Tuesday, June 18

Interview of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia A.Y.Rudenko to the TASS news agency

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Question: Andrey Yurievich, we congratulate you on the Day of the Diplomat! In the Russian Foreign Ministry system, you are responsible for the region, which is a priority not only for our country, but also for the world as a whole. So, recently, Western partners have been constantly accusing Moscow of preparing provocations in Ukraine. In this regard, the question is: how do Russian diplomats manage not to be provoked and continue the dialogue?

Answer: Thank you for your congratulations!

On this day, the day of the Diplomatic Worker, I am especially pleased to pay tribute to all our colleagues who work in an extremely difficult foreign policy environment, facing provocations and openly hostile actions of individual states on a daily basis. In this situation, self-control, calmness, and a deep understanding of the ongoing political processes are extremely necessary. Fortunately, Russian diplomats have all these and many other qualities in full. This, as well as absolute confidence in the legitimacy and validity of the Russian position, allows them to continue the dialogue and protect the interests of our country on the world stage.

Question: Russia is credited with various insidious plans against Ukraine – for example, an invasion or other frightening scenarios. Moreover, NATO and Washington had even called specific dates before, and now they express some uncertainty that Russia still intends to do something similar. What, in your opinion, is the real, pragmatic purpose of such actions? I would not like to think that respectable representatives of Western countries are doing this solely for the sake of denigrating Russia. Maybe there is something more concrete at the heart of such a campaign against our country?

Answer: We have to state that almost everything that Western countries are doing in the Ukrainian direction is aimed primarily at the so-called containment of Russia, undermining our defense capability and economic development. Many steps are being taken to divide the Slavic peoples among themselves, to prevent close interaction between the former Soviet republics, which would lead to strengthening the positions, including economic, of our countries in the world. At the same time, Ukraine itself, as well as the well-being of its inhabitants, is of little interest to anyone in the West.

The situation has reached the point of absurdity. Today, the Ukrainian authorities themselves, who have realized that the West is banally manipulating them, declare that they see no reason for hysteria around the impending “invasion” of Russia. We have also repeatedly stated at various levels that we have no plans for any “invasion” or “attack” on Ukraine. However, in the West, and Ukrainians too, do not want to hear us. It is obvious that the establishment of peace in Ukraine is not part of NATO’s plans.

Question: Is Russia considering the evacuation of its diplomats from Ukraine against the background of the increasingly escalating situation around this country?

Answer: As you remember, the first reports about the alleged “evacuation” of Russian diplomats appeared almost a month ago in the American edition of The New York Times. The Russian Foreign Ministry then denied these rumors. In fact, the Americans gave out traditional New Year’s holidays for “evacuation”. Just a few days later, the United States itself announced the beginning of the evacuation of its Embassy from Kiev. Several Western countries followed their example. Obviously, this is due to the fact that our Western colleagues apparently know something that we do not know, or are preparing something. In this situation, we also reserve the right to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of our diplomats in Ukraine, to protect them from possible provocations by the Kiev regime or third countries, up to the organization of evacuation to their homeland.

Question: It was worth breathing a sigh of relief after the settlement of the situation in Kazakhstan, as clashes resumed on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Unfortunately, conflicts in the post-Soviet space are breaking out more and more often even between allies (in this case, the CSTO). How can you explain this, and what can Russia do in this regard?

Answer: The situation on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border in the Ferghana Valley remains unsettled, which causes our most serious concern. We consistently advocate the resolution of all disputes arising there exclusively by peaceful means, strict compliance with the ceasefire agreements, the withdrawal of forces and military equipment, and the prevention of incitement to ethnic hatred, including in the media.

The root cause is obvious. Until the problem of delimitation and demarcation of borders is solved, relapses of clashes cannot be ruled out. Uncoordinated borders also carry another danger – the penetration of radical extremist groups, whose members recruit socially vulnerable people into their ranks. Russia is ready to share its experience of border demarcation with Bishkek and Dushanbe. He’s rich. Especially with their common neighbor – Kazakhstan.

As for the CSTO, it supports the desire of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to resolve all disputed issues in the spirit of alliance and good-neighborliness, which are the basis of the activities of this Organization.

Question: The CSTO forces conducted a successful operation in Kazakhstan. Many considered it a kind of demonstration performance. Can you say that after the events in Kazakhstan, the Organization has become more attractive for those countries that left the CSTO earlier or were considering joining? Does the CSTO even have a task to expand, as NATO did?

Answer: Indeed, during the peacekeeping operation in Kazakhstan in January this year, the CSTO successfully passed a serious “test” for combat capability. We had to act in a tight time frame, to make decisions, we can say, in a matter of hours. The Member States of the Organization have demonstrated that they are ready to be united not only in words, but also in deeds.

