Dhaka July 29 2022 :
Briefing by Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department Ivan Nechayev, Moscow, July 27, 2022.
Sergey Lavrov’s schedule : Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has just finished his trip to the African countries and is now in Uzbekistan.
Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming participation in the SCO Ministerial Council meeting
As you are aware, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the SCO Ministerial Council meeting in Tashkent on July 28-29.
The participant will focus on the contents of the upcoming meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council in Samarkand on September 15-16, 2022, as well as pressing items on the international and regional agendas.
The Foreign Minister will hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Ministerial Council meeting.
Sergey Lavrov to attend foreign minister meetings in the Russia-ASEAN, EAS and ARF formats
As previously announced, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the ministerial meetings in the Russia-ASEAN, the EAS and the ARF formats in Phnom Penh on August 4-5.
ASEAN is one of our most important strategic partners. We traditionally attach great importance to the events held by the G10. During Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with the foreign ministers from the ASEAN countries, the entire range of dialogue partnership will be discussed in light of the decisions adopted at last year’s Russia-ASEAN summit, with an emphasis on specific and mutually beneficial steps in security and trade, as well as in the economic, sociocultural and humanitarian spheres and on the further expansion of ASEAN’s ties with the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
The EAS meeting agenda will include preparations and content for the 17th East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh in November, including the adoption of a roadmap for the EAS in 2023-2027. We also plan to draw attention to the risks of exacerbating the military-political situation in the Asia-Pacific region and NATO’s plans to gain a foothold in the Asian region based on the narrow-bloc entities that are being created by the United States and its allies.
The main task of the ASEAN Regional Forum on Security session is to preserve the forum as a platform for constructive non-politicised cooperation on issues that concern the regional community. We expect that the ARF work programme for the coming year and important theme-specific statements will be adopted. Countering new threats and challenges is among Russia’s priorities at the ARF. In particular, this includes ensuring security in ICT, something our country has come up with a number of practical initiatives for, as you may recall.
Update on Donbass and Ukraine
During the ongoing special military operation in Ukraine the entire territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic and a large part of the Donetsk People’s Republic have been liberated while the Kherson Region and vast areas in the Kharkov and Zaporozhye regions have been demilitarised.
Life in the areas liberated from the neo-Nazis is returning to normal, including the recovery of local industry and agriculture, the restoration of infrastructure and the construction of new residential buildings; it also means that plants have resumed production, schools, kindergartens, outpatient clinics and hospitals are opening, and freight and passenger rail services have resumed between Crimea and Melitopol. Sea ports in Mariupol and Berdyansk are busy again.
During the operation, the Russian armed forces continue to hit only military targets and only with high-precision weapons. Humanitarian corridors are being created to evacuate civilians from unsafe areas. Since the beginning of the operation about 3 million people, including over 450,000 children, have fled to Russia.
Unfortunately, Kiev, which follows the instructions from its Western curators, has not stopped the aggression against its people. The Ukrainian armed forces use large-calibre and long-range artillery systems supplied by NATO countries to shell cities and villages, which have no military facilities, in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, as well as the Kherson, Zaporozhye and Kharkov regions. In the first half of July, they delivered massive strikes on
Donetsk and its environs, Novaya Kakhovka, Lugansk, Stakhanov and other cities and villages, using American HIMARS rocket systems.
The Ukrainian armed forces are shelling the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, with fanatical persistence, caring little about its safety and violating the relevant IAEA General Conference resolutions and decisions. Nobody in Kiev seems to be embarrassed by the practice of shelling nuclear facilities. Clearly, Ukraine is deliberately moving towards a large-scale industrial disaster.
We see that this completely suits the United States and its European allies. This is borne out by the White House’s decision to allocate an additional $270 million in military aide to Ukraine, a figure that has already exceeded $8.2 billion since President Joe Biden took office. In addition, a decision was taken to supply another four HIMARS rocket systems to Ukraine, bringing the overall number of these systems to 16. Washington is rendering direct assistance to the Ukrainian neo-Nazis by providing them with intelligence and helping them home in on targets. This cynical assistance for Ukraine by the West is taking an increasingly heavy toll on civilians and it is direct support for the inhuman policy which is being pursued by the Kiev regime with respect to the Russian nationals in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and in the areas in Ukraine that have been liberated.
