Remarks With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

John Kerry
Secretary of State
The Kremlin
Moscow, Russia
March 24, 2016

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Distinguished colleagues, we are beginning the press conference of the ministers of foreign affairs here of the Russian Federation and the U.S.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, today the State – the Secretary of State of the U.S. have had a day of negotiations in the Russian capital. First, we had a long meeting in the ministry of foreign affairs, and now, there has been a long meeting with the president of the Russian Federation.

Today, many issues were discussed in detail. We began by discussing our bilateral relations in great detail, and we have been practically discussing the key international issues. Speaking about the bilateral affairs, I believe we have seen the growing understanding of the counterproductiveness of the cause towards – swaying of the structure of Russian-American relations, and the rhetoric about the isolation of Russia, as we have seen today, has nothing to do with reality. We highly valuate the position of President Obama, who has highlighted for many times the importance of the respectful and pragmatic dialogue with the Russian Federation, and we highly valuate the role of the Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry, who practically promotes this dialogue, including during his regular visits to Moscow.

For less than 10 months, John Kerry visit our capital for three times, and for the last year, we have had – we had 18 meetings with the Secretary of State. That is, I believe, a record of the bilateral relations of Russia – between the ministers of foreign affairs. We, on our side, have reiterated that we were never closing ourselves from cooperation and never avoided cooperation. We are always ready to cooperate on the equal basis and on the basis of the respect of mutual interests.

In this context, we have analyzed a number of practical issues of our bilateral agenda, and we have agreed to organize a regular review of our relations in order to find mutually acceptable solutions on a number of issues. A similar approach is needed in our international affairs cooperation, and the atmosphere of the Russian-American dialogue has direct influence on the efforts of the international community to settle many topical issues. Thanks to our cooperation on that basis, we have managed to move forward in overcoming or settling the Syria’s crisis – Syrian crisis, and thanks to the U.S.-American – the U.S.-Russian initiative acknowledged by Presidents Obama and Putin, we have formed the ISSG – International Syrian Support Group mechanism.

And today, in order to follow up to the presidential phone conversation on the 14th of March, we agreed to continue our actions, consolidation, in order to enhance the ceasefire regime, in order to stop the violations of this regime. And we will give special attention to the necessity of not allowing the nonselective weapons use. We have also agreed to expand the humanitarian access to the blocked regions or areas in Syria. We are urging all the participants of the Syrian conflict to take additional steps to release the prisoners and the detainees, and I believe the most important thing at this stage – we have agreed to boost our efforts in creating the necessary conditions for political process in Syria.

The political process should come to the agreement of the Syrians themselves – what would they like their country to be? And as the next step, we have agreed to try and begin the direct talks in Geneva between the delegation of the government and all the range of opposition groups in order to fully implement the parameters of the UN Security Council Resolution 2264 about the processes which would form the transitory governing structure and lead to the agreement on the new constitution and the free elections based on this new constitution.

We have also reiterated that our efforts will be implemented in parallel with increasing coordination in our struggle with ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusrah, and other related extremist organizations. We believe that this means the necessity to implement the demands of the UN Security Council about seizure of any support of terrorists – be that financial support, arms, economic operations of terrorism – terrorists or granting them refuge.

We have also discussed some other conflicts in the Middle East and north of Africa, including Libyan conflict and conflict in Yemen. We have said that we must revive the Palestinian and Israeli talks within the international law and the existing resolutions and solutions of the UN. And for the region as such, we need to find the balance of interests of both the parties involved in conflict and the key stakeholders or external players.

We have had a long discussion about Ukraine, and despite some details, we have no disagreements about the fact that the Minsk agreements must be implemented, and this has no alternative, including through the direct dialogue between Kyiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk, including on such issues as enhancing security and promotion of political process, which means the agreements enshrined in the package of measures about local elections, amnesty law, special status of Donbas and its enshrining in the constitution, and the necessary constitutional reform of Ukraine.

During our talks in the morning, we also discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula and highlighted the necessity to defuse the tensions after the nuclear tests and missile launches performed by North Korea. Our position – the position of Russia – is unchanged. The irresponsible actions of Pyongyang must not be used as a pretext for inadequate and unproportional response in the form of expanding the military protection in Northeastern Asia.

We have also discussed our dialogue about the global security. We stated that here there are still disagreements which remain, especially about the missile defense system and about the INF Treaty and the NATO expansion. But we agreed to intensify our dialogue and make it more practical and more sustainable and stable in order to finally try and solve these matters.

