Ambassador Antonov implied a quid pro quo whereby the US can encourage Kiev to finally implement its legal obligations under the Minsk Accords while Russia can help broker a political solution to the Syrian War with Damascus.
Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov was recently interviewed by Newsweek, a prominent American media outlet. They earlier interviewed Russian Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, and to their credit, they were very fair. This likely boosted that platform’s credibility in the eyes of the Russian Establishment, which rightly fears having its representatives’ words misquoted or decontextualized due to the information warfare component of the US’ ongoing Hybrid War on Russia.
The context in which this latest interview was conducted is extremely significant since American-Russian relations have sunk to an unprecedented post-Old Cold War low due to the undeclared US-provoked missile crisis in Europe but finally show signs of possible improvement following Russia’s “security equation” proposal. What comes next are summaries of key excerpts from the Russian Ambassador’s latest interview, after which the importance of his media appearance will be briefly analyzed.
* All Countries Have The Right To Deploy Troops Wherever They Want Within Their Borders
— “The State Department and Pentagon daily warnings on Russia’s buildup of its military presence near the border of Ukraine are nothing but propaganda. I’d like to remind that Russia has every right to freely move troops on its territory and conduct training activities. We are not threatening anyone.”
* The US Can Help Bring Peace To Eastern Ukraine
— “The only way to stability in the Donbas region is implementation of the Minsk agreements. We call on the U.S. to exert pressure on Kiev to fulfill its obligations under the document. We want Washington to send a clear signal to Ukraine about the inadmissibility of revising the Minsk accords, which are the uncontested basis for resolving the situation.”
* Russia’s Red Lines Mustn’t Be Crossed
— “For Russia, the ongoing militarization of Ukraine by NATO, the presence of Western troops on its territory and hypothetical membership of this country in the Alliance are unacceptable. Such steps are beyond the red lines of our national interests.”
* Russia’s Security Proposals Should Be Seriously Considered
— “As agreed during the Russia-U.S. virtual summit, we submitted a comprehensive proposal on legal security guarantees during a meeting of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried on December 15 in Moscow.”
* US Pressure On Nord Stream II Is Unfair Market Competition
— “It has been said many times that the gas pipeline is an exclusively commercial project. Sanctions and other threats against members of this consortium are used for unfair competition.”
* Russia Will Never Weaponize Its Energy Exports
— “We have never imposed our supplies on anyone, did not use energy resources as an instrument of political pressure or to achieve so-called opportunistic goals attributed to us.”
* The Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership Ensures Global Stability
— “An important part of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership is coordination on foreign policy issues. Russia and China have similar views on many global and regional problems. Such cooperation of the two countries has become a stabilizing factor in international affairs.”
* The US’ “Summit For Democracy” Creates Artificial Ideological Divisions
— “As we emphasized in the joint Russia-China article, the U.S. initiative is an evident product of Cold War mentality, it will stoke up ideological confrontation and create new dividing lines.”
* The Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership Isn’t Aimed Against Any Third Countries
— “…there is no doubt that the current situation in the world fosters further strengthening of the strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing. But unlike the U.S. and its NATO allies we have no geopolitical plans and aims against any sovereign country.”
* Russia Is A Responsible Great Power
— “Russia’s foreign policy is aimed at creating a stable and sustainable system of international relations based on international law and principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs of states.”
* Military De-Confliction In Syria Is A Rare Example Of Successful Russian-American Cooperation…
— “Russia and the United States maintain contacts on Syria. In this regard cooperation through the military channels is especially worth mentioning. This type of engagement has proven to be effective. We consider it essential to continue the de-conflicting dialogue on Syria. Constant and expeditious military-to-military exchange of information help to avoid unnecessary and dangerous incidents in the Arab republic.”
* …But The Continued US Occupation Of Syria Is Illegal And Destabilizing
— “Nevertheless, we believe that the presence of U.S. troops in Syria is illegal. The occupation of almost one-third of the Syrian territory is unacceptable. We assume that the American forces and other unlawful military troops should be withdrawn from all parts of Syria.”
* Russian-American Cooperation Can Help Broker A Political Solution To The Syrian War
— “As for the political process, we are engaged in a close dialogue with all parties involved including the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC). In late November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with the co-president of the Executive Committee of the SDC in Moscow. We encourage the Kurdish opposition to normalize relations with the Syrian central authorities. Russia is ready to assist. We assume that the United States should do the same given close links between Washington and the SDC.”
* Iran And The US Must Be Diplomatically Flexible In Order To Revive The Nuclear Deal
— “We are convinced that neither Iran nor the United States is interested in escalating tensions. Therefore, we call on all parties to show maximum flexibility and contribute to the search for mutually acceptable solutions for the soonest JCPOA revival.”
* The US Is To Blame For The Eastern European Migrant Crisis
— “You are absolutely right in trying to understand the roots of the current crisis at the Belorussian border. The deeper cause of the situation are attempts of the Western countries, including the U.S., to impose their vision of democracy around the world.”
From these key takeaways, it’s clear that the Russian Ambassador is conveying some very significant policy points to his American audience. He wants them to know that Russia isn’t to blame for the latest tensions in Ukraine, nor for the Eastern European Migrant Crisis. Furthermore, he hopes that everyone will stop fearmongering about his country’s motives in expanding strategic cooperation with China, which isn’t aimed against America like some have wildly speculated.
Most importantly, Ambassador Antonov implied a quid pro quo whereby the US can encourage Kiev to finally implement its legal obligations under the Minsk Accords while Russia can help broker a political solution to the Syrian War with Damascus. Through these pragmatic mutual compromises, the trust that’s required to advance Russia’s “security equation” proposal might finally be reached and thus lead to the normalization of ties with the US, which would stabilize international affairs.