Ivan Nechayev briefed on current Russian issues
Dhaka August 19 2022 :
Briefing by Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department Ivan Nechayev, Moscow, August 18, 2022
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Serbian Minister of the Interior Aleksandar Vulin
On August 22, Moscow will host talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vulin.
The ministers are expected to discuss a range of current bilateral cooperation issues and exchange views on urgent international and regional issues.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming talks with Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Faisal Mekdad
On August 23, Moscow will host talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic Faisal Mekdad.
A detailed discussion of current issues on the international and regional agendas is expected.
Developments in and around Syria will be discussed with an emphasis on promoting a comprehensive settlement in the republic. The parties are expected to discuss the items on the Astana Format agenda, including those stemming from the trilateral Russian-Iranian-Turkish summit held in Tehran on July 19, as well as the work of the intra-Syrian Constitutional Committee.
The ministers will also review the current state of and prospects for the development of comprehensive bilateral ties, as well as tasks related to the further strengthening of practical cooperation in various fields.
Afghanistan delegation in Russia
A delegation from Afghanistan, led by Acting Minister of Industry and Trade of Afghanistan Nooruddin Azizi, arrived in Russia on August 15. Talks were held with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Energy on the supply of Russian agricultural products and fuel to Afghanistan.
Afghan officials will visit Kazan, where they will meet with representatives of the business community.
We believe this visit will serve to further strengthen practical cooperation between Russia and Afghanistan, and will help stabilise the socioeconomic situation in this country.
The delegation plans to return to Afghanistan on August 21.
Update on Donbass and Ukraine
The special military operation continues in Ukraine and Donbass. Its goals and tasks of protecting the DPR and the LPR, demilitarising and de-Nazifying Ukraine and neutralising threats to Russia’s security will be achieved. The allied forces of Russia and the Donbass republics are doing all they can to avoid civilian casualties and fire only on military targets and only with precision weapons.
People are restoring peaceful life in liberated areas. They are being cleared of explosive ordnance. Over 17,000 hectares of land have been checked. More than 500,000 mines and unexploded ordnance have been detected and defused. Housing and critical infrastructure is being built or restored. Residents of Ukraine and Donbass have received over 56,000 tonnes of Russian humanitarian aid since early March.
In the meantime, the Kiev regime continues demonstrating criminal indifference to the lives of civilians. Ukrainian troops and neo-Nazi groups are resorting to unacceptable methods of warfare, using civilians as a human shield. They are organising fighting positions in schools and kindergartens and shelling educational institutions in liberated areas, which looks particularly cynical on the eve of the new academic year.
However, obvious cases of nuclear terrorism are the worst and most irresponsible steps. Since mid-July, Ukrainian units have been shelling the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and adjacent territories, including the city of Energodar, on a daily basis. At first, the Ukrainians attacked the plant with drones and later they started firing on it with US-supplied multiple rocket launchers and heavy 155mm guns. Residents of not only Ukraine but many other European countries may pay the price for Kiev’s actions. It is necessary to compel Ukrainian units to stop shelling to prevent a nuclear disaster.
We expect IAEA experts to visit the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant very soon. Their visit was fully coordinated in June of this year but sabotaged by the leadership of the UN Secretariat. Experts should see for themselves the criminal conduct of the Kiev regime. Kiev has demonstrated many times its ability to stage provocations and its inability to control nationalist groups. Any proposals to create a demilitarised zone around the plant are unacceptable for this reason. That would only make the nuclear power plant more vulnerable.
We would like to draw your attention to the cases of illegal detention of Russian citizens on Ukrainian territory. This is what happened with over 60 Russian sailors. They have been kept on trade vessels in Izmail for almost half a year. Despite our repeated appeals, Kiev keeps them as hostages, apparently regarding them as its “exchange fund.” The parallel with terrorist actions is obvious. We raised this issue before the heads of the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross and expect them to take practical steps to secure the release of the Russian citizens.
Last week we spoke about the use of Petal mines by the Ukrainian armed forces in violation of the Kiev-ratified Ottawa Convention. This time, we would like to draw your attention to 50 EMP F2 anti-tank French mines that were detected at the positions abandoned by the Ukrainian troops neat Artyomovsk. It is impossible to remove or defuse these mines once they are armed. Their use is a flagrant violation of Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices. It is part of the 1980 Geneva Convention on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain weapons with indiscriminate effects. We regret that the “democratic” West supports the criminal Kiev regime and is flooding it with arms, thereby sharing responsibility for the war crimes being committed.
While Kiev continues to commit war crimes, the situation with crime inside Ukraine is getting worse. Ukrainian Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky warned the other day about the expected sharp growth of the crime rate in the country due to the increase in the number of illegal weapons. This is a direct consequence of uncontrolled supplies of Western arms to the Kiev regime and its irresponsible decisions to distribute thousands of guns to civilians. It goes without saying that this will have dire consequences for the crime situation in Europe, as Interpol and Europol representatives have already noted. Obviously, the Kiev regime could not care less about the fate of people in Ukraine, Donbass or European countries.
What is happening in Ukraine today, the criminal actions of the Ukrainian authorities and nationalist units, confirm the absolute correctness of the goals and tasks of the special military operation. Only when they are achieved, will it be possible to guarantee peace, stability and security in the region.