We, on our side – on the side of Russia – would like to highlight the usefulness of our contacts with the Secretary of State of the United States, and we believe that those contacts are aimed to implement the desire of our presidents to solve the issues in bilateral relations and on the international arena successfully. We have agreed to continue our contacts on these and other issues of our joint agenda. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you, Sergey, for your comments and for your hospitality. Thanks to you and President Putin for taking the time today for very serious and constructive conversations. I might say, as you heard from Sergey’s comments, it was a very expansive and comprehensive series of discussions ranging from the situation in North Korea to all of the other locations that – issues that Sergey mentioned.

Let me just say that earlier today, I had the privilege of meeting with Scott Kelly, the American astronaut who spent 340 days in space with his counterpart, Mikhail Kornienko. I had a chance to talk to both of them about their time in space together, where they spent that remarkable period of historic time cooperating and working together – two astronauts, one American, one Russian, who were working to study the effects of long-term space flight on the human body. And as I listened to both of them talking to me about their time, it emphasized to me the fact of close collaboration being a demonstration of what not just two astronauts can do, but what nations can do when they work together, whether it’s on the International Space Station or in international diplomacy.

In the past months, as Sergey mentioned, we’ve met a fair amount, and I think there’s something to show for it. We worked together very closely on the Iran nuclear agreement. We worked together to be able to remove chemical weapons from Syria. And God knows what would have happened had that not taken place and Daesh had access to those weapons today. And we worked very closely together in order to try to push forward with the International Syria Support Group, as Sergey mentioned, in order to bring about a cessation of hostilities, which, as of this Sunday, will have held for one month. Now, one month is not enough for any of us. We want this to become permanent. We want this to be the state of life in Syria. And that is why we work today in order to try to explore the road ahead.

But we have seen, through these efforts I just listed, how engagement, how talking together, having a dialogue and putting to test each other’s views and ideas can, in fact, yield positive results as it has in Syria, among other places. The cessation of hostilities has largely held – not entirely – and we both know that. Despite the dire predictions of many, there are people who have been able to engage at a cafe in a city, people who have been able to demonstrate, and people who have been able to live free from violence for the first time in five years.

There also have been the violations we talked about, and we take every report of a violation very seriously. But teams from both of our nations are also working and dealing with that. We have a task force which Foreign Minister Lavrov and I chair – co-chair that is working in Geneva, and we have a team that is in Amman, Jordan working on a daily basis in order to try to sort through the allegations of violations and try to help keep the cessation in place.

There is no doubt that the overall level of bombing and of shelling has decreased sharply, and that many people who had been living in constant fear for five years have at least achieved a small measure of relief. Meanwhile, importantly, access to humanitarian supplies has increased in areas that have long been denied food, water, and other necessities. Now, these improvements are welcome but they are not sufficient, nor are they permanent. And it does not represent a job finished.

That’s why we came here to talk today. We are mindful that there are still hundreds of thousands of Syrians who are unable to meet their basic needs. And part of what we discussed today is the urgency of addressing all of the elements of this ongoing crisis. We agreed today to build on recent gains by taking immediate steps to reinforce the cessation of hostilities, including by working to end the use of any indiscriminate weapons, to end the – to halt attempts by either side to seize new territory, and to finalize a common understanding for how this cessation can be institutionalized, how it can work even more effectively.

We agreed today that the United States and Russia would push for expanded humanitarian access in order to reach all parts of Syria, while at the same time preventing any party from interfering with the deliveries of essential supplies. We agreed that the regime and the opposition need to begin releasing detainees, and they need to begin as soon as possible starting with those who are the most vulnerable. We agreed on a target schedule for establishing a framework for a political transition and also a draft constitution, both of which we target by August.

And we agreed that the next steps in the Geneva talks is to immediately take up the details of the political transition – the best and perhaps the only way of ending the war – and also to do so under the terms of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva communique combined. On this front, I just – I want to commend the leadership and the tireless efforts of Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in recent weeks as he works to convene the talks between the parties and to push for concrete steps to try to bring this very dark chapter to a close.

Underscoring the urgency of all of these actions and more to come are the appalling terrorist attacks that took place in Brussels. They are a stark reminder – they are a violent reminder – of the essential task at hand that brought us here today: to resolve the conflict in Syria and to focus all of our attention on defeating and destroying Daesh and those who share its abhorrent aims.