It is disgraceful that the relevant international organisations that are called on to protect democracy and human rights are shutting their eyes to the crimes committed by Ukrainian Nazis – torture and cruel and humiliating treatment of the citizens of Russia, Ukraine, the DPR and the LPR. The High Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia, Tatyana Moskalkova, has repeatedly addressed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the OSCE ODIHR, and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. She urged them to influence the Kiev regime and stop the widespread violation of human rights, but her appeals have remained unanswered so far. Kiev continues violating universally recognised principles and standards of international law. It looks like the West remains committed to an approach expressed by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the Nicaraguan dictator: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”
Confident in their impunity, Ukrainian nationalists do not shy away from anything. They systematically harass, by telephone, the wives and parents of the detained Russian army servicemen, insulting them and making provocative offers to come and get the corpse of their relative. Russian citizens, who happened to be in Ukraine, are detained as hostages. We have received many appeals from truck drivers, sailors and company employees. The online videos of murder and the torture of Russian military personnel have created an uproar. Monstrous cruelty against defenceless people is horrifying.
These crimes committed by the Vladimir Zelensky regime cannot go unpunished. In this context, we welcome the work of the International Public Tribunal established on March 1 of this year at the initiative of Russian and foreign human rights champions and journalists from over 20 countries. The tribunal operates on the freed territories of Ukraine, in the DPR and the LPR. Since then, its members have already questioned over 400 victims and witnesses of the war crimes committed by the armed forces of Ukraine (VSU) and Ukrainian nationalists. These crimes include the murder of civilians, the use of people as living shields, and attacks on hospitals, civilian facilities and residential areas.
The Investigative Committee of Russia is also investigating crimes by Ukrainian armed units in cooperation with the competent agencies from the DPR and the LPR. It has identified over 220 people involved in the shelling of Donbass, including representatives of the VSU High Command. Of this number, 92 commanders and their subordinates have been indicted.
Chairman of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin organised a timely initiative – to establish an international tribunal over Ukrainian criminals in cooperation with Russia’s partners in the CIS, the CSTO, BRICS and the SCO. Unfortunately, part of the international community has discredited itself so much in its open sponsorship of Ukrainian nationalism and in fulfilling the US’s instructions, that it has become practically impossible to establish the proposed tribunal under UN aegis. It is possible to involve in the tribunal’s work only those countries that have preserved their political sovereignty and their ability to judge world developments without bias.
There is no common sense in Kiev’s desire to punish residents of Ukraine for choosing Russian citizenship. Deputy Prime Minister (of Ukraine) Irina Vereshchuk announced this measure the other day. If Ukraine really introduces criminal responsibility (up to 15 years in prison) for having a Russian passport, this will only confirm that the Ukrainian authorities are a long way from observing human rights and the fundamental principles of democracy.
Unfortunately, Kiev’s recent decisions and actions leave no doubt that the Zelensky regime will continue its criminal activities. This is yet further proof of the correctness and timeliness of the special military operation and the need to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine and remove, as soon as possible, the threats to its citizens, the republics of Donbass and Russia. All these goals will be achieved.
Events to mark Remembrance Day for Child Victims of the War in Donbass
A videoconference is being held today to mark the Day of Remembrance for Child Victims of the War in Donbass celebrated in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Representatives from Belarus, Italy, Russian legislators, the regions, commissioners for children’s rights, human rights and other public organisations are invited to the event. In addition, we assisted in sending an invitation to Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba, who was unable to attend due to previously planned engagements, as was reported.
A rally to commemorate the deceased children of Donbass was also held on the Donetsk People’s Republic Square in Moscow, which representatives of the DPR Embassy, Russian officials and the public attended.
We share the feeling of sorrow with the people of Donbass. The perpetrators of crimes against children committed by the Kiev regime must suffer the punishment they deserve.
Once again, we have received proof of the neo-Nazi nature of the Kiev regime, this time from Denmark.
Last week, criminal and overt neo-Nazi Jesper Sorensen gave an interview on Danish radio, where he talked about the involvement of local Nazis in the hostilities in Ukraine. His organisation, the far-right Danish National Front, posted a corresponding post on Facebook. Sorensen’s statements were extremely specific: there can be no talk of prisoners. And, in fact, he promised to commit war crimes in Ukraine in the future.
