Tag Archives: Xi Jinping

​China, Russia to hold first-ever Mediterranean naval exercise

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Chinese and Russian naval vessels are seen during Joint Sea-2014 naval exercise outside Shanghai on the East China Sea, May 23, 2014

The Russian and Chinese Navies are to hold a joint exercise in the Mediterranean Sea in mid-May, a first in that part of the world. A total of nine warships from the two countries are to participate, Beijing said.

“The aim is to deepen both countries’ friendly and practical cooperation, and increase our navies’ ability to jointly deal with maritime security threats,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said on Thursday in a monthly news briefing.

“What needs saying is that these exercises are not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with the regional situation,” he added, saying that the Chinese Navy would contribute its warships currently on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden.

Russia and China have previously held joint naval exercises in the Pacific in waters they both have direct access to. The Mediterranean Sea Cooperation-2015 drill would focus on navigation safety, at-sea replenishment, escort missions and live fire exercises, Geng said.

Moscow and Beijing are intensifying defense cooperation as both countries oppose US criticism of its military policies. China is being accused of aggressive deployments in the South China Sea, where it is contesting territories with several regional nations. The PLA’s Navy and Air Force have been increasingly at odds with Japan and South Korea, key American allies.

Russia has been subjected to economic sanctions over its position in Ukraine which, according to Washington, is threatening its NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

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Russia-China ties at highest level in history – Putin

Russia-China cooperation has reached its highest level ever, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of his visit to Shanghai, where a record package of documents is expected to be signed by the two nations.

Below is the full transcript of the Russian president’s interview with Chinese Central Television, Xinhua news agency, China News Service, The People’s Daily, China Radio International, and Phoenix Television.

Question: What are your expectations concerning the upcoming visit to China? What results do you expect from the Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia in Shanghai?

Vladimir Putin: I am always happy to visit hospitable China. It is a pleasure to see how our neighbour is transforming right before our eyes. Shanghai is a vivid illustration of this.

Establishing closer ties with the People’s Republic of China – our trusted friend – is Russia’s unconditional foreign policy priority.

Now Russia-China cooperation is advancing to a new stage of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. It would not be wrong to say that it has reached the highest level in all its centuries-long history.

I am looking forward to a new meeting with President of China Xi Jinping, with whom I have good working and personal relations. We will discuss how previous agreements are being implemented and outline new objectives for the future. I am sure that the upcoming talks will give a powerful impetus to further strengthening of bilateral cooperation in all areas and deeper coordination in the international arena. The summit’s results and future plans will be reflected in the Joint Statement by the Heads of State and a strong package of documents expected to be signed during the visit.

Russia and China have actively advocated establishing a new security and sustainable development architecture in the Asia-Pacific. It should be based on the principles of equality, respect for international law, indivisibility of security, non-use of force or threat of force. Today this task is becoming increasingly important. The forthcoming Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) serves to contribute to addressing this task.

CICA is a well-established cooperation mechanism. It has been successfully working in such spheres as security, new challenges and threats, economy, environmental protection and humanitarian issues, all of which are important for the region.

Russia has taken an active part in CICA’s activities. In mid-April 2014, members of the Conference approved the Statute of the CICA Business Council sponsored by Russia. I am confident that the launch of the Council will enhance practical ties between business communities of the Asian countries.

At the upcoming summit, the Secretariats of CICA and SCO are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. That would serve as another step towards shaping a framework of partnerships between this region’s organisations and forums.

Q: China is consistently making progress towards the “Chinese dream”, i.e. a great national rebirth. Russia has also set a goal of restoring a powerful state. How, in your opinion, could our countries interact and help each other in fulfilling these tasks? What areas can be prioritised in this regard?

VP: Promotion of friendly and good-neighbourly partnership relations is fully consistent with the interests of both Russia and China. We do not have any political issues left which could impede the enhancement of our comprehensive cooperation.

Through joint efforts, we have established a truly exemplary collaboration, which should become a model for major world powers.

It is based on respect for the fundamental interests of each other and efficient work for the benefit of the peoples of our two countries.

Russia and China successfully cooperate in the international arena and closely coordinate their steps to address international challenges and crises. Our positions on the main global and regional issues are similar or even identical.