So today I think it is fair to say that we reached a better understanding of the decisions that President Putin has made of late and also of the path forward in Syria. We have a long way to go, but I am leaving here with a better sense of what it is we need to accomplish with our partners, and we remain – Russia and the United States – committed to achieving a political solution that the Syrian people deserve.

In addition to Syria, Sergey mentioned a number of the other areas that we talked about, and one of those is we also talked about the difficult situation in Ukraine. Let me make it clear: The United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that includes Crimea. As President Obama reiterated in his recent call with President Putin, and as I underscored in our meeting today, our position is clear and we agree with Sergey Lavrov and Russia that the Minsk agreements must be fully implemented without delay. We discussed how to get back to a real and comprehensive ceasefire and how to restore unfettered access for OSCE monitors and how to accelerate the process of a negotiated – of negotiating the election modalities for Donbas, which are all critical next steps in this journey.

I reinforced President Obama’s pledge to roll back sanctions when all of the provisions of Minsk are complete, including the withdrawal of all weapons and fighters and the return of Ukraine’s sovereign border.

Finally, I did raise the case of Nadiya Savchenko and her conviction and her sentencing with hopes that she will be allowed to return to Ukraine and as a matter of humanitarian interest that this case could be resolved immediately, as well as all others who are unlawfully detained.

In closing, we all know that there have been some differences between the United States and Russia in these past years, but it is precisely discussions like those that we had today that lead to a better set of outcomes. And whether it is immediate or eventual, this is the way we work to deal with the most pressing issues that the world faces today. I think Sergey Lavrov and I share the belief that it is always worth the effort to try to be able to make progress on difficult fronts. So it is in that spirit that I very much look forward to continuing our work together in the weeks and months ahead with hopes that we can make progress in Syria, that we could ultimately see peace, the possibility of peace, and indeed, that we could make progress in the other challenges that we have talked about throughout the day.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Distinguished colleagues, we have an opportunity to ask one question from Russian and American journalist. First, the floor is given to the American press.

MR KIRBY: One from Neil MacFarquhar from The New York Times.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you for the question. You both talked about specific steps in terms of the negotiations over the political transition in Syria in terms of the timetable, but you didn’t say anything about pressuring the two sides. What kind of agreement did you reach in terms of putting pressure on both the government and the opposition to reach an agreement?

And Secretary Kerry, on your way here, you staff said that you were interested in hearing Russia’s thoughts about a transition away from Mr. Assad, and the question has always been whether Russia is unwilling or unable to pressure Mr. Assad to make change. And I’m wondering if you could answer that question now: Are they unwilling because Mr. Putin disagrees with transition from outside? Are they unable because they have insufficient leverage?

And Mr. Lavrov, in the wake of Brussels, there were several statements from senior Russian, including your own ministry, suggesting that the United States was part of the problem in the Middle East because it was supporting terrorists. And today you talked about the United States being a partner. It’s sort of a contradiction. Which does the – how does Russia see the United States, as a part of the solution or part of the problem?


FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: It’s your guy. (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY KERRY: No. In our country, none of them are our guys. (Laughter.)

We are here talking about a road ahead in Syria because we decided together that it was important to try to bring this war to a close. We both understand the stakes. We are both committed to destroying Daesh, Nusrah, terrorist entities, and we are both committed to a Syria that is whole, nonsectarian, secular; a Syria in which minorities are protected, in which the Syrian people have the ability to live in peace and stability. That’s what we’re committed to. And we have indicated that on four separate occasions. We have indicated it publicly in major occasions: in Vienna twice – we issued two communiques in which Sergey Lavrov and I chaired that initiative; at the United Nations, we passed a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution; and in Munich we again met as a International Syria Support Group and again reiterated our commitment to a Syria that is at peace and whole.

We adopted the notion of a transition for Syria. Russia and the United States and all of the other countries, as part of the International Syria Support Group, support a transition as called for in the Geneva communique. And I might add, one of the supporters of that particular approach both times in Vienna and subsequently in the meeting in New York and then in Munich is Iran, which also signed onto that.

So we have a unanimity about the vision of how we can achieve peace in Syria. Obviously, Russia has had a higher stake in the Assad regime than any other country and recently made a decision to try to stabilize the situation on behalf of President Assad. They did so, and President Putin subsequently made a decision that he thought that they had accomplished the goal and the time had come for them to make it clear that they were then going to start withdrawing troops from Syria. At the same time, he reiterated and Foreign Minister Lavrov have reiterated their commitment to the political process, to trying to find a way at the table, negotiating though the Geneva process, to succeed in achieving the political transition we’ve all talked about.

