Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, September 8, 2022

8 September 2022 20:30


Table of contents

  1. Events celebrating the Foreign Ministry’s 220th anniversary
  2. Unveiling the bust of Alexander Nevsky at the Foreign Ministry
  3. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s news conference on September 13
  4. Update on Donbass and Ukraine
  5. Investigation into terrorist attack in Kabul
  6. Assassination attempt against Vice-President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
  7. Statements by High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on food security
  8. Opening branches of Russian universities in Kazakhstan
  9. Freedom Run Russian-Slovak campaign
  10. 15th Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival
  11. 17th Festival of Russian Culture in Japan
  12. Results of 23rd Summer Diplomatic Games
  13. Gastronomic festival in the capital of Russia’s Far East
  14. 5th Global Forum of Young Diplomats
  15. Borodino Day International Military History Festival
  16. G20 Concert

Answers to media questions:

  1. EU’s suspension of Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia
  2. Certain statements by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister
  3. Developments around Russian national Alexander Vinnik
  4. Planned meeting between the presidents of Russia and China at the SCO summit
  5. Russia’s assistance in settling the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia
  6. Cooperation with Azerbaijan
  7. IAEA’s report on the situation at Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant
  8. Certain statements by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell
  9. SCO summit in Samarkand
  10. Prospects for peace talks with Ukraine
  11. Dictation of Victory
  12. Studying languages by children of compatriots abroad

Events celebrating the Foreign Ministry’s 220th anniversary

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established on September 8 (September 20 according to the Gregorian calendar), 1802 (Russian diplomacy has, of course, a longer history) by the Manifesto of Emperor Alexander I. It was one of eight ministries created during a major government administration reform. By that time, Russian diplomacy had traversed a centuries-long road. One of its starting points was the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Love with the Byzantine Empire in 860, which signified the international recognition of Rus.

The first “specialised” foreign policy department – Ambassadorial Prikaz – was established in 1549. In 1720, Peter the Great converted it to the Collegium of Foreign Affairs to deal with more numerous and complicated diplomatic tasks.

The establishment of the Foreign Ministry in 1802 was the beginning of the development of the modern foreign policy agency that was needed for Russia’s new role in the world.

Today, the Foreign Ministry maintains continuity with its predecessors and is engaged in consistent, multi-vector and pragmatic activities. At all stages of domestic diplomatic service, the ministry has focused on upholding Russia’s foreign policy interests at the international stage and facilitating consistent domestic development of the country.

After the start of the special military operation, the Western countries imposed numerous illegitimate sanctions and restrictions on Russia and declared a comprehensive hybrid war on us in all areas. In the current geopolitical situation, the goals of our foreign policy have remained the same and are more topical than ever before. We strive to ensure Russia’s national security, uphold its vital interests internationally, protect the honour and dignity of our compatriots living abroad, and enhance and deepen constructive cooperation with the overwhelming majority of the members of the international community, representing over 80 percent of the world’s population. This includes our allies, associates and friends in the CSTO, EAEU, CIS, BRICS, SCO and RIC. I listed the integration associations of these countries because for lack of time I won’t be able to mention them by name during this briefing.

The Foreign Ministry has planned many interesting events to celebrate its 220th anniversary. I will mention just some of them. In September, Patriot Park of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Foreign Ministry building on Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square will host a themed exhibition.

A postal stamp devoted to this anniversary will be issued soon. Naturally, the media will cover all of these events. We will invite you to take part in them. Follow our accounts on social media and the Foreign Ministry website. In October and November, the Foreign Ministry plans to issue postage paid labels towards the 275th birth anniversary of prominent diplomat and Chancellor of the Russian Empire Alexander Bezborodko, and the 150th birth anniversaries of Alexandra Kollontai and Georgy Chicherin.

A few words about one more event. This event was not planned for this year because it was supposed to take place in 2021 but was postponed due to the pandemic. Now it will take place in the year of the Foreign Ministry’s 220th anniversary, which is part of our continuity. I will tell you about this event a bit later. It will be dedicated to the installation and unveiling of a bust of Alexander Nevsky (I will reveal the secret – it has already been installed here).

By tradition, we will also pay our respect to the memory of outstanding diplomats, celebrate veterans of the diplomatic service and ministry employees that received high governmental and departmental awards. The pandemic and the current situation are forcing adjustments in our plans but this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t observe important historical events that are related to the Foreign Ministry.

A commemorative silver 3 rouble coin has been issued with the dedications: “220th anniversary of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation” and “The 20th anniversary of the institution of the professional holiday – Diplomats’ Day.”

We hope that the name of Andrey Gromyko, who is inseparably linked with the history of our ministry, will be conferred on the no-name square across from the building of the Diplomatic Academy at the initiative of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This proposal is now being voted on at the Active Citizen website, and you can express your opinion on this there.

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Unveiling the bust of Alexander Nevsky at the Foreign Ministry

A ceremony for unveiling the bust of Alexander Nevsky will take place in the Foreign Ministry on September 12 with the participation of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The date is not accidental, but seminal. To reiterate, we planned to unveil and install the bust a year ago, but the pandemic made it impossible. On September 12, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the holiday of transferring the relics of the holy noble prince to St Petersburg, where they currently rest in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Since I attended the SPIEF this year, I visited the Lavra. I strongly recommend visiting this place whenever you get a chance. It is amazing from the historical and spiritual point of view. It is just beautiful. It is taken care of by people who truly put their hearts into their work.

The name of Alexander Nevsky is closely intertwined with the history of the Foreign Ministry. I will briefly talk about this. Additionally, we will publish a wealth of materials. Empress Catherine I instituted an order in his honour, which became one of the highest and most distinguished awards in Russia. The awardees include the first Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire Alexander Vorontsov and Chancellor Alexander Gorchakov. In 1828, the St Prince Alexander house church was founded outside the Foreign Ministry on Palace Square near the Pevchesky Bridge in St Petersburg. It was designed by architect Carlo Rossi. Ceremonies like baptisms, weddings, and funerals were held there for the ministerial staff. The oath was taken here as well by new Foreign Ministry employees. Sometimes people wonder whether Alexander Nevsky was indeed the spiritual patron of diplomats, and you may have heard this too, but never knew why. This historical excursion helps explain our ties to him. During the celebrations of the Foreign Ministry’s 100th anniversary in 1902, a high prayer service was held in the St Alexander Nevsky house church. Many Orthodox churches at Russian foreign diplomatic missions have been consecrated in the name of the holy noble prince.

Alexander Nevsky is among the most important and outstanding personalities of Russian history. He had an exceptional statesman’s mind combined with deep religious faith. In the most difficult and dramatic period in the history of our country, he managed to uphold and preserve the national identity of the people and made an essentially civilisational choice (many papers have been written on this subject), which determined the image of Russia for centuries to come. He combined resolute opposition to aggressive Western ideological and military expansion with subtle and wise diplomacy, thus laying the foundations for modern foreign policy.

The grand ceremony for unveiling the monument was originally planned for 2021, but due to circumstances beyond our control it was pushed back and is now being held during the year that marks our ministry’s anniversary. Placing Alexander Nevsky’s bust in the Foreign Ministry building is our contribution to nationwide celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the outstanding Russian military leader and diplomat and is one way to draw on genuine historical and spiritual examples of serving the Fatherland.

The monument was created on the initiative of the ministerial staff. This is a case of civil society at work which we often hear about. For some reason, we are being told that it is destructive, but in fact it should be creative. The monument was built and the civil initiative was implemented with philanthropic financial support from the Tsargrad Group. The monument was designed by Alexey Selivanov, a member of the Union of Artists of Moscow.

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Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s news conference on September 13

On September 13 at 2 pm, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov will hold a news conference at the Russian Foreign Ministry following the Russia-initiated consultative meeting of the states parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention regarding Article V (Geneva, September 5-9) in connection with US and Ukrainian military and biological activities on Ukrainian territory.

The event will be held in the online format with the participation of Russian and foreign journalists. Media representatives are welcome to attend the news conference. Accreditation will be announced later.

As usual, the broadcast will be available on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website and on our social media accounts.

