Briefing of the Foreign Ministry Spokesman
Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova Moscow, September 20, 2019
- Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 74th session of the UN General Assembly
- Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to participate in the opening ceremony of an exhibition dedicated to the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and China
- Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to participate in the Valdai International Discussion Club’s conference
- Voting on draft resolutions on Syria at UN Security Council
- Update on Venezuela
- Update on the publication in De Telegraaf
- Attempts to prevent Crimean journalists from taking part in Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of OSCE member states
- Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu’s statements on the right to demand compensation from Russia for damages caused by “Soviet occupation”
- Soviet assistance to Poland after World War II
- Russia’s alleged involvement of compatriots in acts against Latvia’s national security
- US statement on the Pentagon having a plan to destroy the Kaliningrad air defence system in the event of Russian aggression
- Russia’s position on the US-led coalition to safeguard navigation in the Persian Gulf
- Freedom of speech in France
- Russophobic article by Ukrainian Ambassador to Serbia
- Attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia
The high-level General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, a key international platform for a comprehensive discussion on a wide range of current issues, will be held in New York between September 24 and 30, 2019.
The Russian delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who will have a busy agenda in New York. He will meet with heads of state and government and foreign ministers, hold talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande. Sergey Lavrov will also attend multilateral meetings of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, BRICS and the CSTO, as well as other events. On September 27, the Foreign Minister of Russia will deliver his remarks at the UN General Assembly.
This year, the high-level General Debate will coincide in time with Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council (we talked about its programme and key initiatives at our previous briefings). This is why Sergey Lavrov will also attend two ministerial meetings of the UNSC to be held on September 25 and 26. The first meeting will be devoted to UN cooperation with the CSTO, the CIS and the SCO in the fight against terrorism and the other to the strengthening of peace and security in Africa.
I would like to point out that, given the rapid changes in international relations and in the schedules of our foreign partners and colleagues, there may be amendments, additions, adjournments or cancellations for technical and logistic reasons. Since we have received a great many requests to confirm the available schedule, I will enumerate the meetings that are being coordinated.
Sergey Lavrov plans to meet with Foreign Minister of Chile Teodoro Ribera, Foreign Minister of Algeria Sabri Boukadoum, Foreign Minister of Hungary Peter Szijjarto, Foreign Minister of Cuba Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Foreign Minister of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Foreign Minister of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi, Foreign Minister of Colombia Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, Foreign Minister of Morocco Nasser Bourita, President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, Foreign Minister of Jordan Ayman Safadi, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Foreign Minister of Denmark Jeppe Kofod, Foreign Minister of Ecuador Jose Valencia, Prime Minister of Sudan Abdallah Hamdouk, Foreign Minister of Slovakia Martin Lajcak, Foreign Minister of Syria Walid Muallem, Foreign Minister of Mexico Marcelo Ebrard, Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Cambodia Prak Sokhonn, as well as Vice-President of Venezuela Delcy Rodríguez. As far as we know, discussions are underway on a possible meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
We will update you on the approved meetings ahead and certainly following these meetings.
I would like to point out once again that there are plans for Sergey Lavrov’s attendance of multilateral events, such as meetings of the UN Security Council to be held at our initiative within the framework of Russia’s Presidency of the Council. We are preparing for a potential meeting in the Astana format, a traditional meeting within the CSTO framework, as well as a number of other events. It is planned that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will have a traditional meeting with UN journalists (we will make an additional announcement regarding this).
In this context, I would like to draw your attention to Sergey Lavrov’s article titled World at a Crossroads and a System of International Relations for the Future. It has been posted on the website of the magazine Russia in Global Politics, as well as on the Foreign Ministry’s resources (the official website and social media accounts) in English, French and German. The article was published in time for the opening of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly and is devoted to the development of international relations, global issues and the possibility of building a new world based on the positive experience of various countries, as well as the preservation of the achievements that allowed the global civilisation of the 20th century to live after WWII without succumbing to other tragedies on a similar scale.
On September 30, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the opening ceremony of an exhibition of documents dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the People’s Republic of China.
