Russian Foreign Minister visits Cuba to strengthen bilateral ties

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov begins an official visit to Cuba today as part of his tour of Latin America and with the purpose of strengthening bilateral ties.

During his two-day stay at the Caribbean island, Lavrov will honor National Hero José Martí and hold official talks with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez, as reflected in the program of activities.

The head of Russian diplomacy will evaluate together with Rodriguez the evolution of the agreements sealed last November between presidents Vladimir Putin (Russia) and Miguel Díaz-Canel (Cuba), said the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He will also visit the National Capitol.

Lavrov's tour includes tours in Brazil and Suriname.

Cuba and Russia have a high coincidence in the vision towards different topics of the international agenda, the defense of peace and the role of international institutions, highlights an official press release.

The Caribbean government has an effective participation of Russian companies in the Economic Development Plans until 2030 and attaches special importance to joint projects in sectors such as energy, transport, industry and biotechnology.

Havana also appreciates the firm position of Moscow in its fight to end the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States.

In turn, Cuba opposes any policy applying sanctions and particularly those adopted against the Russian people and government.

The largest of the Antilles established diplomatic relations in 1942 with the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which were then interrupted in 1952 until the revolutionary government reestablished ties on May 8, 1960.

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US pressure on Cuba runs counter to international law, Lavrov says

The US growing pressure on Cuba under the Helms-Burton Act contradicts international law, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference after talks with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

"The decision, which was endorsed in Washington, drastically contradicts both international law and demands of the overwhelming majority of members of the international community," Lavrov said.

In his turn, the Cuban foreign minister noted that the Helms-Burton Act was part and parcel of the US policy of pressuring third states.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed that as of May 2, US nationals can sue for damages over private property seized during the Cuban revolution, which has become possible due to the full implementation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, a bill passed by former US President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Earlier, Washington regularly suspended the implementation of the Helms-Burton Act, which enables US citizens to sue foreign companies doing business in the US and investing in this property on the island.

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Russia Worried about US Attempt to Destroy Disarmament System

Moscow, Nov 22 (Prensa Latina) Russia expressed on Thursday its deep concern over the attempts of the United States to destroy or reform the current system to limit the proliferation of weapons in the world, especially nuclear weapons.

Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov told the Italian news agency Agi that his country and the United States, as possessors of the largest arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, have a responsibility to maintain strategic stability in the world.

With the intention of guaranteeing total freedom of action, Washington announced its possible withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), he said.

In addition, some political circles in the US question the extension in 2021 of the Treaty for Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons (Start III), recalled the Russian diplomat, who is visiting Italy.

The position of withdrawing from the INF and leaving the Start III aside is a dangerous and lacks perspective, the experienced Russian diplomat said.

For Lavrov, the return to the policy of guarantee of mutual destruction between Russia and the West has nothing to do with the 21st century and in that sense, he asked himself if the concentration of the Atlantic Alliance on the Russian border and the response from Moscow offers more security for the world.

However, the areas and challenges against which Russia and the United States could work together are growing: from the fight against terrorism to the solution of situations of regional crises or, even, the climate, argued the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Statements by US President Donald Trump that his country will strengthen its nuclear power until others 'do not come to their senses' are aimed at our nation and China, he estimated.

At the same time, he considered that relations between his country and Italy are on the rise and, he said, the fruitful results of the recent meeting in this capital between President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte are proof of that.

Lavrov stressed that despite the unilateral sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada, and other Western powers, some 500 Italian companies maintain their jobs in this state. In addition to the Italian investments in Russia, the European country plans to participate with its ENI company in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which brings gas directly from this nation to a concentrator plant in Germany, after crossing the Baltic Sea bottom.

In Italy, there are more and more politicians at different levels who propose ending the unilateral sanctions applied by the West against Russia since in 2014 it rejected the coup in Kiev and supported the sovereignty of Crimea and the cause of the rebels in the Donbass.