Ensuring transit to Kaliningrad
We continue working with the European Union and Lithuania to ensure unimpeded freight shipments to Kaliningrad. As you know, some progress has been made on the resumption of rail shipments of sanctioned goods between Russia’s Kaliningrad Region and the rest of Russia. In light of the intention of the Lithuanian Siauliai Bank to stop servicing Russian counterparties, we emphasise the need for immediate measures to resolve artificially created problems.
We believe that transit to Kaliningrad – freight or passenger – should be carried out based on unconditional compliance by Brussels and Vilnius with the existing international agreements and political commitments on their part.
Ethiopian steps towards a peaceful settlement in Tigray region
Moscow takes a positive view of the steps taken by the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) to settle the armed conflict in the Tigray region in the north of the country, including the unilateral declaration of a ceasefire, the lifting of the state of emergency and the establishment of a National Dialogue Commission and a government group to hold peace talks with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
On August 17, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Demeke Mekonnen released a statement on the roadmap drawn up by the Ethiopian authorities to stabilise the situation in Tigray. We welcome this initiative by Addis Ababa to launch a negotiation process as soon as possible aimed at achieving sustainable internal peace, normalising the humanitarian situation and restoring the social and economic infrastructure in the country.
We also unswervingly support the mediation efforts by the High Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for the Horn of Africa, former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, to assist in the gradual resolution of the situation in Ethiopia in line with the “African solutions to African problems” principle.
The German government’s “humanitarian gesture” to survivors of the siege of Leningrad
We have repeatedly highlighted the unacceptable situation regarding the German compensation payments to survivors of the siege of Leningrad. The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany has been doing this for many years in agreement with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany exclusively in relation to the survivors who are Jewish. At the same time, other people who, along with the Jews, experienced the horrors of the terrible siege, have not received any such compensation. We continue to receive plenty of complaints from them on a regular basis.
For our part, we have repeatedly asked Berlin to consider making comparable individual humanitarian payments to all victims of the siege who are still alive, without any discrimination based on their nationality or any artificial divides between ethnic groups. We called for finding a solution that would be in line with the principles of justice, morality and decency. However, unfortunately, we have been unable to get this across to Berlin yet. Taking into account Germany’s unconstructive position, the Russian Foreign Ministry co-sponsored a Presidential Executive Order on one-time payments to holders of the medal For the Defence of Leningrad and the Resident of Besieged Leningrad badge. The President of Russia signed the document on September 17, 2021.
After years of negotiations, in 2019, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany finally decided to make its voluntary humanitarian gesture, in agreement with the Government of the Russian Federation and the Administration of St Petersburg, and in recognition of their country’s historical responsibility for the siege of Leningrad. They agreed to allocate 12 million euros to modernise a hospital for war veterans and establish a Russian-German Centre for meetings that support historical memory in St Petersburg.
However, we have to admit that the initiative is currently in jeopardy. In May 2022, the German Agency for International Cooperation – an organisation authorised by Berlin – suspended, without explanation, its obligations under the humanitarian gesture to provide the necessary new equipment for the sterilisation centre at the hospital. As a result, the medical institution has found itself in a predicament fraught with a complete shutdown of its surgical unit, because the old equipment, under agreement with the Germans, had previously been dismantled by the hospital at its own expense and placed in temporary storage.
In view of the foregoing, we expect urgent steps from the German side to resume the project as soon as possible. Further delay poses a threat to the health of all hospital patients, including the siege survivors of a very advanced age, and the humanitarian gesture, planned as a good deed, risks turning into the opposite.
If, given the current political trends in Berlin, they decide not to honour their earlier obligations, we call on our counterparties to at least clarify it and officially call off the humanitarian gesture. We are capable of supporting the victims of the German siege without outside help.
Vandalism against cars with Russian plates in northern Italy
Recently, the number of provocations and acts of vandalism involving cars with Russian license plates in northern Italy have become more frequent.
The Consulate General of Russia in Milan has recorded growing numbers of Russian tourists traveling to Italian resorts in their personal cars. Unfortunately, the costs of this type of travel may be higher than the pleasing experience at the resort.
The Foreign Ministry reminds Russian tourists that citizens currently planning a trip to an unfriendly country, the list of which is approved by government resolution, should be aware of the difficulties they may encounter.
Censorship of Russian foreign missions by American digital platforms, specifically, YouTube
Western digital platforms continue to censor Russian accounts and internet resources. In addition to the media, bloggers and ordinary users, who may not hold Russophobic views, that are susceptible to attack, the accounts of Russian foreign missions are also being censored.
For example, on August 15, YouTube deleted 29 posts from the official channel of the Russian Embassy in Great Britain. An interview with the Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin and videos with numerous testimonies of war crimes committed by the Ukrainian armed forces and neo-Nazi units against the civilian population of Donbass were deleted. These videos were posted from March 2 to August 15 of this year.
Keeping with the worst traditions of Western online platforms, and adhering to their own policy of maximum non-transparency, the administration of this video hosting did not bother to give any intelligible explanation for the removal of the videos. As usual, some “violation of community rules” was cited. We, of course, understand that in fact the goal is to remove objectionable content from the global cyberspace, to do everything possible to silence the truth about Russia’s special military operation, its goals and reasons.
Deleting video content from an Embassy channel is a crude attempt to restrict the outreach activities of a Russian foreign mission and to deprive viewers of another source of truthful information, which, by the way, British users watched and supported actively. The platform’s discriminatory actions prove once again that it is afraid of fair competition.
