Upcoming peace talks: Moscow won’t accept the relatively favorable terms it had agreed with Ukraine during the previous peace talks in Turkey.

Upcoming peace talks

Interview with Deputy Foreign Minister Michail Galusin in full. 

(Ed. F.A.) Kiev had agreed to the peace deal negotiated in Turkey, two months after the Russian invasion, in April 2022. The agreement stipulated that Ukraine would remain neutral, that eastern Ukraine (occupied by Russia) would retain an autonomous status but remain with Ukraine, and that the status of Crimea and Sevastopol would be resolved in negotiations between the two countries over the next 15 years. 

Under pressure from the West (recall the British prime minister’s lightning visit to Kiev), Kiev rejected the agreement and instead escalated the war. The price Kiev will have to pay for this dramatic change of heart will be high, because these relatively favorable terms will no longer be accepted by Moscow, and the territories won in the war are unlikely to be returned to Kiev. Ukraine could not achieve the goal of helping the West “ruin Russia” and the victory of its military forces, announced by Western generals and media since last year and challenged by few military experts that are not on the payroll of the Western military-industrial complex, such as Douglas MacGregor and Scott Ritter, turned out to be mere wishful thinking and delusional propaganda.

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Now that NATO’s arms and ammunition supplies have been largely depleted by Ukrainian forces, and Kiev has lost hundreds of thousands of soldiers and is on the verge of losing even more territory, it is obvious that it will ask for peace talks with Moscow later this year. The big question is what the Russian demands will be.

To that end, we are doing something that biased Western media will never do, which is to exclusively translate and publish below an explosive interview with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin in its entirety.

Beginning of translation (titles by Eastern Angle)

Deputy Foriegn Minister of the Russian Federation Michail Galusin
Michail Galusin, deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation

So-called Zelensky peace formula and future peace negotiations

News agency TASS: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko expressed the view that the situation around Ukraine could change in the fall and peace talks could begin. Does Moscow share these assessments? Is there a connection between the outcome of the so-called Ukrainian counteroffensive and the possibility of starting the negotiation process on Ukraine?

Michail Galusin: Indeed, the discussion about the need for a peaceful resolution of the conflict over Ukraine has intensified.

In the process, the West and Kyiv are actively and persistently promoting the so-called peace formula proposed by Vladimir Selensky at the G20 summit in November 2022, which in reality has nothing to do with a peaceful solution, but is a series of ultimatums to Russia demanding surrender.

At the same time, our BRICS partners, especially China and Brazil, as well as a number of African countries, have put forward their proposals for resolving the Ukraine crisis. Many of them have shown a deep understanding of the causes of the Ukraine conflict and its geopolitical significance.

For our part, we continue to maintain our fundamental position that a comprehensive, sustainable and just solution is only possible if the Kiev regime ceases hostilities and terrorist attacks and its Western sponsors stop supplying weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces. The original foundations of Ukraine’s sovereignty – its neutral, non-aligned, and nuclear-free status – must be reaffirmed. The new territorial realities must be recognized, Ukraine’s demilitarization and denazification must be ensured, and the rights of Russian-speaking citizens and national minorities must be guaranteed in accordance with international law.

What does the establishment of the Ukraine-NATO Council mean?

TASS: Is the creation of the Ukraine-NATO Council a new round of escalation on the part of NATO? Does Moscow see a danger that the creation of this council will bring Ukraine closer to NATO membership?

Galusin: The creation of the Ukraine-NATO Council does not bring fundamental changes or new threats to Russia. The formation of this structure in place of the former commission of the same name is basically just a change of figurehead. The move was intended to demonstrate, at least nominally, some progress in the Ukrainian government’s transatlantic aspirations.

The decision of the North Atlantic bloc summit held in Vilnius on July 11-12 continues the short-sighted and harmful NATO line of using Kiev to confront our country in the interests of the West. The promise to Ukraine to “become a member of the Alliance” was made at the Bucharest summit in April 2008. The Kiev regime had high hopes for the Vilnius event. Selensky urged NATO members to make decisions that would grant Kiev, if not full membership, at least so-called security guarantees. Ukraine has not received these guarantees from NATO, nor have the allies outlined the conditions for its accession to the organization. The summit merely reiterated that the country could join the bloc “after the end of the war,” which the West believes should end with Kiev’s victory. Clearly, NATO members will continue to use Ukraine as a consumable in their indirect war against Russia.