On October 2, 1949, the Soviet Union became the first foreign state to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. This happened on the second day after the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed and opened up a new page in the history of bilateral ties. The exhibition covers a period from the PRC’s inception until present days. Prepared by the Foreign Ministry’s Department of History and Records (DHR), the event will have on display materials from the Foreign Ministry’s archives and those contributed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The documents and records, due to be displayed at the exhibition, reflect mutual respect and trust that are a traditional feature of bilateral contacts, as well as the mutual desire to conduct fruitful dialogue in numerous fields. The visitors will gain an insight into the process of asserting mutually beneficial cooperation between both states, as well as the unprecedented Soviet assistance to the young People’s Republic of China. The documents and photos of the last few decades that are included in the exhibition confirm the strategic and comprehensive nature of Russian-Chinese partnership that hinges on the principles of friendship, equality and neighbourliness, as well as a desire to address common tasks in the interests of both countries’ all-round development and maintaining regional and global stability.
On October 2, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the 16th annual conference of the Valdai International Discussion Club, scheduled to be held in Sochi.
This year’s event is completely devoted to subjects linked with the Russian foreign policy’s Eastern vector. It would not be an exaggeration to say that, in the past few years, Russia has started playing a key role in many regions, which are a part of the broad notion – the East. Predictably, this evokes great interest among foreign partners and the expert community. In 2019, the Valdai Club in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry devoted an entire series of meetings to various aspects of the situation in Asia and the Middle East. Those meetings involved Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov or his deputies. The annual conference is the final event of the large-scale theme programme.
The Foreign Minister will address participants in a session dealing with the Middle East in the general context of Russian policy.
During a meeting of the UN Security Council on September 19, the delegations of Belgium, Kuwait and Germany, under pressure from the US, put to a vote a draft resolution that urged all combat operations in the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria to be halted.
In fact, this was a provocative attempt to take the heat off the terrorist organisations controlling Idlib, being lavishly nourished from abroad.
In essence, this had nothing to do with caring about the civilians who are suffering from the terrorist domination in this area of Syria. The project initiators were not even stopped by the fact that an entire range of such organisations were acknowledged as terrorists by the UN Security Council, which urges that a relentless struggle against them be waged. It is obvious that an attempt was made to use humanitarian aspects for political purposes, to perpetuate the dividing lines in sovereign Syria and to protect the extremists from being totally wiped out by securing them in the country’s northwest.
The draft resolution, vetoed by Russia and China, would have laid the foundation for groundless accusations of the Syrian government and the Russian military of violating international humanitarian law; it also threatened further measures in case of the ceasefire violation, that is, it denied the opportunity to strike back against the stepped-up terrorists’ raids, including their shelling of civilian objects in towns and the Russian airbase in Khmeimim.
The draft resolution completely ignored the efforts made by the three Astana guarantors (Russia, Iran and Turkey) to promote a political settlement in Syria, as well as avoided mentioning the ceasefire introduced on August 31, which was nearly disrupted by the US Air Force’s strike on the Idlib zone.
While working on the draft, the Russian delegation suggested constructive amendments to be made, so that the ceasefire did not apply to anti-terrorist activities. However, these amendments were ignored. The co-authors refused to continue looking for compromise formulas and, as we understand, under pressure from Washington, insisted on putting the draft resolution to a vote as submitted. We also have information that US representatives put pressure to bear on UN Security Council members so that the process of approving the draft resolution ended up in a stalemate, avoiding a constructive discussion.
Russia and China presented an alternative draft resolution on the ceasefire, which would have come into force as of midnight September 20, but would not apply to anti-terrorist combat operations. Unfortunately, it was not supported.
Russia will continue facilitating the restoration of sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Syria, the return of the country to a peaceful life and successfully eradicating terrorism.
The situation in and outside Venezuela remains alarming and this state of affairs is largely due to Washington’s policy and its irresponsible speculations on the subject of a possible military intervention. The US State Department’s statement of September 17 links a solution to Venezuela’s purely domestic political issues to the need to invoke the Rio Treaty (we gave the details of this instrument during our previous briefings). In so doing, the Americans put the blame for disrupting the Oslo Process on the Venezuelan Government. A more hypocritical statement could hardly have been invented. The main cause of the current lull in the negotiations is obvious – it is Washington’s reckless policy. Let me remind you that after the introduction of new sanctions on August 5, Nicolas Maduro declared that he was ready to continue the negotiations on Barbados, provided the radical opposition denounced the White House’s illegal measures, something that the opposition is yet to do. Instead, Juan Guaido went on record as saying recently that there were no more chances for dialogue in this format. But the Americans will anyway blame the failure on the legitimate Government. This is absurd but only half the trouble. There is another thing that is really astounding: at first, Washington declares that no contacts between the opposition and Nicolas Maduro are possible, but a few months later, it accuses Maduro of disrupting the talks and threatens to invoke the Rio Treaty. It is some kind of fiendish logic or perhaps the lack of any logic. In any event, this only confirms the absolutely destructive approach practiced by the US foreign policy in the region, an approach aimed at toppling recalcitrant governments.
