Will Turkey decide on a full-scale invasion of Syria? Will the civil war in this country develop into an even more dangerous conflict – a full-scale direct military clash of various foreign states, including Russia? Is there a real way to make Ukraine begin to comply with the Minsk agreements? How long will the “sanction war” between Russia and the West last? These are just some of the questions that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded to during his exclusive interview with MK.
– Sergei Viktorovich, has not the Russian economy become hostage to an active Russian foreign policy?
“I do not think so.” At least, my modest knowledge in this area allows to conclude that there are different cycles in the world economy, to which we are open and part of which, despite the incompleteness of our reforms, we are. Therefore, we experience this on ourselves. Of course, I believe that it is extremely important for us to take more effective steps ourselves, which are aimed at structural change in our economy. This has long been said by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was also mentioned by the Government of the Russian Federation. Perhaps now life will make these structural reforms in the economy come to an end in order to make the irreversible tendency to weaken dependence on oil and gas revenues.
I repeat, an active foreign policy is a difficult question. Many people say that foreign policy should, first of all, help to ensure that people live well, eat, receive medical care. I fully agree with this. But our people still have a sense of identity, as they say, of belonging to the millennial history of the formation of the state, of our ethnic groups as a single nation and a sense of national pride. Do you remember what discussion was conducted around absolutely unacceptable statements or assumptions made in the air of one media about why the Leningrad blockade was needed, why it was necessary to resist so long and lose hundreds of thousands of lives instead of simply surrendering, and Further – we’ll see. Maybe this is an extreme example, too radical. But this is a question. Either you say that you want a piece of bread with sausage and jam with tea, so “well, it, Crimea, do not care about what is happening there with the Russians, that a coup took place.” Or you choose a different path.
At the same time, I repeat that I will never advocate forgetting about economic interests, the need to create the most favorable conditions for our economic development and growth. A country like Russia can not “swing like a weathervane” depending on what the “strongmen of this world” want, which proceed from the fact that they decide the destinies of all countries and people on the planet.
– A wonderful Russian Orientalist Vitaly Naumkin told me the other day that he sees three main scenarios for the development of the situation in Syria: a compromise in the Geneva talks, a military victory for government troops and a big war with direct participation of various foreign states. Do you agree with such an assessment? And if so, which scenario seems most likely to you?
“I agree, because it’s all on the surface.” If negotiations fail or even if they are not allowed to begin, then probably, the rate on power decisions is made. About this “in the forehead” say some countries that are guided, as I understand it, almost personal hatred personally to Bashar Assad.
We and the United States were ready and actively offered during the Vienna meetings of the International Support Group of Syria to record in the documents, and then in the UN Security Council resolution, a very simple phrase – the Syrian crisis does not have a military solution. The United States, Russia and Europeans supported this phrase. However, some American allies from the region categorically blocked this idea. So this is quite real. Now we hear statements that there are plans to send ground forces.
Saudi Arabia stated that in order to combat IGIL, it does not exclude the involvement of the forces of the so-called “Islamic Anti-Terrorist Coalition” created by them. Some other countries have begun to say that they are ready to support this idea. During the visit of His Majesty the King of Bahrain Hamad Al Khalifa, there was a sudden announcement that Bahrain had signed it. But, being in Russia on February 8, His Majesty the King of Bahrain and the foreign minister of this country said that this is not so and there are no such plans.
We are very worried by reports that are constantly circulating publicly and through closed channels: the Turks are planning, or maybe even have already started to develop part of the Syrian territory under the pretext of creating tent camps there to accumulate Syrian refugees, not allowing them to cross the Turkish border, where, according to them, the camps are already overcrowded.
Turkey continues to talk about creating a security zone on Syrian territory, free from IGIL. Everyone understands that this is a stretch of the border between two Kurdish enclaves, whose combination of forces Turkey considers absolutely unacceptable for itself, because it will block Turkey’s ability to supply militants in Syria and receive smuggled supplies from them.
There is evidence that the leadership of IGIL continues secret contacts with the Turkish leadership. They are discussing options for action under the current conditions, when thanks to the blows of our VKS the possibilities of traditional smuggling routes are seriously limited.
According to our information, the Turks in NATO have already discussed their intentions of creating “zones free of IGIL” in Syria. This, of course, will be a violation of all principles of international law. It will also significantly and qualitatively increase the escalation. Therefore, from the three variants indicated by my good friend, the scientific director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Vitaly Naumkin, of course, we rely on the first – to reach a compromise in the negotiations.
