Vladivostok is an exceptional metropolitan region where Eastern and Western cultures intersect, establishing it as a crucial hub for Russia’s economic, financial, banking, trade, and tourism sectors. Moreover, it operates as Russia’s easternmost port and has gained recognition as a prominent venue for international economic forums, including the Eastern Economic Forum, where this briefing is occurring. Beyond its economic importance, Vladivostok possesses a multitude of captivating attractions and is blessed with remarkable natural scenery, making it an appealing destination for tourists.
The Russian Far East represents a distinctive part of Russia’s territory, characterized by its access to two oceans—the Pacific and the Arctic—and its borders shared with five countries: China, North Korea, Mongolia, the United States, and Japan. Spanning four time zones and various climate zones, ranging from Arctic deserts to subtropical areas, this region covers nearly 7 million square kilometers, accounting for approximately 41 percent of Russia’s total land area. Notably, the Russian Far East is the largest federal district in Russia, encompassing 11 regions that have experienced dynamic growth in recent years, supported by numerous federal laws and government resolutions. These initiatives have led to the establishment of priority development areas (PDAs), such as the Far Eastern Hectare, the free port of Vladivostok, a special administrative district on Russky Island, the Unified Far Eastern Airline, and the highly regarded Far Eastern Mortgage Programme.
It’s essential to highlight the development of unique mechanisms like the PDAs, designed to create an appealing investment climate. These initiatives have culminated in the establishment of the Free Port of Vladivostok, where investment projects by PDA residents receive state-backed infrastructure support, enhancing the region’s appeal for investment. Rich in natural resources, the Russian Far East plays a significant role in the production of diamonds, tin, boron raw materials, gold, tungsten, and fish and seafood. The region also holds a substantial portion of Russia’s coal reserves and hydrotechnical resources, contributing significantly to the country’s resource wealth. Additionally, the Russian Far East is responsible for approximately 30 percent of Russia’s total forested area.
The Russian Far East is actively engaged in developing relations with Asia-Pacific countries, promoting mutually beneficial cooperation and trade with China, India, and several nations in Central and Southeast Asia. Despite Japan’s withdrawal from some regional economic cooperation endeavors, the Russian Far East has made substantial progress in its interactions with Mongolia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. These efforts reflect a broader pattern of development and cooperation in the region, driven by pragmatism and a focus on shared economic interests. As the statistics show, foreign trade between the Far Eastern regions and their foreign partners has experienced significant growth in freight volume and monetary terms, demonstrating the region’s evolving potential and disproving doubts about its prospects.
The Russian Far East’s unique role as a bridge between Europe and Asia is steadily becoming a reality, fostering its development and contributing to its growing international significance. The success of the forum further reinforces this positive trajectory, marking an engaging, productive, and effective platform for international cooperation.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is set to participate in events of multilateral Asian associations during the 78th UN General Assembly session in New York. On September 20-21, he will attend an extraordinary meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers and a Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) ministerial meeting. The SCO meeting will focus on the organization’s enhancement and prospects for collaboration with the UN, addressing global and regional issues. Additionally, the CICA meeting will emphasize the implementation of decisions to improve the association, along with charting new areas of cooperation. A statement initiated by Russia on developing volunteer programs for social, cultural, and humanitarian connectivity in the CICA region is expected to be approved.
Regarding the Ukraine crisis, local elections were held in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, which are now part of the Russian Federation’s new constituent entities. Despite the Kiev regime’s attempts to obstruct the voting process, the elections proceeded peacefully with high turnout. However, threats were made against election participants, and even international election observers faced sanctions from Western countries. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian armed forces have continued shelling Russian territory, including near the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, raising concerns about the potential for disastrous consequences.