Freedom of speech in the distorted Western interpretation is when everything is possible for those on your own side, but anything else can be easily blocked “from above.”
We call on the YouTube administration to show maturity and recognise their own error and restore the deleted videos without delay.
These videos have been uploaded and are now available on the official Russian Foreign Ministry channels on the Russian services RuTube and VKontakte.
Events in Japan to mark the so-called End of World War II Day
We detected the toxic fumes of nationalism during the events held in Japan to mark the so-called End of World War II Day on August 15, 2022. Whereas previously the country’s top officials, as they spoke of the role Japan had played in World War II, at least mentioned the suffering of people in neighbouring countries as a result of Japan’s aggression, and expressed regret about it, this time not a single word was uttered. At the same time the “heroism” and “self-sacrifice” of the Imperial Army’s soldiers killed in action was lauded in every possible way.
This revisionist rhetoric is backed up by concrete actions. Current and former Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament and leaders of the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party have made pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine, which has become a notorious symbol of Japanese militarism, where tribute is paid to, among others, war criminals convicted by the International Tokyo Tribunal. Incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida could not resist making his offering to this “shrine”. What “lessons” did he mean in his speech at the Japanese national memorial ceremony? Perhaps he was referring to the “mistake” made by the then Japanese leadership in going to war against the United States instead of the USSR – as is known, a plan like this did exist at the time. We strongly recommend that Japanese politicians abandon their attempts to rewrite history, honestly look the facts in the face and fully acknowledge the results of World War II.
Russian sailors returning from Ghana
In early August, the remaining four Russian sailors from the tanker Hikari, who were stuck in Ghana over a commercial dispute between the tanker owner and the local agency service, safely returned home with the assistance of the Russian Embassy in Aссra. Six other members of the team already flew to Russia earlier.
While the sailors were in this African country, the Russian diplomatic mission kept a close eye on the situation as it evolved, maintained regular contact with the hiring company and rendered them consular and other assistance in compliance with law.
German NGO Druzhba’s rally through Russian cities
From August 16 to September 1, members of the German non-governmental organisation Druzhba (Friendship) will hold a motor rally in several cities of our country, including Volgograd, Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod, Pskov, Samara, Tula and Ulyanovsk, under the slogan “For Peace with Russia”. As organisers of the rally stress, its purpose is to demonstrate the presence of a large number of citizens in Germany, who do not share the Russophobic views of the West and advocate building constructive relations with Russia, and contribute to establishing direct contacts and maintaining friendly relations between the peoples of both countries. As part of the rally, it is planned to lay wreaths at war memorials and to hold meetings with representatives of Russian civil society and youth organisations.
For our part, we certainly support this initiative. We proceed from the fact that in the context of anti-Russian hysteria and the information and economic war against our country, which has reached unprecedented proportions in Germany and the West as a whole, it is extremely important to maintain opportunities to “build bridges,” find points of contact and continue public diplomacy in order to counteract the atmosphere of rejection facing everything associated with Russia and to prevent further estrangement between Russians and Germans.
We wish the rally participants success in their noble mission.
8th DOKer International Documentary Film Festival and 44th Moscow International Film Festival
In the second half of August, Moscow will become a top draw for representatives of world cinema.
The 8th DOKer International Documentary Film Festival is taking place at Moscow’s Oktyabr Cinema Centre from the start of this week until August 24. People will be able to watch and discuss 65 original films from 25 countries, including Russia, Austria, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, France, Peru, Mexico, Iran, China and others, together with authors, psychologists and journalists. Among them are winners and participants in Berlinale and other major international film festivals.
On August 26, the movie race will be continued by the 44th Moscow International Film Festival, an event with a rich history and traditionally wide foreign attendance. Along with Russian figures, the jury for the three major categories of the festival will include representatives of Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Turkey, and South Africa. The Moscow International Film Festival will feature films from practically every corner of the world: Serbia, China, India, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Israel, Turkey, Iran, Ecuador, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, and others.
It is noteworthy that, in spite of the ongoing campaign of the “collective West” to “cancel” Russian culture, filmmakers from the United States, Japan, Australia, as well as from France, Italy, Estonia and other European countries will present their works. Their participation confirms the thesis that true art knows no borders in even the most difficult geopolitical conditions.
23rd Summer Diplomatic Games
On August 27, the 23rd Summer Diplomatic Games will take place in Zavidovo recreation complex, which is a branch of the Main Administration for Services to the Diplomatic Corps under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The traditional event is timed to the 65th anniversary of the complex’s founding.
Heads and staff of diplomatic missions accredited in Russia, top officials of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Main Administration for Services to the Diplomatic Corps, famed Russian athletes and cultural figures will take part in the event.
The Summer Diplomatic Games programme includes an opening ceremony, sports competitions and a relay race. Teams of diplomatic missions and international organisations will compete in eight sports (cross-country, mini-football, volleyball, basketball, tennis, skeet shooting, fishing and billiards), and also in the relay for the Jubilee Cup.
Gastronomic festival “Eager to Eat in Zavidovo” presented by the participants of the Gastronomic map of Russia federal project and a kite festival will add to the festive atmosphere of the holiday.
More information can be found on the website of the Main Administration for Services to the Diplomatic Corps under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
Answers to media questions:
Question: How does the Russian Foreign Ministry regard the campaign unfolding in a number of countries (the Baltic states and Poland) to demolish monuments to Soviet soldiers?
