Tag Archives: Lavrov

Seizure, bloodshed could be aims behind Russian embassy attack – Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

There are indications that “physical seizure” and bloodshed were the aims of the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev, Russia’s foreign minister told journalists.

“From our diplomats’ point of view, the aim of the attackers was to physically seize the embassy building. There are also grounds to believe that they wanted bloodshed,” Lavrov said.

The leading players in the attack on Russia’s embassy were “fighters from Azov Battalion, created and financed by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky,” who was appointed by Kiev authorities as governor of Dnepropetrovsk, Lavrov said.

Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov believes the attack was thoroughly planned.

“In the conditions in which we (Russia) and Ukraine [have] lived for the last 20 years, of course there was no question that the embassy here should meet the same safety requirements as in Iraq,” Zurabov told NTV channel. “But it looks like now we will have to reconsider our approach.”

According to Russia’s envoy to Kiev, there were two groups of “well equipped” young people between 25 and 30 years old who took no active part in the violence but were “absolutely ready to storm.”

“They had baseball bats, metal rods, axes. Had they entered the territory of the embassy, I think we would not have avoided victims,” he said.

Sergey Lavrov called the aggression “disgusting,” adding that the violence faced by Russian diplomats is “good reason” for “our Western partners” to think about how Kiev’s ruling regime is using “inherited” following the protests at Independence Square (Maidan) this winter.

As for Ukrainian acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchitsa using the offensive language addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was “beyond the bounds of decency,” Lavrov said, calling the protest outside the embassy “bacchanalia.”

“[This is] a good reason for our Western partners, who in every possible way support any steps by Ukraine’s ruling regime, to think about how this regime is using powers inherited after Maidan,” Lavrov said.

Speaking about the international community’s reaction to the embassy attack in Kiev, Lavrov said that Russia is “disappointed” by Western leaders’ position on the violence.

“Western partners assured me and our diplomats that they condemn the attack. However, when we drafted a certain resolution to the UNSC, it was Western partners who refused to support it,” he said.

“They tried to link it with offers to condemn the downing of a plane in the southeast, with some other things that have no connection with the main point; diplomatic representatives’ inviolability cannot have any conditions,” Lavrov said, adding that such an attitude “does not add to the reputation of the schools of diplomacy in European countries and the US.”

Vandals stand on top of the crashed cars during an attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014.

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Lavrov : Iraq developments show total failure of American-British ‘adventure’

The events in Iraq are a result of the actions carried out by the US and the UK, and the situation has spiraled out of control, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists.

“It has been reported that the UK foreign minister declared that the events in Iraq are, according to him, an illustration that terrorism is rampant in the region due to the absence of reconciliation in Syria,” Lavrov said.

“We’ve known that our English colleagues have a unique ability to twist everything. But I didn’t expect such cynicism, because the events that are taking place in Iraq are an illustration of a complete failure of the venture started by the US and the UK that allowed it to spiral out of control completely.”

“We express our solidarity with the Iraqi authorities, the Iraqi people who should restore peace and security in their country, but the actions of our Western partners raise a lot of questions,” Lavrov marked.

Kurdish Iraqi Peshmerga forces deploy their troops and armoured vehicles on the outskirts of the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, only 1 kilometre away from areas controlled by Sunni Muslim Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northern Iraq on June 12, 2014.

Lavrov noted that 11 years ago the US president announced the victory of democracy in Iraq, and that “the situation has deteriorated in geometrical progression.”

“The unity of Iraq has been called into question. The rampant terrorism is taking place due to the fact that the occupation troops didn’t pay any attention to the interior political processes, didn’t help the national dialogue, and only pursued their own interests,” Lavrov said.

On Monday night, the terrorists seized control of the town Mosul – the administrative center of the northern province of Nineveh. On Wednesday, the authorities informed the population about the fall of Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein and just 150km from Baghdad.

Sergey Lavrov has also touched on the developments in Ukraine. He said Moscow demands an immediate investigation into the reports of the use of banned weapons in Ukraine.

A local resident stands in front of the blown out windows and walls of a residential building after it was hit by mortar shells during clashes in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on June 11, 2014.

“We emphasize concern over the reports about the use by the Ukrainian military of fire bombs and other indiscriminate weapons. Those reports must be urgently checked,” Lavrov stressed.

He said the Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin “will be calling the OSCE mission which has observers in Ukraine, to establish facts [of using indiscriminate weapons], as well as will strive for the investigation into the tragedies in Odessa on May 2, in Mariupol on May 9, the ongoing actions in Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, and the snipers’ case on Maidan in February – all those probes should be brought to a close.”

