Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov's interview with MIC Izvestia on Russia/NATO Relations
Ryabkov details the current status of relations between NATO/Outlaw US Empire and Russia in his talk with Izvestia. One might consider relations frozen as the Empire doesn’t seem capable or able to alter its policies. Russia clearly sees itself being in a position of strength versus NATO, and as Lavrov said yesterday there’s no reason for Russia to quickly respond to any overtures it might make. Here’s the interview:
The "open door" policy has ossified
Question: A meeting of NATO foreign ministers is taking place in Brussels on November 28-29. One of the most painful topics for the allies is the official admission of Sweden to the alliance, whose application for membership Turkey and Hungary do not want to approve in any way. Do you think that the delay in Sweden's accession to the bloc means that the "open door" policy is no longer effective?
Ryabkov: I would refrain from such conclusions. I think that the "open door" policy has become so ossified and hardened in its immutability that there is no reason to expect any changes, correction or simply rethinking of its consequences for the security interests of NATO and the countries that are members of the alliance or on the way to joining it. I think that once again we will hear from Brussels a flood of incantations, quite predictable ritual statements that do not contain the slightest element of novelty.
Our view on this is also well known, and it is the opposite of NATO's. It boils down to the fact that the root cause of the current deepest security crisis in the Euro-Atlantic region is precisely the destructive policy of the North Atlantic Alliance, which is thoroughly saturated with anti-Russian approaches and completely negates the proposals and initiatives that we put forward as possible solutions to the existing problems.
But I am sure that one way or another the bloc will come to a point where it will have to rethink the consequences of its policies. We see that due to the expansion of NATO, in fact, the multi-layered and multidimensional system of conventional arms control in Europe has collapsed. This did not add security to the North Atlantic Alliance, no matter how hard they tried to prove the opposite. NATO members will not be able to change the life around them through their incantations.
Question: How do you see the future of relations between Russia and NATO?
Ryabkov: I do not think that relations between Russia and NATO will be restored in one form or another in the foreseeable future. This is excluded for both principled and practical reasons. If someone in the West thinks that we need this relationship, that at some point we will come and ask for it to be restored, this is a big delusion.
This was not true before. We were ready to negotiate only on an equal and mutually respectful basis, which has always been a problem for the North Atlantic Alliance and its member countries. And now, against the background of what is happening, I have no idea of the situation and the context in which this is possible.
Question: If we assume that relations between Russia and NATO will not normalise in the future, can we expect an armed conflict in the future?
Ryabkov: It depends on the North Atlantic Alliance. The choice is entirely on NATO's side. We are ready, as has already been demonstrated, to defend our national interests with all the means at our disposal. Endless encroachment on them, endless escalation in an area that, from the point of view of fundamental interests, is not just the key and pivotal for us, but the core – a dangerous path. People who continue to test our strength seem to have come to believe that there are no limits to their own "gambling", the game of raising the stakes. But they may be among the losers.
Question: Last year, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree prohibiting negotiations with the Russian leadership. Do you see the U.S. being ready to force Ukraine into a truce next year?
Ryabkov: No, nothing of the kind is visible, but I can't even imagine it at this stage. If our American colleagues have any ideas in this regard, they have the right, of course, and are free to express them in any form. We will listen to them. But they should not appeal to us, but to Kyiv. There is nothing to discuss with us on the terms put forward by Kiev.
Unfortunately, the United States is at the head of the Western group, which repeats Zelensky's "peace formula" like a mantra, saying that this is the only basis for agreements. But not only will no agreements be reached on such a basis, but dialogue is also impossible. Therefore, we are not ready to consider anything with the United States on this basis. They have to work with their "wards".
Question: So you don't expect a truce next year?
Ryabkov: Not only do I not expect a truce, I expect that the goals of the special military operation will certainly be achieved.
Question: At the end of October of this year, you said that Russia had received unofficial proposals from the United States on strategic stability and arms control. Later, you noted that the Russian side was studying them, but the response has not yet been sent. Is anything ready now and is there any progress?
