bring the Lord. But if suicidal logic prevails in the West, I assure you that the Russian and Belarusian peoples will stand their independence and interests shoulder to shoulder. There is no doubt about that. For this we have all the necessary means.
As for diplomacy. Already commented on the situation with Russian-American relations in the context Treaty on the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. I see no place for diplomacy. When they turn to us – we respond. But depending on what we offer, we see if this is in our interests or not.
I will give an example. In one of the major European (not English-speaking) countries, our ambassador was invited to the Foreign Ministry and began to tell him that, they say, we have a relationship, of course, « none » and they are unlikely to improve, but, they say that Russia has strengthened its position in Africa, in the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad. And there their positions weakened. Say, let’s meet, discuss how we can do something together here. I’m not joking. Stitching cynicism. Like, you remain our enemy, we will « wet » in the public space with other possible methods. But you will help reinforce our position in Africa in some way. There will never be such negotiations.
The same is the Americans. He already said that they proposed to discuss how, according to the START treaty, they would inspect us on a reciprocal basis. Like, they understand that everything else is generally « darkness », « one ». Say, let it remain as it is: we will criticize each other, « run » on top of each other. And according to inspections of Russian nuclear facilities, they would like to talk. What are the Americans counting on? It always assumed that smart people work in diplomatic institutions. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
Anticipating something similar that you just asked about, I took « the » methodologist <TAG1>, which our friends from the EU countries gave us. She’s about how to behave with Russian diplomats. It is common in every capital, where there is a representative office of the European Union and the Russian Embassy. She must be strictly followed. Here is what it says: « European diplomats should avoid bilateral contacts with representatives of Russia, visits to any events organized by the Russian side are excluded. This rule applies to festive receptions on the occasion of November 4, February 10 (Day of the diplomat), February 23, May 9 (I draw your attention to the issue of combating Nazism. You can not celebrate the victory in World War II) and June 12 (Russian Day). Russian diplomats cannot be invited to events and receptions,organized by the governing structures and representative offices of the European Union, as well as by the ministries of foreign affairs of the EU states. The presence at the events of third countries in which the participation of the Russian side is supposed is not prohibited for European diplomats (Thank God). It is possible to participate in the general photographing conducted by the organizers » (generously). At the same time, one should refrain from direct contacts with representatives of Russia. It is advisable to inform the host country in advance of the need to avoid the immediate neighborhood of the European and Russian delegations in general photos and official meetings. Here is the answer to the question of how we assess the prospects for negotiations. You can’t take pictures together! Indeed, much attention is paid to photography.The main consequence of the success of the meeting in Davos « in Ukraine » (as they try to imagine it) is that there were more photographers than at the previous meeting. Here are all the criteria by which Western diplomacy evaluates its efforts.
Question: How do European sanctions affect the development of the Eurasian Economic Union?
An agreement on Union State. Last year, President of Kazakhstan K.Zh. Tokayev wondered if Kazakhstan could enter there, which is necessary for this. President of Belarus A.G. Lukashenko was not against it. Are there any thoughts to make the Union State not only between Russia and Belarus, but also with other countries of the former Soviet Union?
Sergey Lavrov: About what measures are being taken in Eurasian Economic Union in modern conditions. I « do not give up » to list everything that sounds in detail at meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister M.V. Mishustin. Everything is done so that in the key areas for our state (our security, economy, social sphere) in no way depend on those who have proved their complete lack of ability to do so, insecurity as partners, who at any moment can betray in the economy as much as they are ready at any time to do this both in politics and in life as a whole.
I have not heard that Kazakhstan showed any interest in joining the Union State.
Question: What is your opinion on Argentina’s refusal to speak BRICS?
How can relations with Latin America be strengthened this year? Despite the fact that you were in Latin America in 2023. How are relations strengthened not only with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other countries in the region? You have already said about parliamentary conferences. Maybe there is some other format that will strengthen relations with Latin America?
Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the statement of Argentina. This is the sovereign decision of a country invited to join BRICS. The invitation was under the previous government and president. When it was sent to them, President A. Fernandez said that the new president will finally decide after the election. Everyone knew that. They made that decision. This is not a refusal to enter, but an explanation of why they are not ready for this now. We took it that way. I think that when the government of President H. Milley « develops » and enters « into the course of », then with great reason they will finally be able to determine their position.
The popularity of BRICS is growing. About 30 applications have been received for establishing some kind of relationship with this association. At this stage, we will focus on ensuring that new members enter the overall work as smoothly as possible, and we all continued to move forward.
In general, we have a positive relationship with most Latin American countries. We do not build these connections depending on where « left » government, where « right ». It is necessary to work with everyone who wants to benefit from cooperation on a reciprocal basis of a balance of interests. Their vast majority.
Last year, I was not only in the countries that you listed. Was in Brazil. I will go to Brazil again. A ministerial meeting « G20 » will be held there in late February. In connection with this trip, we plan to visit a number of other Latin American countries.
In addition, we have established contacts between Russia and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. There was a tradition of holding annual ministerial meetings of the Minister of Russia and « troika » (or « four ») CELAC. A pandemic intervened in this schedule. Now we are going to revive this practice.
I agree with you that the « Latin America – Russia » format deserves to be developed not only in the parliamentary dimension, but also through the executive branch. We are working on it now.