At the same time, his fellows from the Danish National Front are holding some “solidarity events” with Ukraine. It is significant that it is the representatives of marginal neo-Nazi circles who seek to align with the current Kiev regime, with the still functioning administration of Vladimir Zelensky.
The bloodthirstiness of the Danish Nazis (which includes Ukrainians) scares even the local authorities who advise against Ukrainian refugees participating in the actions of the Danish National Front.
The Russian World Foundation and the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund put on the EU sanctions list
We are surprised by the EU’s decision, adopted on July 21, to spread the sanctions to Russian individuals and companies, creative professionals, and organisations involved in cultural and humanitarian cooperation and public diplomacy, including the Russian World Foundation and the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund.
As a reminder, the Russian World Foundation promotes the Russian language – Russia’s national asset and an important element of global culture. The Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund facilitates the development of public diplomacy.
We are perplexed by the maniacal striving of European politicians “to cancel” the Russian World that unites our compatriots in the near and far abroad, all those who are sincerely interested in Russia, and those who are worried about its future and long-standing humanitarian ties of the Russian NGOs.
We would like to note again that such steps by the West are designed to complicate, as much as possible, direct communication between the civil society representatives of our countries, which are interested in an unbiased, honest exchange of views on the most pressing issues.
We are confident that any attempt to split this community is doomed to failure.
European Commission’s Rule of Law Report
We noted the annual Rule of Law Report published by the European Commission a few days ago.
Like many other EU documents, this report is far from being unbiased or self-critical. Politics, ideology and double standards prevail in this report. The EU countries try to attribute many rule-of-the-law problems to the alleged external threat from Russian. At the same time, I would like to recall that the EU Council decided to ban broadcasts by Russia Today, the Sputnik information website, and the Russian channels RTR Planeta, Rossiya 24 and TV Centre International. The media are censored in the EU on a broad scale under the pretext of countering mythical hostile foreign agents that allegedly use disinformation and cyber-attacks. In reality, Europeans are being deprived of the right not only to know the truth, but also the right to an alternative view and to information as such. Apparently, this is one of the components of the Western-promoted “rules-based international order.”
Declaring itself “a union of democratic values, human rights and supremacy of law,” the EU continues to openly use these fundamental principles to impose their supposed universal neo-liberal model on third countries. While doing so, it tries to hide the systematic crude violations of the rights of national minorities and freedom of the media at home.
This report presents the situation on human rights and the rule of the law in the Baltic countries almost as a model to follow. It reads that these states have all the necessary conditions for the safe and free functioning of journalists. But what about the criminal persecution of journalists cooperating with Sputnik Latvia by the Latvian authorities? What about violations of the basic principles of freedom of the media that have become routine in the Baltic countries, and the public’s limited access to alternative information sources? What about politically motivated cases against activists and journalists defending the rights of Russian speakers? These countries have not yet given up the disgraceful denial of citizenship or the struggle against the Russian language.
The report does not say a word about the crude violations of the rights of migrants by the Lithuanian and Polish border guards during the migration crisis at the EU’s border with Belarus.
The report presents, as a big achievement, the presence of an advisory section for the first time. It is meant to help the member countries correct their shortcomings in ensuring the rule of the law. However, it contains no recommendations on remedying the situation with the outrageous violation of the rights of national minorities or the freedom of the media in the Baltic countries.
We are ready to help our EU colleagues with this issue. For one thing, we suggest they attentively read the Foreign Ministry’s report On Violations of the Rights of Russian Citizens and Fellow Citizens in Foreign Countries. We believe that it would help experts from the European Commission substantially expand their recommendations on the observance of the rule of the law by the EU member states.
Summoning the Latvian Charge d’Affaires in Russia to the Foreign Ministry due to provocative actions of Latvia against Russian citizens
On July 27, Dace Rutka, Charge d’Affaires of the Republic of Latvia in the Russian Federation, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry. She received a strong protest and a corresponding note regarding provocative actions of the Latvian law enforcement agencies, which are exerting crude pressure on Russian citizens entering the territory of Latvia, requiring them to sign a ready-made statement disavowing the policy of the Russian Federation. In case of refusal, entry to Latvia is banned.
