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Press Releases - 2015
PRESS RELEASE
On the use of chemical weapons by Islamic State

There is growing evidence that the terrorist group “Islamic State” (IS) is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and other countries of the region

Developing chemical weapons has been an ambition of the group - and various other jihadi movements - for years. IS militants in the initial stages used chlorine in the fighting. The data collected by intelligence services of a number of countries indicate that more toxins have been used.

CNN, The Guardian and some other media outlets reported of the apparent use of mustard gas against Iraqi Kurdish fighters and in Syria. In mortars that hit Kurdish forces in northern Iraq in August 2015, preliminary tests showed traces of the chemical agent sulphur mustard.

Iraqi officials expressed concern that the large area the extremists control since overrunning parts of Iraq and Syria last year has left Iraqi authorities largely in the dark over the IS chemical program. According to the British newspaper Independence citing defence authorities of Iraq, IS is working very seriously to reach production of chemical weapons, particularly nerve gas.

Today IS leaders are free to select locations for their labs and production sites and have a wide range of experts, both civilians and military, who assist them. The group managed to attract chemists from abroad as well as Iraqi experts, including ones who once worked for former Iraqi Military Industrialization Authority.

At the same time, Associated Press reported on November 19th that IS had recently moved its research labs, experts and materials from Iraq to "secured locations" inside Syria. Syria is supposed to be free of chemical weapons after the agreement sponsored by the UN and the Russian Federation, according to which the Syrian government handed over 1,180 tonnes of declared toxic agents and precursor chemicals to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Even a few competent scientists and engineers, given motivation and a few material resources, can produce hazardous industrial and weapons-specific chemicals in limited quantities. This poses a grave threat to the Middle East and potentially the whole world. Since the spring of 2014, Russia has repeatedly and insistently raised this issue within the OPCW and at the UN Security Council. In New York, the Russian delegation is proposing to expand the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, established under UN Security Council Resolution 2235, to Iraq. In September 2015, our representatives submitted a resolution to this effect to the UN Security Council.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA

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PPRESS RELEASE
On Russia’s counter-terrorist operation in Syria

The Russian Federation continues its armed operation against the so-called “Islamic State” and other terrorist groups in Syria. Significant damage has been done to the military capabilities of terrorists. The extremists’ operating mechanisms have been disrupted, their military infrastructure damaged and their financial base significantly undermined. However, a tragic accident recently happened, which caused a massive public outcry.

On November 24, the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian military aircraft, Su-24, involved in the operation in Syria as part of the Russian Aerospace Forces grouping. According to Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoi, Chief of the General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate, a missile hit the SU-24M plane when it was flying over Syria. The plane crashed in Syria 4 km from the border. Objective control data show that the aircraft did not cross the Turkish border. This information is supported by the Syrian Air Defence Force. Moreover, the radar tracking service of the Hmeymim Airbase reported that the attacking Turkish Air Force plane violated Syrian air space.

This attack was unexpected and uncalled for, as the aircraft posed no threat to Turkey. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin described the act on Turkey’s pars as “stab in the back” because that country had been regarded as an ally in the struggle against terrorism. This stresses once again the necessity for international coordination of efforts aimed at eradicating terrorism in the Middle East. In his recent interview, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov reminded of the Memorandum of Mutual Understanding between the Defence Ministries of Russia and the United States aimed at ensuring the safety of combat aircraft flights in Syria. According to this document, Turkey had to coordinate its actions with the US as the leading nation in the coalition.

Several days earlier, the UN Security Council unanimously passed French-sponsored Resolution 2249 on counteracting the terrorist threat in the Middle East. At the suggestion of the Russian Federation, it sets down clearly that the UN Charter forms the foundation for the fight against terror. It is important that the resolution refers to the documents adopted by the International Syria Support Group on October 30 and November 14 of this year.

Russia sees this resolution as a political appeal that does not change the legal principles of the anti-terrorist struggle and marks a step towards forming a broad antiterrorist front proposed by President Vladimir Putin through organising comprehensive cooperation between states to stop all manifestations of terrorism and eliminate its causes. As a follow-up to this resolution our Government deems it extremely important to focus on cutting the financing of terrorism through illegal trade in oil, oil products and cultural values, conducted by the Islamic State and its accomplices.

We are confident that eradicating terrorism in Syria will create the necessary conditions for achieving a final and long-term settlement of the Syrian crisis. At their recent meeting, President Putin and his French counterpart Francois Hollande agreed to continue working together very actively within the framework of the International Syria Support Group and promote the fulfilment of all agreements reached within this group, first and foremost with regard to the deadlines and parameters for holding intra-Syrian talks.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA

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PRESS RELEASE On Russian-Botswana Business Forum in Gaborone, November 23-25, 2015

The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Botswana, in collaboration with Botswana Investment and Trade Centre, is organizing a business seminar in Gaborone for potential Russian investors. It is to be held from the 23rd till the 25th of November; that will be followed by Global Expo Botswana 2015 which Russian delegates also plan to attend.