Against this background, some positive news is coming in from Venezuela itself. On September 16, an agreement was signed between the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (USPV) and the moderate opposition (Movement for Socialism, Progressive Advance, Solution, Red Flag Party, and The Force of Change), under which the so-called National Dialogue Platform was established. There are quite a few encouraging points in the agreements that were put on paper, such as the pro-government faction’s return to the National Assembly, discussing a new composition of the Electoral Council, and plenty more. Please note point 5 of this Agreement, where the parties condemn the unlawful anti-Venezuelan sanctions and urge their immediate lifting. Juan Guaido has never brought himself to make such a statement and this only confirms the signatories’ real concern for the Venezuelan people, who are suffering from US economic pressure. This Agreement is open to signature by other parties. So, the radicals can join the Venezuelan talks aimed at finding mutually acceptable ways of settlement in the country. They can take the right, peaceful side of history instead of inviting armed interventionists to Venezuela under the cover of the Rio Treaty.
We welcome the agreement reached by the Government and the constructive opposition, an agreement that opens the way to meaningful talks between different parties, which are willing to put the destiny of Venezuela and its people above political ambitions. We would like to hope that the parties will work vigorously and in good faith. We are confident that only the Venezuelans themselves can find a durable solution to the accumulated contradictions and jointly bring their country back to the path of progressive development.
We call on all members of the international community, who are really concerned with stabilising the situation in Venezuela, to follow Russia’s example and publicly support this format, avoiding any actions that could disrupt the emerging negotiating process.
Washington’s positive reply to Caracas-proposed resumption of bilateral diplomatic relations could become yet another step benefitting the Venezuelan people. The United States and Venezuela would be able to discuss any differences within the framework of these relations and solve them in a peaceful manner.
On August 15, we drew your attention to an article in the Dutch daily De Telegraaf, “Russians are intimidating the wives of Dutch F-16 pilots.” This publication is a textbook case of misinformation, an attempt to discredit our country by spreading fake news and false information. Our comments on this issue were posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website in the section entitled Articles and Rebuttals – Published materials that contain false information about Russia.
This story made it to the political level. Deputies of the House of Representatives of the States General of the Netherlands sent enquiries to Dutch Defence Minister Anna Bijleveld, who issued an official response on September 5.
In her response, the Dutch Defence Minister acknowledged that, in relation to the cases described in the De Telegraaf publication, it was not possible to identify the persons who threatened the families of the Dutch servicemen. However, referring to the earlier released annual report about the Military Intelligence Service activities, the Defence Minister did not fail to mention some “hybrid threats from Russia” and to repeat the traditional set of clichés about our country’s destructive activities to undermine the transatlantic union of NATO member countries.
This is a story that can be called an actual tandem between propagandists and the media, with the latter willy-nilly playing the role of propagandists. First, the newspaper publishes fake news that “the Russians are intimidating the wives of Dutch F-16 pilots.” Where does the newspaper get this material from? Clearly, from the Dutch intelligence agencies. How else can the newspaper find out these details? I would understand if the Dutch pilots’ wives turned to this publication with complaints, but the wives can hardly tell that there were some Russian people who intimidated them. Moreover, the newspaper makes this topic a headline. Clearly, there’s a link to security services. Where else would the newspaper get this information? After that, this story goes to a political level and an allegedly official investigation follows with an official response to this, in which we see the absence of facts tying this story with Russia in any way, but again, with the help of propaganda tools, everything is done to nevertheless make our country part of this story with a narrative about its past destructive behaviour. The circle is closed. There are lots of such propaganda loops. This is propaganda at its best, which NATO and the European entities in Brussels are allegedly trying to fight. This is that very case. Please note that the paper provides no evidence either in the form of leaks or in the official response of the Dutch Defence Minister. Everything is planned and done through the manipulation of public consciousness.
