Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, October 28, 2021
- G20 summit in Rome
- Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming meeting with Foreign Minister of Venezuela Felix Plasencia
- Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Holy See Secretary for Relations with States Paul Richard Gallagher
- Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Mali Abdoulaye Diop
- Russian Language Week
- Russia-Vietnam consultations with the participation of representatives from Russian regions
- The outcome of the 16th East Asia Summit
- Afghanistan update
- Humanitarian aid deliveries to Afghanistan and the evacuation of Russian citizens
- Southeastern Ukraine update
- Western instructors training Ukrainian neo-Nazis
- Council of Europe’s Venice Commission releases opinion on Ukrainian “transitional period” bill for Crimea and Donbass
- Nuclear energy cooperation between the United States and Ukraine
- Israel’s plans to expand settlements in the occupied territories
- Monument in Chisinau to Romanian army soldiers who fought on the side of Nazi Germany
- The Foreign Ministry’s report on the glorification of Nazism and manifestations of neo-Nazism and racism
- Criminal persecution of Russian-speaking journalists in Latvia
- The 50th anniversary of the Pompidou Group
- Russia’s contribution to Tajikistan’s school nutrition system under the UN World Food Programme
- The 40th independence anniversary of Antigua and Barbuda
- 100th anniversary of Russia-Mongolia diplomatic relations
- Great Ethnographic Dictation
- Moscow’s bid for EXPO-2030
- Russia’s Arctic policy
- Russian citizens in Sudan
- Unblocking transport links in the South Caucasus
- The question of recognition of the new Afghan authorities by Russia
- Anti-Russia information campaign in the West
- Kosovo provocation
- Russia’s approaches on extending EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Russia-Britain cooperation
A G20 summit will take place in Rome (Italy) on October 30-31. This will be the first offline summit since the start of the pandemic. It will be attended by the heads of state and government of the leading economies and relevant international organisations. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin will make a speech at the summit via videoconference.
This year, the leaders are expected to discuss three themes: the world economy and global healthcare; climate change and environmental protection; and sustainable development. In addition, they plan to hold two specialised seminars on the summit’s sidelines: one on support for small and medium businesses and female entrepreneurs and another on the role of the private sector in countering climate change.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the G20 summit in person. He will also hold many bilateral meetings, including with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. At present, other meetings are being planned around his current schedule. We will certainly update you on his plans.
On November 8, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Felix Plasencia who will pay his first official visit to Russia since his appointment.
Our countries are dynamically developing bilateral relations in the framework of a strategic partnership. Russia and Venezuela have amassed a significant record of diverse forms of trade, economic, scientific, technical and humanitarian cooperation. In 2021, it will be 25 years since the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.
The ministers will discuss a broad range of cooperation issues, including the efforts to counter the coronavirus. As you know, at present Venezuela receives regular supplies of the Sputnik V vaccine. Following the meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Venezuelan High Level Commission in Moscow on October 14-15 of this year, the two countries plan to take steps to deepen cooperation that can withstand illegal unilateral sanctions.
The ministers also plan to exchange views on urgent international and regional issues and cooperation in the United Nations and other forums. I would like to recall that cooperation between Russia and Venezuela is based on strict observance of international legal standards and respect for the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs.
The ministers will exchange opinions on ways to facilitate internal stabilisation in Venezuela and find political solutions to its domestic differences in line with the Constitution and, of course, without any foreign interference.
Talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, who will be in Moscow on an official visit on November 8-10, are scheduled for November 9.
The discussion will focus on the current state and future of cooperation between Russia and Vatican, as well as interaction at multilateral forums. Of course, the parties also plan to discuss topical international matters.
On November 11, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Mali Abdoulaye Diop, who will be in Moscow on a working visit on November 10-12.
The two ministers will have an in-depth discussion of current issues on the global and regional agendas with an emphasis on crisis resolution and ways of fighting terrorism in Africa. Special attention will be given to the situation in Mali and the Sahara-Sahel region as a whole.
They plan to review the prospects for cooperation between the two countries at the UN and other multilateral forums, as well as ways of promoting further Russian-African cooperation in the context of the preparations for the second Russia-Africa summit in 2022.
The two ministers are expected to discuss how to step up bilateral cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, culture, education and other areas, giving more attention to the prospects for strengthening business partnership, including in developing mineral deposits, as well as energy, infrastructure and agriculture.
As you know, on October 24, 2021, the United Nations celebrated the 76th anniversary of its Charter’s entry in force. Russian diplomats all over the world congratulated the universal organisation on its “birthday”. On this day we conducted a global digital action under the common hashtag #OurRulesUNCharter in support of the UN’s central coordinating role in global affairs (with the participation of 145 of our embassies, representative offices, consulates general and missions at international organisations). Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov launched this hashtag in New York on September 25 of this year in his speech during general political debates at the 76th UN General Assembly session. A month later, this action has become truly global.
The sincere, enthusiastic public response is inspiring. I must say that our appeal enjoyed the support of thousands of our associates from dozens of countries in different parts of the world. Our colleagues – diplomats from China, Belarus, Venezuela, Syria and other countries, representatives of international organisation, primarily the UN itself, politicians, political scientists, experts and students – all expressed support for the universal organisation as the only venue for developing effective ways of ensuring global stability and security, as well as sustainable socio-economic development.
This vox populi (voice of the people) sounded even more convincing against the backdrop of continuous attempts to impose on the international community some vague concepts on a “rules-based order,” which are losing their topicality. We would like to remind those who have forgotten this that we already have a code of rules. As distinct from incomprehensible and politicised proposals, this code of rules is universal and is approved by all UN member countries. This code is the UN Charter. So we will repeat over and over again – #UNCharterIsOurRules.
It is possible to see and listen to all those who supported the United Nations on its birth in the Foreign Ministry’s social media. They carry numerous video addresses and clips we made from them, as well as passages with the most striking speeches in different languages: Russian, English, Spanish, and Chinese, to name a few.
