Global South


Briefing: Maria Zakharova

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, November 24, 2022

These are selections from Maria’s last briefing.  If you want to read the complete briefing, it is at the link.

Crisis in Ukraine

I’d like to draw your attention to two dates in the recent history of Ukraine – November 21 and 22. They are linked with the beginning of two maidans that were coups engineered by the West in Ukraine that eventually led to the loss of its independence.

For decades, the United States and its allies were trying to establish full control over Ukraine. They were trying to sabotage its attempts to achieve sovereignty and true statehood and instead turn it into an obedient tool of anti-Russia policy and a military bridgehead for fighting Russia. The 2004 Orange Revolution with its illegal third round of elections was a prelude to the armed anti-constitutional coup in 2014, when the West succeeded in bringing to power rabid nationalist radicals. The latter’s hatred of everything that was not linked with their nationalist agenda and to everything Russian turned them into obedient puppets that were capable of taking any steps that would have destructive consequences for Ukraine.

Following these two landmark events (unfortunately, with a negative connotation), in the history of Ukraine, an actor was brought in to play a certain role. He played it but this was a bloody role. Today, the Vladimir Zelensky regime is doing everything what the West dictates to him without thinking twice, that is, he continues fighting “till the victorious end” and “to the last Ukrainian.” He is ready to sacrifice the lives and futures of his citizens to receive financial and military aid without which the Kiev authorities would not last for a day.

It is common knowledge that the Ukrainian army has long been fully dependent on Western arms supplies, intelligence, instructors and mercenaries. This army is an instrument. A growing body of evidence points to a confrontation between Russia and NATO in Ukraine. More and more military specialists from NATO countries are fighting as part of a dozen private military companies and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

According to information from different sources, since last February, the United States has supplied Kiev $21.5 billion worth of arms, including heavy artillery and multiple rocket launchers. Following its seventh meeting, the Ukraine Defence Contact Group in the Ramstein format has endorsed another package of military aid to Kiev with emphasis on air defence and missile defence. This is not everything we see and hear or are being told. There is also one more side that is concealed from the Western and world public. The bottom line is that everything that is happening is also a cover-up for the White House’s financial machinations.

In order to drag NATO into the conflict even more, to get even more money and opportunities, the Zelensky regime is deliberately opting for dangerous provocations and extremism, introducing more and more elements of terrorist activity into its actions. We have already talked about unsuccessful attempts to accuse Russia of the missile that fell on Polish territory on November 15. Yet, it seemed too little to the Kiev regime. The Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is under attack by the Ukrainian armed forces. The latest shelling damaged a number of facilities, including sites where radioactive waste is stored (even children understand the consequences). The Kiev regime continues to blackmail Europeans with a man-made disaster.

Exactly. This is not a threat to us. We have been aware for a while and we are counteracting it. It is all done for the ‘Western world’, for that part of the European continent that first went along with their ‘big brother’ in Washington, participated with their own hands in the anti-constitutional coups in Ukraine, then supported the ‘democratic changes’ in that country. This resulted in the consolidation of a totalitarian dictatorial regime and the total abandonment of sovereignty, democracy and freedoms. They are now being forced to allocate huge sums of money for all this madness. On top of that the Kiev regime and Zelensky remind them with a certain regularity that they know how to shell nuclear power plants so that as soon as someone in the West, including (perhaps primarily) Western Europe, has an idea or a question that they will try to verbalise and ask themselves: what is their money used for, are they not a part or a party to the conflict, a sponsor of bloodshed? They will immediately be reminded of the ‘right answer’ by shelling the nuclear power plant once again. This is nuclear blackmail. Possibly the first example in history. Zelensky deserves credit. He is creative. He is generously paid for it from overseas. Europe remains blind, deaf and mute with respect to what is happening on its territory.

Speaking before the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on November 21 of this year, Vladimir Zelensky again asked it to support Ukraine’s application for membership in the bloc. Kiev is convinced that in conditions of “war with Russia” NATO and the EU are obliged to accept them. Can you imagine the consequences? The EU can. This is the only sign that some EU political leaders have common sense. They can at least calculate the risks.

The Ukrainian authorities are not going to abide by the pre-accession requirements. This is confirmed by Zelensky’s signing of a law on cancelling lifelong financial monitoring of politicians and high executives. By doing this, Kiev made it clear that it is not going to counter corruption and money laundering but will continue asking the West to finance it. He protected all the “bunker” commanders on the Kiev-controlled territory of Ukraine, which are taking part in financial machinations of the US administration. By signing this law, Zelensky made it safe for them, giving the green light to everything that the international community has long called corruption.

Likewise, the West is pretending not to notice the terrorist combat methods used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The same applies to atrocities to which Ukrainian neo-Nazis are subjecting POWs and local citizens living on the territories that were controlled by Russia. The similarity of these atrocities to Nazi crimes during the Great Patriotic War is horrifying. Recently, the world saw an awful video of unarmed Russian POWs being shot dead near Makeyevka. On November 22, Ukraine announced the start of an investigation of this massacre. It seemed that Western journalists who were longing for the slightest thread on which to hang their sympathetic coverage of such cases, breathed a sigh of relief when the Kiev regime announced its investigation. But Kiev dealt a blow at the entire liberal world that has supported this regime for many years, depicting it as democratic, open and industrious. It declared that Russian military personnel were responsible for the death of the unarmed POWs. As if they shot themselves. The video is accessible online, mind you. It is hard to recall something more sacrilegious and immoral. We have said many times that in its ideology, policy and daily activities, the Kiev regime is guided by and resembles its sources of inspiration. Kiev has glorified Nazis and their accomplices. They are its heroes. Kiev celebrates their birthdays and cherishes the memory of those who collaborated with Nazis and fascists. The Kiev regime confirms this similarity.