It is encouraging that both sides are willing to further deepen their cooperation. Both Moscow and Beijing are well aware that our countries have not exhausted their potentials. We have a way to go. The priority areas of collaboration at the current stage include the expansion of economic ties and cooperation in science and high-technology sector. Such pooling of capacities is very helpful in fulfilling the tasks of domestic development of our countries.

Q: Cooperation between China and Russia has been steadily increasing, but uncertainties in global economy persist. The emerging markets are faced with new challenges and slowdown of economic growth. How can our two countries help each other to counter these challenges? How can we ensure steady increase of mutual trade and reciprocal investments?

VP: In the context of turbulent global economy, the strengthening of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, as well as the increase of investment flows between Russia and China are of paramount importance. This is not just a crucial element of socioeconomic development of our countries, but a contribution to the efforts aimed at stabilising the entire global market.

Today, Russia firmly places China at the top of its foreign trade partners.

In 2013, the volume of bilateral trade was close to $90 billion, which is far from being the limit. We will try to increase trade turnover to $100 billion by 2015 and up to $200 billion by 2020.

Our countries successfully cooperate in the energy sector. We steadily move towards the establishment of a strategic energy alliance. A large‑scale project worth over $60 billion is underway to supply China with crude oil via the Skovorodino-Mohe pipeline.

The arrangements on export of Russian natural gas to China have been nearly finalised. Their implementation will help Russia to diversify pipeline routes for natural gas supply, and our Chinese partners to alleviate the concerns related to energy deficit and environmental security through the use of “clean” fuel.

At the same time, we are working actively to reduce dependence of bilateral trade on external market conditions. Therefore, in order to develop trade and economic cooperation we pay particular attention to the breakthrough areas such as higher energy efficiency, environmental protection, production of drugs and medical equipment, developing new information technologies, as well as nuclear energy and outer space.

We implement a list of joint projects in 40 priority areas with total investments of about $20 billion.

These areas include civil aircraft industry. An agreement has been reached on joint design of a wide-body long-range aircraft. In the future we will develop a heavy helicopter. I am sure that our companies can manufacture and supply competitive products to the world markets.

We also intend to actively develop investment cooperation, the scope of which obviously does not meet real capacities and needs of our countries yet. We have examples of successful projects. I would like to note the participation of Chinese capital in the reconstruction of an airport in the Kaluga Region and building of plants for production of automotive parts and construction materials in that Russian constituent entity.

To our mind, there are many other promising areas for investments. We can point to different branches of machine engineering, processing of agricultural products, mining operations, and development of transport and energy infrastructure.

We must also strengthen financial cooperation and protect ourselves from exchange-rate fluctuations among the world’s major currencies. Therefore, we are now considering how to increase mutual settlements in national currencies.

Q: Russia has recently announced the creation of a special economic zone in Vladivostok. What could, in your view, be the role of China in its creation and in the development of the Russian Far East as a whole?

VP: Accelerated socioeconomic development of Siberia and the Far East is one of Russia’s key national priorities for the 21st century. We are now implementing a whole package of programmes to modernise and upgrade transport, energy and social infrastructure in these regions.

We are aiming at the creation of special areas of advanced economic development with an investment-friendly environment.

Competitive conditions for launching export-oriented enterprises in non-primary sectors have been created.

In the areas of advanced development, new companies will enjoy some substantial benefits. These are tax holidays with respect to a number of taxes and reduced insurance premium rates; liberalisation of the customs regime, including free customs zones; special rules for access to land and for connecting to infrastructure facilities.

Today, the relevant federal law is being finalised. Development institutions are being created and promising centres are being selected. One of them will probably be established in Vladivostok on Russky Island where the APEC 2012 Summit took place.

Obviously, we are interested in Chinese businessmen making use of these opportunities and becoming one of the leaders here, since both Russia and China will benefit from an accelerated development of the Russian Far East.

It is important not to limit our relations to trade. It is essential to establish strong technological and industrial alliances; attract investments to the infrastructure and energy sectors; to jointly promote scientific research and humanitarian contacts; lay a solid foundation for a sustainable long-term development of our trade and economic relations. And the Russian Far East can and must become a natural venue for the said efforts.

Q: How would you rate the present level of cooperation between our countries in the humanitarian sphere and its prospects? Which projects within the framework of reciprocal theme years (national, language, tourism, youth exchanges) have impressed you most?