This practice is becoming systematic. Dozens of such incidents have already been reported, including with Russian motor carriers and even on humanitarian occasions, such as removal of an urn with ashes for burial.
Another outrageous incident occurred on July 22 with President of the Russian Union of Insurers Igor Yurgens, who was denied entry to Latvia for the absurd reason that he poses a “threat to the public order, internal security, public health or foreign relations of one or more member countries of the European Union.”
We strongly condemn the unfriendly actions of Riga, which once again demonstrate how deformed Latvian-style “democracy” is.
Results of the Tashkent International Conference on Afghanistan
On July 25-26, the Tashkent International Conference on Afghanistan: Security and Economic Development was held in Uzbekistan.
The Russian delegation was led by Zamir Kabulov, Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan, Director of the Second Asian Department of the Foreign Ministry. Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi also took part in the conference at the invitation of Uzbekistan.
The event was used as an opportunity to discuss current developments in the country as well as assistance in the socioeconomic recovery of Afghanistan. In turn, we once again drew attention to the necessity to “unfreeze” the national assets of Kabul, held illegally by Washington and its European satellites, which hinders the efforts of the international community to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan after 20 years of American occupation.
Tomorrow, July 28, at 11:00 am, Zamir Kabulov will hold a briefing on the results of the international conference at the Rossiya Segodnya press centre.
Russia-funded UNDP project to help Kenya recover from the pandemic
The Russian Federation acts as a donor to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project Strengthening COVID-19 Response for Kenya: Preparedness, Response and Recovery, which aims to build up the Kenyan health sector’s capacity to respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The project was launched at the end of 2020, began to be implemented in 2021, and the main batch of medical equipment and goods was transferred in July 2022.
The project, with a total budget of $1 million, targets three Kenyan districts: Kisumu, Busia and Migori. The implementation partners are the Ministry of Health of Kenya and the UNDP country office.
Thanks to this initiative, medical institutions of these districts received a large batch of medical supplies. In Kisumu Hospital, built with the support of the Soviet Union, a new cafeteria is being constructed. More than 200 young women who live in these areas and are employed in small businesses are undergoing six- month advanced training courses.
From the Russian side, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to international organisations in Nairobi took part in the launch of the project.
The host party, represented by the leadership of Kisumu Hospital, expressed deep gratitude to Russia for its contribution to the development of the Kenyan healthcare sector.
Implementation of this project will help Kenya make progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Thirty years since the beginning of the peacekeeping operation in the Dniester River area with Russia’s participation
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov plans to greet the peacekeepers from Russia, Moldova and Transnistria on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of their mission on the Dniester River.
On July 29, it will be 30 years since Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in Transnistria, putting an end to the “hot phase” of the Transnistria conflict and initiating the creation of a trilateral peacekeeping operation, which until now has safeguarded peace and stability along the Dniester.
Established in 1992 and time tested, the Joint Peacekeeping Force has proved effective and it is truly unique. Along with peacekeepers from the Russian Federation, it comprises military personnel from Chisinau and Tiraspol, which are parties to the conflict.
Today, some people in Moldova and in the West are saying that the peacekeeping operation’s current format has become outdated and has achieved its objectives. We couldn’t disagree more with this viewpoint. This mission has been, and remains, a reliable foundation for continuing the political dialogue between the parties and working out a viable and comprehensive solution for the Transnistria issue. The armed provocations, which are essentially terrorist acts, which took place in Transnistria last April and May, have shown that security risks remain in the region.
Russia’s position is invariable and suggests that the peacekeepers continue carrying out their mission while the issue of a new configuration for the operation and the changing of its status should be brought up only when a formula has been found for the political settlement of the situation around Transnistria. Regrettably, we will have a long way to go before achieving this.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to mark its 65th anniversary
On July 29, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will mark 65 years since its establishment.
The agency is an independent international institution at the UN. According to its Charter, the Agency “shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.” The agency’s activities over six and a half decades have shown its importance and effectiveness.
