Volltext gemäß der Veröffentlichung des russ. Außenministeriums, maschinelle Übersetzung.
Zur Ergänzung empfehle ich bedingt den Artikel Ukraine and the battle for Eurasia (A-Times). Die Bedingung: Es wäre zu klären, wie es zugeht, daß im Zeitalter des Spätimperialismus, genauer des Imperiumszerfalls, eine hoch ideologisierte Militärdoktrin eine breite Revitalisierung erfahren hat, die aus der Epoche des Zerfalls des britischen Empire stammt und deren Ideologie sich aus der Epoche der kontinentaleuropäischen Nationenbildung hundert Jahre zuvor nährt, den napoleonischen Kriegen. „Neokolonialismus“ ist ein Etikett, das nicht gut passt, und soweit es passt, nichts klärt!
Lavrow kommt nach langatmigen, deshalb freilich alles andere, als uninteressanten Rechtfertigungserklärungen am Ende zu sprechenden Details der ukrainischen Verhandlungssimulation und der Weise, wie die RF damit zu verfahren gedenkt.
Mögliche weitere Anmerkungen werde ich separat stellen.
Question: Thank you for agreeing to talk despite being incredibly busy.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Thank you for the invitation. If the game is big, you have to play it.
Question: The game is big, the stakes are big. I am sure that much that is said in Washington will not fit into your idea of beauty and reality. But I think you will agree with one statement by President George Biden – it is important to avoid a third world war. The danger must be kept in mind.
Well-known to you, the leading American political scientist at Harvard (former Deputy Minister of Defense) G. Ellison says that in terms of the level of danger, the current situation is not inferior to the Caribbean crisis of 1962. Maybe even more dangerous, because. less clear „rules of the game“ and more mutual distrust. What do you think about the level of crisis we are facing today? How realistic is this? What can and will Russia do?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Russia is already doing a lot. For many years, even under the D. Trump Administration, Moscow and Washington had been advocating that at the highest level Moscow and Washington should confirm the statement of M. S. Gorbachev and R. Reagan in 1987 that there can be no winners in a nuclear war. It should never be untied.
We urged Trump’s team to reproduce this important statement for our peoples and the whole world. Unfortunately, it was not possible to prove to colleagues the necessity of such a step. We reached an agreement with the Administration of George Biden quickly. In June 2021, during the summit in Geneva, our presidents made a statement.
In January of this year. Another initiative in this direction has been implemented. In connection with the planned start of the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council adopted a statement of the same content. All five leaders signed under the statement of the inadmissibility of nuclear war. This is our principled position. We start from it. Now the risks are very significant. I don’t want them artificially inflated. There are many who wish. The danger is serious, real. She cannot be underestimated.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis there were not many „written“ rules. But the rules of conduct were clear enough. Moscow understood how Washington was behaving. Washington understood how Moscow was behaving.
Now there are few rules left. There is the Treaty on the Reduction of Strategic Offensive Arms (START-3). It is good and wise that this was George Biden’s first foreign policy decision to support Russia’s proposal to extend the Treaty for another five years without any conditions. The Trump administration rejected this formula.
At the same time, the rest of the instruments of arms control and non-proliferation have been practically destroyed. There is no treaty on the limitation of anti-missile defense systems, on the elimination of intermediate and shorter-range missiles (INF Treaty). Our proposal for a mutual moratorium is being rejected. Although we accompanied it with the need to agree on verification mechanisms. The main objection of the West is that they „do not trust“ that the Iskander in Kaliningrad does not violate the parameters enshrined in the INF Treaty. On the basis of reciprocity, they were invited to come to Kaliningrad and us to visit the US missile defense bases in Poland and Romania . Honest offer. It is still being rejected. The open skies treaty also „sank into oblivion“. It no longer exists.
START III is the only instrument of arms control left. We were ready and started a conversation with the Americans about what would happen in five years (now four years) – after the expiration of this treaty, because. everyone assumes that this is an extreme extension. Two rounds of negotiations, held in July and September 2021, were useful. Then we had working contacts. They made it clear that we have serious differences that are clear to us and the Americans. We agreed on the creation of two working groups. They should define the subject matter of the treaty and specific threats to be considered in further negotiations.