“We know that the European Council is ready to be involved in the probe which the Ukrainian authorities carry out. We are convinced that this should be done,” Lavrov stressed.

Russia is also submitting to the UN the draft resolution on Ukraine calling to follow the roadmap the OSCE previously proposed.

“We’ve asked our UN envoy to submit to the UN Security Council the project on the resolution on the Ukrainian situation because the lack of progress on the halt of the violence and military actions since the start of the punitive operation causes concern,” Lavrov said.

At the moment there is no talk about bringing peacemakers to Ukraine, Lavrov said.

“We don’t think that the situation has reached that point yet. There is still hope for a declaration by [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko that the violence will be stopped and the negotiations will begin,” he added.

Lavrov : Kiev issued ‘criminal order’ allowing use of weapons against civilians

Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov speaks during an interview with RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze.

The coup-appointed Kiev government’s order to use force against Ukrainian citizens is “criminal,” the Russian Foreign Minister told RT. He also denied claims that there is Russian military presence on Ukrainian territory.

In an interview with RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze, Sergey Lavrov called acting Ukrainian President Alexander Turchinov’s order to reinitiate an anti-terror operation in East Ukraine, a criminal act.

Read the full transcript

Referencing the four-sided talks between the EU, the US, Russia and Ukraine that took place in Geneva on April 17, Lavrov accused Kiev’s coup-appointed government of going back on its pledge to put a stop to all violence.

“In Geneva we agreed there must be an end of all violence. Next afternoon [interim Ukrainian President Aleksandr] Turchinov declared almost a state of emergency and ordered the army to shoot at the people.”

Turchinov announced the resumption of the anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday. Moscow has decried the operation and urged the Ukrainian government to refrain from using force on civilians living in the region.

The Russian Foreign Minister said the buildup of troops on the border with Ukraine was within the bounds of international law and denied the presence of Russian troops in East Ukraine. Lavrov said the troops were participating in routine military drills, something that has been verified by international inspectors.

Describing a worst case scenario in the Ukrainian crisis, Lavrov said Russia would be forced to respond if it were attacked.

“If we are attacked, we would certainly respond. If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law,” he said.

“Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation,” he told RT.

Referencing Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s trip to the Vatican on Wednesday, Lavrov said the acting Prime Minister would do better to visit the South of Ukraine and actually meet with the anti-Maidan protesters.

The foreign minister also spoke about American involvement in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, accusing Washington of trying to manipulate the situation.

“There is no reason not to believe that the Americans are running the show,” said Lavrov, referencing US Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to Kiev and its coincidence with the renewed counter-terror operation on activists in eastern Ukraine.

“It’s quite telling they chose the moment of the Vice President of the US’ visit to announce the resumption of this operation because the launching of this operation happened immediately after [head of the CIA] John Brennan’s visit to Kiev,” said Lavrov.

The situation in Ukraine is just another example of Washington trying to gain ground in the geopolitical fight, the minister said.

“Ukraine is just one manifestation of the American unwillingness to yield in the geopolitical fight. Americans are not ready to admit that they cannot run the show in each and every part of the globe from Washington alone,” said Lavrov, adding Washington’s “ready-made solutions” cannot remedy a crisis that it does not understand.

The Russian government does not recognize Kiev’s interim government, which took power on February 22 following weeks of deadly protests ending with the ouster of President Victor Yanukovich.

RT News.

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Lavrov: Russia, US, EU, Ukraine agree on de-escalation roadmap

Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine have adopted a joint document on the de-escalation of the Ukraine crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, after talks in Geneva. It calls for all illegal armed groups to lay down arms and a wide amnesty.

The document calls for an “immediate start of a nationwide national dialogue within the framework of the constitutional process, which must be inclusive and accountable,” Lavrov said.

The most important agreement reached during the talks, according to Lavrov, states that the Ukrainian crisis “must be resolved by the Ukrainians themselves concerning an end to the conflict” including those related to “detaining protesters, occupying buildings” and, in the long run “the start of true constitutional reform.”

“Among the steps that have to be taken are: the disarmament of all the illegal armed groups, and the return of all the occupied administrative buildings,” Lavrov told journalists at the Thursday briefing.

“An amnesty for all the protesters must take place, except of those who committed grave crimes,” the Foreign Minister added.

The issue of illegal armed groups and seized buildings concerns all the regions of Ukraine, Lavrov stressed.

