Russian Foreign Ministry briefing: Venezuela; Syria; Silicon Valley is hacking the Foreign Ministry website

Briefing by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova
April 12, 2017

Excerpts:

The situation in Venezuela

We’re receiving a lot of requests to explain Moscow’s position on this issue.

We’re watching with concern the situation in Venezuela, a country with which we maintain friendly relations, where opposition activists continue to clash with law-enforcers, even with the Easter holidays approaching. We feel sorry for the people who were killed or injured in street violence that is spiralling out of control. We cannot help mentioning a growing risk that the destructive scenarios which we have spoken about time and again and have warned against and which call to mind the grievous events in Chile in the 1970s might be implemented.

We believe that non-violence offers a way to end political confrontation – this is exactly our vision of how to resolve the political crisis and resume nationwide dialogue for the sake of searching jointly for answers and solutions to the socioeconomic challenges facing the country.

In this context, we’re concerned about the statements by the US Southern Command to the effect that further aggravation of the crisis in Venezuela might require a prompt response at a regional level. It should be understood that statements like these are adding to the instability, escalating the situation in that country. They cannot be treated otherwise than words to encourage Venezuelan radicals to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and instability and incite violent confrontation. We consider the fact that tensions are running high in Venezuela to be a very dangerous trend. Honestly, in our view, this would hardly be in the interests of the United States and the entire international community, including the countries in the region.

We would like to say again that all political processes unfolding in Venezuela should be strictly in line with the constitution, keep to both its letter and spirit in full, and comply with the governing laws. There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of Venezuela’s internal problems reached at the negotiating table and in compliance with the constitution – and there cannot be any.

The situation in Syria

The military-political situation in Syria sharply deteriorated following the massive US strike on April 7 against the al-Shayrat airfield where Syrian Air Force planes are based. In this room, as well as for many other audiences, we have given an extended evaluation of that, issuing corresponding statements and explanations and making comments. As is known, Russia responded to that outright act of aggression against a sovereign UN member state by suspending the Russian-US memorandum on the prevention of air incidents in the course of operations in Syria. A corresponding explanation was provided via both the Defence Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. Washington’s use of force is a serious challenge not only to regional but also to international security.

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Russia’s position on space cooperation; U.S. opposes space treaty

Press Briefing by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova
April 12, 2017

As you know, today is Cosmonautics Day, and I would like to wish you a happy one. Traditionally it is observed on a wide scale as an important event. Cosmonautics Day (International Day of Human Space Flight declared by the UN) is a good opportunity for focusing on some of the most important aspects of Russia’s space activity, in particular its international dimension.

Developing the country’s space capabilities is one of Russia’s national priorities, as President Putin has repeatedly stated. Designed through 2025, the Federal Space Programme provides for the development of all fundamental areas, including the study of planets of the solar system and the moon with the help of automated spacecraft and a manned space flight programme. I would like to draw your attention once again, considering that members of international media outlets are present here, and it is very important for us to make our assessments and our vision of this area of international cooperation clear to our foreign partners.

Russia is ensuring guaranteed access to outer space from its territory. Foreign policy priorities have been defined and are being consistently followed. Russia advocates the peaceful use of outer space and the prevention of an arms race in space.

Back in 2008, a Russian-Chinese draft international treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects was submitted for consideration to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 2014 an amended version of that document was submitted.

Essentially the only state that is opposed to the international community’s efforts in this area is the US. Under these circumstances, to enhance mutual confidence and transparency, back in 2004, Russia assumed a unilateral political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space, and urged all responsible countries to follow suit. Many of them, including those that have significant space potential, have already become full participants to this initiative. Even more countries have co-sponsored a corresponding resolution of the UN General Assembly, which has been approved by an overwhelming majority of votes for three years in a row. Today, the international initiative regarding no first placement of weapons in outer space is the most effective, viable, cost-free, and transparent confidence-building measure in this sphere and it is gaining momentum. Of course, the main goal is to prevent an arms race in outer space.

