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2 September 202119:05

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, September 2, 2021

1716-02-09-2021

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Table of contents

  1. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend the New Knowledge Educational Marathon

  2. Upcoming meeting of the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad

  3. Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Ibrahima Khalil Kaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Guineans Abroad of the Republic of Guinea

  4. International Anti-Fascist Forum

  5. Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Vincent Biruta

  6. The anniversary of the end of World War II

  7. Arkhangelsk hosts a ceremony dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the first Arctic Convoy arriving in the Soviet Union

  8. Desecration of Soviet graves in Poland

  9. Update on Afghanistan

  10. Developments in Ethiopia

  11. Ministerial conference on Libya in Algiers

  12. Actualisation of Russia’s Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region

  13. Major IT corporations ignoring Russian legislation

  14. Campaign against RT Deutsch in Germany

  15. OSCE observers not to monitor parliamentary elections in Norway

  16. Statement by European Commission members on the so-called Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes

  17. 6th Caspian Media Forum

  18. Updated foreign travel regulations

  19. International Charity Golf Tournament

 

Answers to media questions:

 

  1. Prospects of promoting Afghan settlement initiatives internationally

  2. Diplomatic recognition of the new Afghan administration

  3. Afghan refugees

  4. Russian parliament members’ statements

  5. The US intelligence report on the origins of COVID-19

  6. Mending ties between Turkey and Armenia

  7. The dynamic of the Armenian‒Azerbaijani settlement

  8. The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina

  9. The meeting between the presidents of the United States and Ukraine on September 1, 2021

  10. Americans fleeing Afghanistan

  11. Composer Mikis Theodorakis

  12. The US President declares the end of military operations to remake other countries and defines the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan as “a mission of mercy”

  13. UN Security Council resolution on Afghanistan

  14. Military aid for Ukraine

 

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend the New Knowledge Educational Marathon

 

On September 3, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will speak at the second New Knowledge Educational Marathon in Moscow.

The marathon is taking place nationwide on September 1-3. During the event, national leaders, prominent public officials, and leaders from business, science, culture and sports will give speeches and talk with Russian school and university students on six educational tracks: Knowledge, Sports, History and Culture, Science and Technology, the Digital World and Media, and Business. Studios in six cities in Russia (Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Sochi, Kazan and Vladivostok) have organised broadcasts.

Over 5,000 lecturers will conduct classes in Russian schools – both in the cities with a population of over a million people and in difficult-to-access areas of our country. Prominent scientists, ministers, governors, entrepreneurs, corporate managers, and members of public organisations will take part in the Share Your Knowledge event. Having achieved success in their careers, they will return to the schools to share their experience with young people.

Sergey Lavrov will describe the modern realities of diplomacy in the Knowledge track at the marathon’s main venue in the Expocentre on Krasnaya Presnya in Moscow.

As usual, his speech will be available on the ministry’s website and on our social media accounts.

 

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Upcoming meeting of the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad

 

On September 3, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will chair a regular meeting of the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad at the Foreign Ministry.

The event will be attended by members of the commission, including representatives of federal and regional executive authorities, State Duma deputies, Russian Federation senators, and the leaders of several public organisations and foundations.

The participants plan to discuss the preparations for the Seventh World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad (scheduled for October 15-16 in Moscow), review the results of government monitoring of relations with compatriots abroad, learn about the Association of Lawyers of Russia’s experience with the Russian diaspora and talk about many other issues.

 

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Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Ibrahima Khalil Kaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Guineans Abroad of the Republic of Guinea

 

On September 7, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with Ibrahima Khalil Kaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Guineans abroad of the Republic of Guinea. He will pay a working visit to Moscow on September 6-8.

The ministers plan to discuss the further promotion of mutually beneficial cooperation in political, trade, economic, humanitarian and other areas.

They will focus on expanding business partnerships in such promising fields as geological prospecting, development of mineral deposits, infrastructure, energy, transport, the fishing industry and agriculture.

They intend to conduct a detailed exchange of views on global and regional issues, including the efforts to settle crises and the fight against terrorism in Africa and countering the spread of dangerous infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and the Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The ministers also plan to review areas of cooperation in the UN and other multilateral formats as well as further promotion of Russian-African cooperation in the context of preparations for the second Russia-Africa Summit in 2022. 

 

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International Anti-Fascist Forum 

 

On September 8-9, Moscow will host the International Anti-Fascist Forum-2021 that is timed to the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Fascism and devoted to the 80th anniversary of the start of the Great Patriotic War and the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Nuremberg Trials.

Unfortunately, even today, 80 years after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, humanity still has to face manifestations of fascism. Events in some countries cause the righteous indignation of war veterans and the victims of fascism – former underage prisoners of Nazi death camps and residents of besieged Leningrad as well as other victims of fascism in the international community. One of the main goals of the forum is to warn the world about the real threat of fascism that is once again on the rise.

During the forum, the Organising Committee will present a report on the current manifestations of fascism in different countries and the forms and methods of society’s efforts to effectively counter them. The participants will review attempts to falsify the history of WWII and the Great Patriotic War and efforts to provide moral, legal and material support to the victims of fascism, and discuss the patriotic upbringing of the younger generation.

The forum programme includes an international videoconference with live broadcasts from representatives of several countries, including Austria, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, the United States, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, France and Estonia.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will send a message of greetings to the organisers and participants of the forum.

 

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Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Vincent Biruta

 

On September 10, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda Vincent Biruta, who will be in Moscow on a working visit on September 9-10.

They are planning to discuss the main aspects of the development of Russian-Rwandan partnership in the political, trade, economic, humanitarian and other areas. They are expected to focus on the further promotion of mutually beneficial business cooperation, particularly in energy and the peaceful use of nuclear power, geological prospecting, digital technologies, and the training of Rwandan students at Russian universities.

They will have a detailed exchange of views on current issues on the global and regional agendas, including peacekeeping and the settlement of crises in Africa, as well as countering new challenges and threats, such as international terrorism and extremism.

 

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The anniversary of the end of World War II

 

On September 3, our country marks military glory day – End of WWII Day (1945) which was the largest armed conflict in the history of humankind and took the lives of tens of millions of people. The Second World War was the bloodiest tragedy that impacted the lives of several generations.

The introduction of this holiday by the executive order of the President of the Russian Federation of April 24, 2020 made it possible to restore historical justice and reflect, in a dignified manner, the Soviet Union’s decisive contribution to putting an early and successful end to the bloody war and ensuring the transition to a peaceful life.