“It is impossible to solve the problem of illegally seized buildings in one region of Ukraine when the illegally seized buildings are not freed in another,” he said.

“Those who took power in Kiev as a result of a coup – if they consider themselves as representing the interests of all the Ukrainians – must show the initiative, extend a friendly hand to the regions, listen to their concerns, and sit down with them at the negotiation table,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov said the document does not give any guidelines on the future political system of Ukraine.

“We did not use any terms… There are federations where the rights of the regions are limited, and there are unitary states in name only where the regions have broad authority,” he explained.

The goal of the meeting was to send a signal to the Ukrainians that they are responsible for stability in the country and must ensure that “each region can protect its history and language,” Lavrov stressed.

“Only then will Ukraine be a strong state, a proverbial bridge between the East and the West,” Lavrov said.

The Russian side on Thursday provided US and EU representatives with documents passed on from south-eastern Ukrainians, which contain “a thorough vision of how their interests should be reflected in the new [Ukrainian] constitution.”

The OSCE’s (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) monitoring mission must play “the leading role” in assisting the Ukrainian authorities to resolve the crisis, Lavrov stressed, adding that Russia “will support” the mission’s work.

The Geneva meeting has given Russia “hopes” that “the US and the EU are genuinely interested in a trilateral cooperation with Russia aimed at convincing the Ukrainian to sit down at the negotiation table,” Lavrov said.

According to the Russian top diplomat, the Americans now have a “decisive influence” on the Kiev authorities, which should be used for resolving the crisis.

Russia “does not want to send any troops to Ukraine,” Lavrov stressed, answering journalists’ questions. Moscow’s chief concern is that the rights of all the Ukrainian regions, including those with Russian-speaking majorities, must be taken into account in the constitutional reform.

“We have absolutely no wish to send our troops to Ukraine, to the territory of a friendly state, to the land of a brotherly nation. This is against the fundamental interests of the Russian Federation,” Lavrov said.

Calling the recent NATO statements on Ukraine’s neutrality “unacceptable,” Lavrov stressed that pushing for changes in the country’s non-aligned status will “undermine the efforts to resolve the crisis” in Ukraine.

“The fact that Ukraine has chosen non-aligned status and enshrined it in its law must be respected by all and there should not be any attempts to doubt it or to erode its meaning,” the Russian Foreign Minister stressed.

Ahead of the quadrilateral talks, Lavrov met US Secretary of State John Kerry, while EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton saw Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa. Both meetings were held behind closed doors.

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Moscow alarmed by reports on chemical weapons use in Syria — Lavrov

MOSCOW, April 14. ITAR-TASS.

Moscow is alarmed by new reports about use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday, adding that any such facts must be immediately investigated.

“We were alarmed by reports saying chemical substances had been used once again,” the minister said. “We believe any reports and facts connected with the use of chemical weapons and their components must be immediately investigated,” Lavrov said. “We place special responsibility on the sponsors of extremist opposition which has not abandoned attempts to disrupt the process of chemical disarmament in Syria,” the top diplomat said.

Lavrov said resolution 2118 of the UN Security Council demanded “keeping chemical weapons and their components from out of the hands of non-state actors, first of all having in mind terrorists and extremists”. “It was emphasized that special responsibility was first of all with neighbouring on Syria countries, that are responsible for not allowing the use of their territories for such dishonest goals,” Lavrov said. “We will seek a strict compliance with these decisions of the UN Security Council,” he added.

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Russian FM calls on Kiev, Washington not to ignore interests of all Ukraine regions

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russia is ready for negotiations with the US, EU and Ukraine, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He added that the talks may start in 10 days.

Southeastern Ukrainian regions should also take part in the negotiations, he said.

“The Kiev coup-appointed government hasn’t made any positive steps towards these regions,” Lavrov said. “[The southeastern regions] believe that their interest are being ignored by Kiev.”

Neither Kiev nor Washington has shown the proposed draft Ukrainian constitution to Moscow, Lavrov said.

While accusing “external forces” of provoking the protests in southeastern Ukraine, Washington is just throwing the blame onto others, he added.

“I heard the statements by Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary, who said that some demonstrations in southern Ukraine are paid for and there are certain ‘external forces” which stand behind these protests. It sounds as if he is five months ago and describing the events in Maidan Square in the center of Kiev,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov expressed concern that Ukraine’s new draft constitution would be presented shortly before the summit of Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU and it would be imposed without time to study the document. He urged Washington and Kiev to take into consideration the interests of all regions in Ukraine, as was agreed during recent talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

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Russia wants answers on NATO troop movement in Eastern Europe

Russia expects detailed explanations from NATO regarding expanding its military presence in Eastern Europe, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The statement comes after NATO bloc announced boosting its military presence in the area.

