Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 05.2023
2023.01.30 — 2023.02.05
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Message by Minister Pandor to the First BRICS Sherpa and Sous-Sherpa Meeting, Limpopo, South Africa, 1 February 2023 (Послание министра Пандора на первой встрече шерп и су-шерп стран БРИКС, Лимпопо, ЮАР, 1 февраля 2023 г.) / South Africa, February, 2023
Keywords: speech, top_level_meeting
South Africa

BRICS Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas,
Director-General Dangor
Professor Sooklal,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good day to you all.

It is my pleasure to welcome you to South Africa for the first BRICS Sherpa and Sous-Sherpa meeting of 2023.

How I wish I were with you at Mabula Game Lodge. I'm told that you've enjoyed a morning game drive and I trust that the African bush revealed all its many natural wonders to you. I believe that we should take good care of all animals and am fully committed to South Africa's programmes for the protection of wild animals.

I hope that the lions behaved very well in front of you as senior BRICS diplomats and that if there were any challenge from a lion you were able to mediate that dispute and make sure there is peace in the wild.

Allow me to begin by expressing our deep appreciation for the leadership of China as Chair of BRICS in 2022. It was a challenging year on many fronts. Yet we saw our BRICS partnership overcome differences to provide global leadership, particularly in matters of interest to the global South as these issues are increasingly neglected by our other international partners.

As we Chair BRICS, we do so in a world with hidden fault lines revealing themselves. In fact, as many say, the globe has not been as fragmented as it is today for many, many decades. We face the impact of the pandemic eroding decades of development. We face geopolitical contestation which is very worryingly diverting attention from global challenges that all of us should be collaborating to address. We need to combat the effects of climate change. We need to help the African continent finally silence the guns. These are the challenges of the most desperate in the world. And these are the challenges we should all be addressing.

We hear predictions that say that the economic impacts of the pandemic, of the conflicts we see, and unilateral economic measures will only worsen this year and that we will see deepened social and political consequences. Of course, as BRICs we must find ways of addressing these emerging problems. I believe that not all is doom and gloom.

The Year of the Rabbit is auspicious for our Chairship as it heralds fresh starts, renewed hope and joyful reunions. Renewed hope is something that BRICS can offer to the world, to the international community, particularly the global South. BRICS can provide the leadership necessary to strengthen multilateralism, bring about meaningful reform and can also work together to drive a sustainable global economic recovery that benefits not only us, but the broader global South.

As BRICS we seek to address conflicts through diplomatic means, through negotiations under the auspices of the United Nation with the intent of creating a peaceful and harmonious world focused on cooperation rather than confrontation and conflict.

We intend to build on the momentum of 15 years of BRICS cooperation. Momentum which has seen our partnership evolve and expand its mandate beyond the narrow focus that brought us together and now includes cooperation across the three pillars of political and security, economic and financial, and social and people to people cooperation.

As BRICS, we will also build on our shared commitment to improving the lives and livelihoods of our people, of advancing the interests and developmental goals of the global South, and our founding vision of a more just, equitable and fair global political, economic, and financial landscape with increased representation and voice.

The significant interest in joining BRICS by many is a clear sign that BRICS has remained true to its values of strengthening multilateralism, driving reform as well as boosting global economic growth and stability. And it would appear that these characteristics are of great attractiveness to many nations in different parts of the world.

This is what led to our conclusion as the Cabinet of South Africa that our theme for 2023, would most appropriately be: "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism".

Our theme and priorities reflect our foreign policy focus on advancing in partnership with others. We cannot leave the African continent and the global South behind. We intend to continue our outreach to the continent and leading members of the global South.

We look forward to welcoming you once more to South Africa for the 15th BRICS Summit from 22-24 August 2023. We will celebrate 10 years of the BRICS Business Council and BRICS Think Tanks Council. They have both added significant value to our partnership and have much more to offer us in aligning our policies and cooperation to the needs of our people, to communities and to businesses.

I thank you for the messages of support I have received from all of your countries as Chair. Over the next days, our officials will expand on their plans for 2023. We aim to not only hold the traditional meetings but will explore pragmatic ways to deliver tangible results on key BRICS priorities. We plan to work together with you to strengthen our proposals and bring them to fruition for mutual benefit.

As we move proceed together, I wish to convey my sincere appreciation for the commitment and effort of our Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas. You are the engine that drives our BRICS cooperation. The spirit of solidarity, respect and friendship that clearly prevails in your meetings lays a solid foundation for our cooperation at the political level and it allows our cooperation to stand the test of time and holds us together when the storms inevitably pass by.

Allow me to conclude by once more wishing you well in your deliberations which, I am confident, will bring renewed vigour and fresh energy to our partnership.

Enjoy your deliberations!

                Remarks delivered by Mr Zane Dangor, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, at the Welcome Dinner of the First BRICS Sherpa and Sous-Sherpa Meeting, 31 January 2023, Limpopo (Выступление г-на Зейна Дангора, Генерального директора Департамента международных отношений и сотрудничества, на приветственном ужине в рамках первой встречи шерп и су-шерп стран БРИКС, 31 января 2023 г., Лимпопо) / South Africa, January, 2023
                Keywords: top_level_meeting
                South Africa

                Prof. Anil Sooklal,
                Vice Minister Ma Zhaoxu
                Shri Dammu Ravi,
                Amb. Pavel Knyazev,
                Ms Ana Maria Bierrenbach,
                DDG Walter Segooa from the office of the Premier of Limpopo,
                BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas,
                Ladies and Gentlemen,

                Good evening!

                On behalf of the Government of South Africa and its people, let me welcome you to our beautiful country.

                It is a privilege for us to once again meet in person after the devastating impact of the pandemic, which still continues to wreak havoc across the globe.

                It is also an honour to welcome you to Bela in Limpopo province. Limpopo is the traditional home of the Modjaji, the Rain Queen. And we are blessed by the rainfall we've just received that has cooled the notorious summer temperatures of this venue.

                South Africa is aware of the enormity of the task at hand as we Chair BRICS in 2023 following on the able guidance of China during 2022.

                Over the next days, senior government officials from South Africa and the South African Chapters of the BRICS Business Council, BRICS Women's Business Alliance and the BRICS Think Tanks Council will introduce our theme, priorities and expectations as Chair of BRICS for 2023.

                International cooperation and multilateralism are currently confronted with divisive geopolitics, unprecedent challenges such as climate change, slow post-pandemic economic recovery and deepening poverty.

                In this uncertain and unequal global governance system, BRICS is the critical voice of the global South and a leader in shaping an emerging international order that is fairer, just, inclusive and representative.

                And on the ground, BRICS has made enormous strides in forging a practical mutually beneficial partnership, as seen by our growing BRICS sectoral cooperation.

                This meeting will set the trend for South Africa's Chairship. The in-depth discussions in the spirit of solidarity, respect and mutually beneficial cooperation will lay the foundation towards the successful hosting of the 15th BRICS Summit later in the year.

                In this regard, we rely on the efforts of our Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas to translate our vision and commitments into practical cooperation.

                Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

                You've just arrived, and I can imagine you are facing various forms of jetlag. So I will not keep you long.

                Thank you all for your determination to return to physical meetings despite the lingering presence of the pandemic.

                I want to take this opportunity to thank our host, the Provincial Government of Limpopo and her people, for welcoming us as their guests.

                There is an African proverb that says: "Treat your guest as a guest for two days, and then on the third day give him a hoe". This meeting is just a small contribution to the local economy that sees our BRICS cooperation deliver tangible benefits on the ground. We encourage delegations and Embassy officials to meet with the Province of Limpopo on the margins of this meeting to explore opportunities to deepen our partnership.

                Let me also thank the BRICS Secretariat for their tireless effort in organising this meeting.

                I wish you all the best and hope you all have a pleasant stay in our country.

                We are glad to enrich your cultural experience by adding wine tasting to the program, courtesy of Veenwouden Wines.

                Let me hand you over to Mr Byron Koutsodis.

                              Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's meeting with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China Ma Zhaoxu (Пресс-релиз о встрече Министра иностранных дел России Сергея Лаврова с заместителем Министра иностранных дел Китайской Народной Республики Ма Чжаосюй) / Russia, February, 2023
                              Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, mofa, sergey_lavrov
                              Source: mid,ru

                              On February 2, Sergey Lavrov received Ma Zhaoxu, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China.

                              During the meeting, Sergey Lavrov highly praised the current state of relations between Russia and China, which are developing dynamically in accordance with the agreements reached at the meeting of the two countries' leaders on December 30, 2022. Their practical implementation was discussed.

                              In view of the lifting of quarantine restrictions, there was agreement on the expediency of restoring the tempo of face-to-face contacts, mutual tourism, and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries as soon as possible.

                              A number of topical issues on the bilateral, global and regional agendas were discussed. The constructive dialogue and high level of bilateral coordination within the UN, BRICS, SCO and other international organisations and associations was praised as fully corresponding to the partnership and trust-based nature of relations between our countries. They noted their rejection of confrontational policies, as well as attempts by individual countries to interfere in the internal affairs of other states, or to restrain their development by imposing sanctions and other illegitimate methods. The officials reaffirmed their intention to reliably defend the sovereignty, security, and development interests of the two countries, and to build together a more just and democratic multipolar world order.