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Update on Donbass and Ukraine

The special military operation proceeds in Ukraine and Donbass at a planned and confident pace, which is causing increasing nervousness and, in some places, hysteria among the Kiev regime’s Western handlers. They are insistently demanding that the Zelensky regime demonstrate at all costs the fighting spirit and ability of the Ukrainian armed forces to effectively use the weapons received in huge quantities from NATO countries, threatening otherwise to cut back significantly on the aid they provide. It is a terrible story because it is cynical, because the life of a human being, a citizen of Ukraine, is not valued in the West; it is not valued at all. For the West, there are no such people. Neither their lives have any value, nor does anyone think about their future. They are just expendable material – 21st century’s cannon fodder. People who have to give their lives for the sake of the ideological unscrupulousness and profligacy of Western liberal regimes. This is part of a global corruption scheme to allocate colossal funds from the budgets of Western “democracies” and divide them among their own companies, channel these funds partly to Ukraine or launder them through the Kiev regime and return them to “base”, back to Western banks. We have seen this repeatedly in other states and regions of the world. Now this scheme is being worked out here.

Europe is already talking about the depletion of arms reserves for Ukraine. On September 7, Defence Minister of Germany Christine Lambrecht made it clear that “Germany has already reached the limit in this area.” Apparently, human resources have not reached the limit. After all, they are Ukrainian, not German. They don’t care how many people will die there. They do care how many arms will be left for themselves and they probably care about how much money they will have to pay for this. They have internal estimates. But, how many people will perish? This is somewhere there, in some Ukraine, some Slavs. We know what role the West has historically allotted to Slavs. Vladimir Zelensky is panicky at the prospect of being left to his “broken trough” alone. He is doing all he can, and is ready to do anything to maintain the military and financial support from the United States and its allies. This will help him, among other things, to show the people of Ukraine that everything is normal, everything is going as planned. Yes, but not according to the plan described by Zelensky, but rather under a different plan. It has been declared more than once, and the West did this in public, that they will destroy as many Russian citizens as possible. They don’t add that citizens of other countries recruited through Ukrainian embassies and Ukrainian citizens themselves will also be destroyed. This is the plan that the West had and still has, but Zelensky is silent about it. As recent events in the conflict zone have shown, the Kiev regime will stop at nothing for the sake of all this. Despite what can be mildly described as substantial losses in the Ukrainian armed forces during the recent attempt to launch a counteroffensive in the Nikolayev-Kherson direction, the military-political leadership of Ukraine is again issuing orders to attack Russian armed forces’ positions and positions of the people’s militia of the DPR and the LPR, now on the Kharkov section of the contact line. Why is this being done? We know. The whole world (the thinking world) already understands that the Kiev regime doesn’t feel sorry for its troops. In other words, any people will work – those on Ukrainian territory and those beyond it. Why is this being done now and in this way? It is simple. This action is timed to today’s (September 8) fifth meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group in German Ramstein. The aim is to convince those in this meeting of the need for the further buildup of military supplies, primarily of modern offensive weapons with which Kiev hopes to “score a victory on the battlefield” and retrieve lost territories. That’s it. And how many Ukrainian citizens will die there? How many civilians will die? Civilians whom the Kiev regime stubbornly calls Ukrainian citizens but they have long stopped identifying themselves as such? This does not matter at all. Global humanitarian, interstate and nongovernmental organisations remain silent. Why are they silent? For one simple reason: they have been told to keep quiet. Some with money, others were forced to obey under the threat of “cancellation.” They are seeing how everything that contradicts the mainstream is being cancelled one after another. This is why they remain silent.

In this context, public statements by Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny and First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Defence Committee, Mikhail Zabrodsky, have come to our attention. They are talking about the importance of achieving a “turnaround in the war” by firing missiles deep into Russia’s territory and openly admit that the “liberation of Crimea” remains one of Ukraine’s core goals. They mentioned this before and drafted several concepts, but the West was not serious about it.

This aggressive rhetoric reaffirms the Kiev regime’s focus on escalating the conflict, which will inevitably lead to more civilian casualties. However, the Kiev regime doesn’t care about the lives of ordinary people, including many of their compatriots. This must be clearly understood since everything that is happening now is built on that premise. They didn’t care about them. They don’t need the citizens of Ukraine because the West doesn’t need them. What the West needs is Ukraine’s rich territories and resources, as well as the resources of Donbass and the ability to govern these territories and make the local people completely dependent on them. They see them not as the owners of their wealth, not even as managers, but as servicepeople working in the interests of Western regimes, corporations and individuals. This is critical if you want to know what Zelensky’s regime is guided by. He doesn’t care about a thing. People don’t matter to him. I’m not sure that this is his creed as a person. For many years now, he has been openly manipulated and has walked a special path. Now, he has reached his destination.

His regime continues to mercilessly shell vital civilian infrastructure and urban residential areas in the DPR and the LPR, as well as the liberated territories, including with the use of large-caliber artillery (if he cared about the people, his subordinates would not be doing this). They are making ample use of MLRSs supplied by the West. Let me say this again: they are using these systems on civilian targets and the people whom Zelensky’s regime is calling its citizens.

As a result, during the last month alone, three hospitals and six educational institutions, including a kindergarten, were leveled in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.

Where are the Western photographers, cameramen, bloggers and reporters? Where are the people who took staged photographs in Syria and Ukraine? Where are you? Are you out of film or what? Are you afraid to go there? I don’t think so. You are afraid to face the truth. In your case, perhaps, the truth will be deadly, because living with the knowledge that you have been for years pandering to the people who profess hate-crazed ideology is painful.

In addition to everything mentioned before, over 60 civilians have already suffered from thousands of Lepestok anti-personnel mines scattered by the armed forces of Ukraine in residential neighbourhoods. Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya showed them in the UN Security Council. I recall some people in the West were actively involved in the efforts to ban the use of such weapons in residential areas. They established whole organisations that conducted exhibitions and conferences. Where are you now? I understand that this Lepestok (anti-personnel mine) brought to the UN Headquarters is not a brick like the one Petr Poroshenko carried along, not a piece of a bus or trolleybus and not a passport that the President of Ukraine showed from high rostrums. This horrible weapon is killing civilians. It is used shamelessly and stealthily against civilians, not against armed people. Not interested? Yes, I understand, it’s much more fun to walk a punk group down UN corridors, telling them how bad Russia is and how it demeans girls. Maybe Western journalists should pay attention to this and tell the public the truth about the means by which the Kiev regime achieves “the release” of its citizens. In this case, I don’t know what Zelensky means by “the release” of Ukrainian citizens. Release from life? Release of the soul from the body or what?

Ukrainian militants continue dangerous provocations against the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant as well. This is a dreadful story. They are continuously shelling its critically important facilities and residential districts of Energodar with artillery weapons, multiple rocket launchers and drones. But it is not simply a pillbox; it is not a tank and it is not a fortified position. It is a nuclear power plant. Think about this. Take a seat and give it a thought – multiple rocket launchers are fired against a nuclear power plant. Is it normal? Running around and telling everyone that some mice are suffering in a field and persuading everyone to adopt urgent environmental measures – this is something people in the West do really well. I will say it again – a nuclear power plant is being shelled by multiple rocket launchers and everything is okay. Nothing is happening. Some people are saying they don’t know who is shelling. Others are pretending they aren’t familiar with the problem at all. Still others are saying that this is not very good and, of course, this shelling must be stopped. It seems like this message falls on deaf ears. If you want to stop the shelling, it is necessary to figure out its origin. The shelling comes from the Kiev-controlled territory from the weapons that are in the hands of Ukrainian military. The Kiev regime is in charge of all of them. Take out your phone and tell them not to do this if you are concerned about this situation. If not, don’t say later that you were not in the know.

Over the past week, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have made several reckless attempts to seize the Zaporozhye NPP. The high risk of a large-scale man-made disaster in the region, nor the presence of the IAEA mission at the plant were enough to stop them. Neither did the fact that journalists, that the West worries so much about (their safety and fate), were reporting almost live from there and could easily have fallen victim make any difference to them. At the same time, Kiev is cynically trying to shift the responsibility for everything that is happening onto Russia.

