Monday, May 20

Interview of the Director of the North America Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, A.N.Darchiev, to the Interfax news agency

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Question: Is it possible to say that the United States, by its actions and reaction to the start of a special military operation of the Russian Armed Forces to protect the LPR and the DPR, actually destroyed the political and economic component of Russian-American relations?

Answer: It was Washington, with its hostile actions and arrogant disregard for Russian demands to provide legally binding security guarantees, including the non-expansion of NATO, the non-deployment of strike weapons near our borders and the return of the alliance’s military potential to the state of 1997, that brought Russian-American relations, in fact, to the point of no return. The pumping up of the regime in Kiev with Western weapons and the connivance of the United States to its bid for a forceful solution to the Donbass problem left us no choice but to take the DPR and LPR under protection.

It is clear that Ukraine, which its bankrupt rulers have plunged into disaster, is for the United States only a tool in the geopolitical confrontation with Russia. In this context, the pathetic statement of J. P. was symbolically sounded.Biden on February 24 of this year, dictated, it seems, by annoyance at the fact that Moscow did not allow the Donbass to be trampled and turn the Ukrainian territory into a NATO forward-based area, about the “complete rupture” of Russian-American relations. Apparently, Washington will need time to get used to the fact that its hegemony is in the past, and will have to reckon with the national interests of Russia, which has its own sphere of influence and responsibility.

We are open to an honest and mutually respectful dialogue to the extent that the United States is ready for it. Perhaps it would be worth remembering the well-forgotten principle that worked in the Cold War – peaceful coexistence, despite the values and ideals that divide us, which should not be imposed on each other. Nor should the notorious “rules-based world order” be imposed, coupled with “progressive” norms that deny traditional morality and morality.

If we start from such an understanding of the basic basis of bilateral relations, given the special responsibility of Russia and the United States as nuclear superpowers for the fate of the world, then there is hope that normality between our countries will be restored. But this, of course, requires oncoming traffic on both sides. I repeat that we are ready for such reciprocity.

Question: How close are we now in relations with the United States and Canada to the possibility of breaking diplomatic relations? Washington’s economic sanctions leave the possibility of financing our foreign institutions in the United States, or are they threatened with closure? In this case, will we take mirror measures against American foreign institutions in Russia?

Answer: Deliberate deterioration of interstate relations is not our tactic and not our style. At the same time, when building a dialogue with Washington and Ottawa in any circumstances, we proceed from the principle of reciprocity. That is, we act, as a rule, on the principle of “an eye for an eye”, but not necessarily symmetrically.

The above fully applies to ensuring the normal functioning of the diplomatic missions of the two countries. Washington and Ottawa are aware on a reflex level that any restrictive measure against Russian foreign institutions will result in similar difficulties for their diplomatic missions in Russia, which they are not going to close yet.

Of course, it cannot be ruled out that in the Russophobic rage, our opponents will risk trying to flog themselves like a non-commissioned officer’s widow, lowering the level of diplomatic presence or expelling most diplomats. However, a sense of self-preservation should still be present, so there is reason to hope that it will not come to the worst.

Question: Do we understand correctly that the settlement of visa issues is no longer on the agenda of relations with the Americans, and there is no need to wait for any expert consultations in the foreseeable future? How does our embassy plan to survive in the current conditions, when the air spaces of the two countries are closed to each other?

Answer: At all levels, we have regularly raised and are raising before the American side the issue of the need to return to normality in our consular and visa relations, including the resumption of full-fledged visa services for Russian citizens in our country, which was terminated under far-fetched pretexts in May last year. However, taking into account the recent developments around Ukraine, this problem is moving into the political plane as another element of systemic pressure on Russia.

The decision of the United States and other Western countries to close the airspace for Russian aircraft, of course, makes adjustments to everyday diplomatic life. An integral part of it is international air travel within the framework of the rotation of employees of diplomatic missions, delivery of diplomatic mail, participation of delegations in multilateral events, etc. Apparently, alternative routes through third countries that have refrained from such discriminatory restrictions will have to be used for some time.

Question: Is our cooperation with the United States on those issues where it has continued to some extent, for example, the deconfliction channel in Syria, cooperation in the fight against terrorism, currently put on pause, or do we expect it to continue despite the current situation?

Answer: Even in the most acute periods of crisis, Russia has consistently and consistently advocated the preservation of channels of constructive dialogue in the field of international security and strategic stability. And now, despite the acute crisis, we are preparing for the upcoming spring session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission on the START Treaty.

Of course, this fully applies to joint work on the settlement of numerous regional conflicts. For example, in the context of Afghanistan, our countries maintain regular contacts at the level of special representatives, as well as within the framework of the Troika plus mechanism (Russia-China-the United States with the involvement of Pakistan). As for Syria, the Russian and American military have established channels to prevent incidents in its airspace. We can also mention the cooperation in restarting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian Nuclear Program, from which the Administration of D. Trump withdrew at the time.

Question: The United States is now threatening suffocating sanctions, including against the energy sector of our country. Do we have our own leverage in this case, and can they lead to a complete rupture of relations with Washington? Is there a “red line” in the sanctions, after which the maintenance of diplomatic and other relations will become simply impossible?

Answer: We have been living under sanctions for a long time, which have never actually stopped, and since 2014 have acquired the character of constantly rolling waves – there are already more than a hundred of them. There is an attempt by Washington to stop our development, to cause “unacceptable damage” to the Russian economy.

Despite the obvious futility of such efforts to “tear to shreds” the economic foundations of our state’s existence, the United States continues to cling to the only effective lever they have left, yielding to Russia in the military-political sphere, and China in the global economy.

We have proved that, with all the sanctions costs, we are able to minimize the damage caused by refocusing on the domestic market and trading partners from third countries, as well as significantly reducing dependence on the dollar, which is steadily losing its dominant position in the global financial system. And even more so, sanctions pressure is not able to force us to change our foreign policy course and, unlike US allies and clients, to give up at least a small fraction of national dignity and sovereignty.

Ultimately, Russia is able to resist any pressure. We perfectly understood and prepared for the fact that we would have to rely on our own strength. At the same time, we have friends, allies, as well as many partners in the international arena who, despite pressure from the United States, have not lost the ability to be guided by their interests. Despite Washington’s sanctions attempts, we will stand up and become even stronger by making our economic system truly independent.

Question: In the dry balance, what do we have left now in relations with the United States and Canada? Is it necessary to prepare for the introduction of the “iron Curtain” regime?

Answer: I would like to note again that the current tense situation in relations with Washington and Ottawa did not develop today or yesterday. Over the past eight years – since the historic reunification of Crimea with Russia – the United States and Canada have been whipping up Russophobic hysteria in unison, imposing various kinds of personal and sectoral sanctions on us, doing everything possible to mobilize the international community to isolate our country.

If until now we had to state that Russian-American and Russian-Canadian relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War, now, as they say, they have fallen “below the baseboard.” We are surrounded by protective barriers in an attempt to destroy Russian statehood, building scenarios of “regime change”. It was for this that the Maidan and the coup d’etat in Ukraine were orchestrated, which led to a popular uprising in the Donbas and the military development of the Ukrainian territory by NATO countries with its arrangement as a forward springboard for a “jump” to Russia.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov noted in a recent interview with Al Jazeera, the “iron Curtain” is the lot of those who think in terms of colonialism. In the West, they will not understand in any way that the world has changed, they are trying to continue living in a comfortable niche of liberal globalism. It turns out that not we, but the United States and its vassals are trying to isolate themselves from Russia, which calls for openness and dialogue, expansion of contacts between societies and people, free trade, development of investment, financial and business ties. The truth is ours.



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