– How will Russia react if Turkey really fulfills its threat and realizes a full-scale invasion of Syria?
– I do not think that this will happen, because the small provocations, about which I have already said (the construction of tent camps, the preparation of some engineering facilities at a distance of 100-200 meters deep into the Syrian territory and several kilometers along the front) still not a full-scale invasion. I do not think that the coalition led by the Americans and which includes Turkey will allow such reckless plans to materialize.
– If the most terrible, nightmare variant does begin to be realized, will the Turkish invasion lead to a real possibility of direct clashes between our aircraft and the Turkish troops?
– Unfortunately, on November 24 last year there was a direct clash. Still, there is no apology. And even no hint of remorse does not sound. Moreover, we are required to apologize for the fact that we violated Turkish airspace. Although everyone knows how the Turks themselves relate to the sovereignty, for example, Greece, Cyprus over their airspace.
We showed maximum excerpt. But we took every precaution for the future: our bombers no longer fly without the cover of the fighters. Moreover, “S-400” and other air defense systems are deployed “on the ground”, which guarantee 100% safety of the airspace in which our pilots operate.
– The President of Russia refuses to talk with the President of Turkey. And Putin certainly has good reasons for this. Does this mean that the political dialogue between Moscow and Ankara is now frozen? Is such a dialogue, for example, at your level?
– I met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu once. Once we talked to him on the phone right after this disgusting case. I have a feeling from this contact that, probably in Turkey, many understand the unacceptability of what was done, the unacceptability of the order, which, apparently, was given in advance, because to shoot down the plane even in those 17 seconds (if taken for faith , that the plane really was, as the Turks claim, in their airspace) simply noticing it is impossible. We must prepare, as the military say, “graze” it.
I would also note that we paid attention to the actions of Turkey, which became less and less adequate, long before this episode, even before our VCS started operating in Syria. Only because we were categorically against the decisions of the UN Security Council demanding the overthrow of Bashar Assad and insisted on the implementation of the existing agreements on political negotiations and diplomatic settlement, the Turks began to accuse us of all mortal sins.
Remember, in the spring of early summer of last year Erdogan stated that “we will find a substitute for Russian as trading partners.” They were “swagged” with a decision on the “Turkish flow”, with the issuance of permits, hinting that they would find other sources of energy supply. Moreover, being here last September at the opening of the Cathedral Mosque, the President of Turkey also allowed himself statements that in a decent society guests can never be allowed.
They threatened that they would cancel the summit within the framework of the Cooperation Council of the highest level. The agreement on the meeting at the ministerial level was also repeatedly postponed long before this happened. This inadequacy, of course, was noticed. But we proceeded from the assumption that common sense will prevail, and the Turks will understand that we are neighbors and did not do anything bad to them personally, but on the contrary, as Russian President Vladimir Putin noted, “many people closed their eyes”.
“Maybe you should not have closed your eyes.”
– May be. There is a folk saying: “Do a good deed – it will get you.” In this case, maybe this partly explains why Turkish leaders completely lost landmark in the real world.
– Ukraine demonstratively does not comply with the Minsk agreements, and for some reason Western Russia is still under Russia’s sanctions. How long, in your opinion, can this situation last?
– This is the result of the fact that Europe, like in the case of the Syrian crisis, nevertheless loses its foreign policy independence – at least at this stage. In the Ukrainian crisis, this manifests itself absolutely.
Everyone knows that the Americans did not hide the fact that it was they who forced the Europeans to take anti-Russian sanctions. Everyone knows that the Americans came up with a “formula”: the implementation of the Minsk agreements will mean that sanctions can be taken from Russia. Perhaps, not very distant Europeans jumped at it simply because they were looking for some way to say that sanctions are not permanent. So they were offered. Now they understand that this is a trap of “clean water”, because Ukraine is not going to implement the Minsk agreements unless it is made really. And only Americans can do this.
Now Ukraine has an “awful” political and economic situation, full of irritation. But from the point of view of the Minsk agreements, the less they try to fulfill them, the longer sanctions will be applied against Russia. They speak about it directly. Abnormality of this all understand. Still, the Germans and the French, who are in direct contact with the participants of the negotiations in the so-called “Norman format”, where the details are carefully examined, who should do what and what, what he did or did not do in the development of those points that are recorded in the Minsk agreements, there is already an understanding that it will not be possible to “fool around” for too long. The Americans, at least, have a wish in words, about which they told us.