At the same time, it puts psychological pressure on the personnel at the nuclear power plant. On September 6 of this year, it became known that a bill was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada that would give employers the right “to dismiss employees at enterprises of strategic importance to the economy and security of Ukraine on suspicion of collaboration.” A day earlier, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk threatened the residents of Energodar with almost compulsory evacuation from the city. Everything she says has nothing to do with reality. I take it that they invented this “function” of reality and found a person to perform the related duties in order to talk nonsense, answer for nothing and scare people not only with words, but also with her own appearance.

Meanwhile, despite the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ constant shelling, peaceful life is settling on the liberated territories of Donbass and southeastern Ukraine at a steady pace. Vital infrastructure and social institutions are being restored. The priority is to provide people with housing. Mariupol is receiving special attention as about 100,000 square metres of housing will be built for 15,000 people by the end of the year. Many Russian regions are assisting in this. There are also plans to rebuild about 1,300 blocks of flats and 14,200 private homes. On September 1, about 1,500 schools were opened in the liberated territories of the DPR, the LPR, Kharkov, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. Polyclinics and hospitals are currently being repaired.

The return of peace and quiet does not please the Kiev regime. They are especially angry and enraged by the desire of the people in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions to tie their fate to Russia. The Ukrainian authorities intend to prevent this in every possible way. Various methods of intimidation are being used, up to and including acts of terror.

On September 6, 2022, the mayor of Berdyansk was assassinated by Ukrainian infiltrators as they blew up the car he was driving in along a street of the city. Have you heard Western officials say anything about this or does it not interest them? I heard what a White House spokesperson said when he was asked to comment on this terrorist act, because when a car with a civilian inside is blown up such an incident is referred to as a terrorist act. This official answered that Americans, in principle, are against violence but they support the Kiev regime and its struggle. That was it. A straightforward answer. I want to say that things like this might be treated not simply as incitement but as a call to commit terrorist acts. Exactly so. Could the reaction have been different? It could: There can be no other response, from the human, legal, expert or any other viewpoint, than disavowal of actions like this and the unconditional condemnation of them without any “but,” commas, quote marks, parenthesis and so on. Not in this case. It is amazing how American officials will go to absurd lengths in their verbal gymnastics so as not notice something like terrorist acts, or evade the issue, or, when they are finally cornered, call them part of a liberation struggle. No, of course not, what are they talking about? Is it a liberation struggle? These are terrorist activities. You in the United States have always described them this way. On September 7, 2022, there was an explosion outside the office of the We Are with Russia civic organisation in Melitopol. All those who support Russia are being threatened with prosecution and long-term prison sentences. Threats are being made to people’s safety and lives.

Actions like this show that democratic principles are alien to Kiev and it does not give a damn about the opinion of millions of people. Kiev is ready to sacrifice these principles for the geopolitical ambitions of its bosses. This again testifies to the importance of removing, as soon as possible, threats to Russia’s security made from the territory of Ukraine, as well as of the efforts to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine and protect people in Donbass. These objectives, as the Russian authorities repeated many times, will undoubtedly be achieved during the special military operation.

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Investigation into terrorist attack in Kabul

As you know, in the morning of September 5, 2022, a terrorist attack was perpetrated near the Russian Embassy in Afghanistan’s capital on Dar-ul Aman Road. The responsibility was claimed by ISIS. Two employees of the diplomatic mission were killed; several Afghan nationals were killed and wounded, including students who were there to apply for a Russian visa. The terrorist detonated a powerful bomb when a Russian diplomat and a security guard came out to meet the people waiting in line outside the building.

We were shocked by the news of the death of our colleagues. They were professionals who devoted their lives to protecting the interests of our Motherland. They died tragically in the line of duty. May they rest in peace.

We express our condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims. We mourn together with the people in Afghanistan who lost their loved ones. We wish a speedy recovery to those injured who were in the epicentre of the explosion.

The Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan expressed its condolences to Russia. As you know, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov oversees the situation personally. He sent messages of condolences to the families of those killed and gave instructions to enhance the security of our foreign missions. Sergey Lavrov and Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi had a telephone conversation and agreed to boost interaction in combatting terrorism.

The protection has been enhanced at the Russian Embassy. Together with the Afghan authorities, an investigation is underway into the terrorist attack. According to our information, representatives of the security agencies of third countries may have assisted the ISIS terrorist group. We are not surprised that there are those who want to undermine the longstanding friendship between Russia and Afghanistan and to provoke our countries this way.

Try as they might, their provocations will not affect our constructive dialogue with Kabul. According to Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, we will make sure that those guilty are punished. Relevant measures have already been taken by the Russian law enforcers.

We believe it is crucial to fight the threat of international terrorism coming from Afghanistan with resolve. The joint and coordinated actions of the global community to eradicate this evil are important, as well as the historical memory about who had been in charge of bringing order to Afghanistan for 20 years. It was the United States and NATO countries. For twenty years, they stayed there and took it upon themselves to bring order in their own way – by bringing a democratic component and freedom there and eliminating the evil. So aren’t the results impressive? For twenty years they did nobody knows what, without accounting to the UN Security Council, which gave them a mandate and legitimised their allegedly righteous activity. And what has it led to? To decades of grief, pain, horror, terrorist attacks and crimes that, by the way, were committed not only by terrorists, but the Americans themselves, there on the ground. Then they fled ignominiously from there – no, crawled away. We saw all that. It is also important. So that later, when we will be told about peace and that only they can bring order and no one else, that they are peacekeepers and all the others are on the wrong side of history, we will know the truth.

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Assassination attempt against Vice-President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

Unfortunately, the regions that I mentioned earlier are not the only ones in turmoil. On September 1, an attempt was made on Vice-President of the Argentine Republic Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s life in Buenos Aires. Our Embassy has already taken appropriate steps, and relevant statements have been issued, including those addressed to the official Argentine authorities. As you know, Brazilian citizen Fernando Sabag Montiel, a permanent resident of Argentina and supporter of the neo-Nazi ideology, pointed a gun at Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and pulled the trigger twice, but the weapon jammed. The attacker was taken into custody; an investigation is underway.

In addition to what has already been said and done by our Embassy in Argentina, I would like to say the following. We strongly condemn the assassination attempt on the Vice-President of the Argentine Republic, as well as any other manifestations of political extremism.

We express our solidarity with the people and government of Argentina, and we would also like to convey our words of support and encouragement to Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, whose significant personal contribution to the development of Russian-Argentinian relations, the comprehensive strategic partnership between our countries, is highly valued in Russia.

We are confident that, given the stability of Argentinian statehood and democratic institutions, and its mature civil society, this crude attempt to destabilise the country was patently doomed to failure.

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Statements by High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on food security

A few words about our perennial headache, Josep Borrell. I don’t know but could it be that he is not alone over there? I don’t think a single person could be capable of producing so many absurd statements at such a rate.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell distinguished himself again at the Inter-Parliamentary Conference session on CFSP/CSDP priorities and current issues, held in Prague on September 5. He said that the thesis about the threat of famine in Africa does not hold water. There are some problems, he believes, and they are caused by Russia’s actions in Ukraine and not by EU sanctions. I refuse to believe this. I don’t know who such statements are designed for. A short time ago, a person who also called himself Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, talked a lot about the deteriorating food situation in Africa. He called for unblocking Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea as soon as possible. Has something gone wrong? Have they changed the memory card or cross-flashed the system? What’s up? This was only a few weeks ago. The texts of his endless posts, blogs and tweets are still available. So, has the problem of famine in Africa been settled? Have they fed everyone? What’s going on? Why have they changed the tone so quickly? What’s the reason for that? Are they going to say that something has been lost in translation? Sorry, we can no longer accept such an explanation. You have good translators at the EU but problems with politicians.

