At a press conference recently a journalist asked:
US President Donald Trump has stated that sanctions against Russia could be revised if Moscow cooperates with Washington on Syria and Ukraine. How do you regard such statements? Have there been any contacts? At what level?
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged European partners to slap their own sanctions on Russia in connection with the Salisbury incident. Could you comment on this?
Sergey Lavrov responded: Our contacts with the United States are proceeding on many issues, including on Syria and Ukraine, more intensively on Syria. And on Ukraine, as you know, through a dialogue within the framework of the Surkov-Volker format. They exchange their assessments of the situation and, as far as I understand, are planning a new meeting in the foreseeable future. They met in Belgrade some time ago.
The problems facing the settlement processes in Syria and Ukraine stem not from Russia’s position, but from the unwillingness of certain circles in and around Syria to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and, as regards Ukraine, from the Ukrainian government’s failure to honour its commitments under the Minsk Agreements. It is clear to everyone that sanctions against Russia were introduced not because of Syria, Ukraine, Crimea or anything else, but out of a desire to use dishonest methods of competition and advance the absolutely futile policy of containing Russia. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin said during the press conference with US President Donald Trump in Helsinki, it is sad that in certain political circles in the US, relations with Russia have become a bargaining chip in domestic politics.
As for Britain, I heard the statements by the new UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who, as far as I understand, is heading for Washington. London is pressing the same things in relations with Europeans, citing the Salisbury incident, which has not yet been investigated. A while ago, Secretary Hunt was asked in Britain if any progress had been made in identifying the suspects. He did not know what to say to his own journalists.
Our British colleagues have a fairly high opinion of themselves. The country that is leaving the EU – the so-called Brexit – is trying to dictate EU foreign policy. And now it appears that London wants to dictate Washington’s policy towards Russia as well.
We have repeatedly urged our British colleagues to come to the negotiating table, lay down all their concerns and figure out where we are in our relations. The response was a haughty refusal. Our proposal stands. Neither on the issue of the investigation of the Salisbury incident, nor on any other matter that the British side is trying to spin in an anti-Russian way, can there be any “highly likely” any more. Lay the facts on the table, please.