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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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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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