I regularly discuss this with John Kerry. In Kaliningrad, a special meeting was held between presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. In the course of this conversation, seemingly sounded reasonable things about the implementation of “Minsk” and specific ways to move towards this goal. I repeat, we are ready for flexibility, and our partners know about it. But Ukraine requires practically the implementation of ultimatums: first, from the Donbas, everyone who influences this situation somehow, so that the Donbass, as a matter of fact, has laid down its arms. And only after that they will think whether to give some decentralized power, whether to reform the constitution. This all puts the Minsk accords “upside down”. In Europe they begin to understand this.
– Do the Americans have an incentive to compel Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreements or is the current situation advantageous for them?
– I’m not a supporter of the “conspiracy theory”. But there are some facts that some in Washington would not mind, as they themselves say in informal conversations in a narrow circle, to force Russia to fight on two fronts. In order not to reduce the tension in Ukraine, in the Donbass. That there constantly flashed “hot” phases of the crisis. That we are distracted by this crisis much more than during the ceasefire. And that our life in Syria does not seem honey.
I do not exclude that such thoughts roam in the heads of “neocons”, “hawks” in Washington. But our communication with those in the US administration, who is in charge of Ukrainian politics, still shows that they would like to achieve a real result this year.
– The US sanctions regime against Iran was introduced in 1979 and is partially still in force. Do you think the sanctions war between Russia and the West can also last for decades?
“Maybe, knowing the Americans.” On the one hand – this is a great country. And on the other – representatives of its executive and legislative authorities behave very petty.
I have often cited the example of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which imposed sanctions for the fact that the USSR did not allow Jews to emigrate to Israel. After all those who wanted to leave have left, and many even returned voluntarily, when all the doors were open, this Jackson-Vanik continued to operate for more than twenty years. It was lifted only because the Americans realized the prospect of their economic trade losses in connection with our accession to the World Trade Organization. The persistence of sanctions against us meant that they would not enjoy the benefits of reducing our customs tariffs within the WTO.
But after the complete “closing of the Jewish theme” – and the recognition of this by everyone – the Jackson-Vanik amendment was extended at the request of one senator, then at the request of the other. For example, they said: “The Russians stopped buying chicken thighs -” Bush’s legs “(which used to go like help, and then we” sat down “on this import and started to buy them).” It is because of such things. Our famous dissident, human rights activist and at some stage a member of the Israeli government, Natan Sharansky, in his public speeches at the time the Jackson-Vanik amendment was still in force, said that he was in a Soviet prison not because of American chickens.
By the way, having canceled “Jackson-Vanik”, the Americans immediately accepted the “Magnitsky law”, sighing with relief that they would still “keep the Russians on the hook”. This is an example of the fact that everything happens not because of Ukraine or Syria. It’s just that our strengthening as a country that can have its own way of looking at things has been completely inadequate for many in Washington. “Magnitsky”, after that just a mental insanity about Edward Snowden. Then attempts on an equal footing, without any reason, to foil the Olympics in Sochi – at least in the media space, inventions of every kind, appeals almost to boycott it and so on.
We do not have paranoia. We are well aware that large countries, especially leading states like the USA, certainly do not want competitors to appear. Therefore, such a mentality will always affect their relations with us, with China, India and other potential, rapidly growing economies and financial centers. We all understand this. But we want our interests to be ensured in this competitive struggle in the international arena. We want to do it honestly and on the basis of rules. When the rules are rewritten every time when the bars of soccer, rugby gates or the goal of American football are transferred during the game, it is already dishonest and dishonest.
Unfortunately, Washington has repeatedly done such things, which allow us to talk about it. But I emphasize that no one is interested in the deterioration of relations with the United States. We will not do this to the detriment of ourselves, and they know this very well. But we will cooperate as much as they are ready for it, on the basis of respect for each other’s interests, mutual benefits, and not as subordination to dictate: “We will impose sanctions on you, and then we’ll see how you will cope.”
– How long can the active phase of the “sanction war” last?
– It seems to me that now comes the “moment of truth”. At least this year it will be clear how much the European Union is already aware that the current situation is becoming indecent for the external image of the EU. When the next portion of the sanctions expires in the summer, then it will be clear: will Europe be honest with its statements about the need to fulfill not only Russia but Ukraine by the Minsk Agreements, or it will be affected by an aggressive minority that exists in the EU and which is formed by Russophobic countries. There are five such countries. But they “order music”, using the principle of consensus and the so-called “solidarity”.
– The Turkish state of the northern part of Cyprus has been de facto since 1974, but this republic is recognized only by Turkey. Does not the Crimea shine in terms of international recognition of its current status a similar story?