Leadership and representatives of seven large and medium Russian companies are on the list of participants. Among them JSC Alrosa, Rostec, Gazprombank, VEB, etc. Those companies are specialized in such sectors as mining, energy, infrastructure construction, banking and financial services, transport.

The guests will meet with senior government officials from relevant authorities and will hold discussions with local business community. The aim of the forum is to raise awareness among Russian business people about investment opportunities in Botswana and enhance interest to the local market. This should have a mutually beneficial effect on both countries’ economies and broaden bilateral cooperation. The Embassy hopes that this format of interaction will continue and not only on Botswana soil but in Russia as well.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA

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Russia Invites Partners to Join Fight against Terrorism in Syria

Although the armed conflict in Syria started over 4 years ago, the past few weeks have seen a surge of international interest due to the decision of the Russian Government to launch a military air force operation against “Islamic State” in coalition with the Syrian army.

Priorities of Russia’s policy in Syria are: firstly, strengthening Syrian state institutions, and secondly, organising a joint fight against terrorists by forming a united front with antiterrorist forces in Syria and all those who are committed to eliminating this tremendous threat.

It has been repeatedly stated by the Russian Government that active operations on the Syrian soil will be limited in time to the Syrian army’s offensive. The task is to stabilise the legitimate government and establish conditions that will make it possible to achieve a political compromise.

In the legal context, Russia is acting in this situation in full compliance with international law, i.e. at the request of the Syrian Arab Republic’s official government. All other countries that have so far taken part in operations in Syria are acting unlawfully, because there is no UN Security Council resolution on these operations, and no official request from the Syrian authorities. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin said in a recent TV interview that since Russia has a mandate from the Syrian authorities to act, “the simplest solution would be for others to join us and work within this same mandate. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach any such agreement so far with our partners and colleagues, but we do not lose hope that this might yet be possible”.

One can easily notice that Western media are vigorously disseminating reports that the Russian air force is allegedly hitting positions where there are no ISIS forces and that it is also attacking and killing civilians, the so-called “moderate opposition” rather than ISIS militants.

Russian authorities have clearly and unambiguously informed all stakeholders that the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces in Syria are being used solely to fight against organised groups of international terrorists (this applies to the “Islamic State” and other terrorist groups).

Russian Ministry of Defence regularly provides comprehensive information about its military operations and the targets attacked. Russian military has to deal with extremist and terrorist groups that use terrorist methods of warfare, no matter what they call themselves.

In his interview, mentioned above, President Putin reasonably wonders why our partners, who may know the situation on the ground better and who have already been present in Syria for more than a year, do not want to share with Russia information on targets. “I cannot see why, after all, if they really know the situation better and want to fight terrorism, they could share with us concrete locations where the terrorists are hiding out and have their command posts and arms and equipment depots”, - Putin continues.

Nevertheless, Moscow is doing its best to engage as many partners as possible to contribute to the common cause of fighting international terrorism. Together with Iran, Syria and Iraq a Joint Coordination Centre was created in Bagdad tasked with collecting and analysing information about the situation in the Middle East. Efforts are made to establish cooperation with military authorities of Israel, the United States and Turkey.

At the Russian-Saudi meeting on October 11, President Putin and Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud held an extensive discussion on the measures that could bring Syria closer to a peaceful political process. The two countries confirmed that they share common goals with respect to Syria, with the main one being to prevent the triumph of a terrorist caliphate. They discussed a range of options that would put the Geneva Communiqué of June 30, 2012 in practice, as well as various approaches. It was agreed that the parties would use them to guide their further action.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA


A Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback tactical bomber performs air strikes in the provinces of Raqqah and Aleppo
© Russian Defense Ministry / RIA Novosti


Russian servicemen attach a Kh-25L high-precision missile to a Su-24 aircraft at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria.
© Dmitriy Vinogradov / RIA Novosti

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Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons

In recent years, humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons have become one of the “hottest” subjects on international arms control and disarmament agenda. The message saying that “awareness of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament” is aggressively promoted on different international forums, and references to “humanitarian aspects” are systematically incorporated into non-proliferation or arms control documents regardless of their actual subject.

This aggressive campaign brings its results. Joint Statement on the humanitarian consequences delivered by Austria at the 2015 NPT Review Conference has received some 170 signatures of non-nuclear weapon states, while the consequent “Humanitarian Pledge” was signed by 113. So, there seems to be a solid majority behind this idea, and its promoters claim that “majority may not be wrong”.

Democratic rules being what they are, majority is supposed to enjoy a clear advantage. But minority also has a right to express its opinion, and in this particular case the minority includes the nuclear-weapon states that are directly concerned by the developments in this area.

As an nuclear-weapon state, Russia has a practical first-hand experience with nuclear weapons. It includes lessons learned from more than 700 nuclear explosions of different types that took place on our soil and 70 years of exposure to a risk of nuclear attack. It also includes history of building efficient military deterrence and “civil defense” capacity intended to deal with the immediate consequences of a nuclear strike. Given this experience, the presumptions underpinning the notion of “humanitarian consequences” are far from being indisputable. From our point of view they contain a number of understatements, overstatements and, what is the most important, “subject substitutions”.

