Armen Oganesyan, Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs: Sergey Alekseyevich, at the Helsinki summit, President Donald Trump repeatedly spoke about his desire to get along with Russia. Are there any actual signals that this intention could be acted upon in the near future?
S. Ryabkov: We certainly welcome this mood, which the U.S. president has reaffirmed more than once. This is a very important signal in and of itself. We hear it, we support it, and we are ready to act in the same way. However, there is one problem, which is related to the fact that anti-Russian sentiments in the U.S. today have affected such broad sections of the government apparatus and the political class that almost right after the top-level contact, we began to see attempts to revise possible agreements. So, we do not understand in what direction we should move in order to get along. There are quite a few senators and congressmen who are deliberately trying to limit the U.S. president’s room for foreign policy maneuver and are denying him that opportunity – i.e., to get along with Russia. Unfortunately, there are two distinct contradictory trends, and at this point, we can see no indications that the U.S. side is ready to go its part of the way toward normalizing relations.
Q: As they say, one step forward, two steps back.
A: Yes, this seems to be the case. At least, there are ongoing attempts to move away from the positions that could have been reached since the Helsinki meeting. These attempts will continue, especially under the current circumstances, when a fierce domestic political struggle is escalating in the U.S., with both parties playing for high stakes. Both are seriously vying for control of the House of Representatives. Some people believe that the end justifies the means. Unfortunately, Russia is being portrayed as an enemy, which our opponents are exploiting in the most cynical way.
Needless to say, this is a factor that has a negative, destructive impact on our relations, to put it mildly.
Q: You are a long-time expert on Russian-U.S. relations. Did you get a sense of change in the style, approaches, or perhaps diplomatic skills of those who are responsible for foreign policy in the Trump administration, compared to those in the Barack Obama administration?
A: I will say this: There are many professionals in the U.S. government apparatus. They are not flushed out for considerations of political expediency, even though a feature of the U.S. system is that a change of parties in control of the executive branch leads to the replacement of high-level functionaries – deputy secretaries, directors of departments – in all government agencies. Since Donald Trump came to power, the process of personnel appointments has been moving very slowly. There are a large number of vacancies, unfilled posts. Several key positions in various U.S. government agencies have yet to be filled; no appointments have been made and no nominations have been made for subsequent confirmation in the Senate, and so on. This complicates our work, hinders dialogue on the technical level, and we do not always understand who is responsible for what in the U.S. in this situation.
Another equally difficult aspect of the current situation is the obvious bent of our Washington partners for unilateral approaches: America first. Only those decisions are made that are necessary and important for the U.S., regardless of everything. This is in fact the main criterion followed by government apparatus officials. At present, they are less willing and inclined than previously to conduct long, difficult negotiations in search of an acceptable line, are less receptive to the position of the opposite side, and are less prepared to provide argumentation in support of their standpoint. This is the new reality that we also have to deal with.
Q: According to U.S. media reports, during the summit, Vladimir Putin presented to Donald Trump proposals on arms limitation, in particular, on extending the New START treaty and banning the placement of weapons in outer space. How do you assess the prospects for our countries reaching agreements on these issues?
A: I would not like to go into details with regard to the signals that were issued at the top level in Helsinki. In general terms, a proposal was made to continue dialogue to address a number of issues, including the ones you have mentioned. That is a pressing need of the moment. We cannot continue to pretend that all is well, that all difficulties can automatically be resolved or that all problems will solve themselves. On the contrary, difficulties in the sphere of arms control and strategic stability are accumulating.
As you know, the discussion of the situation around the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles with the Americans and some of their allies have been rough going. There are numerous mutual recriminations. We have long found the Americans to be in violation of the treaty: They are using the so-called target missiles that are in fact medium-range missiles, and their launches, even for the purpose of testing missile defense systems, mean testing medium-range missiles, which is prohibited by the treaty.
The Americans’ disregard for the opinion of others is simply off the charts. They are intoxicated with unilateral approaches, and the international temperature is rising due to the toxins disseminated by U.S. foreign policy.
We have questions about U.S. attack drones. But the most important thing, of course, is the deployment of MK 41 universal vertical launching systems as part of Aegis Ashore missile defense installations on Romanian and subsequently on Polish soil, which can launch ground-based cruise missiles.