VP: The humanitarian contacts between Russia and China are in keeping with the steady development of the whole complex of strategic partnership relations between our countries. At the moment, their level is as high as never before. The major projects of national, language and tourism theme years in which millions of our citizens participated, have played a significant role in that.

It is noteworthy that a number of events are now being carried out on a regular basis. These are festivals of culture, film weeks, youth sports games, student festivals, camps for schoolchildren and students, fora for university principals, exhibitions of educational services and many other events.

An intergovernmental project of the Russia-China Youth Friendly Exchanges Years planned for 2014–2015 was launched this March. The performance of the recently created Russian-Chinese philharmonic youth orchestra, headed by the artistic director and principal conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre Valery Gergiev, has become a highlight of the theme years’ launch in St Petersburg.

Of course, we are not going to settle down. The mutual interest of youth in history, culture and traditions of the peoples of China and Russia is increasing. It is an objective process, and we are committed to fully supporting it in the future.

Q: In 2015, our countries will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Victory over fascism. What is the impact of joint Russian-Chinese efforts to oppose the attempts aimed at challenging the results of World War II?

VP: It is true that the attempts to rewrite and distort history are becoming more frequent.

Four years ago Russia and China adopted a Joint Statement on the 65th Anniversary of Victory in the Second World War.

We share an idea that it is unacceptable to revise the results of the war, as the consequences will be extremely grave.

It is clearly evident from the tragic events currently unfolding in Ukraine, where violent neo-Nazis are waging a real campaign of terror against civilians.

I would like to express my gratitude to our Chinese friends for cherishing the memory of thousands of our compatriots, who sacrificed their lives to liberate Northeast China from invaders.

Next year we will hold a range of joint events to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory both in the bilateral and the SCO format. During these events, youth will be in the focus of our work.

We will certainly continue to oppose attempts to falsify history, heroize fascists and their accomplices, blacken the memory and reputation of heroic liberators.

 

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Vladimir Putin is to make an official visit to China

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On May 20, Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping.

In the course of talks in Shanghai, the two leaders will discuss issues of bilateral cooperation. A number of important documents are being prepared for the visit, covering trade, economic, energy and humanitarian areas.

The parties are to consider the current state of cooperation between Russia and China on the international arena and prospects for its development. The visit is to bring these relations to a new stage of overall partnership and strategic cooperation.

On May 21, the President of Russia will take part in the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) dedicated to improving dialogue and coordination for a new, peaceful and stable Asia. The summit will also consider CICA evolution prospects.

During his stay in Shanghai Vladimir Putin will hold a number of bilateral meetings with CICA summit participants.

via President of Russia.

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Russia has no intention to send troops into Ukraine – Lavrov

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There is no intention in Moscow to send its troops into eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. Hopefully, the growing understanding in the West of Russia’s position will allow for a de-escalation of the tension, he added.

In an interview with Rossiya 24 TV channel, Lavrov spoke on the futile western attempts to isolate Russia diplomatically, the growing acceptance of the need for constitutional reform, which Moscow proposes, the prospects of NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and the potential for global presence of the Russian Navy.

‘No isolation of Russia in UN Assembly vote on Crimea’

Question: After the G7 countries announced their decision to withdraw from the G8, it was said that now Russia is isolated in the international arena. In the UN General Assembly 100 countries voted against Russia. The claim of Russia being isolated is true, then?

Sergey Lavrov: “Isolation” is a term invented by our Western partners who act with nostalgic neo-imperial ambitions in mind. The instant something isn’t to their liking they draw out this sanctions stick. The times when such strategy could be employed are long gone. They should think about getting everyone, with no exceptions, to work together, not about isolating their partners.

I’m surprised at how obsessively they’re trying to – create rather than find – proof of Russia’s isolation. I’ve seen a lot in my time, but for major countries to use all their diplomatic resources to twist the arms of the entire world, including our closest partners, in order for them to agree with the argument about Ukraine’s territorial integrity while ignoring the rest of the principles outlined in the UN Charter? I was astonished with the alacrity. Key government institutions expend so much effort on this.

It’s the case with the UN General Assembly vote. Such results are achieved by a combination of several means. First, our Ukrainian neighbors were advised to keep the tone of their draft resolution non-confrontational and level-headed, to send a positive message of the need to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Who would oppose that? But that’s not even half of the truth, it’s just a sliver of it. You and our viewers understand what I’m talking about.

