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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Rossiya Segodnya, December 31, 2021

31 December 2021 11:15

Question: Speaking at an expanded meeting of the Foreign Ministry Collegium, President Vladimir Putinsaid it was necessary to raise the issue of serious long-term security guarantees for Russia in the western direction. The Russian Federation has already come up with proposals. What will this lead to in the end? A new European security treaty, another CFE Treaty or something fundamentally new?

Sergey Lavrov: As you know, we have given our Western colleagues and then published draft treaties between the Russian Federation and the United States on security guarantees and a draft agreement on ensuring security measures for the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states.

This is a package of documents designed to guarantee that any further NATO advance to the East and the deployment of weapons systems near Russian bordersthat threaten us, especially in Ukraine, is ruled out. But there are many other important elements that should ultimately form reliable and legally binding security guarantees that the President mentioned at the meetings of the Foreign Ministry Collegium and the DefenceMinistry Board, during his end-of-year news conference, and in other speeches.

Our proposals are designedto create and legally implement a new system of agreements based on the principle of indivisible security and abandoning any attempt at achieving military superiority, which was approved unanimously by the leaders of all Euro-Atlantic states in the 1990s. Let me emphasise that what we need is legally binding guarantees since our Western colleagues have systematically failed to fulfill their political obligations, not to mention their verbal assurances and promises to the Soviet and Russian leadership.

This legal foundation can be used to reachother agreements on a variety of issuesin the future, including conventional arms control. Of course, they will not look like the longoutdated CFE Treaty even asarevised version.

As far as we understand, the projects that we have drafted are being studied in Washington and other Western capitals. Specific dates for talks on these drafts and the members of the delegations are being agreed upon. Most likely, they will be heldin the first half of January. It is fundamentally important to us to have high-ranking military personnel fromthe United States and from the countries in the allianceparticipate in them.

In closing, I would like to note that we will not allow anyone todrag outour initiatives in endless discussions. If a constructive response does not follow within a reasonable time and the West continues its aggressive course, Russia will be forced to take every necessary action to ensure a strategic balance and to eliminate unacceptable threats to our security.

Question: Recently, the situation in Donbass has become more unsettled again. How realistic is a scenario of full-scale hostilities resuming next year? Is Moscow prepared to openly intervene in the conflict on the side of the LPR and DPR if Kiev provokes a war?

Sergey Lavrov: You are right, the civil war in Ukraine, whichhas continued for almost eight years now, is far from over. That country's authorities are not going to take steps to resolve the conflict in Donbass based on the Minsk Package of Measures, for which there is no alternative.

Unfortunately, we see that Kiev'smilitaristic aspirations are supported by the United States and other NATO countries, which are supplying weapons to Ukraine and sending their military specialists there. Since 2014, Washington, according to high-ranking Pentagon officials, has spent over $2.5 billion on the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces. Another $300 million have been allocated in the US budget for next year.

NATO member states are systematically transforming Ukraine into a military foothold against Russia, building their bases there and using its territory for military exercises. Seven such exercises were held this year and, according to the law adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, 10 are scheduled for next year, with one exerciseto be conducted yearround.

The number of Ukrainian and Western military personnel involved in them will almost double to 64,000 compared to 2021. The number of aircraft and helicopters will more than triple at 361. Thenumberofwarshipswillalmostquadrupleat 256.

These exercises are part of a single design and are directed against Russia. Admittedly, the above facts are far from optimistic.

Of course, the Kiev regime is taking this support as a free hand to conduct military operations.

With regard to Donbass, where hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens live, Russia will take every necessary measure to protect them. We will continue to make efforts to resolve the internal Ukraine conflict through political and diplomatic means. There is no alternative to the Minsk Package of Measures that was approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2202. Any possible military provocation by Kiev against Donbass will be met with an appropriate response.

Question: The United States is not issuing visas to Russians in our country, and this year it even added Russians to the list of homeless nationals. Does the visa problem have a light at the end of the tunnel in the foreseeable future? Or will it only get worse? Is there then a risk that the work of the embassies in Moscow and Washington will be frozen? Can Russia, for example, as a gesture of goodwill, allow the United States to recruit a limited number of Russian embassy employees in order to restart the issuance of US visas in the Russian Federation?

Sergey Lavrov: Unfortunately, the situation remains difficult. Since May 12, 2021, the Americans have suspended the issuance of non-diplomatic visas. However, they reserved the right to consider applications related to vital emergencies. This is the sovereign decision of the United States.

Citing personnel shortages, the United States is putting artificial limits on the issuance of nonimmigrant visas in the Russian Federation. Washington is doing this for a reason in order to obtain unilateral concessions from Russia. After all, nothing prevents the US Embassy from filling the agreed quota (455 employees) and stabilising the work of its consular service.

In our contacts with the Americans at various levels, we constantly raise the issue of normalising the visa issuance process. However, against the background of the worsening situation in bilateral relations, it is unlikely that Washington will agree to relax its current visa policy.

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