Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, October 7, 2021
- Sergey Lavrov to take part in high-level anniversary meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement
- Sergey Lavrov to attend a meeting of foreign ministers from the member countries of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia
- Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming meeting with UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova
- Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Angola Tete Antonio
- The upcoming meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers
- The First Committee of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly starts working
- Third Eurasian Women’s Forum
- Seventh World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad
- The 4th Global Forum of Young Diplomats “Victory Diplomacy”
- Update on Afghanistan
- Revoking accreditation of staff at the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO
- Baltic Sea Security towards 2035 conference in Copenhagen
- Crimea depicted as part of Ukraine at a UEFA presentation for the Euro-2024 championship
- Forum of Museum Directors of SCO Member Countries
- Russian-French exhibition projects
- The Foreign Ministry opens an Odnoklassniki account
- Statement by British Secretary of State for Defence
- Demarche by a number of countries at the 98th Session of OPCW Executive Council
- LRT television channel’s interview with Lithuanian Ambassador to Russia
- Developments on Tajik-Afghan border
- Resumption of talks on the Iranian nuclear programme
- Statement by Iranian Foreign Minister on South Caucasus developments
- Syria update
On October 11, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend a high-level meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement on its 60th anniversary during his working visit to Belgrade.
For the first time, Russia will take part in a NAM meeting in its new capacity as an observer state. This status was received last July at the initiative of President of Russia Vladimir Putin. This move vividly demonstrates that Russia and the NAM have close positions on many global issues and opens broad opportunities for building mutually beneficial partnerships, at the UN and other venues.
During the meeting, Mr Lavrov plans to read a message of greeting from President Vladimir Putin, which emphasises the importance Russia is attaching to the activities of the NAM that unites 120 nations and promotes principles of equitable interstate cooperation.
On October 12, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the sixth meeting of foreign ministers from the member countries of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), to be held in Nur-Sultan.
The meeting agenda will include a discussion on developing practical regional cooperation that is supposed to become part of multi-vector integration efforts in the common Eurasian space.
At Russia’s initiative, a new area of focus – cooperation in international information security – will be launched at the conference.
As one of the coordinators of CICA’s economic activities, Russia has also prepared comprehensive proposals on stepping up joint efforts to support small and medium-sized businesses.
On October 13, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Olga Algayerova, who will participate in the Russian Energy Week International Forum to be held in Moscow. The practical aspects of Russia’s interaction with this regional UN commission and UNECE project activities in the CIS countries with Russia’s donor and expert support will be discussed.
On October 13, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Angola Tete Antonio, who will be in Moscow on a working visit.
The ministers will discuss the current state of and prospects for reinvigorating diverse political, trade, economic and humanitarian ties between our countries based on the goals formulated during the talks between the President of Russia and the President Angola in Moscow and Sochi in 2019.
An engaged exchange of views on pressing items on the international and regional agendas will take place with a focus on peacekeeping, ensuring stability and security and combating terrorist threats in Africa.
On October 14, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in a meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers to be held in Minsk (this year, the CIS is chaired by Belarus).
During the meeting, the foreign ministers will exchange views on pressing items on the international agenda and interaction within the CIS format, discuss draft declarations submitted for consideration by the CIS Heads of State Council (October 15) in connection with the 30th anniversary of the Commonwealth, on the development of cooperation in the area of migration and on ensuring biological safety. A Joint Statement on Strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention will be adopted at the ministerial level.
In the context of the unending attempts to falsify history, the ministers will approve the Regulations on the International Association (Commission) of Historians and Archivists from the CIS countries, the main goals of which will include an objective and impartial assessment of the events of our common past, promoting access to archived documents and coordinating researchers’ activities.
Considerable attention will be paid to the cultural and humanitarian areas. In particular, draft resolutions on declaring the city of Comrat (Republic of Moldova) the Cultural Capital of the Commonwealth in 2023 and the Action Plan for Folk Art and Cultural Heritage Year in 2022 will be agreed upon.