The act of unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany was signed in the early hours of May 9, 1945 and put an end to the hostilities on all European fronts. A militaristic Japan, which continued to conduct military operations in the Far East and the Pacific Ocean, was Germany’s only real ally. The victorious actions of the Soviet armed forces against the Kwantung Army in Manchuria and the Japanese units and formations on Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands were the key to defeating Japan.

The outcomes of the war are enshrined in the Instrument of Surrender of September 2, 1945 and the Charter of the United Nations, of which Japan became a member in 1956.

Regrettably, we are forced to state that Tokyo has so far refused to fully recognise existing historical reality and share the internationally accepted assessments of the causes, circumstances and outcomes of World War II.

On September 3, we pay tribute to the courage, heroism and self-sacrifice of Soviet soldiers, all the nations and fraternal republics of the Soviet Union which made a decisive contribution to the victorious end of this horrendous war. The lessons of the war show that a rebuff to hateful aggressions can be achieved only by uniting forces that defend freedom and national independence.

Our common goal today is to preserve the historical truth, which is particularly important now with the never-ending attempts to rewrite the history of WWII, to revise its outcome, and to downplay the role of the Soviet Union in the victory over Nazi Germany and militaristic Japan.

We hope that the celebration of this commemorative day will once again remind humanity of the high price that the Soviet Union and its Allies paid for the peaceful international order that has been maintained for over 75 years now.

 

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Arkhangelsk hosts a ceremony dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the first Arctic Convoy arriving in the Soviet Union

 

On August 29-31, celebrations were held in Arkhangelsk to mark the 80th anniversary of the arrival of the first Arctic convoy, codenamed Dervish, from Great Britain to the Soviet Union. The anniversary celebration programme included a naval parade, a wreath-laying ceremony at the 1941-1945 Arctic Convoy Participants monument, an international scientific and practical conference titled “Lend-Lease and Arctic Convoys: From Regional Cooperation to Global Coalition,” and a Victory Fiery Miles formal gathering.

Ambassadors of Great Britain and Norway accredited in our country took part in these functions. The Russian Foreign Ministry was represented by Director of the Second European Department Sergey Belyaev.

The celebrations highlighted the importance of preserving the memory of the heroic feat of the people who challenged the formidable northern seas and a merciless enemy. The Arctic convoys were an example of unprecedented and successful cooperation between the Allies, who, despite major ideological differences, were able to rally in the name of the common goal of fighting Nazism.

It is gratifying to know that the peoples of Russia and Great Britain are still bound by respect for the memory of the participants of those events. Our Embassy in London congratulated the living British veterans on the anniversary. In turn, they conveyed their best wishes to the participants of the celebration in Arkhangelsk.

I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the veteran sailors who spared no effort to make Great Victory a reality. From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you good health, happiness and prosperity.

 

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Desecration of Soviet graves in Poland

 

We have just learned about yet another act of vandalism on Soviet burial sites in Poland. This one occurred this summer in the city of Rawicz, where over 1,500 Soviet soldiers are buried. They perished during the battles for the city and its suburbs in January 1945. Who are the people that commit such heinous crimes? They certainly must live there. They are not ghouls from other continents. They live in Rawicz and are the descendants of residents of this city. Over 1,500 people sacrificed their lives for them. These vandals painted illegible inscriptions and images on the obelisk in the centre of the cemetery. It is hard to understand what ardour prompted them to do this.

Although the mayor of the city denounced this act of hooliganism  and promised that the city authorities would remove its consequences, nothing has been done  so far to restore the monument.

We regret to state that acts of vandalism against Soviet memorials continue to take place in Poland on a regular basis. This is the fourth case this year alone, and the Soviet cemetery in Rawicz has been desecrated more than once. The authorities restored two destroyed gravestones and a marble plate after the Russian Consulate-General in Poznan complained in 2020.

We must note that Poland often even fails to report acts of vandalism, as it is prescribed under Article 3 of the intergovernmental agreement on graves and commemorative sites for the victims of war and reprisals. We learn about them, often with much delay, from the regional media, reports by concerned residents or on social media. Obviously, reporting every case would upset the rosy picture that is usually painted in Warsaw by those who talk about the supposedly respectful attitude of the country towards the burial sites of Soviet soldiers. It is impossible to find another explanation for this.  

 

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Update on Afghanistan

 

The almost 20-year Afghan saga of the US and NATO reached an infamous end. This is not just a failure but a disaster. The lingering problems of terrorism, drug trafficking and low living standards have not been resolved. Many problems have even become worse. The foreign forces  failed to leave behind a stable political system,  and it is now likely to undergo substantial change  following  the Taliban’s takeover. The final chord of the military presence of the international coalition was yet another tragedy, whith an American drone destroying a residential building and killing nine civilians, including six children. We resolutely condemn this indiscriminate use of force.

We are somewhat concerned  about the escalation of socio-economic tensions in Afghanistan due to the suspension of financial, material and technical aid from the country’s traditional Western donors. It is also unclear when government institutions and banks will resume operations. People in Kabul and other large cities are expressing discontent with the policy of the Taliban that leads to soaring prices for basic necessities, food and fuel. In this context, we urge the international community to take effective measures to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. In turn, we are considering the possibility of delivering Russian humanitarian aid to Kabul.

According to reports from Afghanistan, the Taliban is trying to establish a new political system in the country. We support the formation of an inclusive coalition government as soon as possible. It should represent all ethnic and political forces in Afghanistan, including national minorities. We also note a statement by high-ranking Taliban functionary Shahabuddin Delawar. He urged the foreign countries that had rushed to withdraw their diplomatic missions to resume their activities. This demonstrates a willingness on the part of the Taliban to develop ties with the international community.

The Russian Embassy in Kabul continues to operate as usual. The ensuring of security for its staff and buildings is currently under control.

 

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Developments in Ethiopia

 

Recent developments in the friendly Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia have been a matter of concern as hostilities between the government troops and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) have resumed in the immediate vicinity of Semera, the capital of the Afar Region.

The delivery of international humanitarian aid has been suspended to the city airport, which is an important logistics hub. The TPLF forces are continuing to try to capture the strategic road that connects Ethiopia and Djibouti, which may lead to the aggravation of the already difficult humanitarian situation as well as an increased number of refugees.

