"We’re Not Going to Participate in the Madness" - Zakharova Says Russia Will Retaliate, But Keep it
— Now, let's discuss the most important issues of today. I understand we've finally responded?
Maria Zakharova, Spokesperson of Russian Foreign Ministry: As you remember, before doing anything I promised our response will be a surprise for them. I honestly don't enjoy holding such relics but sometimes I just have to. This book came to us from Berlin. It was published in 1936. Honestly. it's not a relic one would enjoy browsing through. But we had to. It's the list of the official delegations that came to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In their controversial zeal, our British counterparts are constantly saying that the FIFA World Cup that will take place this summer in Russia strongly reminds them of the 1936 Olympics and everything about the Third Reich and so on and so forth. As I said before, the USSR didn't take part in the 1936 Olympics and at that time, wasn't part of the Olympic movement for political and ideological reasons. It's a well-known fact. The British delegation came, both their team and officials. Unlike the ambassadors accredited to Germany who had to work there, carrying out their functions the British delegation was represented, sorry for the battology by the representatives of their political establishment. Today they were named because we managed to find their names and titles. There were lords among them. This book even lists the hotels they were staying in. These people came to Berlin voluntarily. They came to Berlin, to Hitler the one they're constantly recalling today. All this information was uploaded to the official pages of the Russian Foreign Ministry and our Embassy in London. There are even photos of those people: seven lords and members of parliament. No doubt they were great people.
But next time, before comparing our sports event with the 1936 Olympics Great Britain will think whether it's worth it. Or maybe they should check their own history with their political establishment… Some of them even did the Nazi salute.
— But what shall we do? How will we respond to the unprecedented pressure put on our country?
Maria Zakharova, Spokesperson of Russian Foreign Ministry: Today, Sergey Lavrov announced two lines of our response. First is the formal response Russia was bound to give. We announced it straight away. I'm talking about our response to the expulsion of the Russian diplomats. We started with the USA because it benefits most of all from the situation. The country that expelled 60 Russian diplomats and closed our consulate general in Seattle received our response.
— They called them spies.
— They even started talking about a spy net. First, they said these people suffered from the US solidarity with London. Then, they said they had exposed a spy net. You do understand that it's neither their solidarity nor our spy net. It's quite a curious aspect. They all mention the word «solidarity». It's not solidarity. It's a fake. They are using the word not the way it was intended to be used. What is solidarity? Solidarity is when you despite all hardships, obstacles political situation, and even military engagement display certain features, like resolve, strength, and courage and decide to support your partners. But what do we see in their case? Is it solidarity? Through brutal and violent intimidation they are forcing the EU and NATO members to join their campaign. Is that solidarity? It's precisely the opposite. And they call it solidarity.
So the US received our response. The same number of American diplomats will have to leave Russia. We also mirrored their decision to close our consulate general in Seattle by closing the American consulate general in St. Petersburg.
— And who owns this consulate?
— We do. In Seattle, we're the tenants. But the building where our Consul General works belongs to Russia. I believe that's how it is.
— And in St. Petersburg? Do they rent or own the place?
— I'll clarify that but I don't think they own it. I'll have to check that.
Unfortunately, that's how it goes. Once again, I'd like to voice the symbolic phrase: «It wasn't our choice.» We don't need that. It's the choice our partners made.
— Will this be our only measure?
— Most certainly, all countries that expelled our diplomats will get a similar response. Lavrov mentioned that. That's our first line.
— Will we go further than just a mirror response?
— Do you mean expelling more diplomats? We decided that the same thing they did to us would suffice. However, our motivation is understandable and logical. It's an adequate mirror measure.
— Do we call the people we expel members of a spy net? Or we don't use the term?
— We're not participating in that political madness. We're trying to establish relations even when the situation is critical. And even now, we encourage our partners to start thinking analytically and understand that they are being dragged, I mean the EU members into an esprit de corps. They are becoming accomplices to an actual crime. I'm talking about the world-scale withholding of information. If a toxic agent was used on the British territory regardless of its composition or the method of application it's a global issue a world organization should deal with. I'm talking about the OPCW and the UN in general. They haven't supplied us with any information. Only today, two hours ago, our Embassy was informed perhaps three hours ago that the condition of Yulia Skripal had improved and she regained consciousness. Something like that. Her condition improved. That's the only thing they've told us. But nothing else — no composition of the agent, and no circumstances.
I'd like to go back to our response. The first line was announced today. It's our formal response to the expulsion of our diplomats. By the way, we're frequently asked about what happens to our diplomats and when they can return. You know, the experience and knowledge they possess are in a great demand. These people won't just get employed, as the Russian legislation requires they will also continue their careers. The second line…
— It's important to point out, that the staffing doesn't change, right?
— No, that's not the case. That's not the case.
— So we're replacing the expelled ones with the new ones?
The grounds… The most curious is that the grounds for the expulsion were all different. Each Russian ambassador who was summoned to the respective Foreign Ministry to hear the decision asked the same question: What made them do that? All answers were different. Some said solidarity the others said it was just their decision. We asked follow-up questions: Have these people done something wrong? The usual answer was «no». Some looked away in shame. Some, for example, the US, said it was solidarity when talking to our diplomats and later at the briefing, said they'd exposed a spy net.