The Organization has been carrying out serious work on an ongoing basis for many years and makes a significant contribution to ensuring regional security and stability – for example, the fight against illegal drug production and trafficking, organized crime and other modern cross-border challenges, measures to prevent the recruitment of our citizens to participate in terrorist activities abroad and neutralize the resource base of terrorist organizations on the territory of the CSTO countries.

The Organization’s experience gained in these and other areas has always been of interest to our neighboring countries, which are also interested in creating a common security space. Representatives of states, including European, as well as relevant international structures, regularly participate in a number of special operations and exercises of the CSTO as observers.

As for, as you say, the “expansion” of the CSTO, then, of course, this is not a closed club. The fundamental documents stipulate that any state that shares its goals and principles and is ready to assume the obligations contained in the Charter and other international treaties and decisions operating within the framework of the CSTO can become a member of the Organization.

In addition, new forms have emerged for the development of diverse cooperation between interested countries and international organizations with the CSTO. In January last year, the provisions establishing the status of a CSTO Partner and Observer at the Organization came into force.

Question: Earlier, Russia called on Western partners to put pressure on Kiev so that the Ukrainian authorities would begin to implement the Minsk Package of Measures. At the last meeting in the “Normandy format” in Paris, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Russia Dmitry Kozak said that it was pointless to put pressure on Ukraine. What has changed? Have there been signals from Kiev that they are ready to fulfill their obligations, or have Paris and Berlin made it clear that they will not make efforts for this?

Answer: First of all, if we talk about the negotiation process to resolve the internal Ukrainian crisis, it is necessary to understand that the main platform for this is the Contact Group, in which all parties to the conflict are present – Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. Unfortunately, during the last meetings (January 26 and February 9 this year), the Ukrainian side continued to engage in open sabotage.

The task of the Normandy format is to give political impulses to the work of the Contact Group, to help Kiev fulfill its obligations under the Minsk Agreements. On January 26 this year, negotiations of the political advisers of the leaders of the “Normandy format” countries took place in Paris, the main result of which can be considered confirmation by all participants of the lack of alternative to the Minsk agreements and the need to comply with measures to strengthen the ceasefire regime of July 22, 2020. Unfortunately, it was not possible to move further than this. Moreover, the statements made by the Kiev authorities after the meeting of the advisers call into question the sincerity of their intentions to resolve the crisis in Donbass by peaceful means on the basis of a “Package of measures” and negate the cautious optimism that we had.

In particular, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, A. Danilov, in an interview with the Associated Press on January 31 this year, said that it was “impossible” to implement the Minsk Agreements, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, D. Kuleba, in an interview with the Polish edition of Rzeczpospolita, said that Donbass “will have no special status, as Russia represents, no veto right.”

For this reason, if the Ukrainian authorities are really interested in ending the conflict in Donbass, they, first of all, must show courage and fulfill their obligations under the Minsk agreements. The task of the intermediaries – Russia, Germany and France – is to help them in this.

Question: Are there any plans to hold a meeting of the Normandy Four at the level of foreign ministers? Or is such a question not even discussed?

Answer: At the moment, negotiations at the level of foreign ministers of the “Normandy format” are not on the agenda. As we have stated many times before, meeting for the sake of meeting does not make any sense. First, it is necessary to agree on a common understanding of the direction of further movement, to get rid of the discrepancies of the Minsk agreements.

This is what the political advisers of the leaders of the Normandy Four countries are doing, by the way, with the active participation of representatives of foreign ministries. We hope that in the near future, within the framework of this format, it will be possible to find ways to resolve the accumulated disagreements and Kiev will finally be able to begin fulfilling the obligations assumed 7 years ago under the Minsk Package of Measures.

Question: President of Ukraine V.A. Zelensky called for the organization of a new Russia–Ukraine–USA negotiation platform. How does Moscow assess this initiative?

Answer: We have no fundamental objections to Washington’s involvement in the process of peaceful settlement of the internal Ukrainian conflict. We understand that the United States has significant influence on Kiev and can encourage it to implement the Minsk agreements. The intention to seek from Ukraine the implementation of the Minsk “Package of Measures” was also stated by US President J.Biden during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I want to believe that he will be able to keep his word. Of course, the possible connection of the United States should have a positive “added value”. Otherwise, it won’t be of any use.

At the same time, I would like to emphasize once again that the Minsk Contact Group remains the central negotiating platform for finding a way out of the protracted crisis in Ukraine, designed to work out solutions through direct dialogue between the parties to the conflict – Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk – with the mediation of the OSCE and Russia. All other formats perform only auxiliary functions.

Question: In early December 2021, the first meeting of the 3+3 Consultative Regional Platform was held in Moscow under the co-chairmanship of the Deputy Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and the Director General of the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Have the dates and venue of the next meeting already been agreed? Are there still any positive signals from Georgia?