Russia will have to speak for itself as to what it’s going to choose to do in order to help Mr. Assad make the right decisions, but we agreed today on what we announced: that we will accelerate the effort to try to move the political process forward, that we will accelerate our own efforts internally to keep the cessation of hostilities working, and that we will call on the release of detainees and push for the delivery of humanitarian goods and perfect our own cooperative efforts with respect to each of those initiatives that we’re undertaking.

So I would say to you that I believe Russia is fully engaged in this effort, and all of us are going to try to get President Assad to make the right decision in these next days to engage in a political process that results in a genuine transition and in peace for Syria.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) As far as the necessity to exercise pressure on the Syrian Government and on the opposition is concerned, this matter is not new. And here no additional arrangements or agreements are needed. Beginning with Geneva communique of 30th of June 2012 and the resolutions of the UN Security Council which were dedicated to the Syrian settlement, all those documents have the urging – they urge all the sides which could influence the government and the opposition to do all that is needed to make all the necessary efforts to push the parties to political settlement.

And from the very beginning, Russia has been doing that. I’d like to remind you that the Geneva communique, which everyone likes to quote, now was approved by the government just a few days after it was signed in Geneva. And the opposition did not do that for a long time. Moreover, the Geneva communique was approved by the UN Security Council only 18 months after it was adopted, because our proposal to approve it by the UN Security Council was not first supported by our Western partners, who wanted to approve this communique with additional preconditions, which was not a part of the deal before, and we are used to respecting the existing deals.

Now, we could remember how about two and a bit years – for the last two years after the Montreux Conference we saw the – we saw Secretary Kerry arriving to Moscow in May 2013 and we managed to organize the Montreux Conference. It was not a good experience, but since then, Russia has been working with the government and all the opposition groups with no exceptions, including the groups which are thought to be unappeased or violent opposition. We worked with them in Moscow, in other capitals, in the region, and we have been urging them to follow the path enshrined in the Geneva communique. That is the necessity to have the political process, including the agreement on the details of the transition period or process to – the creation of the transitory governing body with all the fullness of the executive power, and this must be done as enshrined in Geneva communique and approved by the UN Security Council. This must be done on the basis of agreement of all the range of opposition groups and the government. We are fully committed to this very principle in all its completeness, and we expect our partners to follow this path.

Now, I can give an example of our joint work with the Government of Syria. The Government of Syria supported the initiative which was launched by Russia and the U.S. and which then turned out to be the ISSG and the corresponding resolution of the UN Security Council about the settlement parameters. The government did that and the opposition did not do that for a long time because it was insisting on first deciding on the destiny of the president of Syria.

In January, when there was the first round of talks, opposition was also not quite willing to participate. That is why nothing began in January. And the process of negotiations was launched only in March, and it was launched not as a direct dialogue, but it is the direct dialogue which we must achieve in accordance with the Geneva communique. And Staffan de Mistura, whose efforts we actively support, as John said, worked individually with different groups of government and opposition and is still doing so. And those groups are now located in different rooms.

Today we agreed to urge on them to sit at the very same negotiations table. The opposition, which one must work with, as you have mentioned correctly, is now so far putting forward some preconditions. That is why the part of Russian-American initiative, which concerns the inclusiveness of the negotiations process, cannot yet be implemented, including the inclusiveness of the delegations from the opposition, which means the participation of Kurds as well. I would not go into details; I believe all of you follow the news and everyone knows why the Kurds still cannot be invited as a full-fledged participants of the negotiations process.

So yes, we have discussed all that today and we have agreed that the pressure on all the sides must be increased in order to bring all the Syrian participants of this process to the Geneva communique and the decisions of the UN Security Council taken after that.

As far as terrorism is concerned and the root causes of the current horrible wave of this threat, I think there’s nothing to argue or dispute about. There are a lot of politicians and experts – political experts, including in the U.S., including the politicians still in power – who admit that terrorism was mostly provoked by wrong actions of the West in the region. I would not remember about the Afghan campaign when, in order to counter the Soviet Union, the U.S. in the 1980s contributed to the creation of an organizations from Mujahids which later turned al-Qaida – into al-Qaida. And on the 11th of September 2001, that very organization created by the U.S. – al-Qaida – has performed a strike onto the U.S. – against the U.S. And unfortunately, all the attempts to have external manipulation of the processes in the region, especially by – with the use of force, ended up in the stronger terrorist international forces.