The Kiev regime’s actions in Donetsk have been marked by ongoing terrorist attacks. Additionally, Ukrainian forces used drones to attack a polling station in the Zaporozhye Region, although no injuries were reported. Ukrainian neo-Nazis have also been involved in shelling, causing civilian casualties. Russian law enforcement agencies are documenting these crimes, and Ukrainian militants are being held accountable for their actions. Despite these incidents, Western countries continue to supply weapons to the Kiev regime, further fueling the conflict.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kiev, promising additional military assistance to Ukraine. However, his statement that Ukraine would engage in negotiations if Russia initiated them was seen as vague and hypocritical. Moscow has always been open to political and diplomatic solutions to the crisis, but Kiev withdrew from negotiations in April 2022 and imposed a self-ban on talks with Russian leaders in September 2022. The Zelensky regime has also exhibited a disregard for the consequences of its actions, as evidenced by its threats against the Crimean Bridge.
In Donbass, an event commemorated the 80th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi invaders. Soviet troops achieved significant victories in the region during World War II, and the people of Donbass continue to resist fascism today, represented by the Kiev regime. The West’s support for Ukraine, including weapons shipments and leniency towards the regime’s actions, has contributed to the ongoing special military operation by Russia to address security challenges emanating from Ukrainian territory.
In recent developments, the European Commission has registered a European Citizens’ Initiative titled “Preservation and development of Ukrainian culture, education, language, and traditions in EU states.” This initiative aims to promote the integration of Ukrainian refugees across EU states while advocating for the Ukrainian language to become one of the official languages of the European Union. However, the initiative has raised questions about double standards in addressing ethnic minorities’ rights issues in the EU, given the treatment of certain minorities in EU member states, particularly the Baltic countries, who have been denied the right to use their native languages and have faced discrimination.
The Kiev regime’s actions, including the demolition of monuments and renaming of streets, have been criticized, and it appears ironic that the European Commission is now concerned about preserving Ukrainian culture and language within the EU.
The initiative is seen by some as an effort to build a Ukrainian diaspora loyal to the EU while promoting anti-Russian sentiments. However, it remains to be seen whether the initiative will gain enough support, as previous European Citizens’ Initiatives have not resulted in legislative decisions.
In another development, the US Ambassador to the European Union, Mark Gitenstein, made statements that have been criticized as historical revisionism. He likened Ukraine’s “counteroffensive” to the Allied landings in Normandy during World War II, which has been viewed as a controversial comparison. Additionally, he mentioned the “Russians bombed maternity wards” allegation, which has been refuted. These statements have been seen as an attempt to revise history for political reasons and have raised concerns about the glorification of Nazi criminals and collaborators by the Kiev regime.
Regarding international justice, concerns have been raised about double standards in the treatment of Serbs and Kosovo Albanians by international courts. In particular, the conditions of custody for former fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army, including Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli, have been criticized for being more lenient compared to Serbs convicted by international tribunals. This discrepancy has raised questions about impartiality and fairness in international justice.
Lastly, the NATO Northern Coasts 2023 exercise in the Baltic Sea has been seen as another example of NATO’s aggressive posture. The exercise simulates a hostile attack on a NATO member state and is viewed as an attempt to signal vigilance to Russia. Critics argue that such exercises contribute to the militarization of the Baltic Sea region and further tensions between NATO and Russia.
Additionally, it was announced that Kazan will host the fifth meeting of the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan on September 29, 2023. The meeting will focus on current developments in Afghanistan, intra-Afghan reconciliation, security in the region, and post-conflict reconstruction. A joint statement is expected to be adopted following the meeting.
Here is a summary of the key points from the recent Russian Foreign Ministry briefing:
- Situation in Niger: The situation in Niger following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, 2023, is gradually normalizing. The government formed after the coup includes both military and civilian representatives. Mediation efforts by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and regional states, including Algeria, are underway to find peaceful solutions to the crisis. The proposal for a nine-month transitional period in Niger by ECOWAS Chairman and President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is welcomed. Concerns are raised about the potential consequences of an ECOWAS invasion of Niger.
