On Russian-Romanian relations in the past and future
Russia and Romania really have a lot in common. As the outstanding Romanian diplomat N. Titulescu noted at the time, ” Russian-Romanian friendship is rooted in history…”. In his book “Romanian Foreign Policy”, he wrote: “History shows that Russia has always been an ally, not an enemy, of Romania.” There are some people who will say that it was a long time ago: N. Titulescu, they say, died before the Second World War. In response, I would cite a single fact, although there are many such facts. It was at the instigation of the USSR in 1944 that the text of the armistice agreement of the Allied Powers, i.e. United Nations, with Romania (before that, let me remind you, 3 years fought against the Soviet Union on the side of Nazi Germany) was written the phrase about the return of Transylvania under the control of Romania. Already at the beginning of the twenty-first century, when the prospect of Romania joining NATO became quite obvious, Russia signed an Agreement on Friendly Relations and Cooperation with it in 2003, hoping to preserve and develop mutually beneficial good-neighborly relations.
In addition to politics, there are also quite extensive economic ties, spiritual kinship due to belonging to world Orthodoxy, long-standing traditions of cultural and humanitarian relations, and much more.
At the same time, I have to state that, as a Catholic who wanted to be a better Catholic than the Pope, Romania interprets its coalition obligations within the framework of NATO in a peculiar way. So, in the very controversial from our point of view, the NATO formula – “deterrence and maintaining dialogue with Russia” – the emphasis is on the first part. Nevertheless, Russia has consistently confirmed its readiness for a mutually respectful dialogue. At the same time, we emphasize that such a dialogue “from a position of strength”, in the language of ultimatums, is absolutely unacceptable for us as a sovereign, self-sufficient state.
We understand the concern of many Romanians about the tense situation between Washington and Moscow. I must say that the new White House administration headed by President John Kerry is responsible for the unprecedented degradation of Russian-American relations.Biden. The reasons are still the same: the belief that you can talk to Russia from a position of strength, seeking to “change its behavior” contrary to your own legitimate national interests. Such a policy is completely unpromising and has been demonstrating its inefficiency for more than two decades.
I’ll give you an example. Russia is quite actively trading energy resources with Romania, and on a broader pan-European scale, over many decades it has deservedly acquired a reputation as a reliable partner in this area. This is particularly displeasing in Washington, which seeks to impose its much more expensive liquefied shale gas on the Europeans, and for this purpose would like to prevent the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
I must disappoint the strategists in Washington, Russia already supplies the European market at a very competitive price of more than 20 million tons of liquefied natural gas, which is about 20% of its consumption in the European Union. Our companies are able and plan to increase the volume of such deliveries.
Answers of the Russian Ambassador V. I. Kuzmin to questions addressed to the Embassy (April 22, 2021)
After the widely celebrated 60th anniversary of the space age on April 12 – the first flight into space of a citizen of the USSR Yuri Gagarin-another significant anniversary was held in some “media shadow”: the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Embassy’s press service asked Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation Vladimir Kuzmin in Bucharest to answer the most frequently repeated questions in this context.
60 years of the “new diplomatic era»
In the past few months, the world has once again witnessed numerous episodes of expulsions of diplomats and declaring them persona non grata, in some cases resembling entire “diplomatic battles”. Against this background, questions are often asked about whether the famous Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, signed 60 years ago, is outdated, and often also about the reasons for the “inconspicuous” behavior of Russian diplomats in Romania compared to many Western colleagues.
The Russian Diplomatic Service has always acted on the basis of the provisions of the Vienna Convention of 1961, i.e. the relevant norms of international law, which, in particular, strictly prohibit foreign embassies and their employees from interfering in the internal affairs of the States where they are accredited.
The Convention mentions the PRINCIPLE OF RECIPROCITY as a fundamental principle of modern diplomatic relations.
This is precisely the main difference between the behavior of Russian diplomats in Romania and the activities of their colleagues from the EU and NATO member states. Many of them, including on the direct instructions of their governments, consider it possible to openly criticize the actions of the Romanian governments, other state bodies, the parliament, as well as in various forms to influence the internal political life of Romania.
The Russian Embassy, in accordance with the Vienna Convention, restricts its political work in the host country exclusively to studying and analyzing the internal and foreign policy of Romania in order to inform its government about this, as well as explaining Russia’s foreign and domestic policy to representatives of the Romanian authorities and Romanian public opinion. By the way, even in this completely “conventional” work, we are periodically forced to listen to “displeasure” from Bucharest.