We believe that both parties to the conflict must immediately cease fire in order to stop the bloodshed, improve the humanitarian situation, reach gradual social and economic stabilisation and allow internally displaced persons to return home.

We welcome the appointment of former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo as High Representative of the African Union for the Horn of Africa region on August 26, 2021. We hope that in this role he will provide efficient assistance to the efforts to normalise the humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia.

We urge the international community and regional organisations to support the Ethiopian government in its efforts to settle the situation in Tigray in order to bring peace and to restore life to normal. We feel that the decisive role in the settlement of the intra-Ethiopian conflict must be played by the Ethiopians themselves with support from the African community.

 

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Ministerial conference on Libya in Algiers

 

On August 30-31, 2021, the capital of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria hosted a conference of Libya’s neighbouring countries with the participation of the foreign ministers of Algeria, Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, Niger, Sudan, Chad, Libya and UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Libya Jan Kubis, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Bankole Adeoye.

The forum’s main goal was to assist the Libyan people in reaching national accord as soon as possible and overcoming the severe military and political crisis that began in 2011. In this regard, participants in the meeting exchanged opinions on the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2510 and 2570, as well as relevant decisions of the international conferences held in Berlin in January 2020 and June 2021. The meeting participants agreed to continue efforts to promote the political process in Libya under the auspices of the UN, emphasised the need to strengthen trust building measures in order to create favourable conditions for organising nationwide elections in Libya on December 24, 2021. They also agreed that the next ministerial meeting will be held in Cairo.

Russia has always emphasised the special role of Libya’s neighbouring countries in the comprehensive settlement of the military and political intra-Libyan conflict. We have consistently spoken in favour of their active and important participation in the collective international efforts to assist and promote the political process in the country. We praise Algeria’s well-timed initiative to organise such a representative event in their country. We confirm our readiness to strengthen cooperation with Libya’s neighbours in the interests of an early restoration of peace and security in the Libyan territory, which will facilitate the sustainable normalisation of the entire Sahara-Sahel area.

 

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Actualisation of Russia’s Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region

   

In the mid-1990s, Russia presented its vision of collective security in the Persian Gulf area. Since then, our concept has been repeatedly amended and specified to fit the dynamic developments in that strategically important region of the world.

Among the main principles of this Russian initiative, we traditionally single out the universality, phasing, and multilateralism as a method of ensuring the involvement of all stakeholders in decision-making and the implementation of decisions based on the commitment to international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.

By August 2021, Russia, in coordination with its regional partners, has completed the work on actualising the concept. Its upgraded version concentrates on adopting a long-term programme of joint action in strengthening stability and security, including confidence-building measures, creation of mechanisms to resolve disputes and settle conflicts, and definition of the main reference points and parameters of the future architecture of interstate collaboration in the Persian Gulf area.  The document provides for the establishment of multilateral cooperation in the military-political sphere and promotion of economic, humanitarian, environmental and other types of cooperation.

The updated version of the Concept is available on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry. It has also been sent to the capitals of countries in the region and circulated as an official document of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

Following the normalisation of the sanitary and epidemiological situation in Moscow, the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences will host an international roundtable conference that will discuss the document in detail. We hope that the stakeholders from the international expert community will take an active part in this discussion.

 

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Major IT corporations ignoring Russian legislation

 

In an increasingly systemic manner, certain IT giants, primarily based in the US jurisdiction, have been ignoring the legitimate demands of Russian competent authorities to block or delete illegal content.

Official requests sent to the headquarters of Google and Apple for access to websites recognised as extremist to be blocked in their apps were essentially disregarded. We cannot accept a situation where internet giants choose which requests to fulfil and which content to keep or to delete, irrespective of the laws of the country in which they are operating. It is even more unacceptable to practise political segregation and rely on politics as a dominating factor in making the decisions which, as we and those who respect international law believe, must be substantiated in law. As an example from the past, despite the proclaimed commitment to the freedom of access to information, nothing stopped Apple from blocking, at the request of Ukrainian security agencies, access to a host of Russian media outlets and social media in Ukraine. They can do it when they want to. All they need is intent, which, however, cannot be dictated by the current political climate, especially when it concerns the freedom of speech, regulating media content, etc.

This being said, while taking a half-hearted, if not indifferent, approach to complying with Russian law, the above companies have been significantly more law-abiding and open to dialogue with local authorities in the countries where they have offices and in the Western countries in general. They know well the potential consequences of non-compliance. Moreover, they even practise responsible self-regulation. They do not have to be reminded or notified or publicly addressed with repeated requests; they take steps to enforce local legislation. Notably, it is in the same countries that we have seen examples of a politicised approach. A case in point is Apple and Google imposing arbitrary restrictions which removed social networking services like Parler from the media scene. The measure was purely political.

We believe that this type of arrogant and selective conduct, along with a defiant disregard for multiple requests from the Russian competent agencies concerning extremist content, is taking a particularly unacceptable form in the context of current election-related events. We have heard plenty of demands, concerns and even threats from our American partners, demanding not only that Russia avoid interfering in US internal affairs but also in its elections. They have presented a whole list of complaints against Russia. We have tried to tell them that there are civilised forms of communication and appropriate channels. Most importantly, we wanted to see specific examples and facts that would provide an explanation for Washington’s allegation that Russia could or had already interfered in the US elections. What exactly did they mean? The United States did not offer any specific examples but this type of rhetoric persisted.   

This is exactly the time when we show, disclose and point to actual facts. Except they do not provide proof of attempts by Russia to interfere in, or to have influence on, US domestic politics. On the contrary, it is American legal entities, corporations and agencies that are, one way or another, creating certain circumstances that could easily be construed as attempts to interfere not only in internal affairs but also in the election process. Both the Foreign Ministry and several other executive agencies in Russia have spoken out and respective statements have been issued today.

We can legitimately interpret the persisting policy of connivance with respect to prohibited materials on the part of American IT monopolies as interference in Russia’s internal affairs. In these circumstances, it is bewildering, at the very least, to see the United States endlessly throw completely unsubstantiated and empty accusations about interference in its internal affairs.

We insist that Apple and Google duly comply with the demands of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) and the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office that have been sent to these companies once again today.

In a wider context, we find that it is necessary to form and develop a better structured regulatory framework for the IT companies based in foreign jurisdictions to honestly and responsibly operate in Russia, as envisioned by the Federal Law On the Operation of Foreign Entities in the Information and Telecommunications Network Internet in the Russian Federation, that will take effect on January 1, 2022. We expect that after the foreign internet giants have opened their representative offices in Russia as required by this law, the dialogue between them and the Russian Government will enter a qualitatively different level that serves public interests.