Russian Language Week was opened on October 25 (online due to the pandemic) in the following foreign states: Tajikistan, Slovakia, Qatar, Libya, the Czech Republic, Spain, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Austria, Kazakhstan, the United States, Jordan and Moldova.
The goal of the project is to develop international cultural cooperation and to support and promote the Russian language abroad. The executive government bodies of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area - Yugra are implementing this project in cooperation with universities and representatives of public organisations and the literary community.
The week’s opening ceremony was attended by Yugra Governor Natalya Komarova, representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Yekaterinburg Alexander Kharlov, Rector of the Pushkin State Institute of the Russian Language Margarita Rusetskaya, Rossotrudnichestvo representatives in Belgrade, Berlin, Bratislava, Chisinau, Dushanbe and Nur-Sultan, as well as representatives of foreign universities and gymnasiums with instruction in Russian.
Russian Language Week will last until October 29. Its programme includes lectures, seminars, roundtable discussions, classes and meetings on teaching and learning the Russian language abroad and promoting Russian culture with the participation of teachers and students of educational institutions of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area-Yugra and foreign countries.
I would like to draw your attention to one more interesting project. While it cannot be called global, it is attracting attention for its fresh take on traditional forms of diplomacy. Not only diplomats but also representatives of several Russian regions take part in it. I am referring to the consultations of the Russian and Vietnamese foreign ministries. They took place yesterday, on October 27, via videoconference and were joined by representatives of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the Trans-Baikal Territory, the Amur and Vologda regions and St Petersburg.
The consultations were conducted by the Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department for Liaisons with the Subjects of the Federation, the Parliament and Public Associations Semyon Grigoryev and by Head of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s Department of External Regional Relations Tran Thanh Huan.
Both diplomats said that despite the pandemic, the parties managed to maintain established contacts and even expand the geography of interregional ties that play a big role in bilateral cooperation. Representatives of the regions discussed specific proposals on promoting cooperation in diverse areas.
Participants in the consultations noted that the event has become an additional important impetus for inter-regional cooperation between Russia and Vietnam. Both sides expressed willingness to continue such meetings on a regular basis.
I think this is a wonderful experience for our other consultations with other foreign ministries because of the opportunities they present for such spirited, public, people-to-people diplomacy.
On October 27, 2021, the 16th East Asia Summit (EAS), attended by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, was held via videoconference.
We regard the EAS as an important venue for strategic dialogue at the highest level on current matters pertaining to the development of the Asia Pacific region (APR). As we can see, the APR countries, primarily the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the basis of the EAS configuration, are increasingly eager for pragmatic cooperation in a wide variety of areas, one focused on strictly practical matters and free from confrontation, given the current geopolitical turbulence with all the ensuing security risks and the need for post-crisis recovery. Russia’s activities at the forum are based precisely on this constructive vision.
Our system-based work at the EAS is aimed at enhancing the regional pandemic response potential. This year, in elaboration of the leaders’ related statement approved at Russia’s initiative in 2020, we have continued to develop a specialised dialogue mechanism designed to coordinate the response to the spread of infectious diseases.
In the context of a search for tools with a potential to ensure a sustainable post-pandemic recovery, Russia has proposed that the EAS establish a full-scale dialogue on measures to stimulate the COVID-hit tourism industry. Our partners have supported us, and a relevant statement was adopted. Russia has also co-authored a statement on cooperation in the area of mental health, as initiated by Brunei, the current ASEAN Chair.
Strengthening the existing system of ASEAN-centric multilateral interaction mechanisms is Russia’s invariable priority. In this connection, we attach great importance to continuing at the East Asia Summit consultations on regional security architecture, whose regular round took place last August.
Today, there was yet another important event at the highest level, with President of Russia Vladimir Putin holding meetings via videoconference with his ASEAN colleagues. The agenda included a wide range of industry-specific, practical initiatives, including the approval of the next five-year programme of action to promote Russia-ASEAN strategic cooperation, as well as documents on developing anti-drug cooperation and on joint work to strengthen the ASEAN-centric architecture. We will provide more details on the outcome of the Russia-ASEAN Summit and Russia’s initiatives later.
We continue to follow developments in Afghanistan. We have noted a declaration published by some of the country’s former leaders on establishing the Supreme Council of National Resistance of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for waging an armed struggle against the Taliban. In particular, this document was initiated by the former Governor of Balkh Province Atta Mohammad Noor, Marshal of Afghanistan Abdul Rashid Dostum and former Vice President Younus Qanooni. All of these individuals are currently outside Afghanistan. We urge all ethnic and political forces in Afghanistan to renounce militant rhetoric and to do everything possible to complete the process of national reconciliation.
The socioeconomic situation in the country remains complicated. Against this backdrop, Kabul was the venue for manifestations whose participants urged the international community to unfreeze Afghanistan’s state reserves. This appeal by such a large group of protesters is addressed to the international community, which for many years tried to convince the people of Afghanistan that the situation is under control, that they know where they are leading the country, that everything will be all right, and that Afghanistan will become a Western-style democracy. We hope that this appeal will not be ignored and the assets will be unfrozen. This will make it possible to use them for the most urgent needs of the population, to pay wages, support the national economy and prevent a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan.
Given the difficult humanitarian and socioeconomic situation in Afghanistan, we are considering the issue of making an urgent delivery of humanitarian aid consisting of essential items and medications to the country.
Various agencies are studying the matter of evacuating Russians and nationals of CSTO and CIS member countries, their families, as well as Afghan students enrolled full-time at Russian universities. We provide visa support to those who need it. We will keep you informed on all future developments.