The reason is that the EU doesn’t want to do its homework regarding the implementation of the package grain deal. They regard the first part of the deal as obligatory and the second part as optional. I would like to remind everyone that the package deal, as the UN Secretary-General and others described it, provides not only for resuming the export of Ukrainian grain, which is being delivered mostly not to the developing countries, as we have said on numerous occasions and provided the relevant data. President Vladimir Putin paid considerable attention to this at the Vladivostok forum yesterday. The news came as a big shock to the international community. Before that, various high officials tried to convince the world that grain was needed to feed the developing countries. As it turned out, grain is needed for the EU. The panic was fomented with the assistance of Western – US and EU – companies that are deriving profits from the grain exports. That’s all. The package deal provides for lifting the obstacles, which anti-Russia restrictions created to the delivery of Russian grain and fertilisers to the global market, not on paper but in reality. The European Commission’s feeble attempts to clarify the use of the restrictions, which are illegal from the viewpoint of international law, have so far failed. Businesses don’t believe it. Over the past few months, the EU has adopted so many anti-Russia sanctions that it no longer knows what is permissible in trade and economic relations with Russia. European companies are laughing at their leaders, politicians and representatives of the pseudo-European bureaucracy. I say “pseudo” because they are not dealing with European matters. Instead, they are fulfilling the orders they receive from across the ocean. Everything is so complicated in these sanctions, restrictions and resolutions, and there is so much evidence of their intention to create numerous “grey zones,” that the conclusion is obvious. We are witnessing the paralysis of the EU, or rather deliberate actions to provoke the self-inflicted paralysis of the EU. This is probably why Josep Borrell couldn’t think of anything better than to disavow the recent EU leaders’ complaints about the alleged Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports, which created a threat of world hunger. The EU has probably got enough food to eat, and now there is no risk of hunger in the world anymore. All others should fend for themselves. It is the logic of the colonial age, when the master has eaten and the leftovers are distributed among his dogs and only after that, his slaves.

But the problem with food deliveries to the developing countries, including in Africa, has not been settled. They say so themselves. They have approved plans, programmes and procurement lists. African countries want to receive supplies from the countries that are ready to do it, and this concerns not only agricultural products but also fertilisers. African countries and their leaders and politicians say that they want to pay for such deliveries, but they cannot do it because the Western world, the world with imperialist mentality, has blocked the relevant bank services.

In other words, to be able to settle problems the world does not need the neo-colonialist promises of financial assistance in return for readiness to take the side of the “collective West” in its confrontation with Russia. What is needed is normal conditions for the export of Russian grain and fertilisers, which are critically important in terms of volume for global food security. Africa is waiting for Russian grain, not Mr Borrell’s propaganda statements.

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Opening branches of Russian universities in Kazakhstan

This is an important year for Russia-Kazakhstan interaction: we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries, and to mark this event, branches of two Russian universities will open their doors in Kazakhstan.

On September 2, 2022, a branch of the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas was opened in Atyrau. The ceremony was attended by the employees of the Russian Consulate-General in Uralsk. The enrolment campaign is currently underway and the first academic year will begin soon.

Plans call for opening another educational institution, a branch of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute) in Almaty on September 12.

Issues of cultural and humanitarian cooperation are of key importance in the bilateral agenda. An additional impetus was given by an intergovernmental agreement on the creation and work of branches of Russian and Kazakhstani educational institutions in the two countries signed in February 2022.

I would like to remind you that in addition to the above-mentioned universities, Kazakhstan also has branches of Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Moscow Aviation Institute, Chelyabinsk State University and the St Petersburg University of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

We hope that the positive dynamics of the development of Russia-Kazakhstan cultural and humanitarian ties will help maintain the momentum and lead to the opening of more Russian universities in the country in the medium term.

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Freedom Run Russian-Slovak campaign

On August 10-29, 2022, the Freedom Run, a military and memorial event, was held in Russia and Slovakia. It was organised by the civil association Slovak Motorcyclists – BROTHER for BROTHER with the support of the Russian Historical Society.

The event was dedicated to the heroes of the Red Army, the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps and the Slovak National Uprising who were killed during the Second World War.

Participants in the event made the journey from Moscow to Buzuluk, Orenburg Region, where the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps was formed in 1942. They then went to Slovak cities where they met with veterans of the Great Patriotic War and the Slovak National Uprising, and laid wreaths at memorials and war graves. Throughout the entire Freedom Run, Russian and Slovak nationals met the participants with understanding, support and the usual respect.

The event confirmed that memories of the joint fight against Nazism continue to unite the peoples of Russia and Slovakia, and the efforts of the official Bratislava aimed at rewriting history and diminishing the importance and contribution of the Soviet Union to the liberation of Czechoslovakia from Nazism are doomed to failure.

The holding of the Freedom Run by the Slovak organisations is a positive example of the activity of the constructive wing of European society, which understands the destructive nature of the collective West’s confrontational course and promotes the normalisation of relations with our country and the preservation of the common historical memory. When I say “destructive nature” I mean not for us, not only for bilateral relations, but for the citizens of these countries against whom a true historical genocide was launched by the West. This is how the memory of European Union citizens is being erased in a bold and forceful way. People are being turned into those who do not remember and do not know their own history, and the most horrible thing is when they refuse to accept it. Hollywood has dedicated many a film to how people will be “rebooted.” They will have their memories rebooted and cleaned in the future. Could it be that this future that was predicted has become a reality already? And the object of this global experiment is the European Union and the European continent? Maybe we (Europeans) have civilisational resilience that is strong enough to counteract these horrific attempts that mostly come from overseas to destroy our foundational values? I hope that this question is not rhetorical and it has an answer. Yes, we are stronger than that. At least, we, as a country, people and citizens know this and preserve our historical memory.

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15th Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival

On August 26 – September 4, 2022, Moscow’s Red Square hosted the annual Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival. It is a prestigious event that seamlessly combines military, classical, folk and popular music with a ceremonial parade of military bands. The festival awakens an echo in the hearts of people in Russia and abroad, and, of course, helps to strengthen friendship and mutual understanding between the peoples of various countries.

It is encouraging that the tradition of the participation of foreign military bands allows us to enjoy the skills of new talented ensembles. This autumn, musicians from Armenia, Belarus, Venezuela, Egypt, India and Thailand presented their striking performances.

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17th Festival of Russian Culture in Japan

On August 29, 2022, the 17th Festival of Russian Culture in Japan opened in Tokyo. The opening ceremony featured performances by young musicians from the St Petersburg House of Music. The performances by the Japanese artists, whose creative work is closely related to our country, was impressive.

Despite the trend of cancelling everything related to Russia in certain countries, the Japanese members of the organising committee confirmed Japan’s traditionally deep respect for Russian culture and its everlasting importance as an inseparable part of world culture.

It is encouraging that many creative people abroad are realising that culture must not become a hostage to the vested interests of some politicians, a zone of a scary experimentation that is underway in certain countries. On the contrary, it is meant to facilitate the development of dialogue and mutual understanding.

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Results of 23rd Summer Diplomatic Games

The 23rd Summer Diplomatic Games were held on August 27, with more than 500 representatives of foreign countries gathering at the Zavidovo Resort, a branch of the Foreign Ministry’s Main Administration for Service to the Diplomatic Corps (GlavUpDK). This year’s games were held in a special format and timed to coincide with the 65th anniversary of GlavUpDK.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sent a message of greetings to the participants and guests of the Summer Diplomatic Games. “For over 20 years, the Diplomatic Games have been bringing diplomats from different countries to participate in sports competitions, contributing to the development of friendly dialogue and strengthening interstate cooperation <... > I am confident that, as always, the Games will take place in an informal and friendly atmosphere, in the spirit of fair play and that they will be a true celebration of sports,” he noted in his message. And it was exactly as he predicted.

Teams from 18 countries competed in eight sports. They included Armenia, Belarus, DPR, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, North Korea, Panama, Philippines, Senegal, South Ossetia, Sudan, and Thailand, as well as employees of the Eurasian Economic Commission, which marked its 10th anniversary.

The diplomats showed excellent training, energy and a positive will to win. Football was expected to be the most spectacular event, with 17 teams joining the tournament. The Embassy of South Ossetia won gold, while the silver medal went to Equatorial Guinea, and bronze, to Team Zavidovo. The football tournament also included the teams of the MIR TV channel and the TASS news agency.

