A Frank Conversation About War and Peace Interview with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov

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Journal Title: International Affairs

Issue Edition: Vol. 65, No. 2

Author: Sergey Ryabkov

Interview with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov

Source: International Affairs, Vol. 65, No. 2, 2019, pp. 6-28

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21557/IAF.53420834

Q: Sergey Alekseyevich, we are seeing the deterioration of Russian-U.S. relations in all conceivable areas. Without a doubt, it is the U.S. that has brought about this situation. What is the outlook?

A: I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said that we believe these prospects are bright. There are few reasons for optimism. Rather, from all indications, the period of uncertainty will drag on. If we worked within a different system of foreign policy coordinates, we could say that we are involved in crisis management or damage control, but this is not our lexicon. Still, despite the current trends in our relations, we are seeking a foundation, a fulcrum, based on which we could gradually begin to move upward. So far, this has not panned out.

It has to be acknowledged that for a number of reasons, domestic political struggles are continuing in the U.S. Russia has become a tool in these struggles - a tool for settling domestic political scores. As a result, it has proved impossible to stabilize our relations. However, there are other reasons as well, including the current U.S. administration's trend toward unilateral actions, steps that do not take into account the legitimate interests of other parties, in this case Russia. For instance, what is going on in arms control clearly shows that this attitude is part of the Trump administration's style. We understand this and are in dialogue with the U.S., which we have no intention to scale down. I still hope that by the end of this year we will be able to identify several areas where the process will continue in a constructive way, even if there is not a significant improvement.

Q: Perhaps the most acute and sensitive issue in our present-day relations is the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate - and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF). We have done a lot to prevent this from happening. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has described the U.S.'s actions as the dismantlement of strategic stability in the world. What is Russia's position on this issue?

A: Indeed, it is a very sensitive issue. The 60-day deadline that the U.S. unilaterally set for Russia to destroy a missile that allegedly violates the treaty has expired. It goes without saying that the arrogant nature, tone and essence of this demand were unacceptable for us - primarily because Russia has not committed any violations...

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