- Amur Autumn Film Festival: The 21st Amur Autumn open Russian film and theatre festival is taking place in Blagoveshchensk, Amur Region. The festival includes screenings of films from various countries, with a focus on contemporary films from China, Georgia, and Türkiye. The event commemorates the 165th anniversary of Outer Manchuria and local filmmakers Leonid Gaidai and Valery Priyomykhov. Cooperation with Chinese colleagues in the film industry is highlighted.
- International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature Conference: The 15th Conference of the International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature, titled “The Russian language and literature in a changing world,” is being held in St. Petersburg. Over 500 participants from various countries are discussing various aspects of contemporary Russian studies. The event aims to promote Russian language and literature education.
- 50th Anniversary of the Chilean Coup: September 11, 2023, marks the 50th anniversary of the military coup in Chile, which ousted President Salvador Allende. The coup, with U.S. involvement, led to the establishment of a military dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet. Russia remembers the events in Chile and views them as a lesson on the consequences of external interference in the affairs of sovereign states. Several commemorative events are taking place.
- International Day of Democracy: September 15 is observed as the International Day of Democracy. The theme for this year, “Empowering the Next Generation,” emphasizes the role of young people in advancing democracy. Russia advocates the right of all countries to choose their own paths of democratic development and criticizes Western attempts to impose their version of democracy on others. The U.S. Summit for Democracy is criticized for promoting a neocolonial approach to democracy.
The briefing addresses various international issues and emphasizes Russia’s stance on democracy, sovereignty, and international relations.
Here is a summary of the key points from the recent Russian Foreign Ministry briefing:
- Mexico’s Independence Day: Russia congratulates Mexico on its 213th Independence Day, which marks the start of Mexico’s fight for independence in 1810. The two countries maintain a regular political dialogue and strong bilateral trade relations. Russia values its partnership with Mexico, rooted in shared history and mutual enrichment of cultures.
- Belize’s Independence Day: On September 21, Belize celebrates its 42nd Independence Day. Russia regards Belize as a promising partner in Latin America and hopes to expand political dialogue, trade, economic ties, and cultural contacts. The countries share approaches to global issues based on the principles of the UN Charter.
- Russia International Exhibition and Forum: The Russia International Exhibition and Forum will take place from November 4, 2023, to April 12, 2024, at VDNKh in Moscow. The event will showcase Russia’s achievements in various sectors, including industry, energy, agriculture, transport, and culture. It will feature participants from all 89 Russian regions, federal authorities, large companies, and foreign delegations. The exhibition will include cultural, educational, and business programs.
- Estonian Bill on Russian Asset Confiscation: Estonia’s proposed bill enabling the confiscation of Russian assets is seen as malicious by Russia. It is viewed as an act of thievery and a violation of existing legal rules. Russia warns of a sensitive retaliation if such measures are implemented.
- Romanian Allegations About Russian Drone: Romania’s claims about finding wreckage of a drone “similar to the craft used by the Russian armed forces in their aggression against Ukraine” near the border with Ukraine are regarded as inconsistent and propagandistic. Russia sees it as part of NATO’s effort to support Ukraine.
- Allegations of Wagner Group Fighters in Armenia: Allegations of 3,000 Wagner Group fighters deployed in Armenia with the aim of overthrowing the government are dismissed as disinformation. Russia considers it a baseless myth and an attempt to spread false information.
- Impact of Biden Impeachment Inquiry on Ukraine Policy: The ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden in the U.S. Congress is seen as a domestic political matter. It is unlikely to have a direct impact on U.S. policy on the Ukraine crisis or arms supplies to Ukraine. Russia believes it is part of power struggles and efforts to cover up corruption.
- Armenia’s Plans to Ratify ICC Rome Statute: Armenia’s plans to ratify the ICC Rome Statute are viewed as unfriendly by Russia. The consequences of this decision will depend on Armenia’s motives and its impact on bilateral relations.
The briefing covers a range of international and bilateral issues, including diplomatic relations, foreign policy, and regional developments.