Guests enjoyed a rich entertainment and cultural programme including a gastronomic festival, Eating Thirst in Zavidovo, which was everyone’s favourite, co-sponsored by the Gastronomic Map of Russia food tourism resource. A festival of kites as well as many other events were also held.

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Gastronomic festival in the capital of Russia’s Far East

The Far East is currently receiving a huge number of guests from all over Russia, Asia and from around the world. Our friends were also involved – they have become not only good friends, but also partners in various events over the years. I am referring to the Gastronomic Map of Russia food travel company. I would like to tell you what else they are going to do in Vladivostok.

On September 23-25, Vladivostok will host the Gastronomic Journey Festival as part of the Rostourism Forum, Gastronomic Tourism in the Russian Federation: New Opportunities, organised with the support of the Government of the Primorye Territory and with information support from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The purpose of the festival is to showcase Russia’s vastness and ethno-cultural diversity, as well as to rediscover Vladivostok, which has the potential to become a year-round gastronomic platform for exposure to Russian culinary traditions. Its geographical position as the capital of the Far East means this city could be the starting point of a gastronomic journey around Russia, for residents of the Far East as well as tourists from Asian countries.

I personally tried everything yesterday. It is amazingly interesting, delicious, so I decided to tell you about it too. You have the opportunity to attend this event. Once again – the festival will run from September 23 to 25.

More than 100 restaurateurs and chefs from all over Russia will open their booths on the Central Square in Vladivostok, arriving from the Murmansk Region, from the Krasnoyarsk and Kamchatka territories, the Udmurt Republic, the Tula Region, Moscow, the Republic of Buryatia and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and there will also be the best of Far Eastern cuisine from the Primorye Territory. Incidentally, the participants from the Murmansk Region will travel more than 10,000 kilometres across the country to present Arctic cuisine in the capital of the Far East.

At the end of September, the Central Square of Vladivostok will be transformed into Russia’s largest open-air gastronomic venue. More than 200 dishes and drinks will be served as street food, including Far Eastern and Arctic seafood (crabs, scallops, mussels). Delicious. I can’t even talk about it without my mouth watering. You won’t believe the wide assortment of traditional dishes the festival offers every time – Buryat buuzy, Yakut dalraby, Whitefish stroganina, Alanian pies, Karelian pies kalitka, Arctic deer stroganoff and Reindeer moss chips, Pomor soup of Barents sea cod, Russian lomot’ (loaf of bread) with local specialities and much more.

The festival will include a School of Far Eastern Cuisine with cooking workshops by the best chefs from the regions of Russia’s Far East. I invite everyone to visit. You can contact Gastronomic Map of Russia. If you have any questions, Yekaterina Shapovalova will be happy to answer them.

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5th Global Forum of Young Diplomats

On August 30, the 5th Global Forum of Young Diplomats ended in Kazan. Organised by the Foreign Ministry’s Council of Young Diplomats, the forum, A New Time for Diplomacy, has become a platform for an open and free exchange of views.

During the sessions, 120 delegates from 45 countries discussed trends in modern global politics, Russia’s role in the emerging multipolar world, and the prospects for the transition from globalisation to regionalisation. They touched upon digital technology and cybersecurity in international relations. Young diplomats from the DPR Foreign Ministry and the LPR Foreign Ministry attended the forum for the first time.

Prominent speakers made reports. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Head of the Republic of Tatarstan Ruslan Minnikhanov addressed the participants. The programme was interesting and intense.

Along with the diplomatic forum, Kazan also hosted the Global Youth Summit on August 27-30. The event included ministers of youth affairs and sports from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries, ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary and consuls general of the OIC countries, leaders of youth organisations, young entrepreneurs and representatives of the academic community.

The summit was held as part of the international programme, Kazan – The Youth Capital of the OIC 2022. More than 300 people from over 50 countries took part in the forum. This kind of active and versatile agenda is the hallmark of “isolation.” We will keep you posted.

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Borodino Day International Military History Festival

On September 2-4, 2022, Russia hosted the Borodino Day Military History Festival to mark the events of the Patriotic War of 1812. The historical re-enactment of the Battle of Borodino involving armed services of that period became the main event of the festival which attracted over 1,000 participants, including those from the United Kingdom, Lithuania, France and the Czech Republic. Greetings to all those trying to isolate Russia.

Members of the Society of Descendants of Veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812, the Russian Military Historical Society and military history re-enactment clubs, as well as representatives of foreign states, including Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil and Serbia, honoured the memory of battle participants near the main monument at the Rayevsky Battery.

They are “isolating” Russia, as the West says, they are “cancelling” us and accusing us of all sorts of crimes. It was the Patriotic War waged on Russian territory, and Russian citizens, our ancestors, perished during that war. That was a destructive war. “The capital remembers it, Moscow remembers it.” We cherish the memory of our heroes.

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour became the first religious memorial to honour the memory of heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812. Numerous works of art, including cultural and literary masterpieces, verses, poems, architectural monuments, churches and cathedrals, are all dedicated to this prominent event in the history of our country. That war was both tragic and heroic. We are able to forgive; we know what mercy, true compassion, generosity and magnanimity are all about. We have also forgiven this.

Today, we recall those events with the descendants of those who fought against us without hatred and anger. We remember history and various goals and tasks, and we know that the situation will repeat itself: we will defend our independence, culture and history, and we will cherish our heroes. At the same time, we will treat those repeating old mistakes and trying to hamper us in some way with mercy and magnanimity.

Perhaps this is our historic mission: to show how a country can remain independent, strong and autonomous, how it can develop, perceive others’ grief and mistakes, defend itself and magnanimously forgive. This remains our approach today.

I would like to share my personal feelings. They are telling us that what is happening in Ukraine is a war, and not a special military operation. No, it is a special military operation. When there is a war, everything is completely different. We are doing our best to eradicate the threat to our country and its people without anger and hatred, in order to fulfil the long-time request of the people and to liberate them from a man-hating logic that puts their existence into question -their physical existence and their existence as a nation, part of the global civilisation. We are doing this without anger and hatred but resolutely and firmly.

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G20 Concert

On September 12, 2022, the G20 Symphony Orchestra consisting of musicians representing the Group of Twenty countries will play its first concert in Borobudur, Indonesia. This major international event taking place at a unique temple and a UNESCO World Heritage site is part of the programme marking the G20 Culture Ministers’ Meeting. This event demonstrates the unifying force of art versus the destructive role of those who use every opportunity to prevent the humankind from preserving a valuable and important legacy built over thousands of years.

Russia will be represented in the orchestra by violist Antonina Popras and trumpeter Nikolai Loginov. Despite their young age, the musicians have already gained international recognition. The Indonesian presidency in G20, the event organisers, highly praised both the perfectly skilful performance of our orchestra members and the legacy of the Russian musical tradition. The organisers included Piano Concerto No. 4 by Sergei Prokofiev in the concert programme. Those who are doing the exact opposite in the West should take notice. You are cancelling your own legacy because Russia is a European country too and part of European culture, preserving and developing European traditions. While you are cancelling it, Asia is cherishing and praising this culture. Note the difference. This is your answer to the question of who is civilised after all and who is not.

We are certain that the G20 Concert, its repertoire and ensemble is the best evidence of the popularity and importance of Russian culture abroad. Western countries’ outrageous attempts to cancel it and to exclude the works by Russian composers from the repertoires of national theatres and competitions, to unilaterally break off contracts with our famous talents or those who, while not being Russian citizens, do not feel any hatred but feel genuine love towards us, have not succeeded and actually backfired. The international community still admires composers and musicians from Russia, and considers their participation in projects a great honour.

We are confident in the success of this noble initiative by our Indonesian partners and wish all participants from Russia great success.

Along with the Russian Ministry of Culture and interested media outlets, we plan to release a detailed report on this event that will be published on the Foreign Ministry’s website, our social media and in other resources.

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Answers to media questions:

Question: What is the Foreign Ministry’s attitude to the EU decision to suspend the Russia-EU visa facilitation agreement?

Maria Zakharova: We have already issued many comments, but I am willing to speak on this issue again at your request. That decision follows in the wake of the intention to formalise a relevant political decision adopted at an informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers. President Vladimir Putin commented on it yesterday. Explanations have also been provided by the Kremlin’s press service. The Foreign Ministry has made several comments as well, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his address to MGIMO University students on September 1. An expanded comment was posted on the ministry’s website on the same day.