It is noteworthy that back in 2005, at the Russia-EU summit in Moscow, an agreement was reached on combined efforts to prevent an arms race in space. We believe that these agreements still stand. We therefore have quite a few questions about the EU’s collective position, which was formed under pressure from Washington and obligates all EU countries to refrain from endorsing this simple and understandable resolution of the UN General Assembly for the third time in a row, which calls for dialogue in this area without even requiring any new obligations from EU countries, which cannot boast independence in their actions.

Furthermore, at the UN Outer Space Committee in Vienna, Russia put forward a host of important proposals designed to ensure the safety of space operations and the preservation of outer space as a secure, stable and conflict-free environment. Substantive talks are under way.

We are ready to work constructively on all these issues with all states in the interest of preserving the peaceful skies over our planet.

This is the first time we are observing this day and this holiday without our outstanding cosmonaut Georgy Grechko. He will forever remain in our hearts. His shining memory will live on. We regard everything that he has done for the development of the space industry and international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space as an invaluable contribution. His name has been inscribed in gold letters not only in national history but also in the world history of cosmonautics.

http://www.mid.ru/en/press_service/spokesman/briefings/-/asset_publisher/D2wHaWMCU6Od/content/id/2725573

CBS news reporter is grilled by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zakharova on gas attacks and moderate rebels

April 5, 2017

Posted by Inessa S.

Published on Apr 7, 2017

On April 7th, US warships delivered an illegal blow to a Syrian airbase in Homs. Their justification was the recent “chemical weapon” attack on behalf of the Syrian government in Idlib. The Kremlin condemned the strike as an act of aggression against a sovereign state, and a violation of international law. Meanwhile, at the UN, representatives of Western governments attempt to push through a resolution that is based on information taken out of thin air. It includes the removal of Assad, whether or not he was behind the attack.

It is noteworthy, that the only real source of information on what took place, are the videos made by the White Helmets, an infamous propaganda organisation as it pertains to the Syrian civil war. In this clip, Maria Zakharova calls on Western respresenatives/ journalists to hear Russia, and what it has to say. The attack against the Syrian government, much like the Ghouta gas attack in 2013, which precipitated the Syrian civil war, is a giant facade for the military industrial warhawks in the US, to put their money where their mouth is.

Statement by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister at Brussels Conference “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”, 5 April 2017

From Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation

Statement of H.E. Mr. Gennady Gatilov, Deputy Foreign Minister:

April 6, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen,

Indeed, the Syrian conflict is the worst crisis of our time. We are confident that it is not possible to resolve humanitarian problems without reaching a political solution. Certain positive changes have recently taken place. Russia jointly with Turkey and Iran launched the “Astana format”, within the framework of which the issues of strengthening the ceasefire regime are being discussed. Thanks largely to this initiative it has become possible to resume the intra-Syrian negotiations, the last round of which has just taken place in Geneva. Of course, the process is not easy. The parties have accumulated mutual distrust over the years of the conflict. However, the task before all of us is to help the Syrians reach sustainable agreements by themselves and in accordance with the parameters set forth in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, including on the issues related to the drafting of the constitution and the fight against terrorism. It is extremely important that the Syrians themselves determine the fate of Syria.

In this regard, we consider it unacceptable to use the humanitarian leverage to influence their sovereign choice. It is indispensable to depoliticize the humanitarian dossier, stop artificially inflating “tragedies of the day.” The provision of humanitarian assistance should be carried out in direct coordination and in a mutually respectful dialogue with the legitimate Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, which, unfortunately, once again was not invited to the conference. This is not the right approach.

Let us not forget that the majority of the population of the Syrian Arab Republic are concentrated in the territories under the control of the Government. Meanwhile only about 1.5 million people live in the territories under the mixed control of the forces of the so-called “moderate” armed opposition and terrorists from “Jabhat al-Nusra”.

Let me mention another point of utmost importance. One should not call for the provision of humanitarian assistance to the population of Syria and at the same time expand restrictions, which affect the most vulnerable segments of the population. This abnormal situation leads, in particular, to the shortage of medicines and imported raw materials required for the production of essential medicines in Syria.

Unfortunately, in the Syrian conflict the international community still faces a gap between pledges to allocate financial assistance and bringing real assistance “on the ground” to those in need, who often need bread and water more than money.

