Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova addressed a number of issues during her weekly press briefing on November 16. Here are the key points:
- Zakharova criticized the US security services giving the data on bank transactions of the Russian diplomatic missions to mass media.Responding to the BuzzFeed article, which claimed that 60 money transfers were conducted from the Russian Foreign Ministry to the US embassies in order to allegedly “finance the election campaign of 2016,” Zakharova had this to say: “The US security services giving to the media data on banking transactions of the Russian diplomatic missions, not only in the United States, but around the world.” She also called on the US authorities to “stop playing such games and return to normal, responsible diplomatic communications.”
- Russia’s new foreign agent law for media became a forced response to repressive measures against Russian media, primarily RT, according to Zakharova. “We were forced to take these steps, these response measures in light of the blatantly repressive actions, steps against Russian media, first of all Russia Today [RT’s former name] television channel,” she told journalists.
- Russia is calling on Madrid to provide specific evidence of its alleged interference in the Catalonia situation. “It would be preferable if our Spanish colleagues started being responsible for their words and provided specific facts,” Zakharova said, adding that such accusations were damaging for the Russia-Spain relations.
- Zakharova also commented on the claims made by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that the United States is in Syria with the permission of the United Nations. Washington does not have such mandate, she said. “We were surprised to hear US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ statements … that the US armed forces are in Syria with the UN approval. We would like to understand and in order for this question to not remain rhetoric … what specific mandate is this? When was it issued and by whom?” Zakharova said.
- Attention was drawn to media reports saying that US and NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan support ISIS in the country, adding that Russia calls for an investigation. She also added that media outlets were reporting frequently on the United States supporting terrorists, which “cannot be called a fair game.” “We hope that the US side will adhere strictly to the agreements on fighting terrorism which were recorded in the Russian and US presidents’ joint statement on the sidelines of the APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] conference in Da Nang on November 11,” she said.
- Zakharova also confirmed that Russia’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who announced his resignation on Saudi Arabian television. “He is meeting with foreign representatives, including the Russian ambassador to Riyadh,” she said.