Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’sremarks and answers to media questions following a G20 ministerial meeting andthe Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 18, 2017

18 February 201721:18

Our meetings in Germany are almost over. We spent a day and a half in Bonn and two days in Munich, at a meeting of the G20 foreign ministers in Bonn and the annual international security conference in Munich, which is nearing completion. You attended my speech there, and today I am ready to answer your questions if you have any.
In addition to multilateral meetings in the framework of the G20 and the Munich Security Conference, I have had about 25 bilateral meetings and also attended a Normandy format meeting of foreign ministers. I can tell you that the Normandy format meeting focused on the implementation of the agreements the presidents of Russia, France and Ukraine and the federal chancellor of Germany reached in Bonn last October. These agreements included provisions on security zones and their gradual and consistent expansion along the contact line, the unconditional withdrawal of heavy weapons, which should have been accomplished long ago, and the establishment of round-the-clock OSCE monitoring along the contact line in the security zones and heavy weapons holding areas. They also urged the fulfilment of all humanitarian provisions as soon as possible (primarily exchange hostages and detainees based on the “all for all” principle) and the drafting of a roadmap that would set out clearly the steps towards the implementation of the political provisions of the Minsk Agreements.
We noted today that progress in implementing the Berlin agreements has been inadequate, unfortunately. As everyone agreed, the only positive element is that the Contact Group has again agreed to launch a ceasefire and heavy weapons withdrawal to the holding areas on February 20. We supported this decision actively, but we also expressed the opinion that it must be implemented without fail this time. We’ll see how the parties to the conflict react to this.
We also expressed our appreciation for the minor progress reached at the Contact Group’s humanitarian subgroup regarding the coordination of the lists of prisoners and detained persons for their subsequent exchange based on the “all for all” principle. As I said, this work is underway. We hope that those who are doing in on the ground – Ukrainian representatives and delegates from Donetsk and Lugansk – will eventually reach an agreement.
We also noted the special importance of the roadmap that should set out the sequence of steps to strengthen security and simultaneously to promote political reform, including a law on the special status for Donbass, which should be formalised in a new constitution, an amnesty for all those who participated in the hostilities in Donbass, just as it has been done with regard to participants in the Maidan protests against the previous government, as well as local elections based on the special status law and the law on elections, which should be coordinated, just as everything else, between Kiev and Donbass.
An additional statement by the German and French ministers was made at our initiative. We wanted to draw attention to the unacceptable blockade of Donbass by radical Ukrainian groups. I am referring to the blockade of railway and road transit and threats to cut off all communication with this part of Ukraine. We proposed condemning this approach and demanding the immediate lifting of the blockade. Our Normandy format partners supported this proposal and a statement to this effect has been added to the comment issued by the German and French ministers following our meeting.
Question: What signals did you get from US Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke here? Did you meet?

SPUTNIK -- 8 Times Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin Wowed the World


    Vitaly Churkin, Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations, leaves the Security Council chambers July 21, 2014 at UN headquarters in New York

    8 Times Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin Wowed the World

    © AFP 2016/ STAN HONDA
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    Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin passed away on Monday, a day before his 65th birthday. President Putin called the diplomat a true patriot whose achievements in defense of Russia in the world could not be overestimated. Sputnik offers some of the most vivid highlights from Churkin's life and work as UN ambassador.

    Churkin died in New York City on Monday. He served as Russia's permanent UN representative and represented Russia in the UN Security Council for over a decade, beginning in April 2006. He joined the diplomatic service in 1974, and devoted virtually his entire life to his work. The envoy's unexpected passing has led to a flood of condolences, from Syrian UN Envoy Bashar Jaafari to US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and former UN Chief Ban Ki-moon, among many others.

    In his home country, where Churkin was a media celebrity in his own right for his sharp, witty and stalwart style, news of his death was marked with shock and sadness. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova summed up the diplomatic community's feelings, saying that they have "lost a person very dear to us," and calling Churkin a great diplomat, an extraordinary personality and a brilliant man.

    In his message of condolences to Churkin's family, President Vladimir Putin said that "for more than 10 years, sometimes in extremely stressful circumstances, [the ambassador had] firmly and consistently defended Russia's position on major international issues, which required tremendous effort and dedication." Churkin, Putin said, was "without exaggeration" one of Russia's "most prominent diplomats," a "professional of the highest level, a man of profound intellect and extraordinary energy, charisma and a rare sense of humor…"
    Throughout his time at the UN, Churkin was known for his fearless engagement of Russia's diplomatic opponents in verbal jousting matches. Armed with a war chest of English-language slang and able to formulate candid responses to adversaries' statements on his feet, Churkin was ideally suited to representing Russia in the global diplomatic arena, particularly amid the tensions that ensued between Moscow and Western countries over the crises in Ukraine and Syria beginning in 2014.
    Churkin to Haley: 'Hey, remember the US Constitution?'
    On February 2, 2017, newly minted US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley made her debut appearance at the international body, accusing Russia of supporting anti-Kiev militia in eastern Ukraine and calling "for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea."