The United States refused almost all contacts due to the fact that we were forced to defend the Russians in Ukraine. They were bombed for eight years without any reaction from the West, which only encouraged the Russophobic and neo-Nazi actions of the Kyiv regime. There, the Russian language was legally banned everywhere (in education, the media, everyday life) and neo-Nazi theories and practices were encouraged.
Back to talking about rules. Rules is a buzzword the US and its allies use when they are required to behave “nicely”. They no longer insist on the implementation of international law, but on respect for the „world order based on rules.“ These „rules“ are not deciphered in any way.
They say that now there are few rules. For us, they don’t exist at all. There is international law. We respect him, as well as the UN Charter. The key provision, the main principle is the sovereign equality of states. The US is flagrantly violating its obligations under the UN Charter when it promotes its „rules“. They demand from the whole world blindly, step by step, to follow them and the already „built“ allies (primarily from Europe and some Asian countries). They do not fulfill the obligation to respect the sovereign equality of states. In fact, this equality is blatantly violated, forcing everyone to follow their own “rules”.
These „rules“ were well formulated by US Treasury Secretary J. Yellen. She spoke on a different occasion, but the meaning does not change from this. She spoke about the idea of starting a reform of the Bretton Woods institutions. Being not bound by foreign policy conventions, she clearly emphasized that this reform should by no means lead to the formation of a bipolar world. Like, the United States should actively work with China so that Beijing learns this. Can’t be more clear. They need a unipolar world, as they see it now. All reforms should be exclusively within the framework of the philosophy of a unipolar world.
Even under the administration of D. Trump, the United States spoke in favor of reforming the WTO. As it turned out, on the platforms created by the Americans within the framework of globalization and the rules laid down by them in the WTO, China beat them and continues to beat them. It is not for nothing that Washington has blocked the work of the dispute resolution body in the WTO, to which China has already sent more than a dozen complaints. Using procedural tricks, the Americans are blocking the filling of vacancies in this body. It doesn’t have a quorum, so it’s not running.
When it came to the reform of the WTO, Washington made a statement that it should be implemented by the United States and Europe, „keeping out“ China. It is so unprofessional to give out one’s plans – one of the modern features of the behavior of our Western colleagues, who are not ashamed of anything. They openly declare that they will be in charge, that NATO has every right to do what it wants. They can say: NATO is a defensive alliance, so “no need to be afraid”, “this organization does not threaten anyone’s security”. Immediately, Secretary General John Stoltenberg can declare that NATO bears a global responsibility for security throughout the world, including in the Indo-Pacific region.
Also, from the Berlin Wall, after the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, they moved the “defense line” five times (since they are a defensive alliance) to our borders and declared that we “were not afraid”, since this means nothing for our security. Rather impolitely, they made it clear that we would not decide what was needed for our security.
Now they will move the „defense line“ of their „defensive“ alliance to the South China Sea. Everything is connected with the creation of AUKUS, QUAD, the pulling into AUKUS of Japan , Korea , half of the ASEAN countries. They are trying to split the entire architecture that has been taking shape for many decades and based on consensus, the participation of all the main, major players, including the USA, Russia, India , Japan , China, Australia . This is now also subject to change in line with unipolarity, which they are trying to save by hook or by crook.
Everyone „makes spells“ that in no case should a third world war be allowed. It is in this context that the constant provocations of the President of Ukraine V.A. Zelensky and his team should be considered. They almost demand the introduction of NATO troops in order to protect the Ukrainian authorities. But everyone always says that they will give Kyiv weapons. This also adds fuel to the fire. They want to force the Ukrainians to fight with Russia to the last soldier with these arms deliveries, if only this conflict dragged on longer, so that Russia, they hope, would suffer more and more from it.
By supplying weapons and promoting their efforts in this direction, all leaders (except Poland) declare that the issue of sending NATO troops is excluded. Warsaw, through the mouth of Prime Minister M.Ya.Morawiecki, proposed a kind of „peacekeeping operation“ in Ukraine, clearly being interested in sending its troops there under peacekeeping flags. Then we can imagine how the historical reminiscence of the Poles, who found themselves on their former territory – in the west of Ukraine, will manifest itself.