We have been witnessing tragic developments in southeastern Ukraine over these past days. There has been a serious escalation in the conflict zone. According to media reports, on October 26, 2021, the Ukrainian Armed Forces launched an offensive in the so-called grey zone along the line of contact and tried to take the village of Staromaryevka. Territories outside of Kiev’s control saw a substantial increase in the number of shelling incidents, including with heavy artillery. This destroyed single-family homes in Donbass and damaged civilian infrastructure. Twelve electrical substations were left without power. So far, there have been no reports of civilian casualties, but we cannot rule out a further deterioration considering the situation. We would like to emphasise that the Ukrainian military and security agencies have been intentionally violating the additional Measures to Strengthen the Ceasefire, which were agreed upon in July 2020. They are resolved to further escalate an already challenging situation and ignore the requests to guarantee ceasefire compliance made by Donbass representatives within the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination.
Against this backdrop, the October 27, 2021, meeting of the Contact Group on settling the crisis in eastern Ukraine did not yield any results, as expected. Moreover, and this is an essential point, it is the unwillingness of the Ukrainian side, represented by the official government in Kiev, to free a Lugansk representative in the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination Andrey Kosyak, who has been taken prisoner, which blocks the work of the Contact Group’s subgroup on security. Despite statements by officials, Kiev has not bothered to grant the Russian consular staff access to this citizen, who, for the record, holds a Russian passport. The Russian Embassy in Kiev and the Consulate General in Kharkov persist in their efforts to arrange a meeting with Mr Kosyak. Unfortunately, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has not mentioned in its reports the incident with the Lugansk representative in the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination. Russia insists on the Mission’s strict compliance with its mandate and on including facts on violations of this kind in its reports in a timely manner.
It seems that Kiev intentionally seeks to drive the talks within the Contact Group into an impasse in order to free its hands to return Donbass by military means. The continuing arms and ammunition supplies that are flowing into Ukraine from Western countries, and their military training missions in the country make the Ukrainian leadership even more confident that a solution by force is possible. The same goes for the multiple joint military exercises with NATO countries.
There must be a reason for this military aid and military presence in Ukraine. If we switch from military language to literature, Anton Chekhov offers a description that is quite pertinent. He wrote: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.” (This is from Anton Chekhov’s letter to literary critic Alexander Lazarev-Gruzinsky. He wrote this quite a long time ago, in 1889, but this phrase has not lost any of its relevance). The same applies to weapons that the Western countries are delivering in huge quantities to Ukraine. Let me remind you, yet again, that there is no military solution to the conflict in southeastern Ukraine. This has been stipulated by the same countries that care for civilians and the developments in Ukraine. Attempts to settle the conflict by force will have the most regrettable, unpredictable and tragic consequences.
We call on the Western capitals who are delivering all these weapons to Ukraine, primarily Washington, as well as Berlin and Paris as the Normandy format participants, to stop encouraging the country’s militarisation and use their influence to set Kiev back on the path to achieving sustainable peace in Donbass by political and diplomatic means.
I would like to say a few words about an issue we have been trying to raise with our Western partners over the past few years. They pretended that this problem does not exist. It concerns not only Western countries but also international organisations, many of which have not been working efficiently in the area of their concern, according to their statutory documents. I would like to tell you about the Western instructors working with the Ukrainian neo-Nazis.
We tried to attract our partners’ attention to this subject for several years, in 2014, 2015 and subsequent years. They did not hear us. This subject is now gaining momentum, including at various human rights NGOs. Maybe these activities will make the international community see that this subject deserves direct attention here and now.
The Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at the George Washington University (USA) has published a report about Western countries helping train far-right extremists in Ukraine.
We can hardly suspect the George Washington University of sympathising with or having special affection for Russia. It is an American institution and whatever leanings it may have definitely do not include Russia.
The American researchers analysed the activities of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi group Centuria, which has made its home in Ukraine’s major western military training hub, the National Army Academy (NAA). The neo-Nazis receive the necessary military training and experience at the academy, where they also recruit new members among cadets. Upon graduation, they seek appointment with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including at units that are connected with the notorious Azov Battalion.
What attracts special attention in this case is the role of Western instructors. The authors of the report are aware of cooperation between NATO experts and the NAA and have also concluded that NAA cadets, including those with far-right views, had access to military instructors from France, the United States and Canada.
Moreover, Kiev sent neo-Nazis to be trained at European military schools. At least two such cases are known for a fact: NAA cadet Kyrylo Dubrovskyi attended an 11-month Officer Training Course at the United Kingdom’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and another apparent member of Centuria, Vladyslav Vintergoller, attended events held by the German Army Officers’ Academy (Die Offizierschule des Heeres, OSH).
In other words, the Europeans and Americans, contrary to their governments’ statements, are using the taxpayers’ money to finance the training of neo-Nazis in Ukraine. In fact, these young people never made secret of their political affiliations, posted many pictures taken at their military training courses, and boasted about their promotion and new ranks.
Some public figures in the West expressed their outrage at these facts, which should have happened long before. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC) has called for an investigation by Canada’s Department of National Defence in response to the report, saying that the training of Ukrainian neo-Nazis by Canadian instructors insulted the memory of the veterans, who had fought to defeat Nazism during WWII.
The matter would not have attracted any attention if not for the IERES study. Hundreds of photographs of the training of neo-Nazis, nationalists and extremists in Ukraine, including with NATO funding and instructors, have been posted on these people’s personal pages and accounts. Far from keeping their views secret, they are proudly showing them off and are trying to force the public and even the whole of civil society in Ukraine to accept this new normal.
Why did the public organisations and institutions, established to protect human rights and the noble principles of humanity, shut their eyes to this for years? The request by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre says that the involvement of Canada’s instructors in the training of Ukrainian nationalists is an insult to the memory of WWII veterans. The Centre also urged the Canadian authorities to react to this problem, one of many.
For our part, we would like to point out that such collaboration between Western governments and the NGOs they are sponsoring with the far-right nationalist forces in Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable. The military training of neo-Nazis is not just unacceptable but inadmissible and extremely dangerous, including for Ukraine itself.
