MOSCOW, September 16. /TASS/. It is too early to speak about any improvement in relations between Moscow and Kiev, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an interview with the Rasstriga Telegram channel on Monday.
"I’m not sure that positive developments are on the way," she said. "I think we need to record specific steps. This particular step [the recent detainee exchange — TASS] was more than just positive… But it’s hard for me to predict the future trends," Zakharova emphasized.
The Russian diplomat pointed out that there were no positive changes in relations with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. According to Zakharova, the appointment of a new Ukrainian foreign minister had no impact on the two countries' relationship.
On September 7, Moscow and Kiev carried out a detainee exchange based on the "35 for 35" formula. Russian President Vladimir Putin had said earlier that the move might help improve bilateral relations.
Reponse to Saudi Aramco attack
Moscow strongly condemns the attacks against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, but at the same time it advises against hasty conclusions as to who made them, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary.
"We resolutely condemn strikes against non-military targets and the destruction of socio-economic infrastructure and any actions capable of throwing the supply and demand of fuels off balance and triggering a new tide of instability on the world market of hydrocarbons with the entailing negative consequences for the world economy," the Foreign Ministry said. "We strongly advise against making hasty conclusions as to who carried out this attack against Saudi oil refineries."
"We believe that it will be counterproductive to exploit these events for stepping up tensions over Iran in line with well-known US policies. Options envisaging the retaliatory use of force, which are reportedly being discussed in Washington, are still more impermissible," the Foreign Ministry said.
The exchanges of strikes against civilian facilities, the commentary says, are a direct consequence of the crisis in Yemen, which must be settled as soon as possible under the aegis of the United Nations.
"We remain certain that the exchanges of strikes against civilian facilities and the related violations of international humanitarian law are a direct consequence of the acute military-political crisis in the Republic of Yemen," the Foreign Ministry said. "We reaffirm our fundamental position that it is necessary to put an end to the armed confrontation as soon as possible and to arrange for an inclusive negotiating process under the aegis of the United Nations among all leading socio-political forces, regional communities and confessional groups in Yemen."
In the early hours of September 14 ten drones attacked enterprises of the oil company Saudi Aramco in the east of Saudi Arabia. Houthi rebels from the Ansar Allah movement claimed responsibility. As a result of the attacks Saudi Arabia had to reduce oil production by 50%. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo accused the Iranian authorities of complicity. He said there was "no evidence the attacks came from Yemen." The Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed these charges as groundless.