Russia provides humanitarian assistance to the Syrian Arab Republic via both international humanitarian organizations, through which we have already allocated more than 45 million dollars, and using bilateral channels, through which we supply food and medicines directly to Syria. The Russian military distribute on a daily basis humanitarian aid to the population, including in frontline areas. This is why we are really do not understand the position of those who paid much attention to humanitarian convoys in eastern Aleppo at the time when the warehouses there, as it transpired later, were stocked up with medicines. Why the same people forgot about the need to help this city after the terrorists had been expelled from it? This is yet another sign of “double standards”!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Now we should also focus our agenda on the issues of assisting Syria in restoring the social and economic infrastructure: providing electricity and water supply, reviving and setting up schools and hospitals in the areas liberated from terrorists, providing students with everything necessary to ensure a normal educational process. It is not humane to link the solution of this task with the so-called “day after agreement” and, under this pretext, to put forward preconditions for such agreement.

The reconstruction of the destroyed economy could constitute a powerful impetus for the return of refugees and IDPs to their homes. Such efforts would eradicate the social base of armed and terrorist activities in Syria. Also one should not lose sight of the desperate fate of Palestinian refugees sheltered in Syria.

Urgent measures are also required for the humanitarian demining of the Syrian territory, in particular aimed at preserving invaluable cultural treasures for future generations where terrorists and radicals have inflicted enormous damages. We call for the formation of an international coalition on demining of the Syrian territory. Russia is already actively working on it. We call upon all partners who are not indifferent to preserving the historical heritage to put aside their well-known differences and to contribute to this common cause, which requires, among other things, considerable financial investments. We expect that the UN, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and UNESCO will also actively join these efforts.

Last but not least. We understand that the Chairs are going to produce a summary of the Conference. Of course, we leave it for the Chairs’ own responsibility. We hope that the Chairs will be balanced and accurate in their assessments so that to reflect all the positions expressed at the meeting.

For its part, the Russian Federation is ready to develop, on a solid international legal basis, equitable cooperation with all those who wish to make a constructive contribution to the Syrian settlement.

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2717297

U.S. State Dept. urges coroner to keep Russian UN Ambassador Churkin’s cause-of-death secret

Global Research, March 11, 2017
ZeroHedge 10 March 2017

Following the unexpected death of 65-year-old Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, conspiracy theorists were stirred up as the ongoing Russophobic Deep State war combined with the deaths of nine Russian diplomats in the last year raised many coincident-questioning eyebrows. Now, as The Hill reports, pouring further fuel on that fire, the State Department asked the New York Medical Examiner not to publicly release information about Churkin’s cause of death.

“In order to comply with international law and protocol, the New York City Law Department has instructed the Office of Chief Medical Examiner to not publicly disclose the cause and manner of death of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations,”  Office of Chief Medical Examiner spokesman Julie Bolcer said, according to New York Times reporter Michael Grynbaum.

As outlined in formal requests from the United States Department of State, Ambassador Churkin’s diplomatic immunity survives his death. Further questions concerning this matter should be directed to the United States Department of State.

Initial reports suggested that there was no foul play involved in the incident and that Churkin died from cardiac arrest, but, as a reminder, Churkin was not alone among Russian diplomats who died of ‘heart attacks’:

1. You probably remember Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov — he was assassinated by a police officer at a photo exhibit in Ankara on December 19.

2. On the same day, another diplomat, Peter Polshikov, was shot dead in his Moscow apartment. The gun was found under the bathroom sink but the circumstances of the death were under investigation. Polshikov served as a senior figure in the Latin American department of the Foreign Ministry.

3. Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died in New York this past week. Churkin was rushed to the hospital from his office at Russia’s UN mission. Initial reports said he suffered a heart attack, and the medical examiner is investigating the death, according to CBS.

4. Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, died after a “brief illness January 27, which The Hindu said he had been suffering from for a few weeks.

5. Russian Consul in Athens, Greece, Andrei Malanin, was found dead in his apartment January 9. A Greek police official said there was “no evidence of a break-in.” But Malanin lived on a heavily guarded street. The cause of death needed further investigation, per an AFP report. Malanin served during a time of easing relations between Greece and Russia when Greece was increasingly critiqued by the EU and NATO.