For instance, assertion that “no State or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation” seems to be an understatement, for it does not take into account long-standing nation-wide programs intended to reduce damage of eventual nuclear attacks that exist in certain countries. Their core element is building and maintaining that very adequate emergency relief capacity that is denied by supporters of “humanitarian” initiatives. Countries without such programs may also have a robust relief capacity that should not be underestimated. Japan’s coping with Fukushima disaster is a living proof.

Assertion that any detonation of nuclear weapon will have catastrophic humanitarian consequences is an example of an overstatement. Since Hiroshima and Nagasaki there have been more than 2000 recorded nuclear explosions. With some very rare exceptions, operational nuclear weapons were detonated. Surely, nuclear tests did no good to environment and to the health of those who were exposed to their effects. There is no doubt that every case of irradiation is a human tragedy, but from our point of view it is not sufficient for making global conclusions and coining them into catchy political slogans.

Our main concern with “humanitarian aspects” is “subject substitution”. This school of thought shifts the purpose of nuclear disarmament, pretending its ultimate goal is to fulfill certain humanitarian requirements. Such interpretation makes it possible to take the issue out of historical, strategic and legal contexts and to create a one-sided and biased picture that is presented as universal truth.

We can not agree with these exercises. The purpose of nuclear disarmament is strengthening security. This evident fact is reflected in the formula contained in the Action Plan adopted by consensus at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. It stipulates that nuclear disarmament should be pursued “in a way that promotes international stability, peace and security, and based on the principle of undiminished and increased security for all”. Russia is committed to this formula and invites all NPT Member-States to use it as guidance.

Shifting nuclear disarmament priorities may have serious negative consequences. Focusing the agenda on humanitarian matters may divert – and is already diverting – public attention away from much more relevant issues that negatively affect today international peace and stability. They include unilateral deployment of global strategic missile defense, creation of conventional long-distance high-precision weapons that in certain cases may substitute for nuclear bombs and missiles, persistent risk of weapons being deployed in space, aggravating disparities in the area of conventional weapons etc. These subjects clearly do not get all the attention they need. Loss of public attention also reduces incentives to ratify the CTBT and bring it into force. As for the task of creating appropriate conditions for further nuclear weapon reductions, that should be the top priority in this area, it is completely neglected.

Meanwhile, developments in these areas are critically important for nuclear arms control. So, “humanitarian aspects” that currently overshadow everything begin in fact to jeopardize prospects for any further progress in the area of nuclear disarmament. It is a very disturbing trend that needs to be reversed.

Each of the P5 countries fully understands the serious consequences of nuclear weapon use. Our utmost goal is to avoid any such contingency. We strive to achieve it through strengthening international peace and stability, promoting nuclear arms control, carrying out reductions and limitations of our nuclear arsenals and correspondingly adapting our military doctrines and security concepts. We are strongly convinced that it is in the interest of all nations to assure that nuclear war should never be fought, for there can be no winners in such a conflict.

Russia is in total agreement with the signatories of the Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons that it is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again. In this context it is noteworthy that we have never used our nuclear weapons against any other State. Their only purpose is deterrence, that is to say, prevention of military conflicts. Our Military doctrine stipulates that possibility to use nuclear weapons may considered only in two cases of utmost emergency – for retaliation when Russia is attacked with weapons of mass destruction or in case of massive conventional attack when the country’s very existence is at stake.

Difference lies in the choice of means. “Humanitarian” initiatives target one particular type of weapons. We take a much broader approach aimed at preventing nuclear conflicts in general as well as conventional conflicts that may degenerate into nuclear war. In the case of Hiroshima, “humanitarian” concern is about banning dropping nuclear bombs on cities. This leaves aside numerous cases of massive civilian casualties by conventional weapons, including, for instance, the March 10 1945 Tokyo bombing that made over 80 000 victims.

As for us, we inscribe this tragic event in overall context of WWII and war in Pacific in particular. We try to understand when and why international security mechanisms failed, opening way to a chain of consecutive actions and counteractions that culminated in nuclear explosions. We also want to realize what can be done to prevent such occurrences from ever happening again, for this is the most important lesson that can be drawn from the disasters that took place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago.

We are open to serious and substantive discussion with proponents of “humanitarian” approach. We share their aspiration to live in a stable and secure world free of weapons of mass destruction. But avoiding real problems related to nuclear disarmament and replacing them with artificial agenda will hardly be helpful in trying to reach this goal.

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On the disruption of Federation Council Speaker
Valentina Matviyenko’s trip to the United States

The recent decision by the US authorities has prevented the Speaker of the Federation Council (upper chamber of Russian Parliament) Valentina Matviyenko from attending major international events in New York, in particular the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament and the Tenth Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament.

The US visa, which was issued to Mrs. Matviyenko after much delay and procrastination, contained a number of unacceptable restrictions on her stay in the United States, in particular, a prohibition to attend the meetings or any other events of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. This has rendered the visit of a Russian delegation led by Valentina Matviyenko to New York impossible.

