Interview by Guy Mettan, independent journalist
After almost four months of armed fights in Ukraine, the word has been only seldom and partially given to the Russian party, presented in the western media as the “aggressor” and the unique responsible of the conflict. As the military operations are shifting on the ground and negotiations appear again as a possible mean to stop the war, it seems important to understand why Russia has considered unavoidable to start its “special military operation”, what are the Moscow’s real goals, at which conditions the hostilities could be stopped and how this conflict affects the world and is reshaping the global order from a Russian point of view. To understand is no to justify but is a pre-requirement to rebuild peace and trust.
That’s why we have asked Mrs Maria Zakharova, speaker of the Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs, to answer comprehensively to our questions, The exchange has taken place on the eve of the Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum during a 90-minutes meeting and is presented in a shortened version. (Guy Mettan)
GM: Could you sum up and explain again the main causes of the present military operations in Ukraine?
Maria Zakharova: It is true that we see no objective information in the West regarding the situation in Ukraine and the reasons, goals and objectives of the special military operation. Let me then start from the beginning.
In February 2014, an unconstitutional coup d’état directly supported by the West propelled violent nationalists to power, who began a policy directed against their own people and aimed at coercive ukrainisation and destruction of all things Russian. For eight years, the Kiev regime blatantly violated human rights, trampled on freedom of speech and the media, fought against the Russian language, which is the native language of tens of millions of Ukrainians, and the Russian culture, while also exterminating political opponents. A civil war was unleashed in Donbass, and the peace plan agreed upon and approved by the UN Security Council, which was the Package of Measures to Implement the Minsk Agreements, was completely ignored by Kiev. The West turned a blind eye to all of this, indulging its Ukrainian minions and, at times, spurring them on.
Encouraged by their support, Kiev never seriously paused to consider a diplomatic solution to the conflict in the east of the country. Instead, it imposed a transport and economic blockade against Donbass, and stopped paying pensions and social benefits. All those years, people in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics were subjected to artillery and mortar fire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the nationalist units. Thousands of innocent people, including children, were killed and tens of thousands injured, as confirmed by official reports of the OSCE and the United Nations. What is this if not action aimed at the total annihilation of the people of Donbass?
Russia made enormous mediation efforts to peacefully resolve the internal Ukrainian conflict. But it was also impossible to ignore the crimes committed by the Kiev regime. Incidentally, the special operation has helped uncover evidence of Kiev’s plans for a full-scale invasion of the DPR and LPR in March of this year.
Apparently, Washington and its allies prepared Ukraine for retaliation in Donbass starting from 2014. According to Pentagon officials, the United States provided Ukraine with $2.7 billion in military aid between 2014 and the start of the special military operation. Moreover, NATO military made comprehensive use of Ukrainian territory. Western instructors actively trained Ukrainian servicemen, including outright neo-Nazis. The number of military drills involving NATO countries in Ukraine constantly grew. Seven drills were conducted in 2021 with nine slated for 2022. Their scale also increased. If last year 21,000 Ukrainian servicemen who took part in multilateral exercises, the number was expected to be 40,000 this year. The number of NATO representatives was expected to climb to 22,000 from 11,000 last year. The increase in the military equipment was manifold, with 240 airplanes and helicopters against 37 last year and 160 warships against 26 in 2021.
This is despite the fact that the presence of foreign armed forces in Ukraine directly contradicted Paragraph 10 of the Minsk Package of Measures. This cannot be called anything other than an intervention, and it was going on in the immediate vicinity of our borders.
NATO’s military build-up near our borders in the Black Sea only aggravated the situation. The Alliance’s forces were literally on combat duty in the Black Sea. Warships of non-regional powers, primarily the US, never left those waters. Several NATO countries conducted unscheduled exercises under the command of the US Sixth Fleet in the first half of November 2021.
In fact, the US paved the way to the establishment of a multinational grouping of NATO’s armed forces in Ukraine and destabilised the situation in the region.
