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RT sits down with FM Lavrov to review global challenges of 2017 (WATCH LIVE)

Russian top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, has granted RT an exclusive interview

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(RT) – 25 December 2017

  • 09:13 GMT

    The interview ends, approximately one hour after it started.

  • 09:13 GMT

    As for the reported acoustic attacks on embassy staff, which were used to justify the change of US policy towards Cuba, they apparently have no basis. Otherwise Washington’s reaction would have been harsher, Lavrov suggested.

  • 09:12 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia welcomed the effort to reestablish ties with Cuba under Barack Obama and saw the reopening of the US embassy in Havana as a positive gesture. The fact that the US trade blockade of Cuba, regularly condemned by the majority of UN Assembly members, remains in place is regrettable. The change of US approach in Cuba is yet another example of why some nations do not trust Washington when it offers to scrap its sanctions in exchange for some concessions.

  • 09:08 GMT

    RT: Cuba again and the shift in US policy towards it.

  • 09:08 GMT

    Latin America in general has strong potential for foreign investment and Russia may join forces with China and other BRICS nations for large infrastructure projects in that region, Lavrov said.

  • 09:07 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia is not directly affected by migration in that part of the world and sticks to the principles of humanism, on which Russia bases its attitude to migration in general. He added the US was regrettably reluctant to negotiate universal rules for regulating migration. Latin America did not suffer such an enormous migration crisis as Europe did because it didn’t endure problems like the destruction of Libya, which was a major factor in opening the doors for migrants.

  • 09:04 GMT

    RT: Questions about migration flows in Latin America and Trump’s crackdown on migrants.

  • 09:03 GMT

    Cuba is Russia’s traditional partner, and Moscow is full of optimism about Cuba’s future after the planned elections there.

  • 09:02 GMT

    Mexico, which is among several Latin American nations set to hold elections in 2018, is a good partner for Russia. Moscow is pleased not to be accused of hacking elections in that country, Lavrov joked.

  • 09:02 GMT

    Lavrov: Changes of government in Latin American countries do not usually affect their relations with Russia. But Moscow is concerned about some developments, like the meddling in Venezuela. Russia asks foreign players to stop disrupting the situation there and let Venezuelans sort out their differences.

  • 09:00 GMT

    RT Spanish: How does Russia see the situations in Venezuela and Cuba?

  • 08:59 GMT

    Lavrov: the killing of Saleh may make the Houthis a more radical force in Yemen. But whatever happens in Yemen, only peace talks have a chance of ending violence in the country. International mediators must be neutral and not side with either party to the conflict to help this process. And again, a deescalation of hostility between Iran and the Arab League would help in Yemen too. They must talk and respect each other’s concerns.

    Yemenis inspect damage at the site of a reported Saudi-led coalition air strike, in the northwestern Huthi-held city of Saada on December 20, 2017 © AFP

  • 08:56 GMT

    RT: What will happen in Yemen now following the assassination of ex-president Saleh?

  • 08:56 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia and Egypt have ties on many levels, from nuclear cooperation to military trade. Russia supports Egypt in its fight against extremist forces. Russia sells its weapons to Egypt, shares its experience and otherwise helps. But at the moment Russia has no intention of flying combat missions over Egypt or from bases in Egypt, despite the new legal framework.

  • 08:54 GMT

    RT: Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement on military cooperation. Will Russia be involved in counterterrorism operations in Egypt now?

  • 08:53 GMT

    Lavrov praises the US-led coalition for the work they have done in fighting the terrorists in Syria, but remarked that it took some encouragement. Under the Obama administration the US military in Syria were reluctant to actually target jihadists groups, even ISIS on some occasions. But after Russia got involved in Syria and the change of the US administration, the coalition effort was invigorated, he said.

  • 08:51 GMT

    Russia seeks an inclusive peace settlement in Syria and was not happy that the Geneva talks mostly involved refugees from Syria, who had lived outside the country for many years. Russia pushed for greater representation in Geneva of the leaders of the people actually living in Syria now. This will invigorate the negotiation, Moscow hopes, and allow reform of the Syrian political system in a way that would stand the test of time.

  • 08:48 GMT

    The Syrian peace process is hampered by some opposition groups involved in the Geneva talks, which are seeking to undermine the process by demanding the resignation of President Assad. The group was backed by Saudi Arabia and their demand, which violated their own promises not to push for it, was a big embarrassment for Riyadh, Lavrov said.

  • 08:46 GMT

    Russia believes that deescalating violence in the greater Middle East is possible if the enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran is curbed, the minister added. As for the US, Moscow is angry that Washington fails to stick to its own promises. Rex Tillerson used to say that the only US interest in Syria was to defeat ISIS, but now they want to stay to oversee a political transition, possibly with the condition of ousting President Bashar Assad. This is the same approach that Russia endured with NATO enlargement: The initial promise was that it would not happen, as was recently confirmed by archive documents, but the result was the opposite, he said.