— Well, it's obvious. We are the monsters from the deep with our all-pervasive tentacles.
— Actually, on my way here, I got a message about 200 American ex-diplomats who had signed an open letter to the US senators asking them to be more careful when picking the Department of State staff. Yesterday's statement about the sea monsters might have triggered that.
— Yeah, that wasn't really diplomatic.
— That's what I'm talking about. Those people might be extremely talented, possess a wide spectrum of skills and be some extraordinary demigods. But diplomacy has certain requirements: You have to know both formal and informal etiquette history, the history of international law and agreements, and so on. It's a special world. One doesn't simply join it. And if they do, they become a sea monster.
— Skripal's case still remains obscure. We thought it would be investigated by the OPCW and they would give us at least some information.
— And that's the second line.
— I see they ignored that.
— I can't definitely say it's a counter-measure but here's our second line. It all revolves around one thing: Russia is being accused of using chemical weapons and so on and so forth.
As Sergey Lavrov announced today on April 4, Russia will initiate a special session of the OPCW where we'll pose the questions which we've already asked Britain. With all responsibility, I can say that it's not some kind of PR campaign or an attempt to demonstrate that we're mad because we've received no answers. It's our attempt to initiate an adequate dialog a multilateral dialog addressing the acutest global issue. If we manage to talk seriously if their statements from the rostrum of the parliament actually make sense and if our partners are ready to cooperate adequately then we'll be ready to engage in meaningful dialog at the OPCW session. Let's discuss how to carry out the investigation. Let's discuss how to share data, samples, and so on.
— Why though?
— Because we're interested in what happened to the Russian citizens in Salisbury.
— They've already explained that Putin organized it personally. They've explained that they trust Britain and don't need any further evidence. They've basically started a crusade and we're the infidels. They're all in a gentlemen club. They said they trusted each other. Yesterday, I showed their six-slide evidence, with the first slide being a cover.
— How was it?
— That's madness.
— Yes, it is. It's madness.
— The German case is closed. The rapist was found and imprisoned. And now, they're calling it a fake. I really liked your comment on what we hacked in Germany. We'd omit it not to offend the Germans.
— Wait a second, we're not offending anybody in this situation. And I'll explain why. Germany received those pictures too. Russia wasn't present at the briefing. Not because we were too proud to be there but because we weren't invited. And when we asked them to share the information with us they told us that it was the closed briefing for the chosen ones. And the chosen ones…
— Where was it held?
— In British Embassy in Moscow.
— In Moscow?
— Of course. Germany was among those chosen ones. Excuse me but when Germany… I don't know at what level it was represented it might have been their ambassador, minister-counselor, or press secretary. When members of the German Embassy, possibly top-level officials received those papers and saw the Lisa case mentioned there. To my mind, they should have reminded their British partners the same thing you've said: «Sorry, there was a trial a person was found guilty and received a sentence. I believe, he got probation and left. But it doesn't really matter. There was a decision of the court. Why did they mention that case? That's first. Secondly, Germany could have asked to remove that nonsense from the presentation diagram. We'll remind the British Ambassador that a joint statement was made by Moscow and Berlin on the so-called Lisa case. Actually, it was the result of the investigation and exchange of the official documents. For some reason, Germany decided it was unnecessary. Excuse me, but they had a chance to avoid our comments. They didn’t take it.
— That's because they are waging a crusade against us. They don't care about the truth. And when we gather… if we gather on April 4 it would end up just like the Syrian investigation did. We'll be rendered unnecessary. We're discomforting, we ask uncomfortable questions which no one's going to answer.
— They told us the same thing three and four years ago told us they didn't need us and that they were against us. And then boom — Syria happened. And suddenly they didn't only need us but the whole Geo-political situation shifted. You see? Here's the very essence of what's happening, Mr. Solovyov. And here's what's happening. Two months ago, all tabloids around the world were occupied with a single issue: Eastern Ghouta. There was nothing else to discuss. Raqqa? Mosul? Chemical disarmament? They weren't a problem. Eastern Ghouta. Russia allegedly banded with the bloody Assad and started killing children, civilians, women, and so on. And everyone was told Russia will wipe out the remaining population of the Ghouta region. And what happened? Suddenly like it happened before in Aleppo and it wasn't simple our Ministry of Defense did a colossal amount of work together with the Syrian Army a humanitarian corridor magically appears. And people leave the area through this humanitarian corridor including women, children, the elderly — civilians. Terrorists started using the very same corridor because they realized that their life was more valuable than their beliefs. But besides the appearance of the corridor and all intelligence services in the world knew about it there's also an online translation of the corridor at the website of the Russian Defense Ministry. All the newspapers and shows that those pen-pushers wrote for huge amounts of money suddenly appear to be fake.