6. Ex-KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin, who was suspected of helping draft the Trump dossier, was found dead in the back of his car December 26, according to The Telegraph. Erovinkin also was an aide to former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, who now heads up state-owned Rosneft.

If we go back further than 60 days…

7. On the morning of U.S. Election Day, Russian diplomat Sergei Krivov was found unconscious at the Russian Consulate in New York and died on the scene. Initial reports said Krivov fell from the roof and had blunt force injuries, but Russian officials said he died from a heart attack. BuzzFeed reports Krivov may have been a Consular Duty Commander, which would have put him in charge of preventing sabotage or espionage.

8. In November 2015, a senior adviser to Putin, Mikhail Lesin, who was also the founder of the media company RT, was found dead in a Washington hotel room according to the NYT. The Russian media said it was a “heart attack,” but the medical examiner said it was “blunt force injuries.”

9. If you go back a few months prior in September 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s driver was killed too in a freak car accident while driving the Russian President’s official black BMW  to add to the insanity.

If you include these three additional deaths that’s a total of nine Russian officials that have died over the past 2 years that WeAreChange.com’s Aaron Kesel knows of – he notes there could be more.

*  *  *

So why is the State Department now trying to keep Churkin’s cause of death from the public?

“Still looking for Iraqi WMDs?” and other memorable quotes from Vitaly Churkin

From RusVesna.su

Februar 21, 2017

‘Still looking for Iraqi WMDs?’ & other most memorable quotes from Vitaly Churkin | Русская весна

On many occasions over the decade that he served as Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin has countered attacks by Western diplomats with a pointed turn of phrase. RT looks at six such moments from Churkin’s distinguished career.

The US envoy to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, received this response from Churkin on August 29, 2008, after he condemned Russia’s “invasion” of Georgia. \

The five-day conflict started when US-backed Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili launched an attack on Russian peacekeepers in the breakaway region on South Ossetia. Russian forces responded by dismantling Georgia’s NATO-trained military, retreating from the country, and recognizing Ossetia’s independence.

This was Churkin’s reply to UK envoy Matthew Rycroft on February 3, 2017, after Rycroft called Russia’s position on Ukraine an “inversion of reality” and seconded new US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s demand for Russia to “return Crimea” to Ukraine.

“The people of Crimea quite clearly expressed their will in a referendum,” Churkin told Haley, pointing out that the US Constitution begins with the phrase, “We, the people.”

Churkin had this tongue-in-cheek retort for then US ambassador Samantha Power, after she spoke of meeting with the members of “Pussy Riot” on February 6, 2014. The self-described punk-rock activists gained notoriety in Russia and fame in the West after three of their members were arrested for a “performance” at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2012.

That is how Churkin commented on Power’s emotional speech about the humanitarian situation in Aleppo, where the US-backed rebels were losing a battle to the Russian-backed Syrian Army, on December 13, 2016.

“Please, remember which country you represent. Please, remember the track record of your country,” Churkin told her.

That is how Churkin reacted to a report about the situation in Aleppo by Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, on October 27, 2016.

“Give us one fact, please, or leave this kind of storytelling for the novel you may well write later,” the Russian envoy told O’Brien.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on May 11, 2016, Churkin called on world leaders to remember the organization’s founding principles.

“One should not seek to expand their sphere of control, as it is happening as result of the unrestrained NATO expansion. One should not strive for military dominance, the way US aims to do by creating the global missile defense system,” he added.

“Instead, we should go back to the origins of sensible political thinking, to the slogan ‘the world is undivided,’ to the understanding that the wish to ensure your own security at the expense of others only undermines security globally.”

http://rusvesna.su/news/1487316685

Carla Stea: In memory of Vitali Churkin, Russia’s charismatic Ambassador to the UN

Global Research, March 03, 2017
28 February 2017
vitaly-churkin

Vitali Churkin succeeded in creating and sustaining a balance in the UN Security Council, a balance between East and West, a multipolar world crucial to global peace and economic justice.