                              The conversation took place in a traditionally friendly atmosphere.

                                            Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with the television channel, RT Arabic, Moscow, February 1, 2023 (Интервью Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова телеканалу «RT Arabic», Москва, 1 февраля 2023 года) / Russia, February, 2023
                                            Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

                                            Question: In 2022, you met several times with your Algerian counterpart. He visited Moscow several times. You were on a working visit to Algeria on May 10, 2022. The energy, defence and agriculture agencies from both countries maintain extensive contact as well. What is the current level of cooperation? Is it safe to assume that Algeria is a key Russian partner in the Arab world?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: Friendly relations between our countries go back a long way and inspire respect and pride on the part of the Algerian and Russian peoples. We supported Algeria in its struggle for decolonisation, freedom and independence. We recognised the Republic of Algeria in March 1962, several months before the country's independence was officially declared in July 1962.

                                            Since then, we have promoted close ties across all areas. An intensive political dialogue is underway. In April 2022 and January 31, 2023 President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had in-depth telephone discussions with President Vladimir Putin, and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, whom I know from the time I served in our Mission to the UN in New York, visited the Russian Federation in April 2022 as part of the League of Arab States' delegation. In May 2022, I was on a working visit to Algeria and held in-depth talks with Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra. I also had a long discussion with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The Algerian leader has a genuinely firm grasp on the nature, history and future of our strategic partnership.

                                            Algeria was the first country in Africa with which we signed a Declaration on Strategic Partnership in 2001. This document remains the foundation of Russian-Algerian relations and ensures the special privileged nature of our ties.

                                            Speaking of political contacts, I had another meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2022.

                                            In 2022, events were held that showed the existence of a solid material base underlying our political interaction. In particular, in September, Algiers hosted the 10th meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. Shortly before this, in August 2022, the 25th meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Algerian Commission on Defence Cooperation was held. In September 2022, the Vostok 2022 military exercises with the participation of Algerian military personnel took place in Russia. In November 2022, Russian units took part in command and staff exercises in Bechar Province, Algeria.

                                            A busy dialogue is underway in all areas of life, government, and personal relations, including humanitarian and educational ties.

                                            We can and should do more, primarily in the sphere of material cooperation. We boast fairly impressive trade and economic cooperation numbers. Algeria is one of Russia's leading partners in Africa, but the potential has not yet been fully tapped, especially so in energy, agriculture, and the pharmaceutical industry. The Intergovernmental Commission I mentioned earlier is working to this end.

                                            Question: Speaking of Russian-Algerian relations in the energy sector, including at OPEC+, are we partners or competitors? What do you think?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: Of course, we are partners at OPEC+ and beyond. In addition to OPEC+, there's a Gas Exporting Countries Forum, of which Russia and Algeria are active members.

                                            Not long ago, the most recently held ministerial OPEC+ meeting adopted a resolution that confirmed the coordinated and shared approach of all members of this association towards regulating the oil and refined products market based on a balance of interests between producers and consumers. This step caused a morbid reaction on the part of the quarters that wanted this market to serve exclusively their interests to the detriment of oil producers. OPEC+ has upheld its position and proved that this format is a serious, independent and reliable association of responsible states.

                                            The same can be said about the Gas Exporting Countries Forum which is used to agree on the fundamental approaches of the suppliers of pipeline and liquefied natural gas to global markets. Russia's and Algeria's positions fully overlap. We strive to make the markets stable. To make this happen, we do not need to try to juggle prices or artificially send them one way or the other, as the United States and its allies are trying to do with respect to Russian oil and gas.

                                            Question: Despite the West's pressure, Algeria has not joined sanctions on Russia. Voices are now heard in the United States to impose penalties on Algeria because of its cooperation with Russia. Do you think this would affect Algeria's policy on Russia?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: I heard that a group of 27 members of the US Congress had sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing indignation over Algeria's failure to join the sanctions on Russia. They suggested "punishing" Algeria and holding Algeria accountable under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

                                            In Russia, there is a set phrase about not really knowing who you are messing with. The Algerians are not the kind of people you can "dictate" to, expecting that "at the snap of a finger" from across the ocean they will obediently carry out someone's instructions that are at outright odds with their national interests. Similar to the vast majority of other states, Algeria is a country that has respect for itself, its history and interests. The republic builds its policies on this foundation, and does not rely on backroom agreements with someone who promises to give carrots, but in fact only tries to infringe on the legitimate interests of its partners.

                                            Question: Algeria has applied to join BRICS. How soon can it be allowed to join and how would the accession of a strong regional player like Algeria affect the association's status?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: BRICS has received official membership applications from several countries. There are more than five requests to join BRICS, which exceeds the original number of BRICS members. Algeria is among these countries. At the most recent meetings held by this group of five countries this year that were chaired by China, we agreed on the importance of developing common approaches to these applications. As a first step, we will agree on the criteria, variables and terms and conditions for admitting new members to our association. With its qualifications, Algeria is a leading contender.

                                            We are doing more than promoting theoretical and conceptual agreements that will determine the parameters and criteria for the admission of new members. We are concurrently developing practical cooperation with countries that are interested in this as well. In June 2022, the 15th BRICS Summit chaired by Xi Jinping was held online. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune was among the invited guests and took part in this event. An interesting discussion unfolded. There were three times more guests than BRICS members. The better half of them wish to have stable ties with our association. We must identify a format that will take account of these countries' legitimate interests in promoting, together with BRICS, the principles of justice and democracy in international political and economic relations. Future cooperation framework will not depend on the whims of just one group of countries, especially one sovereign, as is the case with the United States, which grossly abuses the role of the dollar in the international monetary and financial system and its other monopoly positions that have been built under the slogan of "globalisation" for many years. It has been proven that for the sake of obtaining a fleeting advantage in foreign policy or a chance to implement its imperial ambitions, Washington can, in an instant, forget about free market and fair competition principles, the presumption of innocence and much more that has for many decades been promoted as bedrock foundations of the very "globalisation" into which everyone was drawn with so much enthusiasm. Now the United States is trying to abuse its monopolistic position.

                                            BRICS reflects a deep-running trend to counteract this injustice and to build mechanisms that will sidestep the harmful dependence on the tools owned by those who think about their own benefit at the expense of the interests of others.

                                            I'm convinced that in the coming years we will see concrete results regarding BRICS expansion and a greater number of its partners who will advance the goals and objectives that have been agreed upon by all members.

                                            Question: Will the name change?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: This is a separate issue. That's possible, but BRICS is an established brand.

                                                          Political Events
                                                          Political events in the public life of BRICS
                                                          Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at a meeting of the United Russia General Council's Commission on International Cooperation and Support for Compatriots Abroad, Moscow, February 3, 2023 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на заседании Комиссии Генерального совета «Единой России» по международному сотрудничеству и поддержке соотечественников за рубежом, Москва, 3 февраля 2023 г.) / Russia, February, 2023
                                                          Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

                                                          We are holding the fifth meeting of the United Russia General Council's Commission on International Cooperation and Support for Compatriots Abroad. I see this as evidence of our stable and systemic work. We can see that it brings good results and is helping us at the party and official diplomatic levels.

                                                          Today we will discuss a package of issues related to the growth of our cooperation with Asian, African and Latin American countries, including in the interests of resisting the modern practices and manifestations of neocolonialism.

                                                          It is no secret that the consequences of colonialism and the misguided policy of its modern manifestations are among the main reasons for the deep development inequalities in the world. There is no statute of limitations for the colonisers' crimes, which forever deprives the Western elites of the right to moral leadership, especially considering that the coloniser instincts have not gone away.

                                                          Today, the "collective West," which achieved its prosperity mostly after centuries of plunder and exploitation of developing countries, is trying to preserve its global domination so as to continue to deal with its development problems and to support its economy at the expense of other countries. The West continues to hinder the development of democratic international relations. With this aim in view, it has been aggressively trying to force a neocolonial, US-centric "rules-based order" onto the international majority, with rules they themselves invent and apply at will.

                                                          The United States and the rest of the West, which is fully answerable to it, have launched a policy of dividing the world into a small group of "exceptional" countries and their subordinates. To attain this goal, they have introduced a new black-and-white paradigm according to which the world consists of "correct" democracies that are approved by Washington and autocracies, such as Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

                                                          The United States and its European allies are acting in the worst traditions of colonialism. Those who refuse to follow Washington's instructions and act independently are being restrained through unilateral sanctions, blackmail, threats, intimidation and often direct use of force. Those who pledge loyalty are given a free hand. A case in point is the open support they provided to Ukrainian nationalists, who committed persecution and waged cleansing campaigns and used violence on ethnic and language grounds. They have been doing this for years. In fact, the United States would like to spread the philosophy of the notorious Monroe Doctrine, which was designed for the Western Hemisphere, throughout the world. Their wish is to turn the planet into their back yard.

                                                          At the same time, they have been doing their utmost to falsify history and to erase the historical memory of the colonisers' horrible crimes, notably genocide, ethnic cleansing, slave trade, racism, and the plunder and destruction of the natural and cultural heritage of ancient civilisations.