How are we supposed to behave? Can this be compared to the Caribbean Crisis? In those years, there was a channel of communication that both leaders trusted. Now there is no such channel. Nobody is trying to create it. Separate timid attempts made at an early stage did not give much result. Desperate to get through to NATO all these years. Contrary to promises, it expanded, contrary to our warnings, they pumped weapons into Ukraine and in every possible way encouraged its Russophobic essence (the regime that was established under P.A. Poroshenko and strengthened under V.A. Zelensky). We warned against drawing Ukraine into NATO. As a last attempt or a gesture of goodwill, the Americans and NATO members were offered to conclude appropriate security treaties that would ensure the security of all states in the Euro-Atlantic area, including Ukraine. Everyone understood that Ukraine is an “apple of discord”, which revealed a much more global problem and became a trigger in these processes. They proposed concluding an agreement with the United States and NATO on how we would provide guarantees for all countries jointly, collectively, without expanding any military-political blocs.
They were politely listened to. We were further told that they were failing to limit NATO expansion. This, they say, will be contrary to the principle of „open doors“. We reviewed the Charter of the North Atlantic Alliance. There, Article 10 does not talk about “open doors”, but about the fact that NATO can invite new members by consensus if they meet the criteria (apparently, democratic control) and, most importantly, if the new members contribute to strengthening the security of countries – members of NATO. There is no question of any “open doors” here. They took Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania. How can they strengthen the security of the North Atlantic alliance if it is „defensive“? This shows that the expansion of NATO has nothing to do with the fulfillment of its statutory goals. This is the development of territories under American command in line with the strengthening and attempts to perpetuate that same unipolar world. Negotiations were held between the delegations of Russia and the United States. I met with E. Blinken. Our team went to the North Atlantic Alliance, where they presented the treaty in the Russia-NATO context. The talks showed that none of them showed a desire to take into account our legitimate security interests.
We told them: „Dear friends, this is right on our borders.“ Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly and publicly stated that they have already come directly to the “threshold”, despite all our requests, statements, and warnings. They just approached and they are not going to change anything. They say that this is not against us, that nothing threatens our security. How can this be assessed? Now they are actively „courting“ India. They want to involve her in their formats in every possible way. British Prime Minister B. Johnson traveled, before that there were American delegates. First Deputy Secretary of State W. Sherman publicly (all this is done without any hesitation) stated: the United States must „help“ India understand what is necessary to ensure its security. This is not said to some tiny island country, but to a great civilization. About the same they say to China, they say,
At the same time, when the United States suddenly decides that a threat to their interests arises from more than ten thousand kilometers, whether in the former Yugoslavia, in Iraq , or somewhere else in the Middle East, without hesitation, without any legal torment and attempts to look into international law and the UN Charter, send troops, bomb civilian targets. As it was in Belgrade: bridges, passenger trains, television center. Former British Prime Minister T. Blair said that „this is not a television center, but an organ of aggressive Serbian propaganda.“ Approximately the same now, the President of France, E. Macron, does not give accreditation to the RT TV channel and Sputnik to the Elysee Palace, calling them not the media, but “propaganda tools”.
These mannerisms, habits and habits are deeply seated. They razed Iraqi Mosul and Syrian Raqqa to the ground. Dead bodies lay there for weeks. This is all across the ocean – a threat to the security of the United States of America. In Kosovo, they created the largest military base in the Balkans (maybe not only in the Balkans). No one is going to take her out. The „reason“ was the „instability“, which, allegedly, S. Milosevic escalated in this region, oppressing the Kosovo Albanians. Let me emphasize once again: they consider themselves entitled to ensure their security wherever they please, while we are denied the right to defend our own borders and territories where Russians live, who have been oppressed for many years, subjected to bombing, bullying, infringing on their rights to language, culture, traditions.
That’s the problem: irreparable confidence in their own rightness and exclusivity. There is such a term – „exceptional nation“, which both Democrats and Republicans use the same way. A sense of superiority brings back some memories, especially now that Russophobia and real racism towards everything Russian is being cultivated at the highest level. The Prime Minister of Canada, D. Trudeau, recently stated: „Vladimir Putin and all those who support him must be punished.“ He added that „not only Russia, but all Russians will pay for what is happening.“
Question: I think that what you said would not even be denied in the Washington administration. They would have worded it a little differently. They would ask: You, Mr. Minister, will not seriously insist that authoritarian countries should have the same rights as democratic ones?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I will.
Question: Since you will (and this seems unacceptable to them), this is one of the main conceptual differences between Moscow and Washington. You are being told that NATO is a strictly defensive alliance and Russia has nothing to fear. But they mean (you are not stupid and not naive) that this applies to the situation when you behave “correctly”.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I understand this very well.
