USA-Russia: prisoners exchange talks

Brussels 06.08.2022 Russia is ready to discuss the exchange of prisoners with the US, but only within the channel, negotiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden. If the Americans resort to public diplomacy, its’ “their problem,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said to reporters Friday, August 5. (Image above: Viktor Bout)

The top diplomat said that Washington’s logic in the situation around House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is “strange,” and noted that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken displayed no interest in contacts with his Russian counterpart during the ASEAN events in Phnom Penh.

“If the Americans once again decide to resort to public diplomacy and to make loud announcements that they plan to take some steps, then that is their business, and I would even say, their problem. The Americans often do not comply with agreements on a quiet professional work on this and many other topics.”

Russia-Serbia relations in process

Brussels 02.08.2022 The issue of Serbia’s possible membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has not yet been included on the agenda, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday, August 1.

“Frankly speaking, such an issue has not been on the agenda,” the Kremlin official said replying to a question on the matter.

Putin’s press secretary could not answer a question whether an agreement with Serbia, similar to agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid with the sefl-proclaimed Donbass Republics, was possible.

“You know that we have allied, very sincere and very profound relations with Serbia. So, undoubtedly, our relations should continue to develop and the legal base will develop but I cannot say at the moment whether there will be such elements,” he explained.

On Sunday night, July 31, the situation in Kosovo and Metohija sharply escalated after Kosovo’s police had closed a checkpoint on the border with Serbia, intending to introduce a ban on Serbian documents on Monday. In response, Serbs in the north of Kosovo took to the streets and blocked key highways. The police and the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo, were pulled to the bridge across the Ibar River, which links Kosovska Mitrovica’s northern and southern parts.

As a result of international efforts, Pristina decided to postpone the procedure of banning Serbian documents until September 1.

Russia-Africa Summit announcement

Brussels 27.07.2022 Russia’s second-largest city of Saint Petersburg will host the 2023 Russia-Africa Summit, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson wrote on her Telegram channel on Wednesday, July 27.

“We are leaving the African continent under a heavy rain and this is a good sign,” she stated. “Thank you, friends, and we are waiting for you in Saint Petersburg next year at the Russia-Africa summit.”

The inaugural Russia-Africa summit was hosted by the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi in 2019. The summit was organised between October 22 and 24, 2019 and its slogan read as ‘For Peace, Security and Development.’

Within the framework of the African tour earlier this week, Foreign Minister Lavrov visited Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia between July 24 and 27.

The visit to Ethiopia on Wednesday July 27 was be the final stop in Lavrov’s African tour, after which the Russian top diplomat will travel to the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Uzbekistani capital of Tashkent.

The food crisis caused by the Ukraine conflict took the center stage during Lavrov’s previous negotiations and press conferences in African countries.

Putin vows to overcome hardships

Brussels 18.07.2022 Russia is not going to lose heart or have decades of its progress reversed, despite inhospitable forecasts from opponents, President Vladimir Putin told the Council for Strategic Development at a meeting on Monday.

The president said Russia was being completely denied access to foreign hi-tech products.

“We understand that this is a major challenge to our country, however we are not going to lose heart or have decades of our progress reversed, despite predictions from a number of our ill-wishers, the opposite is true,” Putin insisted.

“[We are] aware of the huge amount of obstacles” being put up, so Russia will be “looking for new solutions while making effective use of its own technological capacities available in the country and research by innovative Russian companies,” Putin explained.

“I understand that this is a complicated task. All of us are perfectly aware of that. And it’s also clear that we cannot and will not live in isolation from the rest of the world,” the Russian president pledged.

The head of state stressed that Russia cannot be isolated from the rest of the world, or fenced off from it.

“Obviously, we cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world. And we won’t. It is impossible in the present-day world to merely issue as decree and erect a huge fence. It is simply impossible,” he said and outlined top priority tasks.

According to the president, one of such tasks is to develop end-to-end technologies, which have major influence on structural changes in the economy.

