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memri
October 7, 2019 No.
8307

Russia This Week – Focus On Bilateral Relations – October 7, 2019

Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Photo Of The Week


Russian President Vladimir Putin and with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

In The News:

  • Quote Of The Week: Russian FM Lavrov: The Emerging Polycentric World Order Is More Representative And, Consequently, Fairer
  • Russia-Iran Relations
  • Russia-Saudi Relations
  • The Concept Of Collective Security In The Gulf Area
  • Further Readings: "Modernization Versus Mobilization" Of The Russian Armed Forces
  • News In Brief: Defense

Quote Of The Week


Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (Source: Uznayvse.ru)

Russian FM Lavrov: The Emerging Polycentric World Order Is More Representative And, Consequently, Fairer

In an interview with the Saudi-owned paper Asharq Al-Awsat, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said:

Lavrov: "The year 1991 drew a line under the era of bipolar confrontation. There was a real chance to build a fair, sustainable, cooperation-based world order that would meet the interests of all participants of international affairs without exception.

"Unfortunately, the 'historical West' countries ignored this opportunity. Having come to believe in the end of history theory and declaring that it had won the Cold War, Washington and several other Western capitals opted for establishing dominance in global affairs. The United States and its allies chose military power, sanctions, blackmail, pressure and misinformation as the methods to achieve that goal. A series of interventions and wars in violation of international law have destabilized entire regions. Despite the obvious failure and destructive nature of their policy, unfortunately, even today, the idea of forming a West-centered world order in one form or another still possesses the minds of certain elites on both sides of the Atlantic.

But the course of history cannot be stopped. Since the beginning of this century, dramatic changes have occurred in the global geopolitical picture, primarily due to the emergence and strengthening of new centers that are joining global governance processes, very successfully and efficiently, and confidently taking responsibility for maintaining security and stability in their regions…

"The objectively evolving global multipolar architecture reflects the cultural and civilizational diversity of the modern world, and peoples' striving to independently choose their paths that comply with their traditions and customs. The emerging polycentric world order is more representative and, consequently, fairer. It is important that it remains stable and comfortable for all states…"

(Mid.ru, October 3, 2019)

Russia-Iran Relations


Putin and Rouhani. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Putin: I Am Pleased To Say That We Are Working Together On Iran’s Accession To The Eurasian Economic Union; Rouhani: I Would Like To Note That During The 500 Years Of Our Relations We Have Reached Unprecedented Sincerity

On October 1, after the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting in Yerevan, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani.

Putin: "Mr President,

"You and I meet and work together on a regular basis. However, considering the dynamic of the situation in the region and our bilateral ties, we always know what to talk about, what to discuss.

"I am glad to have this opportunity to resume our recent discussion. We will also discuss bilateral issues, the JCPOA and the situation in the region, including in the Syrian Arab Republic – this time here, in Yerevan.

"I am pleased to say that we are working together on Iran’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union. I am confident that this work will benefit our countries. It is based on the fundamental principles of international law and the basic provisions of the World Trade Organization.

"I am happy to see you."

Rouhani: "Mr President, thank you very much. I am also happy to have this opportunity to meet with you again.

"Luckily, our bilateral relations are making headway, and even if we meet every week, we will still have things to discuss.

"I would like to note that during the 500 years of our relations we have reached unprecedented sincerity.

"Even though we met in Ankara, not long ago, we still have many things to talk about both in international and bilateral relations.

"Both of our countries are located in a sensitive region and, regrettably, we have seen certain negative factors at work in the past few weeks. No matter where we cooperate our goal is peace, stability and security.

"Thank you very much."

(Kremlin.ru, October 1, 2019)

Putin: Russia Supports Iran In Every Possible Way And Seeks To Minimize The Negative Risks Not Only For Iran But Also For The World Energy Market

At the plenary meeting of the Russian Energy Week International Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Russia-Iran Relations.

Keir Simmons (moderator): "…You met with President Rouhani in the past few days, and again, I think, last week. What have you learned from those meetings, what is your view of the Iran situation?"

Putin: "We met yesterday. We spoke about energy and cooperation in energy supplies, and we discussed the entire range of issues in Russian-Iranian relations.

"It is well known that Iran possesses great potential and is a major player on the world energy market but, unfortunately, due to the US Administration’s sanctions policy, Iran cannot take full advantage of its potential.

"In my opinion, this is harmful for the world economy and the world energy industry in general because it restricts the stable performance of this sector, which is extremely important for the world economy.

"When there is no stability, there is no investment, or at least no proper volume of investment. Prices are unstable, which in the long run hurts both energy producers and consumers.

