Armen Oganesyan, editor-in-chief, International Affairs: Sergey Alexeyevich [Ryabkov], we realize how busy you are, so we are particularly grateful to you for finding time to answer our questions. Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved an updated version of the Foreign Policy Concept, and everyone is curious to know what makes it different from the previous editions.

Sergey Ryabkov: Armen Garnikovich [Oganesyan], International Affairs is my favorite journal, and every time I come here, I’m visiting good friends. Please invite me more often.

As for your question, I would advise those who are curious – not only readers of International Affairs, but anyone who cares about the foreign policy of our country – to read this document very carefully, to study it, because it makes far-reaching assessments of current global trends. It is our first document to divide foreign countries into constructive, neutral, and unfriendly. The latter are declared to be sources of existential threats to our country’s security, sovereignty, and development. The US is explicitly designated as the initiator and implementer of this line, which the Concept characterizes as a “new type of hybrid warfare.” Under the Concept, Russia may respond with symmetrical and asymmetrical measures.

The Concept confirms our choice in favor of an independent development path. It stresses Russia’s role in maintaining the balance of power in international affairs, as well as its status as a unique nation and civilization and a vast Eurasian and Euro-Pacific power.

Another new feature is a systematized exposition of principles for building a more just and sustainable world order, including multipolarity, the sovereign equality of nations, their freedom to choose development models, the supremacy of international law, the balance of interests, and cultural and civilizational diversity.

We have also changed our approach to the principle of the indivisibility of security: We are still loyal to it, but we are willing to follow it only on the condition of reciprocity.

Other new aspects are conditions for the use of force in self-defense. Russia firmly adheres to Article 51 of the UN Charter but does not interpret it literally, as it had in the past. The Concept includes the notion that Russia may use its armed forces not only to repel but to preempt armed aggression against itself and/or – and this is also a new point – any of its allies. But nonviolent methods would still be given priority in handling international disputes.

The Concept contains the first official statement of our negative attitude toward the destructive neoliberal ideological agenda that the West is promoting in disregard of the social, economic, and cultural characteristics of nations.

Furthermore, Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept states the idea of basing international cooperation on common spiritual and moral principles shared by all religions and secular ethical systems, and on the complete rejection of neocolonial practices and hegemony.

Question: Has Russia lowered its threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, since we are talking of a threat to our country?

Answer: It is a well-known point in our military doctrine that it would be legitimate for us to use nuclear weapons in a scenario where the very existence of our country is threatened. This formula, which may even be called canonical, is the first part. It refers to Russia being potentially attacked by conventional armed forces. This doctrinal point was fleshed out some, and the fundamentals of the nuclear deterrence policy were clarified, if you will. These fundamentals are also a public document, and one can find practical interpretations there. I would avoid, however, looking on all this from the standpoint of what is happening in Ukraine and developments related to it. Our enemies are ruthlessly trying to exploit this situation to accuse us of intending to use nuclear weapons in connection with what is happening in Ukraine. We have made no changes to our position on this matter that is complicated and a source of anxiety to many.

Q: This naturally raises questions about the Russian-American Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, also known as the New START treaty. What is happening with this treaty?

A: Nothing. That is the whole answer to your question. There has been some American rhetoric to the effect that Russia has made a mistake, that it is undermining the treaty, that Russia would be well-advised to resume full compliance with it, and so on. American politicians say this on various occasions, including at various international conferences and forums. They also send us direct signals, including in phone calls – not very often, but every now and then – that they are willing to resume discussing this matter. We have seen the spirit in which the relevant phraseology was formulated, how it was written out and ended up in a document released at a recent summit of the Group of Seven (G7) in Hiroshima.