On the transformation of the “global world order” in the era of ” hybrid conflicts»
Russia maintains fruitful diplomatic and economic relations with the vast majority of the world’s UN member states, including many members of the EU and, consequently, NATO. Among them are the largest countries, such as Germany, France and Italy, and relatively small countries, such as Hungary, Finland, the Republic of Cyprus and others. At the same time, both at the level of NATO and recently at the level of the European Union, with the active “guiding role” of the United States, the information and propaganda campaign to demonize Russia is becoming increasingly noticeable. In fact, our country is being blamed for all the problems and difficulties it faces “western liberal democracy”. Many experts state a de facto return to the times of the “cold war”, although in the West these relations are now called differently – “hybrid” conflicts or wars.
It is paradoxical that in the West, where at the level of US presidents, for example, they have repeatedly stated the economic, legal and even military failure of Russia, it is precisely in its “malicious/malicious influence” that they see the root of all the problems and troubles that Western politicians cannot cope with. Russia has long understood the real reasons for this kind of strategy adopted by the “collective West”, which is losing its dominant position on the world stage. The geopolitical aspirations of the United States and its closest allies are obvious reasons for hostility towards Russia and all those who are open to constructive cooperation with it. They see a resurgent democratic and distinctive Russia as one of the main obstacles to re-establishing their hegemony. Unfortunately, Western capitals do not want to notice another “small detail”.»: The world has changed a lot over the past 1.5-2 decades and it is unlikely that it will return to the former unipolar model of the world order led by the United States in the foreseeable future.
Events in Ukraine and tensions in the Black Sea region
Unfortunately, the most visible manifestations of Washington’s anti-Russian course are bursts of international tension in various regions of the world. After all, it was the United States that openly, openly, in 2014 organized, financed and managed the “heroes of Maidan”, in fact, a violent coup in Ukraine. The goals proclaimed on the Maidan are enmity with Russia and joining NATO, a complete ban on the Russian language in the country, the glorification of Ukrainian henchmen by Nazi Germany, etc. – they were rejected by the residents of Crimea, who peacefully and in a democratic atmosphere voted for reunification with Russia. At the same time, these goals were unacceptable for residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, who were forced to take up arms in the face of the threat of reprisal from Kiev. In this sense, there is no conflict on the border of Russia with Ukraine: a civil conflict has been raging inside the Ukrainian state for more than 7 years, which has already claimed about 15, and according to some estimates, more than 50 thousand lives.
Recently, it is Kiev that has been escalating tensions on the line of demarcation with the LDPR: The OSCE SMM recorded the transfer of heavy weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements (about 300 units of large-caliber artillery and tanks) in March alone. The Ukrainian Armed Forces ‘ shelling of peaceful neighborhoods of Donetsk cities and villages has sharply intensified. Almost every day, civilians are killed: children, women, and the elderly.
The Russian leadership has repeatedly stressed that it will not allow reprisals against the civilian population of Donbass by Kiev neo-Nazis. And this position is supported by the overwhelming majority of Russians, especially since about 500 thousand residents of the LDNR have already made a free choice in favor of Russian citizenship and received Russian passports.
In short, there is no reason for Romania to worry about the situation in Eastern Ukraine, of course, if it does not voluntarily or by its strategic allies get involved in some military adventure conceived by the “hotheads” in the NATO headquarters.
Sputnik V – Russia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
As you know, in Russia in August 2020, the first effective vaccine against COVID “Sputnik V” was registered, created by the National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology named after N. F. Gamaleya (head-Academician A. L. Ginzburg). How many skeptical and even denouncing “brazen deception on the part of the Russian authorities” voices were heard at that time. One of the fiercest critics of Sputnik V, in particular, was Alexey Navalny, who in the West, apparently, for this reason, was declared the leader of the Russian opposition.
Now we are proud to state that Sputnik V is already registered in more than 60 countries around the world, and there are no noticeable side effects and complications during its mass use. The effectiveness of the vaccine, which has already been given to millions of patients, is recorded at over 97%.