On February 20, 2017 the shattering news reverberated throughout the United Nations, and the world:  the  charismatic and world renowned  Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitali Churkin, was suddenly stricken in his office at the Russian Mission and pronounced dead upon arrival at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. 

The New York City Medical Examiner failed to discover the cause of Ambassador Churkin’s sudden death, stating that the autopsy is inconclusive and ‘determining the cause and manner of his death requires further study, which could require weeks of further screenings.’  For ten years Churkin had illuminated the corridors of the United Nations, and  a surrealistic atmosphere of disbelief and incredulity now permeates the United Nations, as unanswered questions regarding Ambassador Churkin’s death increase.

Vitali Churkin’s colossal intellectual power prevailed over the crass propaganda and hypocrisy of his detractors at the UN Security Council.  In so doing, he restored the credibility of the UN Security Council, and restored the dignity and independence of the United Nations.  His moral force and courage, even in isolation,  towered above his detractors at the Security Council, and within the General Assembly.

His prodigious knowledge of the historic context and realities being distorted by his opponents was a formidable obstacle to their chronic attempts to hijack and deform both the Security Council, and the UN itself, into becoming a tool for geopolitical engineering antithetical to the very purposes for which the UN was established.

Following the first Persian Gulf War, authorized by Security Council Resolution 678, the United Nations had become regarded as an annex of the US State Department and the Pentagon.  Security Council Resolution 1973 reinforced that impression, and, indeed, when Lakhdar Brahimi, formerly Foreign Minister of Algeria and top United Nations envoy, was asked why UN offices were so often  bombed, he replied that the UN was becoming perceived as a “party to disputes.”

Churkin’s arrival at the UN, and the re-emergence of Russia as a world power, with the Presidency of Vladimir Putin, re-established the United Nations as a multipolar organization, and with the six vetoes cast by Vitali Churkin, the United Nations was prevented from further debasement, as those vetoes prohibited the UN endorsement of the barbaric slaughter of yet another country in the Middle East.  Vitali Churkin commanded the respect of even those attempting to discredit him, and he was admired by even those who hated him for his capacity to expose their duplicity.

More than 25 years ago I first met Vitali Churkin at his office in the Soviet Foreign Ministry in Moscow.  I had been invited to Russia by Vladimir Petrovsky, First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, and  I had been referred to Churkin by the International Editor of a major Soviet newspaper, who advised me that Mr. Churkin could solve an urgent problem I was confronting.

On the morning of December 21, 1991, Vitali Churkin immediately welcomed me to his office, assured me that he would take care of my problem – which he did with alacrity, and we then spoke for hours about subjects ranging from capitalism versus communism, my previous work in Santiago, Chile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, the consequences of the imminent dismembering of the Soviet Union, his close friendship with Boris D. Pyadyshev, the distinguished editor of the prestigious journal,  “Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn,” and we discussed other subjects too numerous to mention.  Churkin’s presence was electrifying, his intellect dazzling, his warmth disarming and engaging, and he impressed me as a man who did not suffer fools gladly. We shared contempt for hypocrisy and double standards.  His personality could be described with two words:  formidable and unique.   But he was completely unpretentious, and retained that magnetic human warmth which charmed even the most dour opponents.

Two days after I first met Churkin,  Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet President and General -Secretary of the Communist Party resigned, the Soviet Union collapsed, and an abyss opened, the catastrophic consequences of which would unfold throughout the ensuing decades.  But that freezing Moscow winter, with his world – (and ours, ultimately) disintegrating around him, Churkin’s steely discipline and good will guided the foreign press through the devastated terrain of the dying Soviet empire, as we instinctively shuddered at what was to come.

On January 31, 1992 we returned to the United Nations for the summit meeting of US President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, held at Conference room 4 of the UN.  Prior to the meeting, he and I discussed my plans to return to Moscow, and following the boilerplate speeches of both the American and Russian Presidents, as they exited the chamber, with Churkin a member of that solemn entourage, he winked at me as they departed, a gesture revealing both his great sense of fun, and his utter disdain for stultifying bureaucratic restraint.

