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.

Putin: Russia proceeds with military operation

Brussels 12.04.2022 President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, April 12, Russia will proceed according to plan with military operations in Ukraine as the pro-Western country braces for a major offensive in the east.

“Our task is to fulfil and achieve all the goals set, minimising losses. And we will act rhythmically, calmly, according to the plan originally proposed by the General Staff,” Putin said during a TV press conference.

Speaking to press following a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at “Vostochny” cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, Putin dismissed claims Russian army was struggling against the Ukrainian resistance and was forced to withdraw from around major cities, including the Kyiv.

“Our actions in certain regions of Ukraine were just related to containing (enemy) forces, destroying military infrastructure, creating conditions for a more active operation in Donbas,” Putin said referring to a region in eastern Ukraine, parts of which are controlled by pro-Russia separatists.

Putin also added the military operation was not going to speed up, in order to minimise casualties.

“I often hear the question: is it possible to do it a bit faster? It is. This depends on the intensity of hostilities, but the intensity of hostilities is, unfortunately related to losses,” he explained.

The Ukrainian military commanders claim that Russia’s death toll has risen to nearly 20,000, though this may well be an exaggeration. However the figures, announced by the Russian Ministry of Defence do not seem convincing either.

Russia construction ambitions in Greece

Brussels 11.12.2021 In a very unusual format the spokesperson of Kremlin gave an interview to a Greek TV Channel, acting like a diplomat.
Dmitry Peskov said Russia is interested in implementing megaprojects in Greece much like it does in Turkey, while talking to an English-language interview with the Greek Antenna TV channel. The conversation took place before the December 8 meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Sochi. The full interview was issued on Saturday, December 11.

The Kremlin official said that Russia is interested in expanding economic cooperation with Greece. “We have lots and lots of Russian companies who are ready to invest in Greek economy. We are interested in implementing huge, mega projects like we do it in Turkey. Of course, it is not that every project is allowed [in Greece], for example, we are building a nuclear station in Akkuyu in Turkey, but, unfortunately, nuclear energy is forbidden in Greece,” he explained.

Peskov said that Russia holds the decisive role of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in high esteem. “He is the type of man that is being appreciated by President Putin because when President Erdogan said something he meant it and he did it. This is important.”

As for the differences between Russia and Turkey on a number of issues, the Kremlin official said that “it’s impossible not to have them,” pointing out that in Syria, the two countries used to have quite tense moments where their interests were colliding in several spheres. “But every time the two presidents found it possible to come together, to sit for five, six, seven hours and not going in front of the press without reaching a solution. Every time they managed to do it,” the spokesman noted.

In response to a question as to whom Russia would support in case of an armed incident in the Aegean Sea, the Kremlin official said that “the last thing we would like to see in the Aegean or in the Mediterranean Sea is us being closer to a conflict. We were very worried in August of 2020 when there was a collision between the ships of two countries,” stressing that it is desirable to avoid any repetition of similar incidents in the future. According to him, Russia would like to support the resolution of issues between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea. “We would like to support a solution,” he said, noting that Russia would like to see both sides proceed taking the reality into account “because every solution is a two-way street, with the reciprocal wish to reach the solution.”

In response to a question whether Greece may expect Russia’s full support against Turkey’s actions in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, the Kremlin official said that Turkey insisted that the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Greece’s demands to establish the internationally recognized width of the continental shelf of inhabited islands in the Aegean Sea as well as the scale of the exclusive economic zone would definitely harm Turkey’s national interests and deprive it of its right to use the natural resources of the region. “So, we call for both sides to be calm and to be reasonable in solving the problem,” Putin’s press secretary concluded.

Russian diplomat warns NATO against “delusions”

Brussels 28.11.2021 The assumptions heard in the United States that Russia is likely to be frightened with NATO capabilities in Ukraine and the Black Sea are dangerous delusions, Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said on the YouTube channel during a TV show on Saturday, November 28.