Then, some countries that are naïve enough for it are told, “Look, it’s such a great resolution, why don’t you sign it and become a co-sponsor.” The more experienced ones who realize what’s really going on are approached with, “If you don’t support this resolution, there will be consequences.” And then they describe these consequences. We know about that. Our colleagues come to us and confide why this or that relatively small country has to cave in. For example, they were told contracts would not be signed or political dividends would be withheld. If we take into consideration that the West in the broad sense, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan etc., amounts to about 40-something countries, basically 50 states were forced or somehow persuaded to do it.

We hold no grudge against these delegations. It will not affect our relations with them. I can’t but point out another number: about 70 countries refused to support this resolution.

Q: And if we count the countries who didn’t cast a vote that would make it 93.

SL: So basically it’s a tie. The Western propaganda machine – there’s really no other way to call it – will hail it as a great victory in the media, but we know the value of this victory.

Q: 100 countries voted against Russia. The number of countries that voted for Russia abstained or didn’t cast a vote comes up to 93. This includes the brave countries that, despite the pressure, made this choice.

SL: This is no doubt a brave thing to do. It’s not anti-Western or anti-Ukrainian. It reflects a deep understanding of what’s going on the part of the countries who didn’t vote in favor and especially those who voted against. This wasn’t about territorial integrity or Ukraine at all.

China understands legitimate Russian interests and concerns in Ukraine’

Q: Three weeks ago, on our program, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that Russia expects to see moral support from China. China abstained from voting on the resolution. After that President Obama and President of China Xi Jinping held a meeting, during which, as my Western colleagues told me, the Americans were trying to persuade China to scrap gas supply contracts with Russia. And then you met with Xi Jinping. So what is China to Russia?

SL: China is a very close partner of Russia. In our joint documents our relations are defined as comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. All of China’s actions reaffirm its commitment to the principles we agreed on. If, as you say, the Americans did try to convince China to review its economic agreements with Russia on the highest level, it’s an off-the-scale naïve or brazen attitude. I would even say that not understanding the essence of Chinese politics and mentality is just inexcusable for the officials in charge of such negotiations.

At the very beginning China said that it takes into consideration the combination of historical and political factors. China strongly opposed using non-diplomatic measures and threats of sanctions to resolve this problem. Our contacts with our Chinese partners show that they not only understand Russia’s rightful interests in this case, but are also hand-in-hand with us in the understanding of the initial causes of the current crisis in Ukraine. There is no doubt about it. President Putin and President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone. On March 24, I met with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. BRICS foreign ministers held talks as well.

Q: Did BRICS work out the joint statement in The Hague?

SL: It’s the chairperson’s statement, which the Foreign Minister of South Africa delivered after our meeting.

‘Ukraine, not Russia hampered OSCE mission deployment’

Q: Last Saturday we informed our viewers that the OSCE agreed on the mandate of a mission to be sent to Ukraine. Why did Russia object to it initially? What’s the mission going to work on?

SL: I would say that it was our Western and Ukrainian partners that initially objected to this mission.

Q: But as usual it was presented the other way around – Russia against the rest of Europe.

SL: We’re used to that. Orwellian talents are still widely used. Russia was willing to send the OSCE mission a week before the decision was finally made. Even though everything was clear by then, our partners demanded with inexplicable determination for Crimea to be included in the mandate as part of Ukraine.

One can completely disagree with our take on the situation, one can refuse to recognize the decisions made by Russia based on the will of the Crimean people and supported by an overwhelming majority. We understand that, it happens. But it’s just diplomatic impudence or complete diplomatic incompetence to fail to comprehend the real political situation and the utter uselessness of their demands after we said we would recognize any outcome of the referendum in Crimea, telling us that despite what the President said the mandate of the mission should include Crimea as part of Ukraine.

Q: Moscow was insisting that the mission should go to western regions of Ukraine as well as eastern. Was that achieved?

SL: Taking into consideration our Western colleagues’ well-proven talents to twist words and interpret provisions, we were insisting that cities and regions be listed in the mandate instead of it just saying “mission to Ukraine.” Of course the list includes cities situated both in western and eastern parts of Ukraine, but none situated on the territory of the Republic of Crimea of the Russian Federation.

