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Attempts to isolate Russia futile — Russian FM

Moscow is not planning to discuss criteria for sanctions to be lifted, as sanctions are illegitimate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Ilya Pitalev/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
© Ilya Pitalev/TASS

MOSCOW, January 12. /TASS/. Attempts to isolate Russia from the international society in any way have no prospects, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

“There are no prospects for isolating Russia in this or that way,” Lavrov said at a meeting with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics in Moscow. “We have partners,” he added.

Moscow is not planning to discuss criteria for sanctions to be lifted, as sanctions are illegitimate, Lavrov noted. “We will not discuss anything. These are absolutely illegitimate measures,” he said.

The minister also said that Russia does not plan to restore the Soviet Union or a tsarist empire, as stepping up partnership with “the Russian world” means cooperation similar to that between Francophone countries.

Lavrov noted noted that no one in Russia plans to revive the Soviet Union or an empire.

Cooperation with EU

Russia is hopeful that Latvia’s presidency in the EU Council will promote settlement of problems in ties between Russia and the European Union, Lavrov said.

“We hope that Latvia’s first EU rotating presidency will help solve those problems that exist in relations between Russia and the EU,” he stressed. “We are interested in cooperation with all EU states, naturally on an equal basis,” the foreign minister added.

Responding to blacklists

Moscow will be acting proportionally in regard to Latvia’s ‘blacklists’ of Russian culture activists and artists, Lavrov said. “Measures concerning the inclusion of Russian activists, political scientists in the so-called 'blacklist's are not providing for the development of our (bilateral) relations,” the foreign minister pointed out. “We will have to react adequately, basing on the principle of equality,” the top Russian diplomat added.

Last year, Latvia blacklisted a number of Russian nationals, including artists and culture activists. Foreign Minister Rinkeviks supplemented the blacklist of Russians banned from entering Latvia indefinitely with the names of Russian popular singers Joseph Kobzon, Oleg Gazmanov and Valeria ahead of the New Wave pop singers’ contest in Jurmala last summer. The blacklist was again expanded last autumn with entry bans for Russian actors Ivan Okhlobystin and Mikhail Porechenkov.

Starting dialogue in Ukraine

No matter how important the external factors may be, the most important thing now is to start a direct dialogue over a constitutional reform in Ukraine, Lavrov said after talks with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics.

“Russia is certain that no matter how important various external formats may be, the most important thing now is to start a genuine, direct national dialogue over the constitutional reform involving all of Ukraine’s regions and political forces in order to achieve national reconciliation,” he said. “Through national reconciliation, it will be possible to achieve national accord over what kind of state will let all Ukrainians feel comfortable and secure,” Lavrov said.

Russia has information that Kiev troops are preparing a new attempt to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by force, the foreign minister said. “We have information, which is very worrisome, that security forces are preparing a new attempt of resolving the conflict by force,” Lavrov said. “This would be a catastrophe,” he stressed.

Moscow hopes that Berlin foreign ministers’ meeting in the Normandy format will help encourage compliance with the Minsk agreements, Lavrov said. The foreign ministers of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France are scheduled to meet in Berlin later on Monday for talks on the conflict in Ukraine. “We hope that the meeting in Berlin will help encourage the compliance with the Minsk agreements,” Lavrov said after negotiations with Edgars Rinkevics. “But it’s up for the sides themselves to agree on this,” he added.

The formats for Ukraine must work for the implementation of the achieved agreements and not for the sake of ‘paperwork’, Lavrov said on Monday in response to a question from TASS. “There are various formats and it is important to make them work. Not just for the sake of paperwork as such, but for the promotion of translating into life what has been agreed upon,” Lavrov said.