                                                          Our county had worked for decades to assist the world's nations in their struggle for liberation from the colonial yoke. We provided substantial and largely free assistance to develop their statehoods, create economic foundations, strengthen defences, and train skilled personnel. It was on our initiative that in December 1960 the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

                                                          We support the developing countries' demand to finish the decolonisation process in full compliance with the decision of the UN General Assembly. However, France, for example, still maintains sovereignty and control over the island of Mayotte, in the Comoros, despite the numerous UN General Assembly resolutions urging Paris to return it to the Union of the Comoros. Likewise, London controls the Chagos Archipelago it seized from Mauritius, and there are other examples. We will continue to support our African colleagues' justified demands.

                                                          Russia has always been on the side of the truth. Today we are at the forefront of international efforts to uphold the basic principles of the UN Charter, including the fundamental principle of respect for the sovereign equality of states.

                                                          In this context, it is logical that about three fourths of the world's countries, which have kept their dignity and independence, refuse to live in the Western system of coordinates and know about the manners of their former parent states from their own experience, have not joined the anti-Russia sanctions. They have taken a balanced stand on the conflict in Ukraine, which stems from a years-long security crisis in Europe.

                                                          We are working actively to explain the factors that have led to the current situation. Our regular contacts with African, Asian and Latin American countries show that they understand our position. This is why we are actively developing relations with them in all spheres. We are steadily strengthening our strategic partnership with China. Relations between Moscow and Beijing are the best ever. We are steadily and intensively developing relations of privileged strategic partnership with India. Despite Western pressure, we are promoting close and multifaceted cooperation with Southeast Asian countries, especially ASEAN nations. Our relations with the majority of Asian countries, namely Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and North Korea, are on the rise.

                                                          As part of efforts to overcome the consequences of colonialism, we are giving special attention to cooperation with Africa, which is gaining new momentum. We are working with African countries on the agenda of the second Russia-Africa Summit, which is scheduled to take place in St Petersburg in late July. We expect the International Parliamentary Forum, which will convene in Moscow in March and will be attended by our African partners, to contribute to these preparations and to help strengthen ties between our countries. The programme of the summit in St Petersburg will include a second Russia-Africa Economic Forum. Our efforts include the regular coordination of our foreign policy stands between our foreign ministries. I have recently returned from yet another tour of Africa. We will be delighted to welcome our colleagues from the African countries' foreign ministries in Russia. We are planning such contacts.

                                                          We see that African countries are playing a growing role in global politics and the economy. Their collective voice increasingly sounds in harmony on the international stage. We welcome the ongoing comprehensive emancipation of African counties. We can see this in the continuing contraction of the sphere of France's neocolonial influence in Central and West Arica. This has caused a nervous reaction in Paris, which is demonstrating resolve never to give up what it used to regard as its own. We continue to act on the principle of sovereign equality of states, according to which all countries are free to choose their partners.

                                                          Our ties with Middle East states and the Arab part of Africa are going into high gear. We are planning to develop interaction as part of the strategic dialogue between Russia and the Gulf Cooperation Council and between Russia and the Arab League. We have an active ministerial forum with the latter. We are discussing preparations for its next meeting later this year.

                                                          Latin America is playing an increasingly prominent role in the emerging polycentric world system. It is a friendly region for us. A versatile dialogue has been established with the overwhelming majority of Latin American states. It is ongoing and deepening. Promising joint initiatives are in the offing, despite the unprecedented pressure brought to bear on the Latin Americans by the United States and other countries of the "collective West." Relations with Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia have been developing in the spirit of true strategic partnership. We set a high value on cooperation with all Latin American partners, including such leading countries as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Recently, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko attended the inauguration of President Lula da Silva in Brazil. She had an opportunity to hold detailed and substantive talks both with the new national leader and heads of other delegations present at the ceremony.

                                                          We continue interacting with developing countries – the world's majority –both bilaterally and at various multilateral organisations. Let me note in particular the dialogue within the framework of SCO and BRICS. There is no heavy-handed discipline there (like at NATO and EU), nor are there leaders and followers, with decisions taken based on a true balance of interests. Owing to this, they live up in full to the UN Charter's demand to respect the sovereign equality of all states. This is one of the chief factors encouraging an increasing number of countries to promote relations with, and eventually join, these associations of a new type.

                                                          We are promoting relations with the League of Arab States, the African Union, and many sub-regional associations in Africa. Contacts with Latin American organisations are making good progress. I am referring, among others, to ALBA, MERCOSUR (which cooperates with the EAEU), and CELAC, with which ministerial dialogue is maintained. Many processes have been suspended on account of Covid-related restrictions. All of this will be resumed now.

                                                          The West, which, in President Vladimir Putin's apt words, is an "empire of lies," has not been seen as a "beacon of democracy" for a long time. The United States and its NATO satellites have undermined whatever was left of their reputation as reliable international partners that can be negotiated with. There is a growing awareness around the world that no country can be safe from expropriation, from "state-level banditry" on the part of former colonial powers. Not only Russia, but also other states (and their number is growing) are consistently reducing their dependence on the US dollar. We are reaching agreements with our partners, who think the same way, to shift national currencies in international transactions, to develop alternative payment and logistics systems so as not to depend on the whims or dictates of a country that has declared itself a hegemon, and in a broader sense, to establish a fairer global monetary, financial, trade and economic architecture. These efforts objectively contribute to the fight against new manifestations of neocolonialism. Brazilian President Lula da Silva recently proposed an initiative to create a common currency in international transactions with Argentina, as part of CELAC. He proposed thinking about this at the next BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, at the end of August.

                                                          We see that parliamentary and party diplomacy is already making its valuable input into the common effort. We are pleased that Russian political institutions have established close and constructive contacts with their colleagues from foreign parties and associations. This was once again confirmed in November 2022, during the Russian delegation's participation in the General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties in Turkey and in the ICAPP Special Conference "Security and Cooperation: The Role of Political Parties" in Azerbaijan.

                                                          United Russia has proposed a promising initiative to hold an international forum of supporters of the fight against modern neocolonial practices in Moscow. It was supported by President Vladimir Putin. The Russian Foreign Ministry is ready to contribute in every possible way to the implementation of this initiative.

                                                          We support the proposal to create the Friends of Russia Club, a project that will include a broad online discussion platform aimed at maintaining friendship and trust with our partners and colleagues abroad, promoting traditional values, and popularising works of Russian culture.

                                                          We highly value the youth projects of the United Russia party. One of them is the People of Artek international outreach to the children of our compatriots to strengthen their ties with their historical Motherland. It is an important initiative, especially in modern conditions, when the Russian world is threatened with fragmentation, and the devaluation of its contribution to the development of humankind.

                                                          I am confident that the implementation of these and other initiatives will help promote our country's consolidated foreign policy. President Vladimir Putin is currently considering an updated Foreign Policy Concept, which incorporates all the new elements and related goals. I hope that after approval, we will look at the issues that may require additional attention from our Commission.

                                                                        Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Rossiya 24 and RIA Novosti, Moscow, February 2, 2023 (Интервью Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова телеканалу «Россия 24» и РИА Новости, Москва, 2 февраля 2023 г.) / Russia, February, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

                                                                        Question: The first question is probably not strictly professional but more human. Still, it worries millions if not billions of people. When will this whole thing end?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: I cannot say that this is my only concern. I think diplomats and military, the men that are now resolving the vital tasks of ensuring our independence and protecting the interests of our culture and the people who want to be part of Russian culture probably are not thinking about when it will end.

                                                                        They are driven by the desire to do their job accurately and quickly, minimising losses. The more active we are in supporting them morally and politically and the better we explain the gist of what is happening in terms of geopolitical games, the sooner the world will realise the need to end it. We are seeing not even attempts but the stubborn, insistent policy of the US-led West of not ending it ever. They will pursue it until they decide that all threats to their hegemony are removed.

                                                                        At the current stage, we are acting in line with what our Western colleagues said – there must be a victory on the battlefield. These are their words. They renounced talks and compelled the Kiev regime to quit the negotiations in late March 2022, when it was still possible to end it politically.

                                                                        But Kiev was not allowed to do this. Since then nobody has even tried to persuade the Kiev regime of the need for talks. Nobody objected when Vladimir Zelensky prohibited talks with the Russian Federation by executive order. Nobody took him down a peg when he repeatedly declared, while in "high spirits," that he didn't understand who made decisions in Russia and with whom to talk (if matters come to this). This seems to be straight out of Freud. He feels his dependence and understands that he is being manipulated. We all want this to end. But what matters at this point is not the time but the essence, the quality of results we will ensure for our people and those who want to remain part of Russian culture – the Kiev junta, with the West's encouragement, was depriving them of all things Russian for many years.

                                                                        In addition to the laws passed under Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky, Kiev did the following - banned Russian education and Russian media, and Ukrainian media in the Russian language (all of them were shut down), arrested deputies that showed any initiative to reach agreement with Russia, and made decisions allowing administrative fines to be imposed on those who do not use Ukrainian in daily life (shops and outpatient clinics). Recently, Commissioner for the Protection of the State Language Taras Kremen came out with an initiative to ban personal communication in Russian. Say, husband and wife are drinking tea in the kitchen, and some snitch (as we used to call them) can easily get them charged with a crime. The upper crust of this regime has good "prospects" indeed.

