May 28, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6945

Russia This Week – May 14-28, 2017

May 28, 2017
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 6945

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.


Zakharova Dixit

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova is one of the most-quoted Russian officials. She is known for using colorful language when describing Russian foreign policy in her weekly press briefings. The following are Zakharova's quotes of the week:


"Recently, people working for the CNN television network – reporters, commentators and anchors – have established a kind of tradition in ascribing absolutely absurd actions to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. I get a sense that as far as CNN is concerned, a day without Mr. Kislyak is a day lost. CNN reports of March 2, 3 and 4, April 6 and May 10 referred to the Russian ambassador as none other than a 'top-notch spy and recruiter.' And this despite our repeated rebuttals at all levels! Such fake news stories are absolutely unacceptable. What's more, this bears the hallmarks of a targeted propaganda campaign. In other words, this is not so much about informing their audience as imposing this concept on other media outlets that look to the network with its broad reach. Naturally, the Russian position is not represented in any way and has not been cited in this context despite the fact that a lot of rebuttals have been made, most importantly, accompanied by requests to halt this stream of lies…

"To reiterate, for our part, we have repeatedly objected to the absurdity and unacceptability of such assertions. They seem to be designed to discredit the activity of the head of the Russian diplomatic mission and are not conducive to fostering an objective media landscape around our country, bilateral relations, the international agenda or the improvement of Russian-US relations as a whole.

"Sadly, our conversations at the CNN Moscow bureau show that these insinuations – there is no other way to describe them – are the result of the channel's deliberate editorial policy. I would like to underscore this. Our contacts show that this is not the result of investigative journalism (because this is absurd), not journalistic improvisation, not journalistic professionalism. CNN has a Moscow bureau that could have easily found out all the details of Ambassador Kislyak's career. This is deliberate editorial policy that is handed down to reporters from above. Whether it is formulated within the TV network or is handed down from above – that could in fact be a subject of your journalistic investigation.

"The impression is that some people in Washington's present political establishment are clearly averse to the idea of the possible improvement of relations between our two countries.

"Of course, it is very sad that this respected news network is playing first fiddle in this orchestra. I am saying 'respected' now, but we'll see what happens."

(, May 25, 2017)

Quote Of The Week

Senator Konstantin Kosachev said: "Apparently, the slanted attack on Trump regarding the so called Russian dossier is beginning to bear results." According to Kosachev, Trump has to choose between the possibility of being impeached or renouncing cooperation with Russia: "Trump is surrendering to his own personal preferences of staying in power, instead of pursuing national American interests, implying broad and pragmatic international cooperation transcending [political] bloc thinking, which he talked about so frequently during his election campaign."

(, May 26, 2017)

In The News:

New Russian Ambassador To The U.S.

Former deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov, is slated to be appointed the new Russian ambassador to the U.S. Antonov could replace the current Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, as early as July, following the Putin-Trump summit meeting.

Discussing Russia-U.S. relations, Antonov said: "There is lots of negativity in Russia-US relations at the moment, and this is regretful. Our big challenge is to rectify this bias. No one talks about surrendering his positions, but what we must convince our American partners that it's in both countries' interests to have relations [based on] good neighborliness, parity and mutual respect." He then added: "Russia and the U.S. are destined for positive cooperation. We have to fight the main enemy, which is international terror, together."

(, May 18, 2017)

Antonov (Source:

Russia-U.S. Relations

Russian Federation Council Speaker: 'Russia And The U.S. Have The Basis For Cooperation. Now It's All About Good Will On The American Side'

Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said in an interview with the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia: "It is still early to speak of a thaw in relations of Russia and the US. However, a dialogue continues, and it is an active dialogue… An agreement to set up a joint working group, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow, a visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Washington, an upcoming meeting of the two countries' presidents at the G20 summit in Hamburg - these all are certainly encouraging signals… Generally, Russia and the U.S. have the basis for cooperation. Now it's all about good will on the American side."