The very fact that I have been repeating this many times over in various formats shows that we are going nowhere. The same applies to extending the strategic arms reduction treaty as its initial 10-year term is about to expire. The treaty provides for its extension by another five years. Why not use this opportunity? The Russian president already said that in public in Johannesburg and Helsinki, and he also said this to Donald Trump. We do not know exactly why there has been no response. Either the U.S. position has not been finalized yet or they are waiting for a more opportune moment to formulate this position due to certain circumstances or they lack an appropriate team that could deal with that. However, time is running out. It seems that 2021 is still far away, but that is not the case. It is just around the corner.
Q: Sergey Alekseyevich, what about the second part of the question related to outer space? Was this issue taken off the agenda following Washington’s decision to place weapons in outer space?
A: For a long time – under the administrations of George W. Bush. Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump – we have observed the U.S.’s obvious desire to secure a dominant position in outer space, including in military space. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the concept of “military space” is much broader than everything related to the placement of strike weapons in outer space. Space has been already militarized in terms of intelligence, communications, surveillance, and control. All countries that have appropriate capabilities and resources have been doing this for several decades. Strictly speaking, we understand that it is impossible to do without this and are also developing such systems.
It is another matter that there are no strike weapons, no means of effective engagement in outer space yet, but there has been ongoing talk to that effect. This trend is evident in U.S. doctrinal documents and practical guidelines, which is disturbing. It was no accident that Russia has put forward a series of initiatives to prevent an arms race in space. Let us take, for instance, the Russian-Chinese draft of a legally binding treaty that we recently updated and submitted for consideration to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. I would like to see more active work being done there. Next, the political initiative on no first placement of weapons in outer space, that is, the declaration has now been adopted by about 20 countries, including Russia. That is not very many yet. However, it is important that these states openly share our approach that we will not put weapons in space first. This is a significant signal. I do not think it can be ignored, including by Washington.
However, I will have to tell you that the Americans’ disregard for the opinion of others is simply off the charts. This is a major issue of modern international relations. They are intoxicated with unilateral approaches, and the international temperature is rising due to the toxins disseminated by U.S. foreign policy.
Q: Is it possible that Russia will not extend the New START treaty?
A: I would very much like the treaty to be extended. I took part in its preparation and harmonization. I remember how we checked and rechecked every word in the text to make the document absolutely equitable, ensuring the interests of each party involved, and ensuring global security interests in general. In short, it turned out all right. Of course, nothing is perfect, but on the whole, it was not bad at all. I am convinced of that. The document should be preserved. I would also like to stress that there are some serious issues regarding the treaty’s implementation by the U.S.
One major issue that we are continuing to discuss with the Americans, including within the framework of the Bilateral Consultative Commission, is the so-called conversion of a segment of their strategic delivery systems. They have converted a significant number of heavy bombers, as well as ballistic missile launchers on submarines, in such a way that we, the other party to the treaty, Russia, cannot verify the irreversibility of that conversion. Strictly speaking, it seems that in the worst-case scenario, the U.S. would follow the reverse procedure with regard to these bombers, and nuclear weapons will be put into those silos again. As a result, the Americans would be able to redeploy up to 2,000 nuclear warheads on these delivery systems if they wanted to. This is a major problem, and it needs to be worked on; there is an appropriate format for that, i.e., the Bilateral Consultative Commission. We know how to solve this problem, and we are proposing solutions to the Americans. Everything depends on the Americans’ political will.
Q: However, if you do not listen to what your opponent or partner says, then the purpose of the START treaty is eroded?
A: That is a subject for a separate study and expert evaluation. The serious nature of the strategic stability issue, with its direct implications for our country’s national security, as well as for global security, requires well-balanced decisions. In any event, this is a presidential-level decision. All defense, security, and law enforcement agencies, as well as the Foreign Ministry, will certainly analyze what is going on from this particular perspective. However, overall, the treaty as a means of keeping a very dangerous segment of the arms race under control, especially given that we have been through that. For many decades, we first built up our military capabilities, then limited them, and then reduced them. We know what we are talking about. There are no simple solutions here. I would like the document to stay alive.
Q: Of course, national security takes priority over specific treaties. But we do need treaties to ensure national security.