Answer: In progress. It is premature to talk about the readiness, and it is even more early to say whether a decision will be made on responding to the American proposals. I admit that the answer will be given in one form or another, but I would not anticipate its hypothetical form and appearance at all. The situation is not conducive to the exchange of signals, even on such key issues. It is conducive to the exchange of signals on what needs to be done to reverse the escalatory course of Washington and its satellites towards Russia. This is the main task.
We are constantly sending our signals to the Americans, but we do not see a response. Let me say it again: they probably thought that it was quite possible to inflict a so-called strategic defeat on Russia, and it would be enough just to push a little more. This can be a fatal mistake.
Overall, we have not yet made a decision on whether to respond to the U.S. message and, if so, when.
Question: In February of this year, Russia suspended its participation in the New START Treaty. It expires in February 3. Are the Russian Federation and the United States now considering at least a draft of a possible START-2026 treaty?
Ryabkov: There are no projects of this kind today. From the past era, some blanks remained. They are fragmentary and relate more to the methodology of the approach to this topic than to the content and basic components of such agreements. But even these blanks today look like some kind of relic. This is approximately the same as the draft agreements on security guarantees in the Euro-Atlantic region, which we proposed at the stage preceding the further aggravation of the situation and the start of the special military operation.
You see, we cannot isolate some elements of a position from the general context and "recycle" them into something new. We must take into account the degree of aggressiveness of our adversaries and their reckless desire to pump the Kiev regime with all kinds of weapons, that is, to act exactly the opposite of what we have always striven for. Therefore, today there are no options for this or that document or documents to continue or replace the New START Treaty, which expires in February 2026 and is formally suspended by us.
I think that the Americans also understand the inappropriateness and untimeliness of this kind of development at the current stage. However, we will see: I will not speak for them. But in any case, we will not be able to return to the dialogue on this topic and the topic of strategic stability in general without a radical change in the American approach and the manifestation of visible evidence in US policy that its fundamentally hostile course towards Russia is beginning to change.
Question: Is Russia holding any talks with China on this matter?
Ryabkov: Our dialogue with our Chinese colleagues on global security and strategic stability is regular. It is substantive, professional, but it is not equivalent to any negotiations. We have a relationship of special trust with China. It is a relationship of comprehensive partnership. We have an excellent understanding on all issues, we discuss them in a working manner, so I do not see the need for this kind of talks, and I do not think that there is a need on the Chinese side to launch such a process. We have enough of what we have, and we are happy with it.
Question: What are the prospects for an arms race and the uncontrolled accumulation of nuclear potentials between Russia and the United States if the New START Treaty is not resumed?
Ryabkov: If the United States expects to win another arms race, repeating to some extent the experience of Ronald Reagan's presidency (1981-1989), relations with the Soviet Union, large-scale US political games around the Strategic Defence Initiative and many other things, then the Americans are mistaken. We will not succumb to provocations, which are very characteristic of American policy towards Russia, but we will ensure our security.
In a number of areas, we have a lot of technological groundwork. The President has repeatedly spoken about this, and our top military leaders have spoken about this in detail. So I think that in combination with a set of measures to guarantee our security interests in a variety of areas, we will be able to always feel confident without getting involved in an expensive arms race and ensure guaranteed deterrence of the United States and its satellites and prevent their provocations.
Question: Earlier, you admitted the possibility of a downgrade or even a break in diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States under Washington's current policy. What is the likelihood of a downgrade in diplomatic relations between the two countries?
Ryabkov: I still believe that relations have thinned to such an extent that a rupture is possible due to Washington's fault. But we have repeatedly stressed at various levels that the Russian side will never initiate such a step. If that happens, it will happen as a result of the decisions and actions of the White House.
U.S. representatives are capable of a great deal. There is practically no trust in what they say on a variety of subjects. We are in a state of fierce confrontation. An all-out hybrid war is being waged against us. It's not hidden. And any twists and turns are possible here. But we are ready for them. If this is Washington's choice, we will take note of it and take appropriate countermeasures.