Ivan Nechayev: The Neo-Nazi bacchanalia in relation to the Soviet memorial heritage continues to gain momentum in the Baltic countries lately. This year, about fifty monuments to soldiers who died during World War II have been demolished.
We have already commented on this topic several times. We regard such actions of the authorities of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as blasphemy towards the memory of the fallen heroes and an attempt to settle historical scores with Russia.
The Polish authorities are also carrying out the total demolition of Soviet memorials outside burial places (the so-called symbolic monuments), which, as Warsaw groundlessly claims, are not subject to the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Poland on graves and memorials to victims of war and repression dated February 22, 1994. In October 2017 and January 2018, amendments to the law prohibiting communist or other totalitarian propaganda of April 1, 2016 (the so-called law on decommunisation) came into force, according to which local authorities were obliged to liquidate by March 31, 2018 “communist symbols” located on their territory, including Soviet monuments located outside burial places.
As a result, less than 100 out of 561 memorials, included in the List of Memorial Places of Soviet Defenders of the Fatherland Killed in Poland in consultation with the Polish side in 1997, have survived to the present moment. Moreover, the process of their destruction continues. We have recorded new similar cases, which the Polish authorities have not reported.
Acts of vandalism against Soviet memorials are regularly recorded. Since the beginning of the year alone, 42 such cases of vandalism have been recorded in Poland (including 32 at military graves) and illegal demolitions of monuments to Soviet soldiers-liberators. The Polish authorities take no measures to stop this bacchanalia; they have practically ceased to respond to our protests.
Moreover, the dismantling of Soviet monuments in recent times has often been carried out in a particularly cynical manner, in the presence of Polish officials and with live broadcast. President of the Institute of National Remembrance – the body responsible for the current “historical policy” of Poland – and the initiator of the liquidation of our memorial heritage Karol Nawrocki declares that Soviet monuments “glorify totalitarianism,” and claims that “there is no place for red stars in the public space of free, independent and democratic Poland.”
The people who are in power in Poland today consider themselves free from the burden of memory and gratitude to those whose monuments they destroy with such relish. They prefer not to think that if it were not for the hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers who died on Polish territory in the fight against Nazism, “free, independent and democratic Poland” and they themselves, probably, simply would not exist.
Question: Would you please comment on reports in the Russian and Kazakhstani media on the Kazakhstani authorities’ plans to cancel Russian-language classes at schools in the next six or seven years?
Ivan Nechayev: To refute these rumours, a correction notice was posted on Kazakhstan’s official site Stopfake.kz on August 15, 2022.
The material on this topic entitled “No Future for Russian-Language Schools in Kazakhstan?” that has been widely shared and distorted on social media of late was published two years ago. It discussed trends in general education, including the declining number of students at Russian-language schools in Kazakhstan.
First Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan Sholpan Karinova commented on the plans to cancel Russian-language classes that the country’s top authorities allegedly have. In particular, she noted that “this information was untrue. The Russian language is being studied in the same manner as before in both Kazakh-language and Russian-language classes and there are no other plans.”
I want to remind you that, according to official statistics in Kazakhstan as of June 2022, there are 1,160 Russian-language schools, or 16.6 percent of the total, and 2,047 mixed Kazakh- and Russian-language schools, or 29.4 percent of the total. Russian-language students in Kazakhstan account for 30.9 percent. In addition, Russian as a subject is taught at all schools. In keeping with the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Russian is officially used along with the Kazakh language at state organisations and local government bodies. It is also an important tool for interethnic communication.
We also noted a drastic increase in the number of fabricated stories about cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan surfacing on social media and in the media. We cannot rule out that they are masterminded by those seeking to drive a wedge between Russia and Kazakhstan and create another factor provoking tensions between two good neighbours, as well as inside Kazakhstan’s multiethnic society.
Question: As is known, beginning on September 1, Finland will halve the overall number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Russian nationals and will slash the number of tourist visas tenfold. Is the Russian Foreign Ministry considering retaliatory measures for the countries which have announced visa restrictions for Russian tourists? If yes, will these be mirror or asymmetric measures?
Ivan Nechayev: The Finnish authorities’ decision to set limits on the number of Finland visa applications accepted from Russian nationals is completely in keeping with another Russophobic campaign being conducted in some European Union member countries on the initiative of the Baltic states.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly given its assessment of similar decisions, which testify to the politically motivated discrimination against Russian nationals on the grounds of ethnicity. We also focused attention on the fact that these actions testify to the negligent attitude of Finland and the whole of the European Union to their international commitments.
These steps will not remain without due response from Russia.
Question: The UN came up with an initiative to set up a fact-finding mission following the shelling of the Yelenovka detention centre. Does Russia plan to cooperate with it? When could it make the first visit to the site? Should we expect the mission to make unbiased conclusions?
Ivan Nechayev: It was Russia’s initiative to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ukrainian prisoners of war at the detention centre in the village of Yelenovka, Donetsk People’s Republic, as a result of rocket shelling by Ukrainian troops on July 29, 2022. On July 31, 2022, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu sent the relevant proposal to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Currently, contact is being maintained with the UN Secretariat on approaches to the work of the UN fact-finding mission. On August 15, 2022, this issue was touched upon in Sergey Shoigu’s telephone conversation with Antonio Guterres. We are interested in that visit being made as soon as possible. This would become possible as soon as all details are coordinated.
As for the mission’s conclusions, of course, we expect it to carry out an unbiased investigation and establish all facts relating to this tragic incident.