Kiev’s aspirations to obtain nuclear weapons, which Vladimir Zelensky publicly voiced in February of this year, also posed a serious risk to international security.
All of this taken together resulted in Russia’s recognition of the DNR and LNR as sovereign and independent states on February 21, 2022. The President of Russia then made the decision to launch a special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine on February 24 in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, with the authorisation of the Russian Federation Federal Assembly’s Federation Council and at the request of the leaders of the DNR and LNR. We were left no other choice.
Its main goals and objectives were the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, the protection of civilians in Donbass from genocide, and the elimination of threats to Russia from Ukrainian territory due to its exploitation by NATO countries.
What are the main goals Russia is presently trying to achieve in Ukraine? I kept in mind three main objectives: “denazification, demilitarization and neutralization”. What do you mean exactly by these words?
Maria Zakharova: Let me try to comment on each of them briefly.
At the outset, I would like to make one fundamental correction. You mentioned something called neutralization as one of the special military operation goals. This isn’t the right term. What we mean is restoring Ukraine’s status as a neutral, non-aligned and non-nuclear state, that is, the country’s return to the origins of its statehood as laid out in its 1990 Declaration of State Sovereignty.
Regarding denazification, I would like to remind you that in 2014, when the radical nationalists usurped power in Ukraine following the anti-constitutional coup d’état, glorification of Nazi collaborators from the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) – who openly murdered Jews, Roma, Poles, Russians, and representatives of other ethnic groups, as well as the “wrong” Ukrainians during World War II – began at the state level.
Over the next eight years, the atrocities of OUN-UPA fighters, who killed thousands of civilians, were presented as a struggle for freedom. Streets and stadiums were named after Hitler’s accomplices such as Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych. Nazi units – the Right Sector, C14, Trizub, Azov, Donbass, Aidar, etc – openly operated in the country. Torchlight processions were held, terrifying civilians. Some of these units were later integrated in the Ukrainian armed forces. For eight years, they shelled communities and civilian infrastructure in Donbass. They looted, raped and killed. There is blood of civilians, our contemporaries, on their hands.
That Nazi license had to be curtailed. That is why President Vladimir Putin declared denazification – the eradication of Nazism and Nazis – as one of the special military operation’s goals. Russia has no plans to divide or destroy the Ukrainian nation, as Western propaganda is trying to show, but is trying to protect it by finally ridding the people of Ukraine, Russia and the rest of Europe from the brown plague of Nazism and fascism that was rearing its head in Ukraine. The terrible lessons of World War II were convincing confirmation of the need to do this.
The demilitarisation of Ukraine is underway now. The Russian Armed Forces, together with the people’s militias of the DPR and LPR, are consistently destroying the excessive numbers of weapons and equipment possessed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including those supplied from abroad.
In the future, we believe that Ukraine – I repeat – will be a neutral, nuclear-free and non-aligned state, and its territory will cease to be a NATO military training ground for deterrence of and confrontation with Russia.
At the end of last March in Istanbul, significative progress in peace negotiations have been announced from both parts. After that the negotiations have stopped. Why? What were the causes of this interruption?
Maria Zakharova: Yes, we managed to reach a certain understanding regarding the parameters of a possible agreement at the March 29 meeting in Istanbul. The Kiev regime’s representatives then said that they had begun consultations with Western countries, who could be potential guarantors of a future agreement. After that, negotiations began to stall and by mid-April they came to a standstill. We have received no response to another set of our proposals of April 15.
Western handlers had clearly forbidden Vladimir Zelensky to go through with the negotiations, which would have prevented them from pumping weapons into Ukraine and continuing a proxy war with Russia “to the last Ukrainian.”
At which conditions Russia could agree to relaunch negotiations with the Ukrainian party? Or what could be the criteria for such a restart?
Maria Zakharova: Unfortunately, the Kiev regime, and with it the entire population of today’s Ukraine, are just a tool of the United States and its allies for implementing their geopolitical ambitions, including a course to destroy Russia.
