Busy Day! Lavrov Calls Out CNN’s Fake News, Defends Arctic Exploration and Stands Up For Venezuela!
«We focused on the urgent issues», commented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The meeting took place in Rovaniemi, Finland a few hours ago.
My colleague Denis Davydov saw the beginning of the meeting. He's reporting on the «urgent issues» in Russia-US relations today.
The black background behind the Russian and US flags is as bright as the bilateral relations. But the two foreign ministers pretend nothing happened, smiling and joking at the cameras.
Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister: «What a weird tradition to place the flags the other way around. It testifies to the friendly relations».
The journalists are joking too, asking how many state secretaries Lavrov has shaken hands with.
Sergey Lavrov: «I stopped counting».
Pompeo didn't utter a word. The conversation continued without any cameras. Sergey Lavrov was happy with its outcome.
Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister: «I believe we've advanced considerably in discussing the issues mentioned by President Putin and President Trump in their telephone conversation a few days ago».
The journalists were sure that the diplomats would discuss Venezuela. The US is putting pressure on the Maduro government, accusing Moscow of interfering in Venezuela's domestic affairs.
— CNN, USA. What measures can Russia take to prevent a possible US military intervention in Venezuela, if any?
Sergey Lavrov: Your company is sometimes referred to as «fake news».
— Now you're asking fake questions. None of my US, European, or Latin American partners advocate a reckless military solution.
Today, Caracas responded to the threat of the United States: Venezuela is ready for anything.
Jorge Arreaza, Venezuelan Foreign Minister: «We are ready for any scenario. If they prefer a military solution, we'll fight».
Lavrov and Pompeo have not met since last summer. That time, the meeting also took place in Finland, where Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump had their first summit. This time, the diplomats met on the sidelines of the Arctic Council meeting. As a rule, the Arctic Council meeting is covered by a small number of journalists. But as soon as journalists found out that the US Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister were planning a bilateral meeting here, a lot of media outlets beleaguered the organizers with accreditation requests. Everybody's extremely interested in the meeting of Lavrov and Pompeo. Clearly, the organizers didn't expect such a rush, they even had to get more chairs.
Speaking about the Arctic, Pompeo noted its oil and gas reserves. He had a lot of tough words to say about China, but he gave Russia a particularly strong scolding. Washington does not like Moscow’s efforts in the north.
Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State: “Russia is already leaving snow prints in the form of army boots. Thanks in part to its large icebreaker fleet, Russia has been able to renovate its old bases and infrastructure. It claims to have built 475 new military bases.”
Russia enjoys the longest coastline in the Arctic. Historically, Russia has considered part of the Northern Sea Route as its domestic waters, which also annoys the US a great deal.
— Speaking to the cameras, Mr. Pompeo said that it was unlawful of Russia to demand that foreign states get permission to pass through the Northern Sea Route, that Russia had amplified its military activity in the Arctic.
Sergey Lavrov: «The Northern Sea Route is our national transport corridor, a Russian national transport corridor. In full conformity with international law, as a littoral state, we are responsible for the security of this route».
Tomorrow, the foreign ministers of a number of northern states will discuss the Arctic issue during the council meeting. The participants are already arriving.
On their way to Finland, the diplomats, including Mike Pompeo, expressed condolences to the Russian people on what had happened at Sheremetyevo Airport.
Denis Davydov, Sergey Eliseev, and Victoria Laneeva for Vesti from Rovaniemi, Finland.