All the activities of this regime are increasingly coming to resemble the atrocities of modern international terrorism. Earlier, such videos as the Makeyevka massacre came from havens of international terrorists such as ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda. Now Zelensky and his regime are doing such things. Compare them. There is a lot of evidence. We have been through this in Russia – the atrocities committed by international terrorists in the North Caucasus in the 1990s.  They are completely identical to what is being done today. The West supported those who were sent to the North Caucasus (by the West or via its channels) and gunned down our unarmed captured soldiers who were in a desperate position. And yet there is still talk about “the democratic nature” of the Kiev regime and Zelensky himself, just like in the 1990s when they were supporting Dzhohar Dudayev, Aslan Maskhadov and all the other terrorists.

Years and decades later, the international community, including the collective and civilised West, faced the same methods of struggle but this time directed against them. The same international terrorists that were nurtured in the same centre came to Europe. They were horrified. A wave of terrorist acts swept prosperous capitals, such as Paris and Berlin. Many cities in Central and Southern Europe were subjected to terrorist attacks. They had to admit that in the 1990s, Russia confronted international terrorism. True, they did not admit their involvement in this but could no longer call those who committed terrorist acts against civilians and used terrorist methods in combat operations “fighters for freedom and democracy.” They had no justification for that. The same will happen this time. Just wait a bit.

Likewise, the methods of the Kiev regime and its individual representatives will be collectively qualified as extremist and terrorist. There is no other option. Everything is being documented, a tribunal awaits them. I’d like to emphasise that the West will not have an opportunity to whitewash what has become part of its activities. They created this regime themselves and now they are sponsoring those who commit extremist and terrorist acts.

There appeared a new video recently on the internet, showing Ukrainian militants humiliating a living person who has been tied up and placed in a coffin. I can only call them inglorious bastards. Nothing will go unnoticed, uninvestigated or unpunished.

Commenting on the massacre of Russian POWs by Ukrainian Nazis, Beth Van Schaack, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice in the US Department of State, said the scale of violence exhibited by Russian forces was supposedly “enormous” compared to the allegations against Ukrainian troops. In other words, humanitarian matters are now measured by their scale and ratio?  Specific instances are not assessed in their own right? Why not recall your own past? That might be a good idea.

If the US Department of State now judges everything by comparison, it is possible to ask the following question – were American troops crueler in Vietnam than representatives of the Kiev regime or not?  Compare yourselves. It is strange to hear such a cynical statement from the US Ambassador, a professional lawyer. Her words are devoid of any morality or compassion. Most important, it has nothing to do with her official duties. Beth Van Schaack is driven only by one motive – to whitewash Ukrainian criminals who the US and its allies are training and supplying with all they need. This is not to mention US financial machinations. American journalists that are not linked with Russia or other countries have already started writing about this. Now this has material proof and an evidence base. A huge part of the funds supposedly allocated to Ukraine is returning to the places of their origin.

How many times did we talk about this for the past eight years since 2014? How many times did we cite examples of aid sent to support the Kiev regime (at that time, they pretended it was for humanitarian purposes, economic development, and democracy promotion in Ukraine) not reaching its destination? This is to say nothing of the stated goals they are pursuing. The assets linked with the Kiev regime instantly return to bank accounts (without even leaving the same banks) and are parked there.

This Western attitude makes the Kiev regime even more confident of its impunity and total license. By abetting the crimes of the Kiev regime, the West is not merely supporting murderers that cannot be forgiven or justified but is itself becoming involved in their atrocities.

These events again confirm the need to achieve all declared goals, taking into account changes and developments on the ground. There is no alternative.

The results of the Russian delegation’s participation in the G20 summit in Bali, November 15-16, 2022

The G20 summit in Bali became an important milestone of international cooperation. We are delighted to note that the inertia in multilateral diplomacy caused by the collective West has now been overcome. We believe that this has been facilitated by Indonesia’s G20 presidency and by our partners from countries with emerging economies (as it is now customary to say). We are satisfied with the G20 Bali Leaders Declaration, coordinated in the current complicated geopolitical conditions against the backdrop of the confrontationist line being promoted by the United States and its allies. On the whole, we perceive the summit’s positive results as a victory of common sense.  The G20 has thus managed to make a weighty contribution to effective responses to numerous global economic challenges. We believe that, instead of serving as an arena for mutual reproaches and accusations, this forum should continue to focus on the search for the common denominator.

We note abortive Western attempts to impose false assessments of the crisis around Ukraine. The declaration’s Western-imposed separate paragraph on the Ukrainian situation serves as a tangible confirmation of this. It reflects different viewpoints on this issue and expresses concern over sanctions for the first time. At the same time, it sets forth a common position noting that security issues are not within the forum’s remit.

Against this backdrop, it is therefore pointless and ridiculous to talk about Russia’s isolation in the G20. Russia has been an active G20 member and a key active player in the global economy, and it retains this status.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the head of the Russian delegation, met with numerous foreign partners on the sidelines of the summit. He had bilateral meetings with the heads of state and government of Argentina, India, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, the Republic of South Africa, the UN Secretary-General and his counterparts from several countries’ foreign ministries.

