Russia voices main foreign policy topics

MOSCOW

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in two news conferences has voiced main topics the ministry focused on last month.

In October, Zakharova held two news conferences, and provided details on foreign policy topics, including Syria, Venezuela, confrontation with the U.S., as well as the situation in Afghanistan, preserving Russian monuments abroad and tracking publications on Russia.

Since the beginning of the Russian operation in Syria in 2015, the conflict in the country has always been a top agenda item at the news conferences held by Zakharova.

On Oct. 3, referring to the situation in Syria, she described the country as “stable” with two conflict zones — hotbeds of tension — in Idlib province and the northeast as “complicated”.

On Oct. 17, after the launch of Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Syria, Zakharova defined the situation as “escalated” and called “the involved parties” to exercise restraint.

Another topic in Zakharova’s press conferences was the situation in Venezuela.

Both on Oct. 3 and Oct. 17, she noted “positive news from Venezuela,” welcoming the talks between the government and opposition, resulting in “de-escalation in the intra-Venezuelan conflict to a certain degree” and slammed the U.S. sanctions against Cuba, describing them as an “anti-humane attempt to punish Cuba for the alliance with Venezuela”.

She also stressed the opposing views between Russia and the U.S. at different parts of the world during these conferences.

Apart from criticizing the U.S. for its actions in Syria and Venezuela, Zakharova on Oct. 17 accused the U.S. military diplomats of trying to get to the Russian defense installations “on a regular basis”.

Russia also consequently promotes the Afghan peace process. On Oct. 3, Zakharova welcomed the presidential election in the country, noting “fewer casualties than the parliamentary elections of 2018”.

On Oct. 17, she expressed concern over the joint report of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the large number of victims among civilians following the US air attacks on drug labs in Afghanistan on May 5, 2019. She stressed that the fight against drug production “should not be at the cost of civilian lives”.

Zakharova put special attention on preserving Russian World War II monuments abroad. On Oct. 3 she slammed the defiling of the central monument at the Red Army soldiers’ cemetery in Poland.

On Oct. 17, Zakharova thanked Belgium local authorities, Belgian activists and Russian diplomats in the country for unveiling a memorial of Soviet guerrilla fighters who joined the Belgian Resistance and for the good maintenance of their graves in Belgium.

Zakharova closely follows foreign media’s publications on Russia.

She initiated the opening of a special heading on the Foreign Ministry website, “Fake News”, where articles that are considered to be “fake news” by the Russian side are being published with refutation and comments.

She also brings it up during weekly news conferences.

She said ahead of the Russia-Africa Summit, anti-Russia news items in October were at a “shocking” number, particularly among U.S. media outlets.

She provided an analysis of news on Russia in six Western countries and Japan from Jan. 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019, and said: “Only 2% could be described as positive.

The British media was “the leader” in publishing materials on Russia — only 1% can be considered “positive,” she added.

“In the U.S., this figure is even less — only 0.2%. Negative articles are about 90.8% of the total, and neutral [information materials] are only 9%.

“Most of the negative articles were published by CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post,” Zakharova said.

In Britain, the Daily Express and The Times were leading in this respect. German media figures were also comparable, where the Germans see Russia from a negative perspective because of local media coverage,” she added.
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