“We have addressed questions to the North Atlantic military alliance. We are not only expecting answers, but answers that will be based fully on respect for the rules we agreed on,” Lavrov told reports at a joint briefing with Kazakhstan’s FM Yerlan Idrisov.

However, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he had not received any questions from Moscow.

In response he called Russian accusations about NATO’s actions “propaganda and disinformation.”

He denied that NATO was violating the 1997 treaty on NATO-Russian cooperation by boosting its forces in Eastern Europe.

The accusations by Russia, he said, are based “on a wrong interpretation” of a fundamental act of the 1997 treaty on NATO-Russian cooperation, in which NATO vowed to provide collective defense by using reinforcements rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces at regular bases.

Lavrov’s statement came after the NATO chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the bloc will deploy more troops to Eastern Europe. According to him, NATO is considering “revised operational plans, military maneuvers and adequate troop reinforcements.” This military buildup was approved by many eastern European countries. On April 1, Polish PM Donald Tusk praised the NATO presence in the country.

After the announcement of deploying troops in Ukraine, NATO also said that it is suspending all military and civilian cooperation with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, a move that was immediately blasted by Moscow who said that neither Russia, not NATO would benefit from such a step. Russia called this move reminiscent of Cold War language.

Lavrov also called upon the world’s powers to abide by the rules of the Montreux Convention, which allows a warship of any non-Black Sea country to stay in the region for only 21 day.

“US warships have recently extended their presence in the Black Sea several times,” he said, “This extension didn’t always obey the rules of the Montreux Convention.”

The statement comes after the USS Truxtun destroyer started a military exercises in March with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies a few hundred miles from Russian forces of the Black Sea Fleet.

Meanwhile, Lavrov also responded to Western criticism over the presence of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, saying that the EU and Kiev should not stir up a conflict surrounding Russian drills launched in the south of the country.

According to the Russian FM, Russia had the right to move forces on its territory, and furthermore the troops would return to their permanent bases after completing military exercises.

“There are no restrictions on Russia’s troop displacement on Russian territory,” he said.

In March, Russia’s Defense Ministry launched artillery drills in the southern military district, which involved some 8,500 troops and a large amount of hardware. It coincided with war games conducted by the country’s Airborne Troops.

Although Russia has repeatedly denied any troop build-up on the borders with Ukraine, as well as plans to send any troops into Ukraine, the West has been turning a deaf ear to the claims.

Lavrov also commented on the crisis situation in Ukraine, saying that all its regions should be taking part in the constitutional process.

“We are all convinced that constitutional reform should be proper, not “cosmetic,” it is necessary to stabilize the situation in Ukraine and overcome the crisis,” he added.

According to Lavrov, it is necessary to remind the Ukrainian authorities that constitutional reform was written in the February-21 agreement on the crisis settlement, which was signed by ousted president Yanukovich and opposition leaders, including Arseny Yatsenyuk and Vladimir Klitschko, on ending the political crisis in the country. The agreement was witnessed by EU foreign ministers from Germany and Poland.

via Russia wants answers on NATO troop movement in Eastern Europe — RT News.

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Russia not clinging to G8 if West does not want it – Russian FM

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

Russia is not clinging to the G8 format, as all major world problems can be discussed at other international venues such as G20, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

“The G8 is an informal club, no one gives out membership cards and no one can expel members,” Lavrov told a media conference at the Hague. “If our Western partners believe that this format has exhausted itself, let it be. We are not clinging to it.”

He went on to say that many believe that the G8 has already fulfilled its mission as many issues are now discussed at the G20 forum.

“Generally speaking, there are also other formats for considering many questions, including the UN Security Council, the Middle East Quartet and the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear problem,” Lavrov told journalists.

The Minister also commented on earlier reports regarding Australia considering not inviting President Vladimir Putin to the November G20 meeting, which is going to be held in Brisbane.

“The G20 was not established by Australia, which voiced the proposal not to invite Russia to the meeting. We created the format all together,” Lavrov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague on March 24, 2014.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague on March 24, 2014.

Russia’s top diplomat is in the Netherlands, where representatives of over 50 states and chiefs of the UN, the EU, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Police Office have gathered for the Nuclear Security Summit to address the threat of nuclear terrorism.

