Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Noting that diplomacy requires willing partners,
Secretary of State John Kerry said the four-nation talks in Geneva April 17 reached
an accord to end the spiraling tensions and escalating violence in Ukraine.
“We worked hard and we worked in good faith in order to try to narrow what are real
differences — some of them significant — and to find a way forward for the people of
Ukraine that helps them in achieving their aspiration to live in a stable, peaceful and
unified democracy,” Kerry told journalists at a press conference with European Union
High Representative Catherine Ashton.
Kerry met for seven hours with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia, Russian
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the EU’s Ashton before announcing the four-party
agreement. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—NATO should stop its belligerent rhetoric over the
crisis in Ukraine and return to normal cooperation with Russia, Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov said in an article published by The Guardian.
Below is part of the text of the article, obtained from The Guardian:
“The profound, pervasive crisis in Ukraine is a matter of grave concern for
Russia. We understand perfectly well the position of a country which became
independent just over 20 years ago and still faces complex tasks to construct a
sovereign state. Among them is the search for a balance of interests among its
various regions, the peoples of which have different historical and cultural
roots, speak different languages and have different perspectives on their past,
present and their country’s future place in the world…”
Meanwhile, the US has deployed a warship to the Black Sea as tensions between
the countries Russia, the US and Ukraine continue to rise.
Now that Crimea is not part of Ukraine, Russian President Vladmir Putin is making sure
that criminal elements from the former regime are dealt with harshly. Putin called on
the Federal Security Service (FSB) to prevent radicals or individuals with a criminal
past from working in the Crimean government.
“I ask that you pay special attention to the formation of the FSB’s subdivisions in
Crimea and Sevastopol,” Putin said during a meeting with FSB officials.
“They have the task of not allowing individuals with a criminal past or those with
radical and extremist tendencies, as well as those attempting to disrupt the normal
development of Crimea and Sevastopol, into government agencies,” the Russian
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media BRUSSELS—NATO’s top commander General Philip M. Breedlove said
on Wednesday he feels uneasy that Russia has around 40,000 troops at the Ukraine
border, and if given orders, the Russians could strike Ukraine within a matter of hours.
Despite assuring German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday that Russia was
initiating a withdrawal of its troops, the NATO general is not convinced of the troop
In an interview with the New York Times, General Breedlove said that so far only a
single battalion, a force of 400 to 500 troops, is on the move and that NATO
intelligence could not say whether it was actually being withdrawn.
“What we can say now is that we do see a battalion size unit moving, but what we
can’t confirm is that it is leaving the battlefield,” General Breedlove, of the United
States Air Force, said. “Whether that movement is toward a less belligerent
configuration or returning to barracks, we do not see that.”
Based on the combat readiness of the Russians, Gen. Breedlove said, “We believe
that it can move within 12 hours. Essentially the force is ready to go. We believe it
could accomplish its objective between three to five days.”
Furthermore the general asserted, “I think they have all the opportunities and they
can make whatever decision they want. This is a very large, very well-equipped force
to be called an exercise.”
Meanwhile, Russia continues to squeeze Ukraine in the energy sector, and has raised
the price of natural gas from $264 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas to $385.
Since Crimea became part of Russia, they have begun the transition into the Russian
system including the use of Russian currency, and acquisition of Russian travel
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Moscow says it will respond if the EU imposes sanctions
on Russia over its occupation of Crimea. The Russian Foreign Ministry said on March 7
that “Russia will not accept the language of sanctions and threats” and that if they
are implemented, “they will not be left without a response.”
The EU has said it will consider asset freezes and travel bans if the Russian
government does not start negotiations with Ukrainian authorities in the “next few
The Kremlin also challenged Washington over talk of sanctions. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media PARIS—US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov have called for a ceasefire in Syria ahead of the Geneva II
conference aimed at resolving the Syria crisis.
“We talked today about the possibility of trying to encourage a ceasefire, maybe a
localized ceasefire beginning with Aleppo (north of Syria),” Kerry said on Monday after
talks with Lavrov and UN-Arab League Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in
“What can be done before the beginning of the conference should be
done,” Lavrov said, adding, “We are going to try to send signals to all the
Syrian sides on the need for the establishment of a localized ceasefire.”