We hope that our foreign partners, first of all in NATO countries, will read the George Washington University study and will at least rethink the modality of their collaboration with Ukraine’s defence department. We would also like journalists accredited at the NATO headquarters in Brussels to do their job by asking the Alliance about its views on such collaboration, whether it is aware of it, and if it is, why it has not reacted in any way. It is bound to know about this, because it is NATO countries that are involved.
The developments around the Ukrainian draft law On the Foundations of State Policy for the Transitional Period are a matter of concern. The bill, submitted to the Verkhovna Rada in August, contains a number of grotesque provisions “regulating” the way people live in Crimea and Donbass after those regions, allegedly “occupied” by Russia, are reintegrated in Ukraine. The bill ignores the results of the Crimean referendum that supported Crimea’s reunification with Russia, as well as the Minsk agreements, which require Kiev to grant Donbass a special regional status. The Kiev regime only sees as much as it can see, judging by some of its representatives. In other words, the document shows complete disregard for the interests of Crimea or Donbass residents and confirms that Kiev wants land, not people.
The Ukrainian authorities sent this draft law to the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission in an attempt to give their “lawmaking” some international legitimacy. The Commission members, ignoring the opinion of their Russian colleague, released an opinion on the bill on October 18, 2021. Those European “legal experts” failed to even ask any fundamental questions about the bill’s relevance from the international legal and political reality perspective, nor did they show any interest in how it relates to the Minsk Package of Measures. They seemed more interested in the content of specific articles and in issuing instructions on ways to camouflage their inconsistency with international law and the Ukrainian Constitution, to make the new law less vulnerable to criticism. It is not surprising that this approach was perceived with enthusiasm by the Ukrainian leaders.
Russia views the Venice Commission’s opinion as being at odds with the principles of democracy and rule of law it champions, which should underpin the work of that consultative body of the Council of Europe. We note with regret that the Commission opted for encouraging Kiev in sabotaging the Minsk agreements. The Commission members who approved the opinion on that provocative Ukrainian bill have in fact signed off on the Kiev authorities’ final renunciation of the Minsk agreements. Could they be unaware of the consequences of such a step? I do not think they could. They are lawyers after all, so they should know. Someone had to tell them that the Minsk agreements were binding after they passed the UN Security Council. They are not just a deal between the parties. It is a document backed by a UN Security Council decision. The enactment of the law I have mentioned will not change the status of Crimea as a Russian region, which is obvious and unconditional, but will mean a derailment of the peace settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Paradoxically, the very agencies that were created to strengthen peace, law and democracy are not contributing to the peace process, but instead are turning a blind eye to violations of the law and refusing to recognise the results of a democratic expression of people’s will.
At the end of August, the Ukrainian national nuclear power generating company Energoatom and the US Westinghouse Electric signed a memorandum of understanding on building a power unit at the Khmelnitsky NPP, as well as four more reactors in Ukraine using American technology. The total cost of the projects is estimated at $30 billion.
This document reflects Ukraine’s dreams rather than reality. It does not mention any sources of funding, while the likelihood of Kiev being able to find the money for the project is extremely small. The assumption that the United States can spend its taxpayers’ money for the benefit of Ukraine sounds like a fantasy. We have seen many times how Washington signed certain declarations – including at the White House – and gave assurances to countries concerning future multi-billion dollar deals and contracts. They were forgotten as soon as the representatives of the countries that received the promises reached home, wondering where the promised money was. I think this is a similar story.
On October 24, 2021, Israel announced its plans to expand the Israeli settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River. This time, tenders were published for 1,300 residences on the West Bank and 83 residences in the Givat Hamatos neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
We reaffirm Russia’s principled and consistent stance that Israel’s settlement activity is against the law. We believe that this one-sided action undermines the chances of building a viable and geographically continuous Palestinian state in conformance with UN resolutions. It also undermines the effectiveness of the international community’s efforts to create conditions for resuming the Palestine-Israel political dialogue as soon as possible.
We would like to note that the continuation of settlement construction and the plans of the current Israeli government to double the number of Israeli citizens in the Jordan Valley by 2026 can be regarded as de facto annexation of a large part of the occupied Palestinian territories.
We call on all parties to refrain from any steps that could escalate the tension in the region or forestall the outcome of the direct Palestine-Israel talks on the range of issues concerning final status.
We noted that on October 26, 2021, a monument was unveiled in central Chisinau to Romanian army soldiers who fought on the side of Nazi Germany, in a ceremony with military honours that was attended by high-ranking representatives of the Moldovan Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Culture.
It is year 2021. We are no longer in the fervour of World War II nor are we awaiting the Nuremberg trials. Where we are is where the verdicts of the Nuremberg trials are recognised as fundamental for evaluating those historical events and are not subject to review.
The plaque on the monument reads: “This is to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina by the Romanian army.” That is a reference to the invasion of the Soviet territory by Romanian Nazi occupants in 1941.
This is a cynical act. One reason why is that in 1937, a memorial was installed on the same site to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the battles in eastern Romania near Marasti and Marasesti when Russian and Romanian troops fought together against the German army.
We strongly condemn this outrageous glorification of Nazi abettors. The event was met with great resentment by the Moldovan public itself as Moldovans cherish the memory of the heroism of Soviet – and especially their own – soldiers. Why are the country’s officials forgetting this?
We urge the official Chisinau to not pander to revanchist forces with their attempts to falsify history and instil tolerance to the blatant propaganda of Nazi ideas.
This is the latest regular report and the facts cited in it confirm that the afore-mentioned negative manifestations are becoming persistent. We regularly cite a huge number of such examples practically at every briefing in addition to this report.
We are increasingly often seeing the attempts of several Western and East European countries to revise the historical truth about the events of World War II. Efforts to distort historical facts are currently taking the most varied forms. Under the pretext of “decommunisation” monuments and memorials in honour of fighters against Nazism are being destroyed on a large scale. The accent in educational programmes is increasingly laid on “suffering during the Soviet occupation.” Hitler’s Germany and its main enemy – the Soviet Union – are equally blamed for unleashing World War II. A number of states are openly installing memorials to glorify the participants of the Nazi units and Nazi collaborators and holding celebrations in their honour.