A sufficient number of reports have been cited, including in Roskomnadzor statements, even without our materials. We specifically delved into this matter to make sure that our American partners would not be able to claim further ignorance. Now they definitely know. The facts are out there. If they want to clarify any nuances or details, we will be happy to answer questions. We are open for dialogue.

 

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Campaign against RT Deutsch in Germany

 

We are shocked by the comments regarding the refusal of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to issue a satellite broadcasting license to the German division of Russia’s RT television channel. The comments were made by Hendrik Zerner, the press secretary of the German Union of Journalists. Mr Zerner is not the leader of a political party pursuing an extremely politicised agenda of its own, nor an underground head of a nationalist movement. He is a representative of the main German media union and he welcomed the decision taken by the neighbouring state, doing this in a manner contradicting all norms of professional ethics and elementary decency.   

I would like to quote some phrases and expressions used by the press-secretary of the German Union of Journalists. Mr Zerner was speaking on behalf of his organisation rather than on his own. He described the depriving of German viewers of access to information provided by a popular Russian media operator as a “victory for radio broadcasting, journalism and all television viewers.” So, he actually “blessed” yet another act of censorship and an attack on the freedom of speech and opinion in his own country, Germany, which invariably emphasises its respect for freedom of expression and takes care of journalists. We are shocked. There is a discrepancy here.

Talk all you want about disliking this or that media outlet but to prove your point you should have facts demonstrating that it somehow fails to conform to the definitions and norms governing media operations. This has nothing to do with subjectivism or political views that should be shared or otherwise by other journalists. This is about a media outlet’s conformity to a country’s domestic legislation and its international commitments. Your – I am addressing the German Union of Journalists – personal views, preferences and attitudes are of no importance in this case. Give us concrete facts showing why you, as journalists, are displeased with RT. Couldn’t it be because RT is more popular than much of the media included in your union? Is it a case of banal jealousy?  But you must control yourselves, get mobilised, forge ahead and prove your competitiveness rather than tug at officials’ coat-tails, urge administrative action and thus win competition.

It is not for the first time that Mr Zerner has made statements of this kind, statements that make one doubt his professional aptitude.  Let me just quote yet another notorious remark of his. (I am doing this for the sake of colleagues from international organisations, who do not find such statements on their own to be in a position to appraise them. This quote is certainly not for Mr Zerner – I think he remembers what he said – nor is it for the audience at large.)    

I am asking OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro to estimate the following pronouncement made by the representative of the German Union of Journalists: “Those who work for RT have parted company with critical and independent journalism.” Mr Zerner is even concerned with the fact that RT is present on the Internet. In all evidence, the Russian channel is, in his view,  the main threat coming from the digital space.

We usually record attacks on the media launched by the arms of power in different countries. But Germany is unique in this sense. We see how German journalists are harassing their colleagues: they have declared a real war on them. But if they do not regard Russian journalists as their colleagues, this is not the problem of Russian journalists. These problems should bother German correspondents, the German media, German media unions, and, in effect, official Berlin.   It turns out that a democratic country that positions itself as a freedom-loving nation has nationals possessing resources of influence on the public opinion. They are using unacceptable methods, including harassment and direct insults with regard to media representatives. If there are facts, data or content proving that German journalists may have professional motives to dislike RT, be so kind as to publish them and present them to us. If there are none, do somehow conform to professional standards. Be journalists, not propaganda mongers. 

It should  be pointed out that the rhetoric used by the German Union of Journalists is indicative from the point of view of the general atmosphere of slander and harassment, which is being intentionally stoked around RT in the FRG. This campaign is being actively encouraged by the local authorities, despite the recent refutations offered by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. German officials publicly deny RT employees the very right to be called journalists. Obstacles are put in the way of normal banking servicing of RT’s German editorial board. We are assured that the official authorities have nothing to do with this, but we have different information. Material maligning Russian media personalities is being published. And all of this is happening in a state advocating media freedom as an indisputable value and the corner stone of a democratic and pluralistic society.  

The circumstances, under which the Luxembourg authorities were considering RT’s application, raise legitimate questions as well. Repeatedly surfacing in the media are reports about consultations between Luxembourg and German agencies, consultations that involved representatives of both countries’ secret services. An indirect indication of what these colloquia were about is contained in statements made by German officials that took the form of undisguised pressure.    

The thinly veiled aggression vis-à-vis RT has succeeded in breeding reflexes of general license with regard to Russian media, as exemplified by the disregard, with which a seemingly authoritative edition, Die Welt, treats German judiciary orders. As early as August 17, the courts in Berlin and Frankfurt ruled that the newspaper should delete from its resources slanderous content dedicated to RT. But despite the vaunted German law abidance, this has not happened to this day. The answer to the query “why” is obvious: a relevant atmosphere has been created. Both the media and the authorities are acting hand in glove.  

A particularly characteristic sign against this background is the total silence kept by the relevant international organisations. As of today, we have provided enough material for the OSCE to take an interest in what is happening with RT in Germany. We can submit additional data, if they are interested.  It is high time they respond to these crying violations of media freedom. We expect a fitting response from these organisations, response prescribed by their mandate. They will not be able to take refuge in silence, we’ll keep reminding them. We are urging the German authorities to stop infringing upon the rights of Russian media and journalists and to resume the proper performance of their international obligations in the field of pluralism of opinion. If they are so concerned with the situation in Russia, we would like them to apply the same zeal to the situation in Germany proper.  There are many problems that they should attend to, specifically when it comes to freedom of expression.

 

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OSCE observers not to monitor parliamentary elections in Norway

 

This is yet another shocking example of more than just double standards. As we pointed out on numerous occasions, double standards have long become a thing of the past, giving way to the absence of any standards and chaos in this vitally important sphere.

The function of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is to monitor elections. This time, ODIHR has not recommended the deployment of an election observation activity for the September 13 parliamentary elections in Norway. The ODIHR policy of monitoring elections in the countries located east and west of Vienna remains a source of concern and questions.

We would like to know about the standards, which our partners regularly cite and which do not exist in reality, we do not comply with, according to our partners.

