Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a general meeting of the Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow, January 21, 2020
We are attending a regular meeting of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). However, it is not a completely regular gathering, as in a couple of weeks from now, on February 2, we will be marking 10 years since the signing of the Presidential directive On the Establishment of the Non-profit Partnership Russian International Affairs Council. I would like to use this occasion to congratulate all of you and us on this anniversary.
The council has developed very interesting and sustainable traditions since then. The Foreign Ministry appreciates the comradely relations we maintain with RIAC, which has become a key think tank in the field of international affairs both in Russia and on the international arena. We set high store by RIAC’s efforts to provide intellectual nourishment for Russian diplomacy, as well as give expert and analytical support to Russia’s foreign policy.
We especially need this now when the global situation is not just difficult, but also explosive and unpredictable too. President of Russia Vladimir Putin put forth the essence of the current stage in international affairs in his recent speeches, and it was also discussed at the events held at the Foreign Ministry.
In a word, we are in the middle of a long era marked by an objective development of a new, fair and more democratic multipolar world order. This process is accompanied by heavy fighting between those who have ruled global affairs for centuries and the rising economic and political power centres.
Humankind certainly stands to lose from some of our Western colleagues’ insistence on the logic of not even yesterday but yesteryear, hoping to regain their global domination. Moreover, they have started acting more impulsively and aggressively.
I would like to say a few words about the system of global strategic security, which is being destroyed. The Americans have destroyed two of the three fundamental documents – the ABM and the INF treaties. The New START Treaty, the last instrument of strategic stability, is hanging in the air. Russia’s proposals for extending it were long ago sent in advance to our American partners and have been publicly reaffirmed, including by President Putin. We have not received any reply yet, but we do see movement in the opposite direction, towards building up tension in the sphere of strategic stability and nuclear arms. In addition, NATO has launched a very dangerous game of expanding its operations to two new media – outer space and cyberspace.
We have said more than once that the justification offered for this policy is the “rules-based order”, which aims to replace the system of international law that developed after WWII, with the United Nations Organisation at its centre.
Unwillingness to create and respect new universal rules of the game, which would be codified in the system of international law, is only building mistrust. This leads to the appearance of new seats of instability and conflicts. The risk of any local confrontation growing into a global threat is increasing many times over.
As you well know, Russia does not just play the role of a critic. We are advocating a constructive and universally acceptable international agenda based on the central coordinating role of the UN, as sealed in the UN Charter, as well as on the values set out in the UN Charter such as the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in others’ internal affairs and a peaceful settlement of disputes.
We remain open to the most serious dialogue on the fundamental principles of a stable world order. More than that, we have submitted proposals to this effect. As President Putin pointed out in his annual address to the Federal Assembly, the five nuclear countries who are the permanent members of the UN Security Council have a special role to play in this. We will continue working to raise the responsibility of these leading powers.
Regrettably, our Western partners, while pursuing a policy of containing Russia, have deliberately suspended or curtailed many dialogue platforms and bilateral channels of communication between Russia and the European Union, including within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council. The role of “second tracks” and informal channels of communication, such as RIAC, as we see it, is increasing in these conditions.
RIAC is an independent organisation, which allows it to make use of different views and opinions, including opposing ones. The statistics of RIAC’s operation is self-explanatory. Mr Ivanov will talk in greater detail about this later. As far as I know, over the past year RIAC held more than 100 events attended by Russian and international experts, including large conferences on Russia’s relations with China, the Middle East, the West, India and other leading countries and organisations.
We greatly appreciate RIAC’s analytical work. Last year it published a number of excellent papers, including forecasts, which do help us in preparing proposals for the leadership on new methods to further promote Russia’s foreign policy.
I would like to mention RIAC’s traditionally substantial role when it comes to education. RIAC and its partners organised two [summer] schools for young experts. Over 80 students from Russian and other universities, including American, British, Korean and other Asian universities, have had onsite training at RIAC. Other new forms that have gained in popularity include the RIAC Urban Breakfasts, a contest for young foreign-affairs journalists, plus webinars. RIAC’s website is one of the most popular and respected sources of foreign policy information. I was delighted and pleasantly surprised to learn that the number of RIAC’s contributors is approaching 1,000. This is a very large group of experts, which allows RIAC to present a broad range of expert views on foreign affairs. It is very good that there are many young experts among the council’s contributors.
This year we will celebrate two major events, the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War and the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Organisation. You are aware, of course, about the information background accompanying the preparations for these events. I firmly believe that we must abide strictly by historical facts and archival material. Russia has demonstrated unprecedented openness when it comes to declassifying such material for the benefit of the general public. I believe that RIAC will give serious analytical and practical attention to these subjects this year, especially over the next few months, and that it will use its entire expert and analytical potential to prevent dialogue on these subjects from sliding into politics, leaving history to the historians and preventing any attempts to rewrite the history and outcome of WWII or to disparage the heroes of the Great Patriotic War and the liberators of Europe.
On that note I would like to conclude my remarks and to wish every success to your highly commendable and close-knit staff.