A: Armen Garnikovich, that is a very important issue. It is good that you have brought it up. There are different ways of ensuring national security. Look at what is going on in the United States. The impression is that the Americans are ready to impose sanctions at the drop of a hat and that sanctions are the only foreign policy tool there is. The U.S. is reluctant to reach agreements with anyone on the basis of compromise. It seeks to dictate its will to everyone – be it in world trade, security, or regional conflicts. Sanctions – not necessarily direct, possibly indirect sanctions – often become the means of forcing other countries to follow the U.S. lead.
That is clear from the example of Iran. This is blackmail and intimidation, including in relation to the U.S.’s own allies. Washington’s message is clear: Either you continue to do in Iran what you think is right, but then we will punish you with our sanctions, or you take advantage of working on the U.S.’s vast and extremely promising market, but on the condition that you pull out of Iran. In other words, you solve two problems with one single action: economically strangle a country that for some reason is not to the U.S.’s liking and at the same time consolidate around the US those who are willing to follow the American lead. So, sanctions is the only means of ensuring national interests.
We believe that after the Russian president, in his address to the Federal Assembly, announced the development of new types of weapons, many people began to see the situation in the world from a different perspective. We have shown that we are building up our military might, our nuclear potential. These are elements of deterrence without which it is difficult to navigate the turbulent sea of international relations today. This is the gold reserve of our national security. After the president’s statement, we felt that a debate about the future of arms control documents has heated up in a number of countries.
Well-written treaties that have proven their effectiveness as the most reliable, viable, and time-tested means of ensuring national security. They increase predictability (we know what we should and should not spend money on) and make it possible to verify the actions of another party. This is a method of looking into the dark corners of our opponents’ military kitchen. This does not mean that everything is there for us to see, but it is an important way of knowing what is going on around you.
It is regrettable that the U.S. administration, in, among other things, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 that was recently signed by President Donald Trump, has put question marks over a number of international agreements, including the Treaty on Open Skies. Then the State Department, for its own reasons, issued a denial to the subsequent report of one of our news agencies and affirmed that the U.S. “is not pulling out of anywhere.” However, we have never said that Washington is withdrawing from this treaty.
We simply believe that with its decisions, the United States complicates the search for solutions to the problems that were created by the Americans themselves, as well as by their clients. In particular, Georgia is abandoning compromise solutions on surveillance flights. There is a host of issues that could be resolved at the negotiating table and not dealt with in a public war of words and mutual recriminations. Unfortunately, the Americans do not want to come to terms.
Many elements of the current international security architecture with regard to arms control are falling apart, and this building may collapse-which would be a great loss for international relations.
Q.: What are the implications of the U.S. decision to unilaterally freeze cooperation with Russia under the Treaty on Open Skies? Why is the U.S. accusing Russia of violating this agreement?
A: The U.S. has been trying for years to accuse Russia of failing to comply with the provisions of the treaty. Generally speaking, this is related to our fundamentally different approach, an approach that differs from that of the U.S. and its allies, for instance, toward the issue of whether Abkhazia and South Ossetia are sovereign states. Without going into details, I will simply say that we proposed a solution that would be “status neutral,” leaving the issue of Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s recognition or non-recognition as sovereign states out of the equation. Tbilisi, as well as Georgia’s supporters, rejected the proposal for purely political reasons. The situation is at an impasse. There are other aspects, which are even more technical: at what airfields aircraft can be refueled, the maximum range of flights as part of open skies missions, etc.
We have a long list of grievances against the U.S. in these areas. They should be addressed on a parity basis. Russia has made corresponding proposals, but amid the ongoing accusations against our country of all conceivable and inconceivable sins, a new phenomenon has appeared, specifically, the congressional decision to withhold funds for certain projects under the Open Skies Treaty. We could lose this treaty as well. Generally, we can see that many elements of the current international security architecture with regard to arms control are falling apart, and this building may collapse – which would be a great loss for international relations.
Q: Has a window of opportunity for a political settlement in Syria opened since the Helsinki meeting? Why are the Americans refusing to participate in various formats on the Syrian settlement that is being proposed by Russia?