The USSR was among the initiators of creating the Agency and among the first countries to ratify its Charter, and it provided political, scientific, technical and financial support to the Agency. Today, the Russian Federation upholds this tradition.
We highly appreciate the Agency’s efforts to assist all countries in securing access to the benefits of the peaceful uses of the atom, including energy and the nuclear technology used in medicine, agriculture, industry and other areas.
We note the IAEA’s efforts to promote international cooperation in nuclear security and physical security of nuclear facilities. The Agency is the only international organisation authorised under its Charter and having the necessary expert potential to supervise the exclusively peaceful character of national nuclear programmes.
We believe the IAEA will continue to make an important contribution to international cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy and to building trust and ensuring security on the planet.
The anniversary of signing the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe
August 1 marks the anniversary of signing the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Final Act. In 1975, conference participants met in the capital of Finland and ushered in new, more civilised and safer foundations of coexistence between Euro-Atlantic states, divided into two opposing military-political blocs, as well as neutral countries searching for various ways to promote stability on the continent. This milestone also proved crucial for the Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was established on the basis of the CSCE.
To be honest, the mood in the current geopolitical situation is far from festive. The OSCE’s founding fathers conceived the Vienna venue as a negotiating and deliberative forum on issues of cooperation and strengthening peaceful relations. In the past few years, the efforts by some states have turned this venue into a place for confrontation. Today, it resembles a circus show and has little in common with normal diplomatic work. The striving of the “collective West” to impose brazen ideological dictates and monopolise the OSCE and use it against those who refuse to toe the Western line has inevitably led to the current deep crisis in the organisation. It is unclear whether it will survive or not. Much depends on the political will of the member states and their readiness to correct the OSCE’s structural shortcomings and to return to the Helsinki Spirit.
Holding the 11th Russian Hanseatic Days
On July 22-24, 2022, Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Region, hosted celebrations held as part of the 11th Russian Hanseatic Days. The participants attended a panel Russian Hansa in Modern Conditions: Transformation of Economic and Socio-Political Ties between Cities.
Despite unfriendly actions by the management of the New Hanseatic League on suspending the membership of Russian cities in this organisation, representatives of business circles from Austria, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia attended this event.
The latest Russian Hanseatic Days reaffirmed that Russia remains open for constructive dialogue with its partners, and that it is ready to expand the geographic boundaries of trade and economic cooperation.
The sides adopted a number of important decisions for supporting and expanding this project.
The participants also agreed to implement the project New Year Journey of Father Frost who hails from Veliky Ustyug in the CIS countries, including Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Answers to media questions:
Question: On July 22, 2022, the Lithuanian railways resumed transit of the so-called sanctioned goods from Russia to the Kaliningrad Region. What does the Foreign Ministry think about resuming transit to Kaliningrad, and is Russia satisfied with the transit terms?
Ivan Nechayev: The Lithuanian authorities decided to authorise transit trains to Kaliningrad to circulate once again based on the explanations provided by the European Commission. We believe that offering an assessment of this decision would be premature. What matters the most here is how this works in practice.
Question: Over the past months, Armenian law enforcement agencies detained Armenian activist Mikael Badalyan twice. He is known for his pro-Russian position. He spent so much time in detention that he became ill and even needed urgent hospitalisation. Armen Grigoryan, another prominent civil society activist who supports Moscow, died in a Yerevan courtroom just two weeks ago. Could it be, in your opinion, that the Armenian government is pressuring activists who are not afraid to speak out openly about their pro-Russian views and promote them?
Ivan Nechayev: We are keeping a close eye on the developments in Armenia. This is an allied country, and we are sincerely interested in its stable and predictable development in an atmosphere of peace and national accord. All domestic policy matters can only be resolved within the legal and constitutional framework, following the corresponding democratic procedures, and of course, without violence.
We welcome calls issued by several civil society activists and political leaders in our brotherly Armenia, including of course Mikael Badalyan, to make developing and strengthening relations with Russia a priority. We will keep monitoring what happens to him, as well as maintain ties with all the responsible political forces in this friendly republic.
The consolidation of Armenian society that takes into consideration the interests of all groups would serve our interests. We attach great importance to further deepening Moscow’s allied relations with Yerevan in all areas as per the Joint Statement adopted by the leaders of Russia and Armenia on April 19, 2022. At Yerevan’s request, we stand ready to assist the republic in delivering on the objectives it faces, including by offering our expert support in reforming its public administration system.