Question: Commenting on Rosselkhoznadzor’s new restrictions on importing Moldovan agricultural products the other day, President of Moldova Maia Sandu did not rule out that this ban might be prompted by political considerations. She urged the government to start looking for new markets for Moldovan goods. Is her statement justified? Did Russia explain the reasons for this act?
Ivan Nechayev: Indeed, starting August 15 of this year, Rosselkhoznadzor introduced temporary restrictions on the import of plant products from Moldova. This decision was justified by the substandard phytosanitary conditions in the republic. Moldova was officially notified of this decision and received exhaustive information on why it was made.
Rosselkhoznadzor has repeatedly pointed out to our Moldovan colleagues the instances of harmful quarantine organisms found in the imported goods and asked them to take corrective measures. Unfortunately, the National Food Safety Agency of Moldova has not reacted adequately to this warning. In July alone, Russian inspectors found five harmful quarantine organisms in 13 consignments of sweet and sour cherrys, apples and peaches, including three insects (oriental moth, oriental fruit fly and Mediterranean fruit fly), one disease (Monilinia brown rot) and one weed plant.
In this context, we are perplexed by Moldova’s attempts to find a political explanation. Rosselkhoznadzor released a statement, emphasising that it adopts similar protective measures to all countries whose products do not meet Russian phytosanitary requirements.
Therefore, Moldova is trying to politicise a strictly practical issue of bilateral cooperation. We urge Chisinau to focus on bringing its agricultural products into conformity with Russian phytosanitary standards and to not look for a black cat in a dark room, especially when there isn’t one.
Question: Finland was not the only country recently to express its intention to restrict visas for Russian citizens. Current Time TV reported the other day that similar statements have been made by Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic, to name a few. Latvian authorities have talked about the possibility of revising the visas and residence permits issued earlier to Russian citizens. What countermeasures does the Foreign Ministry consider appropriate in this context? You have already said that such actions will not go unanswered. Is there an important difference for the Foreign Ministry whether such restrictions will be theoretically imposed by every EU country separately or as a consolidated EU decision?
Ivan Nechayev: I have already expressed our position on the decision by the Finnish authorities to reduce the number of visas issued to Russians. There are increasing calls in some EU countries not only to discontinue or restrict the issuance of all categories of visas to Russian citizens (including students) but to annul the existing permits for long stays. These calls fully fit in with the Russophobic attitudes of Europe’s political elite. In some countries this attitude is gaining completely unacceptable dimensions.
That said, judging by media reports, the Latvian government has promised to extend the residence permits issued earlier in “special cases” (study, family reunification, humanitarian reasons, etc.). In general, we believe that the intention to deprive Russian citizens of residence permits show Riga’s open neglect of its international commitments and a crude violation of the rights of its residents for one ethnic group. This qualifies as a manifestation of xenophobia and neo-Nazism.
We cannot rule out the full-scale adoption of such discriminatory decisions both at the EU level and by individual EU states even if there is no consensus.
Once again: these steps will not go without an appropriate response from Russia. You will soon learn about it.
As for the situation regarding Russian students abroad and potential response measures, I must say that depriving some people of the access to knowledge is not our way. Russia has never advocated any measure to “cancel culture and education.” To the contrary – we urge everyone to embrace a “culture of openness.” This approach resonates with the young people in Western countries. I would like to recall what I said at the previous briefing – foreign students are increasingly interested in studying in Russia despite the Russophobic campaign launched by the collective West.
Question: Bloomberg recently reported that law firms in London, in particular, have recently begun to cut ties with major Russian businesses and affiliated companies because of the possible reputational risks that law firms may incur when representing the interests of major Russian business leaders. Is the Foreign Ministry aware of this? Does the Ministry believe this is a problem?
Ivan Nechayev: Indeed, the new package of anti-Russia sanctions initiated by the British government in July, in particular, includes a complete ban on providing professional or business services to “persons connected with Russia,” primarily, accounting, audit and financial reporting, business and administration consulting, and public relations.
We view Bloomberg’s report as another confirmation of London’s sanctions policy being ill-advised and destructive, primarily damaging Britain’s own businesses.
It is noteworthy that Boris Johnson’s government inflicted yet another painful blow to the UK’s business environment and the country’s reputation as an international financial centre at a time when the national economy was rapidly sliding into a recession, with declining living standards, record inflation and a spiralling energy crisis.
We believe that the Conservative party’s policy to sacrifice their own people’s well-being for the sake of supporting the Ukrainian neo-Nazi regime and opposing Russia in the international arena will receive an appropriate assessment in their country in the near future. It is also obvious that business players from third countries will draw the right conclusions about the business environment in the United Kingdom being unreliable and extremely susceptible to political trends.
Question: What retaliatory measures can be taken against Latvia, which has designated Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism,” and Estonia, which proposed that Europe should suspend Russians’ Schengen visas because traveling to Europe is a privilege?
Ivan Nechayev: We already discussed this at the last briefing. Moreover, a comment on this matter has been published on the Ministry’s website. I can only stress once again that retaliatory measures are being considered and worked out. I am sure you will learn about them soon enough.
Question: The armed forces of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which are all CSTO members, are taking part in the Regional Cooperation 2022 military exercise under the command of the United States. Held in Tajikistan, the drills will continue until August 20. What would be your comment on that?