‘Denunciations of Right Sector were long overdue’

Q: Maybe then what we see is some progress not only in terms of sending an OSCE mission to Ukraine, but also new Ukrainian authorities, their legitimacy aside, dealing with the Right Sector problem, as evidenced by the last 36-48 hours.

SL: It’s taken them too long, though it’s true that [it’s] better late than never. Over a month ago I raised the issue of the Right Sector and the necessity to dissociate from the radical forces with our Western partners. I asked them a very simple question: “If you agree that we need to defuse the situation, why won’t you publicly say what the Right Sector really is?” Same to a degree goes for the Svoboda party, whose platform references The Declaration of June 30, 1941, which expressed support of Nazi Germany and its efforts to establish a new world order. According to the party’s charter, it’s still committed to this principle.

Our colleagues reacted quite strangely to our requests to at least publicly express their opinion on these forces and exert their influence on the people in Kiev who claim they’re the new authorities so that they do the same. At first they avoided the issue, and then at one of the recent meetings, I think it was in London, US Secretary of State John Kerry told me that after close scrutiny they concluded that the Right Sector was trying to become a political movement. The subtext was that it’s a good thing, and Svoboda is moving towards [the] mainstream. That’s a quote. A lot of people were present at the meeting, so I’m not revealing a secret here. I was giving examples of the opposite trend concerning these groups, starting with their urging the public to shoot Russians in the head and kill them, calling Russians names, and all the way up to the beatings that take place even in the eastern parts of Ukraine where the members of these groups consider themselves at home.

As for what’s been happening in the last few days, let’s hope that the Ukrainian government’s statements and steps are the result of some awareness campaign conducted by our Western partners. Like I said, better late than never.

Let’s see what comes out of it and whether those in power manage to bring to heel the people they relied on to get their current positions. The recent events, that is, when the Right Sector surrounded the Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] building again and demanded for the Interior Minister to be sacked because of [Right Sector leader] Sashko Bilyi’s death, are very telling. Whatever one might think about the circumstances of his death, which, like in any such case, should be investigated thoroughly, one can’t fail to notice the moral boost his death gave to the people wearing Right Sector colors who follow the principles we all know about. It’s a very alarming signal.

It surprised me that while Russian television, including your channel, showed the siege of the Verkhovna Rada and commented comprehensively on the events unfolding between the Right Sector and the members of parliament, on their possible ramifications, Euronews hasn’t said a word about it, with Ukraine mentioned in the context of the IMF deal in the third or fourth news piece.

Sadly, this kind of coverage is also telling. We’ll try to establish the truth through channels alternative to mainstream Western media. I hope that your alternative channels become the mainstream.

‘Sad to see OSCE justify censorship of media in Ukraine’

Q: Alternative channels – that’s another matter, since Ukrainian cable providers were banned from transmitting Russian TV channels. At first, the OSCE condemned it. As far as I understand, this issue was raised even at your talks with the Western partners. Then it was slowly moved towards the bottom of the priorities list. As the OSCE representative said, there are national interests that allow for TV censorship.

SL: Yes, Dunja Mijatović said that. Let’s just say that being the OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media, she should show more freedom in her judgments. It’s lamentable that excuses are made for banning Russian channels. Who could imagine that channels can be banned if it’s done for protecting fundamental values? However, Ms. Mijatović dismissed in the past our numerous appeals that demonstrations with fascist and neo-Nazi slogans held in a number of the OSCE countries were unacceptable, citing freedom of speech. So in Ms. Mijatović’s opinion four channels are more dangerous than neo-Nazi demonstrations in the Baltic states and a number of other countries, including Germany.

‘Idea of Ukrainian Federation no longer taboo for western diplomats’

Q: What kind of a compromise with the West is possible? Russia is on one side of the line, and the US and the West are on the other, so which points can you agree on with your colleagues?

SL: I don’t believe we’re divided by that strict a line. We’re working on aligning our positions. Based on my latest meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in The Hague and my contacts with Germany, France and a number of other countries, I can say that there’s a possibility of drafting a joint initiative that we could offer to our Ukrainian colleagues.