– No. I think that everyone understands the difference. In Crimea, the will of the people was indeed. There was a real threat of the seizure of power by the putschists, who declared war on everything Russian. Repeatedly I quoted the words of Dmitry Yarosh (he was convicted in absentia in Russia – “MK”), who said that “the Russian in the Crimea will never speak” mov “, will never honor S. Bandera and R. Shukhevych, therefore Russians in Crimea should not be. ” This is his direct quote.
Now they are trying to say that he is a marginal politician. Nothing of the sort, during the “Maidan” period he was one of those who solved issues and played a key role in this coup d’état. Then there were “trains of friendship”, an attempt to seize the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which was legitimately elected according to the laws of Ukraine and which, being legitimate, decided on a referendum.
So I would not draw any parallels here. Moreover, according to Cyprus, there is a decision of the UN Security Council that this crisis needs to be settled on the basis of agreements between the two communities. There was an armed conflict. In Crimea there was no crisis armed conflict situation. The security of voting was ensured. I have no fears about the future of the Crimea.
More and more Europeans, including parliamentarians and businessmen, rush to the Crimea. Someone will make “fast” money, because now there is a demand for foreign investment. But more and more people are arriving – parliamentarians, journalists – to see for themselves what is going on there. Recently, a representative of the Council of Europe, a Swiss diplomat Gerard Stoudmann, who was shown there everything that he and his team asked was there. I very much hope that the report he will prepare will be another contribution to the formation of an objective picture of the situation in the Crimea. Everyone who has been there, say that it is impossible to dramatize.
– And when can we expect international recognition of Crimea’s entry into Russia?
– It’s happening gradually – Coca-Cola has already recognized. Life forces. You can pretend that nothing happened. A lot happened. There was a lot of emotional talk about the legal purity of Crimea’s entry into Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Political figures in the Russian Federation, including parliamentarians, said that it was unfair, contrary to the laws that at that time existed and on the basis of which Ukraine withdrew from the Soviet Union. Under those laws it was impossible to take the Crimea and even more so it was impossible to take Sevastopol.
Then our Western partners told us that everything is already fine, that everything has calmed down, that we are all friends and live in a new world.
The referendum, probably, it would be possible to cook longer and catch up more observers. They ask why we spent one week. We reply that there was a direct military threat: the bandits flew on trains with weapons in their hands with the intention to uproot the Russians. Now you can cling to some legal, technical aspects about what happened, although the results of the referendum are difficult to deny.
Even the Americans tell us in the ear: “Spend it again, already with all the attributes and vignettes! Anyway, the result will be the same, and everyone will breathe peacefully! “. This is pure hypocrisy! Appealing to these legal or quasi-legal points, these same people, frankly ignoring the violation of laws in the transfer of the Crimea to Ukraine in 1956, suggest not to remember this. Historical justice is the greatest engine of the history of events.
– Some of Russia’s closest foreign policy partners are NATO members. Why did Russia so nervously react to Montenegro’s desire to join this alliance?
– We reacted not to the desire of Montenegro. And I would not say that we reacted nervously. We were convinced, like everyone who thought of it, that this is an artificial solution. It will not add any security to NATO members. Explanations of what the Montenegrin people want it, break the argument: if this is so, why not hold a referendum? They categorically do not want to hold a referendum because they know: most likely the people that NATO bombed a couple of decades ago have not forgotten this and are unlikely to accept with enthusiasm the idea of their leadership to “hide many ends in the water” by joining NATO.
The mere fact that NATO is recklessly moving to the East, speaks of total disregard for the obligations that were given during the breakup of the Soviet Union, that this will not happen. The fact that the military infrastructure will not be located on the territory of the new members of the alliance (this was only later, when the expansion became a reality, despite the assurances given). And, of course, that no one will ensure their security in Europe at the expense of infringement on the security of others. This was not true, which the leaders of the Western world pronounced, put on paper, put their signatures under it, and then categorically did not want to-and still do not want to-implement it.
When we proposed to make the thesis of the indivisibility of security legally binding, they gave a categorical negative answer. Legal guarantees of security are only in NATO. This is an artificial creation of a situation where small countries manipulate: “If you join us, then your security will be guaranteed. And if you do not join, we will not defend you. ” There is an influx of the “Russian threat”, an artificial inflating of fears on an equal footing. And due to this, an attempt is made to develop the geopolitical space closer and closer to our borders.