(, May 23, 2017)

Referring to U.S. Senator John McCain's remarks against Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Thank God, this gentleman is not the one who shapes or implements U.S. foreign policy. Therefore we will naturally avoid exaggerating the significance of these insulting and rude attacks or linking them with bilateral Russian-US relations somehow." Peskov then added that McCain is known for his "maniacal hatred towards our country." Peskov said: "He is a U.S. politician. He took the liberty of uttering insults on several occasions before, but this is probably the first time ever that his statements have gone way over the line of decency and departed from a tone appropriate for a statesman of such a country as the United States."

(, May 22, 2017)

Russia-Venezuela Relations

Putin Maduro
Putin greets Venezuelan President Maduro at the Kremlin back in 2013. (Source:

Venezuela's Russian Weapons

The Spanish-language media reported that Russia sold to Venezuela more than 5,000 million dollars of weapons and military equipment since 2005. On May 2016, The National Bolivarian Armed Forces received 13 Russian Mi17V5 helicopters.

(, May 26, 2017)

Reuters has secured a document revealing that Venezuela has 5,000 Russian-made MANPADS surface-to-air weapons. Reuters reported: "According to a Venezuelan military presentation seen by Reuters, the South American country has 5,000 SA-24 Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS) missiles, also known as the Igla-S."

(, May 22, 2017)

Russia to Ship 60,000 Tons of Wheat to Venezuela

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro announced: "We are ready, all trade agreements have already been signed and very soon Russia will supply Venezuela with 60,000 tons of wheat per month on a stable basis starting from this year." In exchange for the imports, five new companies will be established in Venezuela for the manufacture of Russian industrial vehicles.

(, May 19, 2017)

Phone Conversation Between Putin And Maduro

On May 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maduro conferred by telephone. According to the Kremlin website, Maduro briefed Putin on the Venezuelan political situation. The Kremlin website added: "The Russian President wished the Venezuelan government success in their efforts to return the situation in the country to normal and stressed the importance of resolving the current problems by acting within the law and in accordance with Venezuela's legislation.

"The two presidents discussed current matters regarding the strategic partnership between the two countries and implementation of mutually advantageous projects in various areas.

"They also discussed the situation on the global oil market, including in the context of implementing agreements between OPEC member countries and non-OPEC countries on adjustments to oil production volumes." This referred to the voluntary production cuts designed to reduce supply and stabilize tottering oil prices. Despite their rivalry in other areas, Saudi Arabia and Russia reached agreement on production cuts.

(, May 18, 2017)(Kommersant, May 15, 2017)

Zakharova: ' U.S Ambassador To The UN Said The Situation In Venezuela Could Escalate Into A Syrian-type Scenario. Was That A Freudian Slip?'

Russia's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zakharova said: "… Russia's position on the settlement of political differences in Venezuela remains unchanged, and it is a position you know well. Fuelling a conflict by provoking street riots and clashes is a road to nowhere fraught with chaos, bloodshed and more human tragedies. A rigorous negotiating process without any preconditions is the only possible way to address problems facing the country. Any actions by both sides, be it the Government or the opposition forces, should be completely in line with the law, in full compliance with the Constitution of Venezuela and without any counterproductive outside interference. All this equally applies to the convocation of the Constituent Assembly by President Nicolas Maduro.

"We would like to stress once again that Russia has always advocated the resolution of domestic disagreements in Venezuela by peaceful and civilized methods. We are ready to negotiate with all Venezuelan political forces that are willing to engage in political dialogue and are sincerely interested in their country's sustainable and stable development. We will provide the required amount of assistance, as requested, if Russia is asked to help normalize the domestic processes in Venezuela. We expect our partners, including international and regional players wishing to provide Caracas with mediatory services in resolving the domestic situation, will also adhere to this stance. Good offices must not be forced on anyone.

"Regarding consultations on the Venezuelan issue at the UN Security Council, we believe that the situation in that country does not threaten regional peace and stability.

"Naturally, we have taken note of the statement by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley after this meeting. She said the situation in Venezuela could escalate into a Syrian-type scenario. Was that a Freudian slip? According to Haley, the United States would like to prevent such developments. Indeed, all reasonable people want to prevent this. But we know what factor caused Syrian developments to take on such a deplorable scale. Therefore let's work together, so that tensions in Venezuela subside instead of being artificially aggravated from the outside.