The foreign ministers will approve a plan for multitier inter-ministerial consultations within the CIS for 2022 during the meeting.
Last week, the First Committee of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly opened. The agenda includes a wide range of pressing items related to maintaining international peace and security.
It is gratifying to know that in the difficult circumstances of pandemic-related restrictions in the United States, the delegations, including experts from the various capitals, were able to be present in-person in the conference room. We look forward to an engaged professional dialogue on all matters of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Practical measures to prevent an arms race in outer space are among the top priorities.
The Russian delegation is ready for constructive interaction with the UN member states in common interests.
St Petersburg will host the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum on October 13-15 at the initiative of Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko. (The first forum took place in 2015, and the second one in 2018.)
Held under the aegis of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the forum is a major international event. Its participants will include female leaders from the CIS and other countries (over 100 states in all), MPs, representatives of executive government bodies, international organisations, business circles, the scientific community, public and charity organisations, and respected members of the international women’s movement.
This forum has won wide recognition as an effective mechanism of interaction and dialogue for women who are influencing social, political and economic decisions. It facilitates the growing participation of women’s movements in resolving global challenges of our time.
The business programme of the third forum includes plenary and expert sessions organised by international organisations and associations, discussions, an offsite meeting of the Women 20 (W20) and a number of other events. The participants will devote key debates to the role of women in ensuring global security, the transition to new models of economic growth and social progress, overcoming the adverse consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, developing healthcare, balancing universal digitisation, and addressing global environmental and climate problems.
The Foreign Ministry is doing all it can to facilitate preparations for this important international event and is planning to take an active part in it.
On October 15, the Seventh World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad will hold its opening ceremony, entitled “Russia and Our Compatriots in a Changing World,” to be followed by the plenary discussion “The Russian World and the Challenges of Our Time.”
The congress will be held in Moscow on October 15-16 in conformity with the Federal Law No. 99-FZ of May 24, 1999 On the State Policy of the Russian Federation towards Compatriots Abroad and by agreement with the President of the Russian Federation. About 400 activists of public associations of compatriots and prominent representatives of the Russian diaspora from 102 countries are expected to take part in it. In Russia, invitations to attend the forum were sent to representatives of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, executive government bodies, the clergy and local NGOs.
The forum has several priorities: to continue rallying the Russian community abroad amid new challenges; protect the rights and lawful interests of our compatriots; preserve the common historical memory; develop education abroad in the Russian language; promote compatriots’ media; and strengthen the role of the youth. Given the pandemic-related conditions, this landmark forum for our foreign diaspora will take place in the hybrid format (offline and online). It will determine the main areas of focus for Russia’s cooperation with its compatriots in the near future.
We will soon publish information about media accreditation for the congress on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
Between October 13-15, the Foreign Ministry Council of Young Diplomats, in conjunction with the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs and the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, will host the 4th Global Forum of Young Diplomats “Victory Diplomacy” in Moscow. Key events of the Forum include a plenary session, presentation of the agreed upon Charter of the International Association of Young Diplomats and a round table at the level of young specialists from the Foreign Ministry of Russia and the Foreign Ministry of Belarus.
Mikhail Shvydkoy, Vladimir Solovyev and V.V.Kuznetsov and many other prominent public figures directly involved in international activities, including Russia’s foreign policy, will take part in the plenary session “Great Victory over Nazism: Preserving memory and history, reinforcing the foundation for a peaceful future.”
The following issues will be discussed by the panels: the role of the media in covering historical events; the factor of disinformation and fake news in modern media; falsification of history; the outcomes of the Yalta-Potsdam international relations system; the Nuremberg Tribunal rulings as the basis of historical policy; a new world order with the UN in the central coordinating role; and modern challenges and threats.