Ivan Nechayev: We have no reason to question the commitment by our allies in Central Asia to the CSTO cooperation principles and bilateral agreements. We proceed from the premise that contacts with countries which are unfriendly to Russia should not damage the strategic partnership with our country or run counter to the obligations under the existing agreements or within the frameworks we share, such as the CSTO, the EAEU, the CIS and the SCO.
I would like to draw your attention to the upcoming joint events for training the CSTO Collective Forces as part of the Combat Brotherhood 2022 strategic exercise to be held in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. This initiative is designed to improve security and stability in Central Asia.
In September and October 2022, Kazakhstan’s Matybulak training range is expected to host three military exercises for various elements of the CSTO Collective Forces. The first one will be a command post exercise Interaction 2022 for CSTO’s Collective Rapid Reaction Force focusing on preparing and carrying out joint operations to localise an armed conflict in the Central Asia collective security region. The second exercise will be the Search 2022 special training initiative for reconnaissance forces and assets, and the third one, called Echelon, will be devoted to CSTO Collective Forces’ logistics control forces and assets.
Another joint exercise involving the representatives and units of the CSTO’s Collective Rapid Reaction Force in the Central Asian region, Rubezh 2022, will take place in the Republic of Tajikistan at Harb-Maidon, a training range located in a mountainous area, to improve efforts to combat international terrorist organisations.
In Kyrgyzstan, Edelweiss training centre will host a command post exercise Indestructible Brotherhood for the CSTO Peacekeeping Forces on promoting post-conflict settlement in a crisis zone and carrying out a peacekeeping operation.
In addition, on August 2-5, 2022, Kyrgyzstan hosted the Cobalt 2022 tactical and special training involving special forces units within the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Force, with observers from several international agencies, including the United Nations, the OSCE, the CIS, the SCO, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. This exercise focused on joint practical actions to destroy or neutralise criminal groups which cross state borders illegally, to disrupt drug trafficking flows, confiscate arms and engage in disaster recovery and relief.
Question: Foreign Minister of Poland Zbigniew Rau visited Ukraine recently. As the current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, he allowed the possibility of violating the mandate and announced new “OSCE support programmes for Ukraine,” without any discussion or approval of the Permanent Council. Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said that while the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe was conceived as a platform for promoting dialogue and discussing a variety of views, it now spawns an anti-Russia narrative. In particular, the 2011 Vienna Document on confidence- and security-building measures formally remains in force, but the prospect of its practical implementation has been illusory. What is your assessment in this regard?
Ivan Nechayev: We have already shared our position regarding the work of the current OSCE Chairmanship, including during the previous briefing.
As for the 2011 Vienna Document on confidence- and security-building measures, the Russian Federation has been diligent in complying with its provisions. With the confidence among states who signed this agreement eroding, members of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation have been seeking to turn the data verification mechanisms into yet another source for obtaining intelligence. This approach by the collective West, coupled with the fact that the entire territory of the United States has been excluded from inspections, throw into question the effectiveness of the Vienna Document and the possibility of implementing it in the future.
Question: Vladimir Putin referred to the controversial visit by Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan as a well-orchestrated provocation. But less than two weeks after Pelosi’s visit, American senators visited Taiwan again. What do you think about this approach by the United States? What is the goal of yet another US provocation in such a short period of time? What consequences will there be?
Ivan Nechayev: We consider the recent visits by the US Congress delegations to Taiwan an obvious and clumsy provocation of the American authorities, aimed at containing China and in order to put additional pressure on it. We see that in its destructive actions to raise tensions around Taiwan, the US has not reached the result it desired.
It could not have been any other way in the new geopolitical reality of the modern multipolar world, in which there is no room for the American hegemony.
The settlement of the situation in the Taiwan Strait is a solely domestic affair of China. In this regard, we consider the publication of a White Paper on Taiwan by the Chinese State Council a well-timed event.
Russia’s principled stance on the Taiwan issue remains the same: we believe that there is only one China and its government is the only legitimate government that represents the entire China, of which Taiwan is an inseparable part.
The Chinese party has every reason to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the Taiwan Strait.
Question: The IAEA has started preparing a new mission to the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. In the meantime, Russia has declared that it would take all the necessary measures to ensure that the IAEA experts have access to the nuclear power plant in question. What will their visit entail? What are Russia’s expectations?
Ivan Nechayev: We expect that the IAEA international mission to the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant scheduled for June of this year will take place after all. We are in constant contact with the IAEA leadership on this matter. As you know, the IAEA Director General intends to visit the station in person.
As in the past, when the practically coordinated visit to the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) was scrapped due to the UN Secretariat’s interference and obstacles put up by Ukraine, there are more than enough people opposing this mission. We took notice of the recent statements by the spokesperson to the UN Secretary General, who said that the UN Secretariat was not authorised to impede or cancel any actions by the IAEA. Let us hope that this is so. The spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, also reminded his audience that the IAEA was fully independent and could determine on its own how it should carry out its mandate. Thus, it is the IAEA’s prerogative to decide how to deal with all the organisational matters related to the upcoming mission.
Hopefully, the Kiev regime and its Western sponsors will no longer be able to hide behind the broad back of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. We note frenzied attempts by the Ukrainian authorities to insinuate that it is Russia that is putting up obstacles in the path of an IAEA international mission to the ZNPP. But everyone sees the fury with which the Banderovites deliver military strikes at the ZNPP and Energodar, where the ZNPP personnel and their families live. The Ukrainian shelling is almost continuous, with projectiles hitting closer and closer to the spent fuel storage and the cooling systems. Power transmission lines feeding the station also come under fire at regular intervals. It is clear that Zelensky’s henchmen have no use for monitors, given the current developments. They are ready to burn the whole thing to the ground to hide the traces of their crimes that the IAEA experts will not fail to spot.