It’s a very important consideration, because up until now our partners have been offering to set up a contact group within the framework of which Russia and the people who seized power in Kiev would negotiate under their supervision. Such a platform is absolutely unacceptable, and that’s not even the issue. What’s happening in Ukraine now is the result of the deep crisis in the political system, triggered by the inability – I wouldn’t want to accuse anyone of deliberately avoiding it – of each successive leader to reconcile the interests of the western and southeastern regions of Ukraine. It can’t go on like this.

We are convinced that Ukraine needs a fundamental constitutional reform. To be honest, we see no other way that would ensure Ukraine’s sustainable development except becoming a federation. Maybe someone knows better, and there’s a magic formula that would make a unitary system of government work in a state where in western, eastern and southern regions people celebrate different holidays, honor different heroes, have economic structure, speak different languages and think differently and gravitate towards different European cultures. It’s tough to live in a unitary state like that.

That’s why on March 10 we gave an unofficial document outlining our vision to our American, European and Chinese partners and other colleagues, including BRICS countries.

Q: So, a constitutional reform, elections…

SL: No. First of all, it states that the most urgent task is to stop the violence of armed groups, disarm militants and free all illegally seized buildings – which hasn’t been done yet – as well as squares, streets, cities, towns and villages.

First and foremost we mean Maidan. It’s just a disgrace for a European country and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe to have this kind of thing for half a year, and in front of Western visitors besides. We’re told Maidan will stay until presidential election take place, with the outcome that satisfies Maidan. It’s a disgrace for all who put up with it.

We proposed to start with sorting out these issues, especially since it was a responsibility Mr Klichko, Mr Yatsenyuk, and Mr Tyagnibok assumed when they signed the document along with the German, French and Polish foreign ministers.

Another thing we proposed was to begin a comprehensive constitutional reform right away, with all political forces and regions having an equal say in it, to discuss establishing a federation, which would grant every region wide powers in the spheres of economy, culture, language, education, economic and cultural ties with neighboring countries or regions and guarantee minority rights.

Taking into consideration the number of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, we propose and we’re convinced that there’s no other option – and a few presidential candidates said so on numerous occasions – but to make Russian language the second official language of Ukraine, and ensure the rights of minorities in every constituent entity in accordance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Q: There are Hungarians and Romanians living there as well.

SL: Hungarians, Czechs, Germans – they are all complaining to the governments of their countries that they are no longer comfortable living in Ukraine. Czechs even wanted to go back home but the Czech government said, “No, we looked at the conditions you live in and we think you are fine.” This indicates that they care more about geopolitical matters and political expediency than about human rights.

A constitutional reform should be approved by a referendum. It should take into account the interests of all the regions. And once this constitution is approved by a nationwide vote, there should be a presidential and parliamentary election; new legislative assemblies should be elected in all the regions; and there should be new governors. Governors should be elected, not appointed. Eastern and southern regions insist on that.

We strongly believe this is the right way to go. In response, we are told through the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry that Russian proposals are a provocation and that we are meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, because our ideas are inconsistent with the foundations of the Ukrainian state. Which ideas? First, federalization, and, second, Russian as the second official language. I don’t see how this is inconsistent with the foundations of the Ukrainian state.

Q: Do Western partners hear these proposals?

SL: They do. I can tell you that “federalization” is definitely no longer a taboo word in our talks. I really believe we should insist on it – not because it is our whim but because southern and eastern regions want that.

Q: Do you expect that these ideas will eventually reach Kiev, at least through Western capitals?

SL: That’s what I count on, because the current Ukrainian government can hardly be suspected of being independent.

‘Ukraine’s military neutrality must be stated unambiguously’

Q: Do Moscow and, say, Washington talk about Ukraine’s non-bloc status?

SL: This idea is present in our proposals. We definitely think that the new constitution should clearly say that Ukraine cannot be part of any bloc.

Q: Do Americans hear that?

SL: They hear that and you can tell whether they understand it or not by listening to their public statements. Speaking in Brussels last week, President Obama said that neither Ukraine nor NATO were ready and that there was no point talking about that.

Q: By the way, Yatsenyuk says he is not considering this option at this point.

SL: “At this point.” We are convinced there can be no ambiguity on this issue. There are too many of those caveats – “at this point” and “no intention.” Intentions can change, and you end up facing new facts on the ground.

Q: Especially in the last couple of months.