Inter-Parliamentary Union, which is the oldest and most authoritative international parliamentary organisation, plays a very important role in Russian legislature’s international cooperation. Russian parliament shares and upholds the political philosophy of the Union.

In modern world, the importance of parliamentarians as duly elected representatives of their countries’ citizens is increasing. The mission of parliament on the international arena is to build bridges of friendship and mutual understanding, to support the honest, open and continuous dialogue between governments, nations and cultures. Even during the cold war this dialogue never stopped.

Unfortunately, the unilateral sanctions against Russian members of parliament imposed by the US in circumvention of the UN raise obstacles in the path of comprehensive inter-parliamentary cooperation. They amount to a gross violation of international law and run counter to the obligations of states that host multilateral forums. These actions by Washington, which claims the role of the main defender of democracy and the freedom of speech in the world, in essence make it impossible to voice any views that differ from the US political platform and priorities.

Sanctions against parliamentarians elected by citizens for political convictions they profess, especially now, in the 21st century, is nothing but political persecution, the distortion of the very essence of parliamentarianism as a genuine institution of democracy.

In this regard, the Federation Council proposes not to convene international inter-parliamentary forums in countries that employ unlawful methods to leave out parliamentarians whose views differ from that of Washington. It is also suggested to put an end to the reprehensible practice of imposing sanctions against foreign members of parliament internationally.

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PRESS RELEASE
On Conflict in Syria and its International Repercussions

Russia has always advocated stopping the bloodshed in Syria. In this conflict no one benefits from our unconditional or any other support, except for the Syrian people. Today, the biggest threat for this country, Iraq and the Middle East as a whole is the so-called Islamic State. Russia is providing military-technical support to the Syrian government so that it can counter this threat. The same goes for providing military-technical assistance to the Iraqi government for fighting the same Islamic State. There is every reason to believe that without this kind of support these terrorist groups could have seized much larger territories, counting in the hundreds and thousands of square kilometres.

Russia supports the commitment to working with all the representatives of the Syrian people with no exception, including the government and all opposition groups, without pinpointing or favouring anyone. The Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012 clearly states that political settlement and the resolution of the Syrian crisis in general should be based on an inclusive dialogue spanning the entire Syrian political spectrum, and all issues should be settled by common consent.

Moscow has hosted two inter-Syria dialogue meetings. All opposition activists were invited, including those from inside Syria and operating abroad. At the final stage of these meetings, representatives of the Syrian government joined in, which led to the approval of the so-called Moscow Platform. It sets forth principles that fully reflect the Geneva Communique’s aim of preserving Syria as a unified country, ensuring its territorial integrity, sovereignty and secularity, so that the rights of all ethnic and religious minorities and groups are protected by law.

At the recent meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, the US and Qatar, the participants discussed ways of supporting the efforts of Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, aiming to create favourable conditions to implement agreements contained in the Geneva Communique.

When a year ago the United States announced that it was creating a coalition to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Russian side stressed that this approach was illegitimate and counterproductive. It reflected a violation of international law in principle, while in practical terms it created an obstacle to shaping a united front in the struggle against terrorist groups. According to this plan, certain US-trained armed units could act without any coordination with the Syrian governmentand be protected by the coalition aircraft authorised to deliver strikes at any forces that could be regarded as an obstacle to operations of these armed groups.

Besides, the practice of US instructors training militants from the so-called “moderate opposition” in the territory of neighbouring countries led to a situation where the overwhelming majority of those militants turned up in the camp of the extremists.

In this regard, Russia calls for an immediate cessation of foreign interference into the Syrian crisis in strict keeping with the Geneva Communique and the principles set forth by the UN Security Council. The parties to the Syrian conflict should begin negotiations and reach an agreement only through a peaceful political process based on mutual consent.

It is generally admitted that in the fight against terrorism air strikes alone are not enough and that a like-minded coalition should be formed to include those who are opposing the terrorist threat on the ground with arms in hand. This is the gist of the initiative which Russian President Vladimir Putin presented during his meeting with Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud in St. Petersburg in June. The initiative is about forming a unified anti-terrorist front that would combine the efforts of all forces fighting the terrorists on the ground including countries capable of rendering support in this struggle.

Without reaching understanding among external players, each of whom has some influence on one or another party in Syria, it is very difficult to expect the political process to begin in earnest and remain stable and successful.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA

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PRESS RELEASE
On the Outcomes of VII BRICS Summit in Ufa, July 8-9, 2015

BRICS heads of states met with the trade union leaders of member-countries to exchange views regarding ways to improve social security and raise employment. Importance of combining efforts of states, trade unions and employers to optimise labour market regulation and ensure the workers' rights and interests was noted.

Then the BRICS heads of state and government had a meeting with the organization’s Business Council. The businessmen shared the results of the BRICS Business Summit (involving some 700 participants) that took place on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum and presented proposals regarding deepening cooperation in trade, investment and technology.