We have repeatedly said that we did not break off the talks and do not refuse to hold negotiations with Kiev. Our priorities are for Ukraine to be a neutral, non-aligned and non-nuclear state, recognise the post-2014 territorial reality, including Russian sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of the DNR and LNR, and commit to demilitarisation, denazification and non-discrimination of the Russian-speaking population, as well as to the restoration of the status of the Russian language.
As for a top-level meeting, we have repeatedly stressed that it must be meticulously prepared in order for it to have a meaningful agenda and facilitate the signing of specific agreements. We do not need a meeting for the sake of a meeting.
What could be the future of a new peaceful Ukraine and how to get it? With which security guarantees for the people of the Donbass as well as the people of the western Ukraine, as well as for Russia on a more global strategic perspective? Is an independent, sovereign Ukraine possible? In which borders, knowing the facts that Crimea has voted for a separation, as well as the Lugansk and Donetsk Republics?
Maria Zakharova: The final decision on any issues regarding the future of the country and the self-determination of its regions rests only with the people of today’s Ukraine. They must be given the opportunity to make a free choice of what kind of a future they want for themselves and their children. We can see that there are a lot of people in the territories abandoned by the neo-Nazis, for example in Kherson, Zaporozhye and Kharkov regions, who don’t want the Kiev regime to come back.
The reactions of the West in terms of economic sanctions against Russia, military and economic assistance to Ukraine, massive delivery of weapons, have been pretty strong, fast and coordinated. Was it a surprise for you?
Maria Zakharova: The imposition of unilateral economic restrictions by some countries against other states is a glaring violation of international law and the UN Charter. Restrictions introduced in circumvention of the UN Security Council are nothing but interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states. The set of instruments used for this purpose is rapidly growing. The collective West is overtly using these instruments for rocking the internal political situation, economic strangulation, and imposing its own world order – indisputable and uncontested, based on and subject to its own rules and standards.
Unprecedented pressure is being exerted on our key financial institutions, the technological, oil-and-gas, mining, transport and other economic sectors. Russia’s gold and currency reserves abroad have been frozen, which is a blatant violation of international law and mockery of common sense.
Having been subjected to a massive sanctions campaign against our country, we are focusing on intensifying comprehensive cooperation with our partners. This cooperation is aimed at studying new opportunities for import substitution in sensitive areas, strengthening our technological sovereignty, and reorienting production and supply chains to our domestic infrastructure.
Russia is confidently coping with external challenges owing to its responsible macroeconomic policy of the past few years and system-wide solutions in strengthening its economy, as well as technological and food security. The currency and financial markets have been stabilised; there has been no sharp decline in production, nor a considerable growth of unemployment. We managed to avoid commodity shortages and a wave of panic buying has passed. Inflation is gradually slowing down. Our policy of reducing the role of the dollar and euro in trade and a transition to mutual settlements in non-Western currencies has proved to be effective.
The collective West made major miscalculations in its financial, economic, energy and food policy. They led to a rapid growth of prices and the emergence of a threat to global food security. Anti-Russia sanctions poured more oil on the flames and substantially complicated the logistics and contractual settlements for Russian agricultural products and fertilizer.
We fully realise the importance of Russian supplies of socially important goods, including food, for the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. They are vital for reaching food security indicators and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Russia is ready to cooperate with its partners with a view to ensuring failsafe supplies of Russian food products and fertilizer to external markets.
We would like to note that despite objective transport and logistics problems, the Russian Federation remains a bona fide participant in the global market. We intend to continue delivering on our commitments under international contracts on the export of agricultural and industrial products, fertilizer, energy and other vital commodities.
Are these reactions effective? How do you analyse the European reactions, which are even more extreme than these of their US master?
Maria Zakharova: Sanctions have become the alpha and omega of the illegal actions taken by the collective West to push through its geopolitical interests. They have become a kind of a brand of the “rules-based order,” which the West is actively imposing on others. Let me recall that these sanctions are absolutely illegal in terms of international law because they were adopted without the consent of the UN Security Council, the only body that is authorised to impose restrictions on UN member countries.