Question: If a country starts behaving incorrectly in terms of the „union of democracies“ that is called NATO, then depending on what this country does, it may run into unpleasant consequences. It seems to me that NATO does not hide this in any way.
In view of the dangers you spoke about and the serious difference in approaches to international relations (in general, to what modern civilization is), what should be done about the crisis around Ukraine? Are there any prospects for negotiations on a peaceful settlement in Ukraine today in the conditions of an acute conflict there, a large difference in positions and mutual distrust between Russia and NATO led by the United States?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The United States, like all other countries that boast of being flawless democracies, signed and ratified the UN Charter, where the key principle is the sovereign equality of states. It does not say that democracies should have more rights, and autocracies, dictatorships, monarchies – less. It is not said that there is any difference in terms of the rights that members of the UN have.
Yes, there is the Security Council, this is a somewhat special article. We all know why F. Roosevelt insisted on the creation of a Security Council with five permanent members with veto power: he did not want the UN to repeat the fate of the League of Nations. If it weren’t for the institution that was initiated by F. Roosevelt, the UN would probably have „sunk into oblivion“ long ago, just like the League of Nations. When the great powers are unable to use their prerogatives and negotiate among themselves, nothing good comes of it. The right of veto forces to negotiate, at least for many years forced.
Now the Americans and other Western countries are trying to devalue the right of veto. They want to transfer the prerogative of the Security Council to the UN General Assembly. There they can, by „hand-twisting“, blackmail, up to threats that concern the bank accounts of the delegations, the places of education of their children, get a tortured, forcibly achieved majority. This is a dangerous trend. Therefore, the Security Council with its „five“ and the right of veto is the last „island“ of international law. Everything else is being replaced.
It is not for nothing that US President John Biden held a “summit of democracies” at the end of 2021. They plan to hold a second one this year and create an organization that will unequivocally function as an „anti-UN“ (or a replacement for the UN).
The trend is not new. For several years now, the West has been “bearing” (primarily in Europe, the French and Germans are active in this direction) various platforms, appeals, partnerships on topics that are already being considered by the UN. For example: partnership on international humanitarian law. It is limited in composition, not everyone is taken there. When asked why they do not want to consider these issues in a universal format (there is the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights), they answer that there are many “retrogrades” there. In the UN, they say, there are autocracies, insufficiently democratized countries, and they need to develop ideas that will be progressive. The Germans and the French created in the same vein the „Alliance of Democracies“, the „Alliance of Multilateralists“, that is, „multilateralists“.
When asked why they forgot about the UN, which is the highest embodiment of multilateralism, where all the states of the world are represented (with some exceptions of unrecognized ones), the answer is again the same: these are organizations where it is necessary to “work” those who oppose multilateralism, and they need „vanguard of multilateralists“. They will, following the model of the EU approach to “multilateral cooperation”, build like-minded people around themselves. Again, a sense of superiority and, at the same time, even unwillingness to discuss important things in formats where they will object and oppose something. Do not want. Because for a long time, and they need to quickly implement their neoliberal reforms. Plus, I think, they feel that they will not have enough arguments in a fair polemical battle if arguments are presented from both sides.
Look at the list of invitees to the „summit of democracies“. There are countries there that the US has never considered democratic. They have had many complaints about what Washington means by democracy, but have been included in the „union of democratic countries“ only because the United States wants to use their strategic position to their advantage. They want to fit them under this „democratic umbrella“ to fit, thereby flatter and continue to use for themselves.
We use the terms „democracy“, „autocracy“, „authoritarian state“. More recently, American political scientists have begun to speak of India not as the world’s largest democracy, but as what they call an „electoral autocracy.“ I told my Indian friends about it. They smiled, they know about it. There are many methods to try to keep this or that country in suspense.
About negotiations on Ukraine. We know for sure that neither the US nor the UK (which is trying in every possible way to compensate for its current lonely status after leaving the European Union with its indefatigable activity) advise V.A. Zelensky not to speed up the negotiations, but to toughen his position each time. We observed this after the meeting in Istanbul, where, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said in his interviews and conversations with colleagues, for the first time we received proposals from them “on paper” with the signatures of the leaders of their delegation. Were ready to take them as a basis. They, of course, required revision in order to become consensus, but were positively regarded by us. So far, the only written proposals have been submitted in Istanbul. They were not in the form of a contract, but in the form of outlines. We promptly shifted these theses to the „contractual genre“ and handed over the project to our Ukrainian colleagues. Then they presented us with their counter-ideas, which were radically different from what was done in Istanbul. Huge step back. Leninist. This step (or even two) back was taken on the advice of our American or British colleagues. Maybe the Poles and the Balts played some role here.