More than 100 foreign diplomats are expected to attend. More information will be available on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
We are concerned about the ISIS terrorist group’s growing activities in Afghanistan. Recently, ISIS perpetrated a major terrorist attack outside a mosque in central Kabul killing 20 civilians and injuring more than 30. This group has stepped up hostilities in southern Afghanistan, in particular the province of Zabul. We note with particular concern the ISIS activities in the area adjacent to the Russian embassy in Kabul, where 5 militants from this terrorist group were neutralised on October 4.
We call on the Afghan authorities to take additional steps to ensure the security of the Russian diplomatic mission, as well as Russian citizens in Afghanistan.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made a decision to terminate the accreditation of eight employees from the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO in Brussels. We were officially notified of this on October 6. Thus, our mission’s membership will be cut in half on October 31.
This NATO step surprised us, but was not unexpected. The arrogance of it was surprising since no official explanations or reasons for doing so were provided. The media unleashed a slanderous campaign including multiple examples of fake news and direct disinformation coming from NATO.
It was not unexpected, because our Permanent Mission was heavily cut in 2015 and 2018. This is a consistent NATO policy. Soon, there will be no one left in Brussels who can maintain a conversation at the proper level with the NATO International Secretariat or member countries. Clearly, this is what NATO is trying to accomplish.
This stunt by NATO looks absolutely ridiculous amid their rhetoric about the need to maintain a dialogue and to resume Russia-NATO Council meetings. This is hypocrisy at its finest. On the one hand, they proclaim the need to interact and call for cooperation. On the other hand, they reduce the number of our Permanent Mission employees. To top it off, they spread misinformation without offering any explanation.
There is more proof that the NATO statements are groundless. NATO has repeatedly, including recently, asked us to appoint a Russian permanent representative to Brussels and not be limited to contacts at the level of the acting permanent representative. And now we got what we got.
NATO’s reluctance to cooperate has become clear once and for all. We will operate based on this premise when devising the response measures which will follow.
We have to draw your attention to the Danish authorities’ consistent advocacy of anti-Russian approaches towards establishing interaction in the Baltic Sea region.
Denmark’s Defence Minister Trine Bramsen noted at the conference Baltic Sea Security towards 2035 in Copenhagen that the security situation in the Baltic Sea noticeably degraded over the last 30 years. She attributed this to the idea that Russia allegedly “has chosen a path different from the European one” and “behaves aggressively.” The Danish side failed as usual to provide arguments in support of its groundless accusations.
We consider such statements a fairly telling example of deliberately distorting the facts. Instead of their latest attempts to weave a false narrative, we would recommend that our Danish partners try and restore Russian-Danish relations, which were practically destroyed through their efforts, and launch specific initiatives to strengthen trust and to reduce the potential for conflict in the Baltic Sea, given the unprecedented buildup of NATO activity in that region.
We regret to inform you that anti-Russian sentiment has even reached the UEFA, an organisation whose charter is about developing and promoting the game of football free of religious, racial or political discrimination. Moreover, not a single sport organisation is competent to adjudicate territorial claims. Quite the contrary, as we can see.
We can see behind all this Kiev’s concerted effort to use any and all international platforms to declare once again that they do not accept the existing realities and to prevent even the cartographic recognition of Crimea’s Russian status.
The UEFA, a respectable organisation, should not let itself be drawn into the provocations of Ukrainian soccer officials. That the intention was to provoke is evident to everybody. Recall the scandal at the Euro-2020 championship concerning the Ukrainian national team, whose players wore jerseys with a slogan of Nazi collaborators who numbered among the Ukrainian nationalists fighting on the side of Nazi Germany. There is no place for aggressive, revanchist and extremist ideas in sports. We ask the UEFA leadership to give the matter the attention it deserves.
Whatever is behind the UEFA’s topographic exercises, the fact that Crimea is part of the Russian Federation cannot be changed by presentations, statements or pictures on the Ukrainian football team’s uniform, or by provocation.