Ukrainian attacks on Russian civilian ships

TASS: On August 1, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Ukraine had attempted to attack Russian civilian transport ships in the Black Sea that were on their way to the Bosphorus Strait. How does the Russian Foreign Ministry assess such actions by Kiev and what can they achieve? Can such steps be said to make the resumption of the Grain Agreement, which provides for a safe corridor for shipping, impossible?

Galusin: One of the reasons for the Russian leadership’s decision to terminate the Grain Agreement was undoubtedly the use of the humanitarian sea corridor for military purposes by the Kiev regime, including terrorist attacks on Sevastopol and the Crimean bridge, as well as acts of sabotage against our warships and civilian vessels. These actions are contrary to the spirit and wording of the agreement, which, as we know, was concluded to ensure the safety of shipping in the Black Sea.

We should not forget that on June 5 the Kiev regime blew up the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline. Let me remind you that resumption of supplies of this raw material for fertilizers was one of the key elements of the two Istanbul agreements. The terrorist attack by the Ukrainians has destroyed the prospects of resumption of ammonia exports from the ports of the Odessa region, which in itself was a sufficient argument for the termination of the grain agreement.

The main reason we have repeatedly pointed out, including publicly, is the lack of progress in implementing the Memorandum between Russia and the United Nations on the normalization of Russian agricultural exports. The memorandum has never worked because Washington, Brussels, and London remain unwilling to grant real exemptions from their unlawful unilateral sanctions on Russian fertilizer and food rather than just empty words.

Under these circumstances, our position remains the same, namely, to solve the “system” problems first and foremost: Reconnect Rosselchosbank to SWIFT, resume spare parts deliveries, establish transport logistics and insurance, restore Russian companies’ access to their foreign assets; unfortunately, there is no mention of the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline; and only after that, consider the possibility of reviving the grain agreement, and only, I stress, in line with the stated humanitarian goals.

The situation at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant

TASS: The IAEA experts, as well as Kiev’s Western allies, have not found any signs of explosive devices at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, contrary to the statements of Ukrainian representatives. At the same time, Vladimir Selensky said that the agency’s four staff members were not enough to control the situation. Is Russia ready to increase the staff of the permanent IAEA mission? Is there still a risk of Ukrainian provocations at the facility, having last avoided this after the release of relevant information on July 4 and 5?

Galusin: The Zaporozhye NPP is under Russian jurisdiction, and our country is taking all necessary measures to ensure the nuclear and physical safety of the plant in accordance with our national legislation.

The only source of threat to the safety of the Zaporozhye NPP remains Ukraine, which does not give up its attempts to carry out provocations against the power plant. And this fact has long ceased to be a secret, regardless of whether observers have the courage to call a spade a spade. In the UN, in the IAEA and in the capitals of the world, everyone knows, including those who directly control the Selensky regime.

For reasons of goodwill and considering the location of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in the immediate vicinity of the fighting, Russia has arranged for the presence of IAEA representatives at the plant. Their last rotation took place on August 3. Unfortunately, due to strong pressure from Western countries, the IAEA Secretariat still cannot dare to make public all the information it has about the Ukrainian attacks on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.

We warn the Ukrainian government and its Western string-pullers against any attempts to attack the nuclear power plant. At the same time, we call on the IAEA and its leadership to actively use the experts present at the plant to publicly document all cases of attacks from the Ukrainian side and to make clear where the real threat to the safe operation of this plant comes from.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons and Wagner Troops in Belarus

TASS: Warsaw insisted that NATO make any “decisions” in response to the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus and the transfer of the Wagner Group to the country. In your opinion, how justified is Poland’s concern in this regard?

Galusin: The deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus is a response to the escalation of threats from the West towards our country and the Union State. This step is in full compliance with all norms of international law and does not contradict the international obligations of Russia and Belarus.

At the same time, at the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, the West took decisions, including in the field of military planning, aimed at strengthening the military potential and developing the infrastructure of the Alliance near the borders of the Union State. The key role of nuclear weapons in deterring potential adversaries of the North Atlantic bloc was reemphasized.

As you know, since the Cold War, the U.S. has maintained its nuclear weapons on the territory of non-nuclear weapon states that are members of NATO, without any real threat. We have repeatedly emphasized that this has a negative impact on the situation in the field of international and European security. In addition, NATO practices what is called nuclear sharing. This means that members of the alliance who do not possess nuclear weapons participate in military planning involving the use of nuclear weapons, while their specialists train in the use of American nuclear weapons. Moreover, scenarios for the use of the weapons against our country are practiced during maneuvers.