A: The window of opportunity existed even before Helsinki, and it opened wider after the summit. That is due to the fact that Russia is doing all it can to eliminate the terrorist threat and normalize life in that country. At present, our military and other relevant services in Syria are trying to ensure the return of refugees and restore normal life. We are working with a host of international partners, and the Foreign Ministry is closely involved in these processes. A joint operation with the French was a success, and we are working with international humanitarian organizations. Within the framework of the Astana process, an event took place in Sochi, where the discussion of the Syrian Constitution and other issues continued. Together with other guarantor countries – Turkey and Iran, and unlike the U.S. and its coalition, we are moving, not in word, but indeed, towards gradual stabilization and normalization of the situation in the country.
However, everything we did in Astana and Sochi is neither a counterweight nor a countermove to the Geneva process. The State Department declared once again that the talks in Geneva are the only venue for efforts in the interests of a Syrian settlement. Why the only one? Why do they reject all positive things that are being done? Is that because this being is done by Russia, Turkey, and Iran? The Americans are irked by the fact that others are doing something useful, and that is why they are not leaving the Euphrates region and are impeding the efforts to defeat terrorism in Idlib. They maintain a base in Al Tanf, and they do not listen to arguments that are quite obvious to an unbiased observer – namely, that the armed forces of one state cannot be deployed on the territory of another state without an invitation from the legitimate government of the host country.
If we want to cooperate in fighting terrorism, this should be full cooperation, not only what is called deconfliction, which, by the way, is really working: It should involve incident prevention and mutual notification of plans in case the implementation of these plans can change something or affect the interests of another party. This is all-important but has its limitations, so let’s take a more objective and broader look at things. The Americans are not involved in the Sochi format, because Russia plays a key role in it. Unfortunately, such is the reality we live in.
Q: Will the Americans leave Syria in the foreseeable future?
A: I believe they are holding on to the areas where they are currently based because they understand that without their presence it is difficult to destabilize the domestic situation in Syria, which in turn gives them a chance to ensure the geopolitical reformatting of the country and the Middle East as a whole.
Q: Ukraine is a sensitive issue. How does the U.S. approach toward the Ukraine crisis differ from the Russian approach?
A: That is simple. Russia believes in the strict and full implementation of the Minsk package of measures. This involves certain steps that Kiev is reluctant to take. No matter how much the Americans might say that black is white and vice versa, there is no getting away from the facts. The OSCE special monitoring mission has repeatedly reported what is actually going on, recording the extent to which the Kiev authorities fail to comply with the requirements of the Minsk agreements and subsequent agreements, including on disengagement and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. There is no amnesty or law on a special status for the region, as the agreements provide. On the contrary, legislative acts are being adopted that are at odds with these provisions, especially now in the run-up to elections in Ukraine.
We understand that the Western sponsors of the Kiev regime are so preoccupied with preserving everything that is under their control, which allows them, as they think, to exert pressure on Russia, that no changes for the better can be expected in official Kiev’s behavior in the foreseeable future. This is sad, but we are not giving up and are continuing to work in various formats. Top-level contacts in the Normandy Four are justified when we realize that results can be achieved. We are hearing numerous statements from the U.S. special representative for Ukraine, who is clearly playing on Kiev’s field. All of this goes to show just how reluctant the Americans are to seek compromise as a method of solving problems as part of their course toward pressure and unilateral measures.
Q: Recently, yet another set of sanctions was imposed on Russia. Why does the U.S. need to increase sanctions pressure on Russia? What are its ultimate goals?
A: The U.S. administration has announced two-stage sanctions over Russia’s alleged involvement in the Skripal case. In November, serious trade restrictions could be introduced if we do not meet a number of conditions. The Americans got accustomed to speaking to Russia in a language of ultimatums and demands. These conditions are intentionally and deliberately formulated so that they cannot be met. Everyone understands this very well – both the authors and the actors. The goal is to show that the United States would not tolerate any foreign policy actions in the world that would be at odds with its sense of what is right and what is wrong. While declaring democracy as the basis of its own social system, it does not allow any democracy in the foreign policy sphere and prefers to follow the path of total diktat. Naturally, under these circumstances, other countries have to look for ways of protecting themselves against U.S. influence and standing up to it.
I believe we should protect ourselves by reducing the role of the dollar and of the U.S. financial system in the global economy. The time has come when we must move from words to actions, get rid of the dollar as a means of financial settlements, and look for other options. Thank God, this is happening, and we will intensify these efforts. In addition, we should take countermeasures. The American sanctions call for a tough and proportionate response because of the logic and mentality prevailing in the United States. The lack of a direct response to a challenge is viewed there only as a sign of weakness. This is another reason for the hotheads in Washington to increase pressure.