The Dutch parliament will consider a draft budget for next year, which includes an increase in military spending. Now, the puzzle is complete. It is not hard to trace the causal link between such publications which are put together in the run-up to budget discussions and the official responses that do not say anything specific, but shape a certain attitude to the situation. This is the largest Dutch newspaper. Apparently, in order for such an unpopular measure to be adopted, it is necessary to once again intimidate everyone and unite the deputies by intimidating them with an enemy personified by Russia.
Thus, the Dutch Defence Minister, on the one hand, played into the hands of the anti-Russian sentiments and, on the other hand, avoided a discussion and actually admitted that it was impossible to come up with any concrete accusations against Russia in this case, and confirmed that the anti-Russian attacks by the Dutch reporters were absolutely groundless.
I would like to say that the international entities that are now so zealously fighting propaganda should focus on such publications, which, I believe, are the best case in point.
The participation of Crimean journalists in the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of OSCE member states has once again caused an aggressive response from representatives of a number of Western delegations and Ukraine who made a number of attempts to prevent the Russian region’s representatives from taking the floor. I would like to emphasise the fact that this implies journalists who received official accreditation for this event from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Moreover, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this implies journalists and persons who have always lived in Crimea.
On September 16-18, Warsaw hosted plenary sessions dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of media outlets and the safety of journalists, as part of the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting. Speakers addressing participants at this prestigious international venue included accredited representatives of a number of Crimean media outlets, including Krymskaya Gazeta, the Crimean Information Agency, the Crimea Television Company and the Crimean Tatar Television Channel Millet.
However, their attempts to take the floor (I repeat, in full compliance with the proceedings) were repeatedly blocked by the delegations of Ukraine, Canada and the United States. I would like to recall that Ukraine has stated that it is following a road that should take it into the civilised world. And Canada, in the person of its Minister of Foreign Affairs, was associated with a recent major conference in support of the media that took place in London.
Remarks made by Krymskaya Gazeta Editor in Chief Maria Volkonskaya caused particular indignation. On these three days, she was actively targeted by official Ukrainian representatives and a number of those who called themselves nothing but civilian journalists and human rights activists. After the Russian side’s unhesitating protests and appeals to the event organisers and moderators to comply with established discussion proceedings, the conference’s organisers eventually allowed all representatives of the Crimean Peninsula to speak. They fought for an opportunity to speak at a conference on media freedom! This is beyond all reason!
After realising that it would be impossible to prevent members of the Crimean delegation from taking the floor, the Ukrainian delegation left the conference hall for an unspecified period of time. Its members made utterly ridiculous statements on the event’s sidelines and noted that they might decline to take part in the conference if Crimean representatives were given the floor. You have the right to decline, and no one will even notice your absence. However, members of the Ukrainian delegation changed their mind the very next day, returned to the conference hall and abstained from any subsequent public protests.
On the one hand, we have already become used to such behaviour. An almost similar situation had shaped up in Warsaw last year. But the entire matter did not end with this. On the final day of the three-day media marathon in Warsaw, the press reported that Ukrainian authorities had opened a case against Crimean journalists for their participation in the OSCE conference. This is a new word in protecting journalists during a conference on media freedom. According to a publication on the Facebook account of Ukraine’s Presidential Representative in Crimea Anton Korinevich whose office is located in the Kherson Region, a criminal case has been opened against representatives of occupation authorities’ media outlets that have allegedly violated the procedure for leaving an occupied territory for the purpose of taking part in the OSCE’s annual conference in Warsaw. They say the Security Service of Ukraine will investigate the matter. This is because the journalists dared take part in the OSCE conference on media freedom and the safety of journalists.
We, of course, are expecting senior officials from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to respond accordingly to this glaring incident.
And, lastly, we can see that a number of states are not pleased to hear the truth about the real situation with freedom of speech in Crimea directly from journalists who live and work in Crimea (not those who arrived there after 2014 but those who were born there and who have always lived there), rather than from biased Ukrainian activists and propagandists. All they are trying to do is tell everyone what they see for themselves and share first-hand information. They threaten no one. To be honest, they don’t even insist that people believe their statements. All they want is to invite all those who are talking so much about the situation in Crimea to visit the peninsula. What’s so criminal about this?
We have appealed to OSCE representatives many times, and now we have appealed to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. We will certainly send a letter to the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir once again. As I see it, time is ripe after this incident to appeal directly to the new and modern Ukrainian leaders. President Zelensky, please pay attention to this glaring situation.