For obvious reasons, the food security issue topped the agenda of the summit. Today, agricultural produce markets have become much less stable. The destructive steps of the West, which has provoked global inflation and which blocks Russian food and fertiliser deliveries to other countries, serve to aggravate this dangerous trend. The remarks by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the leaders of developing countries urgently raised the issue of lifting artificial obstacles hampering the relevant Russian exports by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, as stipulated by the Istanbul Agreements of July 22, 2022. In this context, the summit’s declaration also praises the Russian initiative on the transfer of Russian fertiliser which is illegally blocked at EU ports to developing countries free of charge.

The sides reached constructive agreements on other priorities of Indonesia’s presidency. This primarily concerns energy security, healthcare and digital transformation, and this, too, is an important indicator. Together with BRICS Plus countries, Russia helped reaffirm a striving to retain the open nature of the global economy and to facilitate its market processes. At Russia’s initiative, our partners emphasised the need to facilitate access to energy resources, including through the mechanism of subsidies, using all energy sources and expanding a dialogue between suppliers and consumers of energy resources. We underscored the WHO’s central role in combating threats to human health and its guiding function with regard to the Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, established by the World Bank. We hope that the fund’s activities will be transparent and inclusive.

On the whole, we have a positive opinion of the summit’s results. The G20 does not yield to crude pressure from the G7 countries, and developing economies are defending their own interests. This creates fertile ground for invigorating mutually beneficial international economic cooperation further. We intend to facilitate such developments next year under the auspices of India’s presidency and its slogan One Earth, One Family, One Future. We are ready to effectively implement it together with our G20 colleagues.

Events to mark 100th birth anniversary of Mayanist scholar Yury Knorozov

November 19, 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of prominent ethnographer, historian and linguist Yury Knorozov. During his work at the State Museum of Ethnography of the Peoples of the USSR, Yury Knorozov made a landmark discovery that was recognized worldwide: he deciphered the Maya script.

Under a Presidential executive order, events to mark the birth anniversary of this prominent Russian scientist are being held in Russia and abroad this year. The Russian Foreign Ministry has taken an active part in organising and holding these events.

A ceremonial meeting took place at the Knorozov Mesoamerican Centre at Russian State University for the Humanities. Support in organising these events has been given by the Rudomino All-Russian State Library for Foreign Literature.

The event-packed programme includes countries around the world with a focus on countries in Latin America like Mexico and Guatemala. On November 19, 2022, a bust of the Soviet scientist was unveiled at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City with the participation of the Russian Embassy and the representative office of Rossotrudnichestvo. Together with our Mexican colleagues, we as much as possible to bring a special atmosphere to the event. Among other cultural and political events are the Knorozov Readings, themed publications, conferences, interviews and lectures. A photo exhibit to mark this landmark date was organised as part of the opening ceremony for the Russian Honorary Consulate, together with the consular districts in Yucatan, Chiapas and Campeche.

80th anniversary of Soviet-French agreement on forming Normandie-Niemen Squadron

Eighty years ago, on November 25, 1942, in Moscow, the command of the Red Army and the command of the Fighting France forces signed an agreement on French Air Force pilots based in the Soviet Union (Normandie-Niemen).

Under the agreement, the command of Fighting France was to send an air force squadron to the Soviet Union for joint operations with the Red Army Air Force against their common enemy. The Soviet command was to provide material support to the French fighter squadron and, if necessary, additional personnel to ensure combat success.

On December 1, 1942, Pravda reported on the arrival of the French pilots. In March 1943, after several months in training, the squadron was sent to the Western Front.

Throughout World War II, the Normandie regiment made glorious progress, from the Battle of Kursk to Königsberg. For distinguished service in battle and courage in the Niemen River crossing operation in the autumn of 1944, the honorary title Normandie-Niemen was conferred upon the regiment by executive order of the Supreme Command.

These French pilots completed more than 5,249 combat missions, downed 273 planes and damaged 80 more in 869 air battles. Forty-two pilots were killed. The regiment was awarded the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Alexander Nevsky. Ninety-six pilots in the regiment were awarded Soviet combat decorations and four became Heroes of the Soviet Union.

These French pilots’ participation in the Red Army’s combat missions is a notable example of our countries’ cooperation during the Great Patriotic War.

From answers to questions:

Question: What are the Russian observers’ assessments of the election to the president of Kazakhstan on November 20 of this year?

Maria Zakharova: First, I’d like to congratulate the fraternal people of Kazakhstan on a successful presidential election. Russian observers witnessed a confident victory by the current President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym Jomart-Tokayev with 81.31 percent of the vote. His victory graphically demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of people in Kazakhstan support his programme for building a new Kazakhstan through comprehensive transformation.

Several thousand observers, including about 650 representatives from foreign states, CIS missions, the CASTO Parliamentary Assembly, the SCO and other international and Eurasian organisations, monitored the election. They gave a very positive assessments of the preparations for and holding of these elections. Nobody doubts their legitimacy.

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin sent Mr Tokayev a message of congratulations on his re-election. He noted the convincing level of trust that opens up new opportunities for implementing the course of national development promoted by the President of Kazakhstan. Our allied relations and strategic partnership based on the good traditions of friendship, neighbourliness and mutual respect, are making steady headway. We will continue working together to improve them and overcome the problems that are emerging due to the challenges of the times and this historical era.

The conclusion of the OSCE/ODIHR mission differs from general positive assessments by other monitoring missions. Without it, the picture would not be complete. Its estimate is biased as always. This attitude calls into doubt the very efficiency of this institution. In fact, the ODIHR criticised the very choice by the people of Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, this biased position has become a steady trend in the OSDIHR’s work. We have repeatedly drawn the attention of the OSCE member-countries to this trend, demanding urgent measures to reform its flawed and biased methodology on monitoring electoral processes in post-Soviet countries.