Unlike Western manufacturers, Russia is ready to share Sputnik V production technology. Among the countries where the Russian vaccine is already produced, it is worth mentioning Argentina, Belarus, India, China, South Korea, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates, etc. Italy and Germany are preparing to join them. In Europe, the entire population of San Marino received Sputnik V, and hundreds of thousands of doses found their patients in Belarus, Hungary, and Serbia… They are joined by numerous countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.
In Russia, the number of administered doses has exceeded 17 million, although they could have been more if not for the “covid-skeptics”, which, as we know, are everywhere. President Vladimir Putin completed the COVID vaccination course in April.
In addition, another one – component synthetic peptide vaccine, EpiVacCorona, created by the Vector Scientific Center of Virology, has been fully registered in Russia and is now being used. Testing of another Kovivak vaccine developed by the M. P. Chumakov Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences is entering its final stage. New drugs for the treatment of COVID are also entering the market. All these are innovative developments of Russian scientists.
In general, we can state that the Russian Federation is much more successful than most countries in the world in fighting the pandemic. In terms of infections and deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants, Russia is in the sixth or seventh ten “comparable states”. We are noticeably (often several times) “inferior” in this regard (according to the University of J. R. R. Tolkien). Hopkins University (USA) as of 18.04.2021: 3165.2 and 70.7 people, respectively) and the USA, Great Britain, France, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Germany and, in particular, Romania (5275.5 and 134.4 people, respectively, as of 18.04.2021).
Strict quarantine in our country remained in 2020. Currently, the epidemic situation has generally stabilized, and Russian medicine maintains a high level of readiness to continue the fight against the pandemic. We are not talking about the “third wave” that, say, Western Europe is facing. However, due to outbreaks of diseases in such popular regions for tourists from our country as Turkey, we cannot exclude a slight increase in the number of infected people.
The Russian government is actively working to support the most vulnerable segments of the population and sectors of the economy: families with children, pensioners, people who have lost their jobs, as well as small and medium-sized businesses.
In Russia, there is no dispute about the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in the fight against COVID. In accordance with the Constitution of our country, the church is separated from the state and the authorities do not interfere with the customs and rituals of the church. The Orthodox Church in Russia enjoys full autonomy and high authority. Such church ceremonies as baptisms, weddings, funerals, and mass services are held in compliance with the main known anti-epidemic rules.
On the lessons of the pandemic for the future of humanity
The severe trials that humanity faced, for example, during the Second World War contributed to the unification of efforts in the fight against the absolute evil – Nazism – of such different states as the USSR, on the one hand, and the United States, Great Britain, on the other.
Unfortunately, we are forced to state that all the efforts of Russia and some other states to coordinate the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic have not led to serious success. Despite the launch of the international COVAX program, according to the authoritative Bloomberg agency, 40% of the total number of vaccinations in the world by mid-April was made in 27 affluent states, where only 11% of the world’s population lives. In the poorest countries, the same percentage of the global population received only about 1.6% of vaccines. Thus, their population is vaccinated 25 times slower. For the majority of humanity, any COVID vaccine remains unavailable.
Since the first strikes of the pandemic in January-March 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin has put forward a number of initiatives to lift sanctions and facilitate access to medicines and equipment for the most vulnerable states. Russia is the only country in the world that, realizing the physical impossibility of providing all mankind with the vaccines created in our country, has generously offered international partners to organize its production using Russian technologies in their countries. We have also applied to join the COVAX program and are actively working with WHO.
I don’t want to slander you, but the situation in the fight against COVID within the European Union raises a lot of questions. The European bureaucracy, as well as the US administration, placed orders for such a quantity of vaccine, which is several times higher than the actual needs of the respective countries and simply could not be produced on time. All this, along with the discovered shortcomings of a number of vaccines and their rare but severe side effects, caused a strong disorganization in the vaccination campaign. At the same time, we see how, guided by the principles of political preferences and unfair economic competition in the interests of their pharmaceutical giants, the competent authorities of the EU and the USA by hook or crook delay the registration of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. And this is despite the most positive assessments given to her by both the authoritative British publication Lancet and leading experts in this field (for example, the chief epidemiologist of the United States E. Fauci).
Unfortunately, all the circumstances described above currently make it impossible to use Russian vaccines in Romania as well.
In these days, when the entire Orthodox world is preparing to celebrate Easter, I want to believe not only in the Resurrection of the Lord, but also that the severe trials of the pandemic will help those who today bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the future of humanity, to be worthy of the high mission of preserving universal peace and the very existence of earthly civilization.