Zakharova: No One Can Talk to US President Anymore Without Worrying That Dems Will Leak It!
This is a special issue of the 60 Minutes from Moscow and New York. There's a big scandal with Trump and Zelensky. This is Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the MFA, in our improvised studio at the UNO in New York.
— Maria, we'll begin indirectly with us. We're following this really big scandal between Trump and Zelensky, involving that transcript of the conversation. How will it influence us?
Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the MFA: Well, as for following, of course, when it comes to the publication of international documents, a conversation between two presidents is a part of international relations, of course. Of course, we follow that. Deliberately following someone isn't our method.
— How will this scandal affect Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-American relations?
— You see, I think that this isn't what is being discussed. We should talk and discuss not those five pages that were published. We need to talk about what Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, did to her country. That's surprising. I have a question. If Nancy… I don't know how to pronounce «Pelosi» on Russian television… I wonder if the U.S. Congress believes that it's right to publish its president's confidential negotiations without sufficient grounds. I wonder why the U.S. Democratic Party and the people currently representing the Democratic Party in Congress and other bodies began to persecute Julian Assange? They should do a simpler thing. Then they should unblock WikiLeaks in the United States, finally tell the American audience that Julian Assange, whom Mrs. Nancy and the entire Democratic Party consider not an enemy of the USA but a hero, as we've just learned, because he declassified a huge number of documents. But unlike the transcript published, Assange showed the world a real outlook on U.S. leaders and politics. They aren't some eulogies to each other. Those papers are about chemical weapons, aggression with respect to sovereign countries, real bribes, eavesdropping, espionage in favor of or against this or that country, national leaders, and so on. Let them publish all that material on the websites of the Congress, the White House, and so on.
Actually, I'd like to ask the people calling themselves representatives of the U.S. Democratic Party if they really think that what they're doing is right in terms of any rules, norms of the modern world, because it turns out that, starting from today, and the transcript was published an hour and a half ago, thanks to Nancy Pelosi, an hour and a half ago, everyone realized that when presidents, heads of foreign offices, call, meet, and talk with the White House representatives, starting with the U.S. president, everything they say, including confidential, specific things, requiring special attention and delicacy, can be published on the following day.
— We're eager to see how the events will develop. This is absolutely impossible to forecast. Maria, we'd like to learn the details of the news we learned today. Mr. Lavrov met with Zelensky. What was the conversation like? Well, it was on the margins, on the go, and brief.
— No, the thing is that Mr. Lavrov didn't meet with Zelensky on purpose. As you know, a reception was held yesterday. This is a traditional reception of the U.S. president, which he holds annually for distinguished guests of the UN General Assembly, for heads of delegations. Everyone talks with each other at the reception. There are conversations on the go, and so on. These aren't even meetings on the margins or the sidelines. This is a meeting at the reception. They did talk. It wasn't scheduled for sure. It wasn't that spontaneous…
— They just ran into each other.
— They didn't run into each other, let's not use such words. They exchanged a couple of words. First of all, they introduced themselves to each other. Secondly, they exchanged a couple of words about the situation around the relationship between Russia and Ukraine, and that's it.
— I see. In this connection, Pristaiko, by the way, there he goes, over there, Pristaiko, Bogdan, Zelensky in their interview with us, said that we're the ones delaying the Normandy format meeting But Lavrov and Putin say that there's nothing to discuss yet.
— I think that we should make allowances for a new team, that new people don't realize well… Today, they realized what communication with the American president is like, by the way. I think that they don't realize what summits are like. They really don't understand, make allowances for that. They think that it's when heads of states gather, who immediately, in an instant, solve unsolvable issues. I think that they don't know that these meetings are thoroughly and prepared over a long period so that heads of states approve what was prepared or solve difficult issues, different solutions to which were prepared. Nobody comes and begins discussing things from the very beginning. This isn't about summits. This is the level of experts. I think that we need to make big allowances for this team. By the way, I think that Zelensky's speech at the General Assembly should be related to the fact that, on one hand, his team is young, but apparently, he failed to fully update it.