We will not allow them to talk to us in a mentoring imperative manner, as is customary in Washington. I would like to stress once again that we are using the entire arsenal of means at our disposal to ensure our interests. If diplomatic relations fall out of this arsenal of means through the fault of the United States, then this is Washington's choice. We will operate in a different reality, but this will not change our basic approach and will in no way shake our resolve.
Question: According to our information, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Overchuk held informal talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the APEC summit. Could you confirm that such a dialogue took place? If so, what are the outcomes?
Ryabkov: There is a lot of writing in the blogosphere. I do not confirm this information. I can responsibly say that there were contacts with the Americans both in the run-up to the APEC summit in San Francisco and during this event, but they were at the expert level and were largely limited to the development of the final document, which in the end turned out to be quite businesslike and balanced.
Question: In other words, Russia and the United States did not have any talks on political issues?
Answer: No, and it is not expected.
Question: It is known that the United States continues to import rare earth metals and nuclear fuel from Russia. Is the Russian Federation considering the possibility of restricting the export of these categories of goods, provided that the United States uses them, for example, in the production of strategic weapons?
Ryabkov: Almost every week we hear signals from Washington that the "democratic community of states" should become self-sufficient in such materials and reduce its dependence on countries that are not part of this "chosen" community. Therefore, I think there is no subject for any proactive steps on our part.
There are many reasons to act in this way, in accordance only with the task of making a gesture or demonstrating toughness towards the United States. But we need to look at the situation as a whole. We must not "shoot ourselves in the foot" and inflict economic damage on ourselves. In principle, a certain balance in this area is optimal today. We have other methods, and they are being used, including asymmetrical ones, to respond to the Americans' tough anti-Russia line and its many manifestations.
Question: So, the Foreign Ministry is not considering this idea yet?
Ryabkov: We are considering any options, and there are no taboos, but today I would not like to prejudge certain decisions, including taking into account our interests in preserving sales markets and the normal functioning of our economic operators.
Question: Despite the complicated relations between our countries, Russia and the United States were able to agree on the exchange of prisoners. In particular, pilot K.V. Yaroshenko and businessman V.A. Bout returned to their homeland. How many Russians are currently being held in American prisons?
Ryabkov: The statistics on this matter are incomplete. I will put it this way: within a hundred citizens of Russia. I'm not talking about people with dual citizenship now, because in the American system, the other side is not obliged to give us information about its citizens, considering them to be primarily Americans. But in any case, the figure is large. Many of them have difficult life situations, including in terms of the detention regime. The Embassy in Washington and our consular staff are doing their best to help.
There are high-profile cases, many situations when people were simply kidnapped, arrested in third countries, and then extradited to the Americans. There are situations when, under far-fetched pretexts, under articles that are not supported by evidence, huge sentences have been issued. We are working on this and will continue to do so. But in our country, the special services are responsible for the exchange of prisoners, and the relevant work is being carried out through them.
Question: But is the possibility of a prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States being discussed? Can this apply, in particular, to Alexander Vinnik (he was arrested on July 25, 2017 in Greece at the request of the United States) and Roman Seleznev (he was detained in the Maldives in 2014 by US intelligence services)?
A: I cannot name any personalities because the Russian Foreign Ministry does not deal with this issue. But the situation is certainly in sight. Our Ambassador in Washington and the head of the consular section have met with the Russians on several occasions. And Russian consulates in other countries are working on other similar subjects. All this will continue.
I’m curious to ask Russian officials if they have any respect for their counterparts in the West aside from the respect one must have for something that’s dangerous. Russia will clearly continue on its own path in tandem with China and other nations. Some will be surprised at the level of trade and other areas of cooperation between Russia and the Outlaw US Empire that are clearly related to the latter’s geoeconomic dependency on Russia.
Unrelated to the above is Pepe Escobar’s latest, “‘The Horror! The Horror!’, Revisited in Palestine,” where he riffs on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in relation to the Zionist Project.
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