“NATO states are taking over the Black Sea, Ukrainian territory. There are assumptions, which are voiced here, that certain daredevils or a group of combatants may turn up in Ukraine, who will try to test the strength of Russian defenses, expecting that we will not respond fearing the NATO potential. I would like to say and emphasize unequivocally that it is a very dangerous delusion,” the diplomat said.

Antonov pointed out that Washington is increasingly expanding the range of weapons delivered to Ukraine.

“Militarily speaking, this range of weapons funneled to Ukraine is expanding more and more. The Stinger [man-portable air-defense systems], Javelin [anti-tank weapons] and even our Mi-17 [helicopters] got there,” he said.

“They keep saying that these are defensive weapons. But we know what ‘defensive weapons’ mean, what the US Mk-41 systems are like, which, on the one hand, are certainly defensive, as they are anti-missile systems, but it has already been proven, and the Americans are not concealing now that they can be used for launching intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles,” the diplomat stressed.

Kremlin issues warning to Taliban

Brussels 14.07.2021 Russian senior official accused the Afghan government of hypocrisy and said it needed to start proper negotiations with the Taliban about the country’s future before it was too late. (Image above: illustration, Afghanistan).

Zamir Kabulov, a special Representative on Afghanistan, issued the warning ahead of upcoming talks about the Afghan crisis in Tajikistan where Foreign Ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation were meeting.

In an interview with state RIA news agency, the high official said that while the Afghan government paid lip service to the idea of talks it was not doing enough to make them happen.

“It’s hypocrisy. It’s an attempt to close their eyes to the reality which exists and these are empty words,” Kabulov told RIA when talking about the Afghan’s government’s stance on negotiations with the Taliban. “We need deeds” Kabulov has underlined.

The only way out of the current crisis which has seen the Taliban make military gains on the back of an exit by U.S. and NATO forces was for all sides to assemble at the negotiating table in Kabul, the official continued. Russia and other regional powers favoured a transitional government in Afghanistan, he added.

Any attempt by the Taliban to damage the security of Russia’s allies in Central Asia will be fraught with large losses for the Taliban movement, continued Zamir Kabulov.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. Taliban should understand that “any attempt to damage the security of our allies in Central Asia will be fraught with great losses for them, if not the loss of everything” Kabulov continued.

Putin: doesn’t guarantee Navalny right for life

Brussels 14.06.2021 Russian President Vladimir Putin denied ordering an assassination on Kremlin prominent critic political rival Alexei Navalny, but in an exclusive interview with NBC News he did not guarantee that the jailed Kremlin critic, who survived being poisoned with a nerve agent, would get out of prison alive.

“Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president,” Putin said.

That was one of several striking moments in Putin’s first interview in three years with a U.S. news organisation, days ahead of his meeting with President Joe Biden in Geneva.
Reminded that Navalny wasn’t just any prisoner, Putin has underlined: “He will not be treated any worse than anybody else.”

Putin granted an exclusive interview, and had a talk with NBCNews journalist for nearly an hour and a half while U.S. President Joe Biden met with the leaders of G7 industrialised nations in Cornwall,UK, from which Russia was suspended in 2014 after Maidan revolution in Ukraine, and following refusal of the Republic of Crimea to accept new Kiev ruler who ascended power by coup d’état, shortly afterwards Crimea joined Russian Republic following the referendum.

According to the 2001 census, 77% of Crimean inhabitants named Russian as their native language, 11.4% – Crimean Tatar, and 10.1% – Ukrainian.

Putin: “extraordinary individual” Trump

Brussels 11.06.2021 Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his interview with NBC News that he respects former US leader Donald Trump, defining him as a “extraordinary individual”. (Image: meeting in Helsinki, July 2018)

“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. President,” Putin said.

“He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment, he had not been part of big time politics before, and some like it some don’t like it but that is a fact,” Putin noted.

The full version of the interview will be aired on Monday, June 14 on Trump’s birthday.

On Thursday, June 10, Trump asked Joe Biden in a written statement to give Putin his “warmest regards” at the upcoming Geneva summit. The former president said his meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki, Finland in 2018 was “great and very productive.”