Borrell: views on Ukraine conflict shift

Brussels 11.07.2022 The G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali opened to Josep Borrell the different perspectives around the world on the situation in Ukraine and its consequences, the The European Union top diplomat said, pointing at the evolution of views on the conflict.

“In the March vote at the UN General Assembly, 140 states condemned the Russian aggression and no member of the G20, apart from the aggressor, opposed this Resolution. But on how to move forward and on the consequences of the war, views differ sharply,” Borrell said in a statement published on the EU’s website on Sunday. “The G7 and like-minded countries are united in condemning and sanctioning Russia and in trying to hold the regime accountable. But other countries, and we can speak here of the majority of the `Global South’, often take a different perspective,” he concluded.

“The global battle of narratives is in full swing and, for now, we are not winning,” Borrell underlined.

The G20 foreign ministerial sessions held in Bali on July 7-8 were attended by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “special military operation” in response to a request by the heads of the two Donbass Republics. The U.S., the EU, the UK and a number of NATO allies retaliated with sweeping sanctions against Russia and have been ramping up their weapons supplies to Ukraine.

“In the March vote at the UN General Assembly, 140 states condemned the Russian aggression and no member of the G20, apart from the aggressor, opposed this resolution. But on how to move forward and on the consequences of the war, views differ sharply,” Borrell said in a statement published on the EU’s website on Sunday. “The G7 and like-minded countries are united in condemning and sanctioning Russia and in trying to hold the regime accountable. But other countries, and we can speak here of the majority of the `Global South’, often take a different perspective,” the EU diplomat concluded.

“The global battle of narratives is in full swing and, for now, we are not winning,” Borrell continued.

The G20 foreign ministerial sessions held in Bali on July 7-8 were attended by Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov. The Russian foreign minister held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a special military operation in response to a request by the heads of the two Donbass republics. The US, the EU, the UK and a number of other countries retaliated with sweeping sanctions against Russia and have been ramping up their weapons supplies to Ukraine.

Nord Stream: Canada promises to return compressor

Brussels 10.07.2022 Gazprom had to reduce natural gas supplies over the Nord Stream pipeline lower than planned due to the delayed return of gas compressor units from repair by Siemens and malfunctions in technical engines, the Russian gas holding said.

Canada will return to Germany a repaired Siemens turbine for the Nord Stream pipeline, Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson ensured, according to The Globe and Mail newspaper.

“Canada will grant a time-limited and revocable permit for Siemens Canada to allow the return of repaired Nordstream 1 turbines to Germany, supporting Europe’s ability to access reliable and affordable energy as they continue to transition away from Russian oil and gas,” the newspaper quoted him as saying on Saturday, July 9.

The official underscored that “absent a necessary supply of natural gas, the German economy will suffer very significant hardship and Germans themselves will be at risk of being unable to heat their homes as winter approaches.”

Gazprom had to face the necessity to reduce natural gas supplies over the Nord Stream pipeline lower than planned due to the delayed return of gas compressor units from repair by Siemens and malfunctions in technical engines, the Russian gas holding said on June 14. Siemens Energy said one of the gas turbines cannot be returned to Germany from Montreal due to Canada’s sanctions against Russia.

As a result, gas throughput over the Nord Stream has been constrained to 40% of maximum capacity.

Russia-U.S. talks on mercenaries failed

Brussels 09.07.2022 Talks on American mercenaries in Ukraine going nowhere — Russian diplomat
“The U.S. earlier sent some kind of a signal, mostly stressing that these people should be regarded as combatants under the Geneva Convention and the corresponding obligations should be applied to them,” Deputy Foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

Russian-U.S. exchanges on the issue of American mercenaries in Ukraine failed to proceed, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters on Friday, July 8.

“As far as I understand, the discussions failed to develop,” he said in response to a TASS question. “The US earlier sent some kind of a signal, mostly stressing that these people should be regarded as combatants under the Geneva Convention and the corresponding obligations should be applied to them,” Ryabkov added.