The focal point was the meeting of BRICS national leaders held in a narrow and expanded formats. Detailed discussion of the entire range of issues pertaining to cooperation within organization took place and subsequently the Ufa Declaration and Action Plan were adopted, which include large-scale targets for the BRICS activities next year and in the long term.

The discussion in the narrow format focused on pressing global and regional issues. The Ufa summit is taking place in the year of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the creation of the United Nations. These anniversaries remind the international community of the need to join efforts to maintain peace, stability and security, the importance of preserving the central role of the United Nations, the importance of complying with international law, respect for the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs.

The leaders of  nations have agreed to further coordinate their foreign policies within BRICS. The five countries will continue interacting with the UN, its regional and sectoral structures and forums with intention to jointly resist spreading threat of terrorism and extremism, prevent the resurrection of the Nazi ideology, jointly contribute to combatting drug trafficking and piracy and work on information security, including on the Internet.

Situation in the global economy was high on the agenda. Mutual concern was expressed as regards market instability, high volatility of prices for energy resources and raw materials, and accumulation by a number of major countries of a sovereign debt. In these conditions, the BRICS nations intend to more actively use their own resources and internal development reserves.

Russia's presidency put forward the initiative for closer coordination of the BRICS macroeconomic policy. Partners supported our proposals on expanding mutual trade and capital investment, and this was reflected in the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy through 2020 that was approved.

The five nations will clearly continue the practice of aligning their approaches within the G20. At the coming G20 summit in Turkey BRICS member-countries intend to hold a traditional separate meeting. Full support to China's presidency of the G20 in 2016 was expressed. Partners will actively promote the reform of the global financial and economic architecture, and work to expand the role of rapidly developing economies in the International Monetary Fund.

BRICS is creating its own financial structure. At expanded meeting the completion of the process to create the New Bank and the Currency Reserve Pool with a total volume of $200 billion was finalized. They will soon become fully operable. Thus, the New Bank will start funding joint large-scale projects in transport and energy infrastructure and in industrial development. It is planned to develop a long-term list of specific projects, the roadmap of investment cooperation by the end of the year.

BRICS leaders supported the efforts of the Russian presidency to expand humanitarian cooperation. The Agreement on Cooperation in Culture is to promote more active contacts between our countries.

To increase exchanges in education and science on the basis of our countries' top universities, BRICS are creating Network University. The Civic BRICS, the BRICS Parliamentary and Youth forums that were first held this year will become regular.

'Outreach' meeting was held with the heads of state and observers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union. This joint session will carry on the useful practice launched by  South Africa.

Two years ago in South Africa the issue of ties between BRICS and African states was deliberated, last year in Brazil – prospects for developing cooperation with Latin American states were considered, while this time in Russia cooperation on the vast expanses of Eurasia was in focus.

Summit in Ufa was aimed at stepping up diverse cooperation within BRICS. The organization will continue making its contribution to international security and global growth, to the resolution of today’s major challenges.

The following documents were adopted:

- Ufa Declaration;

- Ufa Action Plan;

- The Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership; 

- Memorandum of Understanding between BRICS Ministries of Foreign Affairs on the Creation of the Joint BRICS Website;

- Agreement between the Governments of the BRICS States on Cooperation in the Field of Culture;

- Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation with the New Development Bank by Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social – BNDES, State Corporation “Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank)”, Export-Import Bank of India, China Development Bank Corporation, Development Bank of Southern Africa Limited.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA

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PRESS RELEASE
On the demise of Yevgeny Primakov

The Foreign Ministry’s leadership and personnel have learned with great sorrow about the death of an outstanding political, government and public figure of our time, former Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who served in 1996-1998.

His life is an example of honest and selfless service to our homeland and the consistent upholding of our national interests. It is difficult to overestimate his role in consolidating Russia’s statehood and ensuring its consistent and comprehensive development at a complex turning point in our history. His service have received the broadest recognition and been honoured with numerous government awards.

Mr Primakov made a significant contribution towards laying the foundations of Russia’s current foreign policy, enhancing its independence in foreign policy affairs and increasing its prestige and influence on the global arena. He vigorously and artfully promoted a positive international agenda and facilitated cooperation in the search for responses to global challenges, while relying on international law.

The Foreign Ministry’s personnel cherish their warm memories of working with Mr Primakov. His remarkable professionalism, wisdom, energy and invariable proclivity for a creative approach and practical results won him the deepest respect. Owing to his care for our personnel, the ministry successfully preserved and mobilised its intellectual and human capital to efficiently tackle Russia’s ambitious tasks.

A distinguished expert in international affairs, Mr Primakov was engaged in productive scientific activity and facilitated a comprehensive understanding of the major trends in global development.

Russia’s diplomatic service has suffered an irretrievable loss.

We will cherish the memory of Mr Primakov.

We express our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA

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PRESS RELEASE
Russia’s official position on Crimea's reunification with Russia

Declaring of independence by the Republic of Crimea followed by its accession to the Russian Federation is a lawful form of realisation of the right to self-determination by the people of Crimea in the situation of the coup d’état in February 2014 facilitated from abroad and accompanied with violence.