In the statement the 45th President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump wrote:

As President, I had a great and very productive meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with President Putin of Russia. Despite the belated Fake News portrayal of the meeting, the United States won much, including the respect of President Putin and Russia. Because of the phony Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax, made-up and paid for by the Democrats and Crooked Hillary Clinton, the United States was put at a disadvantage—a disadvantage that was nevertheless overcome by me. As to who do I trust, they asked, Russia or our “Intelligence” from the Obama era, meaning people like Comey, McCabe, the two lovers, Brennan, Clapper, and numerous other sleezebags, or Russia, the answer, after all that has been found out and written, should be obvious. Our government has rarely had such lowlifes as these working for it. Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin—don’t fall asleep during the meeting, and please give him my warmest regards!”

Previously President Putin has already expressed his opinion about the impeachment of President Trump in an interview in 2019: “Absolutely far-fetched reasons. This is just a continuation of the political struggle. Democrats are charging Trump with charges of collusion with Russia, or they have invented some kind of pressure on Ukraine.” Putin added that Senate Republicans are unlikely to want to impeach their president.

Russian President added that Russia is interested in developing relations with the United States, regardless of who sits in the White House.

EU-Russia: combating coronavirus

Brussels 07.06.2021 “I conveyed a message of EU unity in my call with president Putin. The downwards trend in EU-Russia relations can only change if Russia stops disruptive behaviour. Fighting the pandemic and making effective vaccines available to everyone is a goal we discussed” Charles Michel, the EU Council President wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel:

Telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel
“Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel.
Relations between Russia and the European Union, as well as a number of current international issues, were discussed in detail.
“Vladimir Putin stressed that, although Russia and the European Union remained significant trade and investment partners, the current state of Russia-EU relations could not be considered satisfactory. It was noted that a return to pragmatic and respectful cooperation would be in the interests of both. Mutual opinion was expressed that it is important to step up cooperation in specific areas like healthcare, the climate agenda, and settling regional conflicts.

“Combating the spread of the coronavirus infection was also discussed, including the prospects for certifying the Russian vaccine Sputnik V in the European Union and ensuring conditions for mutual travel while complying with anti-pandemic restrictions.

“Developments around Nagorno-Karabakh were discussed in terms of the importance of the further and consistent implementation of the statements made by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021. Priority tasks include unblocking economic and transport connections in the region and resolving local humanitarian problems. Charles Michel expressed support for these efforts, including the work of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs (Russia, the US and France).

“Regarding the additional sanctions pressure on Belarus from the European Union, Vladimir Putin noted that such an approach, like any attempt to interfere in this sovereign state’s domestic affairs, was counterproductive.

“When discussing the internal Ukrainian crisis, both sides noted that the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures remained the only basis for the settlement process. The President of Russia said that the Kiev authorities must strictly implement all previously reached agreements, primarily on establishing a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk and legalising the special status of Donbass.

“During the discussion of developments in Libya, Vladimir Putin and Charles Michel spoke in favour of further promoting the political process and supporting the established authorities during the transition period”.

Steven Seagal joins pro-Kremlin party

Brussels 30.05.2021 Hollywood actor Steven Seagal, who has Russian citizenship, has joined a pro-Kremlin political party Справедливая Россия (Just Russia). The A Just Russia party backs almost all Kremlin initiatives and supports President Vladimir Putin but formally is a rival of the ruling United Russia party.

At a ceremony on May 29, Seagal posed for pictures next to one of the party leaders, Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin, who is associated with Russia-backed separatists of Lugansk and Donetsk in Donbass reagion.

Seagal, who has personal ties with President Putin, was given Russian citizenship in 2016.

The 69-year-old actor has starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992). His movies were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.

One of several Western actors and athletes who have been granted Russian citizenship under Putin, he was appointed by the Foreign Ministry as a special envoy for cultural ties with the United States in 2018.

The U.S.-born martial artist has retained his American citizenship.