The top Russian diplomat also urged Iran’s participation in the talks. However, Kerry
said Tehran should first agree to the principles set out at the first Syria talks in
“Iran has yet to state whether or not it supports implementing the
Geneva 1 communiqué,” Kerry said, referring to the negotiations held in
June 2012, which demanded the creation of a transitional government
recognizing the Syrian opposition groups fighting the government forces
Geneva I accord calls for the Syrian government and opposition to form a transitional
government while Washington says there will be “no role for the Syrian President
Tehran has already stated that it will not accept any preconditions for its
participation in the upcoming Syrian talks scheduled to be held in Switzerland on
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, “If we receive an
invitation without any preconditions, we will participate in the ‘Geneva 2′ peace
conference, but we won’t act in order to receive an invitation.”
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that
Western politicians have started to admit that allowing Syrian President Bashar Assad
to stay in power is a lesser evil than an Islamist regime.
“Some of our Western colleagues have started voicing the idea – not only in private
conversations, but also publicly – that the rule of President Assad is a lesser threat
to Syria, taking into account the growing influence of jihadists and terrorists who
capture vast territories, impose sharia law, exterminate minorities and burn people
alive only because their religion is different,” Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with
He said it would be “incorrect” to say the rule of Assad was rendered illegitimate by
the ongoing civil war, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives, according to the
“If he had no popular support, the war would have been over a long time ago, the
current leadership would have been wiped out, and no one knows what else would
have happened there. According to estimates made by experts from various states, a
significant number of people, up to a half of the population, see Assad as the
guarantor of their interests and their security,” Lavrov said.
Speaking about Assad’s future, Russia’s top diplomat said the Syrian president “has no
plans to leave his country. He will stay with his people and perform his duties.”
“Indeed, he [Assad] said that he does not rule out participating in next year’s
presidential election, as envisaged by Syrian law,” Lavrov said. “He will make the
decision later, depending on whether he feels he has popular support.”
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad should be given the “credit” for quickly starting the process of destroying chemical weapons and arsenal, and thanked Russia for its help. “The process has begun in record time and we are appreciative for the Russian cooperation and obviously for the Syrian compliance,” he told reporters alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after talks in Indonesia.
“I think it’s extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the (UN) resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were being destroyed,” Kerry said. “I think it’s also a credit to the Assad regime for complying, frankly, as they are supposed to. We hope that will continue. I am not going to vouch today for what happens months down the road. But it’s a good beginning and we should welcome a
In less expansive comments on the latest developments, Lavrov said he was “satisfied”, and promised Russia would continue to ensure Assad’s government completed the dismantling process. “The Russian side will do everything so Damascus will follow the co-operation without any changes,” Lavrov told reporters in Russian, with his comments translated into English.
Experts destroyed missile warheads, aerial bombs and chemical mixing equipment Sunday on the first day of the campaign to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, the UN said.
The operation, performed by Syrian personnel under the supervision of international disarmament experts, took place under the terms of a UN Security Council resolution that will see Damascus relinquish the banned arms.
Kerry emphasised the dismantling process had occurred in “record time”, and hailed it as a model for international co-operation. “I think that was a terrific example of global co-operation, of multilateral efforts, to accomplish an accepted goal,” he said. Concerning the Geneva II conference, Lavrov said Russia and the US have agreed to push for holding Syria peace talks in mid-November. “Today we agreed on the steps needed for both the government and the opposition to come to the conference,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti news agency.
Source: Al Manar TV news
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Moscow will soon submit to the United Nations findings indicating that the Syrian opposition had used chemical weapons during the deadly civil war, the Russian foreign minister said Wednesday.
“Reports about the use of chemical weapons [in Syria] reflect the fact that the opposition regularly resorts to provocations seeking to trigger [foreign military] strikes and intervention in Syria. We have enough evidence [to prove it],” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during the 10th annual meeting of the Valdai Club, a Kremlin-backed discussion forum that brings together Russian and foreign politicians,
academics and other public figures.
“We have information related to the incidents that took place in August in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, a lot of information. We will take it all to the UN Security Council,” he added.
UN inspectors said Monday that they had found “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, were used in an August 21 attack in Ghouta that killed hundreds of people.
The US and some of its Western allies have attributed the attack to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but Moscow and Syria have repeatedly called it a provocation by anti-Assad rebels.
Lavrov said Syrian officials had handed over evidence indicating the opposition’s possible involvement in the chemical attack to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who is currently on a visit to Damascus.