In addition to these efforts to whitewash criminals and desecrate the memory of the liberators, some countries are observing the growth of xenophobic attitudes accompanied by manifestations of aggressive nationalism, chauvinism and other forms of racial and religious intolerance. Quite often, this situation is a natural result of the policy pursued by the official authorities. It is aimed at speeding up the formation of mono-ethnic societies based on titular nations, and is accompanied by discrimination against national and ethnic minorities, especially in the linguistic and educational areas. This applies, in part, to Ukraine (we spoke at length about this today), and the Baltic states (we will speak about this today). Respect for the rights of these groups, primarily the Russian and Russian-speaking population, has seriously deteriorated in these countries.
We are convinced that this state of affairs poses a direct threat to the fundamental values of democracy and human rights and represents a serious challenge to international and regional security and stability. Today, it is important to do everything we can to keep humanity from forgetting where the ideas of racial supremacy and even tacit support for any acts of chauvinism and xenophobia eventually lead.
Importantly, the absolute majority of the members of the international community are upholding the same principles together with us. The main thing is to make sure that this support is not merely verbal. Sometimes, when you listen to discussions and debates and read statements, articles and interviews about this, it seems that everyone is committed to the same principles. As for deeds, they are expressed in a simple response: it is necessary to reject the destruction of memorials and the installation of monuments to collaborators. It appears we are the only ones who are speaking straight about this. Where are all the rest? Where are the countries whose soldiers these memorials also commemorate? We are supported by the absolute majority of the members of the international community. This is confirmed every year by the adoption of a resolution by an overwhelming majority vote at the UN General Assembly. The resolution has a complicated name and a difficult destiny but a clear message. It is titled “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” These provisions formed the foundation of this report.
We hope the authorities of the countries mentioned in it will realise the negative consequences of the efforts to glorify Nazism. We assume the people of these countries must give their own assessment of these events and will be able to take measures to counter these shameful and dangerous phenomena. We believe that one of the main goals in this area at the international level is to pool efforts in preventing the restoration of false values of supremacy or exceptionalism of one race or nation, its religion and culture over other nations and cultures.
The full text of the report is published on the Foreign Ministry website.
It came to our knowledge on October 26 that the Latvian State Security Service had completed the investigation into a 2020 criminal case involving 14 journalists, who had cooperated with Russia’s Sputnik Latvia and Baltnews. In keeping with the investigation findings, the journalists were officially charged with a breach of EU sanctions. But if we call things by their proper names and do not hide behind political and legal formulas, the intention is to punish these correspondents for simply doing their job as journalists. Now they are facing heavy fines and actual terms of imprisonment.
The picture is dismal. Riga has fully ignored our numerous appeals to renounce its destructive, politicised policy of segregating the media into “loyal” and “undesirable” and to stop purging its information space from Russian and Russian-language media. Instead, Latvia is stubbornly pushing its agenda, turning all its claims concerning its commitment to freedom of speech, pluralism, and the need to protect journalists into empty declarations. It is not for the first time that the Latvian authorities have sheltered behind far-fetched references to the European sanctions in a bid to lend a veneer of legitimacy to their direct and aggressive attack on press freedom.
We have repeatedly appealed to the relevant international human rights organisations. We urged them to come to grips with this problem and give an objective and comprehensive assessment of these actions. Despite Riga’s obvious violations of its international obligations to protect freedom of speech and pluralism of views, there is no meaningful and effective response from the duly authorised institutions. In this situation, it is not surprising that the Latvian authorities, profiting from this tacit approval of their policies, are only intensifying their efforts to oust the information sources that provide an alternative to the official narrative and maintaining the pace of their offensive against the Russian language. Where is the OSCE? Where are the special representatives for media freedom? Where are the Institutions? Where is the Office of these representatives? It employs a lot of people. Where are the statements? Where are at least a few tweets? Where are the relevant interviews? Where are the conversations with the authorities of these countries, specifically Latvia? Where is any of this? Where has it all gone? What has happened? Have they revised the mandate of the OSCE Special Representative? No, we know nothing about that. Have they perhaps made an amendment to the mandate, which no longer requires a response to this sort of action? To tell the truth, we have repeatedly posed this question to OSCE leaders and Office representatives. We would like to have a meaningful response. But if previously we asked for a reaction, now we are demanding a report [on the topic], because we have a right to this.
The developments in Latvia are a clear example of double standards that have become deeply engrained in the West. They shamelessly keep silent about gross violations of fundamental freedoms, if the culprits are “their own sort.” Those accustomed to shouting from the rooftops about their high democratic standards should think carefully lest this connivance rebound on their moral authority in the human rights sphere.
On October 28, the Council of Europe’s Pompidou Group for international cooperation on drug policy and addiction marks its 50th anniversary.
In these 50 years, the Group emerged as an important platform for intergovernmental interaction in this sphere in the Eurasian region. Today, it has 42 members, including three non-European states.
The Russian Federation joined the Pompidou Group on May 18, 1999 and plays an active part in its activities. A representative of the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Health is a Permanent Correspondent at the Pompidou Group and a member of the Group’s Bureau of Permanent Correspondents.
The approval of the Group’s new regulations in 2021 is a key event ahead of its 50th anniversary. Russia directly contributed to coordinating this document, which made it possible to retain the Group’s well-balanced agenda and to formalise its human rights mandate, as well as healthcare and law enforcement cooperation aspects.
We congratulate the Pompidou Group on the anniversary and hope that its member states will continue their constructive cooperation.
On October 26, 2021, the Russian Embassy in Dushanbe, acting in cooperation with representatives of the UN World Food Programme, took part in delivering 1,485 tonnes of enriched wheat flour and 61 tonnes of vegetable oil for rural schools in some central districts of Tajikistan, as well as the Khatlon and Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous regions.