We are deeply concerned not only over Ukraine’s folly but also the fact that the Americans and Europeans are seeking to cover up for their Ukrainian charges at any cost, to paper over the outrages committed by the Ukrainian Nazis, who are toying with the fates of both their own citizens and the entire continent. The West’s criminal connivance at the Ukrainian shelling of and missile strikes at the ZNPP has no reasonable explanation. Moreover, it is unacceptable that fragments of NATO projectiles are increasingly often found next to the station’s vitally important elements and units. Obviously, it is for this reason that Washington and European capitals are so zealous in helping the Zelensky regime to axe yet another IAEA mission to the ZNPP.
In fact, they are absolutely indifferent to nuclear security considerations. By all appearances, they are going out of their way to find an expedient excuse that will help them to abort Rafael Grossi’s visit to the station and put the blame for it on Russia. Hence the Western playing up to Kiev’s insinuations. This attitude is totally irresponsible.
The mission to the ZNPP, as the IAEA mandate as a whole, is of purely technical nature. We regard as unacceptable the West’s provocative signals that Russia should first return the control over the ZNPP to Kiev and only then, allegedly, will the experts be able to visit and inspect the station. In June, the IAEA and Russia coordinated every last detail and all parameters of the visit, doing so without any far-fetched preconditions.
We are resolved to continue our constructive cooperation with the IAEA. Of course, we will have to take into account and eliminate new risks and threats created by Ukraine and resulting from the unrelenting massive shelling of the ZNPP and adjacent areas. We are confident that the mission will successfully cope with all its tasks and that its results will help to avert a disaster by consolidating the global effort to oppose nuclear threats instigated by the Ukrainian top officials in their Russophobic rage.
Question: Are there any talks on the swap of American and Russian prisoners and at what stage are they? I am referring to Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan and Viktor Bout. Have there appeared any new names for a possible swap?
Ivan Nechayev: We have repeatedly answered this question and commented on it, including at the previous briefing.
I would like to emphasise again that discussion of this sensitive issue of the swap of Russian and US prisoners is conducted via channels determined by our presidents. Bringing this delicate issue into the public space is harmful rather than helpful. Let’s leave the details to professionals proceeding from the do-no-harm rule. Quiet diplomacy goes on. It should produce results if Washington strictly follows its principles rather than descend to propaganda buzz in the media to score points before the elections.
Question: Why does Russia consider absolutely unacceptable the creation of a demilitarised zone around the nuclear power plant?
Ivan Nechayev: I commented in detail on this issue for your colleagues.
I can merely repeat that the IAEA international mission to the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, scheduled for last June, will still take place. We are permanently in touch with the IAEA on this issue.
Naturally, Ukraine’s virtually uninterrupted shelling and missile strikes on the plant and Energodar are making the visit more difficult.
As I have already said, we are deeply concerned by the efforts of the Americans and Europeans to cover for their mentees at any cost and to play down the atrocities of Ukrainian Nazis that are gambling with the lives of their own citizens and the residents of the entire continent. There is every indication that they are looking hard for ways of preventing IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi from coming to the nuclear plant. This position is completely irresponsible.
We want to continue productive cooperation with the IAEA. Naturally, it will be necessary to consider and curb the new risks and threats created by Ukraine’s incessant shelling of the nuclear power plant and adjacent territory.
The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant is being shelled by the Kiev neo-Nazi regime, not by Russia. We consider unacceptable any insinuations in this regard.
Question: The Russian Embassy in the United States has warned that an unpredictable escalation and a direct military confrontation between the US and Russia are possible. What did they mean when talking about a direct confrontation and were they referring to nuclear strikes in this context?
Ivan Nechayev: Russia has never engaged in sabre rattling, especially when it comes to nuclear weapons. However, the US and its allies have become actively involved in Ukraine by supplying Kiev with all kinds of weapons, including heavy artillery and offensive weapons, and these events have shown in all clarity that there is a real possibility of confrontation with the collective West.
As a reminder, even at the height of the Cold War, the leaders of our countries demonstrated maximum responsibility and caution on matters of strategic stability and international security.
Unfortunately, today, the ruling liberal and globalist circles in the United States, Great Britain and the EU are indulging in conversations on allowing a lower threshold for using nuclear weapons. In particular, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talked about this in public in early 2022, as did several European leaders and President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky who is under their patronage. This goes to say that Russia is not the one who is making these threats.
As for Russia, we are committed to the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, as set forth in the US – Russia Presidential Joint Statement on Strategic Stability, issued at the June 16, 2021 summit in Geneva. This message found its way into the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapons States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races, adopted on January 3, 2022. This document also talks about the need to avoid armed conflicts of any kind between nuclear powers. We have no intention of backing away from these understandings.
Let me emphasise that Russia’s armed forces have modern high-precision conventional weapons at their disposal, enabling them to deliver on all the goals and objectives of the special military operation in Ukraine as articulated by President Vladimir Putin.
As a nuclear-weapons state, Russia will continue acting with utmost responsibility. A direct confrontation with the United States or NATO is not in our interests. Under Russia’s military doctrine, a nuclear strike can only come as a response to an aggression involving weapons of mass destruction, or if its very existence as a state comes under threat. This means that nuclear weapons can only be used in retaliation to an attack as a means of self-defence in extreme circumstances.