Question: What does Moscow think about statements by USAID Administrator Samantha Power, who said that the United States is working on a Plan B for exporting grain from Ukraine because it does not believe that Moscow will abide by the Istanbul agreement?
Ivan Nechayev: Let me remind you that two documents were signed in Istanbul on July 22, 2022: the memorandum on cooperation between Russia and the United Nations on assistance in supplying Russian agricultural products and fertilizer to world markets and the initiative establishing a mechanism for the safe transportation of grain and related foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports.
It is too early to discuss the implementation of the memorandum and the initiative, since they were signed just a few days ago. The parties are currently setting up all the required mechanisms for delivering on the stated objectives.
Russia stands by its obligations and is committed to effectively implementing the Istanbul agreements. Constructive efforts by other countries, including good faith facilitation efforts by the United Nations and a bona fide approach by the international community, primarily the Western countries, will have a very important role.
As for the Plan B suggested by the US representatives and Ukraine, it refers to the existing alternative routes for exporting Ukrainian grain by rail and rivers. According to the available information, Ukraine has already exported 2.7 million tonnes of grain this way. However, these routes have limited capacity, so exporting the new harvest this way could be an issue.
These new negative statements by US officials have not surprised us. It is quite telling that the Americans were the ones who blocked the drafting of a UN Security Council document welcoming the signing of the Istanbul agreements. This speaks for itself, as the saying goes.
Question: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is completing a four-day tour of Africa. What are the results of his trip? Sergey Lavrov’s tour virtually coincides with a trip by US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer to the continent. Can we call this a mere coincidence? At his joint news conference with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov noted that it did not befit the United States to dissuade African states from cooperating with Russia. What do you think about the actions of the US side?
Ivan Nechayev: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has completed his trip to African countries, and he is now on his way to Uzbekistan. We believe that this trip has produced positive results, and they show that the efforts of the “collective West” to isolate Russia have failed. Africa respects Russia as a good friend and a reliable partner. The leaders of African countries are ready to conduct dialogue with Moscow, including at the highest level. The 2nd Russia-Africa Summit, scheduled for 2023, is expected to promote this dialogue still further.
In turn, we are committed to a further comprehensive expansion of relations with the countries of the continent and with regional organisations, primarily the African Union. In an effort to facilitate more effective trade and economic ties, we are now working actively to fine-tune our foreign trade system.
Obviously, the United States and its satellites staunchly oppose Russia’s stronger positions in Africa. They perceive the region as a sphere of their traditional influence, and they erroneously believe that this influence is unshakeable and eternal. Washington is unable to change its colonial habits, and it is trying to discredit Russian-African partnership that hinges on the fundamental principles of equality and mutual respect, to the greatest possible extent. As usual, they are resorting to unscrupulous methods of propaganda, including the publication of fake anti-Russia information via US-controlled media outlets and the broad dissemination of custom-made fake online publications. US diplomats working in Africa do not shy away from direct blackmail in their contacts with the leaders of African countries, and they are flatly demanding that these countries renounce cooperation with Russia. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted aptly and succinctly that their actions were inappropriate. One can add that the intrusive US attempts to hamper the development of Russian-African relations are meeting with increasingly less understanding and support on the part of the Africans.
Regarding the trip of US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer to the continent at the same time with the Russian Foreign Minister, we do not care whether this is a mere coincidence or not.
Question: The Japanese regulator has approved the release of wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. According to media reports, it is the cheapest wastewater disposal method for Japan. The South Korean government has held an emergency meeting immediately following Japan’s decision, and the Foreign Ministry of China has voiced protest over the environmental risks of the decision. What is Russia’s reaction to the Japanese plan?
Ivan Nechayev: According to information available through official channels, the plans of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) will not create significant risks to the environment. Therefore, we have not issued any protests over Tokyo’s plans to discharge wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi NPP. On the other hand, some aspects require clarification. In this connection, Russia and China have compiled a detailed list of questions and forwarded it to Japan and the IAEA. We received Japan’s response last week. It will be thoroughly analysed by the relevant Russian experts.