We consistently stand for honest and fair sport, without politicisation or attempts to use it as an instrument of pressure and unfair competition. Athletes, including those who live in Russian Crimea, should not be hostage to jockeying, intrigue or blackmail.
Russia continues to consistently promote new areas of cooperation between the SCO member countries. Today, Tula hosts the SCO member countries’ first ever museum summit, which was organised by the Russian Ministry of Culture in a hybrid format. It is attended by officials from the ministries and departments handling cultural issues, as well as the heads of leading museums from SCO member countries and countries with observer status, including Belarus, Iran and Mongolia.
The discussion will focus on the ways of establishing horizontal links between museums, carrying out joint projects and sharing experience in developing museum brands. Participants are expected to discuss the prospects for creating an SCO museum alliance.
The event is unanimously regarded as an important part of the SCO’s systematic efforts to enhance mutual understanding between peoples and preserve Eurasian cultural and historical heritage. We believe the meeting will be a remarkable example of respectful and tolerant attitude to the national traditions and values of one another, contributing to mutual cultural enrichment through developing ties in culture and the arts.
The ongoing public health situation and the restrictions imposed unilaterally by Paris to hamper the development of ties between Russia and France have failed to stop the cultural communities of our two countries from engaging in robust dialogue and cooperation. The ambitious exhibition projects rolled out in Moscow and Paris testify to this.
On September 16 of this year, an exhibition, France and Russia: Ten Centuries Together, was unveiled at the Moscow Kremlin Museums. It features over 200 of the most valuable artifacts from museum and research institution collections from the two countries, giving visitors insight into the centuries-old history of bilateral relations and the lives of outstanding personalities who significantly influenced the course of history.
The opening ceremony for the exhibition, The Morozov Brothers’ Collection: Modern Art Icons, took place in Paris on September 21, 2021 as part of the Russian Seasons in France. Exhibited are over 200 paintings by prominent French and Russian artists of the turn of the 20th century, including works from the collections of the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, the State Hermitage and the State Tretyakov Gallery. It is worth mentioning that, thanks to this project, Mikhail and Ivan Morozov’s unique collection has been taken from Russia abroad for the first time since its creation, which is a remarkable sign of the quality of museum ties and, generally, cultural cooperation between Russia and France.
A retrospective exhibition of Ilya Repin’s creative work, The Russian Soul in Painting, which opened in Paris on October 3 of this year, is expected to become a highlight of the Russian Seasons festival. A witness to dramatic historical and social changes in Russia, this great artist had particularly warm feelings for France, a country with which he was connected in various periods of his life. Over 100 paintings are on display, including those from the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum and the Finnish Ateneum Art Museum.
As you may be aware, the Foreign Ministry is active on social media. We inform the public in Russia and abroad about Russia’s foreign policy and domestic approaches to pressing international and regional issues, maintain communication during emergencies, and provide an additional source of useful and interesting information. We are using digital platforms for this purpose.
We understand that the social media are going through a period of turbulence, if not transformation. This is largely due to the lack of international regulation or a legal framework for their activities as foreign legal entities, as well as contacts with the host country. There is a vast number of issues that need urgent solutions.
Just a few days ago, we witnessed a global collapse of several digital platforms - American IT giants – such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, to name a few, which made the complexity and fragility of the information architecture that had been built and monopolised by US internet companies over the past two decades clear to the world. In a heartbeat, billions of people lost access to the above information. We are not talking only about individual users, but businesses as well. This communication channel that many people assumed to be reliable stopped being so in an instant.
These developments stem directly from information security. We have pointed this out many times and put forward corresponding initiatives in order to consolidate international efforts in this area. The US IT monopolies are not just operating outside the legal field (both national and international), but are also showing their true level of competence. It is unclear which is scarier. What happened has once again shown the urgent need to develop and promote the ICT-related domestic digital segment.