In the early weeks of February, 1992, I awaited the visa for my return to Moscow, which Alex, a Russian  foreign ministry official had promised to arrange.  After weeks sped by, without my Russian visa arriving at the Russian Consulate in Washington, I phoned Mr. Churkin in Moscow.  He immediately took my call, and I explained that Alex had not arranged for my return visa, as he had promised to do.  Mr. Churkin replied:  “I’m sure he will do as he promised, but I’ll look into it.” The following morning I received a telephone call from the Russian Consulate informing me that they had just received two visas for me!  That was typical of Churkin’s style:  he was extraordinarily effective, and totally sincere.

Following my return to Moscow in late February, 1992, Churkin informed me that he had been appointed Ambassador to Chile, which he regarded as a form of exile.  Andrei Kozyrev was now Foreign Minister.  Life in Moscow was becoming chaotic, and denial no longer shielded me from the reality of the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The deterioration of conditions of life following that collapse was inevitable and demoralizing, and, of course, only the beginning of what would become catastrophic.  Russia had been my sanctuary, following my exposure to fascism, in Chile, and, to certain elements of it in the USA, but that sanctuary in Moscow no longer existed.

On April 7, 1992, I wrote a long letter to Churkin to say good bye, and apologizing for having cut short my visit.  On April 8 we met again, at length, and Churkin tried to convince me to remain in Moscow.   That afternoon he spoke with sorrow  of the collapse of the socialist government of President Najibullah in Afghanistan, and I shared his grief, and perhaps we both, subliminally, at least, expected the disastrous consequences which ensued from the destruction of that last civilized and Soviet supported government in Afghanistan.  Churkin told me that he had just returned from Tbilisi, Georgia, where he had been meeting with Edouard Shevardnadze.  The conversation continued, and he offered to help me with my work.  Churkin ultimately succeeded in persuading me to stay in Moscow.

But, eventually, flashbacks and horrific memories of my experiences in Pinochet’s Chile, and elsewhere, and fear of the dire long-term consequences of the Soviet collapse continued troubling me, and in June  I finally left Russia, which, bitterly ruptured my friendship with Churkin.

Fifteen years later, unexpectedly,  I met Vitali Churkin again at the United Nations.   Miraculously, our friendship survived the preceding years of turmoil.  At times, we had argued ferociously, at times, incessantly.  But what we shared was indestructible.

Russia was being resuscitated as a world power, and Churkin was beginning his mastery of the United Nations environment.  On July  13, 2009, Churkin graciously invited me to participate in a roundtable celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Andrei  Gromyko, one of the founding fathers of the United Nations.  The meeting was held in Conference Room 8.

Participants included Henry Kissinger, Anatoly Gromyko, Ambassador William VandenHeuvel, Veronika Krasheninnikova and Alfred Ross.  When the translator failed to appear, Churkin blithely announced we would move to plan B, and speak in English, a language he commanded impeccably.  Gromyko’s son, Anatoly, summarized the history of Soviet diplomacy, and comments were requested of Ms. Krasheninnikova, one of Russia’s expert advisers who helped author the law requiring disclosure of the identity of funders of the many foreign organizations in Russia, a law she had observed in the USA, and which helped to protect Russia from pernicious and destabilizing “color revolutions.”  Ms. Krashenninikova then courteously invited Ambassador VandenHeuvel to contribute to the discussion.  Throughout that unforgettable morning, Vitaly Churkin glowed with pride at the splendid legacy of great Soviet diplomats who had helped to champion the cause of peace, economic justice, and a world based on humanitarian principles, above all.   That Gromyko roundtable seemed to be one of Churkin’s most joyous presentations.

Later, at a Vietnamese reception, to which I realized I was the only journalist invited, Ambassador Churkin came over to me and said:  “Carla, you were right all along.”  I was so astounded by his words I was unable to reply and ask him to specify about what, precisely, I had been “right all along,” and I’ll always regret that lost opportunity.