Against this background, any additional steps taken by the NATO side appear unjustified in relation to our legitimate measures to strengthen the security of Russia and the Union State. They will only lead to further escalation, including an increase in nuclear risks. We hope that Washington and Western European capitals understand this.

As far as the Polish leadership is concerned, its new phobias towards Russia and Belarus obviously can hardly surprise anyone – what Poland has not insisted on. I believe that all attempts of Warsaw to twist the issue you mentioned in the media are related solely to the Polish government’s desire to increase its importance in the eyes of NATO partners and to justify before its own citizens the billions spent on military purchases for the Polish Armed Forces and on military and other support for Ukraine.

Hostility from Poland

TASS: Are Poland’s plans to “reinforce” the border with Belarus in connection with the deployment of Wagner Group troops in Belarus a threat to the security of the Union State?

Galusin: Undoubtedly. It is difficult to view these decisions in isolation from the long-standing policy of gradually building up NATO’s military potential along the western borders of the Union State and the blatant militarization of Poland itself with its provocative attitude towards Russia and Belarus.

The stationing of Wagner troops in our brotherly republic is nothing more for Warsaw than another artificial pretext for a new round of military preparations. It should be recalled that Polish state propaganda is no stranger to using every conceivable pretext to camouflage its own militaristic plans – from planned joint Russian-Belarusian maneuvers to the wave of illegal migration provoked by the West itself in 2020 and 2021.

Undoubtedly, Russia and Belarus are jointly taking appropriate measures to counter threats to the security of the Union state in accordance with the 2021 updated military doctrine of our Union.

Since October last year, additional contingents of the regional troop grouping have already been deployed on Belarusian territory, and combat orientation of formations and military units has been carried out.

Close cooperation in the military-technical sphere, mutual deliveries of weapons and components for the production of military equipment, and training of the Belarusian military on the latest Russian weapons will continue.

There should be no doubt that we are capable of responding symmetrically to any unfriendly steps taken by the Polish leadership.

Pressure from the European Union on Central Asia

TASS: The EU has included an “anti-circumvention” mechanism in the eleventh sanctions package, which will make it possible to impose restrictions on third countries. Does Moscow fear that this will have a negative impact on our country’s cooperation with its CIS partners, especially in Central Asia?

Galusin: The EU is trying to breathe new life into its unilateral restrictions by applying them extraterritorially. This is done under the pretext of fighting sanctions evasion. However, this is far from the EU’s only goal. Brussels is obsessed with sowing discord in Russia’s relations with its allies and neighbors. The eleventh package adopted by the EU in June is not so much directed against Russia as against third countries. The EU is blackmailing our main partners, including the Central Asian states, with “secondary” measures. This cannot be called anything other than “sanctions terrorism.” At the same time, Brussels hypocritically declares that it rejects extraterritorial sanctions as contrary to international law. The EU will not compensate for the damage caused to third countries by the gradual restriction of cooperation with Russia, and it will not be able to do so because that would definitely exceed the cost of the possible “secondary sanctions.”

All the efforts of the EU will in no way affect the cooperation of our country with its CIS partners, especially in Central Asia. We have confidence in our friends, who understand everything very well and share our assessment that the anti-Russian sanctions of the West are illegitimate. The EU proves once again that it is concerned only with its own well-being and the realization of unjustified political ambitions. To this end, Brussels is ready to take almost any step, including gross interference in the affairs of sovereign states, in their trade and economic policies, and in their relations with their closest partners.

It is already obvious that the Western sanctions against our country have not brought the desired result, because we have not fallen into the economic or social abyss, and the country confidently shows the potential for progressive development. This, by the way, is also confirmed by the World Bank and the IMF. But apparently, in the ruling circles of the U.S. and the EU, the desire to strangle Russia, even at the expense of the well-being of its own people, is stronger than common sense. And restrictions of this kind are a double-edged weapon.

We see the manic persistence with which the Western countries create the illegal “sanctions packages” and try to force the international community, including our closest allies, to implement them. It should be clear that the restrictions are aimed not only at undermining Russia’s economy, but also at causing maximum damage to the integration processes in which Russia is involved, including the CIS and the Eurasian Economic Union. The West’s protestations that they have no intention of hindering our partners’ trade and economic relations with Russia lack credibility. They do not even conceal their interest in subordinating the raw material and food resources of the Central Asian region to their foreign economic goals.