We hope that Japan will act transparently and will give the states concerned full access to the information of interest to them regarding the planned water discharge, up to and including environmental sampling in the water discharge area.
Question: It has been reported that the European Commission will allocate about 8 million euros for the implementation of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Our EU and US colleagues have recently become more active in the region, and the media is increasingly reporting Western plans to take Russia’s place in the mediation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia. How will Moscow counter Western influence in the South Caucasus?
Ivan Nechayev: Russia is calling for the transformation of the South Caucasus into an area of peace and prosperity. We are advocating a completely creative agenda in the region, and we don’t plan to compete with anyone there. We have constructive objectives.
As for normalising relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, we have pointed out on numerous occasions that these efforts should be based on the trilateral statements made by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 9, 2020 and January 11 and November 26, 2021. We are not against the involvement of non-regional players, provided they act within the framework of the above-mentioned agreements and help implement them.
The main thing is to prevent overlapping and intrigues to weaken any party or put a spoke in the wheels. Regrettably, we have seen these players use these methods many times.
Question: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has recently said that Russia is no longer considered to be a reliable gas supplier. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has described a joint photo made during the recent summit meeting of Russia, Iran and Türkiye in Tehran as “a challenge to NATO.” What is your opinion of the future of Russia’s relations with the coalition government led by Olaf Scholz?
Ivan Nechayev: Regrettably, we are not surprised because the ruling German coalition is making such absurd claims and ungrounded accusations every day. They have forgotten that it was Germany itself and its EU allies who have been persistently and purposefully eroding the foundations of their energy cooperation with Russia. Our long-standing antagonists from the Green Party have been especially active.
Moreover, the Scholz government is not limiting its activity to anti-Russia rhetoric. Berlin continues to supply lethal German- and Soviet-made weapons to Ukraine directly and as part of multilateral exchange schemes involving its EU and NATO allies. The Ukrainian neo-Nazis are using these weapons to shell residential districts and civilian facilities in the zone of the special military operation and in the territory of Russia. The German government was among those who initiated and is actively promoting the adoption, strict compliance with and continued build-up of the illegal anti-Russia sanctions by the EU and G7. We regard this as hostile actions directly targeting the Russian Federation and aimed at delivering as much damage as possible to it. Berlin makes no secret of this and has even openly called for defeating Russia in all spheres of the conflict between Russia and the “collective West.”
We believe that this behaviour by the ruling German coalition is evidence of Berlin’s refusal to conduct a substantive dialogue with Moscow. We would like to remind everyone that in the first few days after the start of the special military operation the German government led by Olaf Scholz, playing up to its geopolitical interests and transatlantic solidarity, blew to smithereens the political, trade, economic, scientific, educational, cultural and humanitarian relations with Russia, which took decades to build up in the post-war period. One result of that policy was the exodus of German businesses from Russia, including from the energy sector, where cooperation was vitally important for Germany. It was at Germany’s initiative that regional and municipal contacts have been suspended, cooperation between our civil societies has been curtailed, and the functioning of all dialogue platforms and absolutely all interdepartmental formats has been stopped.
Nevertheless, we remain open to contacts with Germany. We would like to hope that common sense will eventually prevail in Berlin, because our nations have always been and will remain close neighbours in Europe, and not just geographically, regardless of the current and future [political] changes. The earnest of this is our thousand-years-long history, which has not at all been simple and has seen its ups and downs.
Question: USAID Administrator Samantha Power has told CNN that the US is working on a Plan B to get grain exports out of Ukraine by road, rail and river routes. During a news conference with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Congo, Sergey Lavrov said that the grain terminal at the port of Odessa was located far away from the military section, and that there was no obstacle to the implementation of the Istanbul agreements. What is the current situation with grain exports? What can you say about the agreements’ provisions that concern the export of Russian grain?
Ivan Nechayev: Regarding the Plan B you have mentioned, I have already commented in detail on this subject to your colleagues.
I can only add that the agreements reached in Istanbul on July 22, 2022, namely the Memorandum of Understanding and the Initiative we have mentioned, are complex “package” documents. We would like to point this out again. This means that the issues of Ukrainian grain exports and the normalisation of Russian grain exports should be addressed as a package. This is why the two documents were signed simultaneously in Istanbul.