    Taking the floor, Churkin responded by pointing out that Kiev was responsible for the uptick in clashes. As far as Crimea was concerned, the ambassador simply reminded Haley that the Crimean people had voted to rejoin their home country, and that this very principle of self-determination was one that America itself had laid down in its Constitution.

    "In this regard, one cannot forget the remarkable historical words that are found in the Constitution of the United States: 'We the people'," Churkin quipped. "The people of Crimea quite clearly expressed their will in a referendum."
    Samantha Power's attack against Russia: 'As if she were Mother Teresa herself'
    Over the last four years, Churkin had quite a few jousts with Haley's predecessor, Obama-era UN Ambassador Samantha Power, as well. Perhaps one of the most brilliant moments in these exchanges took place in December 2016, when Power attacked Moscow, Tehran and Damascus over the alleged 'carnage' in Aleppo and equated the countries' actions to 'genocide'. "To the Assad regime, Russia and Iran, your forces and proxies are carrying out these crimes…Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you?" Power asked.
    US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power talks with her Russian counterpart Vitaly Churkin prior to a vote on a resolution on Ukraine during a UN Security Council emergency meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York. (File)
    US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power talks with her Russian counterpart Vitaly Churkin prior to a vote on a resolution on Ukraine during a UN Security Council emergency meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York. (File)
    Churkin's reply was hard-hitting and on point, with just a hint of sarcasm. "I do not want to remind the Western Troika [the US, UK and France] about its role in the creation of ISIL [Daesh], which came about as a result of the American-British intervention in Iraq," the diplomat said. "US policies in this country facilitated the emergence of ISIL. I do not want to remind anyone about the role these three countries played in inciting the Syrian crisis, which resulted in dire consequences and opened the door to the terror spree in Syria and Iraq," Churkin added.
    As for Power's attempts to 'shame' Russia and its allies over Syria, Churkin noted that it was astonishing to see Ambassador Power lecturing Russia, Iran and Syria on morality. "The US representative's speech has appeared particularly strange to me; she gave her statement as if she were Mother Teresa herself. Please remember which country you represent. Please remember the track record of your country," he quipped.
    Calling Out Hypocrisy and Fact-Free Commentary Where He Saw It

    Vitaly Churkin awarded Order of Courage

    Vitaly Churkin awarded Order of Courage
    The President signed the Executive Order On Awarding Vitaly Churkin the Order of Courage.

    February 21, 2017

    For his dedication, perseverance and high professionalism in his role as Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, the United States, the President has awarded Vitaly Churkin the Order of Courage (posthumously).

    See also

    February 20, 2017

    Condolences on Vitaly Churkin’s passing

    Condolences on Vitaly Churkin’s passing
    Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to the family and friends and to the entire Foreign Ministry staff following the death of Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
    February 20, 2017
    The President of Russia described Vitaly Churkin’s untimely departure as a grievous and truly irreplaceable loss for Russian foreign policy.
    The message also said:

    “Vitaly Churkin was, without exaggeration, one of our most prominent diplomats. A professional of the highest level, a man of profound intellect and extraordinary energy, charisma and a rare sense of humor, he enjoyed the sincere respect of his colleagues and a great reputation among foreign partners.
    His achievements cannot be overestimated. He was entrusted with important posts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs administration and at foreign missions. Yet, his skills were manifested most clearly in his work as Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN. For more than ten years, he firmly and consistently defended Russia's position on major international issues, sometimes in extremely stressful circumstances, which required tremendous effort and dedication. But no matter how difficult, he solved all tasks admirably and never knew defeat.”

    Vitaly Churkin died in New York today at the age of 64. He headed Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations since 2006.

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies day before turning 65

    Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies day before turning 65

    Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.
    Churkin would have turned 65 on Tuesday. 
    The announcement "of the untimely passing away of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin this morning" was met with shock when it was delivered during a session at the UN headquarters.
    "He was a dear colleague of all of us, a deeply committed diplomat of his country and one of the finest people we have known," a UN official who delivered the news to her colleagues said.

    Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies (SPECIAL COVERAGE)

    Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.


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    Sunday, February 19, 2017

    ‘America wants empire and for Europeans to remain subservient’

    ‘America wants empire and for Europeans to remain subservient’

    ‘America wants empire and for Europeans to remain subservient’
    The US spends more on its military than the next seven nations combined. Russian military spending is a fraction of US spending. The US spends an enormous amount on the military to maintain its empire, says Daniel McAdams, executive director, Ron Paul Peace Institute.
    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Friday met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of the annualMunich Security Conference. Although both admitted the need for dialogue, the mood at the table was palpably tense.
    NATO's expansion has led to an unprecedented level of tension over the last 30 years in Europe," Lavrov told the Munich conference. 
    Statements made by Western politicians at the Munich Security Conference indicate that the Cold War is not over yet, he said.
    They say that all wars begin in the minds of people, and by this logic, that’s where they are supposed to come to an end. However, this hasn’t been the case with the Cold War yet, [at least] judging by some speeches of politicians in Europe and in the US, including statements that were made yesterday and today at the beginning of our conference,the Russian Foreign Minister noted.
    Meanwhile, there is also dissonance among Western leaders, including the issue of NATO expenses, as the Trump administration calls on European members to pay their bills to the 28-member defense bloc and boost defense spending.
    RT: Can this split that we see happening among the US, the European Union and Russia deepen? What can we read into the situation at this time? 
    Daniel McAdams: I think it is all very healthy because everyone is going to have their bluff called. The Europeans are screaming about ‘Russian aggression’ and how they must do something about Russian aggression. Obviously if they felt threatened they would spend more of their own money defending themselves, as any normal person would have if they felt threatened.
    The US on the other hand wants to essentially have an empire, but wants the Europeans to be subservient, and President Trump wants to do the impossible which is to spend a trillion dollars a year on the military; a trillion dollars a year on infrastructure, and however much on an upgraded nuclear arsenal – it is absolutely impossible. So heads are going to clash, and it is a very good thing because it might bring us to reassessing what are our defense objectives, rather than what are the US military empire’s objectives.  
    RT: Do you think Donald Trump will take a harder line than his predecessors on getting other states to pay up? What is he going to do? 
    DM: There is a fundamental clash, as I said earlier. And there will be one between [Jean-Claude] Juncker and Trump. And I welcome it; I’ll pop the popcorn to see that. I think it is very helpful to have these clashes. The US spends more on its military than the next seven nations combined. The Russian military spending, I think, is one-seventh or one-tenth of the US spending. So the fact of the matter is the US spends an enormous amount on the military to maintain its empire. It cannot continue. The Europeans are not going to spend the two percent that’s required. What is going to happen next? Trump is sending mixed signals. He sent [James] Mattis over to play the tough guy – to say the US is all in for NATO, but you’ve got to pay up. The Europeans are not going to pay up. So we’ll see who blinks first.     
    RT: Europe says it doesn't need to increase its spending on NATO, so why are some member states demanding more protection? 
    DM: They want protection, but they want it for free. And they want to provoke Russia by putting troops on Russia’s border, and then complaining about Russian aggression. Well, they can’t have it both ways. They are going to have to make a decision. Are going to have to change their foreign policy? I think it would be best if all nations spent less on the military. I would like to see the US spend instead of four percent, two percent or less.
    Figure out what our real needs are, and spend according to our needs, rather than the demands of the military industrial complex, which frankly is what NATO is all about. It is about selling US weapons overseas; forcing US weapons down the throats of countries that can’t afford to buy them to enrich people in Washington. 

    NATO bill collector cometh

    John Wight, political commentator, author 
    RT: They can’t decide on many issues at the Munich Security conference. Where do you expect this split to go? Is it going to get worse?   
    John Wight: I think it will go worse. Mr. Juncker’s extraordinarily bullish response may well be based on his belief, a belief shared by many, that Donald Trump’s presidency is not destined to last. Given the unprecedented hostility that he is facing in Washington from all sectors from the political establishment, the deep state, the media, Juncker has a point. Of course this two percent threshold was agreed at the NATO Summit in 2014, and as of now only five of NATO’s 28 members- states are meeting this threshold, those being the US, the UK, Poland, Greece and Estonia. So Donald Trump has a point: If they want to maintain this military alliance that they start footing the bill, rather than relying on Washington to do so. 


    At midday on Friday 5 February, 2016 Julian Assange, John Jones QC, Melinda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson and Baltasar Garzon will be speaking at a press conference at the Frontline Club on the decision made by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the Assange case.


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