We have been active on the domestic social media VKontakte since 2014. Last April, we joined the RuTube video hosting service. We did not anticipate foreign social media to fail, but we were building our preparedness in advance. Clearly, not for nothing. It so happened that the Foreign Ministry is now establishing its presence on another Russian digital platform.
I’m delighted to inform you that the Foreign Ministry now has an official account on a popular Russian social network, Odnoklassniki. This briefing is broadcast live on our official page as I speak. Go ahead and join in. We will post our materials, primarily video content, on this page.
This year, Odnoklassniki is marking its 15th birthday, and the developers have overhauled its design and interface and added new functionality to celebrate the occasion. At this point, we are interested in partnering up with them. I believe our participation will grace this anniversary. We will do our best to support the domestic IT company.
Odnoklassniki is an uncontested leader in Russia and across the former Soviet Union. The total global audience amounts to 70 million people. Importantly, Odnoklassniki is used by hundreds of thousands of our compatriots in many non-CIS countries, such as Israel, Germany and the United States, to name a few. Many users will find it provides more convenience in getting access to our news and information.
We believe this step will also contribute to the development of the Russian segment of the Internet and help form a new generation of Russian resources and web platforms, which we find truly important.
Subscribe to our Odnoklassniki account (and more), and follow the latest developments in the Russian foreign policy online.
Question: British Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, said that London intends to carry out cyber attacks against hostile states, including Russia. What is the Foreign Ministry’s assessment of this threat?
Maria Zakharova: We took note of the statements by UK’s Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace as reported by the British media. In particular, he talked about being ready to launch some kind of cyber attacks against hostile states, and named our country among them.
For many years now, the idea of expanding offensive capabilities in the information and cyber space has been promoted in NATO member states under the pretext of countering threats that allegedly emanate from our country, with Russia as the most frequently named but not the only culprit. We call on our opponents not to get carried away by this so as not to instigate a cyber arms race.
We reiterate that the Russian Federation has been a consistent advocate of rejecting attempts to militarise the information space and using ICT exclusively for peaceful purposes. This is a priority for us.
Specifically, we have repeatedly suggested to our British partners holding bilateral expert consultations, but London prefers hostile, aggressive, reckless statements of this kind and professing groundless accusations against Russia instead of establishing constructive contacts among the corresponding agencies.
Instead of this aggressive rhetoric, we offer our cooperation on all matters related to ensuring international cyber security.
Question: How could you comment on reports on the initiative by 45 countries, including the United States, at the 98th session of the OPCW Executive Council in The Hague regarding the situation around the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, which the Russian authorities are being accused of?
Maria Zakharova: Let’s take a look at the 45 states we are talking about. The countries carrying the burden of the infamous NATO and EU “solidarity” form the core of this group. We know all too well how “solidarity” of this kind is forged. This group is joined by countries that do not see any future for themselves without direct submission to these interstate associations that are seeking to guarantee that the trans-Atlantic axis formed by Washington and major European powers enjoys military, political, financial and economic dominance. The United States has been given and assumed for itself a key role in this affair.
Let me emphasise that the story with Alexey Navalny’s so-called poisoning by a “Russian chemical weapon” is full of inconsistencies, contradictions, misinformation, shady developments that have yet to be clarified, insinuations at the highest political level and outright lies professed by the West. The media and political campaign that was unleashed after August 20, 2020 around Alexey Navalny’s condition, the way it evolved and the events that followed provide a growing body of evidence that all this was a provocation, crudely planned and coarsely executed by the special services of some Western countries. What lay behind this story was a conspiracy to interfere in Russia’s domestic affairs, including ahead of the September 2021 parliamentary election. It is also quite telling that it was the UK’s permanent mission to the OPCW that filed the corresponding paperwork.
Let me remind you that it was the UK that also stood behind the so-called Skripal case, which was clearly rooted in London’s Russophobic, anti-Russia policy.