The West has long exerted considerable political and media pressure on our Central Asian friends, insisting on compliance with anti-Russian restrictions and unapologetically demanding that they account for the dynamics and structure of their trade turnover. Under these circumstances, our partners are forced to be cautious to avoid arbitrariness under the guise of so-called secondary sanctions.

Nevertheless, the existing trade and economic obligations between us will continue to be fulfilled as they correspond to the interests of the parties involved. Trade turnover with Central Asian countries has increased in 2022. The volume of cumulative Russian investments has reached an impressive level. Investments of Central Asian countries in Russia have quadrupled since 2015. More than 10,000 Russian companies and joint ventures operate in the region, creating more than 900,000 jobs.

Loss of digital sovereignty to Microsoft and the US government

TASS: In April, it was reported that the American company Microsoft will open a multi-regional center in Kazakhstan. The center is to cover the Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Mongolia and Pakistan. The Russian Foreign Ministry had previously stated that Microsoft was fulfilling the mission of U.S. intelligence agencies and the Pentagon to control Ukraine’s entire information infrastructure and deprive it of digital sovereignty. Do we see the opening of this hub as a threat to the digital sovereignty of the above-mentioned countries, and will Moscow warn its partners against the implementation of this project?

Galusin: As we have repeatedly noted, Microsoft is one of the companies that have distinguished themselves not only with anti-Russian rhetoric, but also with concrete steps to the detriment of our state. Since the beginning of the military operation, this company has been supporting the Kiev regime in various ways under the pretext of strengthening its cyber defenses. It also regularly accuses Russia of organizing computer attacks on Ukrainian resources. Of course, no evidence is provided and Microsoft remains silent on the facts of systematic cyber sabotage against our country’s critical infrastructure.

All this shows once again that Gates’ project obediently follows the US political guidelines. Therefore, there is no doubt that the initiative to create an interregional hub with a projection to the post-Soviet states is being implemented primarily in Washington’s interests. The goal is to tie these countries to the IT industry, which is filled with “bookmarks” that facilitate the intelligence activities of American intelligence agencies. By the way, many Silicon Valley giants have been caught doing this several times. As practice shows, the promises of the West often turn out to be political and other shackles, including in the digital sphere. There are many examples of American and European IT giants using their technological developments to the detriment of the national interests of individual states.

Of course, each state must decide for itself to what extent this project threatens its digital sovereignty. For our part, we warn our CIS friends about the negative consequences of cooperation with such companies and will continue to do so.

Within the framework of joint integration tasks, especially in the Eurasian Economic Union, we ourselves are working to overcome technological and digital dependence on the unscrupulous and unreliable “partners” who abuse their monopoly position once achieved.

Our bilateral cooperation with the countries of the post-Soviet space is built on an equal footing. For example, in 2022 we signed intergovernmental agreements with Azerbaijan and Armenia on cooperation in ensuring international information security. Plans for the implementation of these documents are currently being coordinated. Relevant interdepartmental consultations were held this spring. Russian companies specializing in digital and information and communication technologies are showing interest in project cooperation with Baku and Yerevan. These include “smart” city management systems, the use of energy storage and electric transport. For our part, we are ready to provide diplomatic support for this important work.

Relations with Moldova

TASS: At the end of July, it was announced that 45 employees of the Russian Embassy in Moldova, including diplomats and technical staff, would be expelled from the country. In light of recent developments, is Moscow sticking to its course of maintaining diplomatic relations with Chisinau? Is a downgrading of diplomatic relations possible? And what would be the practical consequences of this reduction in the number of staff at the Russian diplomatic mission?

Galusin: The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly emphasized that the Russian side is always open to constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation with Moldova. I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of Moldovan citizens are also interested in the comprehensive development of the historically developed relations with our country and do not accept the anti-Russian initiatives of the government.

Unfortunately, the current Moldovan government thinks differently. The decision of the official Chisinau on the massive reduction of the number of Russian diplomats and technical staff of our missions abroad in the Republic of Moldova can only be considered as another unfriendly step aimed at the systematic destruction of Russian-Moldavian relations. There can be no question of lowering the level of diplomatic relations between our countries at this stage.

However, this step will certainly have consequences. First and foremost, this demarche by Chisinau will affect Moldovan citizens who, due to the anti-Russian line of their country’s government, will be objectively restricted in their ability to use consular services and maintain cultural, educational, spiritual, business and human contacts with Russia.

End of translation