The West has introduced an unprecedented number of illegal unilateral sanctions against Russia. Russian citizens and companies have become targets of practically all unilateral restrictions that the EU has been consistently inventing since 2014. The EU has expanded its sanction lists nine times since February 24, 2022. The number of individuals covered by these sanctions has gone up almost six times during this period.
In effect, this amounts to an economic war against our country. The Westerners do not conceal their goals anymore. They want to deal the biggest possible damage to the Russian economy, its industrial and technological potential, destabilise the socioeconomic situation in Russia and isolate it in the world arena.
Virtually all methods and means are being used for this purpose. In essence, we are talking about the theft of Russian assets and a ban for Western businesses to work with Russian companies. Western businesses are forced to give up profitable contracts and leave the Russian market, vacating niches for their rivals.
None of this came as a surprise for Russia. The US-led West has been pursuing the policy of containing Russia for a long time, and the pressure has escalated continuously. We knew that new sanctions would be introduced in any case – they can always find a pretext. The scale of sanctions and their detailed character show that they were drafted long ago. Russia was getting ready for this scenario, implementing its import substitution programmes and creating its own competencies in different areas to strengthen its economic sovereignty. At the same time, we continued building up trade and investment ties with other regions of the world and diversifying our exports, including energy. After a sharp increase in sanctions pressure, Russia stepped up its efforts in this area. Now we are rapidly rebuilding the entire system of our foreign economic ties.
As for the Western attempts to use sanctions to influence our foreign policy, they proved to be utterly futile. It seems more and more Westerners are coming to realise that these sanctions produce a zero result or even have a reverse effect. We are already seeing a growing wave of problems in European countries, which was triggered by the irresponsible actions of the Brussels strategists: a rapid growth of inflation and soaring prices of food, necessities, electricity and petrol.
We do not intend to sacrifice our interests, especially as regards our national security and the destiny of our compatriots. Nevertheless, the EU continues acting irrationally, dooming itself to economic isolation from Russia and our resources, as well as from other developing countries and markets. The latter are seeing the methods the West is ready to use, clinging to its rapidly perishing global dominance. Naturally, they are calculating risks from economic rapprochement with the EU, US and their soul mates. Restrictions have a destructive impact on the West itself and the rest of the world. This recalls the notorious scorched earth policy. The “rules-based order” promoted by the US and its satellites is becoming increasingly reminiscent of colonial instincts.
Moreover, Brussels is openly trying to involve third countries in its illegal policy, sometimes resorting to blackmail. We regret to say that the Swiss Confederation, which was considered until recently a bulwark and model of neutrality, has also abandoned its foreign policy principles and fully supported EU sanctions against Russia.
Washington’s maniacal obsession with stamping more and more anti-Russia restrictions was no surprise for us. In previous years, the Americans also used groundless and sometimes very far-fetched pretexts to toughen economic pressure on our country. The ultimate goal of all sanctions imposed on Russia is no longer concealed: to destroy its economy, undermine the foundations of its financial stability and technological progress, and hit hard not only individual companies or economic sectors but virtually everyone, even the most vulnerable strata of the population. This is a system-wide challenge to Russia as a sovereign state.
Moreover, having drawn the Europeans into this anti-Russia venture, Washington seems to have pushed them to carry the brunt of the burden of losses from this senseless confrontation with us. The goal is obvious: to weaken the EU as a rival by pushing it into the destructive confrontation with Russia and at the same time to strengthen its own military, financial and energy presence in the Old World. But the United States went even further and miraculously compelled Switzerland, Austria and Sweden to give up in one go their traditional neutrality that they had cherished so much until recently.
In the past few years, we have become accustomed to living and working in conditions of the continuously deteriorating trade and economic situation. Persistent hostile actions and continuous threats are motivating us to speed up domestic development and upgrade our competitive ability and economic self-sufficiency. No new restriction packages will compel us to abandon our sovereign foreign policy.