We ignore this because it is useless trying to explain anything to them. They do not understand normal logic. They believe that if they stick to their guns, sooner or later Russia will make concessions, do what Washington wants it to do, abandon its independent foreign policy and effectively capitulate. That is absolutely impossible.
Q: What countermeasures can we take?
A: Countermeasures can be symmetric or asymmetric, and we can also expand our own lists of “sanctioned” politicians. That cannot be easily ignored by U.S. figures who believe they are calling the shots in the world.
When some of them see that their overwhelming powers have been curtailed because they simply cannot get a Russian visa, that would take them down a peg or two. Against the general backdrop, all of these are trifles. There are many other ways of responding, but not at our own expense. There is a lot of talk to the effect that Russia should stop supplying rocket engines, aircraft titanium, and uranium concentrate to the United States. That would be shooting oneself in the foot. We should prepare ourselves for a situation where the Americans sooner or later stop buying these products from Russia or significantly reduce these purchases. We should not be getting ahead of ourselves. Given the current mood in the U.S., there will be no change for the better any time soon.
While declaring democracy as the basis of its own social system, the U.S. does not allow any democracy in the foreign policy sphere and prefers to follow the path of total diktat.
Q: If economic sanctions are imposed on Russia, is it logical to assume that economic countermeasures will be taken in response to them?
A: There is no need for a 100% mirror response. We cannot compete with the United States in the economic sphere, since we belong to weight classes that are too different. We intentionally leave a measure of uncertainty about how we will respond, because if we announce something in advance, that will weaken our positions. Here is a parallel: When a U.S. Navy ship enters a port in another country, the Navy’s policy is to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard a ship that can carry such weapons. Likewise, we will neither confirm nor deny anything but will repeat what we have learned from the Americans themselves. “All options are on the table.” After all, is said and done, the decision will be made by the president, who is the supreme commander in chief. The country’s political leadership will make an appropriate decision in due time.
Q: The U.S.’s exit from the deal with Tehran has created a conflict. How will this standoff between Europe and the U.S. develop?
A: The introduction of the so-called blocking statute in early August is a serious action on the part of the EU, a significant measure. So far, such provisions have not yet been applied within the framework of EU legislation. When the U.S. adopted the Helms-Burton Act imposing a trade embargo against Cuba in the 1990s, the possibility of activating the EU’s blocking statute ended with an amicable agreement between Washington and Brussels. Today, the EU is strictly following its policy principle that businesses should be protected from the U.S.’s extraterritorial sanctions against Iran.
It is another matter how effective this is and to what extent EU politicians can explain to their major companies that what is at stake here is not only their commercial benefit and the choice between the U.S. and Iranian markets or facing U.S. sanctions and continuing to work in Iran. In this case, there is a certain political aspect: upholding one’s sovereignty and ensuring a worthy place for their countries in a world where there must be no diktat. I believe small and medium-sized businesses will get support. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action can exist even without the United States.
Questions remain. Will the United States continue to increase the pressure? Will it resort to military and political blackmail? Anything can be expected. We should stand up to this collectively. Russian diplomacy is addressing this problem in all of its aspects, including normal operating conditions for economic entities in Iran.
Q: In your opinion, how will the trade war between the U.S. and China reflect on global trade?
A: Recently, a BRICS summit took place in Johannesburg. I believe its final document – by the way, a significant collective signal from the five emerging markets and in fact from the world’s five leading powers – will be heard in all capitals. This document, as well as the leaders’ remarks, expressed serious concern about the growing use of unilateral approaches toward world trade, concern about the U.S.’s push for reform according to its own patterns, but in fact, for scrapping the WTO as we know it. These manifestations of the U.S.’s one-sided course are also rather disturbing.
The trade war between the U.S. and China will most likely have consequences in terms of global growth and market imbalances. This trend is undesirable. So far, we are seeing the reciprocal introduction of tariffs for important commodity groups. It should be noted that Washington and Beijing are discussing these issues. Russia, as a state integrated into the global economy and the global financial system, is bound to feel the consequences. Naturally, we are interested in problems being resolved in a more civilized way, not with measures impeding and depressing global economic growth and markets all over the world.