— Do you mean the bullet he demonstrated?
— Given this transcript of his conversation with Trump, we saw that he stated that he's hired an entirely new team. But there seems to be some of Poroshenko's people there, given that the methodology of the speech at the General Assembly remained the same. I think that those people, who told him that it's inappropriate to come empty-handed to the UN, seriously set Zelensky up. They didn't tell him the main thing that people bring to the UN is their conceptual outlooks on global and regional issues. Of course, they pose questions…
— He quoted Remarque, Hemingway.
— Of course, that's important. Nobody's read Hemingway before, and only the head of the Ukrainian delegation can tell them. This isn't about beautiful quotations and phrases. This is about an outlook on the world's development and a state's contribution to the solution of the biggest global and regional issues. Of course, they need to talk about their countries or their unions. But bringing trumpery, and especially distracting everyone from the main thing, which was done… I'll explain to you what I'm talking about. I mean that when one shows a bullet and says that this bullet killed an opera singer, who performed here in Manhattan, it isn't true. This bullet killed a militant, fighting in the ranks of Right Sector and relevant battalions. I think that the people, who worked for Poroshenko before, just forgot to warn Zelensky that the format is a bit different now. They forgot to tell him about it. Therefore, this is a classic example of distracting attention. By and large, this is an element of bogus stories. It isn't a singer. It wasn't an opera performer, who was a casual victim. It was a person, who made a choice, chose a side in a fratricidal war. And this side definitely didn't fight for some righteous or lofty ideas. We're all well aware of what Right Sector is. They didn't speak about it from the UN rostrum for some reason. This is a sign and manner of people, who worked for Poroshenko.
And I won't talk about the manner of his speech for long. I'll just say that I think that everything prepared for Zelensky for the General Assembly was a big set-up.
— We can believe that this is how a conceptual outlook of the new Ukrainian authorities looks like, that this is about new bullets. Maria, as a journalist, I wonder how long the conversation of Zelensky and Lavrov lasted — one or two minutes? Zelensky said that when he meets with Putin, the first thing he'll tell him is that Crimea belongs to Ukraine. Perhaps he said something like that in the conversation? Just for us to understand.
— The thing is that I wasn't present at the meeting. I just know that it took place. But it wasn't really a conversation. I reiterate that it was brief communication at the reception. As for the team's conceptual approaches, which according to you, Olga, is probably a new concept, I don't think so. I disagree because what Zelensky's team came to the elections with and the way it began working right after it gained power. And they gained a lot of power. This isn't what Poroshenko talked about and actually did. I think that it's obvious. Another thing is that we understand well is that to do or implement all of those great theses with a magic wand stated before the elections is simply impossible. They have to work for this. Therefore, we say to Ukraine indirectly, publicly, replying to their comments on the Normandy format, that without prior preparation, no summit can become an hour of reckoning. There should be certain work and steps, which Ukraine takes, to implement the Minsk agreements.
— So, the summit in the Normandy format in October is at issue. Are we right?
— It should be formulated in a different way. It should be formulated in a different way.
— Let's discuss us now. Sergey Lavrov is to meet with Pompeo. How much will the outrageous case of the non-issuance of visas to our delegation not to the U.S. but to the UN affect the tone and agenda of the meeting?
— I think that literally in an hour or two, at about 10 p.m. (Moscow Time), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Kommersant will be published. In particular, he gave a long comment on this situation. Please, read it. I can say that I think that the meeting between Lavrov and Pompeo will begin with that because this is unprecedented non-performance of its obligations by the United States of America as the country which hosts the organization. This isn't about Russian-American relations. This is about the relations between the U.S. and the UN. If you undertake to provide the UN with a platform where people of different nationalities, beliefs, political views can talk, and this takes place in the UN, you should perform the undertakings. You failed to perform them.
— This is unprecedented rudeness indeed. Thank you so much. This was Spokesperson of the MFA Maria Vladimirovna Zakharova live from New York.