Now let’s turn to US assistance to Ukraine. Let me remind you that in spring the Joseph Biden administration allocated $13.6 billion for Ukraine as military and economic aid ($6.5 billion and 6.7 billion, respectively). Recently, it decided to give Ukraine another $40.1 billion, including $25 billion for military ends. We are not surprised by this huge support because the US invested billions into its Ukrainian project over many years before the special military operation.
The scale of this anti-Russia investment certainly shows how high the stakes for Washington are. Obviously, the events in Ukraine pose an existentialist challenge to the US itself and the neo-liberal global ideology. But will the US efforts and expenses pay off? This is highly dubious. The White House knows, just as everyone else, that the Kiev regime is very far from winning a victory over corruption and that new and more generous supplies of the latest arms to the Ukrainian armed forces are exponentially increasing the risk of a direct clash between NATO and Russia.
Providing the Kiev regime with arms and money the United States is trying to weaken our country by dealing it the utmost damage. This tactic will not work and after such an overtly hostile line, Washington cannot hope for business as usual.
On the other side, many countries have been very reluctant, if not quite opposed, to take sanctions against Russia. From your point of view, do you feel Russia as isolated or, on the contrary, closer to most countries which are no more in phase with western hegemonical pretentiousness and arrogance, such as China, India and various countries in Africa and Latin America.
Maria Zakharova: First, the United States and the West began their overt attempts to isolate Russia at least eight years ago. Back in 2014, during Barack Obama’s inglorious presidency, the State Department launched a corresponding hashtag. That move ended in a fiasco and a complete failure just like many other foreign policy issues. Now we are witnessing more such isolationist attempts. Coupled with the new illegitimate restrictions, those are not even a sign, but proof of a lack of effective diplomacy, a lack of an interest or ability to build a dialogue, to listen to their partners, to develop mutually beneficial relations based on respect and equality.
We have been under this pressure since the West realised Russia was firmly back on the path of sovereign development and would no longer have anyone interfere in its internal affairs. The sanctions flywheel began gaining momentum then, with the aim of isolating us. Washington must have lost count by now of how many Russophobic “packages” it has adopted. The “collective West” openly declares the purpose of sanctions: to inflict maximum damage on our economy and undermine Russia’s national development. In justifying this policy, our opponents are not relying on international law, but are trying to push through the concept of “rules-based international order.” The same strategy, by the way, is being implemented in relation to China.
Secondly, are we closer to the majority of countries now? It’s important to understand one thing here. We are in the majority. I think our Chinese colleagues jokingly depicted on a map the “international community” on whose behalf Western leaders and the media constantly speak. This map has no sign of “China, India and various countries in Africa and Latin America” you mentioned. The West speaks on behalf of a minority. No one has any illusions about this anymore.
In reality, the entire international community is experiencing increasing pressure from a limited number of Western states seeking to maintain their dominance, which is actually neo-colonial hegemony. By the way, to illustrate the continuity of this policy, we have posted a long list of crimes committed by the Anglo-Saxons and their current allies against millions of people around the world. It is available on the Historical Materials page of the Russian Foreign Ministry website.
There is only one way to deal with this – to rally in solidarity, firmly and consistently against unilateral pressure. Otherwise, the consequences can be catastrophic for everyone without exception.
The most obvious example is the threat of famine, something even the UN Secretary-General is talking about with increasing urgency. It is clear as day that the situation was caused by the West’s actions to punish Belarus and Russia, the main exporters of fertilizers and grain, for their independent foreign policy.
Russia, China and non-western countries have underlined the necessity of a multipolar world order. What do you mean exactly by a multipolar world? How to reach such an objective without risking open conflicts? Which could be the role of the United Nations to create such a more equitable world order?