The EU decision to suspend the 2006 Russia-EU visa facilitation agreement is completely unreasonable and runs contrary to the interests of EU countries’ citizens. The absurd statements about the threat Russian tourists allegedly pose to the national security of EU countries camouflage a desire to collectively “punish” our citizens for the patriotism they have expressed over the past few months and their support for the special military operation in Donbass and Ukraine. These statements also mask a wish to mindlessly implement Washington’s orders. The most frenzied enemies of Russia in the EU, primarily the Baltic countries, who are dissatisfied with the suspension of the agreement, have adopted national bans on the entry of Russians.

As a result, the EU continues to seal its cage from the inside and to isolate itself from Russia and the rest of the world, which is complicating business and personal ties between nations in Europe and Eurasia in violation of the principles of the freedom of movement sealed in the fundamental OSCE documents.

Many people wonder if this is a new dividing line, a turnpike or an “iron curtain.” No, of course not. It is an example of insanity, poor judgement and lack of connection with the civilised norms that have been lauded in the West. This is not an “iron curtain” but sealing your own cage from the inside, a cage that is filled with phobias, fears and global unprofessionalism. If Europeans really had the capabilities they are bragging about, they would have used them long ago to prevent the current events in the territory of their charges (Ukraine), and they would have used professionalism, which they lack, to settle their problems. But they don’t have the capabilities, they only have fears.

Like the other illegal unilateral EU restrictions, such measures, contrary to their masterminds’ expectations, are unable to rock the political situation in our country or change its foreign policy. These people are making faces at themselves in the mirror, frightening themselves and thinking that this can frighten others as well. What is frightening is the EU politicians’ mental state and level of intelligence.

We are witnessing the cynicism of the EU, that is, its political establishment, and its arrogant attitude towards the citizens of other countries. Everyone has seen that the EU visa policy is based on the unrealistic precept that visiting EU countries is a “privilege,” according to Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, which can be bought with loyalty and unconditional support for EU policies. This is ridiculous. I would like to say that the real meaning of the freedom of cross-border travel is the possibility of various inter-personal contacts, which culturally enrich all the sides. Interestingly, the EU has for years been enforcing the idea that there must be no political restrictions for people.

For our part, we do not intend to shut the door on EU residents. Russia is an open and truly free country, which respects all nations regardless of the intelligence of their elites. Anyone wishing to visit Russia to witness its unique cultural and civilisational diversity will be able to do this. At the same time, the absolute priority of our response measures to the EU’s unfriendly policy, which are upcoming, will be the interests of our citizens and national security.

This morning I received many questions about the actions of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which have announced that Russian citizens holding Schengen tourist visas, including those issued by other EU countries, will be barred from entering them from September 19. By and large, I have already commented on that statement.

These actions are not surprising, because they reveal the essence of liberalism, which actually amounts to liberal dictatorship, and the Russophobic nature of the political forces standing at the helm in the Baltics and Poland. I would like to mention that if the EU is still making references to some legal procedures, the above four countries are violating all the principles of international law one can think of and even more by adopting unilateral restrictions. There are no legal grounds for that.

I would like to point out that the freedom of movement is guaranteed by a number of international legal documents such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the principles of the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (1975). I would like to hear them tell us, their citizens and the international community that these documents are considered dead in the Baltics and Poland. Do they think that they are not obliged to honour them? We would like to see the full picture.

They have been telling us that their sanctions are not targeting the people of Russia. Aren’t they? They are, directly and indirectly. Proof of this is the decision adopted by the above four countries.

We regard such measures as yet another hostile attack on our country. There will be a response, but it will be in the interests of our country. We will respond in a manner that will benefit our country and our people.

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Question: What is your comment on Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba’s remarks during his online meeting with Central Asian journalists? He told a journalist from Uzbekistan that Russia was to blame for breaking off contacts and obstructing transit of cargoes from Central Asia.

Maria Zakharova: I saw Dmitry Kuleba’s individual statements to the effect that Central Asian countries were “artificial entities.” It’s a Freudian slip. Was he speaking about himself personally or the regime he represents?

An “artificial entity” is the government of Ukraine in early 2014, when an enraged mob of nationalists brought to power a bunch of freaks, with car tires burning in streets, civilians and administrative buildings pelted with Molotov cocktails, police officers roughed up, and city residents threatened with violence. The freaks, in turn, opened the door to foreigners, who had no right, under Ukrainian laws, to hold official positions in the Government of Ukraine. These are what we call “artificial entities,” not countries or peoples, which for years developed as part of integration associations or common states. They had different political systems with elected governments and arrangements encouraging the growth of political forces and formation of governments and branches of power. “Artificial entities” are what I referred to in the context of the Maidan authorities.

Now let us look at Russia’s relations with the countries in the Central Asian region. We have excellent relations! They are not devoid of problems. But it is good, business-like, friendly and allied contacts that make it possible to overcome differences, if they arise. Incidentally, many problems emerge at the instigation of the champions of ideas that are alien to this region, champions like Dmitry Kuleba. The lack of any threats or risks for all of us is reliably guaranteed by the allied and strategic nature of our relations. Unlike Ukraine, Central Asia attaches special importance to the Russian language. Russian has a high status in those countries and local Russian speakers enjoy all rights and freedoms, again as distinct from what was the case in Ukraine for many decades.

We are confident that our colleagues in the region will accurately assess these clearly provocative attempts to drive a wedge in our relations with Central Asian countries. The provocative activities of Ukrainian diplomacy (in this case, “Ukrainian” implies the Kiev regime) are there for all to see. In fact, you can see this from statements made by a person who styles himself as the Ukrainian ambassador in Kazakhstan and from statements coming from Mr Kuleba himself. It is clear that they are eager to use every opportunity for provocations.

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Question: On Monday, September 5, Frederic Belot, the French defence attorney for Russian national Alexander Vinnik accused by the US of money laundering, sent to Reuter’s a copy of the letter allegedly addressed by him directly to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Mr Belot asked the Foreign Ministry to enter into negotiations with the US authorities on exchanging prisoners. According to the defence attorney, Mr Vinnik, who is in ill health, can only be helped through an exchange. Was the foreign minister informed about the letter’s contents or its sheer existence? How can the Foreign Ministry comment on this?

Maria Zakharova: We have been following closely the situation involving our compatriot Alexander Vinnik, yet another, but not the only, victim of US punitive justice. This is already a hallmark of US policies towards citizens of Russia. The Russian Embassy in Washington is in contact with him and his lawyers, providing the necessary consular and legal assistance and no less needed moral support. Russian diplomats behaved in the same way in other countries, where Mr Vinnik was in custody. It must be said that they behave identically in all similar cases involving other Russians.

For all the counts he was charged with in the United States, he may be sentenced to more than 50 years imprisonment, a punishment incommensurate with common sense and clearly designed to break his will and make him plead guilty. Classic punitive tactics.

We will do all we can to support the defence of this Russian citizen’s basic rights during the upcoming kangaroo trial. This is an invariable position of the Foreign Ministry leadership and Sergey Lavrov personally. He keeps tabs on the proceedings. There are relevant instructions in this regard.

I don’t think it necessary to mention any additional details as this could harm the case.

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Question: According to reports, President of Russia Vladimir Putin will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming SCO summit in Samarkand. Is the Foreign Ministry aware of the meeting agenda? What subjects will be discussed? Will there be a part open to the press?

Maria Zakharova: The agenda of summit meetings is the responsibility of the Presidential Executive Office. You have formulated your question cleverly, asking if the Foreign Ministry is aware of the agenda of the President’s meeting with his foreign counterpart. I would like to remind you that the Foreign Ministry is in charge of implementing the presidential foreign policy. As an agency that is responsible for the coordination of foreign policy activities, we also prepare materials for summits and meetings involving Russian representatives (the President and other high-ranking officials) with our foreign partners.