On the sidelines of the gathering, Lavrov met with US Secretary of State John Kerry and yet again discussed the Ukraine question, which has caused quite a chill in relations between the two powers.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in The Hague on March 24, 2014.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in The Hague on March 24, 2014.

Both Moscow and Washington understand that Ukraine needs constitutional reform, Lavrov said.

“We discussed the necessity to call on the authorities in Kiev to pay serious attention to the constitutional reform, which would take into consideration the interests of all Ukrainian regions,” he said.

However, Lavrov admitted, that it is their evaluation of the situation and they “cannot impose” this idea on the Ukrainian leadership. Still, it would be very difficult to overcome the “Ukraine’s deep internal crisis” without such a reform, the Russian minister believes.

According to Lavrov, Kerry realizes that it is necessary to “push” the Ukrainian authorities into fulfilling the February-21 agreement on the crisis settlement, which was signed by ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, opposition leaders and foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland.

On Friday, Ukraine’s coup-imposed government and the EU signed the core elements of a political association agreement; this is part of the deal with the EU (that was predominantly economic) that Yanukovich put on hold in November, which resulted in mass bloody unrest and his ousting.

In Lavrov’s view, the coup-installed authorities in Kiev should have waited until a legitimate government was formed in the country after elections, and should have only then decided whether to sign an agreement with Brussels.

“Presidential elections were announced for the end May rather than December as it had been agreed upon in the February 21 accords. A constitutional reform should be carried out before the vote,” he said. “Perhaps, it would be right from all points of view, I would say it would be more ethical towards [Ukrainian] people to wait for a more legitimate situation in Kiev, and within the Ukrainian leadership before signing any agreements on behalf of their state.”

At The Hague, Lavrov met for the first time with Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchitsa.

The tete-a-tete was initiated by the Ukrainian side.

“I told him how we see the steps that officials appointed by the Verkhovna Rada (the parliament) should take in order to finally establish normal nationwide dialogue,” Lavrov said.

Ahead of the meeting, Deshchytsa told journalists that he was hoping to discuss with Lavrov peaceful ways of settling the existing situation between Moscow and Kiev.

Relations between the two neighboring states – former Soviet republics – sharply deteriorated after the February military coup which brought ultra-nationalists to power in Kiev and split the country with eastern regions of Ukraine strongly opposing the new leadership and western regions of the country supporting it.

The Autonomous Republic of Crimea – home to an ethnic Russian majority – refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government which they feared would not respect their rights. In a move that proved Crimeans’ concerns, parliament voted to revoke the law that allowed regions to give Russian and other minority languages the status of a second official language.

Crimea held a referendum on March 16 where over 96 percent of voters decided to rejoin Russia rather than remain part of Ukraine. On March 21, Crimea and the city of Sevastopol officially became part of Russia – or rather “retuned home,” as many Crimeans say. The region was transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev without consent of its population.

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EU bureaucrats blocking talks with Russia on Ukraine row – Lavrov

Russia and some EU countries are eager to sit down for trilateral talks with Ukraine to try and settle the integration debacle. But overreaching bureaucrats in Brussels are opposing this intention, says Russia’s foreign minister.

FM Sergey Lavrov was describing the debate over proposed trilateral talks, which would involve Russia, the EU and Ukraine and would be aimed at finding a compromise solution and address concerns of all the parties involved. Ukraine last month delayed signing a key EU free trade deal, a move which sparked anti-government protests in the country and led to a public trade of blame between European and Russian officials.

“Holding trilateral consultations, which would be aimed at an honest discussion of the current trade conditions between Russia, the European Union and Ukraine, with no attempts to conceal anything of cheat each other, would be a very good proposition,” Lavrov said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

The idea was supported in Moscow and Kiev, but was rejected by the EU, “or rather by the European bureaucrats,” according to the minister.

To illustrate the divide between European national governments and joint EU structures in Brussels, Lavrov described his December 16 meeting with his counterparts from the 28 members of the union, saying that “some of them said approve the idea of trilateral consultations, which would actually be a right non-confrontational path. So European bureaucrats took a bit too much on themselves as compared to what member states want from them to.”

Speaking of the conflict itself and the role that Russia plays in Ukraine’s decision, the Russian minister reiterated that Moscow only sought to protects its legitimate economic interests. One of Kiev’s biggest considerations was Russia’s warning that it would revoke a free-trade agreement with Ukraine if it signed the association agreement with the EU.