We consider such statements as a personal initiative of a certain politician. At the same time, Estonia repudiated a similar statement by Urmas Reinsalu made last year, when he, as Justice Minister, signed a statement together with his Latvian colleague on their intent to claim compensation from Russia for the alleged “Soviet occupation.” (Lithuania did not support this demarche.) The Prime Minister noted then that his Cabinet will not be drafting and submitting claims to the Russian Federation.
On this subject, we would like to again emphasise that Russia’s position remains the same: we find it unacceptable to even use the term “Soviet occupation,” a construct some try to use to interpret the liberation of European nations from Nazi enslavement. Therefore, we also reject these legally void claims against Russia.
As we mentioned at the previous briefing, there was a strange event held in Warsaw. It was supposed to commemorate the beginning of World War II, but turned out to be something weird with made-up new formats and new ideological overtones.
Given that there have been a large number of statements by Polish officials claiming that Poland suffered from the Soviet Union, we promised to provide detailed information about it (tit for tat). We will continue to provide even more answers if there are such allegations against our country and its history. Today I will tell you about the assistance provided by the USSR to Poland after World War II. I believe that the Polish audience should know this, because there were massive attempts to spread disinformation in the first days of this September.
We commented in detail on the commemorative events held by Poland to allegedly mark 80 years since the beginning of World War II. I am saying “allegedly” because they were timed to coincide with this date, but the ideological part, as Polish officials noted, mutated and turned out to be something unfathomable.
Eighty years ago, on September 17, units of the Red Army entered Western Ukraine and Western Belarus. Predictably, the Polish authorities used this date to begin another surge of Russophobia, repeat irresponsible pseudo-historical interpretations of those events, and rewrite history.
In this context, the instructions issued by Polish President Andrzej Duda for Polish ambassadors to tell the truth in their quest for historical justice sound like a cruel joke. I would like to remind everyone that historical truth is not protected by the propaganda of lop-sided anti-Russia views or the revision of historical facts modelled to suit modern realities, but through the use of original documents, the study of archival material and the reconstruction of events based on documented proof and witness accounts from that particular period. There is more than enough literature regarding this. Today I will try to lay bare and make good the damage which such statements made by Polish politicians have done to us. I would like to cite facts from historical literature about the huge financial, material and technical assistance the Soviet Union provided to Poland during and after WWII. The numerous materials on this topic, including unique documents from the Central Archives of the Russian Defence Ministry, are available on the website of the multimedia project Memory Versus Oblivion: What Poles Try to Forget (http://helppoland.mil.ru/).
Regrettably, the modern Polish political establishment is suppressing these facts, preferring to present Poland as a victim of “totalitarian regimes” and claiming that Russia shares responsibility with Germany for the start of WWII. Poland continues to interpret the Soviet-German Treaty of Non-Aggression signed in 1939 (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) as a “pact of war.” They hypocritically disregard the fact that Poland was actively flirting with Hitler and was one of the first European countries to sign a Treaty of Non-Aggression with Germany in 1934, a treaty that actually stipulated allied relations with Nazis. Any request to revise this interpretation of facts provokes a sensitive reaction from the Polish officials. A neutral tweet by German Ambassador to Poland Rolf Nikel, in which he referred to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as an agreement on non-aggression, has caused the indignation of the Polish elite, which was crowned with a statement by former Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, currently a member of the European Parliament, to the effect that it was “a brutal agreement between Germany and Russia over the division of Poland and Central Europe” and “a crime on a global scale.”
It is strange to hear this from Poles, considering that Poland took part in the division of Czechoslovakia in 1938, when it took over the industrialised Teschen Silesia. Winston Churchill, who witnessed those developments, wrote that “Poland with hyena appetite joined in the pillage and destruction of the Czechoslovak state.” As a beneficiary of the Munich Pact, Warsaw was developing plans of further expansion that included Lithuania and Ukrainian regions. In January 1939, Polish Foreign Minister Józef Beck told his German colleague, Joachim von Ribbentrop, that “Poland is laying claim to Soviet Ukraine and an outlet to the Black Sea.” Awhile before that, the Second Department of the Polish General Staff wrote in a report that the dismemberment of Russia lied at the core of Poland’s eastern policy, and that its main goal was to weaken and defeat Russia.