But as you know, rhetoric is one thing and dialogue is another. We have more than once explained publicly why we have decided to suspend our compliance with the treaty. Let me say it again: Until the US-led West abandons its deeply hostile anti-Russian course, returning to the treaty will be impossible. Therefore, reports to the effect that a group of US senators has proposed that the US pull out of New START cause me to conclude that in the US, this treaty is increasingly being used as a weapon for settling political scores, and no one really cares about what should be done to ensure that the arms control ideology and practices that have taken shape over the past decade do not recede into the past. The Americans do not care. Consequently, for us in Moscow, everything remains unchanged.

All of us who are responsible for arms control issues assume that the treaty will remain suspended. But at the same time, Russia will adhere to its previously declared intention to voluntarily comply with the treaty’s centralized quantitative limitations on strategic offensive arms – warheads and delivery vehicles. At the same time, we will continue to comply with another accord, the Soviet-American Agreement on Notifications of Launches of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles, which entered into force in 1988, and will continue to exchange such notifications. This is the long and short of what we are going to do.

The treaty is not a thing of the past. It continues to be, I would say, a set of reference norms. But naturally, its entire operational component is frozen, and I do not expect that to change in any way. This is the fault of the US, which has come a long way to reach this situation. Of course, what is happening in Ukraine has been an extremely strong incentive for us to conclude that circumstances in the area regulated by New START have changed radically. And under the doctrine of international law, such situations allow one of the parties to an agreement to suspend its compliance with it.

Q: Britain is also planning to modernize its nuclear weapons and is open about this. Apparently, this too affects the situation and the behavior of the West, right?

A: If you see how Britain and France are mentioned in one of the final documents of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, you get the impression that they are a couple of sweet white lambs grazing peacefully under NATO clouds that are just as white in some pastoral scene. The hilariousness of this situation might draw a lot of smiles, but really the situation is much too serious to joke about.

The problem is that the approach to transparency taken by our adversaries, including Britain and other NATO countries, reflects the continued degradation of the culture of international relations and of a key component of the arms control architecture, and they are the ones to blame for this. They portray themselves as completely transparent; meanwhile, there has been no verification of whether Britain has certain warheads and delivery vehicles – nor could there be any such verification, because there is no relevant structure or mechanism. They portray themselves as super responsible, although a while ago they announced that they had added several dozen warheads to their arsenal. All this is permitted to London by its senior partner, Washington. The same, by the way, goes for France, which has never released any specific figures but has used the expression “no more than.” Okay, but if we said that we had no more than 5,000 warheads, we would hear a chorus of cries from them the next day that Russia is violating something again.

For many years, we methodically provided data every six months as part of notifications exchange under New START. That ended because the treaty has been suspended. We were always extremely fastidious and had a different level of responsibility, but for them it was all nothing more than grandstanding to boost their own image. All this PR is a cloak for modernizing both the British and French nuclear forces. They point a finger at Chinese programs in a bid to fan tensions, increase the division of the world into opposing blocs, and distract the international community from their own large-scale nuclear programs. All this is clear to us.

Of course, it is deplorable that such big and important issues are becoming nothing more than tools in a geopolitical gamble that is being played by politicians in Washington, London, and other Western capitals who have lost all sense of proportion.

Q: You recently described Russian-American relations as having collapsed. But might there still be some ember of hope that we’ll come, if not to an improvement, then at least to some kind of normalization? Are there any areas left where Russia and the US have shared interests – for instance counterterrorism or information security?

A: A relationship needs to have some substance and constructive goals to be able to continue and develop. Our current dialogue with the US amounts to démarches by which we seek to caution Washington against escalating tensions and making new mistakes and reckless moves with respect to Russia and, more broadly, to what is happening in Europe or Eurasia. That is, so to speak, one model of behavior in today’s super-crisis period.

Another component of our dialogue relates to routine “housekeeping” matters such as the functioning of lines of communication – the operation of embassies, the issuance of visas to delegations, humanitarian issues, the exchange of convicts, etc. Is a truly substantial relationship possible if that is all we do?

