The Western media failed to notice an oh-so juicy nugget from Russia lately that should have triggered alarm bells in Washington. When asked about the momentary state of U.S.-Russia relations, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova held a long speech that can be read below.
In her response, Zakharova hinted that Russia may “publish leaks” about “secrets” the Obama administration requested the Russian government to keep hidden. The stunning statement can be read in the second to last paragraph of Zakharova’s response edited in both bold and italic.
You can just imagine the headlines if this were to happen to a Trump administration official.
However, since it is about Barack Obama, probably one of the most awful presidents in US history, the liberal popular media totally ignores this.
Question: How do you see the future of Russian-US diplomatic relations in the context of the current atmosphere in Washington? Can you confirm that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will come to Moscow in April?
Maria Zakharova: Apparently, many volumes have been written about the development of Russian-US relations. I announced the release of the Foreign Ministry’s yearend Diplomatic Bulletin and even showed it at the previous briefing. I believe that about 20 per cent of that bulletin was devoted to Russian-US relations, the way we see them, how we want them to develop, what we expect from Washington, what we are willing to do with the United States, the priority areas of cooperation, areas where our cooperation should be revived without delay and the areas where this can wait, at least for a limited time. This issue has been covered in interviews by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, comments by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and in numerous statements made at all levels by representatives from various Russian agencies, political analysts and politicians, as well as officials from the legislative and executive authorities. We can talk about bilateral relations with a different degree of mastery, but we would like to start implementing our relationship at long last.
We shared our views on bilateral relations and the reasons for blocking them under President Obama. We said that we were willing to collaborate with the new US administration, under President Trump. I don’t think we need to make up anything in this respect, since so much has been said before. Simply, we should begin with concrete practical work. We are prepared for this.
You know that we always invite our American colleagues and diplomats to join bilateral or multilateral dialogues on issues in which the United States has traditionally played a big and active role, such as Syria, the consultations in Astana and many others. We expect Washington to formulate its foreign policy approaches in the form of a concept. We are ready for pragmatic and specific work on the principles that we have described many times.
When it comes to the visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the information about it, this is what I can say. It’s not a mystery that preparations for any visit involve the coordination of the moment when it can be announced. Visits by foreign ministers are public occasions that are never held secret. At least, I don’t know about any secret visits by foreign ministers in Russia or the United States. Arrangements for such a visit also involve the coordination of the format, plan and the date it can be introduced to the public. It is an issue of propriety and respect for each other’s interests. One side suggests a date, and the other side is expected to agree to it. This date should be suitable to both sides, since the foreign ministers have loaded schedules. The issue also concerns the coordination of the agenda by experts. One side updates the other side of the problems it plans to discuss, and the other side needs to answer that the agenda is acceptable. This means that, the sides need to reach agreements on many matters, after which they can declare an upcoming visit.
To tell the truth, over the past few years we’ve seen many strange things happen in Washington in connection with preparations for visits or talks by our foreign ministers. The US Department of State has more than once asked us not to announce planned visits until the last minute. This is not our tradition. We have been operating openly for years, but we have respected the requests we have received from our colleagues in Washington in the past few years. But what happened after that? First, the US Department of State asked us to keep the planned visit quiet and not to announce it until the last possible minute, until we coordinated the date. We did as they asked. But a day or two later the information was leaked by the US State Department and sometimes by the US administration. Frankly, this put Russia and the media in a strange situation, because they didn’t know who to believe – the official agencies or the many leaks.
It is hard to say if this diplomatic communication is a US tendency or the most recent technique. But it certainly doesn’t match our traditions. We think that every little thing we coordinate should be made accessible to the media in agreement with diplomatic procedure. When we coordinate a visit and the time for announcing it, the topic should be made public with ease and as agreed. This is what we practice with our colleagues from other countries.
Also, I would like to say that if the practice of leaking information that concerns not just the United States but also Russia, which has become a tradition in Washington in the past few years, continues, there will come a day when the media will publish leaks about the things that Washington asked us to keep secret, for example, things that happened during President Obama’s terms in office. Believe me, this could be very interesting information.
We can only presume that if Obama loyalists hidden in the White House keep on to leaking intel, it’s unavoidable that Russia will drop a hammer on Obama.
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