We would like to see a true methodology worked out through a joint effort. We want it to be formulated to make it clear what instruments and techniques the ODIHR is using to assess the various electoral processes. Today, the word “methodology” is not only unrealistic but completely meaningless. We don’t understand (nobody does) how methodology can produce such different results and be so divorced from reality.

Question: This month, the official spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan cited Russian Senator Igor Morozov as saying that Kiev is allegedly interested in Pakistani nuclear arms developments and had discussions on this issue. Can you comment on this report, please?

Maria Zakharova: We urge our Pakistani colleagues to be guided by the official Russian position on this issue. Considering that this statement was made by my colleague – an official representative of the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan – I would like to say that we are always open to clearing up any questions via our working, diplomatic channels.

I would like to note that we have a democratic political and social arrangement. There are many experts dealing with international affairs, the current agenda, and regional and international cooperation. They have different views and different assessments. They conduct studies as scholars and analysts. They have the right to do this. Each of them can express his or her own opinion as a scholar, political scientist, social or political figure.

We are in constant contact with our Pakistani colleagues and are ready to clear up any questions in a working order.

Question: What can you tell us about London’s position that, according to the media, it continues buying Russian oil, calling other countries importers, on the one hand, and giving Ukraine its Brimstone-2 precision missiles?

Maria Zakharova: This is part of the genre. This is its avatar. Hypocrisy has always been a part of Britain’s foreign policy. This has always been typical of the British political elite.

It is important to remember that the appeals to the allies to unite in the face of some “Russian threat” and, in part, renounce Russian energy resources is a crafty game in which London is not going to sacrifice its economic interests. Is this the first time? They are always trying to damage the development of bilateral relations with their rivals. Naturally, the countries of Europe and the EU (that Britain left) are their number one competitors. They are trying to destroy stable ties, including energy contacts, but are not going to give up what is beneficial to them. This is not a question to them. They don’t even conceal anything. This is a question for other countries – why do they listen to this advice from Downing Street and other official British entities even though they see how London behaved in the EU and how painful its exit was. Why do they listen to the UK despite all these facts?

It is enough to look at the miserable position of the Baltic states. This “external” government has put their population on the brink of survival. The question suggests itself: how long will they follow the suicidal recommendations of their “senior big brothers” from London? Obviously, in terms of London’s Ukraine strategy, such “collateral damage” is seen as an acceptable price for slogans about certain “common values.”

Britain’s foreign partners should think about what they are willing to sacrifice for their own wellbeing (I am referring to the average people rather than the elite). If they think they should do this for the sake of democracy, freedom and values, they are wrong.

The situation in Ukraine is the result of foreign interference in the affairs of that country. It resulted in the destruction of its constitutional system, endless state coups, corruption among the Ukrainian elite and the introduction of foreign agents into Ukrainian political beau monde. This is not related to any declared values. This is a blow to international law. It makes no sense to use it as a cover-up. Or is it worth doing this just to play up to attempts to isolate Russia by proxy politically and economically and to continue nurturing Ukrainian neo-Nazism? Again, is it worth doing this to turn this into a problem for all of Europe and the EU that London has left? Westerners should ponder the answers to these questions.

Question: Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said last week that Russia and the United States had not yet found a common denominator on the exchange of prisoners. What is hindering this? What is the fundamental difference in their approaches to this issue?

Maria Zakharova: We have said more than once that we don’t comment on the content of our contacts. We are ready to confirm the facts of the talks and our openness in dealing with these priority matters.

The talks themselves are a delicate issue that concerns human lives, personal information and many other things that must not be made public for the talks to continue and to bring concrete results.

As I have said, I don’t comment on the content of talks, just as the other parties involved.

Question: Sergey Ryabkov also said in the same statement that Viktor Bout was certainly on the list of persons discussed at the Russia-US talks. What other Russians are being discussed? There is an imbalance: we know a great deal about the Americans – everyone is talking about Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan and Marc Fogel, but we know very little about the Russian citizens. Viktor Bout is the only one in the public spotlight.

Maria Zakharova: It is part of our position. We have been speaking about this publicly for years (regrettably, Reuters was not one of the media outlets that monitored the life of the Russian citizens who had been illegally detained and deported to the United States), trying to draw attention to their fate and to have the conditions of their confinement improved. We have been talking about this all the time, but you did not care. I doubt that I can find many Reuters items citing us on that issue. Don’t look for dualism in our position; look for it in your own position.

Question: It has been reported that two Russians suspected of working for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, were arrested in Sweden. The Swedish media mentioned Skvortsov and Kulikova. Can the Foreign Ministry confirm this information? What can you say about the charges brought against them in Sweden?

Maria Zakharova: We regard publications in the Swedish media as part of the anti-Russia hysterics in the collective West. In some countries, it has taken the form of spy mania. We consider many of such reports to be defamation. We have exposed many of them, including about the alleged Russian submarine. Such fake news was planted over many years, including in the Soviet period. It invariably begins with media questions, and months or years later, Swedish researchers establish that the event had no connection to us. But their conclusions are not presented as a sensation.

I repeat that we have not received official information on this score from the Swedish authorities.

We have taken note of a statement by the Swedish Security Service (SAPO), which does not mention the detainees’ names, citizenship or the state for which they allegedly spied. That’s all.

We take the greatest possible care of the rights of Russian citizens, to whom our representative offices abroad provide consular assistance when they need it.

