19 | 09 | 2019

On February 20, Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov received Political and Media Adviser to the President of Syria Bouthaina Shaaban, who is in Moscow to attend the Middle East conference of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

During the meeting, also attended by Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad, the parties discussed the developments concerning the situation in and around Syria, with a focus on the urgency of a political resolution of the Syrian crisis according to UNSC Resolution 2254.

Mr Minister,

Friends,

We are happy to have this opportunity to compare notes on the bilateral and regional agendas on the sidelines of your working visit to Russia to take part in the work of the Valdai Discussion Club. The past year confirmed the mutual interest of the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran in enhancing contacts in all areas.

Question: Who are you going to meet with in Belgrade? What issues are on the agendas of your meetings?

Sergey Lavrov: As our Serbian friends told me, the programme they prepared includes a meeting with the President, the Prime Minister, the First Deputy Prime Minister, and the Foreign Minister of Serbia. We will also have a cultural programme dedicated to the great anniversary of our relations, including a visit to the Church of St Sava.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Colleagues,

Now that international relations have entered a period of radical change, which has overturned the thesis about “the end of history,” we should remember what happened in the relatively recent past. As Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky said, “History (…) punishes us for not learning its lessons.”

Eighty years ago, in 1938, an agreement on the division of Czechoslovakia was signed in Munich, which led to the Second World War.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meetings on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference

As we have already announced, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the Munich Security Conference. We received a lot of questions regarding his bilateral and multilateral meetings planned as side events of the Conference.

Now I can confirm the following meetings on the sidelines of the Conference: meetings with Foreign Minister of Japan Taro Kono, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, Foreign Minister of Spain Alfonso Dastis, Foreign Minister of Egypt Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Foreign Minister of Slovakia, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak, Foreign Minister of Moldova Tudor Ulianovschi, Foreign Minister of Croatia Marija Pejcinovic-Buric, and President of Greek New Democracy opposition party Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

A 120-mm mortar shell hit the Russian trade mission building in Damascus (currently mothballed, but still under diplomatic immunity) on February 6 at approximately 4 pm local time. No casualties have been reported. The building was badly damaged.

We strongly condemn this latest terrorist attack against the diplomatic mission of the Russian Federation in Damascus, which is part of a string of recent crimes committed by terrorists against civilians in the Syrian capital.

On February 6, Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with Cuban Ambassador to Russia Gerardo Penalver Portal at the latter’s request.

On February 5, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov received Cuban Ambassador to Russia Gerardo Penalver Portal, at his request.

During their conversation, Mr Titov and Mr Portal underscored the importance of further expanding Russian-Cuban strategic partnership in numerous areas of cooperation, including political dialogue, trade, economic and investment ties, cultural and humanitarian exchanges, as well as issues relating to the regional and international agenda.

According to Article II of the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, Russia and the United States were to meet the following aggregate limits on strategic arms by February 5, 2018:

- 700 deployed ballistic missiles (ICBMs), deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments;

- 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments;

We are deeply disappointed with the new US Nuclear Posture Review, which was made public on February 2. The first impression is: the document is focused on confrontation and is anti-Russian. It is regrettable that the United States justifies its policy of massive nuclear build-up with references to Russia’s policy of nuclear modernisation and the allegedly increased reliance on nuclear weapons in Russia’s doctrines.

We have been accused of lowering the threshold for the first use of nuclear weapons and aggressive strategies.

None of this has any connection with reality. Russia’s Military Doctrine clearly limits the possibility of using nuclear weapons to two hypothetical defensive scenarios: first, in response to an aggression against Russia and/or its allies involving the use of nuclear or any other weapons of mass destruction, and second, in response to a non-nuclear aggression, but only if Russia’s survival is endangered. The 2014 Military Doctrine introduced a new term, the “system of non-nuclear deterrence,” which implies preventing aggression primarily through reliance on conventional (non-nuclear) forces.

Mr Chairperson,

I would like to use this occasion to express our support for the successful OSCE conference on anti-Semitism in the OSCE area, which was held in Rome on January 29. We are grateful to Mr Michele Galizia (Switzerland) for the report he has delivered on behalf of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which is currently chaired by Switzerland.

The Red Army liberated the Auschwitz (Oswiecim) death camp 73 years ago. In 2005, the UN officially proclaimed January 27 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. I would like to mention that on January 27 we also marked the 74th anniversary of the lifting of the Nazi siege of Leningrad. This was yet another act of heroism by Soviet soldiers that we will never forget.

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