Russian-American relations, which a while ago gave some people in Moscow and Washington the illusion that perhaps we would move from something good to something even better, have become a field for a fight between the champions of a more just and multipolar world (Russia is at the forefront of these processes) and those who seek to strengthen the historical hegemony of the West. Naturally, the US is the leader of the latter camp. There is no common denominator in Russian-American relations. I think that for quite some time, we will have nothing more than an on-and-off relationship dealing with specific practical issues.

We in Moscow bear absolutely no illusions, and those in Washington who are charge of the policy toward Russia would be well advised to focus on ways to prevent our relations from getting even worse, because the risks are growing.

Q: Our relations were expected to go from good to better, but they have ended up going from bad to worse.

A: As regards counterterrorism and information security, the Americans have unilaterally curtailed dialogue on those issues and are not returning to them. Apparently, they have concluded that, in dealing with those matters, too, they will be successful if they work in narrow formats that bring together only their lapdogs. The same is happening in economic affairs, where there is fragmentation of the world economy and changes in supply chains because, in the view of the American ideologists of the crusade against dissent in international relations who call the tune in a group of Western countries, Russian natural gas is not the same kind of gas produced in “democratic” countries. And Russian uranium obviously contains some mysterious atoms of authoritarianism in its chemical composition. And so on.

Q: Is there even any hotline between the leaders of Russia and the US?

A: Yes, there is. All lines of communication remain in place; moreover, they undergo regular technical tests. There are also periodic – episodic, rather – exchanges of phone calls at the senior level between Moscow and Washington to discuss some specific points. It is another matter that there is no sign on the other side of any serious intention to set about repairing our relations. We have said that we are willing to discuss any matter, but only on the condition that there is mutual respect and equality. We are not going to go about wooing the Americans to accept our points.

Our history of relations with the US has been a didactic experience, and there has been direct evidence that in some situations it is impossible to reach an agreement with Washington. And at times we have concluded that it is better to pause our dialogue than to continue it. All this involves constant assessments of pros and cons. All technical resources are available; there is no doubt about that. Political will on the other side is another story.

Q: On May 12, John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council in the White House, said that, even if the US defaulted, funds allocated by Congress would enable the country to continue helping Ukraine until the end of the fiscal year – that is, until September 30. On the other hand, on May 16, Politico, a well-informed publication, said that money allocated by the US for the military financing of Ukraine might run out by the middle of summer. In your opinion, is this an information game, or could the Americans really cut aid to Ukraine?

A: I don’t believe that aid to Ukraine will be cut. We should realize that the mantra about the need to inflict a strategic defeat on us that has become the core of the approach of the US and other NATO countries to Russia implies nonstop financing of US efforts to achieve that goal. This cannot shake but only strengthen our resolve to achieve all the goals set for the Special Military Operation.

Nor will there be any default. They will come to an agreement as they have done before. In my view, something extraordinary would have to happen to make the US default. The factions in Congress and the administration, which is making tough and quite far-reaching warnings about the consequences if no compromise is achieved with the Republican Party on the new proposal for raising the national debt ceiling, are playing the usual games. We have seen this many times before – bad déjà vu, so to speak.

Q: We know who controls the money printing press, and as long as they control it, there will be enough money for Ukraine.

A: There will be enough money for everything, including color revolutions. And there will be more attempts to carry out color revolutions. Money will also be spent on isolating those who are unwilling to obey the American diktat, on subduing the disobedient, and on infiltrating and controlling international organizations through staffing policies and extrabudgetary financing. The list could go on endlessly: The arsenal for cementing American domination in international affairs is very diverse.

As you accurately noted, as long as they keep printing money and as long as there are people around the world who are happy to keep putting their money into US Treasury bonds, imagining them to be the most reliable financial instruments available, the status quo can remain. But this will end sooner or later.

Q: Is the West as a whole growing weary of the conflict in Ukraine? Or is it following the logic of someone carrying a suitcase without a handle – it is heavy to carry but a shame to throw away?