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Astonished to watch mass hysteria among US politicians: Russian Foreign Minister

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that he is astonished to see how many U.S. politicians are prone to mass hysteria regarding what he termed as "Russophobia." "We understand how uncomfortable it is now in Washington for those who are trying to demonstrate common sense on the backdrop of epidemic, paranoid Russophobia in the absence of any probe or at least asingle evidence over the months to prove Russia's interference into America's affairs," he said in an interview with the Kurdish television, according to TASS. "I have never thought that American politicians could be that prone to mass hysteria," he added.

He reminisced that he worked with many of them in New York saying, "Maybe many of those who have yielded to this furor, which is abnormal for the US' political life, understand that it is not normal and is to be stopped some way." Lavrov added that Moscow and Washington are playing a unique role in the solution of highly complicated problems in different parts of the world and no one else can replace them in the international arena.

The Foreign Minister also blamed the previous U.S. administration for undermining the Russian-American relations as he said, "We've inherited a huge heap of problems from the Barack Obama Administration. There are real time bombs and simply subversive acts that outgoing administration took in an agony when it was fully incapacitated by the results of the election and when it decided to spend the remaining time in the White House doing all sorts of unspeakable things in a bid to undermine the Russian-American relations."

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Lavrov: Shortsighted policies of US, EU in many ways provoked Ukrainian crisis

Since the end of the Cold War, Moscow hoped for international peace and cooperation, but certain decisions and actions of its Western partners have led to further "dividing lines" in Europe, and "have largely provoked" the Ukrainian crisis, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

In the early 1990s, “the US and its allies decided to pronounce themselves winners [in the Cold War] and refused to cooperate on creating equal and undivided security, having instead chosen to move dividing lines closer to Russia's borders,” Lavrov said Thursday, speaking at the ‘Russia & the EU in a changing world’ conference in Berlin.

 
FILE PHOTO. US President Donald Trump and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko © Jonathan Ernst

This policy was realized both through expansion of NATO and through an EU program called ‘The Eastern Partnership’ (EaP), the minister explained, saying that countries in the Eastern Europe were forced to make a choice either to support Russia or the West.

The largely-provoked-from-the-outside Ukrainian crisis has become the direct consequence of such shortsighted policy of Washington and Brussels,” Lavrov said.

Fulfillment of the Minsk agreements to resolve the conflict in Ukraine could contribute to de-escalation of tensions on the European continent, Lavrov said, adding that so far, Kiev’s eagerness to stay true to its obligations within the peace deal is “doubtful.”

We hope that Germany and France, as partners within the Normandy format, as well as the US who have a special influence on the Kiev establishment, will use their means to change the situation.”

The Russian minister added that Moscow wishes Ukraine to be “a normal democratic state,” but at the moment the power in Kiev “is largely in the hands of radicals, who do not comply with anyone, including with their commander-in-chief.”

We want to see Ukraine a stable country, where all minorities, including linguistic, religious and ethnic, live freely and exercise rights provided by international conventions,” he said.

Having discarded the idea of a multipolar world and chosen to act in its own interests, “the elite of the Western world have been pursuing the policy to politically and economically contain Russia.” At the same time, old security threats have not disappeared, but new ones emerged, Lavrov said, adding that the world is still dealing with these threats.

“Numbers of dissatisfied and deprived have grown both in national and global scales, which – against the backdrop of many unresolved issues – fuels extremist moods.”

 
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump © Carlos Barria

An “unprecedented growth of the terrorist threat” has been provoked by Western policies not only on the European continent, but also in the Middle East and North Africa, Lavrov said. He added that a number of countries in that region, including Iraq, Libya and Syria “were plunged into a deep crisis.”

The minister also criticized Western sanctions against Russia, saying he has to “remind that introducing sanctions is the prerogative right of UN Security Council, used purely in the interests of maintaining international peace and security.”

However, the West had decided to force restrictions against Moscow, making many people in Europe “victims of geopolitical games.” 