According to the official Polish historiography as we see it in the making before our eyes, after the war Poland, along with Central and Eastern Europe, descended into the “gloom of sufferings created by the Soviet occupation”, which lasted for decades. The final liberation presumably occurred in 1989 thanks to the activity of the Polish anti-Communist underground. Underlying this mayhem are historical inferiority complexes of the Polish political elite, who realise quite well that what is going on today amounts to rewriting history, and we will not tolerate it. As a result, Poland, which disowned our common victory and the feat of the Red Army, and betrayed its own veterans who fought shoulder to shoulder with Soviet soldiers in the trenches, can ultimately do nothing but hold commemorative events in a company that has never allowed for the participation of the nation that played the decisive role in protecting Poland from being wiped off the face of the Earth. The situation is paradoxical since the essence of historical events is totally distorted and an attempt is made to impose this narrative on the future generations as the only true version.
And now some facts regarding assistance. The USSR began the liberation of Poland from Nazi troops in the summer of 1944. After the formation of the Polish People’s Army (Wojsko Polskie), the USSR provided it with substantial support, including weapons, ammunition and food. During the war, the USSR supplied Poland with 700,000 rifles and assault rifles, 3,500 guns, 1,000 tanks, 1,200 aircraft and over 1,800 motor vehicles.
After liberating Poland at the cost of the lives of its 600,000 service personnel, the USSR launched a massive programme on restoring its economy whereby food, medicines, raw materials, fuel, equipment and many other things were delivered to Poland. The aid started arriving in Poland three years before the launch of the Marshall Plan, which Westerners try to present as the only instrument of post-war restoration of the countries devastated by the Nazis.
On October 20, 1944, the first agreement was signed between the USSR and Poland on deliveries and terms of payment. In late 1944, the USSR offered Poland an interest-free loan of 10 million roubles. Deliveries of Soviet raw materials and technical equipment helped speed up re-commissioning of the Polish industrial enterprises in the liberated areas where Red Army’s special units helped restore transport and communications.
In January 1945, an agreement was signed on a 50-million-rouble loan to Poland and an additional $10 million for foreign trade. In late February 1945, 45,000 tonnes of coal, 3,000 tonnes of kerosene, 280,000 tonnes of motor oil, 6,000 tonnes of salt and 60 tonnes of tea were delivered to Poland. The 1st and 2nd Byelorussian Fronts and the 1st Ukrainian Front gave from their reserves 8,000 tonnes of meat and 1,000 tonnes of vegetable oil. Poland was also given 20,000 tonnes of textile raw materials and 100,000 hides (on condition that half of the ready-made products will be sold to the USSR).
In January 1945, Soviet republics sent to the residents of Warsaw liberated by the Red Army and Wojsko Polskie 60,000 tonnes of grain, whereas Ukraine in addition sent 1,500 centners of sunflower oil, 1,000 centners of sugar and 50 centners of dried fruit. From March to November 1945, foodstuffs worth 1.5 billion roubles were sent to Poland for its population and the sowing campaign, and also 150,000 heads of cattle as well as seeds for sowing. This was done by the nation that was also badly in need because it had been devastated by the war.
In February 1945, the USSR government responded to the request from the Polish government and rendered material and technical assistance covering 50 percent of expenses for the restoration of Warsaw’s main districts. There is a reason why Polish builders who witnessed those events used to say that half of the capital city had been restored with the help of Soviet architects and built from Soviet cement and bricks.
All that was done in the difficult months when the Soviet troops were preparing for the decisive strike against Nazi Germany – the Berlin operation.
In July 1945, the USSR and Poland signed a trade treaty and an agreement on mutual deliveries of goods (agreements on trade and payments were signed annually until 1948), under which the USSR undertook to supply Poland with 250,000 tonnes of iron ore, 30,000 tonnes of manganese ore, 25,000 tonnes of cotton, 3,000 tonnes of tobacco, 2,400 tonnes of flax and 40,000 of apatite, cellulose and paper.
In 1947, thousands of tonnes of grain and food were sent to Poland, which prevented a famine as a result of a severe drought.
In 1948, an agreement was signed on the deliveries of Soviet industrial equipment totalling almost $500 million (it was ultimately done free of charge).
In 1948 – 1950, the USSR gave Poland a 2.2-billion-rouble loan.
I cannot continue any longer because the list is endless. You can see more figures and data in the briefing text.
I would like to say that Poland obtained financial, material and technical aid totalling about $1 billion from the Soviet share of the German reparation payments of $10 billion (mainly as industrial and agricultural equipment and other property). When the United States, Great Britain and France ceased reparation deliveries to the USSR from the Western occupation areas of Germany, Poland continued to receive reparation shipments from the eastern occupation area and subsequently from the GDR.