                                                                        Question: All of that sounds pretty much hypocritical. For example, the Kiev-Mogila Academy has banned the Russian language. This started within the walls of this hallowed education institution and spread elsewhere. That's their plan. Young Russian-speaking males are literally kidnapped off the streets and shipped to the frontline. It's okay for them to be fighting for independent Ukraine without knowing the Ukrainian language, but other things are off limits to them. The Russian speakers are eligible to bear arms and to defend their Motherland, which is a lofty duty. That's an interesting approach.

                                                                        However, every international process has some reasoning behind it. We are talking about the end and are trying to picture it. However, it is nowhere to be seen, since the conflict is escalating. It's hard to tell where to stop, because we can't see the bounds. Heavy weapons are being sent in. There's talk about missiles. What should we be bracing for?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: We are operating on the premise of objective realities, primarily, the realities that are enshrined in our legislation, in particular, the Constitution. Following the results of the referendum, four new territories – two people's republics and two regions – joined the Russian Federation. There is no question about that. The West is unable to come to grips with that and, as in a fairy tale with a sad ending, is getting mired deeper and deeper in a swamp with every step. However, it has significant leverage in the operation. We are now trying to move the Ukrainian artillery to a distance that will not pose a threat to our territories, but the more long-range weapons they send to Kiev, the further they will need to move them away from the territories that are part of our country.

                                                                        You are absolutely correct, the escalation started snowballing with the helmet supplies for the Ukrainian military followed by small arms supplies, and now they are talking about supplying warplanes. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz swears this will never happen, but he is known for his ability to change his mind quickly. And he is by far not the only person like that there. Chancellor Scholz said NATO would never wage war against Russia, but his Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said they had already joined the effort to fight Russia. Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said that there was nothing wrong with Kiev potentially bombing Crimea. They are either revving themselves up or just don't know what they are talking about.

                                                                        Olaf Scholz once said that the current crisis began with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He doesn't even listen to what his predecessors had to say, because former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said no one intended to fulfill the Minsk agreements even at the time they were signed in 2015. If anyone fails to acknowledge the fact that the seeds of the crisis were sown back then, they must be a politician who refuses to see the truth. But 2015 is not the most important cut-off date, either. Let's think back to the 2014 coup, which also took place, notwithstanding the guarantees provided by the Germans, the French and the Poles, which were included in the document on settling the situation and holding early elections. The next morning these guarantees were trampled on, and an openly Nazi regime, including the Svoboda Party, came to power. There was this Oleg Tyagnibok (no one had seen him in a long time) who was seen as a neo-Nazi by many European countries back then. There were slogans like "death to Russians, kikes and Polacks." They placed their bet on people like that and neo-Nazis from the Azov, Aidar and other battalions. Now they are painstakingly cleaning up every bit of information that made it clear that the West viewed these groups as extremist and terrorist. Not long ago, the Japanese released apologies and removed Azov from the list of extremist organisations.

                                                                        Perhaps, here, too, we should apply a Marxist approach and look for the deeper reasons that underlie the unfolding developments. I would recommend going back to at least President Obama's stint in office and read (it shouldn't be a problem since the text is readily available) what he had to say about the exceptionalism of the United States. You can go ahead and read similar remarks by former President Trump who said that America was an exceptional nation and there was no other nation like it in the world and that they had an enormous responsibility in that regard. President Biden has promoted this idea on several occasions, and his staff then formalised it. For example, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Americans must implement their leadership and their exceptional ability to lead, because if they don't, the world would plunge into chaos. To be sure, it's a humble statement to make. In 2021, having barely assumed office as National Security Adviser to the President of the United States, John Sullivan wrote an article where he discussed US exceptionalism and stated (I think it's a terrible thing to say) that exceptionalism means that the United States cannot afford to be focused on ethnic or historical identity, but must spread new and free democracy around the world. This means only one thing: everyone else is denied the right to remember their history. The Americans (just as they ran everyone who came to America through the melting pot) also want to melt down the rest of the world for everyone to become, in fact, American.

                                                                        Question: They smelted the natives, too.

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: Right, they almost melted them away so that nothing was left of them. Look at what is going on in the United States right now. Look at how society is split and how the ruling authorities are now trying to suppress it, using (to use their terminology) fairly "authoritarian tools."

                                                                        The reasons are to be found there. I believe that the exceptionalism and the absolute conviction in their own infallibility and superiority is the main reason why we are now opposing the countries that are using the Kiev regime to wage a hybrid war against us, although not exactly a hybrid war.

                                                                        Recently, there was a wide-scale debate about the parallels drawn from the Ukrainian leadership's remarks. I also spoke about the fact that just like in 1812 and 1941, those who wanted to subjugate the world starting with Europe, pulled together a major part of the continent to wage war against Russia. I don't see much difference here. Moreover, during the Great Patriotic War, World War II, Nazi ideology was used against us. Why do people refuse to see the Nazi ideology that is underlying the Kiev regime now? The statements that are being made by its proponents and puppeteers cannot be construed otherwise than an attempt to finally solve the Russian question. Russia must be dealt a strategic defeat. So that it is not able to come back for a long time. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that the war must end with a Russian defeat that would make it impossible for Russia to rebuild its economy for decades to come. Does that not sound like racism, Nazism, and an attempt to solve the Russian question? No, not yet in the gas chambers. There are still many decent people in Germany who will not allow the revival of Nazism. But some wouldn't mind at all to see it happen.

                                                                        So, we are in the midst of a geopolitical battle. There is no need to doubt it. Those who are addressing practical issues at the frontlines are working to fulfil a vitally important task and they are heroes. The feats that they are performing in the name of the future of humankind will make it possible to prevent the creation of conditions leading to the full hegemony of the United States, which are declared in their doctrinal documents.

                                                                        Question: What I infer from what you said is that the goal is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, that is, the West denies the idea of Russia even existing as a state. Russia needs to be either dismembered or divided, now there's even a new term "refederalisation" for it. The Poles are talking a lot about this, as usual. What's left for diplomacy in these circumstances?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: I don't think we will be out of work. We are now working in several areas. First, we are working hard to advance our policy, arguments and the truth in the international arena. No one in the West, Europe or America is trying to seriously ponder whether they made any mistakes. No. It's like everything started on February 24, 2022. Just like in 2014, it all started, in their book, with what they refer to as the "annexation" of Crimea, not the February coup.

                                                                        I was present at President Vladimir Putin's talks with former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel, former President of France Francois Hollande and current President of France Emmanuel Macron. Vladimir Putin asked why things turned out the way they did. They said that if it were not for the "annexation," things would have been just fine. But the "annexation" took place because the "authority" which committed a power grab in Ukraine said it was important (it was their first gut reaction) to abolish the regional status of the Russian language. It was not done back then. Now they are almost there. But these were the instincts that fully described the nature of that "power." Two days later, they told the Russians to "clear out" from Crimea and sent their thugs there. The Crimeans reacted only to that and nothing else. But the Western politicians kept saying that if it were not for the "annexation," "everything would be fine." "Fine" in what sense? Ukraine would have been ruled by the Nazis, people like Tyagnibok or Yatsenyuk, who called "subhuman" the people who refused to accept the outcomes of the coup. Vladimir Zelensky didn't stray far from them when he called "species" the people who objected to reunification with Ukraine without Minsk "terms and conditions." He said that his advice to those who lived in Ukraine and consider themselves part of the Russian culture, tradition and history was for them to make off to Russia for the sake of their children and grandchildren. Has anyone reacted to that? Has anyone seen in that not merely sprouts, but the full flowering of Nazism? No one has. Our diplomats brought all these unacceptable actions and statements to the attention of the relevant bodies of the UN, the OSCE and the (infamous) Council of Europe. Not a single time has the West tried to even wag a finger at its ward and his regime. He was constantly covered for, including by the OSCE Mission, which worked on the ground to promote the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Many mission employees (the facts have surfaced) helped the Kiev military plan their operations and gave them access to the data from the drones that were supposed to be used exclusively for the purposes of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.

                                                                        We must make the truth known and wage a merciless war on false claims. We have a section on our website that is dedicated to these matters. On top of it, we respond live daily to new tricks by those who attempt to distort the real picture.

                                                                        Diplomatic work with our partners all over the world is also part of our efforts. We are holding delegation exchanges at the level of ministers and deputy ministers. We travel to the countries with which we plan to build constructive cooperation. Delegations come to us. This work is important.

                                                                        The United States and all other Westerners, whom the Americans have brought to the heel thus stripping the EU of the remaining attributes of independence, are widely known as "grand democrats." However, they understand democracy as their right to impose their understanding of things on everyone else. However, discussions about democratic approaches to international issues leave them impassive.

                                                                        Question: This is totalitarian.

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: Yes, totalitarian. There is no mention of democracy in the UN Charter, which is possibly for the best. It mentions the main principle, which is more democratic than anything else: the UN is based on the sovereign equality of states. If anyone finds proof of respect for this principle in our Western colleagues' actions, I will nominate that person for the Nobel Peace Prize. If you are a democrat, you express your view and let your opponent state their positions. Allow all the others to act as adult people and to decide who they support and whose views and positions are more to their liking.