This aid consignment has been provided to improve food security under a memorandum of understanding between the World Food Programme and Russia’s Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergency Situations and Natural Disaster Relief. It is part of the World Food Programme’s school nutrition programme, which covers 450,000 primary school pupils in 52 rural districts of Tajikistan. In 2021, Russia allocated $3.5 million for this purpose. Using this support, the WFP staff have already delivered 945 tonnes of enriched wheat flour and 60 tonnes of vegetable oil to rural schools in the Sughd Region.
In total, since 2005 Russia has provided over $87.5 million worth of food aid through the WFP alone.
Russia’s attention to the needs of the friendly state’s young citizens shows that the strategic partnership and allied cooperation with the Republic of Tajikistan is a high priority for our country.
On a separate note, I would like to mention an upcoming special date: on November 1, Antigua and Barbuda will mark the 40th anniversary of independence.
This Caribbean country’s path to sovereignty was not easy. It experienced colonial oppression and natural disasters. However, despite all the difficulties, the people of this country overcame all the ordeals and became independent. Thanks to their painstaking efforts, Antigua and Barbuda became a tourist paradise and a modern independent democratic state. It consistently advocates compliance with the generally recognised principles and norms of international law and calls for strengthening multilateral concepts in global affairs with the UN’s central role.
We note with satisfaction that, although we are located thousands of kilometres apart, our countries are linked by bonds of friendship and readiness to expand constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation. This is reaffirmed by the Treaty on the Fundamental Principles of Relations, which was signed in June 2021. This document lays the foundation for the long-term and comprehensive development of bilateral ties.
On behalf of all my colleagues, I would like to use this opportunity to wish the people of this wonderful country all the very best, prosperity and well-being. I personally wish them health during the current challenging period.
November 5 marks the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and Mongolia.
The Treaty on Friendly Relations between Russia and Mongolia signed by the Government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) and the People’s Government on Mongolia in 1921 was an important milestone in our common history that determined the development of our traditionally friendly ties for many subsequent years.
It is a well-known fact that Russia was the first country in the world to recognise the freedom and independence of the new Mongolia. Our friendship and neighbourliness were solidified through the Battles of Khalkhin Gol, the Great Patriotic War and the final stage of World War II. They grew stronger through many joint construction projects in Mongolia during peacetime.
The Russian Federation and Mongolia have a long-established constructive political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, the economy, science, technology, cultural, humanitarian areas and other fields.
Our shared border stretching for 3,500 km is our tremendous advantage. Our cross-border and region-to-region cooperation contribute significantly to the development of Russian-Mongolian ties.
The Treaty on Friendly Relations and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed by our presidents in September 2019 in Ulaanbaatar opened wide prospects for the progressive development of our cooperation in many different areas.
In addition to the consistent strengthening of our trade, economic, investment and business partnership, we strive to develop cooperation in a great number of fields, including culture, education, science, media, youth exchanges and sports. We are committed to encouraging and supporting Russian language learning in Mongolia and Mongolian language learning in Russia.
During a telephone conversation on October 1, 2021, the foreign ministers of our countries praised the successful implementation of the joint calendar of events marking 100 years since the establishment of our diplomatic relations. A Russian delegation headed by Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Federal Assembly Konstantin Kosachev will take part in the anniversary events in Ulaanbaatar on November 4-6.
On November 3-7, the International Educational Activity “Great Ethnographic Dictation” will take place for the sixth time. The event’s slogan this year is “Many peoples but one country” and its mission is to strengthen inter-ethnic peace and accord.
We are pleased to see that the dictation has attracted a lot of attention both in Russia and abroad. While in 2016, the number of participants was around 90,000, by 2020 it had grown to 1,742,661 participants from 85 Russian regions and 123 foreign countries.
Thanks to the organisers of this year’s dictation, the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs and the Ministry of Ethnic Policy of the Republic of Udmurtia, the dictation will be held in Russian, English, Spanish and, for the first time, in Chinese.
Anybody who is interested in the history and culture of multi-ethnic Russia are welcome to participate in the dictation.
This educational event will be held online. More information can be found at miretno.ru and on social media via the same link.
Question: Russia has recently made several public announcements to the effect that it was willing to host major international events. In particular, Moscow wants to host World Expo 2030. Could you assess Russia’s chances of hosting such a large-scale event keeping in mind the geopolitical factor?
Maria Zakharova: Are you really questioning Moscow’s capabilities? They are boundless, in the best sense of the word, and we know it from the international events that have already taken place in our capital. The FIFA World Cup was held at the highest level in a number of our cities. A great number of international political, economic and cultural, you name it, forums took place in Moscow. We can only wish Moscow, which is one of the most beautiful cities on our planet, success in promoting this application, which is more than an application from Moscow, but an application from our entire country. Tomorrow is the last day for submitting applications for the right to host World Expo-2030.
This is such a strange question. Everyone who comes to Moscow for the first time is vastly impressed. People say they want to come back, haven’t spent enough time here and admit that Moscow surpassed their expectations. They wonder why they have been reading all that nonsense about Russia when, in reality, things are very different here. So, answering your question, I can say that the Russian capital stands ready to host events of any level. No confirmation is needed. There’s no doubt about it. Moscow is a metropolis with developed infrastructure, and it has proved this status on many occasions. The concerns that we heard in the past in the run-up to major international events have always been dispelled by how everything turned out in reality and the high level at which Moscow usually holds these events.
Go Moscow! Good luck.
Question: The European Commission has released the EU strategy for the Arctic. Brussels claims the right to ban the production of coal, oil and gas in the Arctic and neighbouring regions and criticises Russia. President Putin has made a response. The new Prime Minister of Norway also made critical remarks. Sergey Lavrov met with his Norwegian counterpart on October 25. Were the European Commission’s claims to the Arctic discussed during these talks?