Let me remind you that the heads of Russia and China maintain close contacts. During the pandemic, the leaders of our countries regularly spoke by telephone, and in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited China, where he attended the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, and had lengthy talks with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping. When they meet at such events, the leaders of the two countries usually discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, and compare notes on current issues on the international agenda.

For more details, please contact the Presidential Executive Office.

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Question: On September 5 in Moscow, Foreign Ministers of Russia and Armenia Sergey Lavrov and Alexander Mirzoyan discussed the parameters of the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan. On the whole, in recent days, we have seen an intensification of top-level contacts, including telephone conversations between the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as a personal meeting of the leaders of Russia and Armenia. Does this indicate that Russia has already begun to provide practical mediation services to the parties negotiating a peace agreement? Is a tripartite summit possible in this regard, especially since the second anniversary of the signing of the tripartite statement by the leaders is close?

Maria Zakharova: You have noted correctly that things are now moving non-stop, as you listed the recent meetings. On the other hand, when we talk about Russia’s interaction with Baku and Yerevan to help resolve the crisis you mentioned, I do not believe intensification is the right word to use. In fact, the work on a peaceful post-conflict settlement does not slow down between meetings.

Over the past few years, the intensity of contacts at the highest and high levels, as well as at the level of diplomats, interdepartmental commissions and newly-formed contact mechanisms has proved to be at the same level, if anything. Please do not say it “intensifies” after each meeting. I don’t know how it could become even more intensive. Contacts in various formats take place almost daily.

You mentioned several meetings and conversations. Indeed, there have been plenty of meetings. The parties have always addressed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues and will continue to discuss them. As for the possibility of new top-level meetings, let me remind you again that you should contact the Presidential Executive Office.

Special Representative of the Russian Foreign Minister Igor Khovayev is on a visit to Baku right now to discuss the prospects for concluding a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In the near future, he plans to visit Yerevan with the same mission.

In general, Russia places paramount emphasis on the implementation of the trilateral statements at the highest level of November 9, 2020, January 11 and November 26, 2021, including the unblocking of transport links in the South Caucasus, the delimitation and demarcation of the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, and strengthening of contacts between Baku and Yerevan through civil societies.

We are making consistent efforts at all levels to ensure that these agreements between the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia are fully implemented. This will pave the way to sustainable peace in the South Caucasus, which meets the interests not only of the states in the region, but also of all neighbouring states.

Question: Will a tripartite summit be held?

Maria Zakharova: This is a question for the Presidential Executive Office.

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Question: Visits of high-ranking Russian delegations to Azerbaijan were announced earlier. Will such visits take place and what is their agenda? Are preparations underway for the Interregional Forum?

Maria Zakharova: Again, the President’s meetings are the competence of the Presidential Executive Office. I have already spoken about the current contacts the Foreign Ministry is involved in.

Intensive dialogue is underway at all levels. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak has travelled to Baku to participate in a meeting of the Russian-Azerbaijani-Iranian working group on the development of the North-South International Transport Corridor.

A number of meetings and high-level visits are planned before the end of this year – as a reminder, it marks 30 years of diplomatic relations between Russia and Azerbaijan. These meetings will cover all areas of interaction.

We hope that we will be able to hold the Interregional Forum as well. This well-established format helps Russian regions develop ties with their Azerbaijani partners. The next forum is planned to be held in Baku. For more detailed information, including on the possible dates, I would recommend you contact the Azerbaijani side.

Question: According to earlier information, Mr Mishustin’s and Mr Volodin’s visits are planned to be held before the end of the year.

Maria Zakharova: We will definitely keep you posted.

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Question: The IAEA published a report on the situation at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant following its visit there. What is your assessment of the report? What can be the outcome (is the outcome) of the UN Security Council meeting on this issue?

Maria Zakharova: Comments on that matter have been made by President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and our miliary representatives. The following elements should be taken into account when assessing the statement by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi on the results of the mission he led to the Zaporozhye NPP.

The IAEA mission has visited the NPP despite Ukraine’s active resistance. This alone is a positive fact, which has destroyed the arguments of the Kiev regime and its Western handlers regarding the agency’s inability to fulfil monitoring actions at the plant for a long time. It is a brilliant example of Russia’s constructive and respectful interaction with the IAEA. We are providing all the necessary information, technical assistance and logistics for the exercise of its direct responsibilities. We hope that this visit, as well as the permanent presence of two IAEA inspectors at the plant, will enable the agency to objectively assess the situation at the facility. Russia is ready to provide the necessary assistance for that.

At the same time, the report does not identify those who are responsible for the criminal actions that are undermining nuclear safety and nuclear security at the Zaporozhye NPP. We have expressed our regret and perplexity over that. All the opportunities for drawing the necessary conclusions have been provided. Not only does the IAEA leadership know that it is the Kiev regime that is responsible for the regular shelling of the plant and adjacent territory. This is clear to all the leading Western countries, which are encouraging these dangerous provocations by Zelensky’s regime. Their objective is clear, because intimidation is the ideology of the West and the Kiev regime. They prefer to keep silent about that while covering up for their latest puppet project. This assessment of the situation has been provided clearly and unambiguously by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the UN in New York, Vasily Nebenzya, during a UN Security Council meeting on September 6, 2022. Western countries again chose to express full support for the Kiev regime at this meeting, even though this is illogical. Amid the continued shelling of the plant, a report is published that does not mention the culprit. Western countries pretend not to see who is to blame and continue to support the Kiev regime. Who is to blame? Who is shelling the plant? It’s either the Kiev regime, the Russian military or aliens. Which would you choose? A poltergeist? Who? Someone must be held responsible. Incredibly, political support that is out of touch with reality is being given to one of the sides without saying openly who is threatening the nuclear facility. During that meeting, Western countries insisted on creating a demilitarised zone around the plant, which means withdrawing Russian forces and turning control over the Zaporozhye NPP to Ukraine.

This is where we hold a dramatically different view, because the safety of Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant is a priority for Russia, unlike for those who are ready to sacrifice it to their political aspirations.

We see that the Kiev regime is using the facility for nuclear blackmail and for creating threats, and we remember how this was done in other parts of the world. The West has mastered the method of feints, provocations and false flag crimes to perfection. Speaking about the possibility of turning control of the facility over to Kiev, which is not controlling anything, goes beyond a joke. It would face Europe and the world not just with the malfunction of a nuclear facility but its destruction and a nuclear disaster.

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Question: Regarding the recent excesses by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, have you obtained a transcript of his remarks about Russia? What could be the consequences?

Maria Zakharova: No. We have officially requested it. At first, we were told that his words were mistranslated. We are insisting on obtaining a bilingual transcript of Josep Borrell’s words, and we expect to receive it. We sent a note requesting it to the European External Action Service.

We are not going to let the EU drag out this story. We will take their reaction into account while drafting our further policy in relations with the European Union. They must pluck up the courage to tell us the truth – to do it both in response to our request and publicly. Josep Borrell publishes posts every day, tweeting endlessly. Does he even read them? All this is posted under his name. He must be accountable for his words. So he finds time for more verbal nonsense, but no time to give explanations. It doesn’t work that way. This attitude is for people who do not hold official posts. If a person blogs privately or for an interested audience, their relationship with their audience is up to them. But someone in an official position speaks not on his own behalf, but on behalf of an agency (Josep Borrell speaks on behalf of the entire European Union), so he must repeat what he said and explain what ideas (if any) he tried to convey.

These scandalous statements are proof of the deterioration of the professional and moral standards of EU diplomacy. Responding to that question, Josep Borrell, who is posing as a diplomat, had a chance to distance himself from such language, to hint at his attitude to it, or at the very least, avoid repeating it. He could have shown some respect for the memory of the difficult and tragic period for his continent and his country. Maybe we expect too much of them. Maybe they do not even know what happened to Europe in the 20th century.

It was definitely not a slip or a mindless reproduction of someone else’s words. Accusing Russia of fascism is highly offensive, extremely insolent and an affront to our country and our people, both those who are living today and those who have spared no effort to ensure that their country, and the entire European continent, survived. Our nation paid for the liberation of Europe and the whole world from the Nazis with millions of lives. It was not our fault. Today we continue the cause of our fathers and grandfathers fighting the neo-Nazi followers entrenched in Ukraine and nurtured by their Western handlers. The head of European diplomacy must certainly know this. Well, if he doesn’t, then he’s not a professional.