Maria Zakharova: It is obvious that a democratic multipolar world order is emerging now. The entire system of international relations is undergoing a profound transformation. The unipolar world has become a thing of the past, and this happened long before the events in Ukraine. New centres of power in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East are playing an increasingly prominent role in shaping the global agenda and are showing readiness to defend their interests, demanding respect for their own development path.
However, multipolarity runs counter to the American worldview, which is based on the concept of unconditional US hegemony. In fact, Washington is trying to preserve those elements of the old World Order that meet its own interests, often ignoring its obligations under international law. The emergence of new centres of political influence capable of pursuing an independent foreign policy and establishing multi-faceted cooperation among themselves does not fit into the US-centric picture of the world and is therefore regarded as a threat to Washington’s dominance.
As for conflicts, Russia has always relied primarily on negotiations as a way to settle any disputes. With our rich diplomatic traditions, and extensive and tragic experience of fighting defensive wars on our own soil, the multi-ethnic Russian people never seek violent confrontation with their opponents. This has cost too many lives, let alone enormous damage.
Moreover, the experience of the 20th century clearly demonstrates that great powers, even when they are ideological opponents, can coexist quite peacefully and grow in parallel. Therefore, Russia sees no obstacles to lowering the current international tensions in a civilised way.
This, in fact, is what we have persistently offered to our Western colleagues over the years, but they have chosen to ignore our concerns and interests. And yet, we continue to believe that it is in everyone’s interests to return to a normal dialogue on indivisible European security and to develop rules for peaceful coexistence based on respect for the legitimate interests of all key players.
Russia has consistently advocated building a truly multipolar world order, where all participants of international politics demonstrate their firm commitment to the principles laid down in the UN Charter, including sovereign equality and non-interference in domestic affairs of states, and other fundamental international legal standards. Forming a more just global architecture is fully in line with modern trends characterised by the emergence of new economic and political centres of power among developing countries who rightfully claim a more important role in international affairs.
We firmly believe that the United Nations must play a pivotal role in shaping such a world order with its unique legitimacy and universal nature. For 77 years it has been giving a chance to each member of the international community and various regional and sub-regional organisations to contribute to the search for collective solutions to global issues.
Yet we must note the active attempts by Western countries to slow down the natural democratisation of international relations and retain a monopoly to define further vectors of humanity’s development. The point at issue is the odious concept of the “rules-based world order,” which implies an aggressive revision of the entire international legal architecture and establishment of alternative, non-inclusive decision-making mechanisms bypassing the UN. But most states pursuing a responsible and independent policy decisively reject this destructive line.
At which conditions do you think it is possible to recreate diplomatic ties and normal relations with the “unfriendly” countries, such as Switzerland, which have massively taken sanctions and denounced Russia as an “aggressor” in this conflict, without taking in account the legitimate security concerns of Russia? What Switzerland could, or should, do to recover its usual neutrality and restore its capacity to talk again with Russia and to be a force of balance and moderation on the international scene?
Maria Zakharova: First, I would like to note that diplomatic relations between Russia and Switzerland were never severed. At the same time, the Swiss Confederation seriously complicated our relations by backing all packages of anti-Russian EU sanctions, closing its airspace, cancelling the visa-free regime for holders of diplomatic passports and official delegations, and voting in favour of the anti-Russia resolution at the UN General Assembly.
We note with regret that Switzerland’s neutral status has begun to fracture, and this trend continues. One of the latest examples proving this is Switzerland’s recent resolution to allow deliveries of spare parts and accessories to foreign arms manufacturers whose finished products may be later shipped to Ukraine.
The neutral status of the Swiss Confederation, which it has been vocal about and rightfully proud of, continues to become fiction and a thing of the past. Unfortunately, Bern’s current assessments and approaches to settling the conflict in Ukraine can by no means be called neutral or well-considered. Naturally, Russia takes this into consideration in its dialogue with Bern regarding both the bilateral and international agenda.
Hopefully Switzerland will eventually get back to the basics of its traditional “permanent, armed, and comprehensive neutrality.” This would help the Confederation to regain its reputation as an “honest international broker,” which, unfortunately, it no longer is.
