Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the US is abusing its position of host of the UN Headquarters, in an interview with Russian outlet Kommersant on September 25th.
Lavrov is in attendance in New York for the 74th United Nations General Assembly.
“When a visa was not issued to the head of the relevant Non-Proliferation and Arms Control department, who was supposed to go to a meeting of the UN Disarmament Commission in April this year, we formally proposed not to hold a Commission session in the United States, if all delegations were not entitled to send the person who is considered necessary to promote their positions and defend their interests. Now, apparently, we will have to raise the question of what to do with the UN headquarters”, Lavrov said.
10 Individuals were denied visas, including:
- Leonid Slutsky, the first head of the State Duma committee on international affairs;
- Konstantin Kosachev, the first head of the committee on international affairs of the Federation Council;
- Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roskosmos;
Furthermore, translators were denied entry and they were individuals who had repeatedly attended UN events.
“We were told that there is no discrimination, no violation of US obligations to the UN as the host country of the organization’s headquarters, including the obligations enshrined in the agreements between the US and the UN on the need to ensure the unhindered participation of all its members in all events .”
Lavrov said that the situation warranted a “harsh response” from Russia.
“Of course, we will respond. They also have an interest when they want to come to us. But we have already studied well the pettiness and dishonesty of these people. Last year, congressmen came and asked for permission to include Senator Ron Johnson, who was on the Russian sanctions list, which was formed solely in response to the fact that our parliamentarians were blocked from entering the United States.
We agreed, stipulating that the return visit of our parliamentary delegation should also take place with the participation of one or more people formally on the US sanctions list to show that, at least through parliamentary diplomacy, we are starting to “build bridges”, abandon confrontational and counterproductive approaches.”
He underlined US hypocrisy, that everything was “allowed” for the Americans, but for the others it was whatever they deemed necessary.
On the same day, Lavrov thanked the Japanese Foreign Minister for his help in providing the Russian UNGA’s delegation interpreter with a visa.
“First of all, I would like to sincerely thank you for making this meeting possible. My colleague, who is helping us with interpretation, would not have gained a [US] visa without the Japanese embassy’s assistance,” the Russian foreign minister said.
Three days ago, the Russian interpreter had no visa.
“Your colleagues in the Japanese Embassy in Moscow asked us whether it would be possible to organize our meeting with a proper interpretation. Our Japanese friends immediately solved the problem with US colleagues: the visa was immediately issued and now we have an opportunity to have a full-fledged conversation,” he added.
In the Kommersant interview, Lavrov said that he would raise the question at the UN Headquarters, also giving an example.
“I have already cited an example when the two-week session of the commission was postponed indefinitely. We understand the realities of the modern world, the position of most states that need the UN and do not want a crisis to arise, who want to have the physical opportunity to meet and discuss important things. But there is a problem.
After the incident that I mentioned, we submitted a corresponding request to the committee on relations with the host country. When this committee was created in 1971, its name was translated into Russian as “committee on relations with the host country.” No one knew that the “connection” would be carried out in only one direction.”
In addition, during the interview Lavrov briefly spoke about several other topics:
- Moscow is working with US attorneys to proceed with a lawsuit against the US government for seizing Russian diplomatic property.
“We have arguments, and not a few. We are working with US lawyers. We will continue to prepare this case for court hearings. US justice and legal proceedings are a very bureaucratic thing, it requires calculation of all the options”, he said.
- He called all US claims regarding the INF Treaty “boorish” and said that Russia had repeatedly invited US delegations to inspect the missiles, which were allegedly in breach of the agreement.
“We invited the Americans to show them this missile, offered to conduct a special briefing for them. But they categorically refused the invitation. The US will be satisfied only by the complete destruction of missiles, launchers and all associated equipment under US monitoring. This is a rather boorish position”, Lavrov said.
- He commented on the recent refusal of Belarus to host a Russian military base in the country, saying it was an “unpleasant episode.”
“This is really an unpleasant episode. But the main thing is not the form, but the content. And as for the content, the President of Belarus Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko has repeatedly said, including answering the question about the base, that Belarus is Russia’s 100-percent ally and that the Belarusian armed forces need to be viewed as protecting our common interests and our common territory”, Lavrov commented.
- Regarding the situation in the trilateral contact group, the Steinmeier formula and the Normandy Four, Lavrov said the Russian side was “very concerned.”
“This is a delicate area. We are very upset and worried about what happened in the Contact Group. At the meeting of foreign policy advisers in Paris on September 11, there was a fairly substantive discussion about exactly how the Contact Group should approve this formula. As a result, without exception, advisers to leaders of the Normandy four format agreed that the Contact Group should sign this document.”
But then, Ukraine refused to sign the agreement and puts the entire Minsk agreements and Normandy Four format in jeopardy.
- Regarding Georgia, Lavrov said he supported the idea of resuming flights between the two countries.
“I would like the flights to be resumed. I think that would be a right move after the majority of Georgians had understood that the provocation, staged in the Georgian parliament during the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, had been counterproductive”, Lavrov said.
- There was a brief mention of Georgia’s possible accession into NATO, to which he responded that it was not impossible and that Russia wouldn’t start a war over it. But that relations between the NATO member states and Russia would be heavily undermined.
Finally, he shed some light on a moratorium suggested by Moscow on the deployment of medium- and short-range missiles in Europe. But before anything of the sort happened, the US and its allies needed to provide a credible explanation as to why they refused to attend any discussions regarding the INF treaty.
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