SL: Not just in the last couple of months – in the last 25 years. We are told that the West keeps extending a hand of friendship, and Russia keeps choosing a zero-sum game. A few days ago, my colleague, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, published an article, in which he writes that Russia faces global isolation again, because, he says, you come to Russia with open arms and it turns away and pursues zero-sum mentality. But that’s totally unfair. On the contrary, we are always eager to engage in fair partnership. This is reflected in our proposals on indivisible security, which should be the same for everybody. It is wrong for NATO members to be protected with indivisible security and for everybody else to be treated as second-rate nations, so NATO can act as a magnet to attract new members and keep pushing the dividing line further to the east.

We were promised that this would not happen – and we were cheated. We were promised that NATO would not bring its military infrastructure closer to our borders – and we were cheated. We were promised there would be no military installations on the territory of the new NATO members. At first, we just listened to those promises and believed them. Then we started putting them on paper as political obligations, and serious people, Western leaders, signed those documents. But when we asked them how come those political obligations were ignored and whether we can make them legally binding, they told us, “No, political obligations are enough, and anyway, don’t worry, whatever we do is not against you.”

‘West plays ‘either-or’ game with Eastern Partnership’

SL: Speaking of zero-sum games we are being accused of, the EU Eastern Partnership project from the very beginning was based on the “either-or” concept: either you’re with us or you’re against us. Actually, our Western partners have been talking about this since the 2004 election in Ukraine. Back then, there was no Customs Union and no Eastern Partnership; there was an unconstitutional, artificially invented third round of the presidential election. Karel de Gucht, who then was the foreign minister of Belgium and who is now, by the way, the EU Trade Commissioner, publicly demanded that Ukrainians should vote and decide whether they want to be with Europe or with Russia. This is where such mentality comes from.

Eastern Partnership – as well as NATO expansion – was simply an instrument used to quickly take control over geopolitical territory. The EU was ready to push this project through at any cost. It completely ignored legitimate economic interests of both Ukraine’s neighbors, like Russia and other countries, and even the nations that were part of this program. There have been many studies on this issue. No wonder even Yatsenyuk says that Ukraine needs to take a closer look at the economic section of this agreement.

The same will happen with Moldova. They are doing their best to sign a similar agreement with Moldova this summer, before the upcoming election. And this agreement they intend to sign with Moldova – it completely ignores the issue of Transnistria. It ignores the 1997 agreement between Chisinau and Tiraspol which entitled Transnistria to international trade. It ignores what is happening with Transnistria today: Chisinau and the new Ukrainian authorities have basically blockaded the territory. But our European partners keep mum about that. In fact, the European Union and, I think, the United States approve of this policy.

We want to talk to them very seriously about that, because they are escalating tensions over Transnistria, almost claiming that it will be next. This is outrageous, provocative rhetoric. Actually, they want to create unbearable conditions for Tiraspol in violation, I repeat, of the agreements which entitled Transnistrians to certain travel, transit and trade rights. This is outrageous. They never learn. Once again, they seek to create a sore point in our relations.

‘Russia has no intention to send troops across Ukrainian border’

Q: Almost all the statements regarding sanctions, including those made by the EU and the US official political institutions, contain the phrase “further escalation.” By “further escalation” my Western colleagues mean that Russian military forces may cross the borders of the mainland Ukraine and move toward Kharkov, for example. Will this happen or not?

SL: President of Russia Vladimir Putin in his address given on March 18 in the Georgievsky Hall said clearly that we are very concerned with the situation with Russians and Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine, especially after various Right Sector groups, a certain Beletsky and the Eastern Front rushed there. Those are absolutely odious people. You don’t need to be a physiognomist to be able to tell what their intentions are. They speak openly about that. Many leaked phone calls indicate how Russians will be treated in Ukraine not just by the Right Sector members.

The Russian president demanded that Ukrainian authorities and their Western patrons take immediate action to stop the violence. He said we are going to protect the rights of Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine using all the political, diplomatic and legal methods. I have nothing to add to that.

We need to be honest. You cannot just say like many times before – regarding Syria, Iran, etc. – that we have come to a crisis and that we just need to accept the reality. Russia is to settle the Syrian crisis, to solve the Iranian problem and to resolve the situation in Ukraine through direct talks with the Ukrainian authorities. The West is consistently trying to avoid the responsibility of dealing with those whom they nurtured and continue to support for their geopolitical purposes.