Question: The US and its allies are in talks to impose a price cap on Russian oil and plan to reach an agreement within a few days. They have been discussing levels between $60-$70 per barrel. At the same time, traders in the European Union are trying to purchase Russian diesel fuel before the oil embargo comes into force. The Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp trading hub purchased 126 percent more Russian fuel earlier this month than in October. How does Russia assess all this?

Maria Zakharova: We have repeatedly said that putting a so-called price cap on Russian oil is an anti-market measure that disrupts supply chains. It can significantly complicate the situation on global energy markets. The Russian Federation does not plan to deliver oil to the countries that will join the “buyer cartel.”

I want to emphasise that many oil-producing countries also oppose this measure because they understand perfectly well that today it is aimed against Russia, and tomorrow it could be applied to any other country due to political or purely economic, thievish reasons.

The blatant price dictate undermines the system of global trade and creates a dangerous precedent not only on the energy commodities market, but for international trade in general.

You heard the statements by Western politicians, including Josep Borrell and many other European bureaucrats, that the European Union’s prosperity was based on Russian energy. They received it at bargain prices. It was mutually beneficial cooperation, but for them above all. They were interested in it as consumers and used it to develop their economies. Now the story has come to an end. The West does not want to say goodbye to its trouble-free, rich and insolent life. They do not want to pay either. That’s all, a brief description of racketeering.

As for the volume of oil production and exports, Russia will continue constructive cooperation with its OPEK+ partners in the interests of stabilising the oil market. A steep increase in Russian oil purchases on the eve of the ban taking effect shows that the West’s unilateral restrictions and its persistent course of politicising energy cooperation have a negative impact on the economy of all countries, including states that initiate the illegal measures. It also says a lot about their moral and ethical principles. Such actions increase the chances of a global recession. The entire global economy and, first of all, the developing countries will suffer from them.

If this concept does come into effect and these irreversible consequences begin, we will remind them about what we have been saying during these days.

Question: You just said that the amount of US military aid to Ukraine is upwards of $20 billion. As reported by Western media, by November, the United States was running out of some weapons and ammo, in particular, 155-millimetre artillery shells, Stinger MANPADS, HARM anti-radar missiles, GMLRS rockets and Javelin ATGMs. Still, the head of the Pentagon said they would continue to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” What can you say about this?

Maria Zakharova: Something is wrong with this world if two women are talking about Stingers, MANPADS, ADMS, and HARM anti-radar missiles.

Russia has repeatedly made clear its principled position. As a reminder, scaling up its military supplies to Kiev and directly controlling Ukrainian forces, including the provision of real-time recon data, Washington has, in fact, become a party to the conflict in Ukraine.

Everyone talks about this, including Moscow, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov as he reaches out to the US authorities. This was covered during the briefing held on September 29 as well.

Everyone has provided their baseline assessment. As far as their internal dealings regarding how much money they give to whom, what particular supplies are underway, or what items they are running out of or have more of, this is not our concern. Let them decide what kind of games they want to play among themselves. We have already made clear what we think about their activities.

Question: On November 20, Turkish and Iranian artillery and UAVs bombed northern Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan killing and wounding people, including civilians. What is Russia‘s stance on Iran bombing residential communities and schools in Iraqi Kurdistan and on Türkiye conducting an operation in northern Syria?

Maria Zakharova: No doubt, the Russian Federation is concerned about the escalation of hostilities in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq which can lead to greater instability on the Iranian-Iraqi border and the region as a whole. At the same time, we believe that such flare-ups are a direct consequence of US expansionist policy which, in 2003, grossly violated international law, invaded Iraq under a far-fetched pretext and occupied its territory.

This was the main cause behind the hotbeds of terrorism and extremism in remote areas of the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq, which are now being used by Iran’s opponents to create tensions and to stir up unrest in the Islamic Republic’s northwestern provinces. As far as we know, the missile attacks by Iranian forces targeted exclusively the training camps and bases of the separatist groups that have been recognised as terrorist groups by Iran and are now hiding out in Iraqi Kurdistan.

We are no less concerned about the developments in northern Syria amid Türkiye’s Operation Claw-Sword that began on November 20.

We tend to see the reason for the current situation in the US military contingent’s illegal presence in northeastern Syria since 2014 and, accordingly, the Syrian government’s inability to regain full control of the Trans-Euphrates area.

We maintain close contact with the Turkish side on the Syrian problem. We understand Türkiye’s concerns about threats to its national security. At the same time, we believe that conducting a ground operation in Syria will exacerbate tensions in the region and lead to increased terrorist activity. We believe that a direct dialogue between the Turkish and Syrian governments is the way forward to address the security issues in the border regions.

Türkiye and Iran are friendly nations which came under terrorist attacks. No one can question their right to fight back against terrorists or to protect their national security and peaceful civilian life.

At the same time, we are convinced that these actions must be well thought-out anti-terrorist actions without ideological or political underpinnings. When counter-terrorist operations must be conducted in other countries, they must be agreed upon and coordinated with the governments of the countries in question, in this case, friendly Syria and Iraq.

Among other things, this approach would minimise civilian casualties and mitigate the humanitarian risks.

Question: Last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said that about 280,000 tonnes of Russian fertiliser, which Moscow planned to donate to countries in need, have been blocked in the ports of Latvia, Estonia, Belgium and the Netherlands. He also said an agreement had been reached on the shipment of 20,000 tonnes of fertiliser from the Netherlands to Malawi. How much Russian fertiliser is still stranded, and in which countries? What is the most recent update on the fulfilment of the Russian part of the grain deal?