Maria Zakharova: Even before his talks with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store started, when he was in Tromso, several hours before leaving for Oslo, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov provided an answer to this question and outlined Russia’s position. The question was what the Russian Foreign Ministry had to say about the EU initiative that you mentioned. Sergey Lavrov said that he agreed with the Prime Minister of Norway, who had already provided his assessment. You also mentioned this assessment now. So, Russia outlined its position before the meeting, including in the context of the remarks made by the Prime Minister of Norway. Yes, this issue came up during the meeting.
With regard to Russia’s fundamental approaches, the EU’s Arctic strategy released by the European Commission has come to our attention. It proclaims the intent to push for a moratorium on the production and sale of hydrocarbons in the Arctic. To this end, Brussels plans to work with its partners on making a multilateral legal commitment to prevent further development of hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic and not to buy these hydrocarbons if they are still produced.
Russia is the largest Arctic state, which, just like the other coastal Arctic countries, has a special responsibility for the future of this region. We are no less concerned about the future of the Arctic, the ongoing climate change and its consequences than the EU, which is not an observer in the Arctic Council, by the way.
Russia promotes a comprehensive approach to ensuring sustainable development of the Arctic, including its environmental and socioeconomic dimensions. The Arctic is not only an integral and integrated part of our country’s economy, but an important component of global supply and production chains as well. The region also has a major role to play in the context of global energy transition. In this case, the issue is about supplying metals, rare earth elements, LNG and natural gas, which is essential for the production of green fuels, such as hydrogen, ammonia and methanol, as well as about effective navigation solutions which will help reduce the global human impact, decarbonise vulnerable ecosystems and achieve the 2015 Paris Agreement objectives.
Clearly, the attempts to address global climate challenges by artificially limiting economic activity in a particular region do not hold water. They run counter to expert opinions, including in the context of implementing the ESG (Environmental Social Governance) principles. Speaking about banning anything, one should keep in mind and be cognisant of the fact that the consequences of these decisions will affect specific consumers, in this case, Europeans. These decisions will also adversely affect the population of the Arctic, including its indigenous peoples, for whom sustainable economic activities are fundamental in the efforts to improve their well-being.
Going back on the idea of producing oil and gas in the Arctic instead of building plans for joint work in developing a package of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the introduction of the best available technology may undermine the global energy market’s stability, which could lead to far more serious shocks than the ones that are currently sweeping through Europe. Is anyone coordinating these activities in the EU at all? When something goes wrong in Europe, they immediately start looking for an external enemy, not even thinking about their own mistakes, which is, perhaps, due to lack of coordination in their actions or some other reason. The fact that these analytical chains lack coordination is obvious. For all these reasons, we cannot but be alarmed by the EU’s aggressive attempts to promote its political ambitions in the Arctic region, to spread its influence to it and to weaken the prospects for sustainable development of the Arctic.
Question: According to Reuters, seven people have been killed and 140 injured in protests against the military coup in Sudan. The head of the Russian diplomatic mission’s consular department in Khartoum previously said that the Russian Embassy and Russian citizens in Sudan were safe. How many Russians were there in Sudan at the beginning of this week?
Maria Zakharova: The Russian Embassy in Sudan is maintaining contact with Russian citizens, including amid this emergency situation. We do not have the exact figures, because not all Russians register with the consular department. This is the modern-day practice, which has its pros and cons. According to our information, there are approximately 300 Russians in the country.
Question: During a one-day visit to Azerbaijan this week, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, laid the foundation of the Zangezur Corridor project, which has been a disputed matter between Armenia and Azerbaijan for a long time. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan pointed out that such actions and any discussions related to the corridor were only aggravating hostility in the region. What is Moscow’s opinion of the start of the Zangezur project?
Maria Zakharova: We believe that the best platform for discussing the unblocking of transport links in the South Caucasus is the Trilateral Working Group co-chaired by the deputy prime ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, which was set up following the Moscow summit on January 11, 2021.
The group has held eight meetings. All the sides appreciate its activities. Comments on the results of these meetings are published and available.
We believe that it would be appropriate to comply with the statements and to take steps that can promote the implementation of the trilateral agreements on resuming economic ties and transport links in the South Caucasus.
Question: During his statement at the Valdai Club, President Putin said that Russia was moving towards the recognition of the Taliban Movement. Does this mean that under certain conditions Russia might recognise the Taliban even before the UN has lifted international sanctions against it?
Maria Zakharova: I would like to point out that in his statement at the Valdai Club meeting the President of Russia said that the world should come together to decide whether the Taliban can be excluded from the UN Security Council list of terrorist organisations.
At this stage, it would be premature for Russia to consider an official recognition of the new Afghan authorities. At the same time, we believe that Kabul’s practical steps to meet the expectations of the international community and regional partners, in particular regarding the creation of an ethnically and politically balanced government, the continued fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, and respect for fundamental civil rights and freedoms may have a stimulating effect on these processes.
Question: Recent public opinion polls in Finland showed that 60 percent of the population perceive Russia’s actions as a military threat. Where do you think such sentiments in a neighbouring country come from?
Maria Zakharova: Russia and Finland are good neighbours. Our bilateral relations today rest on intensive interdepartmental interaction, growing trade and economic cooperation, interregional and border ties, as well as direct contacts between organisations and people. As is traditional, a diverse and regular political dialogue at the highest level paves the way for continued interaction.
According to that poll, 59 percent of Finns agree, to a greater or lesser degree, with the statement on Russia being ‘a significant military threat.’ Why is this surprising? There is an aggressive information campaign against Russia underway. Thousands of articles containing fake news and misinformation about Russia and everything Russian are published daily. Northern Europe is being spooked with all sorts of stories. The same myths have been nurtured for decades, albeit never confirmed, and continue to be presented as real developments. For example, Sweden keeps looking for some submarines, apparently mistaking the sound of bubbles emitted by herring for Russian vessels lurking in their waters.