The latest example is the decision that was made by the ODIHR against sending observers to the September 13 parliamentary elections in Norway. At the same time, its experts still have concerns about Norway’s electoral system, including based on a recent Needs Assessment Mission (NAM), which pointed out that some of the prior ODIHR recommendations remained unaddressed. The decision not to send observers could be logical if the Norwegian authorities had implemented all but 0.1 percent of the recommendations – simply because perfection is boring. But this is not the case. Why then will the ODIHR not send its observers to Norway? Isn’t it interested? Or is there some other reason?

The ODIHR position stands in glaring contrast to its invariable desire to deploy numerous short- and long-term observer missions to post-Soviet countries even despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

We would like to once again draw the attention of the ODIHR to the flaws in its election monitoring methodology, which can only be corrected through the formulation and coordination of election observance norms and standards with all the OSCE member states.

 

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Statement by European Commission members on the so-called Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes

 

We have taken note of a recent statement made by European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova and Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, issued ahead of the so-called European Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Attempts have been made in the EU for more than a decade now to introduce this event in connection with the non-aggression pact signed between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

Those who do not have a good knowledge of history may well wonder if there were no totalitarian and authoritarian regimes before 1939.

The above attempts are being accompanied with the pompous slogans about the “European values,” which allegedly ensure protection from totalitarianism and authoritarianism. While promoting what looks like a noble goal, Brussels is irresponsibly encouraging openly revisionist approaches to our common history, equating fascism and communism.

The statement says, in part, that on August 23 the EU pays tribute to those who fell victim to totalitarian regimes in Europe and those who fought against such regimes.

Comrades at the European Commission, we would like to point out that fighting logic so resolutely could be destructive, for it can take offense and refuse to return from retirement.

We would also like to ask the high members of the European Commission, who have signed this masterpiece: How is this day marked in the Baltic countries, where celebrations for SS veterans are held regularly? How is this done in the EU states where the monuments to the Red Army soldiers who died fighting the Nazi plague are dismantled? Do the signatories of that statement believe that the Soviet citizens who were killed by Nazi accomplices and the Soviet soldiers who liberated Europe cannot be considered as “respected Europeans” and hence deserve to be disregarded? It appears that this consideration has escaped the Brussels “political commissars,” who are eager to forget the decisions of the Nuremberg Trials. A direct logic between events seems to be out of joint. They don’t even stop to think about the effect this historical blindness can have and is already having.

Of course, we stand together with those who, refusing to yield to pseudo-historical provocations, sincerely commemorate those who died fighting the man-hating Nazi ideology and its remnants. August 23 is a day when this can be done with a very good reason. On that day 78 years ago, the Red Army victoriously concluded the Battle of Kursk, one of the largest and most important battles of WWII, which ultimately led to the defeat of Nazi Germany. This event has nothing to do with virtual standards and principles, which only exist on paper and are only revitalised during such unscrupulous vigils. This is part of true, living history which has a huge price, because it was paid for with millions of lives.

 

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6th Caspian Media Forum

 

On September 10, Astrakhan will be the venue of the 6th Caspian Media Forum organised by the Astrakhan Region government, the Caspian Sea– Eurasia Centre for International and Sociopolitical Studies, the North – South Centre for Political Studies, and supported by the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism and the Federal Agency for the CIS Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation.  

This forum is a unique platform for sharing experience and discussing new development vectors for regional and international journalism, as well as for creating a common media environment for the countries of the Caspian region (Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan). 

This year’s agenda is centred on ethnocultural communications in the media space, environmental and ethnocultural tourism.

Forum participants will specifically focus on developing practical recommendations and project initiatives to promote travel opportunities linked to the ethnic brands of the Caspian littoral states and the territories bordering Russia, as well as to create and exchange quality and informative content on ethnic travel and nature conservation, best practices and information between the media outlets in the Caspian littoral states, and more. 

The forum will welcome representatives of media outlets, government bodies in charge of information policy, international cooperation and tourism, as well as experts, researchers and political scientists, leaders of public and youth organisations from the Caspian region.

The Foreign Ministry will also take part in the forum. I really do hope that nothing will stand in the way and we will be able to resume offsite briefings. Therefore, the next weekly briefing will take place on the sidelines of this forum, offline and via videoconference, because people from other countries who cannot attend in person due to current restrictions will also want to follow it. Local journalists and possibly journalists from other regions will attend. Participants will be able to ask questions live. We will do our best to arrange this.

 

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Updated foreign travel regulations

 

Please note that updated information on foreign travel during the COVID-19 pandemic has been published on the Foreign Ministry website. The rules are in effect as of August 31, 2021. 

The page contains detailed information on travel to North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania, the CIS as well as Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

We urge everybody who is planning to travel abroad to review the updates and monitor our online resources such as our social media and the Foreign Assistant mobile app.

 

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International Charity Golf Tournament

 

On September 10, the Moscow Country Club (a branch of the Foreign Ministry’s Main Administration for Service to the Diplomatic Corps, or GlavUpDK) will host the 25th International Charity Golf Tournament. This competition will be one of the high-profile events marking the 100th anniversary of the administration.

Representatives of GlavUpDK, federal and regional officials, the diplomatic corps as well as prominent athletes and performers, founders and ambassadors of various charity foundations, will compete in the tournament. 

Also expected are diplomats from other countries, members of the business and political elite, professional and non-professional golf players and junior golfers. 

Having become an annual event, the tournament invariably attracts public attention.

More information can be found on the website of the Main Administration for Service to the Diplomatic Corps.

 

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Question: Vasily Nebenzya has pointed out that the UN Security Council resolution on Afghanistan does not take into account some issues which Russia considers to be important. Will the Foreign Ministry make use of international venues to promote its initiatives on a settlement in Afghanistan?

Maria Zakharova: We have pointed out on several occasions, including during discussions on Afghanistan, that the topics of traditional concern for us are the fight against international terrorism, primarily ISIS, and drug trafficking. The latest UNSC resolution on Afghanistan does not fully acknowledge the threat coming from ISIS and other terrorist organisations, which Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya pointed out in his remarks.

We are consistently advocating, just as we did before, the development of Afghanistan as a peaceful, independent and economically prosperous state. We have noted that the Western haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan can have a negative effect on the well-being of the country at this new period in its history. We believe that the bulk of responsibility for this decision and the “inheritance” left to the Taliban rests with the Western countries, which adopted decisions on the forms of their presence in Afghanistan regardless of the UNSC mandate, and which have not even once reported on the results of their deployment to the UNSC and the international community.