"There is another crucial aspect. We believe it is vitally important that developments in Venezuela receive unbiased coverage. The media has a special role to play in this respect. Media outlets should not turn into a tool for inciting violence, nor should they promote the interests of those forces that want to aggravate the situation to benefit their own ambitions and often portray events in a distorted and one-sided manner."

(, May 18, 2017)

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6903, Russia's Support For The Venezuelan Regime – An Update, May 2, 2017.

Russia To Become Second-Largest Foreign Owner Of U.S. Domestic Refineries, If Venezuela Defaults

Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has owned Citgo, an American refiner with headquarters in Houston, Texas, since the 1980s. At the end of 2016, cash-strapped Venezuela, in the throes of a combined economic and political crisis, put up a large stake (49.9%) in Citgo as collateral in exchange for a loan from the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft. Should PDVSA default on the loan, Rosfnet will gain control over Citgo. It is noteworthy that the U.S. imposed sanctions on Rosfnet following Russia's seizure of Crimea in 2014.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6926, Russia To Become Second-Largest Foreign Owner Of U.S. Domestic Refineries, If Venezuela Defaults, May 16, 2017.

It is worth noting that last April, Russia confiscated an oil tanker that belonged to the PDVSA, because Venezuela owes Russia USD $30 million. The reported: " In October [2016], Venezuela sent an oil tanker to the Caribbean with the expectation that its cargo would earn about USD $20 million. However, the owners of the vessel Aframax NS Columbus (which is part of the fleet of Russian state conglomerate Sovcomflot) seized the oil. The legal decision made in March [2017] by a San Maarten island court states: 'They have claims for bills unpaid by PDVSA related to the rental of their boats.'

"Although the oil on board had already been sold to the Norwegian company Statoil, the cargo was being transported in a tanker that sailed with a shipping document under the name of PDVSA."

(, April 18, 2017)

Russia-Cuba Relations

Russia And Cuba Discuss Cyber Security

The Russian news agency TASS reported that Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and Cuba's national security and defense commission adviser, Alejandro Castro Espin, discussed Russian-Cuban cooperation in the sphere of information security.

(, May 22, 2017)

Russia Resumes Oil Shipments To Cuba

Russia is replacing Venezuelan oil supply to Cuba. The media outlet wrote: "Rosneft's oil and diesel shipment to Cuba last week is the latest development in the existing bilateral relations and signed cooperation agreements between Russia and Cuba… About 1.8 million barrels of oil and diesel from Rosneft arrived on the oil tanker ship, 'Maersk Erin,' in Matanzas on May 10 (May 14?) for delivery to the Cuban company Cubametals. Rosneft and CUPET, Cuba's oil company have been talking oil for a long time now The shipment was part of a deal signed in Caracas between Rosneft and the Venezuela company PDVSA, the main supplier of crude oil to Cuba. Experts are guessing the deal is worth $100 million dollars at current market prices."

(Cubabusinessreport.vom, May 26, 2017)


Russian Firm In Charge Of Restoring Havana's Golden Dome

A Russian enterprise, Goszagransobstvennost, has won a tender for the design engineering to restore the gold coating on the National Capitol dome in Havana. The maximum contract price amounts to 20 million rubles ($350,000).

(, May 15, 2017)

The Pushkin State Russian Language Institute Reopens At The University of Havana's Faculty of Foreign Languages

Russia's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zakharova announced: "On May 22, after a 30-year hiatus, the department of the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute at the Faculty of Foreign Languages of the University of Havana has officially resumed its work… This is, of course, a landmark event which we definitely welcome. The spread of the Russian language in Cuba is a nod to tradition and at the same time a new positive trend. We greatly hope that in the near future it will become a regional trend. The appearance of such an in-demand educational platform is an important step for which we are grateful to the Cuban authorities. Against the backdrop of our dynamically developing strategic partnership with Havana, the opening of the department is clear evidence of greater motivation to learn Russian, which is due to a natural need for professional linguists to assist in the implementation of ambitious bilateral projects and the aspiration to further strengthen historic links and ties of friendship and mutual understanding between our countries…"

(, May 25, 2017)


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