Russian Foreign Ministry comments before Tillerson visit: “We would prefer our interaction to reduce rather than aggravate international tensions.”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation
April 11, 2017

In light of a visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, which begins today, we would like to express hope for productive talks. This is important not just for the future of Russian-US interaction but also for the international environment overall.

The current situation in Russian-US relations is more complicated than it has been at any point since the end of the Cold War. The previous US administration’s actions have seriously complicated them by trying to restrain the growth of Russia’s influence in international affairs and undermine its economic development through sanctions. Although these efforts have failed, they have also demonstrated Washington’s striving for global domination complemented with deliberations about “America’s exceptionalism”, which has sinister historical associations.

The Ukrainian crisis and the Syrian problem, although tragic and confusing, are the direct results of the irresponsible policies of the Obama administration, which wanted to hinder the natural evolution of a multipolar world. The US establishment tried and continues to try hypocritically to lay the blame at Russia’s door. But it was not Russia who provoked the unconstitutional coup in Ukraine or fanned the flames of the so-called Arab Spring.

Russia will not abandon its legitimate interests and will only cooperate on an equal basis, which does not please certain forces in Washington. We have always been open to candid dialogue with the United States on all issues on the bilateral and international agenda and for cooperation in the areas where we have similar goals. These include the fight against terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the settlement of regional conflicts, economic growth and many other areas where the conjunction of Russian and American efforts would benefit not just their people but humankind as a whole.

Therefore, we would like to use the upcoming talks to understand whether the United States is aware of the need to stabilise and normalise bilateral relations. We believe that idling is impermissible in bilateral relations, considering our countries’ responsibility for international security and strategic stability.

In this context, we would like to understand whether Washington intends to resume practical cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism, including in Syria. The recent US air strike at the Syrian Shayrat air base is an act of aggression against a sovereign state committed in violation of international law, and will most likely strengthen the terrorists.

We strongly hope that Washington will agree on an objective investigation with the OPCW involvement into the chemical poisoning of Syrians at Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. The West has accused the Syrian Government without good reason, although it is a fact that the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists, who are operating in this area, manufactured chemical bombs.

In this situation, we are surprised by Washington’s disregard for reports about the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in the Middle East. There have been numerous chemical attacks not just in Syria but also in Iraq. Chemical weapons stockpiles have been found in eastern Aleppo after its liberation from the terrorists. However, the United States has not shown any interest in this information.

We also wonder when the West will dissociate itself from the notorious White Helmets and other pseudo-NGOs whose barefaced lies about the situation in Syria are eagerly taken up by the media. We wonder how much longer our American colleagues will rely on fake photo reports when taking decisions that can affect the lives of people in Syria.

We hope to learn what the United States will do in Libya, which has been split by NATO’s military intervention, just as Iraq. What plans do our American colleagues have for Yemen, where US weapons are used to bomb cities, killing civilians and aggravating the humanitarian catastrophe?

We hope that the United States will not refuse to attend international consultations on Afghanistan, the next round of which will be held in Moscow on April 14. These consultations aim to help launch the process of national reconciliation in that long-suffering country, as we told our American partners more than once.

We are gravely concerned about Washington’s plans regarding North Korea, considering hints about the unilateral use of a military scenario. We need to understand how this relates to the collective commitments to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula, which have been sealed in UN Security Council resolutions.

But above all we hope that the United States will use its influence on Kiev to neutralise the revenge-seeking sentiments of the Ukrainian party of war. Washington can also encourage the Kiev government to faithfully comply with its obligations under the Minsk Agreements. These agreements are the only way to settle a conflict that was provoked by radical nationalists’ intention to forcibly Ukrainianise all spheres of life in this multi-ethnic country.

We expect to hear US views on the entire range of issues pertaining to strategic security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.

As for bilateral agenda, the long list of irritants crated by Washington has not become shorter yet. Since nothing is being done to settle the problems in bilateral relations, we will have to take reciprocal measures.

Overall, we hope that the US Secretary of State will share with us Washington’s views on all issues of mutual concern. We are ready for any turn of events. However, we would prefer our interaction to help reduce rather than aggravate international tensions. We are not set for confrontation but for constructive cooperation and hope that this is what our American partners want, too.