I would like to repeat that we honour our commitments and intend to implement the Istanbul agreements efficiently.
Question: The leading parliamentary parties in Finland intend to support a proposal to stop issuing tourist Schengen visas to Russian citizens. The Russians who enter Finland can bring in only a limited amount of euros and they cannot have more than 300 euros worth of goods with them upon exit or buy mobile phones or other equipment. The Russian trade representative has reported that 800 freight wagons have been seized in Finland. And lastly, international arbitration is underway over Finland’s termination of a contract with Rosatom to build a nuclear power plant. The question therefore concerns not only Russia’s response but its relations with Finland. Do they have a future?
Ivan Nechayev: I would like to point out that the tough policy of confrontation adopted in Helsinki after the beginning of the special military operation to protect the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics has seriously damaged Russia-Finland cooperation.
Finland has supported the EU’s restrictions against Russia, has decided to send weapons to the Kiev regime, and has virtually stopped our political dialogue. The Finnish authorities, acting contrary to their own interests, have restricted or suspended trade, economic, energy, transportation, environmental, scientific, technical, cultural, humanitarian and sports ties with Russia. As the result of the purposeful actions by NATO countries, primarily the United States, Finland has filed an application to join the bloc.
Predictably, we have responded to these actions. On March 5, 2022, Finland was added to the Unfriendly Countries List. In other words, the measures prepared by the Russian Government for unfriendly countries, including restrictions on foreign trade transactions and financial transfers, will affect Finland as well.
Of course, it is deeply regrettable that our relations with Finland, which took decades to develop, have been destroyed and that Finland will become a minor NATO country, with all that it entails. But the outlook for normalising our relations now that Helsinki has opted to blindly follow the current policy of the collective West is negative.
At the same time, we believe that our geographical closeness and our unique experience of good-neighbourly relations cannot be erased from public memory. We will have to jointly look for solutions to problems arising in bilateral relations. In this context, we have taken note of the Finnish authorities’ declared intention to avoid the aggravation of tensions on the Russian-Finnish border and to deal with practical matters. We’ll see how these statements are implemented.
Question: Receiving pensions is now difficult for our compatriots who live abroad, due to anti-Russian sanctions. The issue is especially acute in Israel, where several thousand of such people live. They are particularly concerned about the emerging strategic partnership with Iran, which could complicate relations with Israel. What would you advise our retired compatriots living abroad, and what are the prospects for resolving the pension issue?
Ivan Nechayev: Despite economic restrictions imposed on Russia by several foreign states, work on cross-border transfer of pensions and other payments continues. The Russian Pension Fund carries out their transfers on time.
At the same time, please note Government Resolution No. 757 dated April 26, 2022.
This resolution regulates issues related to the payment of pensions and other benefits established under the legislation of the Russian Federation and international agreements implemented by the Russian Pension Fund through transfers abroad, if it is not possible to make the transfers in foreign currency for reasons beyond the control of the Russian Federation.
If it is impossible to transfer pensions and other payments to people living abroad due to the restrictive economic measures against Russia, such citizens will be notified that they can file an application for the relevant payments to be made in roubles on the territory of the Russian Federation.
The corresponding information can be found on the websites of Russian diplomatic missions and consulates.
For additional clarifications on pension and social security issues, please contact state non-budgetary funds (in particular, the Pension Fund of Russia), or call the Unified Contact Centre for Interaction with Citizens at 8 800 600 0000.
Now about receiving pensions by compatriots living in Israel. The problem is really very acute. The reason for these difficulties lies in the actions of American correspondent banks that illegally withhold funds sent by the Russian Pension Fund to the recipients.
In this context, representatives of specialised Russian and Israeli agencies have stepped up their search for ways to solve this problem. On July 27, bilateral consultations were held via videoconference, where an in-depth discussion was held of possible ways to settle this sensitive issue that affects the interests of tens of thousands of Russians. We agreed to continue our joint work.
Our cooperation with Iran is not aimed against third states. In this context, our compatriots living in Israel have nothing to worry about.
Bangladesh Beyond is an online version of Fortnightly Apon Bichitra
(Reg no: DA 1825)