A: It is heavy to carry but impossible to throw away – because the boss in Washington does not permit it to be thrown away and because the Western countries are saying to themselves: Well, we ought to be up to the challenges of the times and show those Russians that we keep the promises we have made to ourselves. As for how people in Europe or other places accountable to Washington feel about the consequences – the soaring prices, major migration issues, the impossibility of finding some kind of stable basis for the future, the radicalization of whole segments of the population – this is all secondary, because times are tough, we need to tighten our belt, and a way should finally be found to rein in those Russians. That is their primitive logic.

Is the West weary? I think so, but we should not overestimate the consequences of this, because turnover among the elite in the West is out of the question. An overwhelming majority of those who are in power in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe are avowed Atlanticists, people with extensive overseas ties, people who grew up and were educated there, imbibed a distinctive Anglo-Saxon spirit, and are used to looking down on others and reveling in pan-Western megalomania within their own circle. This, of course, makes it easier for Washington and London to promote their destructive agenda. It is good they cannot do it everywhere, though. There are vast regions in the world where people realize just as much as we do the dangers of this obedience to Western diktat and why they should advance their own interests and closely interact with those who think along the same lines, including ourselves.

Q: Your comment about manipulable elites reminds me of an old joke about the BBC. Someone from the BBC is asked, “You mean you don’t have any censorship?” “Correct. We just hire the right people.”

A: That is not a joke, it is reality.

Q: Let’s talk about the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), from which Russia has withdrawn. Could a new, similar agreement be signed?

A: That would be unrealistic to expect today. Not that there is no expertise. There is enough expertise, and there are specialists. Nor has “professional culture” in the field of conventional arms control been lost. But the extreme anti-Russian hostility of NATO countries, a desire to dictate their own terms to Moscow regardless of all logic, even at times against their own self-preservation instinct, completely rules out the possibility of any initiatives of this kind. Maybe at some point in the future – as the talented band Band’Eros used to sing: “Some time, and maybe not under this sun” – it may be possible to go back to it, but this cannot happen until the current extremely difficult period in Russia’s relations with the West and in the relations of our allies with Western countries passes and Russia’s adversaries start to see reasons to revise their approach. In fact, the set of concepts underlying the CFE Treaty is a thing of the past. The text of the treaty still contains terms such as “the Baltic Military District of the USSR.” That is from so long ago. Maybe something new will come about at some point, but right now there is simply no grounds to talk about this.

Q: Finland’s accession to NATO has created new threats to Russia. How will Russia respond to this northern enlargement of the North Atlantic alliance?

A: Our withdrawal from the CFE Treaty is one form of response. We make no secret of the fact that Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO and the latter country’s subsequent accession to that alliance were reasons that predetermined how the situation regarding our suspension of the CFE Treaty a long time ago unfolded. Now, we have definitively put an end to our participation in this treaty. In the past, NATO countries sought to convince us with varying degrees of persistence that NATO posed no threat to Russia. These days, less is said to that effect, because they probably do not care anymore, obsessed as they are with the idea of inflicting a strategic defeat on Russia. This idea does not seem to jibe with the false notion that NATO is a purely defensive alliance.

It is not Russia that has been moving its borders closer to NATO. It is NATO that has been moving its boundaries closer to Russia ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Today, NATO is about 105 kilometers southwest of St. Petersburg. After Finland joined NATO, the distance to NATO northwest of St. Petersburg has shrunk to about 140 kilometers. All their HIMARS, NASAMS, and drones have much greater ranges. This is just an illustration, something to think about. I will not say anything about the technical military measures we may take to fend off these threats. We just caution our neighbors time and again against reckless moves. Helsinki is continuing strictly secret negotiations with the US on terms for a potential American presence on Finnish territory. I am sure that eventually these terms will be made public. We are not trying to forestall anything; we are never the first to take any steps toward escalating tension in any situation. I think our Special Military Operation confirms that. Therefore, we will see what will come about. But it obvious to me that this latest enlargement of NATO will not strengthen the security of Finland, or, for that matter, the security of the US, and this is a fact that eventually neither Helsinki nor Washington will be able to deny.