Q: How are the ongoing trade wars and the imposition of unilateral or multilateral sanctions affecting the role of the G-20 format?
A: I am not expert enough to assess the dynamics of the G-20’s development as a format. I will just say that it is not losing its relevance. On the contrary, the G-20’s composition speaks for itself: These are all leading and highly influential countries in the world. That alone means the decisions that are made within this group have an enormous impact. It is another matter that because of disagreements between certain players and especially because of the U.S.’s course toward the use of unilateral approaches, the nature of these decisions changes from year to year.
We fully support the Argentine presidency at the G-20 in the interest of achieving positive and impressive results at the upcoming summit in Buenos Aires. We believe that in the next several years, the G-20 will become even more relevant as an effective format for addressing not only economic, trade, and financial issues, but also certain political issues. The same goes for BRICS.
Q: Recently, the Americans have been systematically violating their international obligations: consider, for example, their withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and Donald Trump’s order to reverse a classified policy directive imposing restrictions on the deployment of cyberweapons. To what extent can Washington be trusted even after new agreements are signed?
A: We do not know the details of President Donald Trump’s order. We have read about it in The Wall Street Journal. We proceed from the fact that in any case, the current U.S. administration has set a course toward, among other things, expanding its offensive capability in this sphere.
Washington has convinced itself that Russia has meddled in some electoral processes and has engaged in hacking. This paranoid anxiety, to put it bluntly, is leading to measures related, in particular, to offensive capabilities.
We are prepared for a situation where the U.S.’s hostile course toward Russia will manifest itself in this area, among others. We believe that this is a dangerous path. We have repeatedly proposed and are continuing to propose meeting with our U.S. partners at the negotiating table and formulating mutually acceptable rules of conduct in this area in an interagency format, if not resolving these problems. We will also promote our proposals at other international venues, including in the BRICS format, showing by example that a constructive alternative to planning attacks against critical infrastructure elements is quite possible.
It is becoming harder to trust Americans. We can see how, after signing a particular agreement, they can quit it without giving it a second thought and without thinking about the consequences.
Agreements can also be different. There are agreements that are ratified by the U.S. Senate, and perhaps it is more difficult to withdraw from such agreements. Although the ABM Treaty is a classic example. There are also other agreements, e.g., the so-called executive agreements that are signed by the executive authorities, and it is very easy to quit them. However, it is also impossible to do without agreements. The question is whether our U.S. partners view agreements as a method of solving their own problems or whether they will continue to press on regardless and act strictly within the “America First” doctrine.
Q: Is there any chance that the Americans will go back into the Paris climate pact?
A: I believe over time everything is possible. The question is how long it will take for this decision to be made and what will happen to the climate during that time. We would not like to see any apocalyptic scenarios, but all kinds of wildfires and cataclysms are issuing an increasingly ominous warning that this problem should be addressed collectively, on a multilateral basis.
Q: What is the situation with Russian citizens in U.S. prisons – in particular, Yaroshenko and Butina?
A: We – excuse me – are pestering the U.S. authorities, trying to get them to ease the conditions of our compatriots’ confinement at the very least. There are more high-profile cases, like the ones you have mentioned, and there are fewer resounding cases, but we have not abandoned anyone to the mercy of U.S. prison administrations, migration authorities, or whoever. There are consular visits, and we make sure that these people can use the telephone and email. Maria Butina and Konstantin Yaroshenko have health problems. We always urge the U.S. law enforcement authorities to provide better medical care to our compatriots than the care they are getting. We are putting political pressure on the U.S. administration and will continue doing so, but so far there has been no response. The Americans have an unshakable belief that a person who has gotten into the millstones of their law enforcement system and has been convicted must serve his or her time. This is one of the most blatant aspects of the lawlessness that the U.S. is committing with regard to Russian citizens.
The U.S. administration is trying to use such methods to influence our country. If Washington was really interested in normalizing relations with Russia, it could, first and foremost, take humanitarian steps in such cases. We demand that the worldwide hunt for Russian citizens on contrived charges must come to an end. This is what the U.S. should do. There are numerous cases of Russian citizens being seized on U.S. warrants or without such. The so-called law enforcement agencies there are just solving their own problems. Unfortunately, there are no changes for the better in this respect, no progress, but that only gives us more energy and perseverance in our work, in the struggle that we will continue.