Question: So Ukraine has toughened its position?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: They have won back from the positions that the Russian side was ready to take as a basis. We have prepared a document. He „unwrapped“ their sentences into contractual language. Kyiv representatives said: „It’s not like that.“ „We won’t write it down.“ „That’s for later.“ Nevertheless, after that we continued to participate in discussions via video link, and argued our position. A week ago, after another videoconference, we gave them an updated version of the contract, which already took into account their subsequent comments. As it usually happens. We are waiting for a week.
V. A. Zelensky was asked at a press conference how he views our proposals. He said he received nothing and saw nothing. We asked the Ukrainian negotiators whether they reported to the president. They referred to the lack of time for V. A. Zelensky. This shows how the President of Ukraine himself relates to the negotiations, pathetically declaring that he „prefers peace.“
Question:In preparation for the interview with you, I spoke with representatives of the Administration in Washington. They deny that they are guiding Kyiv to drag out negotiations. They say the opposite: they say that they see their task in providing support to President V.A. Zelensky, and the position of Kyiv in negotiations with Russia is the position of the President of Ukraine, and not the United States. The main thing that interests me now is the growing American military assistance to the government of V. A. Zelensky. It seems to me that in Washington they are afraid of the President of Ukraine (my personal assessment). He managed to position himself uniquely – as the leader of a country that is a „victim of aggression“ from a stronger state and, at the same time, as a person who personally demonstrates a desire to support democracy throughout the world. In Washington they say that V.A.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Let me disagree. They already say differently: „V.A. Zelensky must defeat V.V. Putin.“ British Prime Minister B. Johnson declares that „Russia must be defeated.“ High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy J. Borrell says that victory must be achieved „on the battlefield.“ It is not “embarrassing” for them that they themselves do not send soldiers. Not that they want to support the newly minted „hero“. V. A. Zelensky is portrayed as a “beacon of democracy”, but in fact he is promoting a ban on everything Russian and the foundations for strengthening neo-Nazism and Nazi theory and practice in his state at the legislative level.
But it’s not about that. They want to do their best to make sure that suddenly V.A. Zelensky manages to inflict some irreparable damage on Russia and defeat them “on the battlefield” (although sensible people understand the situation). Then the Russians will have to ask for mercy and agree to much less favorable terms than they expected. There are such speculations.
Question: As for mercy, these are more „commentators“ in Congress, and not in the White House.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks practically the same language.
Q: Boris Johnson is a special case.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I agree with that. But V.A.Zelensky is also a special case. They are somewhat similar: the ability to work „for the public“, the ability to imitate. For example, they imitate negotiations. Vladimir Zelensky was given a week to get acquainted with our proposals. Today I am reading the speech of the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, R. A. Stefanchuk. He said that as a result of this crisis, Ukraine will not remove from its constitution the provision on the intention to join NATO. What is it like? All negotiations discuss the neutral, non-bloc status of Kyiv, coupled with security guarantees that will apply to a certain territory. V. A. Zelensky publicly says that they are ready for a non-bloc and non-nuclear status, and the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada declares that nothing will be removed from the constitution: as they went to NATO, they will continue.
What the West perceives as a talented presentation by the President of Ukraine of his interests and approaches is a specific thing. He is a good actor, but sometimes funny things happen to him that show what state he is in. If you look closely and read the essence of what he says, you will find a thousand contradictions. Moreover, he can contradict himself in a day on the third, declaring something, then refusing, then again returning to the declared position. This is true.