  • 08:41 GMT

    The US is working on ways to shield some jihadist forces from being quashed, Lavrov added. Some American experts want a policy, that would support extremist forces operating in so-called dictator states, on a presumption that their extremism is caused by the policies of such governments. The idea is that with a government declared dictatorial by the US gone the extremism would no longer exists.

  • 08:38 GMT

    Lavrov: The people actually fighting on the ground are mostly willing to end hostilities, negotiate with the government and return to peaceful life. The de-escalation zones project backed by Russia, Turkey and Iran is based to a great degree on this choice of the rebel forces. There are remaining Islamist forces, including the Al-Nusra Front which the US-led coalition is unwilling to fight against, which are against peace. Apparently the US has plans for those terrorists, perceiving them as a force that could topple the Syrian government.

  • 08:36 GMT

    RT: Are we closer to finally ending the war in Syria?

  • 08:35 GMT

    Washington, Russia believes, wants to strangle North Korea until it submits. Moscow will not back such an approach and will continue to seek a way to integrate North Korea into the world community, not isolate it.

  • 08:34 GMT

    The US position on the Iranian nuclear deal does not help with North Korea, Lavrov added. By undermining the Iranian deal Washington sending a signal to Pyongyang: whatever denuclearization deal you may strike with us may be scrapped by another administration.

  • 08:33 GMT

    Lavrov: no sane person would push the situation into an actual war. But even when nobody wants a war, an arms race always results in a risk of human error leading to an unwanted escalation.

    The minister adds he feels obliged to describe how the US actually makes its diplomacy over the Korean crisis. In September, they signaled to Moscow that they would not stage military exercises and that Pyongyang should not be worried until at least next spring. But then the US launched an “emergency exercise,” with North Korea ignored. And yet another exercise was held later, one of unprecedented scale which did make Pyongyang react.

    FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a drill by North Korean Korean People’s Army (KPA) artillery units © KCNA / Reuters

    Lavrov says the Americans are trying to cover up their actions with legalities, saying they break no rules when conducting military exercises in the region. But diplomacy is not an area where such tricks work, he added. He reiterated Russia’s call, which China also supports, to freeze all exercises by the US and its allies and all new tests by North Korea to deescalate the tension.

  • 08:26 GMT

Q. North Korea. How great is the probability of open military conflict on the peninsula and what does the US want to achieve by its belligerent rhetoric?

  • 08:26 GMT

    Lavrov says rules should not be applied selectively as was the case with RT’s forced registration as a foreign agent in the US. Singling out this channel was a breach of the fair play principle as is the persecution of RT in France and the UK, he said. The minister said Moscow’s retaliatory move to allow foreign media to be designated foreign agents in Russia is based on a set of criteria, not arbitrary decisions. But refraining from restricting the media would be much better for all countries.

  • 08:23 GMT

    RT asks about the pressure it faces in America over the alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 election.

  • 08:22 GMT

    Russia’s approach to integration projects is based on inclusiveness and flexibility. It is like allowing people to lay down paths on a fresh lawn before paving those paths as they see fit.

  • 08:20 GMT

    As for a new set of rules, they will grow organically as the world transforms, Lavrov believes. The process should be allowed to evolve in a flexible way, not with some strict parameters embedded. Such an approach tanked the TTP trade agreement, which the Obama administration pushed for and which was scrapped by Trump.

  • 08:18 GMT

    A global financial reform that would account for new centers of economic growth and the dwindling role of the dollar is what drives the transition, Lavrov says. He says the G20 format is likely to be the driving force of the reform, with roughly half of the group sharing Russia’s goal of decentralizing world finances.

  • 08:16 GMT

    Lavrov gives credit to his legendary predecessor Evgeny Primakov for envisioning a multipolar world. He was the one who invigorated Russia’s ties with India and China, from which what is now known as BRICS came to be.

    Yevgeny Primakov © Aleksey Nikolskyi / Sputnik

  • 08:14 GMT

    Question. The vision of a multipolar world seems to be shaping now, but still lacks a framework of rules. What will Russia’s place be in it?

  • 08:13 GMT

    The interview starts. Three RT correspondents are taking part in the interview – Daniel Hawkins from RT English, Spanish correspondent Aliana Nieves and Sargon Hadaya from RT Arabic.

  • 08:12 GMT

    RT has a lot of issues to ask Sergey Lavrov about, with Russia’s ongoing feud with the US arguably the most important. A shy hope for reengagement under the Trump administration has been buried under the “Russiagate” narrative in America.

  • 08:05 GMT

    It is 11:00 a.m. in Moscow. Minister Lavrov is about to join RT for an interview.

  • 07:02 GMT

    Lavrov is one of the longest-serving members of the Russian cabinet with decades of experience under his belt. Considering the many crises the Russian diplomatic corps has faced, his job in 2017 was quite difficult.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

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Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.

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Via Zerohedge


In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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