The right to self-determination is a fundamental principle of the international law enshrined in a number of international documents. It was enunciated in Article 1 of the UN Charter and reiterated in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in Article 1 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

To develop the provisions of the UN Charter, in 1970 member states unanimously adopted the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Under this Declaration, “the establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people”.

In practice there has been international consensus that self-determination of peoples should, as a rule, be realized within existing states, in particular by achieving autonomy. Implementation of the right to secession can take place in three cases: in a colonial context, in situations of foreign occupation and in most extreme situations.

The separation of Crimea from Ukraine and its subsequent joining Russia took place in extreme conditions when it was impossible to realize the right to self-determination within the framework of Ukraine. Having overthrown the legally elected president, the authorities in Kiev did not represent the whole population of the country and were unable to provide the rule of law. Ukraine was overwhelmed with a wave of murders, massacres, tortures, kidnappings, attacks on journalists and human rights activists. People were imprisoned for political reasons.

In this situation the Crimean authorities held the referendum on independence in conformity with all norms of international law. 96,77 % of those who came to polling stations voted for independence, the turnout reaching 83,1%. In the city of Sevastopol respective figures were 95,6 % and 89,5 %.

Moreover, during the last two centuries Russians have been the dominant ethnic and linguistic group in the peninsula. Crimea has been home for the Russian Black Sea Navy; a lot of famous Russians lived and worked there. The claims by Ukraine on Crimea stem from the decision by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of 1954 to transfer the Crimea Oblast (“Region”) under the administrative control of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union. While taking this decision, however, no public consultations or opinion surveys were conducted. As a result, in 1991 millions of Crimeans were deprived of their historical motherland to become citizens of a newly emerged state. After that the rights of the Russian population in Crimea were regularly infringed as the Kiev authorities failed to form an effective national and cultural autonomy. In the light of the above-mentioned, the results of the referendum of 2014 appear natural and well-grounded.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA

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PRESS RELEASE on the Conflict in Ukraine

The Government of the Russian Federation is convinced that a stable truce in Ukraine must be established as soon as possible and a comprehensive and direct dialogue must be launched between Kiev and Donetsk and Lugansk representatives. Lasting peace can only be achieved through direct agreements between the conflicting sides. This is the goal of the Minsk Agreements of February 12. This is their fundamental meaning.

According to our assessment, which has been shared by the other Normandy format countries and the OSCE, the situation in southeastern Ukraine in general has improved. However, regarding the implementation of the ceasefire, it remains tense because of numerous violations. In particular, grave concern is caused by the recent outbreak of fights over the last weekend, including the use of heavy weapons around Shyrokine and Donetsk Airport. On Sunday, monitors of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine reported intense gunfire in the east of the country, including tank rounds, small arms and machine gun fire.

On Monday, foreign ministers of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine expressed support for the withdrawal of less than 100-mm caliber arms and tanks from Donbas, proposed by the OSCE.

Unfortunately, Kiev holds a somewhat ambivalent position – while taking part in the Normandy format negotiations, the Ukrainian government does not abandon its attempts to resolve the conflict militarily.

The Ukrainian army continues shelling of residential areas, particularly “Spartak” in the city of Donetsk under the pretext that there are operating sites of self-defence militia there. Ukrainian troops use small arms, mortars as well as tanks. More than 100 pieces of military hardware have been deployed in the vicinity of Donetsk, according to the city’s authorities.

It must be added that Kiev, which has a different interpretation of the obligations it assumed in Minsk, has done nothing to improve the socioeconomic situation in Donbass and is not fully implementing the military provisions. According to the UNICEF data, approximately 700,000 people in Donbass have limited access to safe drinking water and 35,000 to normal living conditions.

Moreover, Kiev’s military aspirations are readily supported by the Western states.

On March 20, the US Defense Department announced that 290 US service members were being redeployed from Italy to the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv, Ukraine, near the Polish border, to launch the Ukraine National Guard training mission. According to the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, the country will deploy 200 troops to Ukraine as part of a training mission. Canada's 200-strong contingent will also be based in Yavoriv, at the NATO Training and Education Centre.

On Friday, April 10 US paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in Ukraine to commence the so-called “Operation Fearless Guardian”. Spanning a six-month period, the training exercises will begin later this month.

“Fearless Guardian” is just the latest in a series of steps taken by Washington which contradicts its message of diplomacy over violence. The US has so far provided over $120 million in non-lethal military aid, including 230 Humvees and unarmed Raven drones.

All these developments, along with large-scale military exercises conducted by NATO this spring in Europe, indicate the growing military threat. Not only does NATO fuel belligerence, but it also tries to portray Russia as an aggressor. However these claims are not backed by facts. Instead, even some of our Western partners deny the allegations of Russia preparing to attack Ukraine. The French intelligence is determined that Russia was deploying neither command posts nor logistical facilities, including field hospitals, needed for a military incursion.