“I haven’t familiarized myself with it yet, but I’m convinced that the experts would work with it and, of course, we would submit it to the UN Security Council,” Lavrov said.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media NEW YORK—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his U.S.
counterpart John Kerry announced Friday they agreed to convene a new meeting on
Syria in New York on the sidelines of the activities of the UN General Assembly due to
kick off later this month.
“Kerry understands the necessity to make progress in finding a political solution to the
crisis in Syria,” Lavrov told a press conference following a tripartite meeting in Geneva
with Kerry and UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.
He described the meeting as “fruitful” and pointed out that Brahimi called for
discussing the long-term prospects to find a political solution to the crisis which were
stated in the statement issued by the international conference on Syria, held last
year in Geneva.
For his part, Kerry highlighted the need for work to make successful the process of
placing the chemical weapons in Syria under international control and to put an end
to the crisis.
Reuters said Kerry described the ongoing talks about chemical weapons in Syria as
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted on Thursday that Iran take part in the Geneva II Convention on Syria.
“All external players must be invited to take part in the conference,” Lavrov said. “We’ll insist Iran be invited,” the Russian minister said, adding that objections over Iran’s invitation was a mistake, Itar-Tass reported.
On Monday, a senior Russian foreign ministry official once again underlined that Iran should take part in the upcoming Geneva II Conference.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Moscow and Washington are still divided over Tehran’s participation in the conference slated for June.
Nevertheless, the Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the event would not be successful if Iran were not invited, Ryabkov said.
Russia and America agreed during US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow to set up a conference of international players to end the crisis in Syria. Moscow wants to involve all the nations which took part in the Geneva conference on Syria last summer, and says without Iran’s participation the conference cannot succeed.
Late in May, Lavrov underlined that Iran should take part in the upcoming Geneva II Conference.
“This issue is not related to the Syrians alone, as there are a number of foreign players involved at that crisis as well, and therefore, Iran’s presence at that conference is of key importance for us,” Lavrov said.
“In my talks with the US and French foreign ministers John Kerry and Lauran Fabio aimed at solving the ambiguities about the combination of participating countries at Geneva II International Conference on Syria I gained their approval on need for revising their former decision,” he added.
Also in May, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi announced that Tehran is likely to take part in the Geneva II Conference on Syria if the co-hosts, the US and Russia, invite it to the international gathering.
“If the Geneva II Conference is held and if Iran is invited, we will study our presence with a positive view,” Araqchi said at the time.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia accused the foreign-backed Syrian opposition of hindering peace talks aimed at ending the current crisis in the Arab country, describing its conditions to take part in the international peace conference as impossible to fulfill.
“We are under the impression that the National Coalition and its regional sponsors are doing everything so as not to allow the start of the political process and achieve military intervention in Syria through any means possible,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.
“These demands are impossible to fulfill,” Lavrov said, as he reiterated Russia’s concerns that the opposition in Syria was fractured and did not have a single leader. “The only thing that unites them is a demand of Bashar al Assad’s immediate departure.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the so-called National Coalition, the bloc which has been since last Thursday in Istanbul to discuss whether it will take part or not in the peace conference, said that any negotiations with the Syrian government should lead to the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad.
“I hope that there will be sensible forces among the Americans and Europeans who will be able to rein in those who condone these absolutely unacceptable aggressive approaches of the National Coalition and who try to make this coalition look like the only structure with which the Syrian government should talk,” Lavrov added.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia has warned the West against using a search for chemical weapons in Syria as an attempt to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“There are governments and outside players that believe that all means are appropriate [to be used] to overthrow the Syrian regime,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
Referring to the use of chemical weapons by foreign-backed militants on March 19 near the city of Aleppo, where 25 people were killed and 86 injured, Lavrov criticized UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his call on a UN fact-finding mission to investigate unproven claims about the use of chemical weapons in Syria in December 2012.
“This demand by the [UN] secretary-general with reference to a forgotten
episode reminds us a great deal of attempts in Syria to introduce a
practice analogous to that which existed in Iraq, when they were looking
for weapons of mass destruction there,” Lavrov added.
The Syrian government requested top UN officials to open an investigation into the March 19 incident. However some Western nations are blocking the investigation, demanding that the commission should investigate a different case of supposed chemical attack near the city of Homs in December for which the militants blame government forces.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia will not allow a repetition of the Libyan scenario in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.