We will not engage in talks on some conditions of lifting of sanctions,” Lavrov said. He added that “it's not in Russians’ character to hold grudges against anyone, so if and when the EU recognizes the importance of getting back to normal relations with Russia,” Moscow will not refuse to cooperate.

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‘US not powerful enough to bring peace to Syria’ – France’s Hollande

The US is strong enough to financially discriminate against European companies, but it lacks the capacity to bring peace to Syria, French President Francois Hollande said.

“The US has enough power to get money, but not enough – to establish peace (in Syria),” Hollande told L'Obs magazine on Wednesday.

In his interview, the French leader slammed Washington for imposing multibillion dollar fines on major European companies, while, at the same time, shielding American firms.

 
As for the situation in Syria, Hollande said that he doesn’t expect any decisive actions from the US until the end of the year because US President Barack Obama, who promised not to engage US in new conflicts abroad, will soon be leaving office.

The French leader promised that France will “not abandon Aleppo” after Russia vetoed its UN Security Council resolution proposing a ‘no fly zone’ over the strategic city, which remains split between government forces and the militants.

“The first condition is that the bombing stops,” he said, adding that Paris will keep pressing for the ceasefire to be reached “in the coming days” to allow humanitarian aid deliveries to Aleppo and the beginning of talks between the interested parties.

Hollande also expressed regret that Russia’s proposal to destroy Syrian chemical weapons averted airstrikes against the government of President Bashar Assad three years ago.

“August 2013 will remain a key date in the history of this conflict. France was ready to hit the Syrian regime, which had crossed a red line,” he said.

But “another route” that was taken by the international community which laid the foundation for the current state of things in the country,” the French leader said.

READ MORE: 'Moscow is being obstructive': French PM Valls doubles down on Russia policy after criticism

Assad sensed the weakness of the West and asked for military assistance from Moscow, while Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) reduced the numbers of moderate opposition, he explained.

“Aleppo today is a challenge for the international community. It’s either honor or shame,” he concluded.

@RT_com Lavrov: Russia, US not on brink of war http://on.rt.com/7rqw

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On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he believes a peaceful resolution to the situation in Aleppo is still possible. Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour he said that Russia still “strongly supports the initiative by [UN Special Representative for Syria] Staffan de Mistura, who proposed that Al Nusra fighters should be [allowed] to leave eastern Aleppo with the weapons ‘in dignity’” along with the moderate rebels that want to “stay with them.” Rebels who want to stay in Aleppo, meanwhile, should join in with the cessation of hostilities, he said.

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Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Confirms Support for Cuba and Venezuela

Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov has confirmed his government's support for Cuba and Venezuela.

On Wednesday, Lavrov participated in a meeting with students of the Latin America and Caribbean Group at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Participants in the meeting included Russian citizens, who have been assigned to high ranking positions in foreign service such as ambassadors, counselors, envoys and consuls general.

Referring to the recent visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Cuba, Minister Lavrov said the Russian stance against the U.S. blockade on Cuba remains the same and demanding the immediate lifting of the U.S. punitive, coercive policy towards its neighboring Caribbean state.

On Venezuela, Lavrov said Russian authorities are watching closely the situation in the South American country, arguing that foreign actors are fueling internal tensions.

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ISIS leaders remain in close contact with Ankara – Lavrov

The leaders of Islamic State maintain a constant liaison with the Turkish government, working out a new approach to the war in Syria as the Russian Air Force cuts off traditional smuggling routes, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Moscow has intelligence that Islamic State’s (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) command continues to hold backdoor negotiations with the Turkish leadership, Lavrov told Russian newspaper MK in a vast interview in honor of Diplomats’ Day.

The airstrikes of the Russian Air Force in Syria have severely disrupted “traditional smuggling routes,” so the Turks are discussing in all seriousness creation of “IS-free zones” in Syria.

“Of course [such zones] would be a violation of all principles of the international law and also escalate tensions, substantially and fundamentally,” Lavrov said, adding the Turks are constructing tent camps and some kind of “engineering structures” on the Syrian side of the border, some 200 meters inside the country’s territory.