These steps led to fast and efficient development of the country. The first three-year plan of the restoration of the Polish economy was fulfilled ahead of schedule. By 1949, Poland’s industrial output grew 2.5-fold, and the economic returns from selling industrial goods rose by 200 percent compared to the pre-war period. By 1950, the Soviet-Polish trade exceeded $1 billion. In that same year, the country launched a six-year plan of its industrialisation, which resulted in a 2.5-fold increase in industrial output, while the number of agrarian cooperatives grew 14.3-fold compared to the start of the six-year plan.
By the mid-1950s, the USSR moved from delivering unilateral assistance to Poland to expanding an equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with it
These are the facts. Why, who and on what grounds has the audacity to misrepresent them?
Question: The Latvian news agency LETA has released excerpts from the draft national security concept prepared by the Latvian Interior Ministry and the Latvian National Security Service. The draft document, in particular, says that Russia has allegedly used support for compatriots in recent years to get them involved in activities targeting Latvia’s national security. Would you please comment on this information?
Maria Zakharova: We have seen reports on the Latvian Interior Ministry’s proposals for shaping their national security policy. As a matter of fact, the police authority is trying to legalise the statement about the involvement of the Russian-speaking population, at the instigation of Russia, in the activities that allegedly threaten the security of the Latvian Republic. This means that it would be easy for any Russian-speaker living in Latvia to come under suspicion and become a target for political persecution.
The fact that the current Latvian authorities have, for no reason, designated Russia as the main threat to the security of their country and the whole of Europe will hardly impress anyone any longer. What is now being suggested is that Latvia includes its own civil society on the list of new challenges. As is known, Russian-speakers account for a large part of the Latvian population. They associate themselves with Russian traditions, religion and culture, and feel rooted in Russian history. At the same time they are, naturally, part of Latvian society and do not want to deny or change this status. Russia has always openly supported compatriots in their efforts to preserve their cultural identity and protect themselves from being discriminated against, the way other countries do with respect to their expatriates abroad.
It would be appropriate to remind you that a huge number of people living in Latvia still have non-resident status. The Latvian authorities do not recognise them as a national minority. Latvia has ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, however, it reserved the right to ban the use of national minorities’ languages in official correspondence and geographical names. In Latvia, the Russian language is being purposefully squeezed out from education and public life.
Experts from the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, PACE and the European Commission regularly report on cases of discrimination and violations of human rights in Latvia. We regard this policy to be one of forced division of Latvian society to the detriment of Russian-speakers. Russia and international democratic institutions will keep a close eye on this issue and similar incidents.
Question: Please comment on the statement that the Pentagon has a plan to destroy the Kaliningrad integrated air defence system in the event of Russian aggression?
Maria Zakharova: We consider this to be a threat, and we would call statements like this as utterly irresponsible. We see the light-mindedness with which the political beau monde, in particular in the United States, addresses serious and complicated issues like global security and stability, behaving irresponsibly as they are guided by short-term political and, as we understand it, personal electoral considerations. Most importantly, all of this is not merely indicative of irresponsibility but stupidity as well. Clever and farsighted officials, if they really represent the interests of the people who appointed or elected them to office, would never make statements that could harm the reputation of the country they represent.
I believe the Russian Defence Ministry will respond professionally, and provide appropriate examples and comments. The Defence Ministry always comes up with clear and professional comments on issues like this.
Question: What is Russia’s position on the US-led coalition to protect navigation in the Persian Gulf?
Maria Zakharova: We have answered this question many times. Our position is that all measures that are taken in this region must be geared to achieving the main objective, which is stabilising the situation there. Unfortunately, the policy pursued by the United States and a number of other countries tends to lead to a different result, which is destabilisation, rather than enhanced stabilisation.
All measures taken must rest on a legal foundation – today, many of them have nothing to do with the rule of law – and they must be aimed at improving and stabilising the situation in the region.
Question: A while back, Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported that the court of the seaside city of Gap had sentenced French Identitarian movement activists Clement Galant and Romain Espino to six months in prison for their peaceful, as even the French prosecutors admitted, initiative. The news came a few minutes ago that well-known French philosopher Alain Soral had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his public political statements. Please comment on this. Don’t you think this is threatening freedom of speech and politics?