“We’ll not allow the Libyan experience to be reproduced in Syria. Unfortunately our Western partners have departed from the Geneva accords and are seeking the departure of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” Lavrov said, adding Russia was not clinging to any individual leaders in Syria.
Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed UN resolution on Syria on July 19 over fears that it would lead to foreign military intervention in the Middle East country. The resolution was tied to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would have provided for the use of force to put an end to the rapidly escalating conflict. Russia says it has no special interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but that the “Syrian people” should decide his fate.
A number of Western countries have been trying to persuade Moscow to support a resolution effectively authorizing a military operation, but Russia has repeatedly insisted that the Western drive for a stronger crackdown on Syria is preparation for a “Libyan scenario.”
In Libya, rebels ousted and killed long-standing dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 after a months-long military standoff in which they received assistance from NATO forces. Russia did not use its veto power in the UN Security Council to block the intervention in Libya that was started under the pretext of protecting civilians there. Lavrov also said Russia was not holding any talks on the fate of embattled Assad.
Meanwhile, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said the Syrian leadership had assured Russia there was no danger of the spread of chemical weapons in the Middle East country.
“The Syrian government is assuring us that it will not allow their spread [chemical weapons]. We hope that this will be so,” Patrushev said.
He was echoed by Lavrov, who said Russia is more concerned that the chemical weapons could fall into hands of Assad’s opponents, whose ranks allegedly include al-Qaida affiliates.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media DUBLIN, Ireland—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi Thursday as world leaders desperately seek an end to the conflict in Syria.
Amid fears the 21-month conflict which has already claimed some 40,000 lives may take a gruesome new turn, the three diplomats were to hold crisis talks on the sidelines of an international meeting in Dublin.
“Secretary Clinton has accepted an invitation by UN special envoy Brahimi for a trilateral meeting on Syria this afternoon with Mr Brahimi and Russian FM Lavrov,” a senior State Department official said.
US officials hope there may be a new willingness by Moscow, a staunch ally in Damascus, to probe ways to bring more pressure to bear on Assad to step down. The United States has been calling for some time for Russia to use its leverage with Assad to try to open the way towards a political transition. Moscow has been a staunch ally of Assad and has vetoed UN Security Council resolutions aiming to sanction the regime.
But it did initially sign onto a peace plan crafted by Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, until it wavered in the face of imposing punitive UN action if Syria refused to implement the accord.
Clinton and Lavrov met first on Thursday morning for bilateral talks in which a US senior official said they both agreed to “listen to what the special envoy has to say.”
“They both have a lot of respect of his mission and want to be supportive of it,” the State Department official said.
Washington has so far provided humanitarian, non-lethal aid to the rebels, but refused to arm the opposition amid fears of pouring weapons into an already volatile region, where anti-US militant groups are springing up.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Monday on a trip focused on resolving sharp differences over the conflict. Last month, Erdogan said Russia held the key to the Syrian conflict, and that if Moscow took a “positive” stance in the Security Council it could push another key Damascus ally Iran to review its policies.
Source: Radio Netherlands
Newscast Media MOSCOW—The The removal of President Bashar al-Assad from power will do nothing to end the 19-month civil war in Syria but will only escalate the violence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.
“It is like daydreaming to speculate on the subject, to the effect that if the [Syrian] government is overthrown everything will fall into place,” Lavrov said after a meeting with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.
“If this is a priority for somebody, bloodshed will continue, and for quite a while, too.”
“Assad’s fate should be decided by the Syrian people,” he added.
There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict as mercenaries fighting on the side of the Syrian insurgents keep arriving in the country from neighboring states, the minister noted.
Lavrov said on Monday Moscow was disappointed by the failure of a United Nations-brokered ceasefire, but there was little sense in blaming either side.
Western powers have condemned both Russia and China for their repeated refusal to back UN sanctions against Assad’s regime, which the United Nations has accused of complicity in the massacre of unarmed civilians. Russia says the UN resolutions contain a pro-rebel bias and that both sides are to blame for the continued fighting, which Syrian rights groups say has claimed up to 35,000 lives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed earlier this year not to allow a repeat of last year’s “Libya scenario,” which saw the ouster and murder of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign.
Source: RIA Novosti