                                                                        This is how they should have acted with regard to the crisis in Ukraine. President Putin explained in the minutest detail the goals, causes and inevitability of our special military operation. This did not happen all of a sudden but after eight years (or even earlier, from his Munich speech in 2007) of trying to explain that the West was moving in the wrong direction, undermining all the principles they themselves had pledged to respect, such as indivisible security in Europe, equal security interests, the unacceptability for any state to strengthen its security by infringing on the security of others, and, which is extremely important, the unacceptability – unacceptability – of any organisation in Europe claiming military-political domination. NATO did what was unacceptable. These principles were put on paper in 1999 and reaffirmed in 2010. But all our attempts to lead the West to honour the documents our presidents and prime ministers had signed failed. Or, rather, they replied that these were political slogans whereas only NATO could provide legal security guarantees. By doing so, they again violated each and every principle.

                                                                        We spend many years trying to explain our stand, and ultimately we said that they had heard everything we had to say, and that we have taken the decision. The Western reaction was negative and condemnatory. The majority of developing countries assumed a neutral stand. Well, their neutral stand must be respected. But the West is sending daily – this is no exaggeration – requests through its ambassadors in all countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to refuse to meet with Russian delegations, to condemn [Russia] and to join the sanctions. The overwhelming majority of states have self-respect. Therefore, even small African states, with 1.5 or 2 million population, say they have their own plans for cooperation with Russia. These countries accept our visits and visit our country, receiving threats of punishment for that.

                                                                        What are the Americans known for? When they ask you to do something they want, they do not promise anything in return. Instead, they say to do it or we will punish you. It is the ultimate form of pragmatism and cynicism. Our diplomats have a great deal to do in this area. We offer explanations, debunk lies, especially the recent lies about our refusal to hold negotiations, and provide facts every day.

                                                                        NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that "weapons are the way to peace," so that Ukraine will win on the battlefield. Vladimir Zelensky has put forth a 10-point peace formula, which is an eclectic mixture of the whole enchilada, including food, energy and biological security. Plus Russia's withdrawal to the 1991 border, a tribunal to punish Russia, the payment of reparations and, lastly, the signing of a peace agreement. It is not a realistic initiative. I believe that Vladimir Zelensky's imagination sometimes runs wild. And now the West has to read that piece of work.

                                                                        Our diplomats will be doing their best to ensure that the anti-Russia events, which the West and the Kiev regime are planning to hold in New York and at other platforms on the first anniversary of the special military operation, are not the only headline news.

                                                                        We are preparing a survey of what had happened over the past year and the things we have uncovered. It is not only the US military biological programmes, which they are lying through their teeth about (as usual), and not only the United States' direct involvement in the Nord Stream blasts. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland has actually made a full confession. There are many things we can recall, and we can show which methods the United States is using to secure its hegemony. Judging by the quotes I have mentioned, the Americans have long been preparing or cultivating Ukraine to wage a war against Russia under Western licence. The United States is focused on mobilising the EU for that war, which I am sure it planned to do a long time ago, forcing it to send all its weapons to Ukraine. This process is nearing completion now.

                                                                        At the same time, the United States is increasing the production of weapons and is forcing Europe to buy them. NATO countries are obliged to spend 2 percent of their GDP on weapons. And they are being pushed to buy US-made products. There is no doubt that those who believe in American exceptionalism and think that it must rule the world also intended to suppress Europe economically.

                                                                        Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz are publicly complaining about the US laws targeting inflation, which are actually aimed at luring [European] production facilities to the United States. The process is ongoing. German manufacturers are fleeing to where the benefits are. But these benefits are clearly discriminatory and are aimed at undermining European industries.

                                                                        This is exceptionalism at work. Two or three weeks ago, the EU signed a declaration on cooperation with NATO, under which the EU will do anything NATO needs. The Americans are working persistently towards their goals. This must be said as loud as possible. Right now it is happening in Europe. But they are already making plans for Asia. Jens Stoltenberg speaks about this at NATO. It was announced at the Madrid summit in June 2022 that they must assume global responsibility and create military blocs spearheaded against China and Russia in the Asia-Pacific region (AUKUS). They have set a policy of drawing in new members. The great Pacific powers, such as Britain and France, are active there as well, taking part in the clearly incendiary anti-China exercises in the South China Sea.

                                                                        Everyone is looking at the forms that exceptionalism is assuming, like a desire to dominate everyone and to get unilateral economic advantages again so as to prevent an economic crisis in the US, which could be serious because it involves the exploitation of other countries. President Putin has mentioned these actions are fully in line with the colonial philosophy of living at the expense of others.

                                                                        Question: Turning Ukraine into an "anti-Russia" seemed a successful project in the sense that these aims were attained. What other country from among its entourage may also follow this path? Kyrgyzstan? Kazakhstan?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: Currently, they are "sizing up" Moldova for this role, primarily because they have managed to put at the head of that country – by tailored methods that are far removed from free and democratic ones – a female president who is champing at the bit to join NATO. A citizen of Romania, Maia Sandu is ready to join Romania and eager to do practically anything. It is a revealing fact that, in addition to her pro-NATO and pro-EU drive, the West and Chisinau are refusing to revive the 5 + 2 talks, where there are Chisinau, Tiraspol, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE, and EU and US monitors. The West no longer sees this format as fitting, because it was needed when the Chisinau authorities were still concerned with preserving their country's territorial integrity and reaching an arrangement with Transnistria. But no negotiating formats are needed after a takeover that brought to power a government prepared to solve the Transnistria problem by force and to insist on the ouster of the Russian peacekeepers and the contingent guarding the ammunition depots at Kolbasna. What is needed in this case is just to support the authorities.

                                                                        I will not go into detail, but Georgia is yet another country that the West wants to turn into an "anti-Russia." I am closely acquainted with President Salome Zurabishvili. She was [Georgia's] foreign minister between 2004 and 2005. Jointly with the military, we were drafting agreements on withdrawing the two remaining Russian military bases. Here is an interesting point. The withdrawal declaration contained an understanding that Russia and Georgia would establish a joint anti-terrorist centre at one of those former bases to work together on removing these threats. It was envisaged that Georgia would provide the majority of its personnel (some 700 troops). We were to send a much smaller contingent (about 100 officers). This was a package deal. After we withdrew our bases and carried out our part of the agreement, Mikheil Saakashvili refused out of hand to create the centre. The times were still "benign" and no one suspected that he would attack South Ossetia. But the Georgian President deceived us even in a peaceable situation characterised by the desire to establish a new kind of relations. There is no doubt that he was also told by his "curators" that there was no need for any joint centres with Russia. Today, Georgia has a government alongside a president, who, thank God, does not determine the country's development path and mostly performs ceremonial functions. I do not want anyone to think that I am going to compromise [the Georgian Government] with praise. I will quote its prime minister and ministers, who say that they are being guided by their national interests in response to unprecedented pressure and demands to join the sanctions and open a "second front" (they have even put this term into use). They have trade and tourism exchanges with Russia and get energy supplies from it. This meets the interests of the Georgian state and people. But I have no doubt whatsoever that they also would like to turn Georgia into another irritant and take the situation back to the aggressive times under Saakashvili.

                                                                        For a constructive focus on "creativity" to prevail in the region, we are promoting a 3 + 3 format (the three south Caucasian countries – Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan and three neighbour countries – Russia, Turkey, and Iran). The first tentative meeting has taken place. We will move forward with it.

                                                                        As far as the Central Asian states are concerned, the Russian foreign ministry and security services have had rather frank discussions with them. This is directly related to their security. Our Western colleagues have spent years trying to implant some pro-American, pro-European and pro-NATO NGO's there. For example, there are organisations like the US State Department's Agency for International Development (USAID) and others, which are in the business of wielding the "soft power" that would periodically turn into hard power. I think this cannot be denied. The West wants to use these "soft power" tools in order to at least call into question the further development of friendly and allied relations between Russia and its neighbours, including certain Central Asian countries. But I do not see here any cause to suspect that the West's "labours" are being met with any serious positive response.

                                                                        Russia's neighbours, allies and strategic partners see through these "games." Yesterday, I had a meeting with committee chairmen representing the CSTO parliaments. They were attending an event at the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in Moscow. We can see that just as the CSTO leaders and foreign ministers, our friends understand what aims are being pursued by the West in our common space. They want to construct and create additional mechanisms designed to ensure further development of our integration plans in forms that are not exposed to Western influences and are protected from illegal outside influence. The West always works against Russia wherever it is present in the post-Soviet space.

                                                                        Question: Kiev is offering a non-aggression pact to Minsk. Does this concern us as well, in the context of the Union State? What is Russia's approach?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: The Union State is not the most important argument here. Russia and Belarus have treaties, including security agreements, with many other countries. What Kiev has done is "funny" and really shows the Kiev regime leaders' "creativity." They are "talented" people.