The senior Russian diplomat has underlined that “the circumstances of mercenaries’ emergence and the overall presence and activities of foreign mercenaries on the side of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and nationalist battalions are one of the most serious issues in the relations with the United States and their allies.

NATO MADRID PIVOTAL SUMMIT

Brussels 25.06.2022 NATO Leaders are meeting in Madrid at a pivotal time for our security. Russia’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe, caused far-reaching energy and food crises, and shaken the rules-based international order. NATO’s response has been swift and united.

How has Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the new security reality in Europe affected NATO’s approach to deterrence and defence?

What is the Alliance doing to address other challenges, like China’s growing influence and assertiveness or the security consequences of climate change?

What will be included in NATO’s next Strategic Concept, the blueprint for the Alliance’s future adaptation to a more competitive world where authoritarian powers try to push back against the rules-based international order?

These are just some of the important questions that NATO Leaders will discuss during the Madrid Summit.

More than ever, NATO is the indispensable platform for transatlantic consultations and cooperation on security and defence. At the Madrid Summit, Allies will continue to adapt, taking decisions to keep NATO strong and ready in a more dangerous world. Heads of State and Government will agree to strengthen deterrence and defence, and support Ukraine for the longer term. They will agree the 2022 Strategic Concept, which will be a roadmap for the Alliance in the years to come. Allies will also boost cooperation with partners, enhance resilience and sharpen NATO’s technological edge – all underpinned by the necessary investments in our collective defence.

NATO Leaders are gathering in Madrid, Spain to discuss important issues facing the Alliance. The Madrid Summit will set NATO’s strategic direction for the next decade and beyond, ensuring that the Alliance will continue to adapt to a changing world and keep its one billion people safe.

Russia declines to join Nuclear weapons Treaty

Brussels 25.06.2022 Moscow declines to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday, Juin 25.

The diplomat commented in the aftermath of the first conference of states-participants of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The assertive advancement of the process deepens the disunity between states and undermines the regime of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

“In connection with the desire to put on a permanent basis the efforts to universalise the TPNW, as recorded in the final documents of the conference, we emphasise: Russia does not intend to join this agreement and believes that the treaty does not establish any universal standards: neither now nor in the future,” she said.

Moscow continues to firmly adhere to the position that the development of the TPNW was premature, erroneous and, in fact, counterproductive. This agreement does nothing to reduce the growing nuclear risks and does not bring humanity one step closer to the goal stated in it, and the approach laid down in the TPNW only leads to an increase in contradictions between nuclear and non-nuclear states, the spokesperson continued.

“It does not take into account the military-political and military-strategic situation and runs counter to the principle that nuclear disarmament should be carried out in such a way that it would lead to “an increase in the level of security for all.” We do not see realistic ways to implement any – or practical measures to directly reduce nuclear weapons,” the diplomat said.

“Russia, like all other states with military nuclear potential, did not take part in the conference of states-participants of the TPNW and does not intend to do so in the future. We also do not plan to build joint work with auxiliary structures created as part of the interaction of the participants of the TPNW to implement it,” she added.

Assertive advancement of the treaty deepens disunity between states and undermines the regime of Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Russia: Pope and senator Paul

Brussels 21.06.2022 Senator Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky) received some high profile company last week in citing NATO expansion as a main reason Russia invaded Ukraine. Pope Francis echoed Paul’s earlier sentiment that the North-Atlantic Alliance played a significant role in provoking Russia and shares a large part of the blame. The Pontiff announced that Russia’s invasion was “perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented” in an interview with La Civilta Cattolica.

Senator Paul initially made his comments during an exchange with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a hearing about the conflict in Ukraine. The fact that Pope Francis endorsed this theory as well should come as no surprise. It has been a prominent theory in geopolitics for several decades. Yet Democrats and other left-wingers refused to acknowledge this, despite decades of evidence supporting Paul’s claim. Instead, they vilified and attacked Senator Paul, along with anyone else who repeated this theory.

Paul offered his criticism in April and was accused of being a Putin apologist. Will the Democrats blame Pope Francis for becoming a Putin puppet?