At the same time the Russian FM does not believe that a full-scale Turkish invasion into Syria is possible; Ankara is expected to limit its actions to “small provocations.”

“I do not believe that the US-led [anti-IS] coalition, which includes Turkey, would allow such desperate schemes to take shape,” Lavrov said.

'Main transit route for militants' - Russian ambassador to Ankara on Turkey

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According to Lavrov, Moscow was “astonished” by the position voiced by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel during Turkey voyage about Russian airstrikes being to blame for the growing influx of refugees from the Middle East to Europe.

The German leader did not say a word about terrorists in Syria being supported by the trafficking of arms, munitions and other necessary supplies from Turkey, which openly blackmails the EU over the refugee problem, Lavrov said.

Lavrov called attention to the fact that the growing tide of asylum seekers rushed to Europe after the elimination of the Libyan state, which took place well ahead of the Russian warplanes being deployed to Syria.

“I’d like to note that we had called attention to Turkey’s actions becoming inappropriate… long before our Air Force became operable in Syria,” Lavrov said, recalling incidents with Turkey creating obstacles with international projects and scandalous statements made by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his 2015 visit to Moscow.

“Of course we paid attention to that incongruity, but assumed that common sense would prevail and Turks realize we’re neighbor and had done nothing wrong to them,” Lavrov said, quoting President Vladimir Putin’s words about Moscow putting a blind eye on many of Ankara’s escapades.

“Of course we paid attention to that incongruity, but assumed that common sense would prevail and Turks realize we’re neighbor and had done nothing wrong to them,” Lavrov said, quoting President Vladimir Putin’s words about Moscow putting a blind eye on many of Ankara’s escapades.

Lavrov agreed that probably that position was a mistake, since it ended up with the “Turkish leaders falling out of the real world completely.”

'No way to improve for now’ – Kremlin on Russia-Turkey relations

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The veteran foreign minister does not exclude attempts to put the boots on the ground in Syria from some countries of the Persian Gulf.

“If the [Syria peace] talks bring no fruit or are not allowed to begin, then it is possible that some countries, directed by personal hatred towards [President Bashar] Assad, would go for a head-on solution by force,” Lavrov acknowledged, recalling some countries of the region “empathetically rejecting Russia-US-EU initiative to declare the Syrian crisis “militarily unsolvable” in a UN Security Council resolution.

Saudi invasion of : The bluff that could ignite World War III (Op-Edge)

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“So this [a military intervention in Syria] is quite possible,” Lavrov said, mentioning Saudi Arabia’s openly declared plans to send troops to Syria should an international coalition invade.

The developments of the Turkish-Syrian border serve proof that Ankara’s primary concern is making direct contacts between the Syrian and Turkish Kurds possible.

The IS-free strip along the border is called to prevent that Kurdish reunion Ankara finds totally unacceptable, as it would disrupt Turkish supplies to IS terrorists and getting oil and other contraband goods once and for all.

In this light, Ankara, as well as some other capitals in the region, believes Russia to be the biggest problem in the Middle East.

“I can understand that,” Lavrov said, “The Turks say openly that we have blown their plans [for Syria] wide open and now are trying to nail the Americans to the barn door, too,” the Russian FM commented on Ankara’s recent demarche towards Washington, which was thrown into a dilemma to “choose between Turks and Kurds.”

Furious Erdogan tells US to choose between Turkey and Syrian Kurds

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Ankara also insisted on expelling Kurds from the Syria peace talks, which is “Turkey’s arrogant position not seeing eye-to-eye by anybody else,” Lavrov stressed, noting that Washington has already, though anonymously, proclaimed the Kurds being allies against Islamic State.

“We work with them [Kurds], too,” the minister mentioned.

“Honestly speaking, I do not consider the situation as irretrievable one,”Lavrov said, adding that at present close cooperation between Washington and Moscow in Syria is not possible due to a “restrain factor” of the US relations with allies in the Middle East region perceiving Russia as being a threat to their plans for Syria.

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