We will immediately respond to this new anti-Russia invective. I would like to remind you that the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation has already submitted requests for legal assistance to the most active participants in this “conspiracy,” primarily Berlin, Paris, Stockholm and the OPCW Technical Secretariat executive team under the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and the Foreign Ministry did the same under Article IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention. We have not received any replies so far. We still have many unanswered questions and quite a few new ones. Why do we need them? In order to complete the pre-investigation review that the Russian Interior Ministry has been carrying out for more than a year now on what happened in August 2020 to Alexey Navalny, so that this matter can be examined in due form, as required under the Russian law.
Our main goal here is to receive an answer to what could be the main question: when and under what circumstances the traces of a chemical agent that was allegedly discovered by German chemists and specialists from French and Swedish laboratories appeared in Alexey Navalny’s biological samples? Two specialised laboratories allegedly collected these samples for the OPCW Technical Secretariat, and the Technical Secretariat and the relevant countries are doing everything to conceal in what countries these facilities are located. They simply refuse to publicly name, confirm or refute where these laboratories are. As far as we understand, these countries are part of the Euro-Atlantic community that cares so much about the developments surrounding Alexey Navalny.
We will make a counter-claim and a document to this effect that will soon be available on the public section of the OPCW’s official website.
Question: Could you comment on the recent interview by Lithuanian Ambassador to Russia Eitvydas Bajarunas with Lithuanian television channel LRT, during which he said that many Russians had left Russia for political reasons in the past few years? What can you say about this statement?
Maria Zakharova: I believe that this is the biggest mistake our Western partners are making. They refuse to take notice of their own problems, sometimes claiming that they are other people’s mistakes or trying to peddle answers they like to the questions which nobody has asked, when nobody asks them for their opinion. This is exactly what has happened this time.
As for the statement made by the Lithuanian Ambassador to Russia, I would like to inform you about the situation in that wonderful country, Lithuania. I would just like to point out that nearly a million people, or about 30 percent of the country’s population have emigrated from it during the past 30 years. So, I would say there is plenty to keep the Lithuanian government busy.
Question: The Lithuanian Ambassador also commented on a meeting of the interior ministers, during which they discussed the situation on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border. In particular, it was described as a hybrid attack by the Belarusian Government. Lithuania has called for revising the EU’s migration policy.
Maria Zakharova: If Lithuania as an EU member state has called on the EU to revise its migration policy, you should ask Lithuania’s Permanent Representation to the EU for comments. Migration is indeed a big problem in the EU; it has almost reached a critical point and is a serious challenge for the entire European continent, and not only the European one at that. We have pointed this out on numerous occasions.
We welcome such debates, if they have indeed begun in the EU. However, they should be held in a constructive and pragmatic manner and should be open to reason, with due regard for modern-day realities and the root causes of the problems, which many EU member states have created in international relations. It is these problems that have ultimately led to the migration crisis.
When speaking about migration problems and the resettlement of people, our Western partners tend to forget about the causes of their origin. They do not seem to remember or refuse to remember that they themselves have been the direct or indirect reason for the appearance of such global problems. Without understanding the root causes, without analysing the mistakes made and trying to correct them, it will be impossible to make any progress in overcoming these problems and preventing their reappearance.
Question: Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on Dushanbe and Kabul to look for mutually acceptable scenarios to settle the conflict. But the problem has not been solved so far. What is Russia’s position on this matter? Will Russia help Tajikistan in the event of the conflict’s aggravation?
Maria Zakharova: We would like to hope that the Taliban will do their best to fulfil their promises, including when it comes to preventing any security threats from Afghanistan to third countries, first of all, neighbouring countries.
We continue to make use of our contacts with the Taliban Movement to consistently promote the idea of an inclusive Afghan government, which will reflect the interests of all the ethnic and political groups in the country and will pursue a responsible and civilised policy towards external players and the civilian population in the country.
The developments in Afghanistan and on the Tajik-Afghan border are the focus of our full attention. Moscow and Dushanbe are keeping close contact at the level of their defence departments, frontier services and diplomatic missions.