Q: The [2024 presidential] election campaign in the US is in full swing. There is frequent speculation about whether there will be any détente in our relations if Donald Trump becomes president again.

A: Anatoly Kovalev, bless his soul, who was a deputy foreign minister of the USSR and headed the European relations service, was also a song lyricist. He wrote an interesting song with these words, “Détente, we have you in our hands.” I do not think that détente is in the hands of any of the US presidential candidates. The American ruling elites have gone too far in unifying against Russia, regardless of party affiliation. In my view, this is becoming a force majeure.

One can talk a lot about the role of the individual in history, about situations where a single person at the helm in some country turns the wheel so sharply that the huge ship changes its course. But that is not the case today. I would also like to remind you that Joe Biden’s predecessor imposed what by that time was an unprecedented number of sanctions on Russia. So what gives some people the illusion that his potential return to the White House would mean some improvements?

As regards détente, we probably can in principle hope for improvements, but in the very distant future. But we should prepare for the worst in following the well-known principle. I would avoid assessing anyone’s chances in the US election race. It is none of our business what will happen there. But whatever happens, we will be open to dialogue with those who come to power, with those who remain in power, with those who hold any office that enables them to exercise any influence. This is by no means a matter of someone’s, shall we say, list of priorities.

There is a concrete Russian-American agenda. It is rather impoverished today, and there are aspects to it that threaten to make our relations even worse. That is what we need to address. We should try to manage the sweeping and dangerous crisis in Russian-American relations regardless of who comes or does not come to power in the 2024 US election.

Q: Perhaps Trump’s reason for sanctions was a desire to refute speculations about his Russian connections?

A: Recently, the so-called Russian dossier on Trump completely fell apart. We have said many times that all those allegations were not just far-fetched but falsified on a global historical scale. They were shamelessly produced by the American pro-Democratic political elite that was gripped by primitive hatred for Russia and completely hooked on a liberal globalist agenda. These false allegations aimed to first prevent Trump, who was perceived as an outsider, from taking power and then to discredit him.

It was clear from the very beginning that the Russian dossier was a bubble. Today, this is glossed over in the US, and there are attempts to consign it to oblivion as soon as possible. But a fact is a fact. And what is going to come next? Those who get involved in things like this and try to think up new ways of besmirching Russia have no principles or moral constraints and can be expected to stage any provocations. We should be ready for them. As the election campaign gains momentum, there may be similar new excesses, though it is obvious that there was nothing even remotely similar to any interference in US domestic political processes on our part, nor could there have been anything of the kind.

Q: Are Russian missions in the US and elsewhere in the West under increasing pressure?

A: Our missions in unfriendly countries are constantly under intense pressure, both political and psychological. Provocations by intelligence services have become regular occurrences, as totally unacceptable as this practice is. For instance, the CIA posted an appeal to Russian nationals on Telegram to consider being recruited by the agency.

Problems have emerged with property, accounts, and remittances for the operation of our missions. All that is a reality. Our colleagues and friends – in many cases people with whom we have worked for years – are experiencing hard times. We are doing all we can to protect them from any hostile acts and will continue to do so. But it is also clear that there will be more pressure and that the authorities in some countries will continue, in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to condone acts of hooliganism by members of local Ukrainian immigrant communities and anti-Russian activists from various waves of emigration from Russia that in many cases directly threaten the safety of Russian diplomats. We will obviously still have to deal with outrages of this kind.

We do not stoop to copying such methods, but we will ensure reciprocity. This especially applies to the activities of Western intelligence services. They need to be brought to reason. If they fail to follow elementary ethics, norms written down in basic documents regulating diplomatic relations, they should simply be taught to. It has to be acknowledged that in many Western capitals, concepts of what is good and what is bad are falling apart. State officials are losing all moral principles, no matter what positions and areas of responsibility are listed on their business cards.