The position of the Russian Federation remains clear: all the parties concerned should focus on ensuring a full, comprehensive and honest implementation of the Minsk Agreements. We are convinced that Europe is as interested in this as Russia. No one wants an armed conflict in Europe.

EMBASSY OF RUSSIA IN BOTSWANA

PRESS SERVICE

Donetsk
Airport

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PRESS RELEASE
On the Beginning of Russia’s Presidency in BRICS

On April 1, 2015 the Russian Federation officially assumed presidency over the BRICS group, which unites five of the world's largest and most influential countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) that are home to nearly half of our planet's population and produce around 30 percent of global GDP.

The next BRICS Summit will be held in the Russian city of Ufa on July 9-10 this year. It coincides with two very symbolic anniversary dates: the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War and 70 years since the end of World War II. Aware of the past's tragic lessons, the BRICS countries consistently support peaceful settlement of international conflicts and condemn any attempts to use force and pressure or intervene in sovereign countries' internal affairs. Russia's Presidency will focus on putting the BRICS group's possibilities for strengthening global security and stability to most effective use.

The main issues on the BRICS current agenda are spurring on the International Monetary Fund reform (which has stalled due to the negative stance by the US Congress), working out a strategy of economic cooperation, intensifying collaboration in social and scientific areas, creating anti-drug trafficking and cyber security groups, and broadening parliamentary cooperation.

On April 15 experts from the member states will meet to discuss the draft Strategic Economic Partnership within BRICS prepared jointly by Russia and China. This document may be officially adopted at the 7th BRICS Summit in Ufa.

The New Development Bank of BRICS is expected to start operation this year. The Chief Executive Officer of the Bank during the current year is a Russian national. This is supposed to be one of the largest multilateral developmental institutions with authorized capital amounting to $100 bln. The Bank’s aim is to support infrastructure projects and embrace sustainable development in the BRICS and other developing economies. The NDB and the Contingent Reserve, with combined resources of $200 bln, lay the foundation for coordinating a macroeconomic policy between our nations.

Russia actively supports the proposals of its BRICS partners to establish a joint rating agency or a network of agencies working in line with agreed methods to calculate the market value of economic operators’ assets and the sovereign ratings of countries. It is common knowledge that many assessments of Western agencies are politically motivated. The ratings of companies in some countries are being artificially understated nowadays, and vice versa. Therefore it would be appropriate for BRICS countries to expedite consultations on this issue of great importance for our economies.

Russia is ready to ratify Memorandum on Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovations prepared by the five BRICS nations. BRICS countries are looking to offer incentives to nudge domestic companies to shift from low-value, low-cost manufacturing to fostering innovation.

BRICS aims to step up coordination in food supply security, sustainable agriculture, climate change, renewable energy, space, aeronautics, astronomy and space-based Earth observation, medical science and biotechnology; high-tech zones, science parks and incubators; technology transfer. The five countries have established five thematic working areas, with each BRICS member providing leadership in one of them. South Africa is to take the lead in astronomy, while Brazil will lead in the area of climate change and natural disaster mitigation, Russia – in water resources and pollution treatment, India – in geospatial technology and its applications, and China – in new and renewable energy efficiency.

The BRICS partners will continue developing humanitarian contacts in education, culture, science and healthcare. During Russia's Presidency, the BRICS Youth Summit and the Global University Summit will take place and we will establish the BRICS Network University.

Another important avenue of cooperation is security and struggle against common threats. In this regard, there are plans to create a working group on combatting drug trafficking and discuss the problem of monopolizing the Internet by the US as well as the possibilities for the BRICS countries to participate in the Internet management. Therefore, Russia proposes to hold a meeting between Ministers of communications of the member states.

As for the political dialogue, we will examine opportunities for developing inter-parliamentary dialogue, through which lawmakers could take direct part in resolving the tasks BRICS is faced with. Moscow is expected to host a parliamentary forum before the Summit in July. The speakers of parliaments of the five countries will discuss some issues of mutual interest, such as prevention of forcible overthrow of legitimate power.

As the President of Russia Vladimir Putin said in his recent statement, “Russia's Presidency is committed to taking the BRICS partnership to a new, higher level. I am sure that this is in the interests not only of people in the BRICS countries but all around the world”.

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PRESS RELEASE
On Russia’s contribution to international efforts to fight Ebola

The Russian Federation has joined the effort to fight the disease caused by the Ebola virus, both on the bilateral and multilateral levels.

As part of Russia’s participation in the effort to fight against Ebola, a Russian mobile laboratory and a special anti-epidemic brigade of Russia's public health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, were sent to Guinea in August 2014. They are currently working in Kindia, the country’s third largest city, and are expected to continue the effort until this August.

Russian virologists have been providing both practical and consultative services to local authorities. In November, Russia deployed a 200-bed mobile hospital to Guinea. In mid-January, an infection hospital sponsored by a Russian aluminum giant RUSAL was opened in Kindia. The Centre, intended for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious and especially dangerous diseases, is one of the most modern medical facilities to be used in the campaign against acute viral disease in West Africa. It includes infection and provisional hospitals, a mobile laboratory and a blood transfusion and plasma department. The Centre will specialise in the treatment of Ebola patients at the initial stage of its operations.