 

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Question: The US, British and French leaders have announced the conditions for recognising the international legitimacy of the Taliban. What is Russia’s position on the diplomatic recognition of the new Afghan authorities?

Maria Zakharova: We call for creating an inclusive coalition government in Afghanistan in which all the country’s ethnic and political forces, including ethnic minorities, will be represented.  An official recognition of the new authorities can be discussed after the completion of this process.

 

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Question: The Foreign Ministry has announced that it is discussing the topic of refugees with Afghanistan’s neighbours. What immediate solutions are possible?

Maria Zakharova: We believe there is a risk that terrorists and extremists can pose as refugees in order to enter regional countries, first of all Central Asian states. An immediate task for the new Afghan authorities will be the creation of favourable living conditions for the people at this new period in the country’s history, which includes solving the migration problem in a natural way.

 

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Question: Would you please comment on the emotional discussion in the social media that has been provoked by some Russian MPs’ view that the current deterioration in Afghanistan will push Central Asia into Russia’s embrace?

Maria Zakharova: We have received many questions regarding this. I am ready to answer all of them now. I would like to begin with the official position and then complement it with less official views.

There have been active discussions, including in connection with the upcoming State Duma elections, on Russia’s foreign policy, international relations and history in the context of current global processes, and many foreign policy statements have been made. It should be remembered that statements on the country’s policy and official stand are made by official representatives of the executive authorities. Many other statements represent personal views and political precepts of certain individuals or groups of persons. They do not represent the position of the state as a whole or the official views and stand of the Russian Federation. Sometimes they coincide, and at other times they are extremely different.

All Central Asian countries without exception are Russia’s strategic partners. This precept has been formalised in public statements and also interstate treaties. In accordance with our mutual obligations, our cooperation is based on respect for each other’s sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, on friendship, neighbourliness, equality and mutual respect for interests. In addition to this, there are also our obligations made within the framework of the UN, the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU and the SCO.

Russia and the Central Asian republics share a common history, close human, cultural and humanitarian ties, and a solid fabric of trade, economic and business relations. Our heads of state, ministries and agencies are working consistently together to preserve and improve these privileged relations and to overcome our common threats and challenges, sometimes working together to deal with the problems of one particular country if this suits the interests of the country facing these problems. There are numerous examples of this. COVID-19 has shown that we were sincerely concerned with the troubles that have affected many countries, including in Central Asia. Isn’t this obvious? Can’t you see this? Isn’t this what we should focus on? Can our efforts to provide support and effective assistance be reduced to naught by a few strange statements that are far removed from reality and do not represent the official position? To me, the answer is obvious.

As a person whose profession is closely connected with language, I know that a catching phrase can draw attention. But it is important to remember who has used this phrase, for what purpose and whether it expresses the position of the state. According to many people, political statements do not reflect the official position of the state but they definitely do reflect the position of the people. This is not true. We have many times demonstrated our sincere concern not only as a state but also at the level of humanitarian and public organisations. This should be seen as the best proof of our real position. As for instigators, I think you will find them on all sides. Sometimes such statements are not made to wound or reproach, but because the people who make them do not know or understand facts, or misinterpret them. But some instigators will use such statements to their benefit or advantage. We should always look at the essence, analyse developments and draw conclusions based on facts. We value our relations and the approach I have described now. I believe that our Central Asian friends value their relations with Russia as well.

We are always ready to help each other out in times of difficulty. This has been demonstrated through deeds, especially at the peak of the pandemic. We have talked about this over and over again, seen and read this in the news.

We would like to urge you not to be overly worried with what might be charitably described as “non-standard” statements made at the heat of the moment, but to analyse them based on facts. Not that you should disregard them, but it would be best to see the difference between current political considerations and the fundamental attitude of the country and the people.

We have a solid basis to rely on.

 

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Question: What do you think about the report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on the origins of the coronavirus?

Maria Zakharova: I have seen this report by the ODNI on the origins of the coronavirus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. I have to say with regret that its publication has triggered yet another round of insinuations as regards this important and strictly scientific issue.

Before, Russia also emphasised the need to avoid politicisation in studying the origins of the source of the novel coronavirus infection. It escalates tensions in society and on the world scene and prevents the elaboration of common approaches to countering the spread of the infection.

We consider it necessary to focus on a search for ways to pool international efforts to defeat the pandemic instead of using this global tragedy of humanity to settle accounts at the interstate level and manipulate public opinion.

We hope to pool efforts with all interested countries with a view to preventing emergencies in public healthcare in the future. In the meantime, we are developing cooperation with our partners in environmental protection, genetics and immunology.

However, we have repeatedly noted this frantic desire to politicise this issue. We have always said that science has the final say rather than any political leaders. Even the best of them should not invent versions that have nothing to do with the facts. Politicians have the right to reach conclusions and make decisions but they should be based on information coming from scientists and materials that the latter have produced scientifically in the course of the established procedures. Only they can provide the key to resolving this complex issue.

 

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Question: In the past few weeks, Ankara and Yerevan have exchanged signals on their willingness to develop relations taking advantage of the opportunities that are opening up in the region owing to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. In particular, on August 25 this year, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about an opportunity to open a new page in the history of relations between Ankara and Yerevan and the prospects of Armenia’s participation in the platform of the Six in the region. In response, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed Armenia’s readiness to review this issue in a positive way. What does Moscow think about the potential improvement in relations between Turkey and Armenia? Is Moscow ready to act as a mediator between Ankara and Yerevan on this issue? To what extent can progress in this settlement help resolve problems in the bilateral relations of these countries? What is Moscow’s view on this?

Maria Zakharova: We have noted the recent exchange of positive signals between Yerevan and Ankara. Russia has always favoured normalisation between Armenia and Turkey and acted as a mediator. We facilitated the signing of the Zurich protocols in 2009, which provided for a gradual improvement in their bilateral relations without any preconditions. I think you remember the story about Sergey Lavrov’s “notes.” Russia acted as an effective mediator and facilitated the positive outcome of this meeting. Unfortunately, the initiatives reached by the parties with Russia’s mediation were not carried out. But this was the will of each state.

We are ready to do all we can to promote the rapprochement between the two neighbouring countries along the lines of mutual respect and taking into account each other’s interests. We believe that normalisation of Azerbaijan-Armenia relations in the context of the statements signed by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021, will promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

As for the platform of the Six you mentioned, I believe this is about the idea of launching a consultative regional mechanism with the participation of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, as well as Russia, Iran and Turkey. We think this format would meet the interests of all potential participants and could help promote confidence and economic cooperation in the South Caucasus.