Q: Will we block their bank accounts?

A: This has already been done.

Q: Finnish accounts?

A: And others. There is a record of that. In some cases, this has a sobering effect. In other situations, we apparently need more powerful medicine.

Q: Recently there was a report in the American press that a special village may be built in Russia for American conservatives, to which 200 American families would be able to move. Could you comment on this in view of the new reality and the conflict of values between the West and our country?

A: I cannot confirm directly what Newsweek said on this subject. Apparently, our media that cited this did not verify or study it, either. But the article does pick up on a trend. I have no doubt that quite a lot of people with conservative views – people who are loyal to traditional values and reject the liberal LGBT ideology and the agenda that is being forced on the entire international community as a new set of norms – are considering options of where they would be better off, where they would have more freedom, where they would be able to fulfill themselves without fearing being bullied or having obstacles raised to them at work, where they would be able to believe in God without fearing liberal globalist oppression. Where, finally, their children would be able to go to school normally.

I think these matters will receive serious consideration in conservative circles espousing firm values opposed to what the Western liberal elites are promoting – especially because there are blatant repressive practices in countries such as Canada, where deviation from the mainstream is punished severely and weak-willed people feel it is best not to take risks but to go with the flow.

Q: BRICS will hold a summit in South Africa this summer. What key issues do you expect to be raised during it and what do you expect from this meeting?

A: The agenda for the planned BRICS summit in Johannesburg on August 22-24 is being put together by our South African friends, who hold this year’s chairmanship of the association. The declared theme of the summit is “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.”

As usual, the leaders will discuss key international issues and opportunities for cooperation in multilateral formats. Of course, they will also focus on cooperation within BRICS, including discussing the outlook for building up trade and economic ties and increasing the effectiveness and independence of payment mechanisms. As far as we know, the South African chair plans to pay close attention to the issue of enlarging BRICS.

The upcoming summit will be an important step in strengthening the quintet’s cooperation with a wide range of like-minded countries. The agenda for the meeting includes a separate event in the Outreach/BRICS-Plus format, in which the leaders of various developing countries, including African states, will take part.

Q: Anil Sooklal, the South African ambassador-at-large for Asia and BRICS, said recently that 19 Latin American, African, and Asian countries had, in one form or another, expressed a desire to join BRICS. How do you assess prospects for BRICS enlargement?

A: Interest in BRICS is growing steadily because of large-scale geopolitical challenges and the radical changes that are taking place in the world. BRICS is seen as one of the pillars of a new, more just world order, because it offers the world constructive, unifying, forward-looking initiatives. Nor should we forget that BRICS possesses tremendous potential for cooperation in a wide range of fields.

Obviously, the unipolar model is receding into the past. There are growing new centers of power in Asia, Africa, and Latin America that pursue independent foreign policies and are determined to advance their own interests. This is why the announcement in 2022 about stepping up discussions about enlarging BRICS drew a powerful positive response from the developing world.

At the moment, there are intensive discussions in BRICS aimed at determining the modalities for enlarging the association. The South African chair has the aim of achieving major progress before the Johannesburg summit. We will actively support this.

But we must not hurry. The accession of new states is a matter that requires careful analysis and meticulous efforts to achieve consensus.

Q: Are there any plans for more extensive institutionalization of BRICS, or will its current format remain unchanged?

A: If by institutionalization you mean making interaction mechanisms more efficient and more systemic, this is being done all the time. BRICS has a ramified structure encompassing over 20 specialist fields that cover all three main components of our cooperation – political dialogue and security, economics and finance, and humanitarian and cultural affairs.

Russia consistently seeks closer cooperation between BRICS and developing countries. Mechanisms have been set up in the association to bring the Outreach/BRICS Plus format into being. This format will make it possible to build a stable group of friends of BRICS. Boosting this format is one of our priorities. We are sure that this practice will help consolidate efforts by the majority of the international community to solve shared or similar problems of development and manage challenges emerging in trade and economic relations. We hail the decision of our South African friends to invite some developing countries to the August summit and to the meeting of BRICS foreign ministers on June 1-2, 2023.