Answer: I consider the founding meeting of the Consultative Regional Platform “3+3” held on December 10, 2021 to be a success. Following the meeting, we agreed with our partners to focus the format’s activities on issues of mutual interest and aimed at strengthening confidence-building measures in the region. Among them is the development of trade, economic, transport, cultural and humanitarian ties, as well as countering common challenges and threats.

It was decided to hold meetings on a regular basis at least twice a year. Applications for the next event have already been received from several capitals.

As for Georgia, all participants expressed hope for its accession to the “3+3”. For Tbilisi, the door is left open. It is important that regional affairs be discussed with the participation of all the countries of the South Caucasus.

Question: If we recall the goals of the creation of the CIS and re-read the text of the Agreement signed more than 30 years ago, in particular articles 3.6 and 7, which speak about guarantees of the rights of national minorities, preservation of a common military-strategic space under the joint command, coordination of foreign policy activities, formation of a common economic space and joint implementation of migration policy and the fight against organized crime, then the question arises: when were we closer to achieving our goals – at the time of the creation of the Commonwealth or now? Has progress been made in these areas, or are the stated goals still somewhere on the horizon?

Answer: Of course, many of the goals that were set during the formation of the CIS were subsequently achieved. It may have taken longer than expected, but it must be borne in mind that the creation and formation of the CIS fell on an extremely difficult period of our history. At that time, the main task was to mitigate, as far as possible, the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union, to create a basis for establishing an equal partnership of the newly independent states. And the Commonwealth certainly coped with it.

Over time, in-depth cooperation in some areas began to develop within the framework of other organizations: military – in the format of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, economic – in the format of the Eurasian Economic Union. The Union State of Russia and Belarus was formed. But the basis for their creation was international treaties signed within the CIS.

Over the 30 years of its existence, the CIS has come a long way, has become not only a convenient platform for political dialogue, but has also significantly expanded the range of its practical activities. Today, in addition to the areas you mentioned, cooperation is being carried out in the cultural and humanitarian sphere, in the field of science, education, healthcare, security and many others. Intensive inter-parliamentary contacts are maintained. The CIS Interparliamentary Assembly has adopted about 600 model laws and other documents aimed at harmonizing the legislation of the CIS countries. In total, more than 630 international agreements have been signed in the CIS, 568 of which are in force. It is safe to say that in terms of the variety of forms of interaction and the number of joint projects, there is currently no real alternative to the Commonwealth in the post-Soviet region.

One of our priorities is to strengthen foreign policy coordination. Joint position papers on topical international topics are adopted annually within the framework of the Commonwealth. In 2021, at the initiative of Russia, a number of such statements were approved – on strengthening the role of international law, cooperation in the field of biological security, in the field of migration, protection of citizens’ electoral rights and guarantees of electoral sovereignty, etc. The development of common approaches to the most important issues allows the Commonwealth countries to act as a group of like-minded people, speak with one voice on the world stage, primarily in the UN and other international organizations, thus increasing the authority of our organization.

The issues of ensuring the security of the external borders of the Commonwealth, the fight against transnational crime and drug trafficking are constantly in our field of view. Against the background of the aggravation of the situation in Afghanistan, the leadership of the CIS countries has set a task to bring this cooperation to a new level, to ensure the integration of efforts within the organization with the CSTO and the SCO.

The development of joint mechanisms of interaction in the military sphere continues – the CIS joint air defense system, the Commonwealth Armed Forces Joint Communications System, the Unified State Radar Identification System. The exchange of experience in the fight against international terrorism is in demand. The defense departments of the CIS member states conduct joint exercises, competitions, training camps and command and staff training.

The migration topic you mentioned has become particularly relevant against the background of the coronavirus pandemic. The Russian competent authorities are in constant contact with the diplomatic missions of the CIS countries and diasporas to promptly resolve problematic issues. A good example of cooperation on this track can be considered the already operating mobile application “Traveling without COVID-19”, developed for the safe movement of citizens in a pandemic.

The very fact that in the current difficult geopolitical and economic situation, the growth of traditional and the emergence of new challenges and threats, the Commonwealth remains a key dialogue platform between post-Soviet countries, a platform for the development of more advanced integration associations, indicates that this model of joint development has proved to be really successful and comfortable for all participating states.

Source: https://mid.ru/ru/detail-material-page/1798139/?TSPD_101_R0=08765fb817ab20007eee664f55429988cc45c904d53cdb589e6c6916f2c9350fd753e702a41d8100084abee7901430003a2e973bd32f766f4f31711d96e8f34a31c6e762dbf007f89ca9f64ab32c275f83a3992703b45958c9dee1a94fead6a4

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