 

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Question: A few days ago, the new Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Igor Khovayev, met with Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bairamov. On August 31, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan met in Moscow. Shortly before that, President Vladimir Putin held talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Should we expect any shifts in the Armenian-Azerbaijani process after these meetings? Are there plans for new meetings, perhaps mirror-like meetings, with our Azerbaijani colleagues?

Maria Zakharova: Everything you just listed shows that Moscow and our policy in this area continue to be focused on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement and normalising relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. They are also central to the policies being conducted by Baku and Yerevan, including at the top and high levels.

Russia’s main efforts are concentrated on implementing the trilateral agreements that I have mentioned. Our priorities include solving humanitarian problems in Nagorno-Karabakh, deescalating tensions on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, and unblocking transport and economic connections in the South Caucasus.

We also support stepping up the work of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh Settlement based on its existing mandate and with proper regard for the new regional realities. We think that the Throika might promote trust between Baku and Yerevan and help address humanitarian issues, something that would serve as a condition for a transition to the discussion of the political issues. Currently, the new Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Igor Khovayev, is on a regional trip. He has held talks with Azerbaijan’s leaders and similar meetings are scheduled in Yerevan. We well keep you informed.

 

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Question: What is Russia’s outlook on the prospects for settling the controversy over the appointment of the new High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina?  Is Moscow prepared to continue supporting Banja Luka in its determination to not recognise the candidacy of Christian Schmidt, which has been imposed on it? If so, what can you tell us about it?

Maria Zakharova: We have repeatedly noted that our colleagues at the Steering Committee of the Peace Implementation Council who are charged with implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina rejected a compromise solution suggested by Moscow and Beijing, which was designed to assure the necessary international legitimacy of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and opted for an unprecedented “appointment” of the German candidate, Christian Schmidt, in circumvention of the UN Security Council and in the absence of a consensus in this regard both in the international community and among the Bosnian parties. Regrettably, the Balkans is down on its luck in terms of how often the decisions and mechanisms of the UN Security Council are ignored by the Western countries.

I would like to stress once again that Mr Christian Schmidt cannot be regarded as the High Representative without the approval of the UN Security Council. Our position to this effect has not changed. His activities in this capacity, including the use of “extraordinary tools” (the so-called Bonn powers) are illegitimate, fraught with negative consequences for a post-conflict settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and are capable of undermining everything that has been achieved in this area over the last 25 years, contrary to the principles of the Dayton Agreement, and jeopardising its implementation.

As a guarantor state of the Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina and member of the Steering Committee, the Russian Federation reaffirms its invariable support for the fundamental postulates of this key international document for peace and stability in the Balkans: the equality of the three state-constituting peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the two entities with broad constitutional powers, dialogue, compromise and consensus between them. The external protectorate over sovereign and independent Bosnia and Herzegovina in the shape of the institution of the High Representative has outlived its usefulness. Russia put forward this position quite a while ago. Formerly a mechanism for solving problems, this institution has become the source of problems. The country’s fate should be decided solely by its people without outside interference and lecturing. As before, we are ready for constructive collaboration with all stakeholders to promote a positive agenda for Bosnia and Herzegovina based on the Dayton principles.

 

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Question: What can you say about US President Joe Biden’s meeting in the White House with President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky on September 1? 

Maria Zakharova: The Russian President’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has already commented on that meeting. Therefore, I would not like to comment on the meeting itself. Of course, two sovereign states have the right to develop relations. But since the situation in Ukraine is a topic on the global international agenda, the agenda of international organisations, and the United States plays a significant role in shaping the situation in Ukraine, I can say that Washington's use of Kiev as an anti-Russian weapon can lead to very predictable and sad consequences. In this case, I mean the consequences for Ukraine. They are already evident – this is a loss of orientation in their own national interests, dysfunction of the state, substitution of the interests and roles of the state of Ukraine with the interests and roles of the US, loss of historical identity. Ukraine (I mean the Kiev regime) should be guided by the interests and will of the Ukrainian people, and not by the interests and will of the American political establishment, while developing its relations with other countries. For more details on this topic, you can read the transcripts of the speeches by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over the past couple of weeks. Everything is available on our website.    

 

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Question: How will the Americans’ escape from Afghanistan affect Russia (immigration, extra expenses, the strategy in this region, etc.)? Could you also comment on the humanitarian aspect of those actions and the developments which appear to be rather dramatic and tragic for the region’s future? 

Maria Zakharova: We believe that the United States and the West as a whole, despite their hasty drawdown in Afghanistan, continue to bear the brunt of the responsibility for what is happening in that country and for ensuring that the internal political situation there does not slide into a full-scale crisis. You can cite many different idiomatic expressions that would characterise the role the US and NATO played in the country and the region, in what is happening there and how the situation will unfold further, but I would probably cite just one  – "Fair’s fair."

The Western countries have been experimenting uncontrollably for 20 years, although they had to obey and implement the mandate of the UN Security Council. They "owe" Afghanistan in every sense of the word. Pretending that they left, having somehow got together in a hurry, and that's it – end of story, it won't do. Perhaps this would have happened if we lived in the world 50 years ago, when there were no means of communication and it was possible to impose a non-existent reality through controlled media. We are now observing this reality. Therefore, inventing something will not work. The whole world saw what NATO, led by the United States, has done there. We did not see what they were doing there, but what it led to came as a surprise to the entire world. Therefore, it will not work to pretend that they are not responsible for this, that they are not in debt to the Afghan people, that they have not created a global problem, both for the region and for various continents.

At this stage, the possibility of terrorist and extremist elements infiltrating the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, especially Central Asia, undoubtedly causes concern. They can break through under the guise of humanitarian slogans and appeals for assistance to refugees, etc. In principle, both we and you, as journalists and states, who have participated in various counter-terrorist operations in various regions of the world, have had such experience. We all have experience and an understanding of ​​how this can happen. We believe that the international community and, first of all, the traditional Western donors of Afghanistan, should provide effective assistance to the population of this country in order to reduce or completely stop migration flows.

 

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Question: The Greek world is now mourning a great loss. Legendary composer, patriot and anti-fascist Mikis Theodorakis has passed away. He loved the Soviet Union and its people very much, and he had bonded with Russia. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment on this loss?