As Finland and Sweden want to become members of NATO, which is a more and more aggressive alliance as its recent military interventions have demonstrated, how to tackle with it? What could be the new architecture of a future European security agreement including Russia?
Maria Zakharova: We consider the decision by Finland and Sweden to join NATO to be a mistake, since there is no threat to their security. The myth of the Russian military threat has been imposed on these countries by the North Atlantic Alliance and some of its members, first and foremost, the United States and the United Kingdom, to further advance the military block to the border of the Russian Federation.
As we have stated a number of times, the choice to ensure national security is a sovereign right of each state but these decisions must not create a threat to the security of other countries.
Russia’s countermeasures following the accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO – including military and technical measures – will depend on the terms of their membership in the North Atlantic Alliance, including deployment of foreign military bases and strike weapon systems on their territory.
The accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO, despite the loud statements, will deal irreparable damage to European security. It will not strengthen their international prestige but will deprive Helsinki and Stockholm of the opportunity to play a role of leader in peace initiatives, as well as result in the militarisation of the Baltic Region and escalate tensions in the Arctic.
History shows that NATO is an aggressive rather than a defensive organisation. Its non-stop expansion has fundamentally changed the architecture of European security; the bombing of Yugoslavia and the shameful operation in Libya have plunged those countries into chaos. The Alliance has devastated Afghanistan and is now pouring weapons into Ukraine.
Ever since the end of the Cold War and especially over the past several years, we warned of the threats posed by NATO expansion and indicated the need to treat Russia as an equal partner and respect our vital interests.
We made active efforts to build a reliable architecture of equal and indivisible European security. We proposed to Western countries to adopt the relevant documents, including the European Security Treaty (2009), the Agreement on Basic Principles Governing Relations among Russia-NATO Council Member States in the Security Sphere (2009), the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Security Guarantees and the Agreement on Measures to Ensure the Security of the Russian Federation and the Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (2021). The West declined all our initiatives.
The future agreement on European security is impossible without the principles proposed in these documents: indivisibility of European security and an obligation not to strengthen one’s security at the expense of the security of others.
In practical terms, this would include guarantees of NATO’s non-expansion, non-deployment of offensive weapon systems near our borders, and the return of the configuration of the Alliance’s forces to the state which existed at the time of the signing of the Russia-NATO Founding Act in 1997.
As I come from Geneva, a city which likes to present herself as the capital of multilateralism, do you think that a true multilateralism – I mean an inclusive multilateralism open to the whole world and not a “multilateralism only limited to the Western international community” – is still possible? And how?
Maria Zakharova: The main idea behind multilateralism is to ensure the equality of states, recognition by members of the international community of the need to respect each other’s interests. Countries must have a chance to preserve their cultural and civilisation identity, and to develop their domestic and foreign policies based on the interests of their people. In the end, this is what true freedom and sovereignty are all about. And this simple truth lies at the heart of the UN Charter.
In essence, Russia is now seeking a confirmation of commitment to these fundamental principles by all states. This is why we sincerely believe that the world not only can but has already started getting back to true multipolarity. And the future role of the West will be defined, first and foremost, by the degree of its readiness to hold a mutually respectful, equal, and constructive dialogue with international partners.
All we need to achieve this is to stop fiercely clinging to international institutions which allow the United States and its satellites to maintain their dominance and block the activity of forums where its previous positions, which once seemed unshakable, become weakened by the growing influence of the new centres of power.
Besides, the West has already done a lot to undermine its once dominant influence, for example, by putting into question the future role of the US dollar in the global financial system. Its position, which had been privileged for decades, resulted from a comfortable infrastructure arranged for it, the absence of full-fledged alternatives and the inertia of market participants. But the unlawful arrest of a part of Russian foreign currency reserves in Western banks made many countries around the world question how reliable the guarantees of their funds’ safety really are.
Interview by Guy Mettan
Source: Arrêt sur info