But Vitali Churkin attained his greatness of stature, that for which he will be remembered by the United Nations, and honored by history, following the UN Security Council’s ill advised and  reckless adoption of Resolution 1973, in 2011, authorizing, by “all necessary measures,” the barbarous NATO slaughter of Libya, one of the Arab world’s most progressive nations, an attack which pulverized that previously functioning state, and transformed it into an incubator of terrorism.  Thereafter, Churkin, indefatigably represented Russia’s categorical opposition to a UN sponsored attack on Syria, which would, otherwise, have been the third progressive Arab country destroyed  with collusion by the UN, and could, very likely, precipitate a World War.  Churkin was a great diplomat, but in his latter years at the UN, he emerged as a great statesman, transcending the technical limits of his position, at the zenith of his power.

Vitaly Churkin spearheaded the three famous “double vetoes” of Chapter VII draft resolutions which the dogs of war were attempting to force upon the UN.  And in this he was immeasurably strengthened by his friend and comrade, Li Baodong, China’s brilliant and noble Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and formerly Ambassador to the UN.  Both Vitali Churkin and Li Baodong were intellectual aristocrats of the highest order.  When, together, they raised their arms to veto the draft war resolutions at the Security Council, spectators at the UN and worldwide gasped in awe at the enormity of their power to command peace and to halt in their lethal tracks the insane march of the merchants of death toward Armageddon. Again and again and again Churkin and Li Baodong cast double vetoes, repelling and defeating ravenous attempts to inflict on Syria the barbaric slaughter that had already been inflicted on Iraq and Libya.  Those moments were spellbinding.  Their triumphant double-vetoes were a legendary victory for peace and justice and a turning point in UN history, which laid the foundation for a progressive transformation of the global order.

Following Li Baodong’s transfer to Beijing, Churkin alone at the United Nations shouldered the huge burden of staving off  savage attacks on Syria, continuing to veto those draft resolutions that would have led, ominously and treacherously to ”regime change.”  As TASS so accurately described him, posthumously, “Churkin was like a rock against which were broken the attempts by our enemies to undermine what constitutes the glory of Russia.”  But he represented much more than that:  he was like a rock against which were broken the aggressive actions of neo-colonialists who attempted to mask their ruthless greed with sanctimonious and arrogant contrivances.  He exposed this prevarication.  But his was a Russian heroism – an unbreakable moral force reminiscent of Kutuzov at Borodino.

The deadly resurgence of Russophobia, a form of neo-McCarthyist fascism in America, a cancer infecting the Security Council and even the General Assembly reached ominous proportions recently, and an atmosphere targeting Russia as “fair game,” an atmosphere resembling the blood lust that precedes a lynching, and described by Chinese Ambassador Liu as “poisonous,” preceded the sixth and last veto cast by Ambassador Churkin.  China also cast a veto against this recent draft resolution,  with the Security Council again experiencing the titanic force of another double veto.  The date was December 5, 2016.  The Syrian Government had just recovered Aleppo.  Soon thereafter, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated, followed by the death of the Russian Ambassador to India.

On February 21,  a Security Council meeting opened, commemorating the life and work of Ambassador Churkin.  One of the most moving and beautiful – and revealing – speeches was delivered by  Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho who stated:  “I was deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.  I happened to meet him on Sunday (yesterday) at lunchtime, coincidentally, we were seated next to each other at a restaurant.  He was with his wife, I was with my wife, and we were all very happy at the time.  In fact, he had arrived a bit after I did, so I did not realize that he was there.  I suddenly heard a voice saying, ‘Koro, what do you recommend?’  I looked back and there was Vitaly, looking happy, looking very well and with his usual big smile.” According to Ambassador Bessho, he was ebullient, and evidently took a walk with his wife in the park afterward.  Within less than 24 hours Churkin was dead in his own office.  Three Russian Ambassadors have died in the line of duty within the past three months.

Like a great impresario, Vitali Churkin succeeded in creating and sustaining a balance in the UN Security Council, a balance between East and West, a multipolar world crucial to global peace and economic justice.  Churkin’s death destroys this balance, and leaves the Security Council, and the United Nations vulnerable to the manipulation and control by those member states and interests he succeeded in commanding and so skillfully held at bay.  Seldom is one person so indispensable.  But Vitali Churkin was such a person.  His star blazed brilliantly, but too briefly.