"However, Russia supports Iran in every possible way and seeks to minimize the negative risks not only for Iran but also for the world energy market. We have certain agreements with our European partners that want to build up relations with Iran one way or another, including in the sphere of energy.

"Let us remember that resolution of all these issues is closely associated with global politics and security issues. Iran’s commitment to the principles of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a very important and critical issue, something that is on the world political agenda today.

"We strongly rely on having these agreements retained and on eventually normalizing the situation around Iran, which will positively affect the world energy sector."

Putin: Iran Definitely Wants To Bring The Situation Back To Normal, Including Normalizing Its Relations With The United States

Keir Simmons: "We have senior representatives from both Saudi Arabia and Iran in the audience, so the question though appears to be whether President Rouhani would be prepared to meet with President Trump. Did you gain from your meeting with President Rouhani any indication about whether that is a meeting that might be possible?"

Putin: "You had better ask President Rouhani and President Trump. Our position is that dialogue is always better than confrontation. This was graphically illustrated by a firm, well-considered, entirely pragmatic and correct decision taken by president Trump in a meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. A more or less marked end to the tensions followed immediately.

"They have a long way to go before resolving these issues, which we are well aware of, but still this is a move in the right direction. The same can be said of direct contacts between Iran and the United States and between the Iranian President and the US President.

"As far as I know, a similar attempt was made by France at the UN General Assembly in New York. Unfortunately, there was no meeting because Iran believes it cannot engage in this dialogue as it is not on an equal footing given the sanctions imposed on it. It seems to me that Iran definitely wants to bring the situation back to normal, including normalizing its relations with the United States."

Read More:

  • Iranian Foreign Ministry did not corroborate the information that the Russian national Yulia Yuzik detained in Tehran will be released soon, the Russian diplomatic mission’s press officer Andrei Ganenko told TASS. (Tass.com, October 5, 2019; read the full article)
  • Russian Foreign Ministry summons Iranian ambassador over Russian national’s detention. (Tass.com, October 4, 2019; read the full article)

Russia-Saudi Relations

Russian FM Lavrov: The Russian-Saudi Summit Will Provide An Additional Strong Impetus To Our Multifaceted Partnership

This month, Russia President Vladimir Putin is set to visit Saudi Arabia. Commenting on the visit, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov told Asharq Al-Awsat:

Lavrov: "Russia and Saudi Arabia maintain friendly and multifaceted relations based on the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests. The leaders of our countries – President Vladimir Putin and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – personally set the pace of this work. Maintaining permanent contact, they chart the main aspects of bilateral ties and oversee the implementation of high-priority projects. The Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud makes a substantial contribution to these efforts.

"Our countries expand their collaboration in the most diverse areas. They have launched intensive political dialogue and delegation exchanges. The Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation is working fruitfully. Direct contacts between business circles, including in the framework of the Russian-Arab Business Council, continue to develop. The investment aspect of our relations deserves special mention. The Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia coordinate prospective projects at their jointly established $10 billion platform. Such areas as industry, energy, agriculture, infrastructure, transport, natural resources and cutting-edge technology have an impressive growth potential. We should also include close coordination on the global oil market among our common assets…

"Our countries support resolute efforts against terrorism. We know firsthand the sorrow and destruction brought by extremist ideology. Therefore, we will never prevaricate, dividing the radicals into 'those who are with us' and 'those who are against us', nor will we use them to achieve our goals.

"In this context, it is hard to overestimate the significance of the upcoming visit of President Vladimir Putin to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I am convinced that the Russian-Saudi summit will provide an additional strong impetus to our multifaceted partnership, help elevate it to a new level and strengthen mutual understanding between our nations."

(Mid.ru, October 3, 2019)

Putin On The Attacks On Aramco Facilities In Saudi Arabia: These Actions Did Not Produce The Effect That Those Who Implemented Them Were Seeking


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

At the Russian Energy Week Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked to comment on the attack on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia. Putin answered:

"Indeed, Saudi Arabia sustained heavy losses – they had to cut oil production by 50 percent, as they could not refine the oil after the refineries were damaged.

"But these were short-term fluctuations. You and I know that the global markets recovered almost within a week, and today the price of a barrel of Brent crude is below $60.

"Therefore, these actions did not produce the effect that those who implemented them were seeking; however, these actions hurt the global economy, consumers included. I would like to repeat that we condemn these actions but we are against shifting the blame to Iran because there are no grounds for this.

"Yesterday we also discussed this issue with President Rouhani. His position is that Iran does not hold itself responsible for this incident as it has nothing to do with it, and Iran believes it is somewhat strange that some countries put the blame on them while there is no evidence for this and the international investigation of the incident has not been completed."

The moderator Keir Simmons then asked: "Just to be clear: so you accept Iran’s explanation, do you, because US intelligence certainly believes that Iran was responsible?"