What could they do in this situation? They had to shift the attention of the world community to something extraordinary. For two months, you'd been writhing in hysterics. Of course, everybody's asking about Ghouta. How could they share the information about the withdrawal, about the stabilization about the fact that the terrorists are going to be eliminated the people will return there and rebuild their lives like in Aleppo without demanding that Assad leave saying that it's their country and they will rebuild it themselves? How could they do that? Well, here you go.
And here's the most incredible thing: 1987 a British comedy series called Yes, Prime Minister. They managed to film 30-40 episodes in 1987. I think it was the 10th episode. the members of the British intelligence come to the Prime Minister and say that Britain should do a traditional move to deflect attention from some internal issues. But how could we do that, says the PM. We've got a perfect foolproof method. What method, he asks. We expel the Soviet diplomats. 76, if I'm not mistaken. Just like that. 1987. But do we have any grounds? We should make up some. Let's say that the driver of the Soviet Ambassador is a top KGB official. That's it. Once again, it's the 1987 comedy series. But we must give credit to the British, they can laugh at themselves. They're great at it. But something they used to laugh at now turns into reality. They did something like that before but not at such a dangerous historical point.
— Huntsman said he didn't exclude the possibility that our property could get confiscated. Huntsman…
— He won't do it personally.
— What he said was rather obscure, I didn't really understand what he meant.
— Nobody did, so today, he received a protest note. Besides the names of the soon-to-be-expelled diplomats and the news about their consulate being closed we also demanded clarification of his recent statements. The process is well under way. Our consulate, the property of Russia, is occupied by the US special services. The same thing's happening to our territories near Washington and New York. By the way, when our delegation went to New York in January or February we had a couple of free hours and I decided to check Oyster Bay. So we came there and everything was covered in a special no-trespassing net. And they're doing something there, at our property.
And you know what's interesting, Mr. Solovyov? Vitaly Churkin while he was our Ambassador to the UN about seven years after he'd been appointed managed to get our piece of land in the New York suburbs where our diplomats brought their children to summer camps where they had their summer houses and held some events repaired and renovated, it was done perfectly. Despite his packed schedule, he also addressed such issues. This territory was completely renovated. There’s a huge building there and some buildings specifically for children to make them comfortable. They took our fully renovated property.
— Yes, they did.
— I mean Americans did it.
— Yeah, Huntsman meant only our diplomatic property.
— That's why we asked them what they meant. I think he would have answered our question if he had an answer.
And the second part of this whole story (the first one was to deflect the attention from Ghouta) the second one is also connected to what's happening in Syria. Look, red-lines… I had an illustrative interview with an American journalist. There were several people in the studio and they were asking me questions. And a journalist basically pushed everybody aside and was asking me one question: What's the Russian red-line in the Syrian crisis in terms of supporting Assad? What will make you stop supporting him? I recited our traditional reply that we supported sovereignty, not Assad. That our goal was to eliminate terrorists, let the country live, conduct new reforms and elect a leader who'll guide them into their future. No, tell us. When she repeated it for the fifth time I asked her to pose the concrete question. But what if we prove that he actually used chemical weapons? Will it be a red-line for you? They wanted to show that they, together with the whole civilized world treated chemical weapons as the red-line in deciding whether Assad's regime was legitimate or not. So they orchestrated a global provocation to deny Russia the opportunity to speak and act as, to be the party with the influential opinion on the chemical issues. Why? Because we initiated the chemical demilitarization.
— We were the first ones to completely give up the weapons.
— And the success of the chemical demilitarization that was achieved thanks to Russia and our shuttle diplomacy kept haunting them. It appears that Russians were peacekeepers in this context. But now we're not treating them like ones. We're blaming them for covering up the Syrian chemical weapons. It didn't add up until today. If a toxic agent was used if Russia dared to use it on the British territory then there's no doubt that Russia has been covering up Syria.
— Unfortunately, our time's running out. A short question: What happens next? Are they going to drop the iron curtain? Americans didn't have time to consider the visa request of our wrestlers. The British are treating our children in a weird way. The former Polish Foreign Minister says that Russians have no place in Europe and should be punished. The iron curtain?
— I don't know what they call it. The only thing I see is that there are political powers I wouldn't even call them nations because a nation is its people. There are some political powers that build their policies around it around Russophobia the idea that Russia should be punished and that we're always guilty. Some countries are run by these powers. It's their message. They are either running the executive, or the legislative, influencing the executive one. There are countries where no political party and no branch of power is interested in a conflict of any kind be it the West or Russia. They want to live, develop, build, borrow money and give it back. They don't need a conflict. But they are under a colossal pressure. Do this, do that, expel their diplomats! And they are devastated. They don't understand what's happening. I believe, the majority of social activists and journalists feel the same. They've all been asking the same question you asked: What's going on? Their first question: What's going on? What's that unfolding before our eyes? And here's their second question: What will it lead to? Almost all Western journalists ask this question.
— And your answer is..?
— I'll answer it next time.
— I wouldn't… I wouldn't want an iron curtain to isolate us. I'd like to see more people working with us.
Some very distressing news came from Washington. Margarita Simonyan wrote that RT was kicked out Washington's cable network. And then, they'll say it means nothing.
— And we'll be studying this decision of our American partners in order to respond adequately.