We proceed from the premise that the United States and NATO understand the implications of the aggressive anti-Russia rhetoric they have been fomenting with a focus on the use of nuclear weapons.
Question: Russia’s Embassy in Armenia has sent a note to the Foreign Ministry in response to planted stories falsely accusing Russian structures of being involved in the incident in Surmalu, a shopping centre in Yerevan. What does the Foreign Ministry think about this situation? Could you comment on these allegations? Have you received an answer from the Armenian Foreign Ministry?
Ivan Nechayev: I can confirm that a note has been sent to the Foreign Ministry of Armenia. The Russian Embassy in Yerevan has issued a statement to this effect. Following up on these developments, Russia’s charge d’affaire had a conversation with senior officials from the Armenian Foreign Ministry. We are waiting for their reply.
Question: The EU has asked Türkiye to share information on its relations with Russia. What worries the EU is that Ankara is continuing to develop its trade relations with Moscow and remains neutral instead of imposing sanctions. What do you think about that? It is a fact that Russia-Türkiye relations have been following an upward trajectory lately, but Türkiye is also a NATO member. How does Moscow intend to maintain a balance in this complex relationship?
Ivan Nechayev: We do not see any need to comment on the relations between the European Union and Türkiye, which is a candidate country for joining this organisation. It is our firm belief that Ankara can determine on its own whether following the orders coming from Brussels is consistent with the genuine interests of Türkiye and its people.
As for Russia, we are developing our trade and economic ties with all countries who are ready to move in this direction, and we are strongly committed to continuing this. In today’s challenging environment, our relations with the Republic of Türkiye, with its traditionally independent and pragmatic foreign policy, serve as a good example of mutually beneficial and neighbourly partnership along these lines.
Question: Vladivostok will host the 7th Eastern Economic Forum 2022 next month, which is an international platform. Which countries are to be represented there by heads of state and government ministers?
Ivan Nechayev: Yes, the 7th Eastern Economic Forum 2022 will be held on September 5-8 on the Far Eastern Federal University campus in Vladivostok.
The Eastern Economic Forum is a key international platform for creating and strengthening ties between the Russian and global investment communities, for giving a comprehensive expert assessment of the economic potential of the Russian Far East, and highlighting its investment opportunities and business environment in its priority development areas.
The forum usually includes panel sessions, roundtable discussions, television debates, business breakfasts and business dialogues on Russia’s relations with various countries.
The 7th Eastern Economic Forum programme includes more than 70 business events. In particular, it will feature country-based business dialogues Russia – India, Russia – Vietnam, Russia – ASEAN, as well as a meeting of the Russia-China Business Council and a conference on investment and trade in the Arctic. About 4,000 delegates and media representatives are expected to take part in EEF-2022.
As for foreign participation this year, Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation, Executive Secretary of the EEF Organising Committee Anton Kobyakov commented on this on August 4: “A month before the 7th Eastern Economic Forum, representatives of 40 countries confirmed their participation. Such an active interest in the forum underscores that the EEF has become the most popular global business platform for expanding international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. We expect the participation of foreign leaders and high-level guests. As is traditional, a diverse business programme has been prepared covering the most pressing issues of the development of the Far East, the global and regional economy and international cooperation, as well as a discussion of the trajectory of overcoming the crisis and a new global architecture. We find ourselves in a new reality today. This year’s forum is themed On the Path Towards a Multipolar World, and our key task is to rebuild business processes, find a new foothold for economic cooperation and growth.”
Question: The programme on the voluntary resettlement of compatriots has been recently expanded to include compatriots from countries designated as unfriendly states by the Government of Russia. Does the measure apply only to people who have refugee status or compatriots in general living there? Have there been any positive changes or trends in this sphere lately?
Ivan Nechayev: When the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation launched the special military operation in Ukraine, there was a sharp increase in aggressive attacks against Russian nationals and members of Russia-speaking diasporas in European countries. This, in turn, led to a surge in the number of requests filed by our compatriots with Russian government agencies and foreign missions asking to help them return to Russia. We pay close attention to all these applications and make sure that they are processed immediately, including within the Foreign Ministry.
Some applicants are advised to consider taking part in the State Programme for Voluntary Resettlement in the Russian Federation of Compatriots Living Abroad. Today, it serves as quite an effective tool for enabling compatriots from all walks of life to return to their homeland, including those who left many years ago, do not have Russian citizenship and live in unfriendly countries.
Let me remind you that 80 regions of the Russian Federation are taking part in this State Programme, offering a rich selection of territories open for resettlement, taking into account preferences in terms of geography, climate, socioeconomic conditions, etc.
We are working with the State Programme’s coordinator – the Russian Interior Ministry – to improve its mechanisms and adapt it to the new environment. Streamlining all the necessary administrative procedures at all stages of the resettlement process remains our priority.
On August 12, 2022, President Vladimir Putin signed an Executive Order amending this State Programme, which has made it much easier for compatriots from countries undertaking unfriendly actions against the Russian Federation to file resettlement applications. They can now do it in the countries of stay rather than only in the country where they are citizens.
Compatriots from unfriendly countries can file resettlement applications on the territory of the Russian Federation if they have refugee status or were granted temporary asylum.
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(Reg no: DA 1825)