Don’t try to stifle a scandal by blaming a poor-quality translation. No one will buy it.

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Question: A SCO summit will take place in Samarkand in middle September. This year, the SCO observes the 20th anniversary of adopting its Charter and the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Long-Term Good Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation between its members. The SCO has continued expanding in the past few years. What does Russia expect from the SCO summit and what is the SCO’s role in establishing a multi-polar world order?

Maria Zakharova: I’d like to recall that the SCO political documents, including the Dushanbe Declaration on the 20th Anniversary of the SCO of September 17, 2021, emphasise the common commitment of its members to the creation of a more representative, democratic and fair multi-polar world order based on the universally recognised principles of international law and cultural diversity, with the central coordinating role played by the UN. Discussions at the summit that will take place in Samarkand on September 15-16 are bound to be oriented towards resolving this task.

Importantly the leaders will meet face-to-face after a long pause caused by the pandemic. This will allow them to hold a detailed and open conversation on a broad range of SCO and international issues.

The participants prepared a solid package of documents (about 20 drafts for the time being) for the summit. The leaders plan to record their consolidated positions on the further development of the organisation and urgent global issues in the Samarkand Declaration.

They are also planning to adopt a number of decisions with a view to the future. They are going to sign a memorandum on Iran’s commitments for receiving the status of a SCO member-state. This status will open for Tehran an opportunity to join the SCO’s founding documents and international treaties. The summit is expected to start the procedure for Belarus’s accession to the SCO. Moreover, the memorandums have been prepared that will formalize the status of Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as SCO dialogue partners. The process of granting the status of dialogue partners to Bahrain, Maldives and some other countries will be initiated.

The already big portfolio of economic advances will be replenished with new conceptual and programme documents aimed at developing interconnectedness, effective economic and transport corridors, inter-regional trade, cooperation on smart agriculture and the introduction of agricultural innovations, the use of renewable energy sources, plant quarantines, and promotion of industrial cooperation between business circles.

People-to-people contacts play a big role in the SCO. Additional opportunities for promoting understanding between our nations will open up with the adoption of an intergovernmental agreement on tourism, a memorandum on the museum business and a decision to announce the Indian city of Varanasi the SCO’s tourism and culture capital in 2022-2023.

We are convinced that the results of the forthcoming SCO summit will strengthen the SCO’s role as an important factor in current international relations, expand the venues and geographical areas of practical cooperation in the interests of maintaining reliable security and robust economic growth and deepening cultural and humanitarian ties in Eurasia.

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Question: Leonid Slutsky recently went on record as saying that if Kiev wanted to revive talks, Russia would go along. Dmitry Peskov also said that sooner or later Russia and the West would find themselves at the negotiating table and that Russia was ready to discuss a settlement with President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky, if on its own terms. What, in your opinion, is obstructing the negotiating process? Are peace talks expected shortly? Is Russia making efforts to resume the talks?

Maria Zakharova: Here is just a glimpse of recent history. The negotiating process that started at the Ukrainian initiative shortly after the beginning of our special military operation was soon terminated through Ukraine’s fault. Kiev has failed to respond to our April 15 proposals concerning a draft agreement on settling the conflict in Ukraine.

Since then, Ukrainian politicians at different levels repeatedly declared that they no longer intended to hold talks with Russia. It makes no sense to speculate on the issue of faith in the context of the situation surrounding the Kiev regime. It is necessary to state the facts. They claimed that they were going to continue the war against Ukraine’s population until a “victorious end.” On August 23, President Vladimir Zelensky stated: “We will take back the Crimea, for it is our territory. By any method, just as we decide. We will decide it on our own, without consultations with any other state. At the point where we are now, we are not ready for a ceasefire. We have explained that there will be no Minsk-3, or Minsk-5, or Minsk-7.” He says: “Without consultations with any other state.” But themselves they are trotting around the world asking now for weapons, now for money, now for clothes, food, drink, the lot. But no, sir, in this matter they will consult no one. Who are they trying to cheat? They probably won’t consult anyone, but will anyone from among those who have supplied them with billions of dollars and euros, as well as heaps of weapons, ask them at all?

Another thing. Zelensky says: “At the point where the Kiev regime is now.” I think it is high time the President of Ukraine said in his next address at what point they are now. Let it be rude, but honest.

Our country certainly prioritises peaceful political and diplomatic methods. This is not an end in itself but a methodology. To reach a positive result at the negotiating table, it is necessary that a sense of responsibility prevail not only on the part of our country (and it is certainly characteristic of it) but also the opposite party. Should we perhaps start acting the way we must and assess the Kiev regime’s competency in terms of whether it can be party to serious business? But they are not competent, and this is the main problem. There were always questions about the authorities that had entrenched themselves at Bankovaya Street in Kiev after the 2014 coup. We tolerated them and attempted to be on our best behavior, recognising the regime, holding talks with it, and constantly persuading it to do this or that. But today, with these statements on the table, we should gauge how competent they are. As far as the Kiev regime is concerned, we cannot speak about any sovereignty or independent decision-making. It should certainly be taken into consideration that the Anglo-Saxons, who control the Kiev regime, are keen on continuing the conflict at any price and are doing whatever they can to have their way.

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Question: The Victory Dictation has just been held. What do you think of the event and its results?

Maria Zakharova: The international patriotic action Victory Dictation was held for the fourth time on September 3 with the support of the Russian Historical Society, Russian Military-Historical Society, Volunteers of Victory, the Presidential Grants Fund and the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation in 45 countries at almost 19,000 sites. Tens of thousands of participants took part, writing the Dictation not only in Russian, but also in Moldovan, Kazakh, English, German, French, Spanish and even Chinese and Mongolian. This year Bangladesh and Mexico participated in the event for the first time.

In Armenia about 200 people from five cities – Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Ijevan and Kapan – participated in the campaign. Belarus arranged about 80 venues. These included universities, schools, museums and libraries. For example, one of the rural schools of the Yatskovichi village in the Brest Region joined the project this year. The geography is expanding to match the sincere desire to take part in the project.

Kyrgyzstan conducted the dictation at 19 sites: in Bishkek, Osh, Jalal-Abad, Cholpon-Ata, Kant, Naryn and other cities. The Russian House in Bishkek was the centrepiece.

More than 200 people wrote the Victory Dictation in Tajikistan. Among them were our compatriots, schoolchildren, juniors, Volunteers of Victory and Russian servicemen from the 201st Russian military base.

The annual Victory Dictation also started at the Russian House in Paris on the day of the end of the Second World War. It was written in French as well in the year of the 80th anniversary of the legendary Normandie-Niemen Fighter Squadron. It was broadcasted online for remote participants. Pierre Baccarat, researcher and co-founder of the association and the High Flight war memorial project, presented a web portal with a collection of audio-visual materials. The project contains personal recollections of the Second World War participants.

The dictation also took place at Russian Houses in Vietnam, India, China, Cyprus, Lebanon, Mongolia, Serbia and other countries.

The results will be published in October 2022. The winners will receive tickets for the Victory Parade in Red Square on May 9, 2023.

The Victory Dictation helps affirm the values of peace and justice, fosters a respectful attitude towards the unifying legacy of the Great Victory and allows us to tell people the truth. We hope that every year the campaign will expand geographically, with more interest and in more languages. The fact of conducting the Victory Dictation will be perceived as a duty of remembrance to those to whom we owe our lives.

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Question: Children of our compatriots living abroad are usually bilingual, fluent in at least two languages. You, as we have seen many times, are fluent in both English and Chinese. What languages would you recommend to the children of your countrymen to learn?

Maria Zakharova: I would like to point out that a similar question was answered by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when he spoke to students and lecturers at MGIMO University on September 1 about what topical languages (of course, he spoke in the context of foreign policy and diplomacy) we should study.

Your question is a bit broader than that. It all depends on the situation, on the circumstances, on what country this family is in and on the plans, what kind of future they are planning for themselves and anticipate for their children.

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John Pike