                                                                        It's not even a "two-move game." As President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko announced, the Belarusians were offered a non-aggression pact at a time when their opposition was being cultivated, armed and trained to fight at the front against the Russian Federation, in particular as part of the infamous "Kalinowski Regiment." That unit is openly supported, and they say that it is preparing to perform similar missions in Belarus itself. Apparently, the Ukrainian side has an unusual understanding of non-aggression.

                                                                        I mentioned this when Alexander Lukashenko met with me in Minsk. He clearly sees such initiatives for what they are – flagrant provocations, pointless at best.

                                                                        Question: Article 5 of NATO's Washington Treaty says that an attack on any NATO member will be considered an attack against them all. Article 4 of the CSTO is similar: "In the event of aggression (armed attack that threatens a member's security, stability, territorial integrity and sovereignty) against any of the participating states, all other participating states, at the request of this state, will immediately provide the necessary assistance, including military assistance." Isn't this the case now?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: It says "at the request of this state." We have not requested any assistance from anyone. We believe we have every resource to attain the special military operation's goals, and to end the war launched by the West using the Ukrainian regime after the coup d'état.

                                                                        We can see that it is NATO fighting us. All those words, those mantras about "only" supplying Ukraine with arms are ridiculous. According to experts, Ukrainians will not be able to use the weapons that have already been partially transferred, let alone those that have been announced, even after a one-two-three-month training course. They are talking about sophisticated systems that Ukrainians cannot be trained to use in the foreseeable future. If NATO supplies such systems, then, most likely, these weapons will be accompanied by combat crews. They will probably "take leave" from the army and go as mercenaries, with the corresponding papers. But Russia will resolve all the issues itself. We haven't asked. I am not going to analyse the reasons why we didn't right now. We don't need assistance.

                                                                        The CSTO responded in 24 hours when President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev requested help in stabilising the situation in January 2022, during the period of an externally inspired surge in violence, attempts to seize state buildings. As Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to look for ways to stabilise the Caucasus, the CSTO is also ready to help.

                                                                        After an upsurge in violence in September 2022, when about 300 people were killed on both sides, we received a request from Yerevan. The CSTO Secretary General and a team of experts went to the border bringing a plan for the deployment of a CSTO mission to the region of Armenia bordering on Azerbaijan. That plan was ready a long time ago, but the Armenian side never asked us to expedite things.

                                                                        The text of the relevant decision was finalised at the summit in Yerevan, but our Armenian colleagues said they would only accept it if it categorically condemned Azerbaijan's actions. Not everyone was ready to do so. Not only because they wanted to shield someone or did not support Armenia. The war in Karabakh goes back decades. Armenia occupied seven districts of Azerbaijan for many years. Russia has proposed numerous options. The previous Armenian leadership did not accept them and claimed territories that it had never claimed before. Azerbaijan despaired to resolve the issues politically, and returned the lands that belonged to it.

                                                                        Now Armenia, Azerbaijan and the European Union have signed a document stating they were ready to sign a peace treaty on the terms outlined in the December 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration. This document says: the borders between the newly independent states will be demarcated along the administrative borders of the former republics of the Soviet Union, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, which included the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region.

                                                                        This situation is multi-layered. I consider it an important achievement that the CSTO has drafted a plan for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in a difficult situation. This proposal is still on the table. If our Armenian allies and friends are still interested in it, the mission can be deployed within one or two days.

                                                                        Question: Do we potentially retain the ability to turn to CSTO allies for help in the event that the aggression against Russia escalates?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: It says that any party has this right. I have already answered why Russia does not use it. It should not have to do so in the future. We see no need in terms of the equipment of our Armed Forces and how they operate in the space of the special military operation.

                                                                        The CSTO is now developing peacekeeping capabilities at the initiative of Kazakhstan. One of the Under-Secretaries-General has also been designated responsible for peacekeeping, and there is the Agreement on Peacekeeping Activities of the CSTO (2007).

                                                                        For our part, we are working on supplements to this agreement, because it says that CSTO peacekeeping forces are deployed by agreement and with the approval of the UN Security Council. We consider this requirement to be excessive, because a request by a legitimate government is quite sufficient for the deployment of CSTO peacekeepers. As it was in January 2022, during the unrest in Kazakhstan. Such clarifications to the CSTO peacekeeping legal framework will increase its effectiveness.

                                                                        We see the need for allied support in foreign policy coordination. Not always and not every issue is voted on equally by all CSTO member countries when an issue affecting the fundamental interests of one or another member is put on the agenda. This was discussed at the Council of Heads of State and the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers in Yerevan. Foreign policy coordination takes on increased importance.

                                                                        Question: The other day, two former Polish foreign ministers Radoslaw Sikorski and Anna Fotyga spoke in favour of "refederalising" Russia. Former Polish President Lech Walesa said it was time to "finally figure things out" with Russia. What is happening with Poland? Is it playing some special role the same way it did on the eve of World War II? Is our most vicious neighbour pitting everyone against us?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: There are many things to discuss in this regard. Poland has a difficult history with lots of pain in it and no less morbid ambitions clearly showing that a certain portion of the elite is still nurturing expansionist plans (the Three Seas Initiative, allusions to what is now Western Ukraine, Russophobia).

                                                                        Radoslaw Sikorski worked closely with us. He is not in the camp of Russia's admirers, but a pragmatic and seasoned politician. He hardly does anything that is not calculated. Now that he is a MEP, he has more leeway. Following the blast at the Nord Stream pipeline, he tweeted: "Thank you, USA." It was removed later, but there is plenty of evidence. We worked well with him. Back then, there was a joint commission led by foreign ministers which included deputy ministers of most other agencies which engaged in "mini" consultations between countries. There was a commission of historians as well. It's hard to believe it now, but they wrote textbooks together. Some chapters were written together, and where their views parted ways, they printed two versions. It was a dialogue, a platform where they constantly communicated, and an extra measure of trust was inevitably created. Now it is not.

                                                                        There is a proposal by Anna Fotyga and a statement by Lech Walesa that Russia must be (they even coined a term) "decolonised." They keep talking about some unpleasant and obscure representatives of the Nogai ethnic groups who want to create an independent state in the Astrakhan Region. The Leningrad Region now has some "indigenous" residents as well. This is the way to embolden certain small peoples by presenting a picture where they are discriminated against in Russia even though everything is the other way round. They can speak their languages, and they don't live on reservations like in the United States or Canada (where they, as it turned out, used to be brutally killed).

                                                                        At the same time, it is being said that we are simply "too large." They quoted Madeleine Albright as saying that "Russia is large," but then they refuted it. She may not have said this, but it's a fact that there are many people in the United States and Europe who are thinking this and are, in one way or another, sending this message out. It's a shame. We had an extensive mechanism of ties with Poland.

                                                                        There's one more thing, because they need to finally "deal with Russia." What is this other than a call to finally solve the Russian question? I recently quoted the masterminds from Hitler's Germany who engaged in the efforts to finally solve the Jewish question. Almost all of US-led Europe is being gathered against us and various slogans are being advanced, but the meaning remains the same and it is to solve the Russian question within the lifetime of the current generation. Maybe not in gas chambers, but still make sure that Russia ceases to exist as a great power, move it into the background and degrade its economy.

                                                                        Corrupt politicians started claiming that my comparisons insulted Holocaust victims. It means only one thing: they are feeling defensive. They don't have any arguments. I did not insult Holocaust victims. We honour them, hold events, and invite everyone who in one way or another was involved in the historical events.

                                                                        Unlike the Poles who, even before the special military operation, did not invite us to speak at an event dedicated to the liberation of Auschwitz. We just said that the memory of Holocaust victims does not exempt anyone from making efforts today, so that memory prevents new Nazi movements from appearing. We are witnessing this in Ukraine, Estonia, and Latvia, where neo-Nazi sentiment and practices are being revived.

                                                                        Question: The EU will hold a summit in early February. Russia is not a EU member state, but we are neighbours on the continent and the agenda they will discuss is not a matter of indifference for us. What agenda items would you suggest as a good neighbour?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: I no longer follow the EU summits.

                                                                        Question: They will get together and again ask themselves: Who are we, what is to be done, and where are we going?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: The Europeans are cannibalising themselves. It has been announced who will take the decision. They have signed the Joint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation, under which they are committed to supplying NATO with whatever it will want, including the territory of non-NATO countries, if it needs to redeploy weapons of any type closer to Russian borders. All of this is in black and white.

                                                                        Olaf Scholz went on record as saying the other day that Europe's security depended on the United States alone. It makes no sense for the EU to make any pleas to Washington for it to spare the European economy and industries or be magnanimous with regard to business subsidies in US territory.

                                                                        As the French Economic Minister Bruno Le Maire said rather long ago, the current cost of electricity for businesses in Europe was four times higher than in the United States. President Emmanuel Macron declared that they would urge Washington to make adjustments and provide discounts or exclusions. They will, I think.

                                                                        Question: He was already there with hat in hand. They did nothing.

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: This is why I am not particularly interested in what the EU is discussing. I hear they are planning to invite Vladimir Zelensky. I don't know whether this will be via videoconference or live. They will tell us later.

                                                                        They took the decision long ago and are now in the process of making Zelensky a symbol of democracy's fight against autocracy. This is the very same black-and-white picture of the world being promoted by the Americans, among others.