In this segment of the briefing, Maria Zakharova discussed several topics:
- African Union in the G20: Maria Zakharova emphasized Russia’s efforts to engage the African Union in the G20, characterizing it as diplomacy rather than soft power. She stressed the importance of rectifying historical injustices and providing African nations with a more prominent role in international organizations.
- US Military Hegemony: Maria Zakharova expressed concern over what she referred to as the aggressive nature of US military hegemony. She mentioned the NATO bloc’s confrontational stance and its destabilizing impact on international relations.
- Russian Humanitarian Aid to Nagorno-Karabakh: Zakharova highlighted Russia’s delivery of humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh through the Russian peacekeeping forces. She criticized attempts to devalue this aid and emphasized its importance for the people of the region.
- NATO and Military Exercises: In response to questions regarding military exercises involving NATO countries in the South Caucasus, Zakharova reiterated Russia’s stance against any involvement or influence in the region that could disrupt existing agreements or the balance of power achieved through diplomatic channels. She emphasized the need for such actions to be conducted with the consent of all parties involved.
- Weapons Supplies to Conflict Zones: Zakharova expressed concern about weapons being supplied to conflict zones, regardless of their nationality. She pointed out that such weapons harm people from various ethnic backgrounds and criticized the impact of these arms supplies on conflict escalation.
- Russian Commitment to Peacekeeping: Zakharova mentioned the presence of Russian peacekeepers in conflict resolution zones, such as Nagorno-Karabakh, to prevent further hostilities and promote peaceful solutions.
- Future Scenarios: In response to a question about potential Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia, Zakharova referred to the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the region as a means to prevent further conflict and encourage all parties to fulfill their commitments.
- Diplomatic Engagement in the Korean Peninsula: Zakharova discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diplomatic relations with North Korea and noted that, with changing epidemiological situations and preventive measures, relations are gradually expanding.
This segment covered a range of international issues, including diplomacy, military hegemony, humanitarian aid, and peacekeeping efforts in various conflict z
In this segment of the briefing, Maria Zakharova discussed the following topics:
- US Actions and Russian-Vietnamese Relations: Zakharova expressed Russia’s commitment to maintaining strong economic, political, and humanitarian relations with Vietnam. She criticized any attempts by the United States or any other country to persuade Russia’s historical partners to seek alternatives to ties with Moscow. She described such actions as undignified and interference in the affairs of sovereign states.
- Armenian-Azerbaijani Settlement: Zakharova was asked about the discussions related to the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement during the recent meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. She stated that Russia’s position on this matter varies depending on the circumstances, emphasizing support for peace initiatives and open discussions with Turkish counterparts when there are issues that contradict Russia’s stance or disrupt previously agreed-upon agreements.
- G20 Summit: Zakharova briefly discussed the G20 summit, highlighting India’s successful chairmanship and the constructive and effective work of the 20 participating delegations. She mentioned that the summit’s outcomes covered a wide range of global issues, including environmental, political, security, and economic matters. She also emphasized the importance of the global majority’s efforts to resist the imposition of the will of the global minority.
- Nuclear Issues in G20 Declaration: Zakharova addressed the inclusion of a statement in the G20 declaration about the unacceptability of using nuclear weapons. She attributed this inclusion to the increasing strategic risks and escalating rhetoric and actions related to nuclear weapons. She expressed concern about provocative actions in the nuclear sphere and the potential for direct military clashes between nuclear states.
- Prospects of Interaction with the International Russophile Movement: Zakharova discussed the prospects of cooperation between Russia and the International Russophile Movement. She highlighted the importance of the movement in defending Russian culture and values in a world where attempts to cancel Russia and its cultural heritage are prevalent. She praised the movement’s pragmatic approach and its commitment to defending fundamental principles of international law and the UN Charter.
This segment covered a wide range of international and diplomatic topics, emphasizing Russia’s commitment to constructive relations and its concerns about provocative actions in the international arena.