That happened in Iraq because since the invasion into Iraq at the middle of the last decades, the people which are now the leaders of ISIS or Daesh have emerged there.

We can remember about Libya, which has become a black hole where the militants and the arms were spreading from – to the dozens of other countries, including the Sub-Saharan Africa countries, saying nothing about the adjacent countries. And Libya has become a black hole where the smuggling of migrants to Europe was – illicit smuggling of migrants to Europe was organized.

We are not trying to accuse anyone of anything. The decisions are considered violations by many active politicians of the U.S. themselves. So if those facts are acknowledged to be wrong – and we can’t say that we can’t be partners with the U.S. The U.S. have a lot of partners who disagree with them, and I already gave you an example about the attempts to prevent the Kurds to participate in the political process on Syria. The ultimatums are being put forward by one of the allies of the U.S., but that doesn’t mean that some disagreements in some matters could be the ground for not talking with anyone about anything.

During this press conference, we have informed you how we talked during the negotiations today. We have a lot of – a number of issues where we have no agreement yet, and I believe there will be some issues like that in the future always, but we have some areas where we have our common interests and where we have full agreement, where we want to cooperate on an equal basis and on the basis of the balance of interests. I think I have fully covered your question now. I believe that would be it.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) And now the question from the Russian journalist Olga (inaudible) with the Russia TV.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you. All the Ukrainian channels today begin their news sites saying that Mr. Kerry came to Moscow to press on Russia in the Savchenko case. Did you manage to press on Russia in that? And were they correct – the Ukrainian mass media, were they correct in formulating the goal of your visit like that? And why are you – why do you care about the Ukrainian pilot Savchenko and do not care about the destiny of Bout and Yaroshenko?

Now a question to Mr. Lavrov: Mr. Kerry has been speaking about sanctions, about Russia, and that is really intriguing us, especially the announcement that you have something in your case. What have you brought in your case, and why, Mr. Kerry, do you – have you come with guitar when Mr. Lavrov knows how to play guitar? And when can we hope to have your musical duet?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I haven’t seen the way this story characterized my visit here, so let me characterize it rather than have somebody else characterize it.

I didn’t come here for one purpose alone. I came here, as I mentioned earlier, to talk about a broad array of issues, some of which we agree on, some of which we don’t agree on, as Sergey has just mentioned. We still disagree on certain things, but we have been able to find agreement on very important issues where we’ve been able to make progress. But it’s important not just to us as two countries, but I believe progress that makes a difference to all countries of the world that care about not having nuclear weapons or care about people not using chemical weapons or that care about not having millions of people driven out of their homes and tortured and barrel bombed and gassed and made into refugees that crisscross the world today – if you care about those things, those are the things that have brought me here, among other things. We talked about North Korea. We talked about Libya. We talked about Yemen. We talked about, obviously, the – Syria and Ukraine.

So one of the issues I raised – not unimportant – is the case of Nadiya Savchenko, yes. I raised the issue, as we have many times, and I had a discussion with the president about it. He answered my questions and gave me a sense that this is hopefully something that at an appropriate moment we may or may not be able to deal with. We’ll find out. But I did raise it, and there is a distinction, I think, in the Yaroshenko case with respect to what Mr. Yaroshenko was sentenced for, which is serious offenses with respect to narcotics trafficking. But his health is an issue that’s been raised. We’ve made it very clear – I made it clear today to Foreign Minister Lavrov, who raised the issue with me – that if he will sign a release with respect to his medical records, they will be made public and people can make any judgment they want about his treatment and what is happening.

So that’s where we stand. But with respect to the conversations that we had today, as I said earlier, I consider them to be constructive and important. And again, I expressed my gratitude. The president of the country, who had a long day – I know, because I know some of the things he was doing – spent about four hours going over the important issues to us. And from the moment this morning, Foreign Minister Lavrov has been engaged in these discussions. So they’ve been productive, and my hope is that together we can continue to work constructively, be able to advance the cause of peace and stability in Syria, and also these other issues that we’re working on.

With respect to my guitar, I actually take it everywhere that I go. And when I get a chance to play it and practice – and I need a lot of practice – (laughter) – I try. And I played a guitar back when I was in high school. If you go on YouTube, you can still hear a very not-so-great record that we made with our garage band. And ever since then, I’ve been hacking around on the guitar. And the reason that you’re not hearing any duets is that I try not to play for anybody else but me.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) John, you haven’t mentioned about the briefcase. Briefcase – you haven’t mentioned about your briefcase.