You have the feeling that the Washington administration has formed an image of a man who subjugated almost the entire Western democratic world and became the embodiment, the symbol of democracy. I repeat once again: where were all our Western colleagues when this democracy banned everything Russian (speech, education, mass media), destroyed the temples of the Russian Orthodox Church? Just like Bandera, Shukhevych, led by the Ukrainian insurgent army, serving Hitler (Galicia Division, Waffen SS), destroyed Polish churches and declared that they would destroy everything Polish and kill all Poles. Now even the Poles are trying to keep quiet about this. The Volyn massacre was removed from textbooks in schools, although at that time the Ukrainian rebel army of Shukhevych and Bandera declared their goal the destruction of the Poles in much the same way
Question: Let’s digress from the intentions of the Washington administration and talk about business. I don’t know how to characterize it: the unprecedented, unexpected (at least for me) scale of American military assistance to the government of V. A. Zelensky. Two weeks ago – 800 million dollars. A week ago – another 800. Now the Secretary of State and the Minister of Defense visited Kyiv – another 700.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: This is not only for Ukraine, but also for some other Eastern European countries. Kyiv „unfastened“ about half of this.
Question: Fair. The question arises: what will this lead to? I especially want to hear not your assessment of these actions (although it is also very important), but what will Russia do about this? Or does Moscow believe that they are trying in Washington, but this will not lead to serious changes in the balance of power?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I have read several anonymous statements by the active US military to the question of what happens to these weapons when they cross the Ukrainian border, where they will find their final destination. They said: „We have no information about where all these weapons go.“
In addition to tanks, armored personnel carriers, portable anti-aircraft missile systems and terrorist weapons are supplied by the thousands. It is not for nothing that for many years we had an agreement with the Americans on mutual informing about any deliveries of MANPADS abroad. This allowed them to understand that we were not handing over the most dangerous weapons to the wrong hands, and to us that they, too, would not make such missteps, imprudent actions. The Javelin is also a portable missile. It was probably invented for tanks, but it can also be used for terrorist attacks. Where will it all go? I emphasize: this is in thousands and thousands of units.
Previous experience shows that from Ukraine (as from any other poorly controlled country), where the neo-Nazi battalions „Azov“, „Aidar“ and other units that are not subordinate to the supreme commander (and flaunt this), occupy a special, autonomous, untouchable place in the armed forces, these weapons will spread, incl. to the countries from where it now comes to Ukraine. There, too, there are groups of people, especially in the context of a wave of migration, who will not mind „putting their hand“ on such an opportunity. The US military doesn’t know where it’s all going to end up. Maybe they know something, something they don’t. What will the Russian Federation do? When the Turks sold Bayraktars to Ukraine long ago, they were used for many years to conduct reconnaissance in the Donbass, to help bomb this region with the artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements.
The latter were publicly buried by V.A. Zelensky. He refused to comply with them, as well as the decision of the Normandy summit in Paris in December 2019. Although there was nothing about Luhansk, Donetsk, or Russia. Only he had to adopt a law on the special status of Donbass. That’s all he had to do. He! No one else depended on it. He signed up for it. Then for three years he lamented that Russia was not fulfilling the Minsk agreements. This is KVN. Imitation of negotiations on the implementation of a set of measures. Now – an imitation of negotiations to conclude agreements with the Russian Federation. Just like the imitation of democracy. The abolition of democracy, culture and the dictatorship of the radicals.
These weapons will be a legitimate target for the Russian Armed Forces, which are operating as part of a special operation. Warehouses, incl. in the west of Ukraine, have become such a target more than once. How else? NATO is essentially going to war with Russia through a proxy and arming that proxy. „In war as in war.“
About the supply of weapons. There is another example of the unscrupulousness of the Americans with regard to international law and the implementation of their own rules on the principle of „as I want, so I turn.“ The United States had about two dozen Soviet-Russian Mi-17 helicopters. In the „better years“ (still within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council), we had an all-encompassing project for cooperation in the interests of the Afghan settlement. That’s what it was called – „helicopter package“. We supplied helicopters. They paid for them. We provided maintenance for these helicopters and they were sent to the Afghan security forces. Now Washington has loudly announced that it is handing them over to V.A. Zelensky. We drew their attention to the fact that the helicopters were purchased on the basis of a contract with Rosoboronexport. It is written there, that they are supplied exclusively for the needs of the security service of Afghanistan and any transfer to a third party is not allowed without the consent of the Russian Federation. The obligation not to transfer to a third party is enshrined in „end user certification letters“. They were first signed until 2013, when this “helicopter package” was in effect, by H. Clinton as Secretary of State, and then by John Kerry. Therefore, sending these helicopters to Ukraine is a direct violation of obligations in a very important area of international relations.