We continue to cooperate in strengthening Tajikistan’s defences and frontier service with due regard for operational requirements.
Russia’s 201st Military Base in Tajikistan is adequately equipped should it be required to provide support to the Tajik Government in the event of any aggravation.
If necessary, we will act resolutely in accordance with the principles of Russian-Tajik alliance and strategic partnership, as the Russian leadership has repeatedly stated.
Question: Sergey Lavrov has met with the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. In particular, according to the Foreign Ministry, the parties discussed the resumption of talks on the nuclear deal, as the United States now wants to resume this after its unilateral withdrawal and is negotiating with Iran. Would it be correct to think that the upcoming 2022 UN Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference will set a kind of limit for the completion of the US-Iranian negotiation process and the revival of the deal?
Maria Zakharova: We do not see any connection between the upcoming 2022 NPT Review Conference and the multilateral efforts being made to fully resume the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian nuclear programme (JCPOA), which is often called a nuclear deal.
As you know, intensive consultations between the JCPOA parties including Iran on the one hand, and US representatives were held from April to June. The objective was to try and persuade Washington to strictly comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and Iran to unfreeze its obligations, which were suspended in response to American violations. Plans to resume these consultations are being considered.
As for making predictions about the duration of the talks, their regularity and continuity – it is a thankless job. There is a lot of work ahead, and it should be focused on a rapprochement of positions. We believe the shortest and most effective way to “restart” the JCPOA at full capacity (we do hope this is what will happen) is through strict observance of its provisions by all parties on the basis of an initially verified balance of interests and without any additions or exemptions.
These matters were discussed at length during talks between Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Moscow on October 6, 2021.
We have taken note of all parties’ principled focus on expediting the coordination of a plan to renew the JCPOA. We hope a new round may take place soon, and that the previous efforts will serve as a starting point and a reliable basis for reaching agreements, which, we hope, will be reached in the foreseeable future.
Question: Speaking at a news conference following talks in Moscow, the Iranian Foreign Minister said that his country saw a trend towards changes in the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus and a trend towards border adjustment. Does Moscow agree with its partner’s assessments?
Maria Zakharova: I would like to remind you that the Iranian Foreign Ministry has its own spokesman. So you’d better turn to that quarter for comments on their statements. I understand that you are asking about Moscow’s position on this statement. We are prioritising the need to ensure geopolitical stability and security in the South Caucasian region. Russia is pursuing a comprehensive policy, including by maintaining a dialogue with all regional players.
Yesterday, the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran discussed the initiative to create a “three plus three” format comprising the three South Caucasus countries and their three “big” neighbours – Russia, Iran and Turkey. Our Iranian friends have a positive attitude to this initiative. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mentioned this in his remarks at the news conference.
Question: The situation in Syria was among the topics that the presidents of Russia and Turkey discussed during their talks in Sochi. How does Russia estimate the extent of Turkey’s commitment to its obligations on Syria after this summit? How much heed did Ankara pay to Moscow’s concerns over the state of affairs in areas that are not controlled by Damascus?
Maria Zakharova: Syria is a permanent item on the international agenda of the Russia-Turkey dialogue, including at the high and highest levels. Specifically, the case in point is northeastern Syria and Idlib Governorate. We are member states and founders of the Astana format. Along with our partners, we have a firm intention to continue contributing to the political process in Syria based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254. There is a need for consistent steps to promote the activities of the Constitutional Committee, including as part of preparations for the sixth session of its Drafting Commission.
Russia proceeds from the premise that it is necessary to render humanitarian assistance to all Syrians without exception in coordination with Syria’s official authorities. Of particular note in this connection is the start of humanitarian deliveries to Idlib across the line of contact under UN Security Council Resolution 2585 and norms of international humanitarian law.
We intend to continue close collaboration and coordinated work with the Ankara authorities in the diplomatic and military areas in order to normalise the situation across Syria.