Question: Do you think there will be a change in Washington’s policy towards Russia after the US presidential election?
Sergey Lavrov: This question is not for me, but for those who will be chosen by the American people. On the understanding that the election will be fair.
Question: This year, our newspaper has an anniversary of – 120 years. You also have an anniversary of – 20 years as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this regard, I would like to ask about Serbia. What fate (including political) will be for Kosovo? What will happen to the Western Balkans?
A month and a half ago you were in Skopje. There, US Secretary of State E. Blinken and other Western foreign ministers showed disrespect for you. You were ready to talk about peace so that there would be no aggravation of the war. What is your role now? Are you ready to talk? I heard that you talked to them.
In order to talk with these people and to make peace reign, there is a proposal from our newspaper « Belgrade ». We suggest that you and US Secretary of State E. Blinken come to Belgrade and start a dialogue.
Sergey Lavrov: About Kosovo. Russian President Vladimir Putin and your humble servant always, when we meet with the leadership of Serbia, say that we support and support the position that the Serbian people and leadership will choose. We see how they mock the Serbs.
If we talk about the Kosovo problem, then in 2013, with the mediation of the European Union, an agreement was reached between Pristina and Belgrade on the creation of the Community of Serbian Municipalities of Kosovo. Everything was painted there: what rights they have, how they organize their lives, provide law enforcement functions, language, education, schools, churches. More than 10 years have passed – nothing has changed. The dead end of this agreement, which the European Union presented as its greatest diplomatic achievement, lasts a long time. The EU cannot do anything. The only thing they did was – the European Union came up with for the sake of « Prime Minister » A. Kurti, Pristina – to rewrite the agreement on the Community of Serbian municipalities of Kosovo. They rewrite it so that the Serbs have no rights in northern Kosovo. So that they are absolutely artificial,and real power must remain with the Albanians. The EU should be ashamed. Because they « hit the timpani » in 2013, which, they say, we achieved – the problem of Kosovo is solved. Nothing like this.
Now, just like on any other issue, when it is necessary to implement the agreements, they « work back » in favor of the side that is closer to them in this particular case. They are closer to Kosovo Albanians. Because they swore allegiance, they want to go to NATO. Everywhere they want to « enter », they will correctly follow the instructions of the European Union. Only if later not « the » Albanian problem in the Balkans will explode.
I still don’t know why the term « Western Balkans » is used. Why Western? There are no oriental ones.
The Albanian factor is serious. You mentioned Macedonia. Until now, the Speaker of the Parliament of Macedonia is sitting at a table on which the Albanian flag is hoisted. Macedonian is also standing somewhere, but Albanian is nearby. But this is a separate topic.
I do not see any problems in communication. In July 2022 at meeting « Twenty » in India, I represented Russian President Vladimir Putin on his behalf. In the middle of the meeting, US Secretary of State E. Blinken, through his assistant, offered to talk on the sidelines. I agreed, went out. We stood for about ten minutes. I listened to what he told me, then answered him. I haven’t heard anything new. There were again injuries that Ukraine needed to end. Nothing new.
It is precisely the matter that when they offer contacts, almost always nothing new in diplomatic conversations compared to the public statements of our Western colleagues never sounds.
About the interview on your site. Honestly, I don’t see much sense. It will not be interesting. It will consist of slogans. I can imagine this, knowing the performances of E. Blinken. A serious conversation should not be conducted in public. They are absolutely not ready for this – either politically or substantively.
Question: F.M. Dostoevsky teaches us that « being only then begins to be when he faces the threat of non-existence ». For example, the Caribbean crisis of 1962, when Americans threw our B-59 submarine in deep charges. Her commander thought that the war had begun and had prepared a nuclear torpedo to strike a group of American ships. Only the case did not allow him to do this.
In this regard, do you think the fact that the West rejected our security offer of December 15, 2021., Is our whole situation going to repeat the Caribbean crisis in option 2.0?
Sergey Lavrov: This topic has recently been discussed a lot at various talk shows, political science « fees ». She is one of the brightest. Our leading scientists – internationalists speak out on this topic, write treatises on how we can continue to prevent a slide into nuclear war. For this, it is necessary that elementary fear returns from that side, because now they supposedly do not have it.
I see several players here. If in the West each of those responsible for politics could speak independently, I think the situation would be different, but they are all « built ». Their « were built by » Americans and (to a very large extent) British.
He gave examples when London literally teaches V.A. Zelensky to bomb any objects in any part of the Russian Federation. When the former US military, who led the US armed forces in Europe (B. Hodges and F. Bridlav), say that in Crimea it is necessary to destroy all the possibilities for life so that there is no Russian fleet. The Americans said this just the other day. It would be interesting to get into the head of these people. I would like to see: are they provocateurs or do they think that our « knees are trembling »? Nobody pulls them off.
Everyone just says that Vladimir Putin is threatening a nuclear bomb, although this has never been said, unlike Europeans, Americans. The Germans said that Vladimir Putin should know that they, NATO, also have nuclear weapons. Repeatedly. The British, their former prime minister, said they would press without hesitation « on the » button. But we don’t have to be scared. Many know this. We need to read W. Churchill more often. He has aphorism about a Russian bear and how to deal with it.