Maria Zakharova: We confirm that we are pressing on with our efforts, with experts from UNCTAD Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan’s team and WFP staff, to implement our initiative to provide Russian mineral fertilisers to the poorest countries free of charge. I have to reiterate and emphasise again that this is a purely humanitarian act to assist those in need, and it has been blocked for almost three months by four European countries – Latvia, Estonia, Belgium and the Netherlands, which are holding the Russian products in their ports.

This week, there are plans to send the first batch of goods (20,000 tonnes) from the Netherlands to Malawi. Most of the fertilisers, primarily in Latvia, have not even been inspected yet because of Riga’s refusal to allow WFP inspectors to do so.

The world should know not only its heroes, but also its anti-heroes. We call on all the parties involved, primarily the EU, to make the necessary efforts to guarantee the shipment of the Russian fertilisers to the poorest countries, which they need no less than food. I can imagine what the developed and “civilised” nations like Great Britain or the United States would do to Riga or anyone who tried to prevent them from getting a product they vitally need from Russia. Those clever fellows in Riga would have found themselves on sanctions lists overnight, stripped of visas, if not some incriminating evidence planted against them. If the West says that it cares so much about the poorest and neediest countries, it has to do all it can to influence Riga and not only (the four countries mentioned above) in order to break this impasse.

As you know, most of the Ukrainian agricultural exports, mainly fodder corn, have been sent to Europe on a commercial basis under the Black Sea initiative; Africans are getting no more than 3 percent of the goods. This makes perfect sense in the context of Borrell’s statements about the attitude of a blooming garden to a wild jungle.

Question: Director General of the UK’s Security Service, Colonel Ken McCallum, said various European countries have expelled about 600 Russian diplomats. He also mentioned that London has refused more than 100 diplomatic visa applications from Moscow. How many European diplomats has Russia expelled and how many diplomatic visas have been denied on national security grounds?

Maria Zakharova: This is some kind of ridiculous math. Answering and discussing this issue is ridiculous and pointless.

Let me be clear: as the head of British MI5 Ken McCallum has begun counting Russian spies, intelligence agents, diplomats and others, a simple question arises for the British side and for the British Embassy in Moscow, as well as an offer for you as journalists: would you, as journalists, ask the British side – say, the British Embassy in Moscow – to tell you as journalists or us, as Russians, how many British intelligence officers, spies or people recruited by British intelligence, are on Russian territory? How many people are active on the territory of the Russian Federation who can be linked to British intelligence agencies and are representatives of the British intelligence services, or are recruited and paid by British intelligence services? Let them give you at least some basic information. As soon as they provide it, we will talk further. Let me emphasise that this question arose only after Ken McCallum began addressing the issue. Before talking about others, talk about yourself first.

Question: French President Emmanuel Macron accused Russia of pursuing a ‘predatory’ policy in Africa. Can you comment on this?

Maria Zakharova: I believe this reasoning is consistent with Josep Borrell’s statement on the ‘jungle.’ Such disrespectful, false and misleading behaviour by the Western states is a testimony to them holding onto colonial logic and ideology. Today all countries are sovereign and independent; they have the right to pursue their own policies, both domestic and foreign, as well as to build bilateral relations.

We do not know why Paris is speaking on behalf of the African continent, which has its own voice. And it was Russia that helped the African states find and develop their voice. The African countries, as well as the continent as a whole, have the right to speak for themselves and to build relationships with whomever they want; they do not need France’s mediation service for this. They would address [France] if they needed them. But they tolerated colonialists on their territory for far too long; now they enjoy their freedom, and make sovereign decisions.

Question: Iran has begun enriching uranium to 60 percent purity at its Fordow nuclear plant. The EU big three has condemned that decision. Its representatives have stated that Iran’s step will undermine the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Does Moscow as a party to the nuclear deal support this accusation? How will it react to Tehran’s actions?

Maria Zakharova: On November 22, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a brief that Iran had begun producing uranium enriched up to 60 percent at its Fordow Fuel Enrichment Facility and had replaced several centrifuges with advanced models.

I would like to note that all changes in Iran’s nuclear programme are monitored by the IAEA, which provides updates for the international community. This is fully in keeping with international law. The IAEA’s brief does not include any conclusions or assessments which could be interpreted as evidence of Iran’s violations of its non-proliferation commitments. Tehran is strictly and consistently complying with its NPT commitments and the NPT Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.

These are the facts. Our Western colleagues are trying to cover up this uncomfortable truth with attacks on Iran. The foreign media and Western mainstream publications are serving the interests of Western countries. They launched a new attack at the IAEA Board of Governors’ meeting a week ago, where the United States and the European signatories of the JCPOA submitted yet another anti-Iran resolution. Russia, China and several other Board members did not support that destructive move. This resolution, just as the ones issued in the past, will have no practical consequences, but it has already had a negative effect on the possibility of relaunching the JCPOA.

We regard the stubborn desire of Washington and its minions to challenge Iran as the manifestation of their unwillingness to see the revival of the nuclear deal through to the end. Our former Western partners seem to be disappointed or rather frightened by the fact that months of talks have produced solutions that make the relaunch of the JCPOA possible. This crazy logic is characteristic of the West, which first demanded and claimed to want the talks, and then start derailing them. We see that the Western capitals are frantically looking for a suitable pretext for walking out of the talks and blaming their failure on Tehran. They will not succeed. The IAEA Director General’s brief gives them no chance.