This is not even surprising, just sad. This is misinformation and its damaging effect, something the West is talking about, and doing, too. Unfortunately, Finnish journalists are contributing to this Russophobic propaganda instead of dispelling myths about our country. They shouldn’t be doing that. If it harms bilateral relations, which are based on neighbourliness and mutual respect, it harms the people in Finland, too.
According to the same survey, 76 percent of respondents still consider Russia an important trade partner, and 43 percent believe that non-economic factors should have no bearing on Russian-Finnish trade relations. In spite of everything, curiosity and interest in interaction are the prevailing sentiments. This is exactly what the anti-Russia lobby is aiming to destroy or reduce to nothing. But, despite all the planted stories, we need to develop ties relying on neighbourliness, partnership, mutual assistance, respect for and observance of the legal framework for interaction.
I think this will be the best answer for those who are wondering whether it is true that “the Russians are coming” (this is what most of the Western press materials are actually saying). And then the “Russian threat” will just go away. All it takes is to develop relationships, which is what we are doing.
Question: Earlier, you described a letter published by Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla, the former Foreign Minister of Kosovo, on her Twitter account as misinformation. The letter was allegedly sent by the Russian diplomatic mission in Pristina to the Foreign Ministry of Kosovo. Nevertheless, the Russian and Serbian public continues to actively debate the authenticity of this document. Did this letter really exist? And if so, did top Russian Foreign Ministry officials know about its contents, or was this an “excess” of the executor?
Maria Zakharova: This is an “excess” of the Kosovo provocation and its agents-provocateurs. What I commented was a series of provocations, not an isolated incident, including those in the media that we are witnessing. The incident you are referring to was not the only one. We don’t even inform the public about many such cases because we can see that Kosovo’s agents-provocateurs are perpetrating disgraceful, absurd and, to some extent, aggressive acts. My commentary was not about one or two incidents. There are many of them, especially lately. There should be no doubt that these provocations will continue and we will give our response to them. We know what they are after, we understand their purpose. Their aim is to do everything possible to convince the public that Russia’s position with regard to Kosovo, under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, is changing and teetering. You can use any comparisons and epithets that are widely circulated online. This is the aim of the information campaign. Everything will be done to achieve it. It seems to be vitally important for certain forces in Kosovo that are in charge there and for their supporters. We know this very well, and I believe that you know this, too, since this is your area of expertise.
We are not going to comment on each incident or its element separately. This would be pointless since there are dozens and hundreds of them. First of all, we are saying that this is a series of provocations. Second, our position has not changed in any way; it strictly relies on and proceeds from international law, including UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Our approaches to this matter are well known. We spelled them out at all levels, spoke about them with our partners. Should it become necessary, we will prepare a separate text devoted to these media provocations. To be honest, when you see the main goal pursued by these forces, details no longer matter. We understand the purpose of all these actions. We understand it, and I think you understand it, too.
Question: In November, the UN Security Council is to vote on the extension of the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. What does Russia think about the advisability of continuing this mission in the future, and will it support extending the mission?
Maria Zakharova: In principle, Russia is not against extending EUFOR’s mandate in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, we cannot accept attempts by some of our Western partners in the UN Security Council to add irrelevant political provisions to the Security Council draft resolution that have nothing to do with this purely specific matter. Work on this document continues at the UN Security Council in New York.
Question: The press release distributed by the presidential press service following a telephone conversation between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Great Britain Boris Johnson says that “they expressed the shared opinion that…it is necessary to establish cooperation between Moscow and London in a number of areas.” What are these areas? What areas of cooperation are already underway?
Maria Zakharova: During a telephone conversation on October 25, the heads of state expressed satisfaction with progress in promoting bilateral cooperation in trade, the economy and culture. Even though we have made many materials public, I can provide facts and figures to tell you more about it.
In 2020, Russian-British trade continued to grow. Compared to 2019, it was up by 53.6 percent at $26.5 billion, which is significant.
About 3,500 British companies engage in economic relations with Russia, of which about 600 are physically present in our country.
As of January 1, the volume of accumulated British direct investment in Russia’s economy amounted to $32.8 billion.
A number of joint projects are underway. A ceremony for expanding the Shell lubricants plant was held in the town of Torzhok, Tver Region, in May. Gazpromneft and Shell signed a memorandum of cooperation in hydrocarbon exploration and production, technological interaction and carbon footprint reduction at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in June. Mutual interest in implementing production projects in Western Siberia was reaffirmed. AstraZeneca factories in the Kaluga Region and GlaxoSmithKline in New Moscow are operating successfully. ZiO-Podolsk, a subsidiary of Rosatom State Corporation, has begun supplies of waste processing equipment to the British company, Riverside.
In October, the annual Russian-British investment forum RussiaTALK was held in Moscow under the auspices of the Russian-British Chamber of Commerce with the support of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Cross Year of Music was held in our respective countries in 2019-2020 as part of cultural cooperation. The idea of holding a Cross Year of Knowledge in 2022-2023 is being discussed.
A project to create the joint Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra was realised with the support of Rosneft and BP.
The 22nd New British Film Festival is being held in Russian cities this October-November.
Cooperation between Russian and British higher learning institutions is underway. The 2nd Forum of Rectors of Universities of Russia and Great Britain will be held at Moscow State University in January 2022.
During the call, Prime Minister Johnson submitted a proposal to President Putin that they establish a regular bilateral dialogue on those international matters on which the positions of the parties are close or overlap. In particular, they reviewed in detail the situation in Afghanistan and the JCPOA-related developments.
We have consistently and repeatedly stated (truth be told, our statements drown amid the ones that we have to make in self-defence as we disavow aggressive British rhetoric) that Russia stands ready to improve relations with Britain inasmuch as Britain is willing to do so. The foundations for this are obvious and include mutual respect, mutual benefit, legal basis, equality and mutual trust.