RUSAL invested more than $10 million in the construction of the Centre, making the Russian company – which has been operating in Guinea since 2002 and is one of the largest investors in the country – the world's only public company to implement such a large-scale project aimed at combating the spread of the Ebola virus.

Guinean President Alpha Condé attended the opening ceremony and expressed gratitude on behalf of the Guinean people to the leadership of Russia and RUSAL for their significant contribution to combating Ebola.

As part of the effort taken by the international community through the United Nations, on 19 January the Russian government decided to allocate $8 million to fight the disease in the Republic of Guinea, Republic of Liberia and the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Of this money, $2 million will be directed to the World Health Organisation budget, and $1 million to the UN target fund earmarked for the battle against the disease. The UN Children’s Fund will receive $2 million; the World Bank target fund, to support the countries that have suffered from the disease, will get $3 million.

The funding provided by Russia will be used to implement a series of measures such as epidemiologic oversight, treatment of patients, detecting virus-bearers, food security, access to health services and the restoration of the infrastructure and economy.

In February 2015 Emergencies Ministry of Russia sent more than 37 tons of humanitarian aid to Guinea, in particular canned meat, fish, milk and sugar. The Emergencies Ministry’s aircraft will also deliver around 2 tons of medical appliances, consumables and chemicals needed to ensure the work of a Rospotrebnadzor brigade in Guinea.

In a Joint Communiqué of the 13th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People's Republic of China held on 2 February 2015 the participants expressed their deep concern over the spread of the Ebola virus in some African countries and the damage it caused to the health and safety of the local people. They decided to continue to work hand in hand in helping the African countries curb and prevent the spread of the Ebola. They supported the leading and coordinating role of the United Nations and the World Health Organization in combating the disease. The Ministers called on the international community, with a long-term prospective to help African countries strengthen their public health system and capacity building.

EMBASSY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION IN BOTSWANA

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On The International Conference and Exhibition for Oil and Gas Resources Development of the Russian Arctic and Continental Shelf

The International Conference and Exhibition for Oil and Gas Resources Development of the Russian Arctic and Continental Shelf («RAO/CIS Offshore») is held on a biennial basis and brings together government officials, experts from Russian and foreign companies for discussion of the most important aspects of the Arctic and continental shelf offshore development. Over 6300 delegates and 1280 companies from 22 countries have taken part in RAO/CIS Offshore over the years of its existence.

RAO/CIS Offshore obtains strong position among the world offshore oil and gas exhibitions and conferences. The event has gained international recognition and along with the largest relevant events in Aberdeen, Stavanger, Houston and Baku, RAO/CIS Offshore is considered to be the central industry event of Russian and international scale.

RAO/CIS Offshore offers you a lot of opportunities and facilities to demonstrate scientific knowledge, technological achievements and today we have patterns of effective international cooperation in Russian shelf development.

RAO/CIS Offshore 2015 exhibition presents new projects of oil and gas resources development in Russian Arctic and CIS Shelf, innovative techniques and technologies of oil and gas exploration, facilities for industrial and environmental safety.

One of the most important benefits of RAO/CIS Offshore is the issue of the resolutions. The resolutions are elaborated on the basis of the delegates’ decisions on the issues of the offshore industry development. The Resolutions of RAO/CIS Offshore 2013 were forwarded to the government of the Russian Federation, ministries, governmental agencies, leading Russian and international fuel and energy companies.

Founders and Organisers:

  • Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation
  • Gazprom
  • Rosneft Oil Company
  • Gazprom VNIIGAZ
  • RESTEC® Exhibition Company
  • Russian Academy of Sciences

Detailed information and participation request forms are available at the official website http://www.rao-offshore.com/

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PRESS RELEASE
On Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is a leading international economic and business forum held annually in Russia. The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum was established in 1997. Since 2006 SPIEF has been held under the patronage of the President of the Russian Federation. The Organising Committee of the SPIEF is chaired by Russia’s Minister for Economic Development, with input on the programme and activities coming from a community of major international and Russian business leaders.

Over the past five years the Forum has transformed into a leading global business event, attracting over 7,000 Russian and international participants, representing government and business circles from around the world, joined by leading voices from academia, the media, and civil society. More than 4,700 participants from 73 countries attended the Forum in 2014, with the total value of agreements signed reaching $11,5 bln. SPIEF gathers the world’s leading decision makers to identify and deliberate the key challenges facing emerging markets and growth economies, Russia and the world, and engage communities to find common purpose and establish frameworks to forge solutions.

The regular 19th Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum will be held on 18 – 20 June 2015. Its agenda includes vital problems and prospects of development of the world economy facing current geopolitical challenges. The proposed topic of the Forum is “Leaders Face a Choice: Forming a New Global Economic Order”.

Further information and participation request forms are available at the official website http://www.forumspb.com/en/

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News for 2014