However hard it may try to blame Iran, the West cannot bury the fact that a suitable key to a settlement was found back in 2015. The JCPOA, reinforced with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, has settled all the IAEA’s questions to Tehran and ensured the highest possible transparency of Iran’s nuclear programme. The Russian leaders have pointed out on numerous occasions that the signatories’ compliance with their commitments is the best and fastest way to relaunch the nuclear deal. But the problem is that the West doesn’t like to honour its commitments or to be reminded of this.

The necessary solutions have been coordinated down to the finest detail in Vienna. But the process came to a standstill one step before the finish line. Our Western colleagues had a chance to formalise the solution and to refrain from submitting their anti-Iran resolution to the Board of Governors. But they chose differently. They are killing the spirit and the essence of international organisations by producing endless resolutions and documents that have no connection with international law, but are politically biased declarations of a country or group of countries. It is a harmful mistake, as historical experience has shown more than once.

We urge Washington and European capitals to abandon their time-serving considerations, have a serious and objective look at the situation and take a responsible approach to the task of relaunching the full implementation of the JCPOA. This will also help settle their questions about the scale, speed and level of uranium enrichment in Iran.

We are ready to do our best to facilitate this approach.

Question: About the efforts to stop the shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant – has the Russian Foreign Ministry had any contacts with the countries that have some influence on Kiev (such as Türkiye, France or others)? How do you assess the IAEA’s role in stopping the attacks?

Maria Zakharova: The Russian side is making intensive efforts to stabilise the situation around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and prevent the threats posed by the Kiev regime’s continued attacks on the plant and the surrounding area. The source of these threats has long been no secret to anyone, regardless of whether the observer has the courage to call a spade a spade. Everyone understands where the threats are emanating from – from the Kiev regime. Everyone at the UN, the IAEA and in the relevant capitals knows it, including the direct supervisors of the Zelensky regime.

The Ukrainian authorities’ self-destructive policy has long been of serious concern not only to us. The agreements with the IAEA on the continuous presence of the agency’s representatives at the power plant that we reached through considerable efforts were a step in the right direction, and for some time made Kiev act more cautiously. Even so, Ukraine continued attacks on the area adjacent to the plant, attempts to land troops there and other provocations, including against the facility’s personnel, never stopping for a single day.

More recently, however, the situation has grown tense again. The Ukrainian army, which cannot be called anything but a criminal organisation, resumed artillery strikes at the plant. There is no doubt that Kiev is aware of what it is doing by shelling critical facilities and infrastructure elements of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. The war criminals of the Kiev regime are thus bringing humanity closer to the realistic possibility of a man-made disaster with absolutely catastrophic consequences. They are targeting Zaporozhye, but holding the whole world at gunpoint.

This suicidal balancing on the brink of life and death is a signature modus operandi of the current Ukrainian regime. They are ready to drag the whole planet into political oblivion with them. The West must understand this perfectly well. Trying to further turn a blind eye to such crimes and nuclear blackmail or to look for some comfortable explanations for the excesses committed by the Kiev regime amounts to unacceptable connivance, or even conscious indulgence, or worse, incitement to new crimes. We are tirelessly calling on all countries, primarily on those that are in close contact with Vladimir Zelensky and whose representatives keep flashing on television screens with their arms around those monsters, to show political will and a responsible approach, and make every effort to stop the Ukrainian shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant forever.

Question: Participants in yesterday’s CSTO summit meeting specifically discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan said earlier that the Russian proposals regarding a peace treaty between Baku and Yerevan included a provision on postponing the question of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status for an indefinite period. We know that the Azerbaijani party has repeatedly said that this approach is not acceptable for it. Can the Foreign Ministry confirm the statement made by the Armenian prime minister? If yes, how is the Kremlin going to find a consensus between the two parties?

Maria Zakharova: The issue of a peace treaty, just like other issues related to Armenia-Azerbaijan normalisation, is of a complicated and sensitive nature. We do not consider it expedient to comment on the positions of the parties until they reach concrete agreements. We have repeatedly said that, including during briefings.

Let me remind you that Foreign Ministry Special Representative for the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan Igor Khovayev visited Yerevan on November 14, 2022. During his trip, he held a series of consultations with Armenian political leaders. He is currently in Baku to meet with the Azerbaijani side. The peace treaty is being discussed during these two trips among other things.

Question: Despite the trilateral statement during the recent talks in Sochi where the parties agreed to abstain from using force or threatening to use it, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev once again threatened Armenia. Moreover, the Azerbaijani party regularly violates the ceasefire and attacks Armenian military positions and civilians in Nagorno Karabakh; there have also been victims on the Armenian side, which was confirmed by the Russian peacekeepers. What does Moscow think of Baku’s blatant violations of the trilateral agreements, and how does it plan to enforce these agreements?

Maria Zakharova: We proceed from the need to strictly comply with all the provisions of the trilateral statement by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, including the agreements made at the Sochi summit on October 31, 2022 on the non-use of force or threat to use force. We consider it important to abstain from provocative rhetoric that can result in aggravating tensions in the region.

Russia maintains regular contact with both parties at the political level, including the heads of state and foreign ministers, and on the ground through the Russian peacekeeping contingent and the Border Service of the Russian Federal Security Service in order to prevent armed incidents. We will continue the process to normalise Armenian-Azerbaijani relations in the interests of establishing peace in the South Caucasus.

Question: In an interview with Argumenty i Fakty, Federation Council Deputy Speaker Konstantin Kosachev said that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was not within the competence of the CSTO. This naturally evoked a very negative reaction in Armenia. We would like to know the Russian Foreign Ministry’s position on whether an attack on one of the CSTO member countries by a non-member country is within the competence of the CSTO. How appropriate are such statements a few days before the CSTO summit, which the Russian President will attend in Yerevan?