                                                                        The second Summit for Democracy they are convening in late March of this year will formulate a simple task: All democrats must fight against all autocrats, with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela to be branded as autocrats. These are all countries refusing to obey the West's demands. If you look at the list of invitees to the first summit, you will see a rather interesting picture. There are countries on it (I don't want to offend anyone), which the Americans themselves had never marked down as democratic before.

                                                                        Currently, this "revolutionary" team, which is convening the summit of "democracies," is seeking, as far as we know, to submit a draft decision promoting the democracies vs. autocracies philosophy and intended to make it work in practice. The idea, at least at this stage, is, as far as we know, to have democracies formulate their demands to autocracies plus rights of their own to communicate these as a leverage of assistance above the head of the autocratic governments to the nations "oppressed" by these governments.

                                                                        I wouldn't have believed this a year or even two years ago. Today, it is being discussed in earnest. Roughly, their plan is to arrogate the same rights they would like to obtain, pushing through UN organs, by hook or by crook, in violation of the rules of procedure, the idea of establishing a tribunal against Russia and getting reparations from Russia. All of this represents a gross violation of international law. But they are no strangers to it. They have discarded all their principles at the snap of a finger, principles like the inviolability of private property, presumption of innocence, good-faith competition, market mechanisms, etc., which they were cultivating and imposing on others for decades as part of the globalisation package. All of that was crossed out, when it became necessary to punish the Russian Federation.

                                                                        It is another matter that this did not work. The very fact that the Americans have made recourse to these illegal methods is making everyone wary. The current talk about transitioning to national currencies is not accidental. Who knows what side of the bed the US president will wake up on tomorrow, or who he will see as "unsympathetic."

                                                                        The presidents of Brazil and Argentina have already discussed a possibility of creating a bilateral currency. Next they went even further by proposing to think about a currency for all the Latin American and Caribbean states. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva suggested discussing the same within BRICS. This is already a global, not regional, approach to what is to be done with the monetary system in a situation where the Americans with their dollar are committing every impropriety imaginable.

                                                                        The process is under way. Saudi Arabia sells its oil to China for RMB. Russia is bringing the share of national currencies in trade with its key partners to 50 percent. And the process goes on and on.

                                                                        Question: A question about China. Relations with Beijing are making rapid headway. We are building a new world order with the PRC. What points of contacts can we have? Or maybe there are even some risks? It is always dangerous to dance with a giant. He may step on your feet. Are relations with China fraught with some risks?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: "Points of contact" is a very modest description of our bilateral relations. Our declarations say that although we are not going to establish a military alliance, these relations are above military alliances in the classic sense of this word because they do not have any restrictions, limits or taboo subjects. They are the best in the entire history of the USSR, the PRC and the Russian Federation.

                                                                        Our common interest is primarily in being allowed to develop in line with our national plans, in accordance with the norms of international trade (in part, the WTO norms) and the West-created system: the Bretton-Woods institutions, the IMF and the World Bank. When we joined them there were certain rules that we accepted. It took us 17 years to enter the WTO. We accepted the rules that guaranteed fair competition.

                                                                        Now all this is destroyed as well. The WTO has blocked the work of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) because China is "outplaying" America on its field and according to its rules. China has every right to demand compensation and the DSB would surely decide this case in its favour if the United States allowed this body to function. The Americans are simply blocking the appointment of new members of the body for the available vacancies. There is no quorum. This is a purely bureaucratic approach, a "Soviet party approach" in the worst sense. This has been going on for many years. It is because China was winning all disputes against the US that they came up with the WTO reform, having announced in public that it should rely on US and EU interests. Very simple. Others will be shown their place and told how to behave.

                                                                        The same is taking place in the International Monetary Fund. If you apply the criteria on which the IMF and the World Bank were founded, today the BRICS countries can claim a bigger number of shares and votes that will upset the current situation when the US can block any decisions single-handed (this situation actually took shape several years ago).

                                                                        If everything were fair, we would listen more attentively to the heads of our economic bloc who spoke about positive features of globalisation. These features do not exist anymore. We realised this earlier because we were the first to "take a hit" in connection with what the US had been planning against us via Ukraine.

                                                                        Moreover, we are not so deeply involved in this system as China in terms of trade. China has bought $1.5 trillion worth of US securities. The depth of China's immersion in the current system cannot be compared with ours. China is bound to take steps to reduce this dependence. I have no doubts about that. It has already started taking these steps. There is plenty of evidence of this. Beijing will need more time to create parallel instruments and mechanisms to protect itself against arbitrary rule of the US as the main manager of the world currency, financial and trade system at this stage. However, these mechanisms and instruments should not appear overnight. Otherwise they may trigger serious economic upheavals considering how interconnected the US and Chinese economies are, with trillions of dollars at stake. This issue is not just discussed. There is an ongoing search for ways of creating new mechanisms. This process is leading to the fragmentation of global mechanisms. For the time being, these mechanisms are still associated with the US and its satellites. However, they are no longer global and serve one group of states.

                                                                        When Latin American and Caribbean countries are urged to think about their own financial instruments, this is more like the "regionalisation" of globalisation.

                                                                        In our region, President Vladimir Putin suggested looking at integration processes in greater Eurasia. They involve the EAEU, ASEAN with its far-reaching plans, and the SCO that has good transport, logistics and economic prospects in addition to its security agenda. At this point, I would like to mention China's Belt and Road Initiative and the agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and its member-countries on the one hand, and the People's Republic of China, on the other.

                                                                        At the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in 2015, Vladimir Putin suggested harmonising plans instead of imposing positions of some other organisation on any structures.

                                                                        Question: Don't these projects contradict each other?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: There is no contradiction. The main thing is to avoid duplication or dissipation of resources. The process has already got underway. There is a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the Secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The SCO has a memorandum with ASEAN as well.

                                                                        President Putin suggested the process of harmonising integration aspirations should be called the formation of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. As early as in 2015, there was an objective demand for looking at an alternative to globalisation that was imposed on us for many years but was still seen as a more or less satisfactory arrangement. This alternative is the Greater Eurasian Partnership as the manifestation of a trend towards regionalising global processes.

                                                                        Question: But what about the risks? There is a widespread opinion that China is so big and we are so small. Something may change and we will face something insurmountable. How justified are such fears?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: We are also accused of being big and offending everyone around us. It is alleged that former Soviet republics are not given their due respect. Many will come up with such accusations. And there are many who want to scare us with China as well. In my opinion, this is a game based on wanting to prevent us from cooperating and coordinating our positions in the economy or international affairs. There is no doubt that the plans signed by Russia and the PRC meet the interests of both Moscow and Beijing. They do not define the role of our country as subordinate. These plans are mutually beneficial. They are far from being limited to energy supplies to China. They also cover outer space, nuclear power engineering and many other high-tech areas.

                                                                        I would like to recall that the West has called Russia and China autarchies and the main threats. Our country poses immediate danger that must be somehow nipped in the bud at once. The fight against China will take a long time.

                                                                        The West wants China to abstain from providing military aid to us. This is a routine accusation of the DPRK, Iran and others all over the world. Our defence industry is working. Everything will be fine.

                                                                        We do not like and consider unacceptable the brazen promotion of decisions that suit only the US and its satellites in the international arena. We will object to this practice.

                                                                        Question: Did you have a chance to try Russian whiskey as part of import substitution?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: I was presented with it. If I am correct this whiskey brand is called Praskoveiskoye. But I think the place of honour belongs to the bottle with the words "Kyrgyz whiskey."

                                                                        Question: Are you for peace?

                                                                        Sergey Lavrov: I am for peace – unequivocally. I do not remember but someone said in ancient times, if you want peace, prepare for war. I do not share this philosophy.

                                                                        I would put it this way: If you want peace, be always ready to defend yourself.

                                                                        I think we will come out stronger from the current geopolitical situation and will be able to defend ourselves even better in any situation.

                                                                                      Foreign Ministry's answers to media questions for a news conference on Russian diplomacy's performance in 2022 (Ответы МИД на вопросы СМИ к пресс-конференции о деятельности российской дипломатии в 2022 году) / Russia, January, 2023
                                                                                      Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

                                                                                      Question: What are the main areas of work that Minister Sergey Lavrov sees for Russian diplomacy in 2023?

                                                                                      Foreign Ministry: Russian diplomacy will continue to adhere to the basic principles underlying our country's foreign policy, which are independence, a multi-directional approach, respect for international law, reliance on national interests, and openness to mutually beneficial cooperation. We will continue to fight for the truth and justice in international affairs, and against the rudiments of neo-colonialism and hegemonic ambitions of the United States and its satellites, and the notorious "order" based on some "rules" that someone invented, which they aggressively promote.

                                                                                      Any attempt to harm Russia or its allies will be resolutely rebuffed. We will continue certain practical work with unfriendly states based on the extent of their consideration for our legitimate concerns, primarily in the security sphere.

