Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: U.S. Helped Orchestrate Olympic Ban
Let us talk about Russian-US relations. You are No. 65 in the so-called Kremlin Report. You are the first foreign minister to be blacklisted. What did they do this for? To tell you the truth, I don’t care about the developments concerning the Kremlin Report or any other goings-on in Washington that are associated with the so-called Russia File. The report and the lists you have mentioned are simply ridiculous. They could be compiled within a matter of 30 minutes. I agree with the former US Ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, who has said that his research assistant could have done it in less than an hour, that is, copied the names from the Russian Government and the Presidential Executive Office phone books, as well as from the Forbes magazine. When it all began, I had a very bad feeling. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears, considering that I am personally acquainted with very many officials from the Washington administration and the Congress. They are serious, smart and reasonable people. Therefore, I was shocked to see that this mass psychosis has swept their rationality clean. But as this trend continued, and it has been for over a year now, I gradually lost any interest in it. I only monitor it so I can get the facts in my line of duty, but I don’t know what to make of all this. I have read articles by your colleagues who write that we need to find a way out of this dead-end. [Putin’s press secretary] Dmitry Peskov has described our relations as “collapse,” and I can offer many other synonyms. I can tell those who urge us to look for a way out “creatively” that we have been doing this and will continue to do this. We have offered many practical solutions to our American partners. During my regular contacts with Rex Tillerson, we proposed ways to move back from the dangerous and rather silly line. There was no reaction in most cases. The only positive exception is our professional work on amendments to the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or New START. We were to verify the implementation of this treaty by both sides on February 5, 2018, and we verified it. At the same time, the sides expressed mutual readiness to continue professional and technical consultations to clarify a number of matters regarding signatories to this treaty. I can cite other examples. We are working quite well in Syria at the military level to prevent unforeseen and unintended accidents. More than that, there are signs indicating that the United States is aware of the real situation in Syria and is willing to listen to us and to take into account our methods of working with the legitimate Syrian government. As for normalising our relations in general, our American partners say they are willing to do this after we take the first step and repent. This has become a philosophy. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which is ruled by US, British and other Anglo-Saxon representatives, wants us to repent as well. We must repent of all other sins. And then our Western partners will generously agree to gradually normalise relations. However, they refuse to accept objective reality. They refuse to see the impossibility of the situation where one side is always to blame and the other side is always innocent. Not that we are sinless, but we always offer practical solutions to situations that could develop into a crisis. A case in point is the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. By the way, I am glad that a communications channel has developed between the Russian and US envoys on Ukraine, Vladislav Surkov and Kurt Volker. They have recently held a regular meeting. I would say that the situation is not hopeless. They have agreed to continue their consultations. So, we are open to any form of interaction our American colleagues are willing to use, but only on the basis of equality and without any preconditions, such as “you must repent for interfering in our internal affairs and our elections before we start.” Is it possible that they are provoking us into responding? I believe they would be glad to see a situation in which Russia will take some nervous or dramatic measures. But we have a balanced policy, which has been formulated by the President and is not based on such improvisation or impromptu actions. We have a consistent line. We pursue it regardless of the external situation but based on the need to create as favourable conditions for our development as possible in terms of security, economic operation and economic conditions for our security, as well as non-discriminating attitude to our citizens abroad. Some people would certainly like to provoke us into taking actions that would allow them to increase the sanctions pressure on us and to take other coercive measures, although they continue to increase pressure on us even without any dramatic reciprocal steps on our part. It is an additional reason for wondering at the abilities of those who continue to mindlessly increase the sanctions. I believe that those who know at least something about international affairs, or life, for that matter, should have long seen that no sanctions will force us to change our policy. We are always ready to discuss our partners’ questions regarding their legitimate interests. But as Americans say, it takes two to tango, which is also applicable to negotiations. It takes two to negotiate. It was said last year that Russian-US relations hit rock bottom. What next? I am not going to talk about rock or any other bottom, which is a popular phrase. I am against making any wild guesses. I am for acting openly and honestly so as not to punish anyone but to bring together all countries that can really and effectively deal with global problems, primarily terrorism as well as other global threats such as drug trafficking, organised crime and illegal migration. There are many problems that have no borders and cannot be driven into a cage around which the other countries will stand rejoicing that this particular problem does not affect them. This is impossible. There are no borders, and so we can only fight this or that evil together. This is what our policy is aimed at. We can protect any aspect of our international activities. We have no secret plans. All our actions are transparent and are based on international law and the UN Charter. There is a time difference between Moscow and Washington. Do you wake up calmly in the morning or wondering what happened in the US during the night? Why should I? I read and watch news in the morning. In most cases, you can expect something will have taken place. For example, there have been hints. There are some surprises, but only very rarely. I was pleasantly surprised when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld our athletes’ appeals. But it did not come as a surprise when the WADA and USADA leadership said that this outrageous CAS decision had cast a shadow over all “clean” athletes and undermined the Olympic principles. You see, when people fail to contain their negative or evil emotions, they give themselves away. When the leader of an anti-doping organisation has a nervous breakdown over a court decision, considering that the court is sacrosanct in the US, it is proof that this campaign, even despite the negative facts regarding some of our athletes, is politically charged and designed to demonise Russia through the Olympic movement.