We have absolutely no intentions of crossing Ukrainian borders. This is not in our interests. We simply want everybody to work together; we want the violence to stop and we want the Western countries who are trying to sweep under the rug those cases of violence and to portray the situation in Ukraine in a positive light to realize they need to bear the responsibility.

According to Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, the Ukrainian authorities lately have been trying to disarm all those who possess firearms illegally – that is, the criminals. If this is the result of our Western partners’ efforts, then, I repeat, we are satisfied with that. We are ready to continue to work out joint recommendations for the Ukrainians to stop all the lawlessness and to start a deep constitutional process to reform their country.

‘No US-style naval bases build-up planned’

Q: There are speculations that Russia may respond to all these events by setting up its military bases in the Seychelles, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Cuba and even in Argentina.

SL: This is a complete lie. We have no plans whatsoever to build naval and military bases abroad in the sense which you put into the term. The Russian Navy is now much stronger than before. I believe after Crimea joined Russia, it will have much more opportunities for development. Along with the Black Sea Fleet, we also have the Pacific, the Northern Fleet, etc.

It’s very important for a country to have highly trained Navy, especially because today the Navy has not just to plough the ocean for training purposes but also to complete specific tasks like counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere. Ships have to travel to remote places. We have agreements with some countries allowing our vessels and warships to use their existing infrastructure for servicing, minor repairs, water and food replenishments and for the crew to rest.

We are absolutely not considering building bases similar to how America does it. And of course, unlike the US, we will not have any agreements, which would make our personnel immune to criminal prosecution in the countries where they are deployed.

By the way, I recently saw an interesting picture on the Internet: a map of the Russian Federation and US military bases around it. It looks very impressive. There are over a hundred of them. And there is a quote from a US soldier: “How dare Russians be so close to our bases?”

Q: Are you talking to the countries I mentioned about the possibility of our warships entering their seaports?

SL: There are a few countries we are talking to but these issues are handled by defense ministries.

 

via Russia has no intention to send troops into Ukraine – Lavrov — RT News.

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China demands end to US spying activities after new Snowden leak

China has demanded that the US stop the snooping activities of its National Security Agency against Chinese officials and companies. Beijing has also asked Washington to explain the reports on the illegal spying.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said on Monday that China is “extremely concerned” about allegations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) infiltrated the servers of Chinese telecom giant, Huawei, targeting the Chinese Trade Ministry, national banks, leading telecommunications companies and the country’s top officials.

“China has already lodged many complaints with the United States about this. We demand that the United States makes a clear explanation and stop such acts,” the spokesman stressed.

Hong cited media reports on “eavesdropping, surveillance and stealing of secrets by the United States of other countries, including China,” which were based on the revelations of the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

The Snowden leaks published by The New York Times and Der Spiegel on Sunday exposed the details of the NSA’s activities in China, which allegedly involved spying on the former Chinese President Hu Jintao.

China’s reaction comes amid the European trip of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who met US President Barack Obama in The Hague on Monday.

The US first lady, Michelle Obama, on Saturday addressed college students in Beijing, saying that open access to online information is a “universal right.”

However, the two countries’ governments clearly had a different understanding of “open access” to the global net.

“We consistently believe internet communication technologies should be used to develop a country’s economy in a normal way, and not be used in stealing secret information, phone-tapping and monitoring,” Hong said.

Huawei Technologies is the world’s largest network equipment supplier and one of the leading mobile phone handset vendors, which employs about 150,000 specialists around the world, and made $39 billion in profits in 2013.

In 2012, the US Congress called on American firms to stay away from doing business with Huawei, justifying the boycott by a “national security threat” allegedly posed by the company to US security. NSA then used the same pretext to launch the alleged spying activities on the Chinese company. According to the leaked NSA documents, the major goal of the operation was to find proof that Huawei is closely cooperating with cyber warfare units in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

In view of recent revelations, Huawei’s vice president of external affairs, William B. Plummer, called the alleged NSA spying an “irony.”

“If such espionage has been truly conducted, then it is known that the company is independent and has no unusual ties to any government and that knowledge should be relayed publicly to put an end to an era of mis- and disinformation,” Plummer said.

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