We all see this. They all understand this, but they pretend to be naive people, including on missile defense issues, which along with NATO expansion is a destabilizing factor for global stability and violates global parities.
It’s not in Montenegro. The thing is, how NATO treats the development of relations not just with Russia, but towards ensuring global security. NATO is responsible for its site and, as recorded in the Washington Treaty, provides collective defense against the attack. But then you sit in your borders, and no one will touch you! It is not enough for them, because then the existence of a military-political bloc becomes meaningless.
Following the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact, many said that NATO had lost the meaning of its continued existence. This meaning was searched for a long time. At first there was the problem of Afghanistan. Now we understand that this operation failed, and some residual contingents support some minimum of security. But the situation there is rapidly degrading. Since the Afghan issue has left the front pages of the newspapers, it has been declared, by the way, a victory – although there has been more terrorism, the drug traffic has increased tenfold. But for political PR, everything will work out. Now, in connection with the Crimea and Syria, the so-called “Russian threat” has turned up. It is actively exploited in order to explain the continued existence of this organization.
– Some time ago you spoke about the story of the girl Lisa, who, according to us, was sexually assaulted in Berlin. Are you satisfied with the explanations that the German side promised you? Did the Germans manage to convince you that this entire story is “the invention of unscrupulous Russian journalists”?
– The answer to all questions is “no.” Convince us of nothing failed. we were not given the promised information. We, by the way, never stated that Liza was raped, and that something must be done. We said that we are concerned about the information that a girl who is a Russian citizen, which Germany prefers to keep silent about (her parents are one citizen of Russia, the other is of Germany) appears to have involuntarily disappeared from the family as a child, for 30 hours , and asked to explain what could happen to her. That bacchanalia, which unfolded in the “free” German media, is outrageous.
I fully support the statement of your colleagues, members of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Russian journalists who stated that, regardless of political relations between states, it is inadmissible to prosecute a journalist for publishing a material calling on the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany to provide information about what happened to the Russian citizen. This is already reminiscent of the actions of the same Turkish President, Erdogan, who gets away with everything, including the trial and imprisonment for many decades of two journalists who exposed arms smuggling to Turkey under the guise of humanitarian aid. I just now thought about it: it is alarming such coincidence of the line of Ankara and Berlin in relation to journalists who are trying to find out the truth.
– You, as you know, write poetry. Do you have poetic lines that most accurately describe the current international situation?
– After the appointment of the Minister, I did not actually write anything serious – except for the “skits” on birthdays to friends. The situation is heavy. It will never be easy in the present world, because we are at a turning point: the paradigm of all these relations is changing, and there are new powerful growth centers. With this, the old centers of growth do not want to be reconciled.
There is a struggle between those who preach new industrialization, and those who advocate de-industrialization. The digital economy, the services sector, the role of raw materials – there are a lot of ambiguities now. In this competitive world, everyone is trying to “shove elbows” in order to occupy the most favorable place for further agreements. All this is understandable. The main thing is that there is no unscrupulous game here and that, until new rules are written, we are guided by those that we have.
– Is diplomacy without a dirty game?
– It depends on how to judge what a dirty game is. In football, hockey, in any sport there is a violation of the rules. Diplomacy, of course, is not a sport. But this is also a competition. Probably, there are some actions that the partner will find not quite elegant. We strive to act so that we do not have such claims. We are reproached for thinking too much about ourselves that we want a lot in this world – not in proportion to our abilities and capabilities. But serious people never throw a reproach in our address that we are playing an unfair game. And the frivolous and marginal even accuse us of lying, including me personally.
The last such example was in one media (I do not want to do him advertising and call it – it’s little known). A statement was made: the Foreign Ministry and Lavrov personally lie that Russia has fulfilled the terms of the Budapest Memorandum, which in 1994 guaranteed the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Indeed, we said that the only concrete obligation in this memorandum was that Russia, the United States and Great Britain would not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine. The lie, they say, is that we kept silent about another obligation, which is supposedly contained there. And it simply says that all participants of the memorandum will continue to be guided by OSCE principles, including with regard to territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs. Russia, they say, violated these principles. And the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not say anything about it, and it even lies that Russia has fulfilled the entire Budapest Memorandum. The principles of the OSCE have never been permitted to conduct coups d’etat anywhere, and have forbidden attempts to encroach on national and linguistic minorities. So these principles were grossly violated by the putschists who committed the coup d’état in Ukraine.
I will repeat once again that different methods are used in diplomacy, but the main thing is that you should be honest with yourself. I am convinced that our partners, whom we also respect, see our work correctly.