Maria Zakharova: It is interesting to hear this question from a media representative of Armenia, where political assessments and judgments are made on a wide range of issues. By the way, sometimes they are diametrically opposed, and come in the run-up to, during and immediately after all kinds of events.

We proceed from the fact that we are a democratic society. Experts, politicians and political analysts have the right to express their point of view on various events.

As for the CSTO, yesterday the situation on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan was discussed, as well as the normalisation of bilateral relations between Baku and Yerevan.

Question: Gazprom claims unauthorised siphoning of gas for Moldova from the pipeline running through the territory of Ukraine. How can Russia solve this problem?

Maria Zakharova: Your question should be addressed to Gazprom. We have repeatedly noted that all issues related to the supply of Russian gas to Moldova are commercial and fall within the competence of Gazprom.

Question: About the efforts to stop the shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant – has the Russian Foreign Ministry had any contacts with the countries that have some influence on Kiev (such as Türkiye, France or others)? How do you assess the IAEA’s role in stopping the attacks?

Maria Zakharova: The Russian side is making intensive efforts to stabilise the situation around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and prevent the threats posed by the Kiev regime’s continued attacks on the plant and the surrounding area. The source of these threats has long been no secret to anyone, regardless of whether the observer has the courage to call a spade a spade. Everyone understands where the threats are emanating from – from the Kiev regime. Everyone at the UN, the IAEA and in the relevant capitals knows it, including the direct supervisors of the Zelensky regime.

The Ukrainian authorities’ self-destructive policy has long been of serious concern not only to us. The agreements with the IAEA on the continuous presence of the agency’s representatives at the power plant that we reached through considerable efforts were a step in the right direction, and for some time made Kiev act more cautiously. Even so, Ukraine continued attacks on the area adjacent to the plant, attempts to land troops there and other provocations, including against the facility’s personnel, never stopping for a single day.

More recently, however, the situation has grown tense again. The Ukrainian army, which cannot be called anything but a criminal organisation, resumed artillery strikes at the plant. There is no doubt that Kiev is aware of what it is doing by shelling critical facilities and infrastructure elements of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. The war criminals of the Kiev regime are thus bringing humanity closer to the realistic possibility of a man-made disaster with absolutely catastrophic consequences. They are targeting Zaporozhye, but holding the whole world at gunpoint.

This suicidal balancing on the brink of life and death is a signature modus operandi of the current Ukrainian regime. They are ready to drag the whole planet into political oblivion with them. The West must understand this perfectly well. Trying to further turn a blind eye to such crimes and nuclear blackmail or to look for some comfortable explanations for the excesses committed by the Kiev regime amounts to unacceptable connivance, or even conscious indulgence, or worse, incitement to new crimes. We are tirelessly calling on all countries, primarily on those that are in close contact with Vladimir Zelensky and whose representatives keep flashing on television screens with their arms around those monsters, to show political will and a responsible approach, and make every effort to stop the Ukrainian shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant forever.

Question: Soon we will have a big anniversary – the 100th anniversary of the USSR. Many millions of our compatriots were born in this country. Even being far away, they closely follow the life and events in their homeland. Russia is the legal successor of the USSR. Will this anniversary be celebrated and how?

Maria Zakharova: Let me remind you that one hundred years ago, on December 30, 1922, the First All-Union Congress of Soviets approved the Treaty on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The anniversary will not be celebrated at the state level. Nevertheless, a number of public organisations plan to hold celebrations dedicated to this landmark event, which has become part of Russian and world history.

The Russian Historical Society and the Russian Military Historical Society actively joined in the celebrations.

Thus, on November 22-23, the Russian Military Historical Society held an international forum, History for the Future: the 100th Anniversary of the USSR, during which a wide range of issues related to the study and promotion of Russia’s history was discussed.

On November 29-30, in Moscow, the Russian Historical Society, will hold the international scientific conference, The 100th Anniversary of the USSR: New Views and New Approaches. The conference will be attended by historians representing leading scientific and educational historical centres of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Commemorative expositions are being held at a number of exhibition venues in Moscow and St Petersburg. From October 7, 2022 to January 8, 2023, the Moscow Kremlin Museums host an exhibition dedicated to the anniversary of the creation of the Soviet Union and the 150th birth anniversary of first People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR Georgy Chicherin. It unites over 80 unique exhibits, most of which are presented to the public for the first time.

The Unbreakable Union. The 100th Anniversary of the USSR: 1922-2022 exhibition kicked off on November 17 at the State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia. It displays paintings and artworks reflecting the national history from the day of the founding of the USSR to the present day.

On November 3, a large-scale multimedia project with augmented reality technologies, 100 Victories of the USSR, was launched in Russia – My History historical park to mark the anniversary of the creation of the USSR.

From July to December, cinemas owned by the Moskino chain have been holding the film forum “I will never forget a friend if we became friends in Moscow,” dedicated to this significant date.

Question: How does the Foreign Ministry assess the consequences for Russia of the European Parliament’s adoption of a resolution recognising Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism?

Maria Zakharova: We already briefly commented on this topic yesterday. This is about medicine.

In the near future, we will publish a comment by Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov on the entire complex of this information and political campaign.

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2 months ago

A very important and trenchant speech that I would have missed had it not been posted here. So thank you for that. There are many points that I would like to offer for consideration and discussion. I hope to be able to do so in the next couple of days.… Read more »