                                                                                      At the same time, Russian diplomacy will focus its best efforts on using the potential of cooperation with the majority of the world, that is, the states and associations in the CIS space, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

                                                                                      We are striving to establish new mechanisms for interaction in various fields with countries that have not joined the anti-Russia campaign unleashed by the West. We will expand cooperation with our partners in the SCO and BRICS, and with other states that show independence in international affairs. We will continue to use the potential of the EAEU to strengthen stability in Eurasia; Russia is presiding over that organisation in 2023. The second Russia-Africa Summit, scheduled for this year, is intended to help elevate the partnership with our African friends to a new level.

                                                                                      Other unconditional priorities for Russian diplomacy will include protecting Russian citizens' legal rights abroad, strengthening our ties with our compatriots, consolidating the Russian language and Russian culture's role around the world, helping to preserve the truth about Russia's role in world history, and stepping up efforts against manifestations of Russophobia and neo-Nazism.

                                                                                      Realising that the world has entered a period of revolutionary transformation, we are fully prepared for various scenarios of further international developments. We are looking to the future with confidence and have no doubt that Russia will ensure its security and the security of its allies in any international situation, and that our foreign policy will continue to fulfill its central mission – to create favourable external conditions for our country's progressive development.

                                                                                      Cooperation between Russia and Brazil

                                                                                      Question: Brazil is Russia's strategic partner. After February 24, 2022, Brazil refused to join the economic sanctions. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, "a main result of 2022 for Russia was the clarification of who we can work with and who we cannot trust." Is Brazil a country Russia can work with? Do you expect to continue cooperating under the new government of Luiz Lula da Silva?

                                                                                      Foreign Ministry: Not only can Russia continue to work with Brazil, but we want to. We are sure that this desire is mutual. This is evidenced not only by the rich history of diplomatic relations, which, by the way, marks 195 years on October 3 of this year. The experience of our interaction in a difficult 2022 is also evidence of a mutual disposition to comprehensively strengthen our ties. So, I would even change the modality here – we must continue working together in the name of strengthening the time-tested bonds of friendship, mutual respect and constructive cooperation that bind our peoples.

                                                                                      It is noteworthy that the leading Brazilian political forces consider developing mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia as meeting the national interests of their country.

                                                                                      Russian leadership has already had a number of contacts with the new Brazilian administration. On December 20, 2022, President Vladimir Putin talked by telephone with President of Brazil Luiz Lula da Silva. On December 31, 2022, on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony, the new Brazilian leader met with Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Valentina Matviyenko, who led the Russian delegation at the event. During the conversations, the parties confirmed the mutual disposition to ensure the continuity of Russian-Brazilian relations and a comprehensive strengthening both in the bilateral format and on multilateral platforms, primarily within BRICS, the G20 and the UN, including the Security Council, of which Brazil is currently a non-permanent member.

                                                                                      Brazil is a responsible participant in global processes, pursuing an independent foreign policy and committed to finding collective responses to contemporary challenges to international peace and security. As for the illegal restrictive measures taken by the collective West, the country adheres to a clear and consistent position and does not support actions that have not been approved by the UN Security Council.

                                                                                      Brazil plays an important role in the processes of regional integration. We are convinced that the intensified efforts in this area, announced by the new Brazilian administration, in particular within the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), will help secure the region's status as one of the centres of the emerging multipolar world order.

                                                                                      We are committed to productive cooperation with Brazil to strengthen our relations across the board both in the bilateral format and within regional and multilateral associations.

                                                                                      Development of Russia-China relations

                                                                                      Question: In February and September 2022, President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping met in person. Not long ago, they held talks via a videoconference call. What's your take on the role of diplomacy at the level of the heads of state in Russia-China relations? What are your expectations regarding bilateral ties this year? What can our two countries do to promote a fairer international order?

                                                                                      Foreign Ministry: Leadership diplomacy is a key component in strengthening Russia-China relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. Trust-based contacts between President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping play a leading role in ensuring the progressive deepening of the entire range of multifaceted ties between our countries. In one interview – incidentally, with a Chinese media outlet – Vladimir Putin noted that Xi Jinping and he go back a long way and, as good friends and politicians who share views on ways to address numerous international issues, both leaders communicate closely and frequently. Over the past ten years, the heads of state have met 40 times including bilateral visits, meetings on the sidelines of multilateral forums, and other contacts. The leaders exchange views on the status of and prospects for Russian-Chinese relations, discuss in detail areas of practical cooperation, and compare notes on regional and international priority issues. Each meeting has "high added value," prioritises issues at hand, and sets the rhythm for an extensive mechanism of contacts between Russia and China at all levels and in all areas.

                                                                                      In 2022, which was a point of inflection for the entire international relations system, the leaders of Russia and China maintained close coordination of their efforts. President Putin was the first foreign head of state to confirm his attendance at the 24th Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and visited the Chinese capital on February 4, 2022, where he held extensive talks with President Xi Jinping as part of his visit to attend the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games. This was the first in-person meeting between the leaders of our countries in over two and a half years since the coronavirus pandemic broke out. The talks ended with signing a package of 15 bilateral documents. A weighty Joint Statement was adopted which notes that "friendship between the two states has no borders," and "no area of cooperation is off limits." The critically important thesis about the superiority of Russian-Chinese relations over the military-political alliances of the Cold War era has been reiterated. The sides emphasised that the strengthening of bilateral strategic cooperation between Russia and China is not directed against third countries and is not affected by whatever changes may occur in the international environment. Having outlined their shared assessments of the reasons behind the mounting potential for conflict in the world, the heads of Russia and China spoke in favour of defending international order based on international law, including the UN Charter's goals and principles, and expressed their commitment to promoting multipolarity and democratisation of international relations, as well as to jointly building a prosperous, stable and fair world.

                                                                                      The second in-person meeting took place in Samarkand in September on the sidelines of a meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council, where Vladimir Putin made clear that amid a rapidly changing world, the only thing that remains unchanged is the friendship between Russia and China.

                                                                                      As for the video conference talks on December 30, a good tradition was formed between the leaders of Russia and China at the close of the outgoing year, which is to take stock of bilateral relations over the period under review and to plan key areas of interaction for the short term. In particular, the heads of state were unanimous in pointing out that relations between Russia and China have overcome, with flying colours, the trials thrown their way by ill-wishers from the West, and that they are mature and stable, and continue to expand dynamically being the best ever in the history of bilateral relations and serve as a model of cooperation between major powers in the 21st century.

                                                                                      This year, Russia and China will partner up to further strengthen and advance bilateral ties. As is known, President Putin invited Chinese leader Xi Jinping to pay a state visit to the Russian Federation in the spring. We believe this visit will be the central event in bilateral relations in 2023.

                                                                                      We believe that streamlining anti-pandemic measures in China will help restore in-person contacts and exchanges at all levels.

                                                                                      Russia and China are deploying joint efforts to strengthen the multipolar international relations system.

                                                                                      In the context of a radical transformation of the geopolitical situation, and in order to maintain global peace and stability, to resolve regional conflicts, to overcome confrontation and advance a unifying agenda, our countries manage to effectively carry out foreign policy coordination. In conjunction with other like-minded nations, we steadily oppose US attempts to achieve global dominance by way of promoting their rules-based order concept.

                                                                                      To this end, we plan to undertake vigorous efforts jointly with our Chinese friends in order to uphold the authority of the UN and to strengthen the spirit of solidarity and cooperation within the G20, to deepen strategic partnership within BRICS, to comprehensively promote SCO activities, to strengthen the role of APEC, to step up cooperation at venues such as the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and Meeting of ASEAN Defence Ministers and Dialogue Partners, and to support the central role of ASEAN as a key element of regional architecture in East Asia.

                                                                                      Russian-Chinese trade and economic cooperation

                                                                                      Question: In 2022, Russian-Chinese trade increased by 29.3 percent year-on-year to $190 billion despite the tense international situation and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That was a record high for the two countries. How would you comment on the steady growth in bilateral trade? What are your expectations for bilateral relations in 2023?

                                                                                      Foreign Ministry: Indeed, last year, Russian-Chinese trade grew by one-third to record levels, while bilateral cooperation continued to grow progressively in all areas. China reaffirmed the status of Russia's main trading partner, which it has been for more than a decade, and under the current conditions, its role as a friendly state is gradually increasing. The two countries are implementing large projects that involve investment, industry, energy and agriculture, space research and other high-tech industries. The share of transactions in national currencies has more than doubled, being used in more than half of our trade transactions now. The two new cross-border bridges across the Amur River recently opened and are bound to further strengthen bilateral transport connectivity. Region-to-region and humanitarian contacts have been gradually restored.

                                                                                      We strongly believe that the potential for Russian-Chinese bilateral cooperation is still far from exhausted and that today's international realities have opened up additional opportunities for our countries. We hope that China's recent decisions on the phased lifting of coronavirus restrictions will help restore the prior dynamics of face-to-face contacts at all levels and give a new impetus to bilateral trade and economic cooperation. In 2023, we aim not only to achieve the goal of bringing bilateral trade to $200 billion ahead of schedule (this goal was planned for 2024), but also to reach new frontiers and significantly deepen Russian-Chinese practical cooperation. We will work hard to elevate Russian-Chinese relations to a new, even higher level in the interests of our states' progess and for the benefit of our peoples.
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