However, transforming BRICS into an international organization is not on the agenda. Nor is there any need for this today. The strongest point of BRICS is the flexible character of interaction and the absence of stereotyped practices within it. Member states cooperate in areas they choose.

Q: How do you view the role and future of the New Development Bank?

A: I am glad that, despite the current turbulence in international relations in general and in the world economy, the bank keeps moving forward. Under the terms of the agreement on the New Development Bank, which was signed at the 2014 BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, the main objective of the institution is to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries. The NDB has been coping with this mission quite well.

The bank has nearly 90 projects worth a total of $31.7 billion in its loan portfolio. There is a goal to enlarge the share of nonsovereign projects in the portfolio, which would significantly enrich the bank’s resources. The NDB is building ties with other multinational and national development banks and with leading commercial banks in BRICS member countries. We expect that currencies alternative to the US dollar, primarily the national currencies of BRICS member countries, will play a bigger role in NDB activities. This is one objective in NBD’s General Strategy for 2022-2026.

Q: In March 2019, BRICS announced the creation of BRICS Pay, a payment system that would be operative in the five member countries. Where does this initiative stand today?

A: This initiative was discussed at the BRICS Business Council, a body aimed at strengthening contacts among the business communities of the five countries. It is still on the agenda, and work to that effect is ongoing. Whether this idea is implemented largely depends on whether economic operators in the member countries are interested in it.

Q: The issue of creating a single payment system for BRICS falls into the same category, right?

A: The BRICS countries have long been taking measures to transition to mutual payments in national currencies. The use of the dollar by Washington and its satellites to pressure other countries has only confirmed the need for such efforts.

The unlawful deprivation of Russia’s ability to handle its own assets has raised legitimate concerns among other countries. The sanctions war against our country, especially attempts to block our financial transactions and restrict our exports, including exports that are critical for developing countries, has forced many nations to wonder about alternatives to the dollar and new payment systems. The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has proposed that BRICS consider creating a single currency for the five nations. Let me remind you that in June 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested establishing an international reserve currency based on a basket of the currencies of the BRICS countries. Naledi Pandor, the foreign minister of South Africa, spoke in the same vein recently. It is conceivable that the topic of settlements in national currencies will be developed during the BRICS summit in South Africa.

However, we need to realize that a lot of work still needs to be done to implement the idea. A single currency means a common central bank with the five countries approving its powers and authorizing it to issue the currency, and this would, among other things, require the five nations to harmonize their monetary and macroeconomic policies. The BRICS countries are not yet ready for this.

On the other hand, the existence of a BRICS payment system based on a five-nation currency basket with all member countries retaining their own currencies would enable them to avoid the dollar in mutual transactions. All this requires thorough preparation work in the BRICS countries.

In any case, it is one of the financial priorities of BRICS to build an efficient independent five-nation payment infrastructure. I am sure that we will be able to hammer out an algorithm that satisfies all five countries and that in the future we will be able to extend it to transactions with third countries. Russia will take an active part in discussing this matter.

Q: I have a question now about the G7 summit in Hiroshima. Were the Western countries able to force their anti-Russian orientation on nations that cooperate with Russia?

A: I don’t think so. Moreover, I have reasons to assume that for many – and not only for those who attended that show but also for some that did not get an invitation – Hiroshima was a significant reminder that the West’s agenda is radically different from what the developing world is interested in and needs. One-sidedness, an anti-Russian fixation, a focus on the single objective of bullying anyone who disobeys the dictates of the collective West – in general, this is not a very attractive basis for the international community’s interaction with the G7.