Question: Do I understand correctly that with the current level of Russian-American relations and confrontation in Ukraine, the chances for a diplomatic settlement will appear when there is some greater clarity about the military dynamics in Ukraine? That at this stage we are talking about the armed forces, about the dynamics of military confrontation in the course of a special operation, which can make progress in diplomacy and open up some new opportunities or, on the contrary, close them.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Everything does not depend on us, but on those who lead Ukraine and exercise external control over the Zelensky administration. I mentioned Istanbul. At that face-to-face meeting, the Russian side for the first time received “on paper” what the Ukrainians offered. We were ready to accept this as a basis, we gave our clarifications, but conceptually agreed with what was proposed there: a neutral status, security guarantees, their volume and the procedure for providing them. Yes, if it’s really rude. They moved away from this concept.
I won’t give away big secrets, but here’s one example. The Istanbul document said that there would be no foreign military bases in Ukraine, no exercises would be held with the participation of foreign armed forces, except with the consent of all the guarantor countries of this treaty, including Russia. It was written directly. In the version that they gave us after our positive reaction, it was: no exercises, except with the consent of the majority of the guarantor countries. There is a difference? Obviously. This is how they acted on a number of other proposals that they made in Istanbul. Let me emphasize once again that these proposals were generally received positively.
Speaking about where and when we can expect the completion of the process of negotiating the agreement, we must keep in mind that in Istanbul the conversation was in the situation that then developed “on the ground”. Now she is different. We have a feeling that the West wants Ukraine to continue to fight and, as it seems to them, wear out, wear down the Russian army and the Russian military-industrial complex. This is an illusion.
Are you probably the last Sovietologist left?
Question: No, there are several more, even within the Administration. But the political dynamics in Washington are not on their side.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Yes, this is the old guard. As my American friends told me, back in the 1990s, when the Soviet Union disappeared, Sovietology somehow ceased to interest me. People understood that this would not be a very promising profession. Just like in the Middle East at some stage.
As for the connection between the situation “on the ground” and the outlines of a hypothetical or, say, eventual peace settlement. Such a connection exists. As we emphasized from the very beginning in the statement made by Vladimir Putin announcing the special operation, we, first of all, want the Ukrainian people to be able to decide for themselves how to live on.
Question: If I understand you correctly, Russia will pursue its own line and is not yet ready to back down from the demands that it put forward at the beginning of the special operation. Will Moscow do what it considers necessary in terms of military operations?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Absolutely. What we consider necessary was announced by Russian President V.V. Putin: the destruction of military infrastructure in the context of the demilitarization of the country, from which they made a direct threat to Russia, in the words of President V.V. Putin , “anti-Russia”. With the strictest measures in order to minimize any damage to the civilian population.
We will expose the fakes that are now multiplying after Bucha. They are trying to present the situation at Azovstal as created by Russia. Allegedly, Moscow forbids civilians from leaving. They lie “left and right”, including that we do not open humanitarian corridors, although this is loudly announced daily, buses and ambulances are being driven. The Ukrainian side, holding the civilian population as a „human shield“ not only in Mariupol, but also in other parts of the country where hostilities are taking place, our operation is being carried out, either does not notify people, or forbids them to leave, forcibly detains them. Those who manage to get out on their own tell how they are treated by the servicemen of the Azov Battalion and other “territorial organizations”.
As in any situation where armed forces are used, everything will end with a treaty. But its parameters will be determined by the stage of hostilities at which this treaty becomes a reality.
Question: It was a very interesting and important conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. You are a master of diplomacy. It seems to me that you have shown an iron-clad readiness to do what Russia sees fit, and you do not close the door to diplomatic negotiations. You even said that the initial Ukrainian positions seemed interesting and could be used for some kind of agreement. This is a rather difficult position. Did I word it wrong?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Correct. But, you know, good will is not unlimited. If it is not reciprocated, then this does not contribute to the negotiation process. As before, many of us are convinced (I have already mentioned this) that the real position of Ukraine is determined in Washington, London and other Western capitals. Our political scientists say: „What do we need to talk with V.A. Zelensky, we need to talk with the Americans, negotiate with them and reach some kind of agreement.“ We still continue to negotiate with the team nominated by V.A. Zelensky.
As for the Americans. It would be useful, but we do not observe any manifestations of interest on their part regarding contacts on Ukraine or on other issues.