Maria Zakharova: It seems to me that this is, to a large extent, what civil society and the media, rather than the Foreign Ministry, should react to, but since you have raised this question and asked for our comments, I must answer.
On August 29, the court of the city of Gap passed judgment on three members of the public movement Generation Identity. I will remind you that in the spring of 2018 they organised an expedition to the Alps to protest illegal migration. The court found three men guilty of actions which could be perceived by society as usurpation of public authority functions, sentencing them to six months in prison, and imposing a fine of 75,000 euros on the organisation they represent.
To comment on this incident – as I understand it, you believe it is a politically motivated imprisonment – I need to have more information on this case. This definitely does not fall within our purview – rather, this question should be referred to the relevant public or international organisations.
However, this tough attitude toward the dissidents in France is not surprising. Despite Paris’ declarations that it is committed to humanitarian ideals, the French judiciary relentlessly crushes any manifestation of dissent. Let’s remember Russian “revolutionary artist” Pyotr Pavlensky. Until he moved to France, Paris had looked upon his activities in Moscow most favourably. However, when he began to implement the same ideas in France, something went awry and they abruptly stopped liking him. Public activist Hubert Fayard has been jailed for a long time now for his activities to alert the French public to the truth about the events in the east of Ukraine. If you ask us, this criminal case has clearly been fabricated.
Question: I would like to express my gratitude on behalf of our readers and the editorial staff for your post on Facebook regarding the Russophobic article written by the Ukrainian Ambassador to Serbia, especially considering that it was not his first stunt of this kind. Ukrainian diplomats are not just going down the road leading to the destruction of Ukrainian statehood, but are also hindering the process of restoring ties between Russia and Ukraine, which President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky has launched. Will the Russian Foreign Ministry voice its objections to this again, or should President Zelensky himself restore order in the Ukrainian executive authorities?
Maria Zakharova: Every country has its own procedure for appointing ambassadors and for assigning them with certain responsibilities. However, an ambassador is a person who does not represent his or her foreign policy department or ministry but the country as a whole. They receive their powers from the country’s supreme authority and hence the ambassador should be held accountable by the state that appointed him or her to this post.
In this particular case, you have described the situation even better than I have. You have described the ambassador’s action as a stunt, which is an absolutely accurate description. It was not an expert opinion or political stand presented in the form of an article, but an outrageous stunt. Reaction to such stunts should be provided from the country’s capital. Is Kiev satisfied with such actions and rhetoric? This is a question for Kiev. Are the ambassador’s behaviour and statements consistent with Kiev’s policy and goals at the current stage? This is a question for Kiev as well. It is not our task to teach and moralise. They are grown-up people with the experience of statehood, sovereignty and independence, which – independence – they have been upholding very aggressively. I believe that they can learn not just in theory but also from their own mistakes. And yet, it is the Ukrainian authorities who should provide an opinion on such stunts. If they are satisfied with them and with such standards regarding action taken by ambassadors on the world scene on behalf of Ukraine, Kiev should say openly that this is fully in line with its foreign policy doctrine. If they are not satisfied, they should say so as well.
I know that the new authorities are only formulating their foreign policy, and it is not clear if it will be revised or not. Anyway, there are new people in the Ukrainian authorities who have taken relatively constructive steps on the international stage. It seems that aggressive rhetoric at the level of national authorities has given way to practical steps intended to improve rather than worsen the situation. But it’s time they made up their minds. We definitely should not do this for Kiev.
Question: The attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities was successful even though 88 US-made Patriot air defence systems are protecting the country’s border. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has commented on this attack by saying that air defence systems all around the world have mixed success. President of Russia Vladimir Putin said while on a visit to Ankara that the Saudis are welcome to buy Russian air defence systems, which are probably more effective. Does Russia have the potential to promote peace talks between the Saudis and the Houthis, who have assumed responsibility for the attack?
Maria Zakharova: First of all, I would like to remind you about the comment that was posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website on September 16.
Second, much of what the United States has done in the region does not look like politics but rather like a global collapse that is not limited to one sphere but has spread to all spheres. We remember how the “state-of-the-art” US missiles did not hit the intended targets in Syria more than a year ago. And now “state-of-the-art” US air defence systems have failed to repel the attack. These are links in one and the same chain. To me, this looks like an act of self-exposure in one particular region in light of what the United States is doing or what it can offer the world. I would like to remind you that President Putin has commented on this issue in the context of air defence and Russian capabilities.