“It doesn’t mean that we would have issued some sanctions against Ukraine, we would simply go back to the commonly used rules, the so-called ‘most favored nation’ rules, while our current free trade zone offers additional preferences,” Lavrov said.

He added that Russia put a great deal of diplomatic effort in securing a transitional period for its less-developed industries, when it negotiated its joining the World Trade Organization. The grace period, which is meant to allow the Russian businesses to mature and prepare for facing tough competition from other nations, would have been compromised, if Ukraine signed the deal and Russia did not pull out of its free trade deal with Ukraine.

But when Russia and other members of the Customs Union, an economic bloc, which Russia and several its neighbors have formed, are ready to compete economically with EU members, they would be happy to liberalize trade with Europe, Lavrov stressed.

Russia has done nothing to be criticized for on Syria, Iran

Speaking of more acute global crises, Lavrov said that Russia’s position on the war in Syria and the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program is just and not something it can be blamed for, unlike some other parties involved.

“Some members of the process tried to score some unilateral situational benefits in the situation, to play geopolitical games that have nothing to do with the common interests of the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa,” he said. “In the end our position prevailed, and everybody admitted that we were right.”

Lavrov was speaking about the breakthrough agreement that led to the ongoing destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal and the provisional deal, under which Iran agreed to partially put on hold its nuclear development in exchange for lifting of some sanctions. In both cases Russia played a major role at the negotiations table.

The next major objective for the Russian diplomatic corps will be the conference in Switzerland’s Montreux (previously dubbed Geneva-2), which is to convene all parties with a stake in the Syrian armed conflict. Organizational work for the event is far from being over, Lavrov said.

“The major problem now is to understand how representative would be the delegation from the Syrian opposition, because there are conflicting reports on the issue arriving lately,” he said.

The Syrian opposition is notoriously fractured, and those groups which agreed to take part in the Swiss conference and which have support of foreign powers may have little influence on the ground in Syria.

“There are an increasing number of jihadists from foreign countries. The so-called ‘terrorist international’ sent there a huge number of fighters. There are reports that the Free Syrian Army, which our western partners portray as a secular force with a genuine desire to negotiate Syria’s future, is losing ground under an onslaught of the extremist groups, including those blacklisted as terrorists by the US, the EU and the UN,” Lavrov outlined the situation.

With the situation that grim, even backers of the Syrian opposition admit that Syrian President Bashar Assad is “a smaller threat to Syria than its takeover by the terrorists,” the diplomat said.

“It would have been an overstatement if we said that most of the people love him, but the fact is that many see the current president as a man who will not allow infringing the interests of a large number of Syrian citizens.”

4Another serious issue is the debated participation in the conference of Iran, a major ally of the Syrian government. Some parties object to calling officials from Tehran to Montreux, a position which Lavrov finds questionable and “probably based on ideological considerations.”

“Americans dealt directly with Iran without a second thought, when they needed Iranian cooperation during the stationing of American troops in Iraq. They had regular contacts over Afghanistan. And let me remind you that during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, Iran was member of the 6+2 group [which included Afghanistan’s neighbors, Russia and the US],” the minister said.

“I see no valid argument against giving Iran the same status that other foreign players will have in Montreux,” he added.

No pause in Russia-US relations

Lavrov commented on the words of US President Barack Obama, who said Washington needs to take a pause with Russia after its giving political asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“I didn’t notice any pause. It’s regrettable that the emotions over the Snowden case led to the decision to delay a scheduled visit [of Obama] to Moscow ahead of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. But since then our contacts did not have any cuts,” Lavrov said, adding that he had some 15 meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry since his appointment in February, which “is probably a world record.”

Russian Iskander ballistic missile launcher (AFP Photo / Alexandr Nemenov)

Russian Iskander ballistic missile launcher (AFP Photo / Alexandr Nemenov)

One of the key points of conflict between Moscow and Washington is the US development of its anti-ballistic missile system in Eastern Europe. The project, which Russia sees as a threat towards the strategic military balance, went back into the media spotlight after a report that Russia deployed its nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in its western enclave of Kaliningrad region. Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the reports, saying no such move have been made yet.

“We have long told our American partners that such a deployment may be one of the responses to their action to deploy the European segment of the global antimissile defense system. When such a need arises is for the military to judge. Nothing personal, just rules of the game,” Lavrov said.

EU bureaucrats blocking talks with Russia on Ukraine row – Lavrov — RT News.