Of course, for some, considerations of prestige played a role: gratitude for being invited. Others probably thought they should show up there to avoid angering those who claim, with varying degrees of success, to be the masters of the world. However, I am sure that in the overall scheme of things, the Americans and others of their ilk failed to achieve their goal at Hiroshima. If anything, the opposite happened. Despite its pomp and the number of documents adopted during it, that summit could have been summed up in a single word – Ukraine. And that is far from satisfying to everyone in the international community.

Q: There were those who naïvely expected that the American president would apologize to Japan for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That did not happen. But you probably were not surprised, right?

A:I was not surprised at all. That is not a principle of US politicians –

Q: To repent?

A: Oh no, you must be joking! – to simply do what is right and proper, to do what is generally accepted. A statement on nuclear disarmament issued at the summit includes the phrase “solemn and reflective moment” in reference to the fact that Hiroshima was the place where the document was adopted. There were quite a few such Hiroshima “hashtags,” but, of course, we did not see any human response, a fitting bow of the head, nor was there any chance of seeing any. Why? Because a hegemon never bows to anyone.

Q: Is it realistic to expect Ukraine to get F-16 fighter jets?

A: The response will be the continued systematic pursuit of the goals and objectives of the Special Military Operation. Our measured step, the movement toward our goals is irreversible. No F-16s can stop this. A group of countries is trying to provide this old rubbish to Ukraine under the guise of aid in the hope of obtaining more modern weapons from the US. The American military industrial complex is rubbing its hands. Politicians in Washington have a dream that Europe, in terms of its independence in various areas, would cease to exist as soon as possible. The Americans are continuing their trademark policy of shooting a lot of geopolitical birds with one stone. But they will not achieve any Russia-related goals with their F-16s or any other systems that they have supplied or are going to supply to Ukraine. Nor will this be achieved by any of the others who are wailing in chorus about inflicting a strategic defeat on Russia.

Q: We hear assurances From Vladimir Zelensky that the F-16s would not be used to strike Russian territory. The same assurances were made about the HIMARS, Storm Shadows, and so on that are attacking Donbass. It’s a game of saying you won’t do something but then you go ahead and do it.

A: It is also a game of nerves. It is an attempt to undermine the unity of Russian society, among other things. We must not be provoked. What has been coming from Washington lately represents brazen and self-confident mentoring of us and another signal to Kiev that it is free to do anything it wants. First, it is announced that, since Washington does not recognize Crimea to be the sovereign territory of Russia, Kiev may use any American weapons there. But the next day, a clarification is issued that, of course, the US does not really encourage strikes against Russian territory proper. Eventually the notion is rolled out that it is up to Kiev to decide what to do. This means the Kiev regime has carte blanche from the Americans. We are drawing political and practical military conclusions from this.

Q: President Putin mentioned the role of globalist elites when he was speaking about responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine. Is the role of the individual being eroded by the increase in the role and influence of globalist elites?

A: Undoubtedly. And not only in politics. The same is happening in business. One practically cannot distinguish the management of one large corporation from another, regardless of where these companies are based, in which country in the “historical West” they were set up, where they are registered, and what they specialize in. The same goes for the global mass media and key educational institutions and research centers. The same deck of cards is shuffled. They all have the same unsophisticated vocabulary, which is a kind of pass to a fancy office with an expensive view. A while ago, an illusion emerged that all this globalism would benefit civilization and would be an extremely powerful stimulus to universal growth and welfare and so forth. But the agendas that emerged in the West were warped, became a means of dominating people, ruling by diktat, telling people what to do, how to live, what to consume. They led to like-mindedness in the worst sense. In politics, it is clearly portrayed as an unalterable reality and, as I would put it, a civilizational feat.

Take a look at a joint declaration of NATO and the EU that was published several months ago. It says openly that the world should be built in such a way as to guarantee the security and well-being of a billion people – that is to say, the population of the countries that make up these two groups. Who is the author of the declaration? An absolutely new formation of “thinkers” and politicians. Dangerous people, in fact.

Q: Thank you, Sergey Alexeyevich [Ryabkov].

A: Thank you. May your journal prosper.