Putin said: "US intelligence serves the country’s foreign policy. But they have not provided any proof so far. We spoke to the Saudi authorities, and I personally talked to the Crown Prince.

"As I understood from what he said, Saudi Arabia is seeking unassailable proof regarding the involvement of whatever country in this incident. So far, no one has produced hard evidence. Let us be guided by facts, rather than emotions."

(Kremlin.ru, October 2, 2019)

Read More:

  • "Very exciting" project to be unveiled during Putin visit to Saudi Arabia. (Arabnews.com, October 7, 2019; read the full article)

The Concept Of Collective Security In The Gulf Area

In the interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Lavrov was asked about the concept of collective security in the Gulf area, promoted by Russia.

Question: "Russia has introduced the concept of collective security in the Gulf area. What has the response been? Is this proposal in competition with the US plan? Do you fear that the US sanctions against Iran could lead to an armed conflict in the region?"

Lavrov: "The developments in the Gulf area have reached a dangerous line. The explosive situation in the region is largely the consequence of Washington’s irresponsible policies. Not only has the US refused to comply with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, which was approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, but its provocative actions are encouraging further escalation. This is resulting in an enhanced risk of a large-scale military clash. This scenario is giving rise to much concern in Russia. The region must not be allowed to be drawn into a destructive armed confrontation fraught with disastrous consequences not only for the Gulf countries but also for the world at large.

"Russia has summed up its proposals aimed at reducing tensions in the region in the Security Concept for the Gulf Area. The Russian Foreign Ministry officially presented its revamped version in July this year. The initiative involves the implementation of a positive, unifying regional agenda and the creation of mechanisms for joint response to common threats and challenges. I am referring to the launch of a smooth, stage-by-stage process that will take into account the views of all participants without exception. This is the key difference between the Russian proposals and other projects based on the friend or foe principle and implying the imposition of new dividing lines.

"We have encouraged a high-quality study of our ideas by the political and expert communities. On September 18-19, the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences held a roundtable involving over 30 experts from Russia, Iran, Arab states, China, France, the UK, and India. We hope that the number of parties participating will expand."

(Mid.ru, October 2, 2019)

Read More

  • Presentation on Russia’s Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region. (Mid.ru, July 23, 2019; read the full presentation)
  • Russia’s security concept for the Gulf area. (Mid.ru, July 23, 2019; read the full concept)

Further Readings:

"Modernization Versus Mobilization" Of The Russian Armed Forces

Russian expert Aleksander Goltz published a comprehensive article, titled "Modernization Versus Mobilization", on the Russian Army military reform. Goltz wrote: "… The ability for rapid decision and then for rapid deployment is an indisputable achievement of the Russian armed forces. It appears that these achievements are far more serious than the 'hybrid war' that Russia conducted in Donbass and even the war it wages now in Syria… "It should be noted that, because of the reform, Russia today has a military potential which can provide absolute military superiority, if not in Europe then certainly on 'the post-Soviet space.'

"The Kremlin could not even dream in the 1990s of armed forces that suddenly gained efficiency. Those forces then became the material basis in attempts to prove to the people that Russia is a besieged fortress. For the past few years, Moscow's policy toward the West has been a parody of military deterrence. The Kremlin pretended to believe seriously that Russia's security depends on whether it can obliterate half of the world if Russia were to incur an initial U.S. nuclear strike.

"The 'deterrence-parody game' has given Putin a way to verbalize his standard discontent against the United States, which, he believes, is plotting a 'color revolution' against Russia. It looked most suitable for the Russian authorities to verbalize its complaints in military terms. After former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov's reforms, the parody game became a reality…"

(Read the full article; Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press, September 2019)

News In Brief:

Defense

  • A Russian Aerospace Forces commander has revealed that their primary goals with regard to upgrading warning systems and extending radiolocation centers is so that it will take less time to intercept a potential attack and make a well-calculated decision. In the event of a warning signal of a missile attack against Russia, the country’s authorities will have tens of minutes at their disposal to make a decision on a reciprocal measure, Anatoly Nestechuk, head of the command unit of the 15th Army of the Russian Special Purpose Aerospace Forces, told radio station Echo of Moscow. (Sputniknews.com, October 5, 2019; read the full article)
  • The Pacific Fleet’s strategic submarines Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh held a training naval battle off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, the Fleet’s press office reported. (Tass.com, October 4, 2019; read the full article)
  • The Russian Northern Fleet’s missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov currently on its long-distance deployment to the Mediterranean Sea held a series of shipboard exercises, including air defense drills, the Fleet’s press office reported. (Tass.com, October 2, 2019; read the full article)