SECRETARY KERRY: What’s the question?

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) You haven’t mentioned about your briefcase, the briefcase. What were the contents of your briefcase?

SECRETARY KERRY: That’s a secret between President Putin and me. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Today we have been talking a lot about humanitarian issues, including the destinies of particular people. About Nadiya Savchenko, John re-raised this issue indeed, and he got the answer which everyone actually knows. Representatives of the ministry of foreign affairs and the press service of the Kremlin were speaking about that, and I have nothing to add to that. We have reiterated that the health of Nadiya Savchenko – by the way, which is the subject of speculation for many people – is not to be cared – to be – is nothing to be worried about. She is constantly monitored by the Russian medics, and there were opportunities to allow Ukrainian doctors and German doctors to come to her, but when Nadiya Savchenko just fell down by insulting the court, the court forbade that. I’d like to remind you that in many states of the U.S. and in Germany and the Baltic Sea states, the insult of the court is followed by a punishment, the sentence – the prison sentence of – from one to two years and the money fines. So here there have been no innovations after Savchenko insulted the court.

We have also mentioned the Russian citizens who were, as we believe, illegally taken to the U.S. by manipulations with the legislation of the countries where they were situated and where they were kidnapped from. And we are concerned with the destinies of many of them. Yaroshenko is one of the examples. John said that it was due to drug trafficking that he was sentenced, but neither Yaroshenko nor Bout were taking any attempts to do this business. When one was in Liberia and another in Thailand, the U.S. agents were introducing themselves as drug dealers and tried to convince Bout and Yaroshenko to render them transport services. That is nothing else that Yaroshenko and Bout were agreeing to. So we believe that the sentences were disproportionate.

But we have a number of other concerns, including the concerns about a dozen of Russian citizens which – who were arrested in third countries on the demand, on the requirement of the United States for the last two years. And we would like to urge to activate the mechanism of the bilateral consular convention to clarify the concerns which the U.S. has about our citizens and that we have about our citizens. So far, we have only agreed to discuss the problems of the cyber crimes of that mechanism, but the fact that many Russian citizens are arrested in third countries and extradited then to the U.S. – they are accused of the cyber crimes, and the – Russia would be the last country to cooperate in stopping the cyber crime. So we believe that our proposal to activate the expert consultations between our prosecutor general’s office and the ministry of justice of the U.S. on the practical issues of cooperation in stopping the cyber crime, and we hope that the U.S. would support this idea.

We also discussed the destiny of the Russian children adopted by American couples, and we cannot now get – gain – get any access to them.

We also discussed many other issues, but the most important thing which I would like to tell you about, that – is that every state has its own habits, rules, traditions, and today we have agreed in principle that all the range of our bilateral concerns or tensions would be discussed in a calm, pragmatic, and professional way, not on the basis of the principles of reciprocity of aggression, but about – but on the principle of the reasonable analysis of the humanitarian situation with a particular person.

As far as Ukraine is concerned, the most important thing that has happened today is the reiteration of the non-alternative character of the political settlement based on the Minsk agreements. Yes, there are some details in how we would implement that into practice and put it into practice, and there have been some efforts in the Normandy format, as you know, including within the Normandy format summit on the 2nd of October last year in Paris, when we agreed on the roadmap of the political process which linked the difficult consequence of steps of actions in a whole. Unfortunately, that roadmap has not implemented either so far.

Besides the Normandy format, since last summer, on the agreement of Presidents Putin and Obama, there has been bilateral Russian-American communication channel. We – and we highly valuate the interest of the United States to assist us in solving this matter. And the final goals – that is, the implementation of Minsk II – is the same for all the players. So we do hope – coming back to what the American journalist began his question with, we hope that as with Syria, the Ukrainian crisis will receive pressure exercised on all the sides. And taking into account the relations of the U.S. and the Kyiv authorities, we do hope that this peculiarity of relations will be actively used to urge Kyiv to fulfill all the obligations he signed under. And we are obliged to push Donbas and other self-proclaimed republics – Donetsk and Luhansk – to fulfill what they – representatives signed under in Minsk.

So I believe there is nothing supernatural there and we haven’t invented anything new. We just agreed to make this cooperation in that direction more intense and not just from case to case. I believe that it is a very useful decision.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) And this finishes our press conference. Thank you for the participation.