Maria Zakharova: For me, this came as really sad news. We cannot change the world, but we feel the pain every time dear and close people pass away. I grew up with the name of Mikis Theodorakis, listening to his music.

The people of Greece probably know that he was popular and loved in this country. They taught his works and studied his biography at music lessons in Russian schools. This was some time ago when he was already known but had not yet become a world legend. At that time, they loved and knew him, and they studied his works at music schools and ordinary Moscow schools. I am not sure that he had set such a goal and I believe he was merely engaged in creative work, but he managed to achieve something amazing. It was his music that became a symbol of Greece for Russian citizens, for this country’s people.

To me, he also had special feelings for Russia, the same as we felt. He said in an interview that his bond with Russia as a person, artist and revolutionary was very strong, and that he always felt admiration and gratitude towards Russia that had made such great sacrifices to save the world from Nazism. Mikis Theodorakis had received a number of Soviet and Russian awards.

His death is an irretrievable loss for the people of Greece, the entire world and for us in particular. We know and love him. This love will not end with his death.

 

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Question: President of the United States Joe Biden has called the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan a “mission of mercy” and has stated that the United States is renouncing attempts to reshape the world by force, and that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is an end to an era of large-scale military operations. This “mission of mercy” has claimed many lives. One inadvertently recalls another US operation, namely, air strikes against Yugoslavia that had the same nice-sounding name, Merciful Angel. What does Russia think about this statement, and does it hold any trust with regard to US goals and actions? Or is this a diversionary tactic? 

Maria Zakharova: There are two alternatives here: either they don’t know the meaning of the word “merciful,” or they are substituting concepts. This does not concern the word “mercy” alone. The word “democracy” fits into the same category.

 

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Question: It has been reported that the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Afghanistan and that Russia and China abstained during the vote because the amendments they proposed were not included in the text. What is the reason the Russian amendments were not included?

Maria Zakharova: I have already commented on this today. Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya talked about this in detail. As for why the Russian amendments were not accepted, this is not a question for us. Our goal was to ensure that the resolution included key aspects when it came to the interests of Russia and the global interests of the region and the world as a whole. We did our best to attain this goal. Therefore, this question is for those UNSC members who rejected them.

 

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Question: While announcing the intention to not use military operations to remake other countries, the United States has once again approved the allocation of some $60 million in military aid to Ukraine. Considering Kiev’s continuing violations of the Minsk agreements and the shelling of civilians in Donbass, can this “aid” be regarded as a reason for a military embargo against Ukraine?

Maria Zakharova: We have commented on this many times with lofty phrases, international legal formulas and quotes to substantiate our position. Some people ask what is so bad about giving aid to others, especially allocating such a considerable sum in military aid and related deliveries. We invariably reply that Ukraine is in an active phase of an internal armed conflict. It has become an insurmountable problem for several [Ukrainian] presidents. Demands to end this conflict are used by those who run for president and for seats in the legislature.

This is how politicians “buy” or what they “exchange” people’s votes for in Ukraine. It is the main issue on the agenda. We have pointed this out again and again. There is nothing bad in inviting your friends or guests to have sugar in their tea. If you place a full sugar bowl before them, this is proof of your generosity, of your concern for them and your willingness to give them the very best you have. But this is only on one condition: they cannot have diabetes. You keep offering them sugar, trying to convince them that adding sugar to their tea would be the correct thing to do. I hope this metaphor will cast a light on the fallacy of flirting with Kiev – not with the people, but with the Kiev government and its policy.

We are indeed concerned about the actions of the United States and other NATO countries in their support for Kiev’s aggressive militarist aspirations, which is having a direct and extremely negative effect on the settlement of the conflict and is only provoking the escalation of the hostilities. We talked about this situation in great detail during our briefings. Six joint military exercises have been held with NATO countries in Ukraine this year. Defender Europe 2021 was the largest military exercise in 25 years. But this doesn’t help settle any problems. In fact, those NATO countries that have tried to demonstrate their skills or train Kiev should have started with themselves. We have seen their “skills” in Afghanistan. My, what a mess they have made there… They should be ashamed to offer their aid and training assistance. Instead, they should have learned the fundamental skills themselves. After all, it was only a withdrawal, not a rescue or a regional security operation, but an operation to end their military presence, which has turned into a tragic massacre.

Western instructors, whose numbers are increasing in Ukraine, are training the Ukrainian military in combat skills, including in an urban environment. Is this what the Ukrainian people need now? Can these skills help with COVID-19, strengthen the economy or deal with the problem of social disengagement? Will all the problems vanish if the Ukrainians learn to fight in an urban environment?

Weapons and military equipment are being sent to Ukraine in direct violation of Kiev’s obligation under the Minsk Package of Measures regarding the withdrawal of all foreign armed formations and military equipment from the territory of Ukraine (Clause 10). At the same time, we are aware of the current Kiev authorities’ attitude to this document. They are not keeping it a secret.

The situation is further complicated by the Western countries’ stubborn unwillingness to admit that the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine is a purely internal conflict. It is a conflict between the current Ukrainian regime, which seized power in an unconstitutional coup in February 2014, and the people of Donbass, who refused to recognise the legality of the nationalist government in Kiev.

The Kiev regime is peddling the false propaganda of a conflict between Ukraine and Russia in order to blame Russia for Ukraine’s domestic political and economic problems and to have a reason to keep asking its Western sponsors for more handouts. By and large, this is proof that Ukraine is being used as an anti-Russia tool and weapon. Kiev’s Western curators, primarily the United States, are taking advantage of this situation to adopt illegal restrictions, apply political pressure and maintain “controlled tension” on Russia’s border in a bid to curtail our development.

Some officials in Ukraine, in particular, advisers at the Office of the President of Ukraine, have gone as far as to say that “this is not a conflict between Russia and Ukraine” (which is not true, and there is a document to this effect which Ukraine signed), but a “Russian-Russian conflict.” This disease has reached the point of no return. This is proof that those who are expected to settle the crisis are completely incompetent and are only aggravating it.

The international community must admit the reality of civil war in Ukraine. Instead of sending huge amounts of weapons to Ukraine, an embargo must be adopted on sending military equipment to the country, which is exterminating its own people, prohibiting opposition political parties and dissent, and liquidating the free press and journalists. 

We hope that some Western politicians are still open to reason, have a sincere feeling of sympathy rather than hatred for Ukraine, and will stop the “hawks” in Washington and in some European capitals from destabilising the situation in Europe further.

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